Adventures in Portable Apps

A while ago I downloaded Portable Apps to the staff jump drive, and then didn’t really think about it much after that.  This week it all changed when a patron wanted to access a certain article on The Wall Street Journal that wasn’t part of the free website. He wanted to know if we had a subscription to the WSJ online, but I had to tell him that we didn’t . Then I remembered reading on a blog somewhere that there was a way to get WSJ articles through the backdoor.  I did some researching and came up with two different ways.  The first was to do a google search for the title of the article, but that didn’t work. The second way was more complicated and required Firefox, something that my IS locked down computer didn’t have. But then it hit me! Firefox was part of Portable Apps, and Portable Apps was on the jump drive, so I booted it up and one add-on later we had the article he was looking for.

After this, I realized that I could use the jump drive to use firefox at work. (Take that IS lockdown!) And then I started playing around with some of the other features on portable apps.  Turns out, creating a pdf document in Open Office is as simple as clicking a button. (It’s even easier than creating a pdf with my Mac.) I put a staff member to work on some of the other Open Office programs, and she discovered that open office draw is comparable to Microsoft Publisher and in her words, “I think I might even like it a little bit better than publisher.”   Even though I’m not as much of a techie as I would like to be, I get really excited when I think about Open Source Software.  The idea that it is out there for people to use, and that users can help make it better  mirrors the way I feel libraries should be approached.

I’m guessing that many of our patrons who can’t afford Microsoft Office don’t even know that there are free alternatives like Open Office, and I wonder if offering classes on programs like that would be even more helpful to patrons that the Microsoft classes we offer now.  Always stuff to think about.

  • Click here to download and/or find out more about portable apps.

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