My computer experience looks a little like this: Atari 2600 -> Atari 400 -> Timex Sinclair -> Commodore 64 -> DOS boxes -> Apple ][ -> Apple ][e -> Apple //c -> Macintosh Classic -> Solaris workstations, AS 400, Next Box, CM5, VAX, ramdom flavors of Unix machines -> Mac Performas (etc), PCs (Windows 3.1, 3.11, 97, 98, 98se, Windows 2000 server, XP, Vista, 2003 (blah blah name it) -> Linux (Ubuntu primarily). In the end I find myself surrounded with PCs with loads of Microsoft software. So everything I write is dependent upon the Microsoft Office suite, software I install requires Windows and so on. Granted, I have Linux development servers because much of my work is in a LAMP environment. That is until my primary machine died horribly and while I was recovering it, I was forced to spend most of my time on my Ubuntu workstation.
After working for a couple of weeks on Ubuntu and relying heavily upon Google Docs, I learned that I love cloud computing. Cloud computing is using applications that are primarily accessed over the Internet. Twenty years or more ago, Bill Gates said this is how all our computing would be and that PCs would revert to being dummy terminals. The nice thing about cloud computing is your data is accessible anytime, anywhere, from any machine, as long as you have an Internet connection; this is also the bad thing. Your data is exposed to 3rd party companies that may go out of business or change ownership or malicious people may find ways to expose your data to the world. You must weight the risk versus the benefits.
Another option is open source software. Many alternative software directories are ready to help you find a free alternative to the commercial software you love. My favorite is osalt.com. For example, search Photoshop, osalt points to GIMP. I’ve been using Quickbooks Pro since 1999 (actually earlier but 1999 was my most current version). So for 10 years, I have used financial software that was out of date. I cannot find the discs and desperately need a new solution. Many exist! including buying the current version of Quickbooks. A search of osalt found PostBooks which is free although some people are confused by their commercial offerings. Don’t be quick to discount open source software just because of the price. Free does not mean bad. For instance, I now favor GIMP over Photoshop in some instances. Soon I may wonder why I ever used Quickbooks.
Do you have any experience with Postbooks? Your thoughts?