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OpenOffice 2.0 Mail Merge Tutorial

February 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Solveig Haugland publishes a tutorial on mail merge in OpenOffice 2.0 for

Mail merge is often discussed, but less frequently understood. Solveig explains, “A mail merge is writing one document, and then creating a version of it for every record in a database. So, you write your holiday letter once and easily create one copy of that document for everyone in your address book database. Or you write one “please-pay-us-now” letter and send it to everyone in your customers database for whom the Paid field is No. So, you need to do two things: create the document and point the document at the database. The mail merge wizard does both.”

Solveig’s tutorial covers the details in glorious depth, so head over there and start learning.

FOSS for Steamboat Springs

February 26th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ZDNet reports on Steamboat Springs’ adoption of FOSS for city IT.

“The city administration is open to new technologies and for some time has been using, Firefox and various other open-source applications. It’s been using Linux servers for five years and is considering a move to Linux desktops. Open source also has proved invaluable to Steamboat Springs and its neighboring towns in enabling e-government services.”

Particularly interesting to me at this moment, Kent Morrison, manager of information systems, tells his interviewer, “this year we intend to retire Exchange and replace it with an open-source application.” I can’t wait until I can say the same thing!

Morrison also explains: “We have had people say, “We want to do flow charts, can you buy me (Microsoft) Visio?” So we said, “Take a look at OpenOffice Draw.” It’s not 100 percent stable, but it’s enough for what most people want to do with a flow chart. The people who asked that question are now using that application.”

Patience and a little firmness, along with the willingness to help guide users, are among the most important traits of a successful FOSS migration! Keep up the great work in Steamboat Springs!

ODF Supporters Launch EU Offensive

February 24th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Massachusetts won’t have to stand alone much longer. Groups within the EU are heavily promoting ODF as well.

It has come in the form of an antitrust complaint: “The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) complained to the European Commission that Microsoft was guilty of violating antitrust law because it had refused to support the OpenDocument Format, among other infractions.”

Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation Europe and Peter Quinn are also sharing their points of view with EU bodies, and they are strongly supporting ODF as well.

“Democracy” Media Player 0.8

February 23rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Participatory Culture Foundation has launched a beta of Democracy Player (formerly DTV), for Mac OS X and Windows (Linux coming soon). Its purpose is to change the landscape of media creation, sharing and consumption online. It’s GPL and intended to disrupt the power of the large gatekeepers to democratize media! Excellent.

Wikimedia at SCALE

February 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Wikimedia (the force behind the MediaWiki software that runs Wikipedia and Wikipages) was represented with a booth at SCALE, staffed by Brion Vibber himself. Vibber showed off some of the DVDs and books that have been printed by the German language Wikipedia, which looked great.

Tux Magazine on OpenOffice

February 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Tux Magazine has an article by Solveig on OpenOffice 2.0: The Confusing Duckling Becomes a User-Friendly Swan.

Tux Magazine seems to have identified a good niche, calling itself “The first and only magazine for the new Linux user.” I wish them great success.

FOSS Applications CD for Windows

February 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

I recently ran across another FOSS CD for Windows, made by the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society. (Innovation and community advances can come from almost anywhere!) The official name of the CD is actually, “TTCS OSSWIN CD” which is a bit acronym-heavy, but it looks quite nice.

Plenty of apps are available; take a look at the List of Software on the CD. (Lots of games on here, too.)

There are other open source CD collections out there, the most famous probably being The OpenCD by Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent organization.

CinePaint at SCALE

February 15th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The SCALE conference in LA this past weekend was a success! In fact, even the New York blizzard worked to my advantage, as I was able to attend the Sunday sessions that I otherwise would have missed, had my flight not been delayed.

I plan to write smaller posts about items of interest through the course of this week, instead of wrapping it up with one comprehensive entry.

First up is CinePaint. I saw the presentation by Project Manager Robin Rowe and was impressed, then had a chance later to speak with him briefly. CinePaint is a great tool that I may start using on my Mac for general raster image editing, even though I am not currently working on any film projects.

From the project website: “CinePaint is a collection of free open source software tools for deep paint manipulation and image processing. CinePaint is used for motion picture frame-by-frame retouching, dirt removal, wire rig removal, render repair, background plates, and 3d model textures… Because CinePaint handles 8-bit images in common image formats such as JPEG, TIFF, and PNG, that makes CinePaint an alternative to ordinary image editing tools. However, CinePaint has fundamentally different design goals from projects like GIMP. We have the domain experience, professionalism, and the pro users necessary for developing successful software for the high-end”

CinePaint is a not far away from a significant upgrade to the FLTK toolkit, which will allow it to work easily and with native GUI support on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. I’m anxiously awaiting this release.

Welcoming Louis Gutierrez

February 10th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Andy Updegrove welcomes Louis Gutierrez to his new post as CIO of Massachusetts.

Updegrove also quotes Computerworld in its welcome:

“Tennant [Don Tennant, the Editor-in-Chief] adds his voice to the growing number of experts, politicians and others that are urging CIOs in other jurisdictions not to be put off by the “tawdry politics” of Massachusetts. Tennant makes this point in his closing paragraph: “With Gutierrez in his new position, other state governments will have any number of reasons to emulate Massachusetts.” So here’s to Louis Gutierrez may he flourish in his new position, and may he indeed be successful in getting “Massachusetts’ IT priorities back on track.”

SJ Mercury News on Google – Dell

February 9th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Google-Dell partnership follows a similar deal between Google and HP. Getting Google software preinstalled – will the Google Pack come next? Will Google build the software distribution store I theorized about? Will they preinstall OpenOffice on all these Dells and HPs, causing its market share to jump dramatically?

Many questions.

This week, as I rush about madly getting ready for the trip to LA and SCALE (tomorrow at 6 AM), I can’t get much more into the details. We’ll see what happens.