"The Other Side of Stewardship"

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The Church Solution has one subsidiary, Catechism with a Digital Imagination. The Large and Small Catechism and some Biblical interpretations.

The Church Solution also supports the Parenting In Christ Ministries. The goal of this ministry is to provide parents with ways and means of raising their children.

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Open Source Software

Many of you have heard the talk about open source software. But you may not be aware of what it is and how it may affect you and your business. This is an overview of open source software, what it is and how you can profit from using it. For more detailed information go to OpenSource.org.

Software involves many levels of expense:
  • The purchase price of the software
  • The price of upgrades and fixes
  • The cost of training your employees to use it effectively
  • The cost of switching if the publisher goes out of business

Many companies use Microsoft Office because they feel that the company will not go out of business leaving them high and dry with software that is rapidly becoming obsolete. They figure they can hardly go wrong buying what everybody else is buying. They see lots of material that can be used to train employees, plus many employees come already trained in the use of the software.

However, Microsoft Office, Corel Office, and Star Office (published by Sun Microsystems) all cost money, quite a bit of money if you obey the law and buy a license for each and every Church your business owns. If you don't obey the letter of the law you may, at any time, find yourself in a heap of legal trouble, especially with Microsoft products. It is believed that the most common form of software piracy is purchasing a single copy of a software package and installing it on many machines!

So how does open source enter into the picture? One, you can get the source code to all the products you use. You may say that you are not a programmer, what would you do with the source code. Well, there are lots of programmers, like ourselves, who have and maintain the source code. This means you really can never be left high and dry with software that is rapidly becoming obsolete. Not even Microsoft is immune to changing market conditions.

Open source is inexpensive, depending on how you intend to use it, it may even be free. Open Source is invariably much cheaper than commercial software, yet it often has as many or more features than commercial software. For example, if you want the ability to create Portable Document Format (PDF) files from Microsoft's Word you have to spend extra money, as much as $500.00 per copy. Yet OpenOffice.org has this as a native ability, very convenient for putting documents on the Internet or an intranet for your employee's or customer's use.

Open source software is often available on many different platforms, Open Office is available for Linux, Unix, Macintosh, and Windows, this is very helpful if you choose to use or support multiple platforms. Think about the savings in training!

Open source is more secure! You might think that with the source code available to everybody and his neighbor that some hacker might manage to get malicious code into open source software. However, before any code makes its way into a production release a large number of other programmers review the code. As long as you get your open source software from recognized outlets you are safe. Compare this to commercial software where the only programmers who see the code are in the pay of the publisher. You are placing a lot of trust in the publisher. If Microsoft wanted to track your Church usage, there is nothing to stop them! Malicious code does not have to damage your data, it may simply pass your data back to the coder or publisher. We now have major problems with spyware, programs that spy on your Church work and sends the data back to the publisher.

You can't always get commercial software directly from the vendor, in fact you rarely get commercial software directly from the vendor. Now you not only have to trust the publisher but the vendor as well.

One major problem with commercial software is copy protection. Copy protection often limits the flexibility of a commercial software package. Copy protection also increases the cost of commercial software with no added benefit to the consumer. Open source is never copy protected. Open source is flexible you can install it or reinstall it on any Church you need.

When ever you are faced with a need for new software or the need to upgrade consider an open source alternative. It is cheaper, it is safer, more flexible, multi-platform, and it has as many or more features.

Do yourself and your company a favor and choose open source software.