The master chef

For today's simile comparing computers to really important stuff, I've selected a menu of cooking terms.

google logo 88 (photo credit: )
google logo 88
(photo credit: )
For today's simile comparing computers to really important stuff, I've selected a menu of cooking terms. Let's see how many I can come up with. Dice it or slice it, the computer world supplies lots of recipes for disaster. Like when you try to fry up a collaborative project together with others and your files and theirs just don't mix well. For example: Someone sends you a document with important information in a format your computer can't blend into a presentation you're whipping up. You try your best to mash their obscure format graphics into your Word document, but the thing just won't render properly. You mull calling up the person who dashed off this impossible-to-flake file, but you decide against it; the guy's a jerk, and you know he's going to shred you as a pest(o) who just doesn't know how to whip your way through an (over) easy computer brew. You can hear him on the phone already: "I won't coddle people like you who just skim the manual when it comes to trussing together a project," he'll toss out nonchalantly - leaving you steaming. "Boil him in oil" is what you'll tell the other chefs around the office - but meanwhile, you won't be able to do a thing about curing your project. All you'll be able to do is stew in your own juices. Hey, simmer down! I've got the cure for this frizzled flambe right here. With the new Corel WordPerfect Lightning, you'll be the master chef, kneading different files and formats into a single entree, paring down problems and avoiding the pressure-cooker last-minute stir-fry these collaborative projects tend to turn into. Lightning, a brand-new free product from Corel, which makes the Wordperfect suite (a worthy competitor to Microsoft Office), is a note-taker, project manager, document reader and copier, lightweight word processor and collaborative tool - a melange of functions that gel well together, yielding a very useful program that could, if you let it, become the main way you organize information in your digital life, saving time, effort and energy - a most kosher proposition. Once, the Corel people tell us, you started with a blank page when you wanted to write a report, letter or presentation. Today, however, you're just as likely to use an e-mail, a Web site link or a graphic. If you're working on a project, for example, which includes directions to a certain spot, why write the directions out in text form when you can generate - and copy - a custom-made map from or And if you're already saving the map itself, why save it as a favorite or bookmark in your browser, which requires you to open a specific application to look at the map - adding to the already heavy memory and processing burden your PC is subjected to? Why not put the contents of the e-mail, a Microsoft Word document, the on-line maps, PDFs, and other assorted items you need as sources of information for your project into a single place, with a single interface and a single application to utilize them? Why not indeed? One answer is that there are few programs versatile enough and/or cheap (i.e. free) enough to handle that kind of work. But that's exactly what Lightning does. It's classified as a "note-taker," but stop thinking high-school science class notebook; these "notes" can range from a Web page to any kind of text file to Web graphics. You just open a note page in your project's folder (neatly organized in a tree structure format for easy access) and add said item to it. Later, when you've gathered all the relevant bits and pieces of information, you can view the text (PDF, Word file, e-mail message) and copy the information into other notes or into an e-mail. Ditto for graphics, etc. When you're ready to share, you can send an e-mail directly from Lightning, or use your free collaborative Web site (registration from within Lightning) to allow others to access your notes, or other relevant data, like Web links. etc. (you get 200 MB of free storage space for notes and/or e-mail). The Lightning Web site ( lets you download the program (registration required), and also has an interesting little document called Reviewer's Guide, which gives an excellent description of Lightning in action. But you can trust me on this: Lightning is a zesty, fresh dumpling of a program - the cream of the crop of note-takers, fit for a gourmet.