Bruce Byfield's blog

Printing in OpenOffice.org Calc, Part I: Page styles

Spreadsheets are primarily used online. For this reason, printing them can be challenging even to experienced users. However, OpenOffice.org offers more help than most spreadsheets with printing, starting with the introduction of page styles. In this entry, I'll explain how Calc page styles can help with printing spreadsheets. In Part II, I'll continue by explaining the other tools available for printing in Calc. more>>

Manipulating lists in OpenOffice.org Calc

When asked to explain the purpose of spreadsheets, most people think of calculations first. And it's true that spreadsheets like Calcs have hundreds of different functions for performing calculations. However, probably the most common tasks in spreadsheets is manipulating lists. more>>

Blocking hardware accessibility through software: a printer's tale

What are you getting when you buy a printer to use under GNU/Linux? The LinuxPrinting.org site can tell you how well a printer will work with free software, but often that's only part of the story. I came face to face with this simple fact when I recently bought a Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart C3100, a low end inkjet printer that includes scanning and copying features. Besides basic features, like many today, the printer includes features that run without a computer, if only with the specific Windows or OS X software that accompanies it. My experience is one data point for measuring the current state of hardware support for GNU/Linux -- as well as how companies, deliberately or otherwise, are withholding it. more>>

Website Review: The Family Guide to Digital Freedom

The Family Guide to Digital Freedom is a website and an accompanying book created by Marco Fioretti, a part-time journalist who writes about free and open source software (FOSS). The site is interesting for its attempt to do two things at once: to provide a guide for non-technically inclined computers users to the advantages of open standards and free software, and to critique the FOSS communities. Both goals are overdue for widespread attention, although they sometimes sit uncomfortably beside each other on Fioretti's site. more>>

The changing face of charts in OpenOffice.org

The charting component is probably the least satisfactory part of OpenOffice.org. A few minutes with the issue tracker shows that, since OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released, 62 issues have been filed for charting. By contrast, the bibliography component and the formula editor, two other problematic subsystems that are comparable in size, have nine and 27 issues files against them respectively. Work has begun on many of the issues about charts, but complete relief is unlikely to come until the final release of Chart 2, the rewriting of the charting component that is due to be part of the as-yet unscheduled 2.6 version of the office suite. However, those who are impatient to see what changes are coming can get a few ideas from the recent release of Milestone 8, an alpha version of Chart 2 that gives the first glimpse of what improvements to expect, not just in the way of bug fixes, but, more importantly, in interface improvements. more>>

extendedPDF: Professional PDF controls for OpenOffice.org

In early versions of OpenOffice.org, exporting to PDF required setting up a printer driver and offered few options. PDF export is vastly improved since version 2.0, since it is built-in and offers some control over the degree of image compression, the initial view, and user interface. However, even these controls are basic. They are certainly far behind the desktop tools available for Adobe Acrobat in Windows and OS X. For this reason, extendedPDF is an essential tool for those who need fine-control over their PDF output from OpenOffice.org in GNU/Linux. more>>

A Five Minute Guide to Opposing DRM

I've been covering the Free Software Foundation's Defective By Design campaign against Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies since its planning stages. Starting from scratch, in less than three months, the campaign has grown to 7000 members. This number is impressive, especially since the campaign introduces a degree of activism previously unknown in the free and open source software communities. What strikes me, though, is that, for all the loathing of DRM, how rarely the reasons for opposing it are spelled out. In some cases, the reason may be that people consider them too obvious to be worth mentioning, but, too often when I've probed, people haven't even heard of the possible objections. These objections begin with the fact that the case for DRM has yet to be made, and continues with arguments about consumer rights, privacy, competitiveness, and industry standards. more>>

OpenOffice.org Extensions

OpenOffice.org extensions are a quick way to add functionality. Writable in a variety of languages, including Java, JavaScript, OpenOffice.org Basic, Python, and C++, they allow developers to contribute features without having to master much of OpenOffice.org's notoriously cryptic source code. For users, they provide quick fixes for commonly requested features. more>>

Taking Tabs to the Limit with Tabbrowser Extensions

When you're hardcore about tabbed browsing, Tabbrowser Extensions is the way to go. more>>

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