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This week's entertaining bit of kit is Open Office. It is an ace multi-platform Microsoft Office clone - except it is totally free.

Recently, I didn't have a copy of Excel to hand so, instead of pirating a copy, I downloaded the current beta version of Open Offi ce and fi red up its spreadsheet.

There was a worrying greyish jumble of lines and then the pure grid of numbers. Ahhh.

Word. doc files also started fi ring up. Both worked just fi ne. My grasp of the minutiae of spreadsheets is marginal so I didn't exactly stretch its limits. But it looked good.

More interestingly for someone in my trade is the fact that the Open Office wordprocessor now has a word count - although you can't devise an icon and put it on one of the taskbars as you can with Word. Yes, you can cut and paste. But no, not drag and drop. Another annoyance is that you have to reassociate Word files with the Word programme because Open Office takes them over.

But look, if drag and drop makes it to the next full version and the whole thing is free, I can't understand why anybody would not have it on every computer in the office.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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