Archive for June, 2006

June

30

by Kaj Kandler

OpenOffice.org continues its line of competitive advertisements. The marketing project unveiled a new campaign that capitalizes on the market leader’s delays with its upcoming release Office 2007.

“Take a Test Drive – Keep the Car!” hints that you can test drive and keep OpenOffice.org for free. While Microsoft invited potential users for an online test drive of its beta 2 pre-release in which saving and printing is disabled, OpenOffice.org aims at customers to download the latest release 2.0.3 and install the full version. The catch, upcoming Office 2007 will pinch testers who like in the wallet once it is available. In contrast OpenOffice.org is free and open source.

In addition, Office 2007 will have many user interface changes which frightens many users because they have to relearn their skills. Another point of critic is that Microsoft does not support the new ISO 26300 office document standard and is still haggling with Adobe over the support of PDF files.

June

30

by Kaj Kandler

The latest version of OpenOffice.org, faster and more secure than ever.

New and improved in release 2.0.3:

  • Better performance: for example, a 23 percent speed increase in certain Calc operations.
  • Microsoft Office file compatibility further improved.
  • New email integration with support for Microsoft email file formats.
  • Improved export of PDF documents and how they will display when opened in a PDF reader.
  • Increased accessibility features.
  • Even more languages supported.
  • Improvements in hyphenation and thesaurus for many languages.
  • Automatic check for updated versions.
  • Support for Intel architecture for Mac OS X.
  • Improved Mac OS X font integration.

see the release notes for more details.

Interest in the latest update must be huge. The servers of OpenOffice.org seems slow today.

June

28

by Kaj Kandler

Just found a great expert tip from Michael Santos.

OpenOffice envelopes with Postal Service bar code

Michael, did take some manual instructions from Solveig Haugland on “Printing Envelopes in OpenOffice.org 2.0” and wrote a macro to automate the calculation of the barcode checksum. You can download a sample envelope including the macro from his blog.

June

27

by Kaj Kandler

Tens days ago I held a talk about blogs and forums as business and marketing tools at the Network@TheLibrary in Winchester, MA. Today I discovered the “A-Z of Professional Blogging“, a list that answers many questions my audience had.

It includes from A like “AdSense” the Google advertisement program used by many bloggers to defray some of the costs, to “Zoudry” a blog editor, all you wanted to know about blogging.

Don’t be afraid, it is not only for professional bloggers. The list helps especially those that want to learn a bit more about blogging or have started already.

June

27

by Kaj Kandler

I participated this morning in a skypecast about BlogBridge:Library, the newest product in the BlogBridge family.

BlogBridge:Library is a portal
to pre-select authoritative blogs for a specific community. If you know BlogBridge, you are familiar with its ability to create and publish guides and to rate blogs as well as participating in the social network rating process of those blogs.

If I understand this new product correctly, it is the web-portal equivalent of BlogBridge with two important extensions:

  • The web version has registered users with different profiles. Depending on your profile you are authorized to create and manage guides or to manage the blogs within one guide.
  • BlogBridge:Library can be the private social sharing server behind BlogBridge clients deployed within an organization, such as a company or a non-profit organization.

I’m personally still new to BlogBridge and have not yet figured fully out what its advantages is over other feed readers. However I can see the potential of pre-packaged blogs that meet certain quality standards. In ways this could be the modern form of a news papers editorial staff collecting trustworthy sources so I can read quality news and comments and skip the junk.

June

22

by Kaj Kandler

This morning I participated to my very first skypecast. Skyepcast is a new feature of Skype the VOIP company recently bought by EBay. A skypecast allows to give of live talk over the Internet, using VOIP. It also offers the possibility for listeners to to participate in a conversation.

I was a mere participant of a skypecast by PitoSalas about “BlogBridge:Library“. Pito faired quite well considering the glitches this beta product still has. I found out about the event through an announecment on Pito’s blog. I followed the link to a page on Skype’s website, where the basics of the event where listed.

When it was time to join the skypecast I clicked on a button on that page and my Skype was started. I got a bit confused, when the application asked me if I wanted to connect to an +99….. number via SkypeOut. I was not sure if this was a way to run up a hefty bill with Skype, but I figured my balance on SkypeOut was a mere few dollars and I could risk these.

A new window opened and in a few minutes half a dozen people had gathered. However, the host was still missing so we did not hear each other. Once Pito had logged on, we were all connected in a voice conference. This lead to lots of audio feedback and a very noisy environment. Thankfully, Pito as presenter was able to mute all microphones of the participants and so we could actually hear what he had to say.

Pito talked about their new product BlogBridge:Library (more…) and guided us through a demo on their website. Using voice broadcasting only, pito had to talk us through his demo. Adding Skype Instant Messaging (IM) capabilities helped to facilitate questions to the presenter. However, we didn’t manage to all be part of one IM session, so that the burden fell on the presenter to read many windows and post his link into all of them. I imagine this will become unmanageable when the number of participants exceeds 10 or 20.

A few minutes into the skypecast an new participant joined and rather loudly commented on what Pito was presenting. I guess she didn’t realize that we all could hear her. It appeared that the new participant came in at the default setting “open mike”, which was not intended by the presenter at this point in time. I guess this is a bug in the skypecast software.

In my experience, skypecast has to iron out some kinks in its beta version and give some better instructions and training how to use this new product. As medium skypecasting is quite limited compared to full fledged web-conferences, for example from BostonConferencing.com.

June

20

by Kaj Kandler

Ben Horst and a group of OpenOffice.org activists has started a fund raising campaign to raise awareness for the open source office suite Their plan is to place full page advertisements in New York’s Metro newspaper. The concept has been pioneered by the Spread Firefox campaign in 2005 when the open source community raised the substantial funds required to place a double page ad in the New York Times.

The Spread Firefox campaign raised awareness for the launch of Firefox 1.0. The campaign to place an ad in the NY Times became news in itself, because it seemed so outrages. The fund raising was so successful, that a double sided ad appeared in the NY Times with the names of thousands of donors.

Ben Horst, a long-time activist for OpenOffice.org takes it on him self to organize the effort. He set up a project at Fundable.org to raise $10,000 for two full page advertisements in NY Metro. New York’s Metro is a free newspaper that is distributed to 330,000 people every day and read by 450,000 readers. The goal of Ben’s efforts is to raise awareness that there is an easy to use, free and guaranteed legal alternative to high priced office productivity suites.

In addition to raising the funds, Ben Horst runs also a grassroots discussion group and a competition to design the full page advertisement. This is a real grass roots effort that should help to put OpenOffice.org in the minds of people outside of the geek community.

If you’d like to contribute, please hurry. Ben’s goal is to place the ads in the first week of July.

June

12

by Kaj Kandler

Presentation at Network@TheLibrary Winchester, MA

Kaj Kandler, the founder of Conficio will present in June at the Network@TheLibrary in Winchester, MA. His topic will be “Using the Web to Generate Interest in Your Business: Part II, Blogs and Forums”

“Using the Web to Generate Interest in Your Business: Part II, Blogs and Forums”

Time: Tuesday, June 20th 2006, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Location: Winchester Library, 80 Washington Street, Winchester, MA.

Kaj Kandler, founder of Conficio, will focus on how entrepreneurs and small businesses can use the Internet effectively to promote their business. In this follow-up to his November session, Kaj will talk about how to use blogs and forums to generate interest in your business. (You don’t need to have attended his previous session or have advanced computer knowledge to benefit from this presentation.)

Network @ The Library is open to all, especially entrepreneurs, consultants and others who are self-employed, providing them with an opportunity to meet others like themselves, talk about common problems, and learn about solutions and resources. For more information, visit http://www.winpublib.org/network.htm call the Reference Desk at 781-721-7171 ext. 20, or e-mail Janet Nelson at jnelson@minlib.net

Conficio publishes software manuals based on screencasts. Conficio’s Animated software manuals enhance training and support for non-expert PC users. Conficio uses screencasts to demonstrat functionality instead of describing it with words. For more information see Conficio’s website.

June

11

by Kaj Kandler

Eike Rathke reports that IANA registered officially the MIME-types for OpenDocumentFormat

Time to update Firefox and Apache HTTP server, so they can interpret ODF documents and the new ISO/IEC 26300 document mime-types correctly.

June

09

by Kaj Kandler

Yesterday evening, I listened to a remarkable presentation from David Temkin from LaszloSystems. David presented the upcoming release of OpenLaszlo “Legals” (will be released as 4.0) which supports the rendering of OpenLaszlo applications in DHTML and Flash.

OpenLaszlo is a really remarkable framework. To achieve such sleek user interfaces they use “cinematic experience“. this kind of eye candy that is unheard of in the web-application world. OpenLaszlo claims it allows a user to better understand the transitions from one state of an application to the next and therefore makes navigation easier to understand. and delivers near desktop performance to a web-browser near you.

David showed some real world applications such as web-based Gliffy a Visio like diagram drawing application and Pandora, a personalized web-radio that plays to your individual taste, if you train it well. He also demonstrated a sleek application for Barclays Global Investors tracking stock indeces which LaszloSystems did create in 2 weeks.

However, a really great application is their LZPIX Photo Application. It’s an application that pulls some photos from Flickr and displays them in a Laszlo based interface. It is making use of almost every thing in the LZX language. The remarkable part is that the same source code can be rendered in Flash and in the new DHTML engine. And it is extraordinary, that in parts the DHTML version is even faster than the Flash version. Look at the speed in which the images load in DHTML vs. Flash. This is quite an achievement for the development team of OpenLaszlo.

Amy Muntz delivered a convincing plea for open source contributions to the OpenLaszlo project. If you are a designer or programmer and want to show off a really cool application or component. This is the place to go. and off course you can also contribute to the overall development of the engine.

The only disappointment for me was that I didn’t hear a story, how to get this great platform to the desktop. It looks like Adobe is going to deliver Flash based applications to the desktop with the Apollo project. I think that is a great development, because many web-based applications do not need the browser to function, look at Pandora or the very own LaszloMail. They would be better off with loosing the browser back button and navigation bar and trade it in for some local storage. I hope that the upcoming Apollo will play OpenLaszlo Code in Flash as well as in DHTML.

The good news of the evening was that OpenLaszlo 4.0 will be released any week now.

I must conclude, that OpenLaszlo is really hot (70+ attendees are proof of that) and heads and shoulders above developing a Rich Internet Application (RIA) from scratch. Thanks to the folks at Optaros hosting this event.