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    $238.99 list($299.95)
    1. QuickBooks Pro 2005
    $134.99 $134.00 list($149.99)
    2. Microsoft Office Standard Student
    $394.99 $339.00 list($449.99)
    3. Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional
    $297.99 list($329.00)
    4. Rosetta Stone Spanish Level 1
    $414.99 $259.99 list($499.99)
    5. Microsoft Office Professional
    $277.99 $259.99 list($329.99)
    6. Microsoft Office Professional
    $244.99 list($299.95)
    7. QuickBooks Pro 2005 for Mac
    $344.99 $190.00 list($399.99)
    8. Microsoft Office 2004 Standard
    $44.99 $42.90 list($49.99)
    9. The Sims 2 (Mac) [DVD]
    $141.49 list($159.99)
    10. Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional
    $508.99 $466.00 list($599.00)
    11. Microsoft Project 2003 Standard
    $130.00 list($609.00)
    12. Adobe Photoshop 7.0
    $179.99 $154.95 list($289.99)
    13. Final Draft 7 Professional Scriptwriting
    $168.99 $78.99 list($199.99)
    14. ScanSoft Dragon NaturallySpeaking
    $398.99 list($499.95)
    15. QuickBooks Premier Contractor
    $289.99 list($329.00)
    16. Rosetta Stone French Level 1 &
    $574.99 $495.85 list($749.95)
    17. QuickBooks Pro 2005 (5-USER)
    $189.99 $182.95 list($199.95)
    18. QuickBooks Basic 2005
    $339.99 $225.98 list($399.99)
    19. Microsoft Office Standard Edition
    $170.99 $139.00 list($199.00)
    20. Microsoft Visio 2003 Standard

    1. QuickBooks Pro 2005
    by Intuit, Inc.
    list price: $299.95
    our price: $238.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00062AJOO
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Intuit, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 2
    Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005 - Complete Product - Financial - 1 User(s) Complete Product - Standard - PCQuickBooks: Pro 2005 includes all the financial management features of Basic, plus improved tools and customization options to help you work more efficiently. Nice electronics is your source for everyday low prices on theIntuit 284178 - QUICKBOOKS PRO 2005 WINand all other Intuit Software - Misc ... Read more

    Features

    • Exchange data with Microsoft Excel and 325+ other software applications
    • Track employee time and job costs; compare estimated costs to actuals
    • Financial management software for small businesses
    • Easily pay bills, print checks, track expenses, and much more
    • Customize 100+ pre-designed forms to create a unique look

    Reviews (33)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Dont Buy- this is why;
    I've used QuickBooks for 11 or 12 years. I can't wait until there is a reasonable alternative that will allow me to import my QuickBooks data and stop using QuickBooks.

    The QuickBooks software is generally user friendly and does a reasonably good job of simplifying small business accounting transactions. However, Intuit has a very poor attitude toward its customers as demonstrated by their business practices. With every upgrade, they force the customer to buy the next version by making it impossible to productively use the old software. They make a lot of money on upgrades.

    With every new version, they extract more money out of the customer through other means as well. For example, QuickBooks originally allowed manual payroll accounting, but with every new release it became more difficult to do manual payroll. Now, there is NO manual payroll accounting. There are instead a few options for their payroll accounting services, which start at $200 per year for a company with one employee. That cost has increased steadily, so check for the actual cost to process payroll. The charge seems steep for downloading publicly available payroll tax tables. Intuit obviously sees their customers as captives and they are doing everything they can to squeeze money out of them.

    Your accounting data in the proprietary QuickBooks data format is used to keep you upgrading as they shake you down for more money each year. Remember when you'd purchase software? Now you lease software, and it costs more each year. It feels like the software owns me.

    Here's another aspect of leased software. I tried to buy a used copy of QuickBooks. This wasn't some pirate deal where you get a CD and nothing else. I purchased the original CD with the user manual, packaging and authorization code. It wouldn't register. I called Intuit and they told me it was already registered. I told them I bought the software from the original owner. They said I couldn't do that, and I needed to buy the $250 shrink wrapped version. QuickBooks is tightly integrated to their online services and won't work without their official approval. Can you think of any other item you purchase that can't be sold as a used item? What would you think if Toyota told you that you couldn't sell your car, or you couldn't buy someone else's car, and the only way to buy a Toyota was to buy a new one from the dealer? You can buy and sell other intellectual property such as books, CDs, and DVDs. Why not QuickBooks? Even after spending a lot of money, you don't own QuickBooks. It's a $250 annual software lease, with other attached leases for payroll services, multiple user licenses, etc.

    The large amounts of money paid to Intuit on a yearly basis are bad enough, but you'd at least think that you'd get some customer service. Nope. Their customer service call center is in India. You deal with the language barrier, and generally have people with no direct understanding of western accounting, payroll or taxes. You get the usual call center "support" deal, with a person reading from a troubleshooting sheet that never seems to have anticipated your problem. If it isn't in the manual, it probably isn't going to be answered by the overseas call center either.

    If you are just starting out, find another small business accounting solution. I don't have any experience with the others so I can't recommend any of them, but they must be better than QuickBooks, because Intuit believes they own their customers. They essentially act as a non-government agency levying a tax on small businesses. Avoid the QuickBooks tax.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Keep up with Technology in your Accounting Software
    I am very sad to read so many insults against Intuit and the "Need to update their software".What people must consider is with each "Update" there are many new features that can be put to use immediately. As for Payroll and the necessary features and updates, we can all thank our current tax system. We have a complicated taxing system, yet Intuit Payroll (especially the Enhanced version) simplifies payroll by populating the many federal and state forms required of the small business person.Should you have an accountant overlook your system?I would say YES, regardless of WHAT system you use. Having a trained accountant, or if you are using Quickbooks, a Quickbooks Certified ProAdvisor. The assurance that your system is setup properly AND you are using all the features are worth the expense.Also, if you have the right accountant you should be getting tax advice and tips. All in all, keeping up with technology should be an integral part of your business plan. I have used many types of software and as an accountant I found QuickBooks is geared for the small to average business and requires minor accounting knowledge. However, saying that I will admit a trained accountant should review the system periodically for accuracy and compliance issues.

    Diane Offutt
    Woodstock, Georgia

    2-0 out of 5 stars No Customer Service Cost Us $$$
    Even when Intuit's customer service was located in the United States, I received conflicting information and instructions which caused our company to lose $214.35 with no refund in sight. One representative said we had to purchase another copy of the program in order to have an additional license. Then a different representative said this was incorrect and to send the copy back without opening it. I did this and they refunded the shipping. That's it. No one ever told me that Intuit does not refund extra license fees, they just kept taking my information and promising a refund. Then they changed their customer service to India who have no idea who these people were that I spoke with, but also promised a refund which never arrived. Warning---do not purchase an extra license just on their say-so.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to part with a lot of money!
    Don't run your business with this software if you are careful with your money - as most small businesspeople are.

    Every few years you have to upgrade in order to maintain the ridiculously expensive payroll tax update.I wish I had never upgraded from the early 1990's version.

    You used to be able to manually enter the federal and state withholding infomation in the earlier versions, which makes sense for a very small business like ours.But you can't do that anymore. In order to even OPEN the payroll window, you MUST subscribe to the payroll update service!I seem to recall that it's almost $200 per year now, and increases annually!

    It is now May, 2005, and I just received a notice that Intuit will no longer be providing tax tables for the 2003 version.I dread opening mail from Quickbooks, because notices like this are not uncommon.

    I am looking for a different software program for 2006.

    1-0 out of 5 stars OK Software - Customer Hostile Attitude
    I've used QuickBooks for 11 or 12 years. I can't wait until there is a reasonable alternative that will allow me to import my QuickBooks data and stop using QuickBooks.

    The QuickBooks software is generally user friendly and does a reasonably good job of simplifying small business accounting transactions. However, Intuit has a very poor attitude toward its customers as demonstrated by their business practices. With every upgrade, they force the customer to buy the next version by making it impossible to productively use the old software. They make a lot of money on upgrades.

    With every new version, they extract more money out of the customer through other means as well. For example, QuickBooks originally allowed manual payroll accounting, but with every new release it became more difficult to do manual payroll. Now, there is NO manual payroll accounting. There are instead a few options for their payroll accounting services, which start at $200 per year for a company with one employee. That cost has increased steadily, so check for the actual cost to process payroll. The charge seems steep for downloading publicly available payroll tax tables. Intuit obviously sees their customers as captives and they are doing everything they can to squeeze money out of them.

    Your accounting data in the proprietary QuickBooks data format is used to keep you upgrading as they shake you down for more money each year. Remember when you'd purchase software? Now you lease software, and it costs more each year. It feels like the software owns me.

    Here's another aspect of leased software. I tried to buy a used copy of QuickBooks. This wasn't some pirate deal where you get a CD and nothing else. I purchased the original CD with the user manual, packaging and authorization code. It wouldn't register. I called Intuit and they told me it was already registered. I told them I bought the software from the original owner. They said I couldn't do that, and I needed to buy the $250 shrink wrapped version. QuickBooks is tightly integrated to their online services and won't work without their official approval. Can you think of any other item you purchase that can't be sold as a used item? What would you think if Toyota told you that you couldn't sell your car, or you couldn't buy someone else's car, and the only way to buy a Toyota was to buy a new one from the dealer? You can buy and sell other intellectual property such as books, CDs, and DVDs. Why not QuickBooks? Even after spending a lot of money, you don't own QuickBooks. It's a $250 annual software lease, with other attached leases for payroll services, multiple user licenses, etc.

    The large amounts of money paid to Intuit on a yearly basis are bad enough, but you'd at least think that you'd get some customer service. Nope. Their customer service call center is in India. You deal with the language barrier, and generally have people with no direct understanding of western accounting, payroll or taxes. You get the usual call center "support" deal, with a person reading from a troubleshooting sheet that never seems to have anticipated your problem. If it isn't in the manual, it probably isn't going to be answered by the overseas call center either.

    If you are just starting out, find another small business accounting solution. I don't have any experience with the others so I can't recommend any of them, but they must be better than QuickBooks, because Intuit believes they own their customers. They essentially act as a non-government agency levying a tax on small businesses. Avoid the QuickBooks tax. ... Read more


    2. Microsoft Office Standard Student and Teacher Edition 2004 Macintosh
    by Microsoft
    list price: $149.99
    our price: $134.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0001WN16M
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 6
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    MANUFACTURER WARRANTY: 90 DAYS ... Read more

    Features

    • Confidently create stunning documents with impressive new tools
    • Spend less time managing info and more time using it
    • A productivity suite with a host of ground-breaking new features
    • Full versions of the leading productivity applications from Microsoft
    • Easily share ideas across platforms and around the globe

    Reviews (22)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Best MS-Office so far... but hardly the best office suite.
    Coming from 15 years of working with Windows, it is sheer joy to work on Mac OS X (yes, I am one of the highly vaunted switchers! - No, i did not just recently grow a brain... I work as an IT professional, and until OS X, the Mac did not allow me to do my job as an NT admin. I got laid off due to the glut of Windows IT pros and am changing careers to web design, where the Mac easily outshines windows in every single imaginable way!). I have since decided to get a BS BS in Interactive Media Design at Art Institute of Pittsburgh to step my career up further, and the school requires I use MS Office for some projects. I have OpenOffice, but hate... ABSOLUTELY HATE, the Java interface, so I decided to buy the student version of MS Office for Mac despite my years of utter distaste for MS Office as a whole.

    Once installed, I was really quite pleasantly surprised to see that MS Office 2004 for Mac is ten times better than MS Office 2003 for Windows. Much cleaner, more logical interface, less cluttered, though stil la long ways off from clean and uncluttered. Some things are a little odd, but nothing I could scream about.

    Overall, MS-Office 2004 for Mac is easily the very best MS-Office suite ever, and is made that much better by the total lack of that incredible pile-o-crap, Outlook. I can't say anything about Entourage, as I have no need for it, so I have never launched it, and most likely never will.

    But, is MS-Office the best office suite ever? Hardly! If Apple's iWork included a spreadsheet program with the slick, simple and surprisingly powerful Pages and KeyNote 2, that would be my choice for best office suite, hands down. In fact, after getting a free trial of iWork when I upgraded to Tiger, I went out and bought a copy (it's a measly $79), and use it far more. I would not need office except for Excel, and to ensure file compatibility with my page layouts.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but free substitutes are available
    Microsoft did a pretty good job with its office products. They are easy to use, powerful and versatile. Between Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you can get al;; your office needs met, whether you are a beginner, student, or a professional
    The best feature of the Microsoft Office suite is Outlook. It combines an easy to use calendar, email program that can handle multiple email accounts, task lists, and many other features that are just right if you need an all-in-one organizer.

    HOWEVER ---

    One of the other reviewers mentions that "the bottom line is value... why pay retail?" My question is - why pay at all? There is a FREE office suite called Open Office that you can download (again, for free, and legally). All you have to do is Google Open Office, and you will find the website. Granted, Open Office is not as good as Microsoft Office, but it is quite close. If you are looking for basic word processing, presentation software, and spreadsheet package, and if you do not require advanced features and your budget is tight, Open Office would be perfect for you.

    Open Office is available for the Macintosh platform, a well as for Windows, Solaris, and Linux.

    5-0 out of 5 stars See what Redmond could do if their OS didn't suck
    Very practical upgrade. A must for school. The ability to open PowerPoint files is invaluable. I like Word much better than Text Edit (who doesn't). I wish there was an easy way to set up Entourage. That is my biggest complaint.

    5-0 out of 5 stars must have upgrade
    First off, I would like to say that Microsoft did an outstanding job on Office for Mac, something that most people aren't used to hearing. There are so many improvements from previous versions, including faster speeds, smoother integration, and excellent compatibility with windows version 95 and up, just to name a few. Not to mention the beautiful design of the templates of all the included applications. Word, excel, powerpoint, and entourage look, feel, and perform like Apple's applications, which is a very good thing, with the added bonus of having the tools of microsoft office's programs.

    I use Office for Mac especially for research papers and homework. With the portability of my Apple iBook laptop, i can't help but do online research wirelessly for my essays. Then I just use Word to type out and organize them. THIS COULDN'T BE EASIER! Because our printer is hooked up to the main computer in my house (windows-based), I just simply e-mail my word-processed essays to the main computer (a pc) and voila! My essay is automatically converted as soon as I open the document, fully compatible! Then it's just as simple as printing it out and your done!

    Overall, I am so pleased with my purchase, I recommend this item to all of my friends and family and definetly recommend this to you. This is a must have upgrade for your Mac and it is worth every penny!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Can Be Slow to Respond
    I am using a new G4 Powerbook, 1.33 GHz clock, 256 MB RAM, and with no simultaneous applications running except for Office 2004 I experience the following:

    Word 2004 Mac (version 11.1) is sometimes very slow to perform certain functions: opening documents (even small and new documents can take 5 to 8 seconds); deleting by hitting the Delete key (2 -3 seconds to respond); pasting text into a document (2 -3 seconds to respond); and clicking on toolbar menu items (click on the icon then wait five or six seconds before the pull down menu appears - this only seems to happen the first time after working in the document for a while, clicking on a second menu icon will cause the menu to appear instantly as it should).

    Also, and perhaps related, scrolling down the page in Word 2004 by rolling the mouse scroll wheel for what would be a more than 9 or 12 line scroll down command seems to cause this weird wave to roll down the page. It is disorienting because you momentarily lose sight of the page and where you were. Could this be related to the slowness of Word 2004 (or the G4) and an inability to refresh the display quickly. Word 98 Mac did not do this, nor do documents pasted into Apple's TextEdit running on the same machine. All other apps run quickly on the G4.

    Other problems include the occasional crash of Word (and loss of all of the document you entered since the last save) for example when selecting Tools > Spelling and Grammar.

    Also, it takes too many steps to get to set margins for a document in Word 2004: File > Page Setup > pull down the Settings menu to choose Microsoft Word > click on Margins button. Word 98 was easier with fewer steps.

    Other than the above the Office 2004 suite has served me well these past few months. There are many improvements in the Charting functions in Excel 2004.

    ... Read more


    3. Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional
    by Adobe
    list price: $449.99
    our price: $394.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00069E7KO
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Adobe
    Sales Rank: 64
    Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Adobe® Acrobat® 7.0 Professional software is the advanced way to create, control, and deliver more secure, high-quality Adobe PDF documents. Assemble electronic or paper fileseven Web sites, engineering drawings, and e-mailinto reliable PDF documents that are easy to share with others using free Adobe Reader® 7.0 software.

    Features:

    • Enjoy improved performanceWith improved performance you can quickly convert, collect, and organize Adobe PDF documents.
    • Extend commenting capabilities Enable anyone who uses free Adobe Reader® 7.0 software to actively participate in reviews.
    • Easily design Adobe PDF forms Use Adobe LiveCycle™ Designer 7.0 software (now included with Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ProfessionalWindows® only) to create PDF forms that look like the paper forms they replace. Incorporate business logic, such as calculations and data validations.
    • Organize Adobe PDF documents Quickly find a list of Adobe PDF documents you have recently opened. View them as thumbnails, and drag and drop files into related collections.
    • Enjoy improved attachment capabilities Easily attach source documents such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, images, and drawings to an Adobe PDF document.
    ... Read more

    Features

    • Easily attach source documents such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, images, and drawings to an Adobe PDF document
    • Enable anyone with free Adobe Reader 7.0 software to use highlighter, sticky note, pen, and other commenting tools
    • Create PDF files with the click of a button from Microsoft applications and AutoCAD
    • Create a single Adobe PDF document from multiple sources, including portions of Web pages and previously combined Adobe PDF documents
    • Use the included Adobe LiveCycle Designer 7.0 software to create PDF forms that look like the paper forms they replace

    Reviews (13)

    1-0 out of 5 stars BEWARE - massive compatibility issues
    That's right if you have fillable forms created in a previous version and expect to change them, your out of luck.I thought compatibility was the cornerstone of Acrobat.

    Our firm does over $300 Million worth of business a year.We thought that Acrobat Professional ability to create fillable forms that could be shared, updated, and filled out by clients was a blessing.We not have dozens of worthless forms. And then there's the embarrassment when a client with Acrobat 7 can't fill out a form.THINK OF THE COST!

    Adobe's site doesn't even mention the issue (although, their site search and help system is so poor that it may be their somewhere - who knows.)

    At first, I thought I was doing something wrong.But, when I called support I was told that forms were not compatible.The service person then told me that she thought there might be a fix.However, without a service plan we'd have to pay to talk to Technical Support.We paid good money for this software (we buy multiple licenses) and only had this version for two days.

    Considering the magnitude of this issue.I'm guessing there are other major problems with this release of Acrobat..

    Adobe should fire its entire staff of software developers and the arrogant managers who let this software hit the market without providing fully functional compatibility.


    5-0 out of 5 stars So Far, So Good
    This is actually my review for the upgrade product, but I can't seem to edit my original review there to add my update.So, I'm posting it here just so it's available online:

    So far, I'm very pleased with this upgrade from my Adobe Acrobat Standard 6.0 to Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0. The installation process went flawlessly and everything still works. Also, this version seems to start up MUCH faster than the previous version. It might be due to the "Adobe Acrobat Speed Launcher" which is now in my XP Home Startup Group, but since that doesn't seem to lengthen my Windows boot process, it's transparent, and welcome, to me. A couple of other very welcome changes are that 1) Acrobat appears to have linked into Windows Explorer: using the Thumbnail view, Windows Explorer now displays the first page of PDFs instead of just the generic Acrobat logo, and 2) the Organizer tool gives Acrobat the ability to do some PDF-related document management. Combined, these two capabilities might give enough functionality to let me stop using Scansoft's PaperPort for my document management needs and just use Acrobat. I'll keep looking into it.

    UPDATE:After working with Acrobat as my PDF document manager for about a week and having gone through its entire help file (793 pages), I've decided to use it instead of my previous Scansoft PaperPort 9/OmniPage Pro 14 setup.It's not the best in the world, but it's workable.My document management needs are simple:I need to scan in my receipts and account statements to PDF format, OCR them so they're searchable, and manage them so I can find them.For various reasons that are unimportant here, Scansoft has irritated me into trying alternatives:Adobe Acrobat appears to be it.I can use Acrobat's Create PDF function to scan my documents and OCR them.I can then use its Organizer to see those PDFs in one of three ways:1) grouped under various History folders, 2) organized into a directory tree with options to set up Favorite folders, or 3) in various collections that I can produce which include links to documents of my choice.For text searching across my disk, I still use Copernic Desktop Search (free) as I did with Scansoft (though I could set up a Search Index in Acrobat, instead).My only complaints are that 1) the scanning/OCR process is slower in Acrobat since it opens and closes my scanner's interface for each page (instead of leaving it open), 2) Acrobat's OCR results aren't as accurate as Scansoft's, and 3) if I scan to a Searchable Image, Acrobat doesn't give me an opportunity to correct Suspect words.If I scan to Formatted Text & Graphics, I can edit Suspect words, but I end up with Acrobat's attempt to recreate the document instead of an actual picture of it with searchable text hidden behind it.Oh, well.I can live with that since it will allow me to get rid of two applications and the PDF it produces is about half the size of what I was getting with Scansoft.

    For those interested, my upgrade process is below:

    The first thing I did was uninstall my previous copy of Acrobat (version 6, standard). I did this through Start | Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs and uninstalled all the Acrobat stuff in the reverse order I installed it. I then rebooted (just to be sure) and ran this version's SETUP program. After I entered this version's serial number, it asked me for my previous version's CD for verification (it also gave me the option of verifying my upgrade status by phoning Adobe). I put the CD in the drive, it recognized it, and finished the installation. It then prompted me to activate the product over the internet (which I did without problem). Again, just to be sure, I rebooted (which wasn't necessary), and started up Acrobat. It immediately prompted me to register via the internet (which I did without problem) and asked if I wanted it to automatically check for critical updates. I said "yes" and it went out and got the current 7.0.1 update. I installed that, rebooted (not necessary), and was up and running. I started up all my programs which might use Acrobat files, opened a few of them, and all looks good.

    Even though Acrobat's OCR process isn't as accurate or as fast as I'd hoped, everything else looks good. So, I'm giving the product a rating of 5 stars out of 5.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Improved again.
    As a user of Acrobat from version 4.0 I have to say that once the use of a new version becomes familiar, there has always been a definite improvement. New users, of course, don’t have any choice about what version they will be using, so comparisons to previous versions is rather pointless for them.

    Users of version 7 should be aware that many of 7.0’s features will only be readily available to those using Windows and Acrobat Reader 7.0 to view their documents. Yes,Acrobat Reader 7.0 is now available for Linux, but the installation does not automatically link to any media players installed, andmany embedded media files will most probably not be available. Cross document and many other links should also be given due consideration, as they will fail in a Linux installation. If in doubt, check.

    The ‘Reduce File Size’ is a useful feature carried over from 6.0. This should be used to downgrade an Acrobat 7.0 file for users who will be using Acrobat Reader 5.0 - which is a lot -to eliminate the alert pop up about Reader incompatibility, even though there may be no incompatibility. This will apply to any .pdf with only images and text, etc. Not doing so has been frequently known to cause a recipient to panic and refuse to open the .pdf. This feature will also have a surprisingly beneficial result for the size of a .pdf. Reducing from 250 - 150 KB. is not unusual. But be sure to check the effect on image quality, if this is an important consideration.

    The extra integration with MS-Office is more of a nuisance than a convenience, I find. But maybe casual newbies will appreciate this.

    Anyone using Word for publishing purposes should consider InDesign and Framemaker instead, as they are more properly integrated with Acrobat in the first place.

    The price of Acrobat has certainly increased dramatically since the days of 4.0. But then it’s no more expensive than a decent colour printer, and is a lot more versatile.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Acrobat is the Cornerstone of Knowledge Management
    I train over 100 people per month on Acrobat. It is the only program that can bring the output from all programs together in one format and maintain document integrity. All the students are loving the improvements in Acrobat 7.
    The adding of macros into Office Products is a great productivity tool that is universally accepted by all my students. I get several questions per month from students wanting to add the macros when Windows security is set too tight for all the macros to be added. Just printing PDF through the distiller does not create all the intelligence that is available in a PDF document.
    Adobe is real good about asking for comments from the user community. If you want new features or changes in the next edition there is a portal on the Adobe website for your comments.
    ISO is adopting numerous standards around PDF. PDF-A (archival) will be realeased in the next couple months. It will be the only format that can handle text, raster and vector. ISO PDF-E (engineering) is under development - it will revolutionize engineering. Acrobat 7 allows creation of 3-D PDF files that can be annimated and viewed in the Acrobat 7 Reader. Adobe publishes the PDF spec and encourages developers to expand the program. You can purchase third-party plugins to expand the functionality.
    Finally we have a common format for the computer world to communicate. It will not replace other programs, but will allow us to communicate in one format. Imagine a 3000 page file with outputs from AutoCAD, Word, excel, microstation, scanning and numerous other programs. Now imagine searching everyting including drawings in 2 seconds. With Acrobat 7 you can do it.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Don't buy Version 7!
    I paid full retail price for Acrobat 7.0 based on my assumtion about Adobe's reputation.What a huge mistake!Acrobat 7 will take over your machine and spread its tentacles into nearly all of your applications. The arrogance of Adobe is truly amazing.I couldn't make it work with Netscape, but I also couldn't remove it and use Reader 6.0 either.It seems they know best how you want to use your computer, and they enforce their methods upon you.Good luck if you have any problems or questions: the technical support people wanted $40.00 to answer a simple question, and this was immediately after I purchased and registered the product.I finally had to uninstall Acrobat completely from my machine.I've just wasted $450.00.

    Steer clear of Version 7! ... Read more


    4. Rosetta Stone Spanish Level 1 & 2 Personal Edition (Latin America)
    by Fairfield Language Technologies
    list price: $329.00
    our price: $297.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000077DD8
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Fairfield Language Technologies
    Sales Rank: 51
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com Product Description

    Learn a new language with the award-winning method used by the U.S. State Department to train diplomats. Proven effective by NASA astronauts, Peace Corps volunteers, and millions of students worldwide, the Rosetta Stone Language Library teaches new languages faster and easier than ever before.

    We all learn our childhood language by associating new words and phrases with the world around us. The Rosetta Stone method replicates this process by presenting vivid, real-life images to convey the meaning of each new phrase. Instead of translating, memorizing, and studying rules of grammar, you actually learn to think in the new language. Vocabulary and grammar are integrated systematically, leading to everyday proficiency.

    This comprehensive program provides up to 550 hours of mastery instruction in listening comprehension, reading, writing, and speaking. Systematic structure teaches vocabulary and grammar naturally, without lists and drills. Previews, exercises, and tests accompany every lesson, with automated tutorials throughout the program. Graphical speech recognition displays your voiceprint and compares it with native speakers to help improve your pronunciation. (Ages 6 and older) ... Read more

    Reviews (9)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Surprised to see high ratings for limited, overpriced produc
    I am surprised that so many rated this highly.It is slickly presented and has enought material to take up a great deal of your time, but you will not learn much Spanish (compared, for instance, to using a good workbook/tape or CD combination) and you will spend many, many hours in front of your computer.After spending perhaps 100 hours with this program, I found I had learned surprisingly little and was very, very bored.

    It costs FAR more than it is worth.Don't buy it new.

    Finally, I agree with the reviewer who pointed out that computer based language learning just doesn't work well.You must put time into language learning, so why not put the time into an approach that will help you learn more?Buy a good workbook with tape or CD, find a native speaker to help you, or enroll in a course at your community college.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a natural, fun and effortless way to learn a language
    Rosetta Stone is unlike anything I've ever used to learn a language (and I've studied 8 of them, plus English).It teaches you as if you were two years old.It is only for use on a pc (or Mac), i.e. you can't just listen to it in the car and there is no book.

    It shows you 4 pictures, for example: a boy, a girl, a man and a woman.When the native speaker says "el niƱo" (and it spells it out on the screen too), you would point to the boy.The 4 pictures jumble;the native speaker says "la mujer".Didn't quite get that pronunciation?Just press the button;the native speaker says "la mujer" again, you would point to the woman.And so on.The degree of difficulty rises as you proceed -- phrases then sentences then complex sentences.

    Each lesson contains 40 photos.There are 4 different exercises per lesson (Listening, Reading, Speaking, & Writing) but I've been getting it just by listening, so it only takes me 5 to 10 minutes.No conjugation tables, no translations, no memorization, no classes to drive to, no homework.There's no English anywhere either;you don't need it since the pictures create a better association in your brain.It's absolutely effortless;you just need to put in the time.

    I've been using it for Spanish and I'm up to a 2nd or 3rd grade level in about 4 months.My comprehension is way up and I'm starting to speak it with some confidence.

    The downside:it's more expensive than any book or CD, and you're not likely to find it in a library.On the other hand, I have a shelf full of books and I've taken classes for about $70 each.I wish I had found this and not wasted the money on that other stuff.

    Tell me More seems to be similar to Rosetta Stone.For $175, it may be worth trying, but I have no experience with it, so I cannot vouch for it.

    Next I plan to learn Latin, and French after that, just to tie all the Romance languages together.I'm already fluent in Italian -- 6 years of school and many years of self-study.I wish I had known about Rosetta Stone years ago;well, actually, it didn't exist years ago.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The best product in the worst category
    If you have your heart set on learning a language while sitting at the computer, then this is the best computer based language learning program there is. The competition in this genre is terrible. Rosetta Stone software is stable and usable. And it is the only program I've seen with a user interface that doesn't look like a children's book.

    Having said that, I wouldn't recommend that anyone who is serious about learning a language use a computer program as a primary tool. Sure, you need a computer to load up your mp3 player and write to your foreign language speaking pen pal. But it takes some really serious determination to sit your butt in a chair, night after night for hours learning Spanish. Don't set yourself up for failure.

    Unless you are a very exceptional learner, you're going to have to practice for at least a half-hour every day. For me, that means fitting it into my lifestyle. I study while I'm driving, washing dishes, waiting in line, whenever. And I've been doing it for years. If I had to sit in front of a computer, it wouldn't have lasted a week.

    If you still really want computer based language training, this is the best I've seen. I believe they've added a third level to the Spanish program which should make it more complete. The boxed edition is very pricey, but Rosetta Stone has an online version for which you can pay monthly. They also have sample lessons on the website.

    I would recommend starting with an mp3 player and a good comprehensive audio course (Pimsleur or Platiquemos). Forget the computer programs, or use them as a supplement.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good but way overpriced
    I got this program to help with listening comprehension.It does a good job at that.Overall, the program is way overpriced.As one reviewer pointed out, it is mostly in the present progressive or the present tense.It helps one learn basic vocabulary and very simple sentences in the present tense, but is sorely lacking in teaching more complex grammar and more complicated vocal utterances.This is not a stand-alone program.You will need to study Spanish elsewhere to really learn the language.It does excel at teaching listening comprehension but you will need to supplement these CDs with plenty of other learning.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
    This will not work for you as the first or only program for learning Spanish.It is great as a supplement to other methods of learning Spanish.The method is entirely intuitive - there is no English anywhere, so you may also want to have a dictionary and a grammar book.

    I have found Rosetta Stone language programs most useful for reviewing the information I have learned elsewhere, for brushing up on languages I haven't used for a while, and for expanding vocabulary.

    It may not be the best choice for total beginners, but you can learn a lot by associating words and expressions with the images and occasional mini videos.I do consider it definitely a worthwhile purchase.
    ... Read more


    5. Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003
    by Microsoft
    list price: $499.99
    our price: $414.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000AZJVC
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 44
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 is the most complete personal and business productivity solution that enables people to:

    • Manage customers and create impressive marketing materials
    • Manage e-mail and share information efficiently and securely
    • Streamline business processes


    All with familiar, integrated and easy to use software. It provides access to a leading community of partners and Office Online for additional solutions, training, and support. Improvements were made in four areas: information management and control, business processes, communication and collaboration, and personal productivity.

    This version includes:
    • Word 2003
    • Excel 2003
    • Outlook 2003
    • PowerPoint 2003
    • Access 2003
    • Publisher 2003
    • Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager
    ... Read more

    Features

    • Easy-to-use wizards to create e-mail newsletters and printed marketing materials
    • More than 20 preformatted business reports
    • Analyze and manage business information using Access databases
    • Exchange data with other systems using enhanced XML technology
    • Control information sharing rules with enhanced IRM technology

    Reviews (29)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Simply Awful
    Office 2003 is quite simply the worst pile of bloated crapware I have ever had the misfortune of installing on my computer.Its slow, costs too much, eats up way too much precious hard drive space, and is difficult and unintuitive to use.Absolutely the worst experience I personally have ever had with "productivity" software.Do yourself a favor, go to openoffice.org, download their suite and use it.You won't be disappointed.Sometimes, I truly wish there were a "zero star" option from Amazon in rating a product.If anything deserves it, this garbage does.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Dear XMLers...
    I am primarily an Excel user; this review is intended for those who primarily use Excel...

    If you work with a development team that has the ability to produce XML files, and you want to get away from using gigantic flat databases for references, Office 2003 is your solution.Copying and pasting will be no longer necessary; just query a URL.It's proven to be an indispensible tool for us.

    So, if you're in the serious business of producing reports, and you have a development staff that can produce dynamic XML pages, this is the product for you.With the previous version, you could Web Query; XML provides so many more possibilities --especially if you're coding.The code is much simpler.

    Other than that, the program is not much different from 2002.Many other features that people want were still not implemented, such as extending the columns beyond 256 and the rows beyond 65K+.Word still has the same ole quirks (you know what they are if work with it often), and Access is just about the same.For the latter two programs, the only noticeable difference is the 'feel,' or the look of them.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The latest version
    Perhaps I am jaded but again it seems that Microsoft has cranked out another product that looks and acts so much like its predecessor that you wonder at first if you loaded it onto your computer properly.

    Office 2003 gives you what you already have in Office XP (and a few earlier versions) so learning how to use it is never going to be a problem.In virtually every way the program looks and feels like the previous Office versions.

    There are improvements although I am not sure how much a home user will need the XML functionality.It may be a god-send one day but today it is still not a major factor and certainly does not demand a major update.The RESEARCH option is something to contend with and could be quite useful - it is almost like having Encarta loaded on your machine as well.I found it a bit limiting though; it is good as a thesaurus but there is no world atlas, quotation source, etc.Many people have applauded the new look and feel of Outlook.Again, it behaves just the same as previous versions of Outlook did.

    Microsoft chose to retire the Office bar and that is a big mistake.They are trying to push the Quick Launch bar but most businesses and almost all Office users preferred the Office bar.

    Don't get me wrong:Office 2003 works very well and with Word, Outlook, Excel, Access and Publisher you can literally do anything!It also preforms very well.But, again, unless Microsoft starts making major changes, these releases should not be heralded as new.If anything, they should be upgrades that former users should be able to download if they registered the original product - the cost is too prohibitive to justify upgrading.And, as your Office 97 or XP works just as well, you should think seriously before spending the money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003
    This is the newest version of Microsoft Office. I think this is the best also because they have added programs that you couldn't get with 2000 or XP. They include:

    Microsoft Word 2003
    Microsoft Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager
    Microsoft Excel 2003
    Microsoft Access 2003
    Microsoft PowerPoint 2003
    Microsoft Publisher 2003

    Word 2003 has really improved and it has much more fonts than the older versions. I love PowerPoint now and I use it a lot with work and just sometimes to fool around with. Outlook has finally gotten a new look to it which looks awesome. Publisher has even more things you can do with it. Excel has become a little bit easier with more things built into though. I love Office 2003 and no other company can even compare to it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Upgrade
    A great upgrade from the prevous version.
    I like it allot better than Office XP.
    How could this program get anything lower than 5 starts, i dont know anyone who uses windows that doesnt have Microsoft Office. ... Read more


    6. Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 Upgrade
    by Microsoft
    list price: $329.99
    our price: $277.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000BX73E
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 65
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Office Professional Edition 2003, Upgrade ... Read more

    Features

    • Easy-to-use wizards to create e-mail newsletters and printed marketing materials
    • More than 20 preformatted business reports
    • Analyze and manage business information using Access databases
    • Exchange data with other systems using enhanced XML technology
    • Control information sharing rules with enhanced IRM technology

    Reviews (27)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 Upgrade
    This has improved greatly since 2000, and includes training on Microsoft.com.I have enjoyed learning more about each product in the office package.

    1-0 out of 5 stars 2003 Office upgrade
    If you are primarily a Word and Excel user, this upgrade is just not worth it.In fact, I find the typical autocorrect-type (assumes the programmer knows better than you how you want to format your document) additions more annoying than improvements to the program.This is overall a very good package, but I just wish Microsoft would leave it alone.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Unable to get past the "Convert" Process
    In mid-August I purchased a new 3-Gig P4 mid-range Compaq laptop with Windows XP Pro, a trial version of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works pre-installed.Using the documentation provided on Amazon.com I purchased the upgrade version of Microsoft Office 2003 Pro on amazon.com.Here it is the mid-November and I'm still trying to get the trial version to "covert" to the upgrade version I purchased.No documentation seems to exist, online or otherwise, and I dread the possibility of spending hours on hold to Microsoft.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Much, much better
    Let me tell you, I've used every version of Office that's been released since 1995, and this edition is by far the best one yet.
    I was quite dissapointed with Office XP, luckily lots of problems have been fixed in this new version. First of all, all the programs that come with office load MUCH faster. It use to take nearly a minute to open word or excel, now they open in under 30 seconds.
    Also, they have reintroduced Publisher as part of the main packages. Publisher, since I am a student who makes lots of paper creative design projects, was one of the most useful programs on my computer before the upgrade to Office XP. I was devastated when Microsoft pulled it from Office. I suppose I wasn't alone because it's back and better than before.
    Along the same lines, Outlook has received it's first major update since 2000. In fact, it is now easy enough to use that I actually have picked it over Outlook Express (a personal first).
    Overall, I must say that Office 2003 makes Office XP look like a train wreck of a program. I must recommend Office 2003 to anyone who uses Office of any edition, but especially to those who use XP because they have no idea how much they're missing.
    Welcome to the future of Office.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Webmasters Don't Buy Access 2003
    If you use Access 2002 or earlier in your websites, don't buy office 2003 because Access 2003 is not supported by anyone including bCentral, a Microsoft Company.I changed providers to bCentral after being told they did, then found they don't, plus not to mention cannot connect to their servers most of the time. As with any MS product, always errors.

    It has been a complete nightmare, I uninstalled 2003 and reinstalled 2002 and all my databases that I opened with 2003 are screwed up.It will take me months to fix a 1500 page website that is Access driven.Time I learned PHP or MySQL. ... Read more


    7. QuickBooks Pro 2005 for Mac
    by Intuit, Inc.
    list price: $299.95
    our price: $244.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00062AJQ2
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Intuit, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 34
    Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005 - Complete Product - Financial - 5 User(s) Complete Product - Standard - MacQuickBooks Pro 2005 for Mac is all about working the way you want to work, including more customizable forms and easier ways to share data with QuickBooks for Windows users. And it takes advantage of more Mac OS X features, including iCal and .Mac. Nice electronics is your source for everyday low prices on theIntuit 284186 - QUICKBOOKS PRO EDITION 2005 MACand all other Intuit Software - Misc ... Read more

    Features

    • Transfer data from Quicken for Mac or QuickBooks for Windows
    • Takes advantage of more Mac OS X features, including iCal and .Mac
    • Financial management software for small businesses
    • Easily pay bills, print checks, track expenses, and much more
    • Export reports to Microsoft Excel; customizable reports

    Reviews (10)

    3-0 out of 5 stars I can't believe there's no online banking support!!!!
    This just blows my mind.My cheapo Quicken (actually bundled free) has had great online banking support for years, but pricey Quickbooks PRO does not?What is that?This is 2005 -- I can't fathom how they could possibly release this product without online banking support.It's not like they don't know how to do it.

    Other than that I really like it.I'm using it anyway as there isn't really an attractive alternative in my opinion, as they must know...

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not as advertised:MAC to PC problems.
    If you are planning on round-tripping between your Mac and a Windows version (i.e. between your accountant or bookeeper's PC using a windows version of Quickbooks Pro- DO NOT PURCHASE this product! Unfortunately, there are two major flaws with Quickbooks 2005 7.0. The first and most dangerous is that the more you round trip the more corrupt your data will become.Secondly, if you have memorized reports you will have to errase them before round tripping and they will not be saved.
    Unfortunately Quickbooks does not tell you this before purchasing- infact they advertise this easy conversion between Mac and PC as a selling feature for their product.
    If you do not need to have your accountant or CPA manipulate your data on their PC, then the program is a good attempt to make a Windows style program into a MAC-like product.

    1-0 out of 5 stars NoBooks Is More Like It
    Don't buy it. If you're on Mac, spend your money on PC emulator and use the PC version of QuickBooks. The Mac version doesn't seem to be designed to be used as a bookkeeping system for a business. You can't print deposit slips. You can print a deposit summary, but the bank is funny about requiring an account number and a routing number.
    QuickBooks won't do payroll updates for the Mac version, so you have to jump through more hoops to get signed up with yet another vendor, then you get the software vs. software argument: "It's not our problem, it's theirs." "No, it's not our problem, it's theirs."
    And that's the first day. I understand it gets worse from there, but I'm not sticking around for the ride.
    Intuit has kindly set up an online forum so users can "share creativity" for working around problems. I thought that was what programmers were supposed to do.I thought I was supposed to spend my time running my business and using the software, not "fixing" it.But hey, maybe someone will buy that line and believe it's her fault the program is a dog.
    Intuit has taken a page from the Gates book and gone MS one better on the QuickBooks for Mac version.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not ready for prime time:more is less
    Intuit has hyped this new release a lot, but it falls well short of deserving the praise.The 2005 QuickBooks for Mac would be a definite improvement if there weren't so many little glitches and annoyances in it.Most disturbingly, accounts and numbers pull disappearing acts - they simply don't display on the screen sometimes.How confidant can you feel when you're looking at a Profit and Loss statement that has no numbers on it?

    Even though the menus are touted as being redesigned to closely match those in the PC version of QuickBooks, some things are still maddeningly hard to find.And too many basic features are still unavailable.Intuit should have kept this under wraps a bit longer and made sure it worked before they foisted it off on users eager for an improved product.Let's hope they address the bugs promptly in a maintenance update.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Rebate is phony
    The terms of the rebate aren't listed here but once you get the pakage you will see in the fine print that it is only for people who are UPGRADING from a previous version of QuickBooks. ... Read more


    8. Microsoft Office 2004 Standard (Mac)
    by Microsoft
    list price: $399.99
    our price: $344.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0001WN0M2
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 43
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    For home and business users running Mac OS X version 10.2.8 orlater.Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition introduces new features designed to help you transform the way you manage information share your ideas seamlessly and create impressive documents with confidence. Includes Word 2004 Excel 2004 PowerPoint 2004 and Entourage 2004.* Word Notebook Layout View Make meetings more productive by easily taking notes searching andflagging relevant information and recording audio directly into yourdocuments.* Project Center Conveniently access e-mail messages documents contacts and even audioand video from one central location.* Excel Page Layout View View and manipulate on your screen exactly what you will see on paperincluding margins headers footers and page count.* Improved junk e-mail protection Enjoy more freedom from unwanted e-mail messages than ever before. Thejunk e-mail filter removes messages before they get to your Inbox.* PowerPoint Presenter Tools You and only you will see which slide is up and which ones are ondeck while an on-screen clock maintains the perfect tempo. REQUIRES- G3 Mac OS X compatible processor or faster256 MB of RAM450 MB of available hard-disk space for recommended installationof Office (630 MB for a full drag-and-drop install). CD-ROM drive (or connection to a local area network if you areinstalling over a network). Mac OS X version 10.2.8 or laterMouse or compatible pointing devicewww.microsoft.com ... Read more

    Features

    • Convenient Excel page-layout view and PowerPoint presenter tools
    • Improved junk e-mail protection
    • A productivity suite with a host of ground-breaking new features
    • Access e-mail, documents, contacts, and more from one central location
    • Take notes, flag information, and record audio directly into documents

    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Same Functionality
    I have not tried Entourage because I am fine with Mac's Mail program. Word, Powerpoint and Excel work just like on a Window's computer. I have not had any problems switching files between my Mac and a Window's computer (people ask me if that is a problem).

    The only drawback to me is that the toolbars are a little more confusing in the Mac versions. They are all individual windows and I am so used to Microsoft Works toolbars being all up top.

    5-0 out of 5 stars If you connect to Exchange, this is a must have upgrade!
    As a Unix system administrator, Microsoft Office is the best reason why I use the Macas my primary workstation OS. Aside from the usual hassles of getting Linux up and running on any machine (especially on a laptop!), there really isn't any good Office alternatives that can effectively allow you to collaborate easily with the rest of the MS-centrict world - especially with Exchange. Microsoft Office 2004 allows you do to so easily without sacrificing your need to use an Unix OS (except, of course, for a lot of cash).

    Case in point: With Entourage, Exchange support has improved to the point that the setup is even easier than Microsoft Office for Windows - when you run it for the first time and you configured it for Exchange, it ask for three things:

    1) Your username
    2) Your password
    3) The domain you log into.

    That's it. It setups everything up. You don't need to configure the outgoing user, try to figure out which message store to use - it just works! Even Outlook 2003 for Windows does not do that. That and with much improved junk-mail filtering makes this an worthwhile upgrade (at least for me)

    As for the rest of the package, I used Office v.X before the upgrade and from what I can tell, there is no big changes, aside from project center and some possible incremental updates (although now there is an autoupdate program that updates your current office install - but I think Office v.X has that as well).Overall, If you do need to exchange Office docs with your MS Windows work mates (and the Free alternatives doesn't cut it - which usually doesn't these days) and you need to connect to Exchange, get this upgrade.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wow.
    Wow.I said this one word when I started working with Microsoft's latest revision to their suite of software, Office 2004.

    Wow.I also remember saying this when I say the gigantic headed Bill Gates up on the video screen behind Steve Jobs a few years ago when Apple and Microsoft agreed to play nice.(OK, there was more to it than just "play nice," but as usual, I digress.)

    I do really like Office 2004.I like what I can do better with it.And, there is now also an envy factor.Not only do I have a better operating system at home than at work (my employer is still stuck in XP-land), but I now have a better Office software suite.

    Allow me to tell you that I have been an Microsoft Office user for a few years, on both Windows and Mac OS 9.I was very happy with having Office X work so well on cross-platform work (when I travel without my Powerbook, I carry my USB thumb-drive and Office documents are quickly interchanged across operating systems.)

    So, I have been very pleased with this latest version of Office.The 2004 suite installs very smoothly (I recommend following the install program, but you can drag-n-drop the entire suite also.)

    I won't go into great detail about many of the different features (many Mac websites and magazines are filled with the current buzz about Office) but I will mention some high points and a few quirks.

    I loved Project Center.This made Entourage a win for me.Prior to this, I had Office X, but I used Apple's Mail exclusively.Now, I use both (I'll mention this in one of my reviewed quirks below.)The ability to organize, track, and group all my electronic work together (emails, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, contacts, calendars ...) has been very useful.Plus I like the reorganized Entourage viewing panel for reading emails (the email opens and can be viewed to the right of the screen, rather than the traditional top and bottom view.)

    Plus I really liked Word's updates in two key areas:Notebook layout and the formatting palette's transparency.The notebook layout helps meto take notes smoothly during presentations.Plus, it has a sound recording option.This was really neat.At a recent User Group meeting on databases, I sat and took notes during the presentation, and recorded the presenter's voice.During playback (90 minutes for about 8 megabytes), my notes are marked to the side by where in the presentation the recorded voice is currently.I'm almost willing to go back to college with this tool!But I can see where it will be useful in my current day to day work also.(I have a colander for a memory retention device, and I'm always taking notes in some form or another.)

    Plus, I like the new feature of the formatting palette.When idle (maybe 10 seconds, if I counted), the palette allows the window below to show through, so that I can read my stuff a whole lot easier.Formatting for output is easier with this palette.

    I use Excel, and I like it as a simple database.But I didn't see any really killer upgrades (but then I'm not a power user in the Excel world.)I do like how the charts and diagrams seem a whole lot easier now.

    I've been a PowerPoint fan for quite a while now.But Apple's Keynote took away most of PowerPoint's thunder with its release.In 2004, PowerPoint fires back and wins back some issues on "Gee-whiz" tricks of animation and preview.The little addition of a timer makes the preview ability (the presentation on a separate screen/projector and the preview screen on your laptop) a key issue for the combination of making smooth and organized presentations. There are a whole new bunch of animation transitions and tricks.But, Keynote still wins in slide transition (the cube transform in PowerPoint falls flat.)

    With this segue, I'll mention some of the downsides to Office 2004 which I experienced.In setting up Entourage, I brought over both an IMAP account (my .mac address) and a POP account (another email address).The IMAP works well enough, but I am used to "seeing" the email the Apple Mail way, and it took me a while to get used to seeing my .mac emails not move around as easily in filing (I'd have to copy the email somewhere, then delete it from the IMAP inbox.And my POP account (which worked so easily in Mail), never did get set up.I'm not smart enough to figure it out yet, so I still use Mail.And if Apple gives Mail a revision with at least an option to view emails from the side, rather then from above, I might switch back.All I know is that I like Entourage, but I don't really like it.

    And, I encountered a series of application failures in PowerPoint when building a presentation for this review.Every one seemed somehow related to slide animations, but I couldn't see any one issue.For every one, I allowed the program to send its report to Microsoft with some hopes that this might get resolved.

    And now, I'll finish by letting you know that Mom always said if I had nothing nice to say, that I ought not say anything at all.I have gotten in trouble with not listening to my Mom before.So with that, I offer my review of MSN Messenger:iChat Rules!But if you want full functionality of Entourage, load Messenger, but don't run it.With it installed, Entourage will let you preview emails when you are running other applications in the foreground (definitely useful feature.)

    Lastly, as mentioned at the beginning, I use different Office versions, and I move documents around routinely to others.This Office version has one other neat trick -- a compatibility report.I can check my 2004 documents for compatibility with other versions to see what items might not work well.This is a nice simple feature, and I see this helping me out some also.

    2-0 out of 5 stars That's all ????
    As a user of v.X, I was looking forward to this.Well, as much
    as anyone looks forward to new MS software.Maybe a root canal would
    be more fun.

    I just don't see it.They want me to cough up $350 for a some really minor
    feature additions?Even on the MS webpage, they have a hard time finding
    more than 1-2 bullet 'enhancements' for each component.And I'd have
    to believe that NoteTaker or NoteBook is a better application than whatever
    MS's v1 of their Notebook facility is.And don't forget the all important Messenger
    integration :(

    Very disappointed. ... Read more


    9. The Sims 2 (Mac) [DVD]
    by Aspyr Media
    list price: $49.99
    our price: $44.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0006B63RW
    Catlog: Video Games
    Manufacturer: Aspyr Media
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com

    The Sims was one of the most popular games ever made. In it, players micromanage the lives of a family of virtual people, or Sims, and influence their paths toward success or something akin to a nervous breakdown. Its open-ended blend of cartoonish behavior and everyday living is unique in an art form otherwise obsessed with carnage and sports. With The Sims 2, longtime fans now have a deeper game with lots of ways to customize and share their experiences. The game will also attract first-timers because the goal-oriented gameplay and the luridly fun starter families make it easier to get into the action right out of the box.


    Now Sims are born with the traits of their parents, families grow, and Sims grow old.

    The People in Your Neighborhood
    The game starts at the neighborhood level. Here you can create a housing development from scratch or start with one of three premade neighborhoods, each with its own theme. From there, you'll settle on a house and a family of Sims to control.

    The Sims 2 body shop
    Create your own Sim (above) or your own house (below) from scratch with advanced tools.
    The Sims 2 house-building tools
    Aside from the basic needs carried over from the previous game, Sims now have aspirations, wants, and fears. The wants and fears are the day-to-day things that occupy their minds, like wanting to see friends or get married and fearing death or being rejected for a kiss. Satisfy their wants, and they become more efficient at completing tasks you assign them. Realize their fears, and Sims become lethargic, cranky, and unresponsive to your commands. Aspirations are the big-picture things, like raising a family, becoming wealthy, and gaining knowledge. Succeed here and you'll be able to buy odd gifts for your Sim to improve his or her life, like a money tree that pays dividends or a "fountain of youth" water cooler.

    What Else Is New?
    Of course, you wouldn't be able to juggle all that if it weren't for the improved "Free Will" option, which makes it easier for Sims to fulfill their basic needs. The artificial intelligence of the game is noticeably improved; they won't turn on radios just as a family member is going to bed but, strangely, they do occasionally put their dishes on the floor.

    Another big change in the series is the concept of the lifespan. Now Sims are born with the traits of their parents, families grow, and Sims grow old. Not only does this go hand in hand with aspirations (growing up is the first aspiration that a baby Sim will have), it provides a limited time with which your Sims can achieve their goals.

    Sims in live mode
    The Universal Control Panel helps you manage your Sim family.
    A Family Affair
    The Sims 2 not only lets you create just about any type of Sim in any type of family, build elaborate houses, and even create a neighborhood from scratch, but it also allows you to start the game in medias res, with premade households. These families all have backstories that are smart spoofs of soap-opera plots--lots of scheming, romance, ghosts, and family fighting. Parents of teens shouldn't worry, though, because nudity is tastefully blurred out and "woo-hoo" between Sims takes place completely under the covers. The ESRB has given this a Teen rating. If The Sims 2 were a film, it would likely land between PG and PG-13.

    The makers have included some nice tools to help share the universe you've created. For example, you can capture in-game stills and video to show friends the private moments, family interactions, and house parties of your Sims. You can even package a household to share as a blog or an album on a special Web site.

    The Sims 2 is for patient gamers. Like life itself, the game is filled with mundane details, like getting ready for work and doing dishes. The game also demands a level of creativity from its players that the run-and-gun game genres wouldn't know what to do with. But those who stick with it will be rewarded with an absorbing, amusing diversion and a virtual family history that they've created themselves. --Porter B. Hall

    Set Up a Sims 2 Machinima Studio
    Amazon.com contributor Porter Hall reveals how you can make movies using the Sims as your actors. See his guide to setting up a Sims 2 Machinima Studio. ... Read more

    Features

    • Build dream homes and design neighborhoods with new building options
    • Lifestyle simulation where you manage your Sim's dreams and fears over a lifetime
    • Mix Sim genes and see physical and personality traits through the generations
    • Control the camera and capture the action into mini movies
    • Generate unique Sims with the new Create-A-Sim feature

    Reviews (14)

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Sims = More Fun
    Love the concept of the first version and V2 is even better.More options and more graphics.When was the last time V2 was worse though right?

    1-0 out of 5 stars Aspyr Sucks!
    Ok, well, I wanted to order The Sims 2 for my iMac, but no...I found out it won't even work! Is this some kind of scam, do they have some evil pact with Macintosh to make this game so overhyped that everyone wants it more than anything just to find out even on newer Macs it will not work so you're forced to buy a brand new computer? I think so. Anyway, I really hope they will do something to fix this. A new version or some patches, something! I have been waiting impatiently since I first found out about The Sims 2 to have it and spend countless hours playing, just to find out my less than 2 year old Mac is not good enough for it! Grrrr....

    1-0 out of 5 stars Too Requirement-Heavy
    So, the only people who are going to benefit from this game are those who have purchased a new G5? Not a very smart move for Aspyr. That's not a big pool of people. I purchased it, brought it home to use on my smokin-fast G4 w/ Superdrive, but I only have a GeForce 4000 video card, and the game DOESN'T WORK. It's rediculous. Waste of $50.

    5-0 out of 5 stars If you've got the machine to play it... It's a blast!
    Just received The Sims 2 in the mail yesterday and I love all the improvements that the game has undergone. Its about 10x as detailed as the original (for example, you don't just serve dinner, you get to decide what you are making!!!) and the new 3D engine is really gorgeous to look at. Watching your sim make him/herself a bowl of cereal and dig right into it with flakes flying all around is so fun... it's breathed new life into a great game.

    I'm running it on a PowerMac Dual 2.5 with a 9600XT & 1.5gb RAM. That's unfortunately the only drawback to the game - the hefty requirements - and unfortunately the state of the Mac gamming community. PC's have really gotten much more advanced as far as games are concerned, and porting these new games from the PC to the Mac is starting to show how long in the tooth some of our Macs have gotten (I have read on several Sims 2 PC sites that the game isn't coded very well and it is very processor intensive.) Hopefully the switch to Intel will help alleviate those problems in the future, but for now, if you've got the rig to run The Sims 2 and you're a fan of the franchise than I HIGHLY recommend it!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Mac System Requirement Issues
    It's just not playable despite the system requirements listed from Aspyr, Apple, or Amazon. Play is choppy. Unless you just purchased a brand new Mac with all the bells and whistles -- wait (even more). Major disappointment. ... Read more


    10. Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional Upgrade from Standard Version 4-7
    by Adobe
    list price: $159.99
    our price: $141.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00069ECAO
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Adobe
    Sales Rank: 55
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Collect, produce, and share Intelligent Documents

    Adobe® Acrobat® 7.0 Professional software is the advanced way to create, control, and deliver more secure, high-quality Adobe PDF documents. Assemble electronic or paper fileseven Web sites, engineering drawings, and e-mailinto reliable PDF documents that are easy to share with others using free Adobe Reader® 7.0 software.

    New features

    • Enjoy improved performance
      With improved performance you can quickly convert, collect, and organize Adobe PDF documents.

    • Extend commenting capabilities
      Enable anyone who uses free Adobe Reader® 7.0 software to actively participate in reviews.

    • Easily design Adobe PDF forms
      Use Adobe LiveCycle™ Designer 7.0 software (now included with Adobe Acrobat 7.0 ProfessionalWindows® only) to create PDF forms that look like the paper forms they replace. Incorporate business logic, such as calculations and data validations.

    • Organize Adobe PDF documents
      Quickly find a list of Adobe PDF documents you have recently opened. View them as thumbnails, and drag and drop files into related collections.

    • Enjoy improved attachment capabilities
      Easily attach source documents such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, images, and drawings to an Adobe PDF document.
    Note: To qualify for this upgrade version you must be a licensed user of Acrobat 4.x, 5.x or Acrobat 6.x, 7.0 Standard.

    ... Read more

    Features

    • Easily attach source documents such as spreadsheets, multimedia files, images, and drawings to an Adobe PDF document
    • Enable anyone with free Adobe Reader 7.0 software to use highlighter, sticky note, pen, and other commenting tools
    • Create PDF files with the click of a button from Microsoft applications and AutoCAD
    • Create a single Adobe PDF document from multiple sources, including portions of Web pages and previously combined Adobe PDF documents
    • Use the included Adobe LiveCycle Designer 7.0 software to create PDF forms that look like the paper forms they replace

    Reviews (3)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Massive compatibility issues - Beware!
    That's right if you have fillable forms created in a previous version and expect to change them, your out of luck.I thought compatibility was the cornerstone of Acrobat.

    Our firm does over $300 Million worth of business a year.We thought that Acrobat Professional ability to create fillable forms that could be shared, updated, and filled out by clients was a blessing.We not have dozens of worthless forms. And then there's the embarrassment when a client with Acrobat 7 can't fill out a form.THINK OF THE COST!

    Adobe's site doesn't even mention the issue (although, their site search and help system is so poor that it may be their somewhere - who knows.)

    At first, I thought I was doing something wrong.But, when I called support I was told that forms were not compatible.The service person then told me that she thought there might be a fix.However, without a service plan we'd have to pay to talk to Technical Support.We paid good money for this software (we buy multiple licenses) and only had this version for two days.

    Considering the magnitude of this issue.I'm guessing there are other major problems with this release of Acrobat..

    Adobe should fire its entire staff of software developers and the arrogant managers who let this software hit the market without providing fully functional compatibility.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Interested in followup
    David,
    I'd be real interested in your experience with the Organizer tool and document management.Thanks.You can also email me at LHouseman@HousemanSeeligson(no spam).com

    5-0 out of 5 stars So Far, So Good
    So far, I'm very pleased with this upgrade from my Adobe Acrobat Standard 6.0 to Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0. The installation process went flawlessly and everything still works. Also, this version seems to start up MUCH faster than the previous version. It might be due to the "Adobe Acrobat Speed Launcher" which is now in my XP Home Startup Group, but since that doesn't seem to lengthen my Windows boot process, it's transparent, and welcome, to me. A couple of other very welcome changes are that 1) Acrobat appears to have linked into Windows Explorer: using the Thumbnail view, Windows Explorer now displays the first page of PDFs instead of just the generic Acrobat logo, and 2) the Organizer tool gives Acrobat the ability to do some PDF-related document management. Combined, these two capabilities might give enough functionality to let me stop using Scansoft's PaperPort for my document management needs and just use Acrobat. I'll keep looking into it.

    UPDATE:After working with Acrobat as my PDF document manager for about a week and having gone through its entire help file (793 pages), I've decided to use it instead of my previous Scansoft PaperPort 9/OmniPage Pro 14 setup.It's not the best in the world, but it's workable.My document management needs are simple:I need to scan in my receipts and account statements to PDF format, OCR them so they're searchable, and manage them so I can find them.For various reasons that are unimportant here, Scansoft has irritated me into trying alternatives:Adobe Acrobat appears to be it.I can use Acrobat's Create PDF function to scan my documents and OCR them.I can then use its Organizer to see those PDFs in one of three ways:1) grouped under various History folders, 2) organized into a directory tree with options to set up Favorite folders, or 3) in various collections that I can produce which include links to documents of my choice.For text searching across my disk, I still use Copernic Desktop Search (free) as I did with Scansoft (though I could set up a Search Index in Acrobat, instead).My only complaints are that 1) the scanning/OCR process is slower in Acrobat since it opens and closes my scanner's interface for each page (instead of leaving it open), 2) Acrobat's OCR results aren't as accurate as Scansoft's, and 3) if I scan to a Searchable Image, Acrobat doesn't give me an opportunity to correct Suspect words.If I scan to Formatted Text & Graphics, I can edit Suspect words, but I end up with Acrobat's attempt to recreate the document instead of an actual picture of it with searchable text hidden behind it.Oh, well.I can live with that since it will allow me to get rid of two applications and the PDF it produces is about half the size of what I was getting with Scansoft.

    For those interested, my upgrade process is below:

    The first thing I did was uninstall my previous copy of Acrobat (version 6, standard). I did this through Start | Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs and uninstalled all the Acrobat stuff in the reverse order I installed it. I then rebooted (just to be sure) and ran this version's SETUP program. After I entered this version's serial number, it asked me for my previous version's CD for verification (it also gave me the option of verifying my upgrade status by phoning Adobe). I put the CD in the drive, it recognized it, and finished the installation. It then prompted me to activate the product over the internet (which I did without problem). Again, just to be sure, I rebooted (which wasn't necessary), and started up Acrobat. It immediately prompted me to register via the internet (which I did without problem) and asked if I wanted it to automatically check for critical updates. I said "yes" and it went out and got the current 7.0.1 update. I installed that, rebooted (not necessary), and was up and running. I started up all my programs which might use Acrobat files, opened a few of them, and all looks good.

    Even though Acrobat's OCR process isn't as accurate or as fast as I'd hoped, everything else looks good. So, I'm giving the product a rating of 5 stars out of 5. ... Read more


    11. Microsoft Project 2003 Standard
    by Microsoft
    list price: $599.00
    our price: $508.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000AZJVJ
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 55
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Project 2003 ... Read more

    Features

    • Move information easily between Project 2003 and other Microsoft Office programs, such as Excel
    • Updated interface and new templates available for downloading, make this version of Project the most user-friendly ever!
    • Organize your work more effectively with new scheduling tools -- Track schedule and resource changes to yourproject plans quickly
    • New display options lets you show individuals the project information they need to review
    • Increase your impact at work and create better presentations to print compelling and succinct copies of schedules and goals

    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars No other project management software comes close
    One could say that this is the standard by which all other project management software is measured ... but there are no others that compare. For better or for worse, Microsoft dominates this software segment like no other.

    However, instead of resting on its market share, MS keeps improving its product. In more than 5 years as a professional project manager at a Fortune 500 company, I have never seen another software product in daily use other than Project ... although I'm sure they are out there somewhere.

    If you require others to share your files and for your project plans to be backwardly compatible years into the future, you really shouldn't consider anything else. But don't be dismayed, this is well-designed software that is surprisingly easy to learn, use and an immediate, out-of-the-box time-saver.

    The bottom line is still incredible value, even more so if you qualify for the low-price Academic Version, as I did while taking a continuing ed project management course. ... Read more


    12. Adobe Photoshop 7.0
    by Adobe
    list price: $609.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000063EMG
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Adobe
    Sales Rank: 24
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com Review

    Mixed-media professionals such as photographers, Web designers, andgraphic designers will not be disappointed in Adobe's latest incarnation ofPhotoshop. In this release, Adobe aims hard at addressing the issues of filemanagement, easy photo retouching, and smarter output for the Web. While Adobemanages to successfully address these issues, it also remains true to its photoediting roots. New and improved features and tools such as a painting option andan enhanced brush palette allow Photoshop to build on its reputation as theleading tool for image manipulators. New-school designers of wirelessapplications will smile when they discover that Photoshop 7.0 offers support forWBMP-formatted graphics.

    Photoshop 7.0's new file management system comes in the form of a WindowsExplorer-like file browser that allows users to easily sort and locate theirimages within various projects. Users can now organize projects by name, date,resolution, and a number of additional parameters.

    The enhanced brush palette allows users to create custom brushes and save themas presets that can be accessed from the Tools options bar. Users can easilyvary different aspects of the brush by changing the hue, opacity, or flow of thebrushes for pastels, oils, and charcoal. Photoshop 7.0 also introduces a newHealing Brush and Patch Tool. With these tools, users can easily "heal" theirimages by removing scratches, blemishes, and other imperfections whilepreserving shading, lighting, and texture attributes.

    Adobe has taken great strides in revamping Photoshop 7.0 to be more Web-readythan ever before. With the help of its companion software Image Ready, users cannow easily create rollovers and complex navigation bars by using the newRollovers palette. Additional Web-ready features include enhanced Web exportfunctions that allow designers to preview images designed for PDAs and mobilephones in the WBMP format. Users can easily create a slide show of their imagesand post online using the new Web Gallery. People concerned about posting theirimages online can secure their images with the new password protection featurebefore sharing them.

    Adobe has finally introduced a long overdue spell checker with wickedmultilingual spell-checking capabilities. A new search and replace featureallows users to search and replace across different layers in the same document.

    While Photoshop 7.0 introduces an impressive array of features that allowphotographers, Web designers, and graphic designers to work more effectivelywith Web and wireless devices, it also remains the leading tool for anyoneserious about digital imaging. No other software package provides users with theability to create such high-quality images. --Rich Ting ... Read more

    Reviews (48)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Adobe Photoshop 7.0
    This program is AWESOME!! I also have a Wacom Art Tablet. I love coloring digital and editing photos with this program!! It makes my art really come to life, and it very handy with all kinds of photo editing needs. Thanx Adobe!!!!!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the bucks
    This is definitley the coolest program I have ever used! when you learn what you want/need to know, it becomes fun and easy to use! One of the best programs out there, especially if you need to restore an old photograph.

    1-0 out of 5 stars NO SERIAL #
    When I try to instill I try to all a serial # the warning informed me that this software cannot instill bacause of too hits. I recived on 3/16/05. what to do.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The KING of image editing
    For Photographers: I humbly consider myself a weekend shutterbug, and thanks to Photoshop I'm a much better photographer then I actually am :-)

    Every wanna-be photographer such as myself has taken a photo that you just KNEW was going to a masterpiece, only to discover it was somewhat of a flop.Enter the magic of Photoshop.Once you've got your photograph imported into Photoshop you are limited only my imagination.Brighten or change your colors, change the overall hues, remove distracting objects from the background, sharpen the entire image or just a small selection, play with the saturation and contrast, crop, shrink, enlarge... the possibilities are endless.

    Or, if you want to get more into the advanced aspects of Photoshop you can, with a little playing and learning, learn how to use some of the effects to make images that would never be possible with just a camera.Create fantasy images, digital renditions of your imagination, metallic chrome lettering, that transparent "plastic" look that Apple made famous, etc. etc. etc.

    For website designers:While photography is a weekend hobby, building websites is how I pay the mortgage and put food on the table.Every site begins in Photoshop where I create three or four screenshots from which a client may select their future web site.I honestly don't know how anyone could making a living in this industry without being a semi-master at Photoshop.Once you learn how, it's remarkably easy to put together screen shots with the depth and pazaz that all web surfers have come to expect.

    There are a couple subtle features in 7.0 that I don't see any other reviews have mentioned.Yes, the Healing Brush is wicked cool and I use it a TON in photo touchup, but I hardly touch it when designing web pages.What I find massively useful is the improved ability to make text look professional.

    Previous versions often made text look choppy and would put funny spacing between letters.Until v7.0 it wasn't possible to copy text from another application and paste into Photoshop, or vise-versa.The spell checker is a god-send.And it also gives you the ability to easily and quickly do fun effects with your text like bending, warping, and twisting without having to rasterize it into a non-text layer.

    If you have never used a previous version you should be aware that there is a very steep learning curve.Nothing about Photoshop is, at first, easy or intuitive.But there is a wealth of books out there to help you learn, and in a short time you can learn the basic bells and whistles and be on your way to fancy photo editing or fun web design.

    It is such a massively powerful application that I'm curious to see how they will make it even better in v8.0.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great!
    I had the free trial and just HAD to get the program after my free trial ended! You can create stuff the eye cant even create. I went from horrible to GREAT! I got this product after the free trial and now I am pro! Anybody who doesnt like this program is just flat out stupid! I recomend this! ... Read more


    13. Final Draft 7 Professional Scriptwriting Win/Mac
    by Final Draft
    list price: $289.99
    our price: $179.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0001XNGZ2
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Final Draft
    Sales Rank: 28
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Features

    • 50+ templates; text to speech, have your script read back to you
    • Word processing combined with professional script formatting
    • Designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics, and stage plays
    • Automatically paginates and formats script to industry standards
    • 100-percent cross-platform compatibility; easily import/export files

    Reviews (37)

    5-0 out of 5 stars
    Watch Out Hollywood, Here I Come!

    I have been writing short scripts since I was 11. I used Word to write them.

    Now that I am in older, I am learning that following the traditional Hollywood script conventions make sense now that I am sending my work to scriptwriting contests, etc.

    I got Final Draft because all my friends said it was 'what everybody used'. Normally,I would resist following this kind of advice, since I've always thought of myself as not being like everyone else & not following the crowd - but it was correct in this case.

    Scripts are literally flowing out of me now.

    Watch out Oscar, save one for me!

    5-0 out of 5 stars I am in LOVE with this program!!
    F Scott said it best - "...there are WRITERS & there are those of us who write." I write. And write. And write. I have no time. Actually, I don't have time 2 write this, but I am, because this program rocks! I used 2 use Word, have it all setup with my own template and all. Someone in Hllywd **strongly suggested** I get Final Draft, and I bought it here (because amazon has the best prices). I was reluctant 2 switch. Now in re-writes, I am a true believer in screenwriting software. Why didn't I get this years ago? Wow. If you WRITE (scripts) and don't have a copy of Final Draft, do yourself a favor and check it out before you waste another minute. Cheers!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great.
    I have been researching several products for screenwriting. I am a beginner.I do not recommend Hollywood Screenwriter due to restrictions: must have cd in drive to use, incompatible with some cut/paste features, etc.

    I read the for's and against's on here and other sites; it was terribly difficult to figure out what to purchase. I want the best for my money.

    I did download both Movie Magic Screen Writer and Final Draft.For my work, I found that Movie Magic had too many values to work with in it's software.Although, I enjoyed the "windows" appearance and its reports, I found that the thesaurus was limited.The names list works well.

    In Final Draft, it has an exceptional thesaurus, but it has a name list that works off of letters you enter vs. Movie Magic which provides a visible name list (a little easier to use).

    Both seem to work almost identically in their format method.I did prefer the side bar in Movie Magic to enter or tab "dialouge," "transition," etc.Final Draft does do a find job of handling it and the "mores and continueds" work accordingly.

    OVERALL, I came to the same conclusion that one rater has come to.You have to find which software works for you.They are both good.

    I chose Final Draft and bought it from J&R Music because its interface is simple, it's easy on my eyes and the cost was relative. There's little clutter. I want to focus on my script and not the drop down with 9 or 10 items on it (yes, FD has one like that too).

    To make either product out as a "bad" choice is silly.The developers of those products are math folks working to bring a screenwriting program for liberal arts folks into the market and make it functional.

    That's a difficult chore, but I think they did a good job.My choice was Final Draft, because it's no nonsense, straight forward and functional.

    Hopefully, some of these details helped you and best wishes getting your script out!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Program
    Read the negative feedback on this site, so I attempted to use Word (again) for all of my script formatting.It looked horrible, so I decided to give FD7 a try, regardless of the reviews.Typed the entire script, made revisions, tracked changes, made more revisions...
    The program worked great, and the script looks better than anything I would have had the patience to create in Word.
    Maybe they have fixed all of the initial problems (that I read about on this site), but I think it is an excellent program.I recommend it to anyone, who, like me, likes to write and hates worrying about where he/she has placed the "more" and "continued" on the page, or how the margin on my dialogue centers.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A great Tool that's Easy to Use
    I understand that there are a couple glitches with this software (what software package doesn't?)- and both times I had to get customer support from Final Draft, they were of immense help - patient and walked mr throughthe issues I had.

    That being said, the Final Draft tools are straightforward, easy to use, and industry standard.

    It's my favorite screenwriting software and I think the best out there. ... Read more


    14. ScanSoft Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 Preferred
    by Scansoft
    list price: $199.99
    our price: $168.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0003009IK
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Scansoft
    Sales Rank: 17
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred 8 ... Read more

    Features

    • Works with Corel WordPerfect and virtually all Windows-based applications
    • Speech recognition software for dictating, editing, and controlling applications
    • Listen to incoming e-mail read aloud; search the Web by speaking URLs and links
    • Use dictation shortcuts to insert text or bitmaps with a single voice command
    • Dictate directly into a PC or any Scansoft-approved handheld digital recorder

    Reviews (24)

    5-0 out of 5 stars the rest of us should buy speed-reading software
    I am considering buying this software, but the reason I'm writing here is I couldn't help noticing the very large average size of the reviews for this product.
    Since most of the reviewers are writers, my advice is to spend some serious time on editing and cutting about 2/3 of the material.
    The rest of us should invest in spread-reading skills because it really works.

    5-0 out of 5 stars AWESOME!
    I don't usually write reviews. Fact of the matter is, with the exception of Photoshop, which I am a confirmed devotee of, I don't get too excited about software. I have to admit though that this particular version of DNS has really knocked my socks off!

    Being semi-disabled, typing is a real problem for me. I have actually had trouble getting a job because most companies will not let me use voice typing software even though I type about twice as fast with it as I do on my own.

    Frankly, it's been a pain in the tush! Getting a voice typing program that actually works consistently and has good recognition results has not been an easy thing. This is the first version of this program that I have tried that really works and I have been using the program on and off since version 5!

    Version 8 has been actually been accurate enough that I can use it for everything from e-mail to doing my job. From what I can tell it gets about 99% of what I am saying, and that is pretty decent compared to the same application say five years ago! It's not perfect, but it does allow me to do my job,and go about my daily activities computer-wise, without too much pain being involved.

    (shrug)

    What can I say?

    I just can't do anything on my computer without it these days!

    It works almost flawlessly in every single program I have tried it in, and that includes my non-standard e-mail program, online in chat boxes, and even in difficult areas like this.

    I can't wait to see what they will come up with in the next version. With the exception of the fact that this version never seems to capitalize the first word of a sentence, which drives me crazy, this is about as good as I ever thought voice-recognition could get! I am learning to get around the few small quirks, and I must admit, otherwise, this program has really been a godsend for me.

    I have read reviews of professional voice type programs that cost five times as much and they don't seem to indicate any more satisfaction in terms of results than I am getting with DNS8. Yeah, it was a bear doing all the training, but I found that the little bit of effort had a considerable effect on my ability to accurately voice type.

    I am pretty pleased thus far!

    Nice job ScanSoft! You folks are doing a fine job, and I am very happy to say so. You have really made it a lot easier for me to deal with having an annoying disability, and I really do appreciate that! Every little bit helps, and I find that DNS8 takes a huge load off my damaged body in terms of wear and tear and stress.

    I am much obliged, and please DO keep up the good work!

    Yes, every word of this review was definitely typed in DNS8. It took me all of 10 minutes, and I hardly had to correct a thing besides! If, ya'll think I am working for the company, you couldn't be more wrong here! Nope, not a corporate stooge, singing the praises of a company product just to get your attention, I am a real-life user, who just happens to find this particular program about as useful as it gets!

    If you are looking for good voice-recognition, look no further! This is about as good as it gets unless you are willing to spend a whole heck of a lot more money, and waste about 10 times the time trying to get it to work!

    Believe me when I tell you I have tried them all, and this is the only voice type program that even comes close to allowing me to get the job done!

    Yeah, I guess this is a glowing review, but darn it, ScanSoft has earned it with this one! I must have waited at least a decade to be able to do this with any amount of real accuracy. To finally be able to write, to do my job, every day, effectively and with minimal effort, using a headset? To be able to type again without killing my neck and back?

    Well, it's pretty darned cool...

    :)

    Morrighan

    5-0 out of 5 stars 1st class excellent and easy voice recognition.
    *NEEDS A HEADSET*
    To be honest perfect voice recognition comes at about $1000. ScanSoft Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the best semi-pro voice recognition package to use because of its speed of learning and accuracy. I find myself recommending this more over expensive pro packages. Let me list the reasons why.

    1. It is quicker to load than the pro packages.
    2. It has enough functions to understand most of the things I say. If you want it to understand legal or medical terms then get the add-ons for this.
    3. It is easy to use.
    4. The learning curve is not steep.
    5. The package is smaller in hard drive size than pro packages.
    6. It can do the vast majority of things that a pro package can do.

    Pro packages even have a steeper learning curve but they are more accurate, this getting sometimes 100% for minutes on end, however how this depends on the type of work you are doing. I would recommend this just on the basis that you can get it working right out the box by just learning the basic interface, simply turn on and speak, but you will spend maybe a few hours the first day training it, and a few hours every week for the next month, but the more you use it the better it will be, in just over a month it should be almost perfect. Expect some degree of hand editing your speech to text, software can do text to speech also, but computer voice simulation, not what you trained, go pro if that is what you need.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very satisfied, works great.
    I am writing this review using the Dragon naturally speaking 8 preferred software.I just started using it and I'm very happy.

    I use a Compaq Presario x1000 laptop, Windows XP, 500 MB RAM, and an Andrea 750 microphone.Oh, and I do use Microsoft Office small business edition 2003.Because of prior reviews of Dragon software, I did some research before buying this product.(The first thing I did was throw out my old IBM ViaVoice disk.It's useless and per my research, not worth upgrading.)

    Scansoft is also worthless for tech support or advice.

    I contacted eMicrophones, their web site is eMicrophones.com, and got some great advice.They advised a minimum 500 MB RAM and a better microphone, the Andrea ANC-750.They also advised a USB soundcard as the sound card in most laptops is not shielded and noisy.I'm glad I took their advice.My laptop smokes, even using the voice software.No compatability problems at all.No crashes or slowdowns (and I do have XP SP2 installed).

    I hope this helps you all.Kurt

    5-0 out of 5 stars Returning Customer
    I've use voice recognition software for the last five years or so, with the first 3 to 3 1/2 years using Dragon and the last year and a half or so using Microsoft Office's bundled software.This version has brought me back into the Dragon fold.The accuracy is simply amazing, and it really is near perfect.Definitely worth the investment. ... Read more


    15. QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition 2005
    by Intuit, Inc.
    list price: $499.95
    our price: $398.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00062AK3E
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Intuit, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 109
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Intuit QuickBooks Premier 2005 Contractor Edition - Complete Product - Financial - 1 User(s) Complete Product - Standard - PCCustom-built for contractors, QuickBooks: Premier Contractor Edition 2005 with advanced job costing helps you make more money from your jobs. Nice electronics is your source for everyday low prices on theIntuit 284212 - QUICKBOOKS PREMIER CONTRACTOR 2005 WIN and all other Intuit Software - Misc ... Read more

    Features

    • 5 new job-costing reports; built-in tutorials; easy to learn and use
    • Run contracting business more efficiently and accurately
    • Accounting software custom-built for contractors
    • Boost job profits with automatic job costing; keep all details in one place
    • Quickly create invoices formatted as letters right from QuickBooks

    16. Rosetta Stone French Level 1 & 2 Personal Edition
    by Fairfield Language Technologies
    list price: $329.00
    our price: $289.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000077DD2
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Fairfield Language Technologies
    Sales Rank: 142
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com Product Description

    Learn a new language with the award-winning method used by the U.S. State Department to train diplomats. Proven effective by NASA astronauts, Peace Corps volunteers, and millions of students worldwide, the Rosetta Stone Language Library teaches new languages faster and easier than ever before.

    We all learn our childhood language by associating new words and phrases with the world around us. The Rosetta Stone method replicates this process by presenting vivid, real-life images to convey the meaning of each new phrase. Instead of translating, memorizing, and studying rules of grammar, you actually learn to think in the new language. Vocabulary and grammar are integrated systematically, leading to everyday proficiency.

    This comprehensive program provides up to 550 hours of mastery instruction in listening comprehension, reading, writing, and speaking. Systematic structure teaches vocabulary and grammar naturally, without lists or drills. Previews, exercises, and tests accompany every lesson, and there are automated tutorials throughout the program. Graphical speech recognition displays your voiceprint and compares it with the native speaker to help improve your pronunciation. (Ages 6 and older) ... Read more

    Reviews (12)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Definitely the Best, But Could Be Improved
    The Rosetta Stone uses the most effective language learning method and is therefore the best language learning software available on the market today. Period.

    The method is simple, but ingenious, and is based on innate language learning skills -- the same skills you used to learn a language as a baby. The main exercise randomly displays four pictures, but they are closely related. For example, you will start with a man, a woman, a boy, and a girl. Some text is displayed, and you hear it read, and you must select the image that correlates with the text/speech.

    Either through trial and error, or by peeking at the answers by clicking a button, you will be able to learn to distinguish between these four initial images. Now here is where the method really works. In the next set of images, you'll see the man, woman, boy, and girl running. You will also see and hear a new word.

    Since you are already familiar with the words for man, woman, boy, and girl, it's pretty easy to figure out that the new word means that the man, woman, boy, or girl is running! And yet it is continually reinforcing your past lessons. That's why this software really works.

    I only have a couple of problems with it. First, the images in the second level seem to be of lower quality than those in the first, which are clear and of high quality. Second, in the second level, occasionally multiple words are introduced simultaneously, making it slightly harder to learn. However, since the two new words are usually closely related, such as the noun "copy machine" and the verb "copy," it isn't much of a problem.

    I am very satisfied with this software.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent software, too many cowboys.
    I struggled with whether to give Rosetta Stone the 5 stars it deserves for its excellent language-learning method, or to be a bit snarky and take a point off for the surprising profusion of rodeo clowns and cowboy pictures the program uses.(The cowboy is on the horse; the cowboy is falling off the horse, etc.)

    The product description and the other reviews explain very well why the Rosetta Stone method works, and how comprehensive it is.I couldn't agree more with their recommendations.Here's one word of warning: If you're anything like me, you're apt to become bored and cranky at the Harrisonburg, VA depictions of everyday life (here's where the cowboys come in).This software features hours and hours and hours of instruction, teaching the user to identify french words, phrases, and sentences with the corresponding visual images.Sadly, there is a complete lack of variety in the images presented.Not only will you see no French or Francophones, you will see the same Virginians OVER and OVER and OVER.(I assume they're Virginians.They're definitely not French.)

    Taking for granted that most people aspiring to learn French probably have some interest in French culture, art, cuisine, style, and architecture, I am surprised not to have read any similar reviews of this product.Does Rosetta Stone recycle the same photos for each of its language programs?If I want to learn Mandarin, will I be subjected to the very same Woman In Khaki Pants With Glasses* and Fat Child Jumping Into Swimming Pool*?Over and Over and Over?Just wait until you learn La Voiture Blanche--you've never seen so many Saturns and Fords!

    All in all, I don't think there is a better program out there for learning a foreign language.I've used this software to complement my college French classes, and it's been a big help to my pronunciation and comprehension of spoken French.I just hope that Rosetta Stone will come out with a French 3 someday, and that it will feature images of (gasp!) FRENCH PEOPLE and FRENCH STUFF.I can't imagine how much more interest this software could command and how much more successful its costumers would be if only the product was as visually interesting as it is comprehensive.That would make it unbelievably effective!

    Bonne Chance!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A near perfect study at home language system
    This is an outstanding learn at home language system.The set up is easy to use and follow and done in a manner that makes it fun to stick with it.The idea behind the Rosetta Stone system is to teach French (or whatever language you choose) in the manner we initially learn our native language - from hearing people speak it and applying what we hear with what we can see that the speaker is talking about.For instance, in your first lesson, you start out with pictures of a boy, a girl, a man and a woman and hear the French words for each.You must match the word with the picture.Later you will see a picture of a man running, a woman running, a boy walking and a girl walking.You will hear "l'homme court."Based on already learning that "l'homme" means "the man," you can figure out that "court" means "runs."Of course, as children, this is the manner in which we would have initially learned to say "the man runs" in our native language, by hearing the words and applying those words.

    The system is set up so you learn and apply what your learn in different methods.Each chapter has you apply your knowledge by both hearing the words spoken and seeing them written, by hearing them spoken only, by seeing the written words only and also testing your speaking ability and finally by requiring you to type the words yourself.Each of these sections offers self tests in a few different formats.The system will even record your voice and allow you to see how your voice print matches that of a native speaker.This certainly helps be sure your inflections and emphasis are properly spoken.

    The system does a superb job of repeating and reinforcing what you learned in previous sections.This both helps building on previous materials covered and insuring that the material is committed to your memory.

    One of the best features for me is that the pictures are bight, colorful and interesting.The colorful pictures coupled with the systems format makes the program fun to use.This (at least for me) is critical.Learning a new language requires a lot of dedication and time and the system must be interesting enough for the student to stick with it.The Rosetta Stone system certainly meets and exceeds this standard.It is fun to use and easy to remain dedicated to using.

    The downside is that there in no education beyond the learning and applying new words from the pictures - i.e., no direct grammar lessons.I believe that some grammar is necessary to build on what you are otherwise learning.For instance, the system never tells you why it is "l'homme" and not "le homme."A comparable example in English, as a child you may learn to say "a house" and "an egg," but it isn't until you learn some grammar do you correctly learn when to use "a" and when to use "an."So, I do recommend using Rosetta Stone along with another program to be sure and get some grammar instruction.(I have been using the Assimil "New French with Ease" program for that purpose.)

    The Rosetta Stone web site offers you a free trial download of its program to test out to see if the program is to your liking.I highly recommend going there and trying it out.And I am convinced that after you do, you will agree that the system is fun to use and that it works.There is short version that only shows a portion of the first lesson.Go beyond that and download the longer version which gives you several of the lessons.Try it out and see if the system is for you.I tried it this way first and discovered how fun and interesting the program is and decided to order it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Out of date technically
    First of all, the concept is superb. It is superior to everything I've seen so far and most likely nothing will help you master the language more quickly, except maybe living in France where people speak English rarely.

    But, and this is a capital but: This thing looks old. I bet it has been programmed no later than 1997 and the fact that you have to keep the language CD-ROM in your drive suggests that it has not been changed since then, when storage space was expensive.Of course, you could mount an image, but this is 2005 and my current hard drive is actually bigger than 1 gig.

    The exercise where a phrase is spoken and you have to write it down: the keyboard layout is French! Trying to type in "animal" would give you "qni;ql". This is just ridiculously absurd and I haven't found a way to change it. I wanted to learn French, but this goes just too far...

    I still think the concept is unbeatable and it helps a lot, but for almost 300 bucks I expect them to improve the product from time to time so that it matches the state of the art of at least the current decade. They seem to rely on their reputation, so think about wether it is worth to spend that amount of money.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A bit overpriced
    Overall the Rosetta Stone language program is very good. Arguably it is the best that's out there. You can read the other reviews and get a feel for the features of the program; You can also visit their website.

    What you need to know:
    You will pay a lot of money for this program, this is what you get: 1) An install/application disc which is the base program. This disc is the same disc that will come in all the Rosetta Stone programs. They are interchangeable. 2) You will get one CD that holds all the data for French One and Two. 3) You will get two workbooks, one for level I and the second for level II. Basically these workborks are a verbatum index of what is presented on the software. I would be surprised if you use them, in fact you can get better workbooks from your local bookstore for less than $15. Summary: You are getting one CD of data and two cheap workbooks for a good bit of money. THAT IS IT!

    Finally, as the Fairfield lawyer explained to me, if you are not an authorized dealer, do not try to resell their software espicially on Ebay. If you don't like the software after you purchase the software, give it away or throw it away but don't sell it on Ebay. To do so would violate Fairfield's copyright. I learned the hard way when my Ebay item was removed.

    Recommendation: 1) Shop around 2) Request a free demo CD from their website, know exactly what you are buying 3) Shop around again ... Read more


    17. QuickBooks Pro 2005 (5-USER)
    by Intuit, Inc.
    list price: $749.95
    our price: $574.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00062AJR6
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Intuit, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 75
    Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005 - Complete Product - Financial - 5 User(s) Complete Product - Standard - PCQuickBooks: Pro 2005 includes all the financial management features of Basic, plus improved tools and customization options to help you work more efficiently. Nice electronics is your source for everyday low prices on theIntuit 284183 - QUICKBOOKS 2005 PRO 5U WIN - and all other Intuit Software - Misc ... Read more

    Features

    • Exchange data with Microsoft Excel and 325+ other software applications
    • Track employee time and job costs; compare estimated costs to actuals
    • Financial management software for small businesses
    • Easily pay bills, print checks, track expenses, and much more
    • Customize 100+ pre-designed forms to create a unique look

    Reviews (4)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Software OK - Hostile Atitude Toward Customers
    I've used QuickBooks for 11 or 12 years.I can't wait until there is a reasonable alternative that will allow me to import my QuickBooks data and stop using QuickBooks.

    The QuickBooks software is generally user friendly and does a reasonably good job of simplifying small business accounting transactions.However, Intuit has a very poor attitude toward its customers as demonstrated by their business practices.With every upgrade, they force the customer to buy the next version by making it impossible to productively use the old software.They make a lot of money on upgrades.

    With every new version, they extract more money out of the customer through other means as well.For example, QuickBooks originally allowed manual payroll accounting, but with every new release it became more difficult to do manual payroll.Now, there is NO manual payroll accounting.There are instead a few options for their payroll accounting services, which start at $200 per year for a company with one employee.That cost has increased steadily, so check for the actual cost to process payroll.The charge seems steep for downloading publicly available payroll tax tables.Intuit obviously sees their customers as captives and they are doing everything they can to squeeze money out of them.

    Your accounting data in the proprietary QuickBooks data format is used to keep you upgrading as they shake you down for more money each year.Remember when you'd purchase software?Now you lease software, and it costs more each year.It feels like the software owns me.

    Here's another aspect of leased software.I tried to buy a used copy of QuickBooks.This wasn't some pirate deal where you get a CD and nothing else.I purchased the original CD with the user manual, packaging and authorization code.It wouldn't register.I called Intuit and they told me it was already registered.I told them I bought the software from the original owner.They said I couldn't do that, and I needed to buy the $499 shrink wrapped version.QuickBooks is tightly integrated to their online services and won't work without their official approval.Can you think of any other item you purchase that can't be sold as a used item?What would you think if Toyota told you that you couldn't sell your car, or you couldn't buy someone else's car, and the only way to buy a Toyota was to buy a new one from the dealer?You can buy and sell other intellectual property such as books, CDs, and DVDs.Why not QuickBooks?Even after spending a lot of money, you don't own QuickBooks.It's a $500 annual software lease, with other attached leases for payroll services, multiple user licenses, etc.

    The large amounts of money paid to Intuit on a yearly basis are bad enough, but you'd at least think that you'd get some customer service.Nope.Their customer service call center is in India.You deal with the language barrier, and generally have people with no direct understanding of western accounting, payroll or taxes.You get the usual call center "support" deal, with a person reading from a troubleshooting sheet that never seems to have anticipated your problem.If it isn't in the manual, it probably isn't going to be answered by the overseas call center either.

    If you are just starting out, find another small business accounting solution.I don't have any experience with the others so I can't recommend any of them, but they must be better than QuickBooks, because Intuit believes they own their customers. They essentially act as a non-government agency levying a tax on small businesses.Avoid the QuickBooks tax.

    4-0 out of 5 stars I was afraid...very afraid...very very afraid...
    ..to upgrade to QuickBooks pro 2005 after reading the reviews. Having received an e-mail from Intuit saying that they were `sunsetting' QuickBooks pro 2002from April and I would no longer have access to email for invoices etc... I "decided" to bite the bullet and upgrade.

    The purchase

    I received a discount for upgrading my single user version and use the internet to activate the product. It went smoothly. The installation CD arrived promptly in the mail, well packaged. I also decided to buy the 5 user edition for work since I network qbooksThat arrived promptly [actually the two came together].

    The installation

    I decided to TEST at HOME fist on backup data and to do a clean install and an upgrade. OK. The clean install was flawless. The internet activation as painless and I was up and running! GOOD.
    Next came the 5 user edition; I did an upgrade on the second computer and that went flawless. Next the internet was used to activate the product. No problems!

    So far so good; Now to WORK and test it on REAL data! I did this on a day I took off, just in case the horror stories came true!First the server upgrade. Problems...program stuck installing some dot NET program.. took forever [an hour actually]. Hmm. Rebooted, no go. Hmm Shut down and restarted,,..where is the manual? ...AH.I see..!. the ANTIVIRUS software! .. Turned OFF Norton antivirus! Now flawless installation!...[heh heh REAL men don't read manuals].

    The activation

    Now to product activation... call a number. No problem answered promptly and was directed by prompts to activation, now a REAL live person " Mike" yeah, he had an accent but I guess I had an accent to him as well!He was real pleasant. I explained that I had purchased a 5 user edition, used one activation on my computer at home via the internet and needed to install at least 2 others at work . No problem. He checked my registration, gave me a code..yeah,,but would I have to call back to activate the other computers? No..the code would work for the others..He waited on line while I entered the code. Presto ! Instant activation. No problems.The program installed flawlessly on the other computer and the network worked instantly. The whole process took about 5 minutes! Painless.

    The program
    The GOOD:
    It is significantly faster than QuickBooks pro 2002. There is scheduled backup and the backup process is a lot faster. Passwords are case sensitive; if you forget the caps lock key then problems...this happened to me once.

    Joy of JOYS...refunds, write offs and under and over payments are now easy as one click. Issuing refund checks is easy as pie. In the previous 2002 version, to issue a refundor writing off bad debts required several complicated maneuvers that ended up confusing the accountant and me!

    The screens are friendlier and better laid out. Easier search for invoices etc. If you have used QB before you will have no problems.

    I have not seen any intrusive ads or banners advertising products. The check reminder popped up and I set it to the number that I wanted. It hasn't bothered me since. Yes, I use Intuit checks and they are lovely! Highly recommended.

    My accountant loves the program and Invoices estimates etc can be emailed as pdf attachments.

    The BAD
    No manual payroll. I would have thought that certain editions for businesses would allow the truly small business owner to manually enter payroll say for up to 10 employees. More that that would require subscription to the payroll service.

    Invoices when paid should automatically enter the payment method on them. I mean you have already entered the payment by cash, check or credit card to pay the invoice. (...) No multiple currency support.
    Yes, we generally use one currency but for truly international sales or customers, they may pay in a different currency and QB should be able to set up foreign currency accounts and automatically convert it to your base currency. As it stands now I have to set up a back account in the foreign currency and manually convert to base currency in a sub account. Tedious , flawed and unnecessary.

    Importation of AIF file impossible. My account made some changes and I tried to import the file. The program said that it needed to be the same file with no changes made to the original. In other words, I can do no business until the accountant is finished if I want to import his changes. Ridiculous!!

    Overall. 4 stars. It is very good but there is plenty room for improvement for the small business owner. No need to be afraid. Purchase with confidence!

    1-0 out of 5 stars There are better software out there!
    I agree with the above users, there are better software out there.Please look around and be more futuristic. QuickBooks is for very small companies only.It slows down when the size of your database goes up. I tested some software and found some really good, with reasonable price: BusinessWorks, Small Business Manager (microsoft.com), Quick Business Manager (bisaim.com),Vision Point 2000 (ACCPAC), BusinessVision 32 (Softline).

    Good Luck in your search.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Warning! E-Pay and E-File Removed in Version 2005
    After I installed and converted my file to the 2005 format I was informed that the E-File and E-Pay features were removed in version 2005. The support folk in India could not tell me if this was temporary or permanent. The only option to continue E-File and E-Pay was to remove version 2005 and reinstall version 2004. What a way to treat customers! How about some up front disclosure Intuit? I've been using Quickbooks for 7 years. This may be my last upgrade! ... Read more


    18. QuickBooks Basic 2005
    by Intuit, Inc.
    list price: $199.95
    our price: $189.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00062AJNK
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Intuit, Inc.
    Sales Rank: 84
    Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Intuit QuickBooks Basic 2005 - Complete Product - Financial - 1 User(s) Complete Product - Standard - PCQuickBooks: Basic 2005 has the tools you need to manage your business finances faster, with complete confidence. And now we've streamlined many features you use most. Nice electronics is your source for everyday low prices on theIntuit 284172 - QUICKBOOKS BASIC 2005 WINand all other Intuit Software - Misc ... Read more

    Features

    • Report Navigator with sample views and descriptions make selection a snap
    • New Learning Center tutorials show how to work faster, smarter, and better
    • Tools for managing business finances faster and more confidently
    • Locate customer and vendor records instantly; create invoices; track sales tax
    • Get key facts, forms, and resources, all in one place; easily manage payments

    Reviews (3)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Automated Payroll Processing Is Now an Add-on Charge
    As the treasurer for a church with six employees, I have used QuickBooks for the accounting and payroll for the church for more than a decade.

    I just upgraded the software used by the church to QuickBooks Basic 2005 this year and found that we can not use QuickBooks to compute the payroll tax withholdings unless we subscribe to one of Intuit's payroll services.This is a change in the way payroll is handled by the software from previous additions of QuickBooks Basic.

    This additional subscription makes the cost of upgrading to QuickBooks Basic 2005 more than triple the published software price (...) because the least expensive of the subscriptions is $199 per year.

    In response, I have developed a an Excel spreadsheet that can do the computations for our organization and I will not be subscribing to Intuit's payroll service.

    The rest of the package seems to work as intended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Context is everything
    I used QuickBooks, happily, for years -- until they stopped supporting tax tables for the Mac, about 1999. They migrated us to Aatrix TopPay -- a nightmare -- but at the time, the only company making payroll software for the Mac. I stayed with them, though their UI was ghastly, forms didn't work, customer support poor -- feeling it was better than going to a PC. Finally this year, my experience with their version 15 was so terrible that I gave up entirely -- bought QuickBooks -- and set it up on my PC. What ease of use! What intuitive, easy navigation! What joy! It took me very little time to set up my company, calculate payroll, and be on my way.

    So -- compared to what I've had to deal with for the past 5 years -- this is magnificent.

    1-0 out of 5 stars I would have given it a 0 star if I could.
    Just do one thing. Try to create an invoice with British Sterling Pound symbol or Japanese Yen symbol.

    It doesn't take many problems for a software to be obsolete. Just one problem that cannot be fixed.

    If you have a global dream for your small business, this software isn't it.

    What a junk. I am going back to Microsoft Money. ... Read more


    19. Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003
    by Microsoft
    list price: $399.99
    our price: $339.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000AZJVB
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 314
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Solve the challenges you and your business face with Microsoft® Office 2003. Microsoft Office 2003 is designed to help you improve your productivity and achieve better results. Powerful new functionality behind familiar and easy-to-use applications will let you take on today's demanding business challenges.

    The new Microsoft Office provides the building blocks for you to create solutions that will help your organization take more effective action. Discover new ways to communicate with others, create and share documents, and utilize information.

    Features:

    Improvements were made in four areas: information management and control, business processes, communication and collaboration, and personal productivity.

    This version includes:

    • Word 2003
    • Excel 2003
    • Outlook 2003
    • PowerPoint 2003
    ... Read more

    Features

    • Create professional and effective documents using Word
    • Access, analyze, and display data with Excel spreadsheets
    • Junk e-mail filtering and blocking of unsafe attachments
    • Backward compatibility with older versions of Office programs
    • Automatic backup and recovery of documents

    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Office 2003
    Office 2003 - Well - For a start it looks and works a lot better than previous versions of Office. Including the New Programs (Project, Infopath and Notes)

    Only problem I could find is that the font look as though they are made up of coloured dots when they are black.

    I coulnt find any other problems. ... Read more


    20. Microsoft Visio 2003 Standard
    by Microsoft
    list price: $199.00
    our price: $170.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0000AZJVM
    Catlog: Software
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Sales Rank: 1498
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Product Description

    Microsoft® Office Visio 2003 gives business and technical users the power to visualize and communicate ideas, information, and systems. Use the simple, flexible tools in Visio 2003 to easily create business and technical charts and graphics that capture your inspiration and communicate it with impact.

    Features:

    • Visio helps you improve systems and processes by turning data from existing applications into interactive diagrams.
    • Visio helps you easily create business and technical diagrams to think through, better understand, and design ideas, processes and systems.
    • Diagrams created in Visio help you communicate information clearly, concisely and effectively in a way that text and numbers alone can not.
    ... Read more

    Features

    • Integrate with other business systems by extracting data from Visio diagrams and importing it to Excel, Word, Access,SQL Server, XML and other formats
    • It's never been easier to assemble diagrams -- just drag the pre-defined Microsoft SmartShapes symbols into the desired location
    • Generate common diagram types from all sorts of existing data, to put complex concepts, processes, and relationships into their proper context
    • Create visually rich diagrams that ive your ideas maximum impact -- then share them in workspace files on your team's SharePoint site
    • Track reviewer's comments and customize your diagram, to meet the needs of your organization

    Reviews (7)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Missing features of previous versions
    Visio 2003 Pro is a good product, but the fact that several key features are gone is the reason for a 3 star rating.

    I use Visio 2003 Pro for general diagramming and for informal data modeling and process modeling in the course of developing system requirements.I used the simple data flow model diagram for years in Visio 2000, but 2003 has removed the "model" capabilities; it's just a picture now with no reusable components.

    Pluses:
    Good screen layout options
    Still reverse-engineers databases
    Better shape manipulation
    Shape transparency

    Minuses:
    Removed "explorer" and modeling capabilities of Data Flow Model diagram
    Does not generate DDL (Data Definition Language) anymore (need Visual Studio)
    No longer exports to ERWin ERX files
    Does not save to Visio 5 format (only 2002)
    Removed Auto-Discovery
    Removed a bunch of file converters and import tools

    I recommend looking at Microsoft's "What you won't find in Microsoft Office Visio 2003" found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HA010857571033.aspx.


    5-0 out of 5 stars Does everything but tie your shoelaces for you
    I was able to turn out a complicated flowchart polished enough for professional training purposes in just two hours - despite having never used this kind of software before, and having no assistancewhatsoever besides the program's own Help files. Now *that's* ease-of-use.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Beware!!!Not an upgrade for Visio 2003 Standard
    I just purchased this thinking that "of course I can upgrade to Visio 2003 Pro from Visio 2003 Standard".Nope. This is just plain silly. I still am trying to figure out if I can even upgrade my Visio *2003* Standard version to Professional.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Upgrade
    I have been using the Visio diagramming software since the 2000 version.In my mind this upgrade is the best I have purchased.

    The interface with the rest of the Office XP 2003 Suite is vastly improved.I can now take a diagram created in Visio and drop it into Word documents, PowerPoint Presentations and e-mails without having to reformat it.In the past the transfer was never clean.

    Once the diagram is embedded, I can emphasize and clarify key points, gather input from team members and even share documents using SharePoint services.This is a huge timesaver for me.

    If you embed your diagrams in other documents, you will love this upgrade.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Versatile, Sophisticated Business Diagramming
    Visio has always been an excellent solution for technical diagramming. Version 2003 is no exception and improves upon its predecessor with support for the web and integration with other Office applications. The program still lacks certain elements of Microsoft Office which I feel concerned about. Users are able to import Native Auto CAD drawings directly into Visio, and use the Visio tools to further customize and edit drawings to their hearts content. You can create custom stencils save them and share with other Visio users over a corporate network. You can export diagrams as a webpage so that users who don't have Visio installed locally on their machine can View diagrams through web browser at different resolutions with ease. The program enables IT Adminstrators to create Diagrams for Active Directory role outs for Windows 2000 Server and Server 2003. SQL Server or other third party database products such as Oracle and IBM DB2 can use the Visio functionality to outline a companies storage of data through active digrams that automate how data is stored and used. You can create simple project management task, and also export other Visio digrams to PowerPoint and further edit within PowerPoint or Word.Other features include searching for stencils online in the program, which makes it easy for you to find that particular diagram. Visio still lacks certain elements such as native support for WordArt. Overall, this upgrade is a must have for existing Visio 2000 or 5.0 users, but some 2002 users might not see any need for some of the functionality and might wait first to see if their diagramming and network infrastructure needs demand the new functionality and technology that Visio 2003 has to offer. ... Read more


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