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Jewish World Review
July 24, 2008
/ 21 Tamuz 5768
Another WordPerfect? Why not?
When WordPerfect last made any significant headlines, or so it seems, then U.S.
Attorney General Janet Reno had ordered up a bunch of licenses for the Department of
Justice. Lawyers, it seems, love WordPerfect.
There have been a few revisions of the software since Ms. Reno's tenure, and the
most recent, dubbed "X4," for 14, is the most recent. It's available for as
little as $160 as part of a WordPerfect Office "suite" that includes a
spreadsheet, presentation graphics program and other extras. It's not as
inexpensive as the free OpenOffice.org suite, nor as costly as Microsoft Office
2007. But both the suite and the word processor are good values for what you get:
something that is exceptionally compatible with Microsoft Office, and, on the word
processing side, just about every program going back to WordStar, which means
roughly the last 25 years.
There's much to like about WordPerfect X4 along with its extensive compatibility.
The program has a clean appearance, and can operate in a "Microsoft Word" mode
that makes it more familiar to users of that program. It has every bell and whistle
that you'd want in a word processor, and, in a move particularly useful for those
using small laptops, a "zoom to margin width" feature that'll make viewing
what you type easier.
There's an auto-correction feature that'll flag misspelled words as you type,
and many common transpositions are corrected as you type. There's an online
dictionary and thesaurus, making it easier to bloviate in a document, if you so
desire. However, the dictionary, provided by Oxford University Press, doesn't, for
some odd reason, include a definition for that word, which means "to speak
pompously," as an online reference put it.
I like the way WordPerfect works, and I could see myself writing a substantial paper
or book using this program. That said, there are a few annoyances: there's a word
counter at the bottom of the program screen, but you must click on the word count
number to have it update. It's small potatoes, I guess, but I find this annoying:
why can't the program just keep a running count, as the default mode? (Hint:
Microsoft Word does exactly that.)
For those concerned about exporting the final results, I can only say that the range
of ways to save a WordPerfect file should cover just about every need. I've found
these file translations to be quite good, even if I doubt some are widely needed. If
you're uncertain, publisher Corel Corp. will let you download a 30-day free trial
version, at www.corel.com. That's not a bad way to try the program out.
My oft-stated belief bears repeating here: I like have a bunch of word processors to
choose from, and WordPerfect X4 is a very good alternative for many users. If
you're in the mood to switch, it's worth investigating.
NEED A GREAT LAPTOP STAND? May I recommend the Alto Connect from Logitech,
which'll set you back about $80 at amazon.com. This thing is simplicity itself:
two sturdy pieces of plastic that connect to form a "X" on which the notebook
can rest. You get a proper viewing height (in my opinion) and it's easy to
position the notebook so that a front-loading optical drive is accessible.
That's good enough, but add in four USB ports, including one specifically designed
for "media" such as USB card readers, memory sticks and MP3 players, and
you've got a real winner. The extra ports bridge to the computer's USB connector
via an included cable. Yes, the stand needs external power to drive this
connectivity, but it's a small price to pay, in my opinion.
I've seen all sorts of notebook stands, and the only thing that would, in my view,
beat the Alto Connect is a product-specific stand costing double, triple or even
quadruple the cost. For the money, I haven't seen a better desktop value, period.
Details are at www.logitech.com.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2008, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com