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Blog entry by DannyBoy posted 02-12-2009 07:10 PM 1296 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was in college I got my degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Human Resources. I have yet to use any of that information as part of my day job. Mostly, I figured out that you just need to complete a degree and people suddenly think you are hire-able regardless of what that degree was. (This doesn’t apply to all degrees; for example English teachers need to be trained specifically in the major of English and Literature!)

Well, the byproduct of my education is that I do have a reasonable understanding on what it is to run a business, although I don’t have a huge amount of experience in actually doing it. I had been involved in several non-profit organizations at various levels but I always found myself more serious about the business than my colleagues.

Anyway, the point of my post:

I had to take Accounting 1 as part of my major. In that I was lucky enough to learn how to do some basic book-keeping and I was smart (or lazy) enough to keep the workbook that actually explained how to do Journal keeping. So, as an exercise in getting rich slowly, I’ve started to track my woodshop as if it was a real business (at least financially).

Not to go into a lot of detail, but I looked around at several different bookkeeping software packages. There wasn’t one that had a free version that would work with even the smallest workshop. I’m basing this on the lack of inventory and raw materials tracking available in the freeware versions. There were a couple that I could get close to what I wanted but their interfaces were such crap that in one situation I couldn’t even delete an error I had just made during an entry. Crazy.

Well, I have access to Microsoft Office both at my day job and at my house. Excel is a spreadsheet dream for people like me that don’t mind working with it. However, after setting up a bunch of the information, my wife decides that she hates Windows and that she is now going to run everything off of Linux (she does this for a living). So, the home MS Office doesn’t work anymore and I don’t have any way of running it.
Google Docs Logo
Well, here comes my new favorite freeware to the rescue: Google Documents. It is completely online and completely free. All you need is a gmail account and you’re set. The programs are a bit less powerful than MS Office, but they can import and export Office files with ease and they work 100% online. After a little tinkering, I’m hooked.

My only word of caution is that you shouldn’t keep any information out there that you don’t want to be unsecure. Google usually does a good job of keeping your stuff private, but they are a large web-based company so they are likely to be a target. That being said, if you keep your account #s off of there, keeping the financial docs isn’t so bad. Seriously, what does a hacker care that I happen to have just bought $100 in 2×4s from Lowes???

Anyway, I’ll probably post more on how this is going later, but if you have the opportunity and need a free Office-like program suite, take a look at Google Docs.

-- He said wood...

7 comments so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4120 days

#1 posted 02-12-2009 08:10 PM

Can’t speak particularly to the Google apps stuff, but I wanted to make a comment on your observation that ”...people suddenly think you are hire-able regardless of what that degree was.”

I didn’t complete a college degree. Long about my third year I spent a semester rock climbing and my grades didn’t change. Not that by that time they were stellar, but I still passed the economics class that I went to, like, 5 sessions of, one of those being the back-to-back make-up tests that I missed in the middle of the semester. So, realizing that I was wasting both my time and theirs, I went off and got a job.

Some time later I spent some years at Pixar, and there was something about the hiring there that I couldn’t put my finger on until I recently saw this video of Randy Nelson talking about hiring there in which he points out that Pixar is looking for people who are interested instead of looking for people who are interesting (Bonus points if you know things Randy was famous for before he got to Pixar).

Completing college, to some extent, shows that you’re interested, that you can sit down and follow something through to completion. There’s lots of other stuff that’ll do that too, and I think that’s part of why Pixar’s hiring is successful, but if you don’t have a list of things you can point to that say “I can accomplish stuff”, or, if as the person hiring you can’t look at that list of things and identify which is actually accomplishing stuff and which is just puffery, college works as a brain-dead gatekeeper.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3707 days

#2 posted 02-12-2009 08:16 PM

Uh, avoid things like google docs if you ask me…privacy, afterall…

Try Open Office ( which is MORE powerful than ms office, and works on both windows and linux machines, and imports not only office files, but just about anything. I’d never go back.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3860 days

#3 posted 02-12-2009 08:20 PM

I’ve heard a lot about Open Office as well. The trouble is that I can’t down load it and install it to my computer at work. My wife is still in the setup stages of our “new” system so I’m off limits to it for a time. The old laptop that I have does have the MS Office on it but I have a bad case of Blue Screen with it so I don’t use it for much more than light web surfing.


-- He said wood...

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3707 days

#4 posted 02-12-2009 08:43 PM

with open office, at least you could work on things at work, then open them at home, and just go back and forth as needed..transfer files via a cheap USB flash drive (which many places give away with a coupon just to get you in the store, otherwise they can be found for almost nothing)

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3715 days

#5 posted 02-12-2009 09:43 PM

I used Open Office, and it works great. I think it’s better than the microsoft stuff, and it reads and writes to those formats if you need to. There is worldwide support for it.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3591 days

#6 posted 02-12-2009 11:02 PM

I also use open office. I am quickly becoming a fan of linux. I do like google sketch up though. I like all things free.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3556 days

#7 posted 03-10-2009 05:41 AM

Open Office is on both of my computers running MS Vista Premium. It opens MS Office files and I have sent files to folks running MS Office and they were able to read OO.

-- Joe

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