Computer Networking

Computer Networking

Back in January 2014 – having recently acquired an Internet capable television – I enquired online about downloading movies. It seems I opened a trial subscription with a mob called Hulamedia in the US, and I must have provided a credit card.  I think I downloaded a single movie, but found that the titles available were not to our liking. Being busy, I also obviously forgot that the trial subscription became a permanent one.

18 months later and I see a charge on my credit card from  that I’ve never heard of. However – and here’s me being open about my carelessness – I find I’ve been paying US$16.35 and more each and every month since January 2014, because Hulamedia has morphed into Donnaplay, and I’ve NEVER noticed it on my statements as the amount was not very significant.  I have immediately cancelled the accounts with both organisations.

So here’s the lesson: do not sign up for free trials which require a credit card, and remember to carefully check your monthly statement, so you can query it!

Earlier in 2013, we pointed out how Microsoft treats the Australian consumer – be they business or domestic. In short it could be said Microsoft is happy to screw every dollar we’re prepared to pay because most people don’t realise there is any alternative, and just as importantly, when they know there is an alternative many people have an inbuilt bias against the alternative. They just can’t believe an alternative can be compatible, let alone be available free of charge. Here’s a link to why it is “free”

Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft is not the only organisation that produces software for word processing, spreadsheets and  other “office” use type products. Many years ago, we used SmartWare software, but these days Microsoft is certainly the major player by a long way. You can ask yourself whether this is due to good products or good marketing.

Microsoft Office (which – depending on version – may comprise Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, OneNote, Publisher and Access) can be purchased in several editions: Home and Student; Home and Business; Professional; and then there’s the Office 365 editions. It usually comes pre-installed with most new computers, and it comes as a surprise to some people that the cost is not part of the cost of the computer and  Windows.  Confusing isn’t it? Go and have a look at the Microsoft web site for full details, but be careful of all the bells, whistles, smoke and mirror advertising.

We could create a lot of information or web pages about the various alternatives that exist to MS Office, but others have already done this for us. Here’s one which rates the best free offerings.  Then here’s one that thinks Kingston Free Office is the best.  So what’s our own opinion. For some years we’ve used OpenOffice, but a few months ago we started using LibreOffice, which is very similar to the other, but provides the ability to save files in the format pushed onto us by Microsoft since Office 2007 (i.e. .docx files for Word compatibility and .xlsx file for Excel spreadsheet compatibility).

The concept of ribbons and tabs used by MS in Office since 2007, has never appealed to us, and many users (we have found in assisting a large number of computer users) still prefer the conventional ‘Menu’ approach to managing their Word, Excel or Outlook applications. It’s a personal view, but this is yet another example of Microsoft trying to impose its philosophy on the world instead of trying to please the customer.

In short, we use LibreOffice: it gives us the ability to save our documents as traditional Word (.doc) files, Microsoft XML (.docx), LibreOffice native (.odf), or several other formats.  Why not try it yourself? You’ve nothing to loose! In fact, if you’re running a business, you will save at least $330 per computer. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Should you need help installing and configuring LibreOffice, please get in touch.


Don’t like paying exorbitant prices for commonly used Microsoft Office applications? Don’t want to get ripped off?  There ARE good alternatives.

At the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into software pricing in 2013, the heads of Apple, Adobe and Microsoft have been dragged kicking and screaming to face the inquiry and provide a real explanation as to why the price of their software is so much higher in Australia than other leading markets.

Committee deputy chair Paul Neville indicated that the Microsoft managing director did not offer any concrete justification for why Microsoft’s prices were on average 66 percent higher than in the US.

You can read the hearing on IT-Pricing for yourself at Page 31 to hear what happened when Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow fronted the inquiry… Continue reading