Quick Tips: Alternatives to Microsoft Office


If you need the functionality of Microsoft Office, but don’t have access to or can’t afford it, there are other options!

Option 1 - Google


While not (yet?) offering the depth of functionality you see in Microsoft Office, the tools and features you use most often are available:

  • In place of Microsoft Word, use Google Docs
  • In place of Microsoft Excel, use Google Sheets
  • In place of Microsoft PowerPoint, use Google Slides

Other Google tools include: Google Forms (for surveys and other form-based functionality), Google Draw (for basic drawing/workflows, etc.)

If you need additional functionality, there is a library of extensions you can choose from - some free, others at a nominal cost. These tools are web-based, but there is also an “offline” option for those times when you don’t have an internet connection handy.

You can also upgrade (for a price) to GSuite to get “extras” such as: Business email through Gmail; video and voice conferencing; Smart shared calendars; 24/7 support by phone, email, and online; security and administration controls; and more. 

These work on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Cost: free for the basics/$5 - $10 per user for GSuite

Option 2 - LibraOffice


LibraOffice is a downloadable replacement for Microsoft Office that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

  • In place of Microsoft Word, use Writer
  • In place of Microsoft Excel, use Calc
  • In place of Microsoft PowerPoint, use  Impress

Other LibraOffice tools include: Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), Math (formula editing), and Charts (ability to create and embed charts).

Cost: free but you can also make a donation if you wish

Option 3 - Microsoft 365:


But if you need to have access to "the real deal" for a short time you probably still don't want to pay full price. No problem! For $6.99 (at the time this was published) you can get 1 month access to Microsoft Office 365.

This includes access to:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Publisher (PC only)
  • Microsoft Access (PC only)

Just make sure to cancel before they charge you for the next month!

These work on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems (except as noted).

Cost: $6.99/month

Happy Towel Day!

I have my towel handy - how about you? http://towelday.org/ We miss you, Douglas Adams! 

Don't Panic!

Don't Panic!

Getting Ready for Google I/O 2017!

You can watch it here:

3 Books Everyone Should Read - And They're All Quick Reads!

Checking in at a total of 512 pages (that's the total for all 3 put together!) these books are the ones I recommend to everyone who has to work for a living.

So, yeah, pretty much everyone. 

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

First up is the longest one, but at 272 pages you'll get through it in no time.

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)
by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister

ISBN-13: 978-0321934116
ISBN-10: 0321934113
272 Pages

While most business books focus on theory, process, or selling, Peopleware shines the light on the real people doing with work, with all of their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and strengths. (I know, what a concept, right?) 

Often referred to as a "project management" book, that label doesn't do it justice - the material is helpful to everyone looking to get the most out of, or just survive, the corporate environment. And for those of us who want more, you can use this information to improve your interactions with co-workers and clients.

This is one I re-read every year to keep the insights fresh in my mind. The humorous tone and real-life examples make this an enjoyable read.

How to Lie with Statistics

How to Lie with Statistics
by Darrell Huff (Author) and Irving Geis (Illustrator)

ISBN-13: 978-0393310726
ISBN-10: 0393310728
144 Pages

People love to toss around statistics, don't they? It makes what they say seem so much more credible. And maybe it's all true. But...

It is amazingly simple for people, intentionally or by mistake, to skew and twist statistics. It happens all the time, and can be the cause of bad decisions.

Let this book be your guide on what to watch out for, and avoid, when using statistics as part of your decision-making process.


The PC is Not a Typewriter/The Mac is Not a Typewriter

The PC is not a typewriter
by Robin Williams

ISBN-13: 978-0938151494
ISBN-10: 0938151495
96 Pages

The MAC is not a typewriter
by Robin Williams

ISBN-13: 978-0201782639
ISBN-10: 0201782634
96 Pages

Come on, admit it, you either still double-space after periods when you type, or you know someone who does...

The PC is Not a Typewriter (and its Mac companion*) is a fast, fun, easy read that will help you make your written communication more professional and sophisticated. Yes, it references older technology, but the technical info isn't the important part here - it's the simple, clear information and inspiration for crafting of better writing. It covers punctuation, leading, special characters, kerning, fonts, justification, and so much more. 

Read this, keep it nearby, refer to it often - your writing, and your readers, will thank you for it.

Frankly, these 96 page-long gems are the books I would give to everyone I meet, if I could. 

*Why is there a PC and a MAC version? My guess is 1) for the technical references which I'm sure were helpful when it was released 2) to get the full audience - some PC people won't pick up something targeted at the MAC audience, and vise versa.

Some people might skip over these books because they were published "years ago" - but that would be a mistake. OK, sure, some of the examples they include may be a bit dated; however, the concepts and ideas are timeless. Give them a try, and I'm sure you'll agree!

Note: The book images are links to the Amazon.com page for that book. If you purchase the book from there, I will get a few pennies from Amazon that I'll use to support my book habit. But no pressure, get them from your favorite place!

Like this post? Check out my new project - The BA Zone for more like this one!

FYI: Microsoft Outlook, Skype, OneDrive hit by another authentication issue

The lovely and talented Mary Jo Foley is keeping tabs on this - check her article for updates: http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-outlook-skype-onedrive-hit-by-another-authentication-issue

Style DropDowns With Only CSS

Been looking for a good solution that would let you style your dropdowns using only CSS? Me too!

Take a look at this, it's an awesome solution:


Missing Bailey

It’s been over two years now, and I still miss Bailey every single day. I know I did the right thing letting her go, her body just couldn’t take any more and there was nothing more we could do to help her. The tumors would continue to grow and spread, there would be more pain, the seizure would only increase - leaving her scared and confused. I know all of that, but it doesn’t help the missing her. 

She was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. I was lucky to have her around as long as I did.


Kathleen Sinnott

I am a software engineer and web designer/developer by trade, with a strong focus on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) standards, usability, and accessibility. When I'm not living the geek life, I'm playing with my dog.


Words Matter, Even If We Try To Believe Otherwise

I always cringe when someone says “I won’t let anything happen to you” - what an awful thing to say to someone. Can you image a life where nothing ever happened? Of course, that's not what they mean. What they are trying to say is that they won't let anything *bad* happen to you.  Which may be unrealistic, but at least has good intentions.

But it's still not right; not when you speak or when when you write.

And then there's this one..."I could care less." 

Yea, that one, sorry, the eye roll is not optional if you are going to insist on saying that one.

If you could care less, that can only mean that you care. So, saying that when you don't care is wrong. Just flat-out, 100%, wrong. If you don't care, then "I couldn't care less" is the phrase you are looking for. 

Think This Doesn't Matter?

Sure, no one says anything about it to you. And maybe "you know what I meant" is true. But you should know that when you make these types of mistakes:

  • it distracts from what you are saying
  • it may cause misunderstandings
  • it damages your credibility

Yes, that's right, I'm saying that people silently judge you for this. Maybe you're OK with that. But maybe you shouldn't be. 

Want to do better? Here's a great reference:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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Details Matter...

For example, check out Amazon's package tracker during the holiday season:

Amazon adds a holiday touch to their package tracker page. Come on, admit it, you smiled!

Amazon adds a holiday touch to their package tracker page. Come on, admit it, you smiled!

Did you know...Free Photos and Illustrations

Did you know that every month you can download a free photo, illustration, audio file, and/or video file from www.istockphoto.com? All you need to do is:

  1. Create an account with the site (it’s free too!) Just visit: www.istockphoto.com
  2. Visit the site every month to check out the free goodies and download the one(s) you like.

Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me!

Full disclosure: This is not a paid posting (not that there’d be anything wrong with that!), other than I did use a referral link, but I’d only get credit if you use the link and then buy 30 files in 30 days, which would be a bonus but is totally not the point. The point is, this is such a great resource *and* they give away free stuff every month, and who doesn’t love FREE? I mean, seriously, it’s a good deal.

Blue Buffalo Sweet-Potato Dog Food Recall Due to Possible Mold

Blue Buffalo has issued a "very limited recall" of its sweet-potato-flavored dog food due to the possibility of mold. 

See more:  http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/dog_food_recalled_due_to_possible_mold.html