More and more good software is becoming open source and OpenOffice.org is no exception. OpenOffice is very similar to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apart from it doesn't cost ?600. OpenOffice is based on Star Office 5.2 distributed by Sun Microsystems, the aim of OpenOffice is to continually develop an office suite that will work on any operating system and is free, unlike Microsoft Office.
I decided to test OpenOffice 1.0.1 on Windows and Linux to see if and how it contended against Microsoft Office. The first thing I tested was how the program installed, the windows installation was very easy, the Linux installation was slightly harder, however this is normally expected in Linux, this may be made easier if more rpm's were available. Overall for installation it was very easy and did not come up with any errors on either Windows 2000 or SuSE 8.
It looks similar to Microsoft Word, and has many of the features MS Word has. It took a while to get used to the new layout and to find where everything was, for instance word count is not just in tools, you have to go file > properties > statistics. Also inserting tables is different but in some ways easier.
There were a few extra features that I thought made OpenOffice better in some ways such as predictive writing, which if you have words that you type often it would automatically put this word up for you, If you didn't want the word you kept typing the word you wanted otherwise if you hit return you got the predicted word. This I found very useful however you had to be careful that you weren't using the same adjectives in the same sentence too often.
This worked very similar to excel and I could do many of the graphs and work that I would normally do in a spreadsheet. It did maybe lack a few of the very advanced features but as I didn't really need these features it didn't bother me. I do not do a lot of work in spreadsheets however I found OpenOffice very easy and nice to use.
The first thing I noticed when starting a presentation was that there were no nice background templates such as you would find in Powerpoint that make your presentation look nice even when the content is ****. The animation was very easy to do and i made a short slide show in very little time at all.
One feature of MS office I didn't miss at all was the paper clip that pops up and does general annoying stuff, this is one thing OpenOffice does without and it does it well! Another handy feature I found was that when I installed OpenOffice for Windows it put an icon in the system tray, I thought originally that it would get in the way but it was actually a really good feature for easy access to work and creating documents.
Another feature I liked was that whether I booted to Windows or Linux I didn't have to worry about getting to know different programs to edit documents, once you had learn't the basics to OpenOffice I could easily carry on with my work where every I was. One feature that I did think needed work on was that of the spell checker, it failed to convert some of my simple mistakes such as changing ?i? to ?I?.
Overall I was surprised at how good OpenOffice is and I would recommend the Windows and Linux version to any home user. For commercial use maybe StarOffice would be a better option for support reasons and at ?30 for a copy its still a lot cheaper then MS Office.
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Buying your next electronic gadget? People make the mistake of buying the so called latest hardware at extra high cost with features that very few people will use. Let's say you want to buy a motorola pda . Make sure you buy what you will use else you are wasting money on that latest pda with pressure sensor that you are not going to use. You are buying yourself a camera from those latest canon digital cameras ? Will you need that many mega pixels? Same is the case with cell phone sets that come with cell phones plans . The company gets its cost from you, select wisely. And off course you can put your favourite cellular ringtones in either medium tech or high tech phones.
As both operating systems get easier and easier for the desktop user which is the best for the less experienced Linux user and why? I will be taking a quick look at both operating systems to find out which is easiest for the following:
Getting a copy.
General day to day use.
For many years Red Hat Linux has been the market leader for many reasons but it is only recently that Red Hat has put more work into the desktop side of its operating system, compared to its work put into its server side. Getting a copy of Red Hat is very easy, you can either downloaded the ISO images off RedHat.com or purchase the personnel edition off sites such as Amazon.co.uk for around ?31. The advantage of purchasing the box set rather then downloading it are that you get the manual that can be good for unexperienced users.
SuSE has never been as popular compared to Red Hat however in recent years SuSE has spent a lot of time and money developing its desktop side of the operating system. Getting a copy of SuSE is slightly harder then Red Hat because SuSE does not do any ISO images for its operating system, however you can do a FTP install or purchase the personnel edition from Amazon.co.uk for ?25:99. Once again the box set comes with CDs a DVD and a manual.
Here Red Hat 8 shines through over SuSE as many more people can get it by downloading ISO images off the website.
Installation of Red Hat was fairly painless, the installer takes you through a number of screens each asking you what you want to do and providing a bit of simple help on the left hand side. In total I spent about 45minutes installing Red Hat 8 compared to around 35mins for SuSE 8.1 however this depends on how much you install and the speed of your computer. Installing SuSE 8.1 was even easier then Red Hat 8, as I had a large Fat 32 partition the installer was able to split this and create the necessary partitions needed for SuSE. Of course I checked it wasn't doing anything stupid through worry that it might delete half my hard drive however it pretty much did what I was would have done. The SuSE installer is different to that of Red Hat because it assumes a lot of things such as what to do with your partitions and what to install, it displays all of this on the screen for you to either accept or modify as you need.
On installation SuSE is easier because of the way it assumes what the user will want but still allows the user to change things if necessary without having to go through many different screens. I could quite easily see an unexperienced user getting stuck on the partitions page if he/she did not know what they were doing in Red Hat.
Next there was configuring the distribution after installation, Red Hat does this straight after installation and gives you options such as network and xfree86 configuration. Red Hat failed to pick up my monitor so it took me a while playing around in the console and xfree86config to set the right settings for my monitor, while this would be easy for an experienced user I doubt an inexperienced user would have got this far and would probably have booted back to Windows by now.
Configuration in SuSE I found easier because of SuSE's configuration program - YaST, this cut out a lot of the playing around in the console that an unexperienced user may have found daunting and displayed an easy way of configuring hardware. While half the fun for many people is using the console to solve problems some less tech based people may find it unusual compared to Windows.
For configuration SuSE has to be the winner because of YaST, this is because it not only makes things a lot easier for the unexperienced it also can save time and effort for the more experienced user. However neither distributions could properly configure my Conexant ADSL modem, SuSE did detect the modem yet could not configure it while Red Hat could not detect it at all. (In the end I had to set the modem up on a Windows 2000 machine then access the Internet through the network)
Red Hat has good support for both KDE and Gnome which is good because like many people I like using KDE but also like to use programs for Gnome such as Evolution and Gimp. SuSEs support for Gnome is not as good and Evolution crashed when I was trying to install it. I noticed that both distributions had poor font support, sometimes I could be using Mozilla and I would have to squint to read the text. This seemed slightly worse in SuSE especially when web browsing and word processing.
After a quick download from Nvidia I had Unreal Tournament 2003 playing nicely in both SuSE 8.1 and Red Hat 8 ? hopefully more games in the future will come with Linux installers. It was hard to pick a winner for day to day use because both distributions did pretty much the same however Red Hat 8 just won because of the better Gnome support.
One of the important parts of the distributions package I think is the off hand support and help you can find on the the distributions website. Redhat.com has an extensive support library covering all features from installation to configuring to troubleshooting. SuSE.com has a much smaller support area and I was more disappointed by what the site what had to offer, however this may be because of the way SuSE is distributed compared to Red Hat.
Overall I think SuSE 8.1 is slightly better for the unexperienced because of its simple installation, stylish graphics and simplicity of configuration. SuSE seems more geared to the desktop market rather then Red Hat at the moment however both distributions are making it a lot easier for people to convert from Windows to Linux.
Shrewsbury, England based website ImAFish.com today officially released their new look website full of new features and updates. One of the most significant updates has been to the members area. Users can now sign up and use a variety of features including columns posting, in site messaging, articles comments and soon gallery comments.
The site run by students has now been running for over 18months now and ImAFish 6 is the most advanced update to date. ImAFish 6 includes many of the features found in previous versions of the site such as the articles and columns sections however the new site builds upon these sections.
Getting a column on the site has never been easier, all you have to do is either ask the admin to make you a columnist or to submit a demo columns post to the site. To do this create an account with ImAFish by clicking on register on the left, or if you already have an account login, once logged in click on 'Column Entry' on the left hand side, here you can type your column then submit it to the site. (If you dont see this then click on 'Messaging' and send your post to pwhite. Articles are also easy to submit - simply click on 'Post Article' once you have logged in.
Registration is free and easy and lets you do more features such as comment to articles and comment on gallery pictures. You can also make use of the sites messaging system to message other members on the site ? like you would email your friends.
ImAFish now has over 100 articles on a range of subjects that can be viewed by clicking on articles on the left hand side, the articles are sorted into categories such as Linux and Gaming. As usual the sites forum is here and has not been changed at all in the new site launch so don't worry about loosing any posts or your account. Registration for the forum is also free so sign up now!
A history of the site including screen shots of previous versions can be found at imafish.com/index.php?a=about&p=about
[Last edited on January 8, 2003 at 8:11:52pm by epytotorp]
Over this past weekend, I decided to play around with Google’s new app called Auto Draw. It’s a vector based app that responds to your tablet or phone sketch and then creates an icon based on recognition of shapes. For instance, let’s say you need a flower icon for a button on your site or an app you’re developing. Simply draw a flower on your tablet/phone and voila, you got a clean vector icon of a flower that can be easily manipulated and edited with a few clicks on the interface. At least, that’s what the video presented and which was what got me very interested.
The Google Auto Draw app is currently in a beta testing mode where it’s been integrated into the site itself. I found it not as easy to use as the video suggested and tried it on both my iPhone and my iPad. There didn’t seem to be, that I recognized, any ease of use from either device.
My 5-year-old son is a whiz on his iPad so I let him try it out and see if maybe I was a bit too hasty in my critique. He played with it for about 2 minutes and was not in the least bit interested. The shape recognition seems to be lacking in a few areas, but for the most part, it’s very cognitive of what it is you might be trying to draw. The stroke of the lines, curves, and angles are spotless and reminiscent of the Bell System logo from the 80’s. I like that, and it’s a clean and simple rendering that just about anyone can do. In my professional opinion, I think it’s perfect for a less experienced marketing executive looking for fast and inexpensive vector art for a PowerPoint presentation.
I also see Auto Draw being of use to seasoned designers that need instant vector art on the fly. A lot of times I spend valuable minutes looking thru files and folders trying to locate something from a year ago. After testing the Auto Draw app on tablet surfaces, I decided to try it out on my MacMini with a 24” monitor, and it worked so much better. I attest that to the speed if of the processor, video card, and Mighty Mouse. The shape recognition is faster and intuitively accurate, to say the least. It was here where I found the link to download the app itself, and I’ve been using it all week.
It’s a powerful tool in the ever-expanding world of vector based graphics which can be used in print, web building, and multimedia. You can create flow charts to keep your projects organized or for creating visual presentations for clients. However, with the interface being so easy to use, I can’t help but wonder if Google will introduce more apps in the near future putting designers out of work. Honestly, I don’t see that happening but this is definitely a powerful and free vector based app that may sway software developers to follow suit.