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Ogre to Provide OpenOffice Training

May 28th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

In the Latvian town called Ogre, the city council provides free training courses for as part of a policy to support and develop local businesses, writes in LV: City council to provide OpenOffice courses.

The city wants to increase the number of local businesses. The initiative to organise OpenOffice training was taken by the municipal IT centre, the Ogre United Municipality Information System Centre (Ogre PVIS Centre), following discussions with organisations providing adult education.

The trainings are meant for all those in public administration, local businesses and citizens of the Ogre region. The courses will be hosted by the PVIS Centre. This is located next to the public library and provides cheap Internet access.

Vancouver, Canada Chooses Open Standards

May 25th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

As one of a handful of governments in North America to be so bold, Vancouver, Canada has announced a policy of open standards, interfaces and formats for all public data, announces Slashdot:

They will also consider open-source software on an even footing with proprietary for all new software purchases. Fifteen of the fifteen people who signed up to speak to city council on the topic spoke in favor.

The original article in CBC, titled City of Vancouver embraces open data, standards and source, continues:

Vancouver city council has endorsed the principles of making its data open and accessible to everyone where possible, adopting open standards for that data and considering open source software when replacing existing applications…

Reimer had argued that supporting the motion would allow the city to improve transparency, cut costs and enable people to use the data to create new useful products, including commercial ones. She had also noted that taxpayers paid for the data to be collected in the first place.

OpenOffice Project Renaissance Designs

May 20th, 2009 Benjamin Horst’s Project Renaissance, a bid to reinvent the application’s user interface with no preconceptions as restraint, is currently in the design phase. Slashdot reported on it in OpenOffice UI Design Proposals Published, and the proposals are collected in the OOo wiki here.

Johannes Eva and Jaron Baron have created two that I quite like, although I haven’t had the opportunity to look at all submissions yet.

Better ODF Support for MS Office

May 18th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

While Microsoft Office 2007’s latest service pack purports ODF support, it’s not complete, nor does it appear designed to provide usable interoperabilty with other ODF-capable applications.

For users of MS Office who need better compatibility, the solution is the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office:

  • The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office gives users of Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint the ability to read, edit and save to the ISO-standard Open Document Format (ODF).
  • The plugin works with Microsoft Office 2007 (Service Pack 1 or higher), Microsoft Office 2003, XP and Microsoft Office 2000.

Malte Timmermann explains the situation in his recent post Better ODF support in Microsoft Office via Sun’s ODF Plugin:

So many people complain (everywhere, including in OOo mailing lists) about the bad ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 SP2, that I thought it might be a good idea to post some information about the ODF Plugin here…

The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office, which is based on, adds support for ODF to Microsoft Office 2000 and newer versions. So you don’t have to use the very latest Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 version (in case you really need Microsoft Office for some reason) , where ODF support is insufficient anyway.

Lifehacker on OpenOffice 3.1

May 15th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Lifehacker has been a fan of OpenOffice for some time now, and recently published an overview of 3.1’s Usability Tweaks.

Anti-aliased rendering for Draw and charts, “eye-friendly” highlighting, spreadsheet zoom slider, formula hints, and comment replies got special attention from the Lifehacker team.

Those are just a few of the 3.1 changes we thought the average user might appreciate, but there are more technical and core-based upgrades—like spreadsheet performance, sorting defaults, and built-in document locking—detailed at‘s release notes.

It’s always good to see and other open source software get attention from more mainstream media outlets. (I know, Lifehacker is not mainstream, but it’s a lot closer than free software-specific outlets!)

Firefox Has 270 Million Users

May 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst reports Firefox Hits 270 Million Users, Without Linux.

The open source Firefox web browser from Mozilla now has some 270 million users. That’s the figure that Mozilla staffer Aza Dotzler is now claiming, and it’s not an easy number to calculate.

Calculating the number of users of any open source application is notoriously hard, but Mozilla has some techniques that can help it arrive at a reasonable estimate. It measures the number of installations pinging the update servers daily, and multiplies that by three to reach its guess.

But the system doesn’t count Linux users of Firefox. Author Sean Michael Kerner writes:

If we take Fedora’s number of users to be 13 million, Ubuntu Linux’s to be another 8 million, then roll in Debian, SUSE, Mandriva and Gentoo users, I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Firefox easily has over 100 million active daily users and nearly 300 million users total (but that’s my own calcuation).

TestFreaks’ 50 OpenOffice Tips

May 11th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

The TestFreaks Blog publishes Mastering OpenOffice: 50 Useful Tips to Get You Started:

OpenOffice is the unsung software for personal usage. It offers two very convincing reasons to download: 1.) It’s free. And 2.) It comes with 24/7 online help.

Yes, both true, but there is more.

The article continues, with a collection of progressively more advanced tips for new users of OOo. It covers wizards for installing new dictionaries and fonts, and the Math component is discussed, as well as Calc, although very briefly. Of course it covers Writer, Impress and Draw as well, and one final tip on Base. 3.1 Released Today

May 7th, 2009 Benjamin Horst 3.1 was released today.

The official press release announces:

The Community today announced the general availability of 3.1, a significant upgrade to the world’s leading open-source office productivity suite. Since 3.0 was launched last October, over 60 million downloads have been recorded from the website alone. Released in more than 90 languages and available as a free download on all major computing platforms, 3.1 looks set to break these records.

Download it here. And, why not join the OpenOffice Facebook group while we’re all celebrating?

BuddyPress 1.0 Arrives

May 4th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Distributed social networking is percolating everywhere I look today.

BuddyPress has been in development for a while, but it’s now matured to a 1.0 release, reports Andy Peatling:

This release marks over a year of solid development, starting from the roots of the ChickSpeak project, all the way to the blossoming developer community I see interacting on this site everyday.

See the project’s feature list or test it on the demo site for more.

MapServer 5.4.0 Released

May 2nd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

MapServer released its latest update, version 5.4.0, on April 22:

MapServer is an Open Source platform for publishing spatial data and interactive mapping applications to the web. Originally developed in the mid-1990’s at the University of Minnesota, MapServer is released under an MIT-style license, and runs on all major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X).

MapServer is a project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, an umbrella organization that develops and promotes open source GIS software applications.

See An Introduction to MapServer for a thorough software user’s guide.