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“Developing and Extending” at Euro OSCON

September 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst is focusing more on teaching users and developers how to create extensions for the suite, and at the upcoming Euro OSCON in Brussels, OOo will be hosting a BoF session titled Developing and Extending

Here’s the summary description of the event:

“What do you need to know to develop for How should you go about learning it? Whom should you contact? What skills should you possess? And what things should you consider working on? This BoF will try to answer these and other related questions. The focus is on explaining how to code for and to make the coder’s job a little easier. We expect there to be developers from Sun and other stakeholders present to answer your questions, to help you with code, and to suggest where is going. The project is large, it is important, and you can be part of it!” Conference 2006 Media

September 15th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Yesterday was the conclusion of the Conference 2006, held in Lyon, France. Archived media coverage can be found here. It sounds like it was a good event, and I wish I could have been there.
The media site contains photo galleries, audio and video recordings, and a blog planet.

ThoughtFix on Nokia 770 In-Car Use

September 14th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ThoughtFix contrasts the ease of the Nokia 770 vs. the pain of Microsoft’s latest boondoggle, the UMPC, for in-car use.

He also refers back to an earlier post discussing the ease of installing a 770 in an auto-voiture (“car” if you haven’t watched O Brother, Where Art Thou).

Among the cool things he mentions is the famous Maemo Mapper application, which allows the 770 to be used as a geographical mapping system for navigation.

Interviewed by Steve Hargadon

September 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Today I participated in a Skype interview with Solveig Haugland and Randy Orwin, hosted by Steve Hargadon. The topic was, and in particular its growing use in educational environments. (Read Steve’s blog entry on the interview, or listen to the mp3 here.)

When Randy’s school district (Bainbridge Island, in Washington State) calculated their annual Microsoft subscription costs would run over $100,000, they developed a plan to migrate entirely to and put other open source software into place (including Linux thin clients), which is being rolled out this year.

Meanwhile, Solveig reports that she’s seen an increase in demand for training from governmental organizations this year. I’ve seen a lot of press about governments formally adopting ODF, and many times that means they’re also moving to OpenOffice, so it looks like Solveig is also seeing this trend.

We also discussed the inevitability that Microsoft will have to make MS Office free to educational customers in order to compete with I think this is an ironic reversal of what Microsoft did to Netscape in the 1990s, when Bill Gates cackled at “cutting off their air supply.” Now it’s his air supply being cut, and I do not believe there is any joy in Mudville (huh?) over this twist of fate.

“OOoWikipedia for OOo2.0”

September 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Cool extension OOoWikipedia:

“OOoWikipedia allows you to use this famous encyclopedia directly from Simply highlight a word in a text portion, launch the tool and your browser will open the corresponding article in the encyclopedia, if the definition is available.”

Network World’s James E. Gaskin likes

September 12th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

James E. Gaskin likes

“The features I appreciate in OpenOffice includes lack of weird characters when I cut and paste text from OpenOffice Writer to an HTML editor. Do that with Microsoft Word and you spend time finding and fixing all the bizarre smart quotes and the like that don’t transfer. I also like the fact that OpenOffice Writer’s word count function (it’s important to track the number of words for publications) gives word count numbers for both the highlighted block of text and the full document, while Microsoft Word only shows the count of the selected text or full document.”

“One feature of OpenOffice makes me laugh at the poor design of Microsoft Office. Have you ever tried to open a file in Word and accidentally clicked an Excel spreadsheet instead? In Microsoft Office, the file opens as garbage characters inside of Word. OpenOffice does it right and starts OpenOffice Calc to properly handle the spreadsheet.”

Nokia 770 as a Rugged Laptop

September 8th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

ThoughtFix has hacked his Nokia 770 to make it into a miniature, rugged laptop. With video! Something like this should go into manufacture for widespread sale because it is awesome.

Since the Maemo platform is open source, it should be easy for other manufacturers to make devices that can run it… which would broaden the market, pique the interest of more developers, increase the overall value as more apps and third-party hardware is developed, and help Nokia as well as other participants in the growing ecosystem. ThoughtFix, you should hop on a plane to China and start a company to build these things!

“Marketing Open Source to Universities”

September 8th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Andrew Price posts a “brain dump” on his blog, in which he wonders how to work with university student computer societies to promote open source.

He writes, “I’ve come to realise how much potential there is for organisations to utilise student computer societies to advocate and spread awareness of free/open source software at a local level and to a demographic which would find some of the principles surrounding open source attractive. Students, that is.”

This is a topic I’ve long been interested in, but haven’t made a great deal of progress. I don’t have much of a connection to either Vassar or Harvard any more. If I were still a student, I imagine I could have a positive impact, but from far outside the walls of any campus, it looks like a long shot. Extensions at OOoCon Lyon

September 7th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

A major topic for the upcoming convention in Lyon, France, will be extensions.

Extensions have been a huge success for Firefox, and have the same potential for OOo, acting as a major differentiating factor from competing products. It’s a typical, and solid, software strategy–build up an ‘ecosystem’ of applications and even companies that rely on your program as their foundation, which locks you into the center of a larger and more powerful coalition than you could be on your own.

Off the top of my head, I don’t know of any current famous OOo extensions, however, the Wiki Extension I recently proposed could become a good one! in World’s 10 Top Languages

September 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Newsletter reports that is available in the ten most spoken languages in the world.

Of course, OOo is available in over 80 languages, but according to the Newsletter, the top ten languages in use in the world are: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, German, and Wu Chinese. And you can use OOo in any of them!