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Alexandro Colorado on OOo Con

September 27th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

I finally met up in person with Alexandro Colorado, Spanish project lead in the Native Language Confederation, at OOo Con this year. We hit it off quite well and had some very interesting discussions. In one of his Conference follow-up posts, Alexandro mentioned my OOo Con talk on his blog.

“Ben’s talk “Case Study: Guerrilla Advertising in the New York Metro Newspaper” was simply amazing. Like I said, very little amount of resources were able to pull this through. I actually feel proud I donated to his cause and will definitely donate again. He mentioned also interesting experience of on-line marketing and how most of the people that talk don’t really have an impact and the donors are usually the silent guys of the crowd.”

I’ve put the slides of my talk (zipped ODP file) online for everyone to download and share and remix however you like. If you want a formal license for them, they’re “public domain.” Enjoy, and thanks for helping promote!

Kiberpipa’s OOo Con Videos

September 26th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Kiberpipa provided video recording services for this year’s OOo Con sessions and contributed other media coverage as well.

“The Kiberpipa team is happy to announce that we recorded all the lectures, and made interviews with contributors and the organizers of the conference.”

From Slovenia, Kiberpipa is a not-for-profit organization working with open source software and CC-licensed content that has been filming OOo Cons for the past three years.

In their own words, “Kiberpipa is an NGO multimedia cyber center supporting and promoting opensource and free flow of information and knowledge. Adhering to this idea, we work and strive to work with opensource tools only. For OOoCon 2007, we use Ubuntu Linux distribution on our machines, for video editing we use a free opensource video-editing software called Cinelerra (and we also work on packages for Ubuntu). As you can see, we also support, use and promote Creative Commons licensing.”

My Center Networks Guest Blogs on OOo Con

September 25th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Center Networks published a second story about my time at the Barcelona Conference, covering Louis’ keynote on features planned for 3.0, scheduled for summer 2008. Among those features long desired by the community, OOo will bundle a personal information manager (Mozilla Thunderbird with the Lightning calendar extension, which Sun engineers have been contributing to for the past few years).

I also presented my own talk on Wednesday of the conference. Quoting what I wrote for Center Networks, “Titled “Case Study: Guerrilla Advertising in the New York Metro Newspaper,” I described my effort of July 2006 to collect donations online and purchase a full-page, back cover advertisement to promote in the Metro. Reception was good, and I spoke with some other community members interested in carrying out similar promotional campaigns around the world.”

CN also published my recap of the conference from Friday, its last day. While North America is seeing steady growth in the use of OOo and the OpenDocument Format (ODF), it is truly blooming in Europe. A session analyzing data returned from the voluntary user survey reached the conclusion that Europe is at a tipping point, as governments are adopting ODF for storing their data, government agencies are rolling out deployments of reaching hundreds of thousands of users at once, and desktop Linux users running OOo as part of their open source stack seem to be appearing almost everywhere.

This year’s Conference was a great success. So much progress was made in the global OOo community in the past 12 months, yet the pace is set for even faster growth in the next 12.

OOo for OEMs

September 21st, 2007 Benjamin Horst

At one of the presentations at OOoCon Barcelona, Louis discussed the success story of Everex, a PC maker that sells low-cost machines through Wal-Mart. Earlier this summer, they introduced a $298 desktop that included

Shortly after its introduction, Wal-Mart expanded the program! They requested Everex add OOo to every PC it sells through Wal-Mart, and may even extend this requirement to all other vendors selling PCs through Wal-Mart in the future.

Louis showed a video created by Everex (available somewhere online, I haven’t found it yet) endorsing OOo based on this experience. Conference Barcelona Begins

September 20th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Louis Suarez-Potts and Hu Caiyong started the first day of the Conference (Wednesday) with two consecutive keynote presentations.

Louis spoke about the future of OOo in “ 3.0 and Beyond” (3.0 is scheduled for release in mid-2008 and will include a large batch of new features, including the long-awaited PIM users have been demanding).

Hu Xiansheng discussed the role his company (RedFlag 2000) has taken within the ecosystem. They have developed RedOffice, an OOo-derivative with user interface and document format specifically tailored to the Chinese market. (Consisting of 80 million current users, and projected to grow by 20 million per year for the next half-decade.)

These talks and the rest of the conference are being videoed and will be available on the Kiberpipa Conference website as soon as they are ready.

My own presentation, “Case Study: Guerrilla Advertising in the New York Metro Newspaper,” took place at 4:30 local time in the amazing “Paranimf” room. About 25 attendees joined me, and came up with some interesting follow-up questions at the end. (Download my slides in ODF here.)

I’m also blogging the conference for CenterNetworks. My first post discussed the opening Native Language Confederation party on Tuesday night.

Main conference room “Paranimf” Conference in Barcelona

September 19th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The annual Conference has begun here in Barcelona, and I am very happy to be attending for the first time.

Today started with two keynote speeches. Louis Suarez-Potts spoke on “ 3.0,” covering the roadmap for the coming year of development and the adoption of web 2.0-style concepts in the office suite.

Hu Caiyong, CEO of RedFlag 2000, spoke on the work his company has put in to RedOffice, a customized version of OOo for the Chinese market. The importance of deeper cultural understanding, not just language translation, is key to their plans for growth and the creation of a domestic Chinese software ecosystem. (RedFlag 2000 became a full member of the community earlier this year.)

Byfield Compares Writer to Word

September 17th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

For the third time in five years, Bruce Byfield compares the current state of the two titans of office software, in “Office software shootout: Writer vs. Microsoft Word, round three.”

Byfield feels the UI changes in the latest version of Microsoft’s offering were made without purpose, and will confuse users more than they will help. It is certainly true that many people are unhappy with even small changes in the way software behaves, so it is interesting that MS made this decision. Further, I think the idea of using the vertical space on a user’s screen and leaving so much unused horizontal space was a mistake. Screens are getting wider much faster than they are getting taller, and there was already empty space on the sides of the document in MS Word. Like the design programs offered by Adobe, Word should have chosen a column, rather than a horizontal ribbon, in which to collect its tools.

In Styles, Page Layout, Lists, Headers, Footers, Footnotes and Endnotes, and a number of other categories, Byfield finds that Writer is the stronger contender, leading him to crown it the overall winner.

I think Byfield also should have considered two features that I find essential: cross-platform availability of the application (Writer easily wins this category), and the openness of the program’s default file format, where, with ODF, Writer has a significant advantage. MS Word is becoming irrelevant for companies that run Linux, Mac and Windows boxes on their desktops, and especially for those who want to preserve their data in a standard and universally-accessable format.

Canadian Labour Congress Adopts

September 14th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The Canadian Labour Congress has migrated its 100+ users from WordPerfect to, saving $60,000 in licensing fees over the Microsoft Office 2007 option.

The article, from a mainstream newspaper, serves as an introduction to FOSS for non-tech people:

“But it’s not just about the money,” says Andrew Southworth, the network technician responsible for all IT services at the CLC. In fact, says Mr. Southworth, the philosophy and principles behind open source software also struck a chord with the CLC and aligns with its community-based activities.”

Author Paul Chin recognizes both the financial motivations and the philosophical reasons to adopt and use FOSS for organizations:

“To proponents of open source, it’s not just about the source code that’s freely available to the general public. For many adopters, it’s about freedom. Open source represents minimizing dependence on large software companies that generally prevent users from changing or adapting their products, either by keeping the source code secret or by strict copyright rules. It also allows for greater flexibility and control over customization.”

European Union’s New FOSS Portal

September 13th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield writes European Union sponsors new FOSS education portal for

“Heavily funded by the European Union, the Science, Education, and Learning in Freedom (SELF) consortium launched the beta version of its site this week with the motto, “Be SELFish, share your knowledge!” By the end of the year, SELF hopes to develop into the Wikipedia of free learning materials, with a heavy emphasis on material about open standards and free and open source software (FOSS).”

The program is pan-EU, but also pan-Earth: “The original consortium consisted of the Internet Society Netherlands; the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (University of Catalonia) in Spain; Free Software Foundation Europe; the University of Gothenburg in Sweden; the Internet Society Bulgaria; the Fundación Vía Libre of Argentina, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India.”

A cool project, and I wish them great success!

Lotus Notes 8 Review

September 12th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Lotus Notes 8 has become very interesting to me now that it includes code and the ability to create ODF files!

From a strategic standpoint, IBM really had to do this–Microsoft has been using its power in the office suite market to target Lotus Notes users for switching to Exchange, so now IBM is taking the fight back to Microsoft. Lotus Notes 8 users will now receive daily reminders that they might not need MS Office afterall, since they’ve already got ODF creation tools right in front of them. And knowing that 100+ million new users can read ODF files will embolden users of KOffice, and others to share files in the ODF format, building market and mind-share for this key open file format.

In this context, Mike Heck reviews Lotus Notes 8 for InfoWorld and finds it very compelling on its own merits:

Notes 8 has a clean new look, logical menus, and customizable layouts; for me, this design makes the client easier to use compared to Microsoft Outlook… You can preview documents in a vertical pane to the right, and you can recall messages — two features that Microsoft Outlook has offered for ages. Where Notes now beats Outlook, though, is in its capability of arranging messages as a conversation thread — and these can span an entire mail file, not just your inbox. Just highlight one message and all related ones automatically become part of the thread…”

I’d love to see IBM develop a strategy to get Lotus Notes into small businesses… by offering a fully open source version of the application! I think their current clients, mostly large enterprises, would continue to purchase service agreements, so existing sales would not be cannibalized. And small businesses would jump on an open source Lotus Notes, which would be much better for them than Exchange, too tightly tied to the Windows platform as it is.