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Backsliding to the Desktop

Day 3: For the first time during the experiment, I'm confronted with a task beyond simple word processing and spreadsheet wrangling: I've been asked to prepare an organizational chart of my department. But Writely has no drawing feature whatsoever, and the browser-based drawing tool ajaxSketch doesn't offer anything designed to help with org charts.

So I turn back to a desktop application--namely the beta version of Microsoft Word 2007, which can produce slick-looking charts. I do notice, however, that every time I add a new employee to the tree, the program gets bogged down a little more; by the time I've plugged in the whole staff, Word is hellaciously slow in a way that Writely never is.

Later, my editor will alert me to Gliffy, a Web-based tool that might have done the job. Too bad I didn't know about it at the time.

Day 4: I begin to think about my upcoming trip to Chicago in earnest. The major reason I'm going is to do a presentation for several hundred Illinois-based accountants. A presentation means slides; slides mean that it's time to determine whether I can do PowerPoint-like stuff with a Web service.

I check out two browser-based presentation tools, and Zoho Show. Both offer the ability to conduct presentations over the Net--an intriguing option I don't actually need at the moment. But neither offers enough functionality yet to give PowerPoint a flesh wound, let alone kill it. Besides, I'll probably be slogging away on the presentation during the flight to Chicago, when I know I'll be sans Internet access. So I do my show in PowerPoint, as usual.

Day 6: Waiting for my plane to Chicago, I want to refer to a document I created in Writely. It dawns on me that I'll have to use the airport's hotspot service, which costs $10 an hour. Writely and Google Spreadsheets may be free, but getting access to them can be downright pricey.

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