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Free and adequate looks enticing
compared with expensive and adequate.
Rob Pegoraro Washtech.com

If we can't afford the solution,
then it's not a solution
;-).
SAP marketing slogan

The main selling point for Windows and an important driving force of Windows development are applications. MS Office is a really impressive set of well integrated programs with  the common macro language ( VBA)

It also have very good, flexible GUI and ports of Apple applications on windows (ITunes) have shown that Microsoft managed to beat Apple in its own game. ITunes sucks so much that any talk about Apple software superiority is just a joke. Apple is a company with super-talented marketing, but average (and incase of iTunes below average) software quality and very restrictive Apple ecosystem enforcing software products. It is essentially a computer and software ecosystem for dummies, who are ready to trade flexibility for predictability.  When open source enthusiasts criticize Microsoft I always ask myself did they every worked in Apple software ecosystem. 

Contrary to views of many naive open source advocates (Eric Raymond is a good example) MS Office is a tremendously capable suit of  professional software applications disguised as a consumer product. It is a professional suit of high-quality high-end applications with the real cost of at least $1K,  which Microsoft is selling approximately for $300 (with home and student edition for around $100, which is a shareware price per application such as Word and Excel -- $50 each). It's not only de-facto standard and that has capabilities perfectly suited for enterprise customers. It is more then that. Some components of Microsoft Office are good (MS Word) but some are masterpiece of software engineering (Excel) in a sense that few companies are able to debug such a complex product to such level. Yes there are other architectures that might be equal or better then used in Excel, more elegant and less complex. But Microsoft is really a king of software complexity. And level of debugging of those application and first of all Excel is a testament of IQ of Microsoft designers and tremendous talent and perseverance of Microsoft managers. It is a very rare case when such a large company can produce such a slick and reliable applications. Just look at software produced by IBM (which recently screwed Lotus Notes client beyond recognition with version 8.5, based on Eclipse). Look at  software product that Symantec, Adobe and SAP sells to unsuspecting public.  Comparison is in favor of Microsoft in many parameters. The same actually was true for FrontPage 2003 which was killed.  It was a tremendously powerful and cheap Web editor, professional tool sold for shareware price.

In a way, as long as Microsoft continued to enhance and further develop this powerful suit of applications it can  lock in most of the PC users. That might be one reason why attempts to unseat Windows domination as diverse as Linux. Apple and lately Goggle met only limited success.  Microsoft proved to be a tremendously competitive company, which despite its size still can wear down and at then defeat a serious competitor by its relentless upgrade cycle.  I think that a popular joke that any Microsoft product becomes good starting from version six sounds a pretty sinister forecast to many Microsoft competitors ;-)

Home users can generally benefit from simpler tools, but MS Word/Excel/Publisher trio costs so little in Home and Student Office editions (around $100) that to compete with Microsoft on the price is similar to competing with Linux on the price.  MS Word was historically sold as a part of  Microsoft Works, and was priced  below $50 which made any competition meaningless. With such prices even with the availability of robust and simple tools it just does not make much sense to settle for less.  Just becuse of the size of Microsoft software ecosystem.

Situation with the alternative to other components of the Office is no better then with MS Word.  Excel is a real masterpiece of software engineering (again, disguised as a consumer product) and despite the fact that the full power of Excel can be appreciated only by professional user and/or (and may be) sophisticated investor, it does not make sense to settle for less as it is availble as a part of the Office with total pitrce slightly above $100. It is true that relatively small percentage of home users can benefi from full power of Excel, but it is indispensable in the enterprise environment and using the same tool at home as in office makes a lot of sense. I noticed that small business often use Excel as a simple database tool, instead of Access and (now discontinued) FoxPro. 

The same might be true for PowerPoint and FrontPage. FrontPage helped bring WYSIWYG publishing to the Web.  I personally use FrontPage (this site is developed using FrontPage and set of custom script that compile webpages) for 15 years and now use it also as MS Word substitute but that's just an idiosyncrasy as I resent inability of word to present a 'raw' editable markup of the document and also I know HTML relatively well and do not have too much needs outside its capabilities.  Actually FrontPage is another really amazing application from Microsoft (although it was initially bought by Microsoft, but it was fully developed while already a part of Microsoft application stack). Microsoft team led by dramatically enhanced with each version up to 2003 (the last version of FrontPage) and which provides professional user the ability to increase his/her productivity ten times or more in comparison with simpler tools. While using it on daily basis for 15 years I still find new tips and tricks that increase my productivity in FrontPage environment almost monthly

So the short answer to the question what are alternatives to MS Office in the USA is: there is no alternatives. The real problem with Microsoft Office is that it is rather expensive outside the USA, and it is extremely expensive in Eastern Europe, if you compare the price with the average monthly salary. Like in SAP/R3 somewhat perverted ( judging from the cost of SAP software) slogan: "If we can't afford the solution, then it's not a solution" ;-). Therefore generally MS Office is an extremely good, irreplaceable solution for the US market, but much less so for Eastern European market, which needs to find the alternative. Currently the most plausible is Open Office which is free, but highly deficient substitute (see The Biggest Failure in Open Source)

But there are other alternatives such as  Microsoft Works 8.0 ), older versions of Office (such as Office 2007 and Office 2003) as well as some licensing tricks available for small businesses (Microsoft partner programs used to be an excellent opportunity for small business to get all Microsoft stack of operating systems and applications including Office for just $350 a year. If the firm contains exactly or less 10 employees that was the deal of the century, as $35 per year per employee is a price you simply can't beat  :-).

The key attractiveness of applications like components of MS Office is openness of the API and the underlying formats. They all are scriptable and it is more useful feature that openness of code per se (its just too much code to be useful for 99.99% of the users ;-). 

Theoretically XML-based tools looks more viable than TeX, and OpenOffice seems to be a leader in this category.   I just do not like XML and consider XHTML quite adequate for most purposes.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Jul 25, 2017] 5 Easy Ways to Overcome Procrastination by Geoffrey James

Jul 07, 2017 | www.msn.com

Procrastination is like a sore throat; it's a symptom with many possible causes. Unless you know the cause, the treatment for the symptom might things worse. This column contains the five most common causes of procrastination and how to overcome them.

1. The size of a task seems overwhelming.

Explanation: Every time you think about the task it seems like a huge mountain of work that you'll never be able to complete. You therefore avoid starting.

Solution: Break the task into small steps and then start working on them. This builds momentum and makes the task far less daunting.

Example: You've decided to write a book. Rather than sitting down and trying to write the book (which will probably cause you to stare at the blank screen), spend one hour on each of the following sub-tasks:

INC. TODAY'S MUST READS: Yes, Bill Gates Memorized Employee License Plate Numbers to See Who Was Still Working

  1. Jot down as many ideas as possible.
  2. Sort the ideas into an outline.
  3. List out anecdotes you'll want to include.
  4. Write a sample anecdote to determine style.
  5. Review existing materials (e.g. presentations).
  6. Assign those materials to sections of your outline.
  7. Write the first three paragraphs of a sample chapter.
  8. Create a schedule to write 2 pages a day.
2. The number of tasks seems overwhelming.

Explanation: Your to-do list has so many tasks in it that you feel as if you'll never be able to finish them all, so why bother getting started?

Solution: Combine the tasks into a conceptual activity and then set a time limit for how long you'll pursue that activity.

Example: Your email account is being peppered by so many requests and demands that you feel as if you can't possibly get them done. Rather than fret about the pieces and parts, set aside a couple of hours to "do email." Schedule a similar session tomorrow or later that day.

Thinking of the work as an activity rather than a bunch of action items makes them seem less burdensome.

3. A set of tasks seem repetitive and boring.

Explanation: You're a creative person with an active mind so you naturally put off any activity that doesn't personally interest you.

INC. TODAY'S MUST READS: Google Employees Weighed in on What Makes a Highly Effective Manager (Technical Expertise Came in Last)

Solution: Set a time limit for completing a single task in the set and then compete against yourself to see if you can beat that time limit. Reward yourself each time you beat the clock.

Example: You're a newly-hired salesperson who must write personalized emails to two dozen customers. The work involves quickly researching their account, addressing any issues they've had with the previous salesperson, and then introducing yourself.

Rather than just slogging through the work, estimate the maximum amount of time it should take to write one letter (let's say 5 minutes). It should thus take you 120 minutes (2 hours) to write all of them.

Start the stopwatch, write the first email. If you have time left over, do something else (like read the news). When the stopwatch buzzes, reset, write the second email, etc.

4. The task seems so important that it's daunting.

Explanation: You realize that if you screw this task up, it might mean losing your job or missing a huge opportunity. You avoid it because you don't want to risk failure.

Solution: Contact somebody you trust and ask if they'll review your work (if the task is written) or act as a sounding board (if the task is verbal). Doing the task for your reviewer is low-risk and thus the task is easier to start. The reviewer's perspective and approval provides you extra confidence when you actually execute the task.

Example: You need to write an email demanding payment from a customer who's in arrears. Because you don't want to damage the relationship and yet need to be paid, it's a difficult balancing act--so difficult that you avoid writing the email.

To break the mental log-jam, ask a colleague or friend if they'll review your email before you send it to see if it hits the right tone. Writing the email then becomes easier because you're writing it for your friend to read rather than for the customer.

Problem: You just don't feel like working.

Explanation: You're feeling burned out and generally unmotivated, so you're finding it very hard to get down to work.

INC. TODAY'S MUST READS: 15 Amazing Tony Robbins Quotes to Help You Boost Sales

Solution: You have two choices: 1) reschedule the activity for a time when you'll be more motivated or 2) motivate yourself in the short-term by setting a reward.

Example: You need to write a trip report but you're tired after a long day of travel. While you know that the report will be more accurate if you write it now, you decide to write it tomorrow morning after breakfast and coffee--a time when you're typically more motivated.

Alternatively, you motivate yourself short-term promising yourself that you'll buy and download a book that you've been wanting to read... but only if you write the report tonight.

[Jul 20, 2017] http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22577/22577-h/22577-h.htm

Jul 20, 2017 | www.gutenberg.org
PRACTICAL GRAMMAR
AND COMPOSITION

BY

THOMAS WOOD, A.M., LL.B.
THE BRADDOCK (PENNSYLVANIA) HIGH SCHOOL

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK CHICAGO

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45814/45814-h/45814-h.htm

[Jul 16, 2017] Calibre 3.4 Open-Source eBook Manager Makes Exporting of Books a Lot Easier

Jul 16, 2017 | www.linuxtoday.com

Calibre 3.4 is here only one week after the release of the 3.3 update, which means that it's not a major version and it only adds a few user interface improvements, along with the usual bug fixes. The most important thing introduced in Calibre 3.4 is the a new method of exporting books to your computer. In the Edit Book component, there's now an option called "Export selected files" if you right-click on the File browser, and it makes it a lot easier to export all selected books to your computer. In addition, there's now a configurable shortcut to move the focus from the Quickview component to the book list.

[Jan 30, 2017] It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. There are larger issues like how do you prepare your graphs and images? We need to talk about particular publishing ecosystem

Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Chris G ... Reply Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM

, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM

>In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

> Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

> What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it.

The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow.

Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

[Jan 30, 2017] Academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising free and working alternative. That's how TeX became standard de-facto for scientific publications

Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Observer... , January 29, 2017 at 01:07 AM
Every product is made for a market/audience. When TeX/LaTeX were created, the itch to be scratched was technical and scientific publications with content and formatting requirements that most commercial tools targeted at corporate users were simply unsuitable for, regardless of price level. Aside from affordability by organizations and individuals largely in the non-commercial sector.

So academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising "free" and "working" alternative.

If you don't have an appreciation for that, it's probably because you never had the need. Like with everything else. Most people are not interested in arcane medical implements and materials, or even mundane home furnishings, until they need them.

Fred C. Dobbs -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 11:05 PM
When the first paper volume of Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming was published in 1968, it was typeset using hot metal typesetting set by a Monotype Corporation typecaster. This method, dating back to the 19th century, produced a "good classic style" appreciated by Knuth. When the second edition of the second volume was published, in 1976, the whole book had to be typeset again because the Monotype technology had been largely replaced by phototypesetting, and the original fonts were no longer available. When Knuth received the galley proofs of the new book on 30 March 1977, he found them awful. Around that time, Knuth saw for the first time the output of a high-quality digital typesetting system, and became interested in digital typography. The disappointing galley proofs gave him the final motivation to solve the problem at hand once and for all by designing his own typesetting system. On 13 May 1977, he wrote a memo to himself describing the basic features of TeX. ...

The first version of TeX was written in the SAIL programming language to run on a PDP-10 under Stanford's WAITS operating system. For later versions of TeX, Knuth invented the concept of literate programming, a way of producing compilable source code and cross-linked documentation typeset in TeX from the same original file. The language used is called WEB and produces programs in DEC PDP-10 Pascal. ...(Wikipedia)

(And so, Tex begat LaTex.
Much as UNIX begat Linux, etc.)

[Jan 29, 2017] Not all authors are able to afford MS Word and the equipment. So using open source publishing system is the most proper for academic publishing

Notable quotes:
"... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem". ..."
"... Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity. ..."
"... Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript. ..."
"... I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process. ..."
Jan 29, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Chris G ... Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM , January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM
>In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

> Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

> What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it. The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow. Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

[Jan 28, 2017] Ms Word vs LaTeX

Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : January 28, 2017 at 06:04 AM

Re LaTeX reduces writing productivity - The .Plan

1. My experience with LaTeX vs Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

2. There's a guy in my group, the most talented applied mathematician I've ever known -incredibly good at applying high level math to solve practical problems, who swears by LaTeX even though we're standardized on Word at work. He's not any faster in preparing his docs than the rest of us and they're not any better in terms of look and feel. He just prefers to use LaTeX. Getting him to use Word has been like pulling teeth, i.e., entirely consistent with "On most measures, expert LaTeX users performed even worse than novice Word users. LaTeX users, however, more often report enjoying using their respective software." I will send him a link to the PLOS ONE article first thing Monday morning;-)

pgl -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 10:46 AM
WordPerfect works better than either.
libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 03:05 PM

"My experience with LaTeX vs. Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

You are wrong.

Such a statement signifies complete lack of understand of what the writing a book or dissertation is about. And what problems the author faces and need to solve in the process (this is pretty hard and time consuming job to write a sizable book - your book is a very harsh mistress ;-)

MS Word and TeX represent two different categories of writer's tool: the former is the tool without direct access to raw representation of the document/book. The latter is a tool with full access to such a representation. In this sense you can't and should not even compare them, unless you want to looks like an incompetent.

Moreover on long documents (to say nothing about books) latest versions of MS Word all have strange quirks. Sometime it change your formatting in a undesirable way. Microsoft software quality really went downhill after, say, 2003.

Fixing those quirks including "spontaneous" changes in formatting can take a day or a week of work even if you know MS Word perfectly well (which, unsurprisingly, very few people outside programming community do), including the in-depth knowledge of styles and, especially, macro programming. The latter is a must for writing any sizable book in MS Word. Or you need a good programmer to help you.

Of course, if you expect that your book will be a bestseller you can hire a top level programmer to adapt set of tools/macros for you, but that's a lot of money. You need approximately 3-5K lines of macros to supplement MS Word for writing a sizable book (say, over 300 pages).

I do know a couple of authors who write their technical books using MS Word (Bruce Eckel the author of "Thinking in Java" is one example). I view them as perverts, although being a programmer is a distinct advantage in such a situation; you will need all your skills to make the job done and you do not need to pay somebody else for such a help ;-).

Writing a large book is about managing revisions and a very precise formatting of chapters. Which needs to be preserved (and verified with some automatic tools) over many iterations (which can take several years) until the final draft of the book. Manipulating the set of styles you use in the book is not easy in MS Word.

Here access to the raw representation of the text of the book is vital. If you need to check your examples (like in case of writing programming books), access to raw text is a must (although can be imitated in MS Word via macros). If you are writing geo science or any book with a lot of mathematics – you better forget about MS Word.

The usual trick authors who write books in MS Word use -- storing each chapter as a separate document -- makes it difficult to create cross references and such. Chapters became semi-isolated and that negatively affects the quality of the book.

So for technical books and especially dissertations TeX has a huge (and I mean HUGE) edge over MS Word. Only using HTML with styles (FrontPage 2003 or Microsoft expression Web) can compete with TeX and only in case you do not use mathematical notation and equations extensively.

brian : , January 28, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Re latex

OK. word is faster. However there's nothing there about what the document looks like. Word documents look like word documents, i.e. not very good. Perhaps that's a function of somebody knowledgeable setting up templates. I find it really hard to believe that it's that much faster. I find word completely bewildering.

People like latex it better because they can use their favorite text editor and get it done. using word is completely and utterly annoying. That accounts for the enjoyment factor i think.

Also too, no mention of lyx.

libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 05:59 PM
I respectfully disagree, but I see your point -- MS Word is much simpler to use for short papers, especially in multi-author env. It requires less sophistication on users part.

Please understand that for LaTeX to work in multi-author environment you need Git or Subversion (or similar version management system) to be installed and learned by all people in the group. Even when just two people are involved (as often is the case with dissertations ) this is a must.

But from the point of view of achievable final quality of the product WordPerfect is better as PGL pointed out.

Both are (unlike TeX) integrated WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") publishing environments with a lot of sophisticated features (such as folding, macros, styles, creation of TOC, powerful spellchecker, etc).

WordPerfect still is used by lawyers and some other professions who value precise layout:

http://www.microcounsel.com/nextgen.htm

== quote ==
Why do lawyers still love WordPerfect? One attorney answers with "Two words: Reveal Codes. At one point about 10 years ago, I tried switching to Word. My secretary and I agreed we hated it after only a few weeks."
== end of quote ==

I am surprised that so few people in the USA use Microsoft Expression Web (or FrontPage ) for this purpose in corporate env.

I am also surprised how Microsoft being a huge company still managed to produce very complex, professional tools like Ms Word and managed to push them to people who are definitely unable to use even 10% of the features offered.

Few people understand that MS Word takes years of day-to-day usage (plus some programming abilities) to learn on the expert level. In reality this is a complex publishing system.

I know some secretaries with almost 30 years day-to-day experience (starting PC DOS days with MS Word 4, which was released in 1987) who still learn something new each month. Often because they knew it a couple of years ago, but forgot :-).

BTW MS Word is one of the few applications for which viruses ("macro viruses") exist and were a nasty problem in the corporate environment in 1996-2002.

Bill Gates took huge risk to bring "over-sophisticated" products like this to the market and still managed to achieve a dominant position among regular users. In Bill Gates days Microsoft was a "king of software complexity" in this product niche.

supersaurus : , January 28, 2017 at 03:26 PM
LaTeX vs MSWord? really? someone got paid to do research on that topic? what next? emacs vs vim?
Observer -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM
Kind of brings you back, doesn't it. I seem to recall a guy in the lab running LateX on a PDP 11/70 back in the early 80's - rather a boutique affectation even then.
libezkova -> Observer... , -1
TeX is a standard typesetting tool for the American Mathematical Society.

http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/authors
== quote ==
Many mathematics publishers (including the AMS) strongly encourage the use of LaTeX:

[Dec 26, 2016] How to Install Microsoft Office 2013 in Linux - Make Tech Easier

Notable quotes:
"... The PlayOnLinux tool is available in most modern Linux distribution package repositories. Install it by opening your package manager or software store and searching for "playonlinux" or from the terminal (in Ubuntu): ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | www.maketecheasier.com

Using the Wine tools to get Windows programs is not a difficult process. With enough effort and Wine tinkering, anyone can get a Windows program up and running on Linux. Though, for many new Linux users, Wine can be tedious and irritating to use without any direction.

This is where PlayOnLinux comes in. It is a "wine wrapper" and makes things easier. Basically it's a tool that takes the underlying technology of Wine and adds some easy-to-use GUI tools for installing a myriad of Windows-based games and even programs (like MS Office).

The PlayOnLinux tool is available in most modern Linux distribution package repositories. Install it by opening your package manager or software store and searching for "playonlinux" or from the terminal (in Ubuntu):

sudo apt install playonlinux

Using PlayOnLinux to install Microsoft Office

Inside PlayOnLinux there are many different buttons and options. The only one that matters at the moment is the "Install" button. After you click it, what follows is a window with a search box. In the search area, type "Microsoft Office."

microsoft-office-play-on-linux-office-installer

Searching for this term brings up several versions of Microsoft Office. Each result is an installation profile, and once the user clicks on one, PlayOnLinux will create a Wine environment and walk through the installation process.

Within the results, select "Microsoft Office 2013" and then the "Install" button. What follows is a warning that "this program is currently in testing." This means that the PlayOnLinux profile for Office 2013 is under testing and may experience some hiccups. Select OK to continue.

This brings up a Windows-like installation wizard. Read the directions and select the "Next" button to be brought to the next part of the installer. PlayOnLinux asks the user to provide the installation file.

[Dec 26, 2016] Google and Amazon Will Let You Rent a Movie for $0.99 During the Holiday

Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(fortune.com) 61 Posted by msmash on Friday December 23, 2016 @01:00PM from the movie-time dept. Holidays are the time when many of us get some extra time to catch up on all the good movies and TV shows that our friends wanted us to watch, but we never did. To make things enticing for people, Amazon and Google are prepping for lowering the rent this holiday season. From a report on Fortune: Google and Amazon -- which have been jostling to compete with Netflix in video streaming -- have announced a new online promotion for the holidays. Google Play will allow viewers to select any movie available on the streaming service to rent for $0.99. Amazon Video will allow viewers the same using the promo code "MOVIE99." The catch: Users can only get one movie per account. Both services offer an extensive list of titles, including this year's Suicide Squad, Bridge Jones's Baby, and Finding Dory among others.

[Dec 26, 2016] British Film Institute To Digitize 100,000 Old TV Shows Before They Disappear

Dec 26, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
(bbc.com) 124 Posted by BeauHD on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @08:40PM from the quick-before-it's-too-late dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Thousands of British TV programs are to be digitized before they are lost forever , the British Film Institute says. Anarchic children's show Tiswas and The Basil Brush Show are among the programs in line for preservation. The initiative was announced as part of the BFI's five-year strategy for 2017-2022. "Material from the 70s and early 80s is at risk," said Heather Stewart, the BFI's creative director. "It has a five or six-year shelf life and if we don't do something about it will just go, no matter how great the environment is we keep it in. "Our job is make sure that things are there in 200 years' time." The BFI has budgeted $14.3 million of Lottery funding towards its goal of making the UK's entire screen heritage digitally accessible. This includes an estimated 100,000 of the "most at-risk" British TV episodes and clips held on obsolete video formats. The list includes "early children's programming, little-seen dramas, regional programs and the beginnings of breakfast television." The issue for the BFI, Ms Stewart added, was also to do with freeing up storage space. "We have a whole vault which is wall-to-wall video. If we digitized it, it would be in a robot about the size of a wardrobe," she said.

[Dec 23, 2016] http://www.vidtomp3.com/index.php

Dec 23, 2016 | www.vidtomp3.com

The video sites that are currently supported are: YouTube , MegaVideo , Dailymotion , Metacafe , Veoh , Myspace , Break , iFilm , Bolt , ClipJunkie , ClipShack , CollegeHumor , FunnyJunk , Glumbert , GoFish , Grouper , Hallpass , MilkandCookies , Putfile , SantaBanta , Sevenload , Sharkle , Shoutfile , Vimeo , vSocial , Yikers , ZippyVideos ... and loads more coming soon!

[Sep 16, 2016] gGrammar checkers with context based checking

Notable quotes:
"... Context-based grammar checkers appear in Microsoft Office 2010 , Microsoft Office 2007 , [4] Google Wave , [5] Ghotit Dyslexia Software, [6] Grammarly , [7] [8] [9] SpellCheckPlus.com , GrammarCheck.net, Ginger Software , VirtualWritingTutor.com, and WhiteSmoke ..."
en.wikipedia.org
errors based on the context of the surrounding words.

Context-based grammar checkers appear in Microsoft Office 2010 , Microsoft Office 2007 , [4] Google Wave , [5] Ghotit Dyslexia Software, [6] Grammarly , [7] [8] [9] SpellCheckPlus.com , GrammarCheck.net, Ginger Software , VirtualWritingTutor.com, and WhiteSmoke .

[Jul 15, 2016] Why everyone is crazy for Prisma, the app that turns photos into works of art

www.theguardian.com

People across the world are turning amateur photos into elaborate works of art with a new viral app that relies on AI technology to let users instantly transform mundane images into Picasso paintings.

Prisma, an app that has attracted 1 million daily users as of Thursday, is reinventing the concept of filtering photos with technology. While the concept of adding filters to photos has been around for years, the Prisma iOS app is unique in the way that it relies on a "combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence" to remake the image.

What that means is the Prisma tools aren't the kind of art filters that Instagram uses where the filters overlay the original photo. Instead, Prisma goes through different layers and recreates the photo from scratch, according to the app makers, who are based in Moscow.

"We do the image fresh," Prisma co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov said in an interview Thursday. "It's not similar to the Instagram filter where you just layer over … We draw something like a real artist would."

Moiseenkov, 25, is part of a team of four founders who built the app. It was first released in June, but has skyrocketed in popularity over the last week, with Prisma-altered photos spreading on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The app is easy to use and functions similarly to Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app that has more than 400 million users.

Users can take photos through the app or pick one from their camera roll. After cropping your image, you then choose one of 33 filters, such as impression, mosaic and gothic, along with filters modeled after specific iconic paintings, like the Great Wave or The Scream. Prisma will continue to add new filters in the coming weeks, Moiseenkov added.

An artistic take on the now famous photo of a demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Photograph: Reuters

After the app adds the filter, you can adjust the intensity and then post to Instagram or Facebook.

Since Prisma has spread, some have complained that the app could devalue the work of real artists and take away work from painters who make art by hand – not within seconds on a smartphone.

But for now, the app remains hugely popular, and Moiseenkov said he expects its user base to continue its rapid growth.

Moiseenkov's background is computer science and he's not an artist himself. But he said he grew up loving painting and that his favorite artist is Camille Pissarro, the Danish-French impressionist.

"People want to create something, and we allow them to experiment," he said.

A still from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in West's music video for Famous.

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A still from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in West's music video for Famous. Photograph: Tidal

The developers are also working on expanding its filter technology to video, with an innovation that hasn't been done before in any sophisticated manner.

Moiseenkov published a 360-degree image on Facebook, which offers a glimpse of how Prisma video filters may work in the future.

While there have long been apps that allow users to add filters to footage, such as basic color changes through iMovie, the Prisma technology could dramatically expand this concept through videos that create an entire world that appears intricately painted in every shot.

"Video is … an easier way to express yourself," Moiseenkov said. "It's dynamic. It's not just a photo or static picture … It's really cool that you can create something in motion."

The co-founder said he wasn't ready yet to offer details on when the video feature would be released or how exactly it would function, but he said he expects it to be very popular. Moiseenkov said he also hoped to eventually expand the technology to virtual reality.

Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence addressing the crowd during a campaign stop in Indiana.

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Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence addressing the crowd during a campaign stop in Indiana. Photograph: Reuters

[Aug 14, 2014] The invisible elephant in the room >> dave_bryant:

The dirty little secret I haven't seen anyone else raise—in fairness, possibly because it isn't well-known outside publishing circles—is that a good part of a physical book's cost is not in the printing and binding. Most people, I suspect, would be greatly and unpleasantly surprised by how much of a book's cost (not its price, I should add) is fixed, regardless of final format.

Why? Because it's the labor, not the ink and paper, that makes up that fixed cost. The writer, editor, proofreader, and typesetter—at least—put in the same number of hours on a book, regardless of whether it's a hardback, a paperback, or an e-book. They still need to get paid, and they sure as hell are not going to accept less money just because people don't value a digital product as much as they do a physical one. I certainly won't put up with it.

There are differences, of course. The incremental cost of a digital copy is, practically speaking, near zero once a publisher's electronic distribution is set up, and that is the basis of the argument that e-books should be cheaper. Moreover, the labor costs of the print house are gone along with the physical costs.

All well and good, but just because a book is easier to get doesn't mean it will sell better. A publisher (even a self-publisher) still has to estimate how many copies he or she thinks people will buy, and base the cover price on that estimate.

Amazon's "lower the ebook price from $14.99 to $9.99, you sell 74% more ebooks" argument conveniently overlooks that if those extra ebook buyers are drawn from would-be $14.99 paperback buyers, the total revenue falls by 30%, even while ebook revenue rises by 16%.

[Apr 18, 2013] Windows It's over

15 April, 2013 | ZDNet

Actually, I will admit:

I do regret Microsoft's decision to kill off Microsoft Works. I actually used to prefer that over Office.

Richard Estes

You miss Works?

Are we talking about the same Microsoft Works that was considered an oxymoron by most people in the industry? Personally, I'll take Office any day. The later versions of office are user-friendly but very powerful and have the ability to create a PDF without going to a third party program. (Yes, I know that the OpenOffice-based programs do that too. And the comfort of menu buttons, for some people, will always beat the Ribbon. However, this was a comparison between Office and Works.) I also appreciate the current versions Office in a business environment. The addition of Lync to applications like Outlook and the integration of communication and collaboration technology makes for a very powerful program. Admittedly, that might be a bit much for a home user that only uses the suite occasionally (and doesn't have a Lync server to work with). Still, business needs require more powerful solutions and, say what you will about Office, the developers for the programs have not sat on their hands in finding ways to make it more advanced. (One can argue if their changes are better but at least they attempt to meet the needs of the business landscape.)

Works deserved its death. It tried to be an Office-Lite but didn't deliver. When there are free programs almost as powerful as Office, why should Microsoft spend the money developing an inferior version of their flagship suite?

[Apr 17, 2013] Microsoft Is Not Dead (Yet) Najarian By Jeff Macke | Breakout

Yahoo Breakout blog

Bill

XP was the last good OS that Microshaft released. Of course, it was the first good OS that they released. Windows 7 was just eye candy. Windows 8 is junk. Why buy MS Office when Libre Office for free does 90% of what MS Office does, and 99% of what people really do?

Likbez

I agree that XP was better debugged and better designed then Windows 7 and 8. But it is more then decade old and it shows. The problem with running XP on old hardware is malware protection. Windows 7 and 8 are improvement in this area. Also there are some genuine interface improvements in Windows 7. For example ability to move an application screen from one monitor to another in two display configuration is really slick.

I am not sure that Libre Office (former Sun Star Office) does 90% of what Microsoft Office does. IMHO more like 60% and Libre Office is less well debugged. It is good to have a choice and put some pressure on Microsoft, but facts on the ground are such that it is a strong competitors only in Eastern Europe and some other regions, where price of MS Office are really outrageous.

In the USA at $100 for student and home edition the question is mute, and people are better off using MS Office, unless they want Libre Office out of love for open source software or other ideological reasons. But you can always install Linux and free yourself from "Microsoft dependence" if you are so inclined. Why bother to install Libre Office on Windows? .

Bill

I do have linux on both my desktop and laptop. I run XP using VitrualBox under linux, and only because there are no good linux compatible finance programs. I am retired now, but used windows in my profession as a programmer. My feelings about it and linux, the more I used linux, the less I noticed it. The more I used windows (XP) the more I hated it. As for Libre Office, both professionally and personally, I have never wanted to do anything with MS office I couldn't also do with Libre Office.

In addition, Libre Office includes a data base addition that you don't get with MS Office and have to buy Access. . .

[Nov 16, 2012] German City Says OpenOffice Shortcomings Are Forcing It Back To Microsoft

The city of Freiburg, Germany adopted OpenOffice back in 2007, mostly replacing the Microsoft Office software it had been using previously. Now, an anonymous reader tips news that the city council is preparing to abandon OpenOffice and switch back. "'In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled,' the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties. 'Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations,' they wrote. ... 'The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice,' the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council." The council was also disappointed that more municipalities haven't adopted OpenOffice in the meantime. Open source groups and developers criticized the move and encouraged the council to consider at least moving to a more up-to-date version of the office software suite.

[Nov 29, 2010] US Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft appeal in Word patent case

A decision is expected by the end of June 2011.
Engadge

tAs The Wall Street Journal reports, the US Supreme Court has today agreed to hear Mircosoft's appeal in the case that dealt it $290 million in damages and prevented it from selling versions of Word that contained the allegedly infringing technology. That could not only have some pretty big ramifications for Microsoft in this particular case, but for patent law in general, as it gets to the very heart of the legal standard for determining the validity of a patent.

username500:

what this article fails to mention:

"The case, which will examine the proper legal standard for determining the validity of a patent, could have significant implications for all companies involved in patent litigation.

Lower courts said Microsoft was required to prove by clear and convincing evidence that i4i's patent was invalid — a standard the software giant couldn't meet. The legal standard is high because it presumes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office makes the correct decision when it decides to issue a patent.

Microsoft's supporters include Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association."

Zelannii :

The "very different manner" amounts to nothing more than utilizing a subsection within XML, defined as part of the XML Spec, to store an entire other document or data set (which is it's own XML file). It's simply putting one entire XML set inside an XML record. It was defined as part of the XML format (though optional), and Microsoft used it. i4i's patent refered to doing this in SGML, which had no such construct prior. It;s not using XML in a "different way" its simply an embed statement. Microsoft didn't even invent this idea, or use any "custom XML," they just used somethnig that was already there that no one lese had a use for.

The details Microsoft had worked with i4i over, and later abandoned, related to methods for storing XML tag information inside a custom construct inside the document. They were working on methods to allow 2 customer XML code sets to co-exist, and be cross referenced by a single table. This implementation is simply one document inside of another, pretty obvious to do that... The USPTO would not reject i4is patent on review as it DOES actually describe some pretty specific constructs. Microsoft didn't use those, but their method ended up "with the same results" and was ruled equivalent by a judge in Texas (no surprise, patent troll haven...). Please explain again how 2 completely different methods can be covered by a method patent?

johnnycanuck44:

But the issue is that prior to i4i's SGML/XML based application, Microsoft had it's own tool "SGML Author for Word" and Ottawa based Microstar's "Near and Far Author for Word" or Wordperfect's support for SGML in version 8. As a former employee at i4i, I am stunned that this patent has held water for so long and that things have gone this far.

I think that the USPTO missed much of the prior art (that wasn't referenced in the patent) and does not fully understand what an XML or SGML parser is.

Also what people fail to remember is that XML is in fact an "application" of SGML, and as such any prior patents pertaining to SGML and Word should take precedence over this particular patent.

ecdy:

The Supreme Court isn't going to decide whether the patent is infringed--two courts have already said it is. Nor is it going to directly decide whether the patent is valid - two courts have already said it is, under the traditional standard of validity. The SC is actually going to consider whether the traditional standard for validity of a patent that was used by the lower courts is applicable in this case. A patent granted by a patent examiner after the examiner considered prior art is considered valid, unless it can be shown invalid by "clear and convincing evidence." The examiner decided that the i4i patent wasn't pre-empted by the prior art he saw, and the courts agreed that there was no clear and convincing evidence otherwise. But should the same standard apply if, after the patent is granted, somebody digs up some prior art that the examiner didn't see? There are four standards of evidence, from least to most rigorous: Substantial ; Preponderance; Clear and Convincing. and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Although their meanings and boundaries may be a little vague, these are the phrases juries work with. The Supreme Court in this case will decide which standard to apply in this case and in later cases of this type.

[Nov 29, 2010] Microsoft and New York in Software Deal By ASHLEE VANCE

October 20, 2010 | NYTimes.com

...The agreement required some concessions on Microsoft’s part. Usually the company focuses on selling licenses to bundles of business software products. But with New York City Microsoft agreed, in some cases, to charge people on a sliding scale based on which specific applications they use the most.

The move from Microsoft comes as it faces increased pressure from rivals like Google, I.B.M. and a host of start-ups in the office software market.

“We took advantage of the competitive moment,” said Stephen Goldsmith, deputy mayor for operations.

Google, in particular, has been aggressive in its march on Microsoft Office’s turf. It sells online versions of similar software, and charges simply $50 per person, per year. Los Angeles has been distributing Google’s software to about 30,000 of its city workers over the last year.

But Microsoft’s agreement with New York covers a broader set of applications beyond office software that Google has yet to match.

“So many of the customers I am talking to play the Google card even if they have no intention of going to Google,” said Mary-Jo Foley, the editor of the All About Microsoft blog. “Microsoft knows people are doing it, but what can they do.”

Microsoft tends to sell licenses to bundles of products like its Office suite, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Excel. Many city workers, however, only use Word to create documents and Outlook for e-mail.

Under the new arrangement, New York will put workers into three different categories based on how many different applications they use. Thanks to new online versions of its software products, Microsoft can craft more pay-per-use models for customers.

The city plans to store some information for about 30,000 workers at Microsoft’s data centers. This embrace of cloud computing means the city will need to buy less computing hardware and that people can work together online on projects.

“We need to dramatically extend technology tools throughout our work force,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “There are a large number of individuals that don’t even have e-mail access.”

Introducing Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview

Introduction to Office 2010

Office 2010 Applications

[Dec 3, 2007] OpenOffice.org 2.3 Impresses

I am not a fan of Wiki format and think that HTML is OK for this purpose and Wiki format outlived its usefulness but still this is an interesting feature.
Next I tested the most significant addition to OpenOffice's Writer application, the ability to export newly created files to the MediaWiki format, a feature-rich collaborative editing software that runs Wikipedia.

I first loaded the file up with a bunch of character formatting, such as italicized, bolded and underlined chunks of text. I also included a hyperlink. From the file dialog, I chose Export and selected MediaWiki.txt from the File Format drop-down menu. I then cut and pasted the entire document into a blank Wiki page and discovered that the italicized text made it through the conversion, as did the hyperlink. The underlined text and bold text, however, did not pass the test. Apostrophes also fared poorly, not maintaining their "smart quotes" status.

Still, introducing this format as an option to users is recognizing the growing importance and undeniable usability of the Web-based collaborative workspace that the smart and savvy should be incorporating into their software ASAP (or be left in the dust).

[Sep 14, 2006] Dr. Dobb's Microsoft Ready To Update Office 2007 Beta 2 September 13, 2006

Pegged as a "Technical Refresh," the update will be available only to users of Office 2007 Beta 2, and will be offered as a download from the Microsoft Web site.

Microsoft touted improved performance, better integration, improved collaboration tools, and "general fit and finish changes" in the Technical Refresh (TR) "This Technical Refresh is the final external product milestone leading to RTM [Release To Manufacturing]," a company spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to TechWeb Wednesday.

[Feb 17, 2006] Office 12 Christened Office 2007 Will be available at the end of 2006. Office 2007 will enable people to publish documents in the Adobe PDF. Probably .Net languages will be supported instead of VBA.

The 2007 Microsoft Office release, available by the end of 2006, is an integrated system of programs, servers, and services that will help you meet your business and personal needs. Work more efficiently, stay organized, and more easily collaborate and share information using the security-enhanced 2007 Microsoft Office system.

Register to get the latest news about the 2007 Microsoft Office release, formerly code-named Office "12", including notification when Beta 2 is available.

[Feb 17, 2006] 2007 Microsoft Office System Packaging Looks like Frontpage is no longer part of the Office Professional.

[Feb 14, 2006] Microsoft New Scripts Page

[Feb 14, 2006] MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer.

Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Office XP/Office 2003 only, we should add.

[Nov 9, 2005] The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities A very interesting selection; definitely gifted author !

There are a lot of great freeware products out there. Many are as good or even better than their commercial alternatives. This list features my personal pick of the "best of the best."

All these utilities in this list have been featured in past issues of of my free monthly newsletter "Support Alert" More freebies are featured in every new issue. If you are interested in great utilities and freeware you really should consider subscribing. It's free.

You'll get the most from this list by browsing through it at leisure. The pathologically impatient can consult the index.

10 Best Free Software Suite
The Open CD site offers for free a wonderful collection of just about every application software product you need to run a PC including the latest version of OpenOffice. Many of these freebies substitute admirably for expensive commercial products. There is Abi Word as an alternative for MS Word, OpenOffice for MS Office XP, Thunderbird for Outlook, The Gimp for Adobe Photoshop, 7-zip for WinZip and many more. If you then add to this collection some of the other utilities from my "46 Best-ever Utilities" collection you will have all the software you'll ever need without spending a cent. Note: All of the Open CD utilities can be downloaded for free as a CD ISO image. If you have a slow connection you can purchase the CD for a as little as $1.99. In addition to the Windows versions, the CD also contains the same collection of programs implemented under a version of Linux called Ubuntu that can be booted and run directly from the CD. That way you not only get to try all these great programs you can try Linux as well, without interfering in any way with your current Windows installation.
http://theopencd.org

25 Best Free Hotkey Utility
Hotkeycontrol XP is a free utility that allows you to define your own hotkeys so that a single key press can launch an application, insert commonly used text, change your volume, or just about anything else. Hotkeycontrol works with all versions of Windows from 98 onwards, though some features will only work with Win2K or XP. Some folks with slower PCs have reported that Hotkeycontrol can be a little slow to react. If you experience this, you might like to try PS Hot Launch VVL as an alternative. It works on all versions of Windows and is an excellent performer even on slow PCs. A third alternative is not really a hotkey utility at all but achieves the same result by using "magic words." It places a tiny text box on your screen and when you type specially assigned words into the box, they will launch a program, go to a web site or whatever. For example if you type "mail" it can launch your mail reader. Type in "46" and it can take you to the web page of the "46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities." Of course, it's up to you to define these magic words and you can have as many as you want. It all works very neatly with some really nice touches like auto-complete for your magic words which means you only have to type in two or three letters and SlickRun will complete the rest. Nice too, is an eyedropper tool that allows you to identify a program you want to "hotkey" just by clicking in its application window. There's also a built-in note jotter and a calendar date display. It requires Win 98 or later.
http://www.digital-miner.com/hkcontrol.html (0.91KB)
http://www.pssoftlab.com/pshl_info.phtml (743KB)
http://www.bayden.com/SlickRun/
(168KB)

45 Best Free Outliner
I'm not a great fan of outliners - my brain doesn't work that way. Some folks however, swear by them and if that includes you, then you should check out Keynote, an Open Source freeware program that has a dedicated band of followers. Its major design attribute is its ease of use. Words like "natural" and "seamless" come close to the mark but really don't capture the essence of what is really a great design. What do you do with it? Well to quote the web site “KeyNote is used by screenwriters to draft screenplays, by medical doctors to keep patient databases, by developers to store source code snippets - and to everyone it serves as a place to put all the random pieces of information that have no particular structure of relationship to other data, and do not fit easily in task-specific applications such as word-processors, databases or spreadsheets.” (1.7MB)
http://www.tranglos.com/free/index.html

Slashdot OpenOffice Bloated

ZDNet's George Ou has been writing a series of posts about Open Office bloat. Includes some interesting system usage comparisons" From the article: "Even when dealing with what is essentially the same data, OpenOffice Calc uses up 211 MBs of private unsharable memory while Excel uses up 34 MBs of private unsharable memory. The fact that OpenOffice.org Calc takes about 100 times the CPU time explains the kind of drastic results we were getting where Excel could open a file in 2 seconds while Calc would take almost 3 minutes. Most of that massive speed difference is due to XML being very processor intensive, but Microsoft still handles its own XML files about 7 times faster than OpenOffice.org handles OpenDocument ODS format and uses far less memory than OpenOffice.org."

OpenOffice.org 2.0 Has Edge over Its StarOffice 8 Cousin

OpenOffice.org 2.0 and StarOffice 8 share the same code base and are nearly identical. The primary differences are in packaging and certain non-free software components that come bundled with Sun's suite.

The purchase price of StarOffice 8 also includes support from Sun, where OpenOffice.org 2.0 support comes at an additional cost.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 and StarOffice 8 use the same native file format, OpenDocument, and the same macro language.

Organizations that mix the two suites, therefore, can expect complete compatibility. (The OpenOffice.org Project recently made available an update to its earlier OpenOffice.org version, 1.1.5, that includes the capability to open, but not to create, OpenDocument-formatted files.)

Read more here about why StarOffice 8 rivals Microsoft Office.

We tested OpenOffice.org 2.0 on Ubuntu Linux 5.10, SuSE Linux 10 and Windows XP, and the suite performed similarly on all three systems. One difference we noted while testing OpenOffice on SuSE 10 was the way that the suite took on the appearance and functional qualities of the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, depending on which we were using.

Unlike StarOffice 8, OpenOffice.org adopted environment-specific dialogs for opening and saving documents, a nice integration touch.

Another benefit that OpenOffice 2.0 offers on Linux systems is better integration with the various packaging systems with which different Linux distributions ship. Sun ships StarOffice 8 as a set of RPM packages.

NewsForge Basic button-pushing with OpenOffice.org macros

There are two ways to create a macro in OOo. One is to use OpenOffice.org Basic to write the macro. The other is to use the macro recorder. That will be the approach we focus on.

The macro recorder is great, because it lets you create a macro without any programming, and when you're done you can look at the code it built and add your own enhancements.

We'll sort a grocery list to illustrate how to build macros. I update my OpenOffice.org Calc-created grocery list spreadsheet weekly before trudging off to the store. I don't know how some of you shoppers do it with your handwritten random lists.

Before I run my macro, I delete the quantity of each item from the previous week. I sort the list alphabetically by grocery item (column A), then enter the desired number of each grocery item (column B). Once I've done that data entry, I want to sort the list from lowest to highest according to aisle (column C), filter the list so only non-zero-quantity items show up, then print the filtered list.

I created a macro to sort by item name using the macro recorder:

Why macros?
Why would you want to use macros? If you do repetitive jobs, like moving data around in a spreadsheet or regularly deleting old data from a column, some simple macros can save you lots of time and reduce your error rate. Automating tasks in OpenOffice.org might just turn you into the departmental macro guru, and managers and business owners like people who can make using spreadsheets faster and easier.

Running the macro is even easier than creating it. Step through the Tools menu, Macro, and Run Macro. Pick the macro out of the list and push the Run button at top right. In my case it was My Macros, Standard, Module1, and "sorta." The spreadsheet flashed briefly and then it was sorted alphabetically by column A.

Creating a macro to sort by aisle was the same process, except I sorted on Column C instead of Column A and named it "sortc."

I also created a "finddeli" macro that looks for all instances of the word "deli" in my list. You can record just about any sequence of actions or key clicks and turn them into a macro.

Attaching macros to buttons

Clicking through the Tools, Macro, Run Macro sequence is almost as much effort as just sorting manually. A worthwhile upgrade I made was to attach the sorta macro to a button that could be placed right on the spreadsheet:

You can now run the sorting macro by clicking on the button.

Creating buttons and macros for simple repetitive jobs like this can save you loads of time. You might look at your spreadsheets and make a list of the tasks that you do over and over, then record a macro and run it to see if it saves you some time. Any situation where you flip back and forth between some spreadsheet state is a candidate for some pushbutton automation.

If you want to get more sophisticated with your spreadsheets, you can also use text boxes, radio buttons, and list boxes. Controls like buttons and list boxes on forms are another way to interface with macros.

For a thorough education on OpenOffice.org macros be sure to get "OpenOffice.org Macros Explained" by Andrew Pitonyak. Don't let the book's massive 476 pages intimidate you. It has vast sections of basic programming practice that explain things in minute detail. It could be a knowledgeable silent companion for anybody who wants to be a departmental OpenOffice.org macro guru.

... ... ...

Links

  1. "OpenOffice.org" - http://www.openoffice.org/
  2. "OpenOffice.org Basic" - http://api.openoffice.org/docs/DevelopersGuide/BasicAndDialogs/BasicAndDialogs.htm
  3. ""OpenOffice.org Macros Explained"" - http://service.bfast.com/bfast/click?bfmid=2181&sourceid=39391960&isbn=1930919514
  4. "Rob Reilly" - mailto:robreilly@earthlink.net

Recommended Links

Softpanorama hot topic of the month

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This document discusses the document processing software that is available under Linux. Word processing software has been a matter of great interest for those that wish to see Linux more widely adopted for use in business.

There is a fairly sizable assortment of free software packages for this purpose. Unfortunately, they are not generally considered to be terribly ``credible'' particularly they do not generally read or write the data formats used by Microsoft Word, which is widely considered the ``industry standard.'' Furthermore, many projects to build ``free word processors'' tend to get started, but, unfortunately, few ever reach any degree of completion.

There are, in contrast, a number of commercial software packages that do a reasonable job of ``understanding'' various proprietary word processor formats.

This document also includes an opinionated discussion about word processing. I feel that the actual thing that people wish to do (doing stuff with documents) is not generally well understood and that peoples' expectations and use of word processing software is hence impeded.


WordPad Class

MozillaQuest Magazine - AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms

AbiWord has its own file format, .abw. However, it can import plain text, HTML, RTF, Word 97 (.doc), XHTML, and other formatted document files too. Export-wise, you can save your AbiWord documents as plain text, ABW, HTML, LaTeX, RTF, and other file types.

AbiWord does not have the rich set of language tools that MS Word has. However, it does have a decent spell-checker and also a word-count tool.

MS Word has lots more tool bars and is much more-fully featured than is AbiWord. On the other hand AbiWord is leaner than MS Word and mean enough for many word processing tasks. The AbiWord download binaries run about 3.5-MB (MS Windows) to about 5-MB (Linux tar.gz).

Installed, AbiWord sucked up less than 6-MB of hard drive space in Windows 98 SE. MS Word eats up 22.9-MB of Windows Memory compared to 5.37-MB of Windows memory for AbiWord.

The Windows version of AbiWord installs easily and in a snap. AbiWord seems to behave nicely when running in MS Windows.

(Note: in Linux, it's generally not a good idea to change libs or other system files or packages merely to accommodate an application -- unless you are a very experienced Linux user. Even if you are an experienced Linux user, you should proceed with caution before changing system critical files. Those changes could negatively affect other applications that are working nicely on your Linux system, or your Linux system itself. So, if you find that you do need to change libs or other system files or packages merely to accommodate an application, forget the application.)

On the other hand, we encountered (mostly lib) problems when trying to install, to upgrade, or to run the Linux version of AbiWord on Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 and Red Hat Linux 7. Those are the only Linux distributions on which we tried AbiWord.

For more information about the status of features already implemented in AbiWord, please check the AbiWord Feature Matrix and the AbiWord User Interface Matrix. If you want to sneak a look at what features are planned for AbiWord but not yet included, check the AbiWord Roadmap. (Links in the Resources section below.)

You can customize AbiWord to your keyboard-picking heart's content. It's open source. That means you can change the widgets, modify features, or even add your own features. If you are into creating themes and skins for programs, you can use the AbiWord customizability to make your own AbiWord theme.

For more information about building your own customized version, check AbiWord Personal in the Resources section at the end of this article.

Conclusion

AbiWord is off to a darn good start. Even though it is still in the pre-release, beta stages, AbiWord is worth downloading, installing, and using. However, it's a preview release not a final shipping version. So expect to find that all AbiWord's features are not fully implemented -- or in some instances not implemented at all, yet.

It is not nearly as heavy duty as its commercial counterparts such as Microsoft's Word, Sun's StarOffice, or VistaSource's Anywhere Desktop (formerly Applixware). However, AbiWord's lighter features-package also makes it lighter-weight resources-wise. It takes less hard-drive space and less RAM.

Although AbiWord is a darn good MS Word clone, it is not MS Word. It is doubtful that MS Word users are going to part with their MS Word and flock to AbiWord. However, where resources or budgets are tight, AbiWord can be a nice supplement or alternative to MS Word on MS Windows PCs.

On platforms such as Linux and the other *NIXs where MS Word is not available, AbiWord has the makings of a very nice substitute for MS Word. As development continues and more features are added to AbiWord it might well become as good as the heavy-duty word processors -- perhaps better.

Of course the heavier word processors are getting better all the time too. Moreover they are becoming available for more platforms also. The bottom line here is that all this means even more choices for software consumers and users.

Ted -- RTF editor for Linux

Ted is a text editor running under X Windows on Unix/Linux systems. Use RTF as native format. Can be used as  as an RTF viewer in Netscape. Developed by Mark de Does. Home page is http://www.nllgg.nl/Ted/  Distributed under GPL license.

Ted was developed as an operating system accessory like Wordpad on MS-Windows. In our opinion, the possibility to type a letter or a note on a Unix/Linux machine is clearly missing. Only too often, you have to turn to a Windows machine to write a letter or an e-mail message. Teds function is to be able to edit RTF documents on Unix/Linux in a wysiwyg way.

Compatibility with popular MS-Windows applications played an important role in the design of Ted. Every document produced by Ted should be accepted as a legal .rtf file by Word without any loss of formatting or information. Compatibility in the other direction is more difficult to achieve. Ted supports most basic text formatting, as supported by the Microsoft applications. Other formatting instructions and meta information are ignored. By ignoring unsupported formatting Ted tries to get the complete text of a document on screen. Ted can be used to read formatted e-mail sent from a Windows machine to Unix, or as an RTF viewer in Netscape.

Features


Microsoft Office Viewers

  1. Excel Viewer 2003
  2. PowerPoint Viewer 2003
  3. Visio 2002 Viewer
  4. Visio 2003 Sample: 20 Sample Diagrams
  5. Word Viewer 2003

Humor

Annoyances.org - Hidden Settings in MS Office 2000

Random Findings

p-nand-q.com Python MS Office

Here are some hints on using the Win32COM extensions for Python to write scripts, that use Microsoft Office Components. Thanks to Mark Hammonds excellent work, you don't need to bother with VB any longer and can automate Office from THE BEST PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE IN THE WORLD.



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Last modified: July, 25, 2017