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Free Culture’s 2006 National Summit

April 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The FreeCulture.org 2006 National Summit will be held at Swarthmore College this coming weekend (April 21-23).

I am hoping to see Lawrence Lessig speak (here’s the schedule). Also presenting will be EFF, Downhill Battle, Creative Commons, myself (for Wikipages), and others. There are remixing workshops on the agenda, and of course, the Pirate Party.

Nokia 770 Links

April 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

A wiki for the 770, including links to many other useful sites, lists of applications, etc.

Brighthand.com’s thorough review of the 770, back before it was available on the market.

Internet Tablet Talk is a blog dedicated to the Nokia 770.

Perhaps most importantly, planet.maemo.org is the Maemo developers’ planet. (A planet in this context is a collection of blog feeds from people working on a common project, all presented chronologically on one page.)

Firefox Flicks

April 14th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The next step in Firefox’s web domination is a community-organized video ads contest, Firefox Flicks.

KOffice 1.5 Released

April 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

KOffice 1.5 is now final.

KOffice is a competitor to OpenOffice, yes, but it is also a strategic ally: it has transitioned to using ODF as its default file format.

The press release states, “The spread of the OpenDocument file format is widely regarded as one of the most important developments in the whole IT industry right now. It will give users world-wide the possibility to control their own documents and also ensure that all documents can be read at any time in the future.

KOffice was the first office suite that announced support for OpenDocument and now the second to announce it as the default file format after OpenOffice.org. This makes KOffice a member of a very select group and will lead to new deployment opportunities. Great care has been taken to ensure interoperability with other office software that also use OpenDocument.”

Congratulations and thanks to the developers on this major release!

SoftMaker’s TextMaker

April 12th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

I think I met the CEO (or another top person) of SoftMaker way back at Comdex 2003. He was a really friendly and intelligent person, and therefore I’ve been keeping half an eye on what SoftMaker has been up to ever since. Their flagship application, TextMaker, has supported OpenOffice’s file format for years, and ODF since its inception.

Now, TextMaker 2006 for PocketPC is here. The site claims “TextMaker 2006 for Pocket PCs has the same capabilities as TextMaker for Windows it is the only desktop-class word processor for Pocket PCs!”

Beating MS on its own platform, what a coup!

There’s also strong customer interest in developing a version for Mac OS X as evidenced in this forum thread on SoftMaker’s site.

7 Indian Language Packs for OpenOffice

April 11th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

In an email to several OpenOffice project mailing lists, RKVS Raman announces that OpenOffice.org 2.0.1 language packs are now available in 7 Indian languages.

The languages are:

  1. Assamese
  2. Gujarati
  3. Hindi
  4. Malayalam
  5. Marathi
  6. Oriya
  7. Urdu

Several different groups and many individuals helped in the translation efforts. The source and binaries can be downloaded here.

National Archives of Australia Moves to ODF

April 10th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Andy Updegrove writes Case Study II: A National Archive Moves to ODF, covering “the decision by the National Archives of Austalia (NAA) to move its digital archives program to software that supports ODF.”

He writes, “The significance of this example is that the NAA gathers in materials from many sources, in many different formats, which will need to be converted to ODF compliance for long term archival storage… But that will be a one-time only exercise, as compared to maintaining the capability of accessing all of those documents in all of those formats indefinitely. Instead, post conversion, the NAA will only need to deal with one software suite (in this case they have selected OpenOffice 2.0). But even if OOo is eventually discontinued, the ODF compliant documents will remain accessible, so long as any ODF supporting software remains available.”

Minnesota’s “Open Data Formats”

April 7th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Following on the heels of Massachusetts and some rumblings in California, a bill has been introduced in Minnesota that would require its executive department to “use open standards in situations where the other requirements of a project do not make it technically impossible to do this.”

See the Standards Blog for more:

Updegrove writes, “The fact that such a bill has been introduced is significant in a number of respects. First, the debate over open formats will now be ongoing in two U.S. states rather than one. Second, if the bill is successful, the Minnesota CIO will be required to enforce a law requiring the use of open formats, rather than be forced to justify his or her authority to do so. Third, the size of the market share that can be won (or lost) depending upon a vendor’s compliance with open standards will increase. And finally, if two states successfully adopt and implement open data format policies, other states will be more inclined to follow.”

Apple’s “Boot Camp”!

April 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

This is pretty crazy: Apple’s new Boot Camp software aids users in dual-booting new Intel-based Macs between OS X and Windows. It looks like we’re watching an “embrace, extend, extinguish” strategy coming into focus here…

Slashdot reports on the story, as does just about everyone else in the world.

Bristol, UK: 5,500 PCs and 1,000,000 in Savings

April 5th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Bristol is moving 5,500 PCs from Microsoft Office, Lotus and Corel to StarOffice.

ZDNet UK reports the city will save 1,000,000 as a result.

“The Council estimates that the total cost of StarOffice Sun’s commercial version of the open source OpenOffice.org suite over a five year period will be 670,000, while Microsoft Office would cost 1.7m, according to the government-funded Open Source Academy.”

“Bristol Council, which is currently running a mixed environment of Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect and Microsoft Office, believes it may even have overestimated the cost of migrating to StarOffice, as the training barrier appears to be lower than was originally thought.”

“Our biggest challenge was encouraging staff to be open-minded about anything that wasn’t MS Office. Microsoft has become so dominant and ubiquitous that the default assumption for many people is that everything else is inferior and that the only way to accomplish work is to do it in the exact way that an MS Office product does it. When you combine this with the idea of software that doesn’t cost money, you end up with comments like ‘if it’s cheap it must be nasty,'” said Beckett.”

Indeed, perception is the biggest problem for FOSS and OpenOffice. “Mindshare” can lag several years behind technical reality in the world of software. While the geeks have embraced FOSS, crossing the chasm to get typical people using it will take a bit longer. However, events like the Bristol migration are examples that this is already beginning to occur.