Monday, August 29, 2011

OpenOffice to Microsoft: The Big Switch

As you all know, I’m big on customer service. I don’t believe that the customer is always right, but I do believe that she deserves a little bit of respect. That includes a friendly attitude, prompt service, and a willingness to do whatever is reasonable to resolve a situation.

Due to poor customer service, I stopped using Yahoo! as my primary email source. I took my last trip via Southwest instead of Delta. I moved all of my accounts from Huntington Bank to a local institution. I’m not asking people to break rules for me. I just want fair, honest service.

For years now I’ve been a huge fan of the open source office program With nearly all of the same features as Microsoft Office, OpenOffice provided a free way for people to create all kinds of documents. I used it daily for nearly a decade as my primary word processing program. It worked beautifully … until I started editing.

Though OpenOffice Writer can handle the demands of editing short documents or creating long ones, it failed miserably when I tried to edit a long document. Work on the 250 page manuscript started well, but about half way through it, my computer slowed down. I would make changes and type comments, then wait 10 seconds for the words to appear. It worsened, until it took nearly 30 seconds for the changes to show up.

Thinking it was my computer, I ran my malware and anti-virus programs. I unistalled and reinstalled OpenOffice. I cleaned my hard drive. Defragged. Took the laptop into the shop. There was nothing wrong with my computer.

Desperate, I started working on my husband’s laptop. Things went well, for a while. By the time I got to the last 40 pages of the manuscript, it took me 4-5 hours to finish editing. The problem obviously was not my computer. OpenOffice just couldn’t seem to handle my work.

I went to the OpenOffice website for help, but my problem wasn’t listed in the Frequently Asked Questions portion. I searched the site and tried the forums, but nothing addressed my issue. Finally, I emailed them. Over a week later, no response.

I can’t keep waiting for someone to decide that my problem deserves attention, so yesterday I went out and bought Microsoft Office for my computer. I wasn’t thrilled about spending the money, but thanks to Office Depot’s great rewards program, I bought the software for $35 out of pocket. I’m officially a Word girl now.

I’m truly disappointed at the lack of help that I received from OpenOffice. Though I’ll still recommend them to casual writers, I can’t recommend them to professional writers anymore. When my income depends on using my computer to meet deadlines, I can’t wait over a week for a response. I can’t help but feeling that I got what I paid for – not much.

So this post comes to you from my brand new Word 2010 program. I’m trying out the new ‘Post to Blog’ feature, so hopefully this worked! (It didn't ... I have some things to figure out).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now Playing (and worth every penny): Metamorphoses

Parallel 45, a professional theater company in little ol' Elk Rapids, Michigan, once again delighted this writer with their imaginative adaptation of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. P45's interpretation of Zimmerman's presentation of Ovid's classic poem makes Greek mythology accessible, relevant, and incredibly entertaining.

P45 debuted last year with their rendition of Our Town. Having read the play and seen the live and movie versions of the story, I was beyond thrilled when P45 performed their fresh, unexpected performance. That show convinced me that I had to go back for more.

This year director Kit McKay returned with her take on Metamorphoses. The result - breath taking. Working with a limited budget (i.e. minimal set, props, and wardrobe), McKay and the cast manage to bring every aspect of Metamorphoses to life.

I'm sitting at my computer struggling to find the right words to explain how magical this show is, but nothing I write does it justice. The entire performance is an intricately choreographed dance that tells familiar stories while shining a new light on everyday concepts (how can hunger be so beautiful, and passion so revolting?). Even if you know nothing about the Greek myths, you'll recognize and relate to the plots within the show.

P45's Metamorphoses plays this Thursday through Saturday, August 25-27 @ 7 p.m. at the Historical Town Hall in Elk Rapids, Michigan. Tickets are $15 per person, and include a wine and cheese reception after the show (catered by Siren Hall). The show runs for 60 minutes without intermission.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no better way to spend an evening this weekend than seeing this show. You can't see a movie, or even amateur theater, in northern Michigan for the price of this professional play and refreshments (plus a friendly cast who isn't shy about mingling with the audience after the show).

Visit their website at for more info (and to buy tickets!). You can even find them on Facebook.

After you see the show, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Everyone Loves the Piano

I can't seem to get him down from here ... it's his new favorite place to relax.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Guess what I did today??

I managed to make it out to King Orchards before the sweet cherry season ends - woo hoo! Armed with two borrowed buckets, I hit the fields at 9:30 this morning and came home with roughly 22 pounds of cherries at $1.50/lb. (I added that note for my sister who pays up to $6/lb.)

That there's my stash. They aren't all for me, but I decided to make sure they all got washed. And it's a good thing I have an extra deep sink!

I separated the cherries, then pitted a little over half of mine (keeping the others whole for pit-spitting contests with Matt). The pitted fruit gets froze, the rest goes in my fridge, and it took me until 1 pm to get it all done. Not to shabby, but I do have a bit of a tummy ache (do you have any idea how many cherries you can absent-mindedly consume over the course of 3.5 hours?).

Now to decide how to use them :)