Book Review - OpenOffice.org 2, Firefox, and Thunderbird for Windows All in One by Greg Perry
The software trio that Microsoft would love to vaporize... OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Thunderbird. High quality software, easy to use if you already know the Microsoft equivalents, and best of all... FREE! Greg Perry has written a book that will get you up to speed quite well on it all... OpenOffice.org 2, Firefox, and Thunderbird for Windows All in One (Sams Teach Yourself).
Part 1 - Writing Words with Writer: Start Here; Learning Writer's Basics; Making Your Words Look Good; Adding Lists, Tables, and Graphics; Using Writer's Advanced Features
Part 2 - Crunching Numbers with Calc: Getting to Know Calc; Working with Calc Data; Formatting Spreadsheets with Calc; Creating Advanced Spreadsheets; Using Calc as a Simple Database
Part 3 - Impressing Audiences with Impress: Learning About Impress; Adding Flair to Your Presentations; Making More Impressive Presentations
Part 4 - Drawing On Your Inner Artist with Draw: Getting Ready to Draw; Improving Your Drawings; Putting on Finishing Touches with Draw
Part 5 - Enhancing Your Work with OpenOffice.org's Other Features: Enhancing Your Work with More OpenOffice.org Features; Organizing Your Data with Base; Browsing the Internet with Firefox; Emailing with Thunderbird
Overall, I think this book is very well done. The style is such that each chapter has a number of items (all numbered and listed in the table of contents) that focus on a particular task, such as formatting a table or inserting graphics in a document. These items are cross-referenced back to items you need to know/do before you start, as well as to items that will build on your new skills. As a result, the book works well as both a tutorial and a reference guide that you can use once you master the basics. The instructions are easy to follow, and pretty much 95% (or more) of what you'll need to do on a regular basis is covered. If someone were looking to use OpenOffice.org as their primary productivity suite instead of Microsoft Office, this would be a good book to pick up as your introduction.
My only nit about the book is the inclusion of the Firefox and Thunderbird chapters. The way it's presented makes it look like Firefox and Thunderbird are part of OpenOffice.org. They're not. And if you're buying the book for some significant coverage on those two packages, you'll be really disappointed. In the 600 pages of this book, you'll get around 50 pages to cover both. It's almost as if the topics were included in order to ride some of the current Firefox popularity. In my opinion (and it's simply that... my opinion), I would have either left those chapters out entirely or expanded them significantly. If you're wanting to know more about either Firefox or Thunderbird, you'd be much better off buying a separate book that *just* covers that.
Even with the criticism, the book is well worth having. You'll learn how to cut your dependancies on Microsoft's Office monopoly and save yourself quite a bit of money in the process...