Home of The Tiny Guide to

Pitching to VCs

November 30th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Brad Feld, venture capitalist, blogs on best practice methods for giving a presentation to a VC. This is a skill that should be taught in public schools!

SVG Import Filter for OpenOffice 2.0

November 29th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Some cool developers have written a component that lets you open SVG files in OpenOffice.

It’s a very cool program, though not quite finished. The page above lists some caveats, including: “During import, the SVG graphic is translated into OpenDocument graphics primitives that can be displayed and edited with OpenOffice Draw. This transformation uses services from the Apache batik SVG engine. The filter produces nearly perfect results for simple SVGs. However, color and transparency gradients are still problematic (due to deficiencies in the current implementation of OpenDocument)…”

Open Source Mac

November 28th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Open Source Mac provides a list of great FOSS applications for Mac OS X. Be sure to read through to Page 2 and all the way down to the bottom; there are a lot of good apps hidden there!

Writely Adds ODF Support

November 27th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Like all good office software programs, Writely now supports ODF, the OpenDocument Format. Last week’s press release delivers the full story.

What is Writely? Aha, the press release answers that as well:
“Since its beta launch in August 2005, Writely has enjoyed enthusiastic adoption from users all over the world including businesses, bloggers, editors, students, teachers, poets and playwrights. Just as Web-based email services solve the fundamental problem of only having access to your email from one computer, Writely enables users to access and edit their documents from any computer on the Internet. Writely then goes several steps further by enabling easy blog posting, Internet publishing and editing by multiple authors.

While’s Marc Benioff and others have hailed Writely as a serious challenge to Microsoft and its dominance of the office productivity market, Writely is not a carbon-copy of existing desktop solutions. Rather, Writely is an innovative, Web-centric word processor that leverages the connected nature of the Internet to provide online storage, editing, sharing and communication of documents – documents that users can now upload and save in multiple formats.”

Groklaw Compares ODF to MS XML

November 26th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Groklaw publishes Format Comparison Between ODF and MS XML by Alex Hudson, J. David Eisenberg, Bruce D’Arcus and Daniel Carrera of the OpenDocument Fellowship.

The introduction begins,
“There has been a lot of attention to the legal encumbrances in Microsoft’s new MS XML format. In this article we’ll look at the technical side, and try to show you how the design of these formats affect interoperability. After all, that is the purpose of open standards.

OpenDocument benefits from 5 years of development involving many experts from diverse backgrounds (Boeing, National Archives of Australia, Society for Biblical literature, etc.). It was written with the explicit purpose of being interoperable across different platforms. In contrast, MS XML has not gone through a peer-review process, and was written with only one product in mind. This difference shows in the design of the formats.”

Sam Hiser also adds some of his own commentary on his blog.

Vienna and Paris Moving to OpenOffice

November 22nd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The cities of Vienna and Paris long ago announced they’d be moving their desktops to open source, adopting OpenOffice and, at a slower pace, Linux as well.

ZDNet UK reports that Vienna’s project is moving smoothly ahead of schedule:

“Vienna’s ‘soft’ migration to open source on the desktop is proving more popular with users than expected, according to Erwin Gillich, the head of IT at Vienna’s municipal authority…

Gillich told ZDNet UK that his team has already installed on 2,500 desktops since it started offering the product to users in September.”

Likewise, Techworld reports that Paris is also ahead of schedule:

“Earlier this year, volunteers among the city’s 46,000 staff were invited to download and install open-source software, including the Firefox browser and Open Now, the city is planning to migrate all the users of one city department or all of those in one of the city’s 20 districts, not just the volunteers, to test a larger migration. The city has 17,000 workstations, up from 12,000 in 2001…

The city is also responsible for IT matters in its primary and middle schools. There, it has installed Open Office on 2,150 computers, and plans to bring the total to 3,500 by the end of March, it said.”

India’s OpenOffice & Open Source Rollout Continues

November 20th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

ZDNet UK reports, in Indian OpenOffice Rollout Picks up Pace, that the government has distributed nearly half a million CDs of open source software throughout the country.

“Open source groups are helping the Indian government meet its target of creating open source CDs in all official Indian languages by February 2006.

The open source applications included on the CDs, such as the Firefox browser and the productivity suite, have already been translated into five Indian languages Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Punjabi and Urdu…”

“If one person gets the CD, the whole community or [company] department gets the CD,” said Raman. “There are so many channels that people can get it from the Internet, their friends, from magazines that we don’t know how many people have access to it.”

You’re thinking that the next step is to distribute open source via OEM deals, right? That’s what made the current market leader dominant, and that’s why it continues to run the show–people will use whatever comes preinstalled, regardless of quality! But soon, in India, they’ll be delighted to find something good preinstalled for once.

ZDNet UK reports again: Open Source PCs Take a Passage to India.

I’m going to quote the majority of this brief article:
“RKVS Raman, a researcher at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, an organisation involved in the production of the free CDs, said on Tuesday a number of vendors, including HCL Technologies, Acer, Zenith and Sahara, will start selling computers pre-installed with localised open source software from December.

The computers will be pre-loaded with either Microsoft Windows or Linux and a number of open source products, including the productivity suite, the Firefox browser and the Columba email client, according to Raman.

“Linux is preferred by some vendors because it brings down the cost drastically,” said Raman, although he pointed out that the vendors that “insist” on installing Windows will still save costs by avoiding Microsoft Office.

The PCs will be available in three Indian languages at present Hindi, Tamil and Telugu although more languages will be added later. The Indian government hopes that the availability of PCs containing software in native languages will increase the adoption of PCs across India, Raman said.”

MIT’s $100 Laptop Prototype Debuts

November 18th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

At a UN conference in Tunis, MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte debuted a working prototype of the $100 laptop.

A lot of innovative ideas are packed into these small machines, from a complete open source software stack, to a wind-up crank to generate electrical power, the use of wireless mesh networking for communicating with other units, and flash memory instead of delicate hard disks, plus much more!

From the BBC article:
“Every single problem you can think of, poverty, peace, the environment, is solved with education or including education,” said Professor Negroponte.

“So when we make this available, it is an education project, not a laptop project. The digital divide is a learning divide – digital is the means through which children learn leaning. This is, we believe, the way to do it.”

(Solveig’s also got a photo and some interesting commentary on her blog, check it out!)

Dickinson College & OpenOffice

November 16th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The Dickinsonian, student newspaper of Dickinson College, publishes Tech Support: OpenOffice, by Jeremy Pesner.

Pesner advocates that the college switch to OpenOffice, which is always a good policy!

He writes,
“I would highly recommend that Dickinson College switch to OpenOffice. In addition to the money savings, OpenOffice is beginning to gain ground globally. The government of Brazil is already working to integrate it as the office program of choice, and I feel that if it were given the recognition that Word has enjoyed, the OpenOffice community could expand enormously. The OpenOffice website asks all new users to fill out a survey of what features they like and don’t like, and it’s easy to join a project in many ways (you can do more than just programming) on the website. This is the type of dialogue and versatility that for-profit software has a difficult time achieving. Much like the analogy between Dickinson College and a large university, freeware is much more open to change and questioning, while with standard programs, you very much have to take what you can get. This is another reason I feel OpenOffice and Dickinson are a good match.”

Brazil’s “Computers for All” Initiative

November 15th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Brazil has launched a program to cut taxes and provide low-cost government financing so that less wealthy people can purchase their first computers, and each one will have FOSS software (Linux + its desktop application stack) pre-installed. KDE News reports that up to 500,000 computers are expected to be sold through this program in the next 4 to 6 months!

Seems like a good way for the government to stimulate private sector investment in an area it deems important (both for national sovereignty from large corporate powers and as an IT-based economic equalizer within the country).