Bruce Byfield's blog

OpenOffice.org Calc functions, part 2: Working with formulas

A formula is a spreadsheet function entered in a cell, complete with its arguments. They're one of the two or three major applications that first spearheaded the acceptance of the personal computer in the 1980s, and the main tools of advanced spreadsheet use. more>>

OpenOffice.org Calc functions, part 1: Understanding functions

A function is a pre-defined calculation entered in a cell to help you analyze or manipulate data in a spreadsheet. All you have to do is add the arguments, and the calculation is automatically made for you. Beginners might be content to use Calc for lists, but, for advanced users, functions are the main reason for spreadsheets. If you understand functions, then you can start to use the real power of a spreadsheet. more>>

FSlint: annoyingly vague, but useful

Version 2.20 of FSlint is a program whose functionality is at odds with its design. On the one hand, a program for -- as the name suggests --- locating and removing unnecessary or useless material ("lint") from a filesystem is a handy one to install. On the other hand, a rough interface with cryptic buttons and options and a lack of anything except minimal help files makes accessing its options a bit of a challenge, especially at first. more>>

Recent GNOME panel apps

The basic set of GNOME panel apps ranges from the practical, such as clocks and system monitors, to the mildly amusing, but apparently too traditional to dispense with, such as Fish. However, in the last few years, an increasing number of GNOME applications are being designed to fit into the panel. Since many of these recent apps are interesting but too minor to rate a full-length review, here's a roundup of some that have caught my attention. Although all of them are in early release, each hints at new functionality and levels of customization that might soon be available on the desktop. more>>

Configuring OpenOffice.org Writer

Like other OpenOffice.org applications, Writer has dozens of options available from Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer. These options allow you to adjust both the general settings of Writer and specific options for different kinds of formatting. Many are ideal for desktop publishing, and a similar set of options is available for web documents under Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer/Web. more>>

Now revealed! Secrets of line spacing in OpenOffice.org Writer

The fact that OpenOffice.org Writer is more than a word processor is an open secret. Designed to write long documents, Writer is in many ways a document processor comparable to FrameMaker, suitable for designing books and dissertations while falling short of a complete desktop publishing solution. For this reason, it includes a number of tools for tweaking lines of text, including Tools > Language > Hyphenation and the tools for adjusting character width and letter space for individual characters. However, by far the least understood of these high-end tools is Writer's ability to adjust line-spacing. more>>

Customizing general OpenOffice.org settings

OpenOffice.org includes dozens of options for how it behaves. Available from Tools > Options, they are divided into general settings for the entire office suite and settings particular to each application. General settings are available under the general headings of OpenOffice.org, Load/Save, and Language Settings. more>>

Formatting cells in OpenOffice.org Calc

I've seen spreadsheets that are basically interactive tutorials, and many more loaded with what Edward Tufte refers to as "chartjunk" -- embellishments that do nothing to make the presentation of information more effective. Yet, generally, spreadsheets are treated pragmatically. Certainly, few people worry about their layout than the layout of text documents. Still, even if you share this attitude, learning the basic formatting options for cells in OpenOffice.org Calc can be worth your time. Many of the options directly effect how you interact with spreadsheets, and even the purely visual ones can make your lists and calculations easier to read at a glance. more>>

Looking into the FSF's BadVista campaign

BadVista is the latest in a series of activist campaigns launched by the Free Software Foundation (FSF)in the last eight months. It follows the highly successful Defective By Design campaign against so-called Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies, and an unnamed effort to encourage the activist media to make free software part of their agenda. Released on December 15, the campaign currently takes the form of a blog site coordinated by John Sullivan, a program administrator at the FSF. The site features a logo with its name over a quartered flag reminiscent of the Windows logo, but in black and with what appears to be a skull in one corner. So far, the contents is mostly the announcement of the site, an explanation of its purpose, and a news aggregate about the problems and limitations of Microsoft's Vista operating system. more>>

Printing in OpenOffice.org Calc, Part 2: Print selection and printer options

In part 1 of this entry, I discussed how to use Calc's page styles to control how spreadsheets print. However, although page styles are one of the most useful tools for the task, they are far from the only ones. How you setup pages for printing and the printer or export options are also part of the arsenal. None of these tools is useful on every occasion, and you may have to mix and match them to get the results you want, but, the more you know about them, the less of a nightmare printing a spreadsheet becomes. more>>

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