But I am trying, maybe, sort of, to wean myself from Microsoft Office. It isn’t so much that I dislike Office–it is fine–but I find myself going through notebook computers faster than my friends used to go through muscle cars back in the 70s–which is, well, fast. When I go to rebuild that machine, or move myself onto a new one, I find that even a few days of lost data is a big deal. I suppose I could go with an online backup service like Carbonite, but my real goal is to live more in the cloud and also to live sort of free.

So I’ve downloaded and begun working with Open Office, though not exclusively, and have also started to work with Thunderbird. I also spent some time setting up a sync between the Thunderbird Lightning calendar helper and Google Calendar. There are some glitches to Thunderbird, though. It does not recognize Vcards, of all things (though I found a workaround). And it also doesn’t let me click on and accept meeting invitations (nor does Google Calendar). I have to do this awkward step of saving the calendar file to disk, then import it into Google Calendar, then wait for Google Calendar and Thunderbird/Lightning to sync.

These seem like really simple, really easy things for Thunderbird folks to fix. The file formats for the calendar file and Vcard could not be simpler. I would venture that they will get to these.

But now I have a new problem. Frank, generous guy that he is, offered me the use of a Treo he no longer uses. I used to use Palm devices religiously, but I was even harder on them than I am on notebooks, so my wife stopped letting me buy them at some point. (Not only would I break them but I would leave them behind–in cabs, on planes, in trains, in rental cars–you get the picture.) I am going to give this a go again, but it looks like I will have an issue syncing with Thunderbird. The open source tool for syncing has some problems (“Some Thunderbird fields do not sync, eg. second e-mail address, mailing address, mobile phone.” Huh? Mobile phone?), and as near as I can tell, there are no other tools for syncing.

So I guess I go back to Outlook at least, or do people know of some options out there that I have missed?