What we give away when we log on to a public Wi-Fi network

“Already 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, Slotboom is now able to completely ruin the lives of the people connected.” Wouter Slotboom is one of the good guys, demonstrating to Maurits Martijn his effortless ability to retrieve people’s passwords, steal their identity, and plunder their bank accounts.

The full story of Nokia and Microsoft

“When the N9, running MeeGo received the strongest positive reviews of any Nokia phone ever, the first handset of any brand considered better than the iPhone—what did Elop do? He said that no matter how well the N9 sold, Elop would never allow another MeeGo based device to be sold by Nokia.” Microsoft has just bought Nokia’s handset division for a knockdown price of 5.3 Billion Euros, prompting former Nokia employee Tomi Ahonen to chronicle the decline of this once mighty company since in September 2010 former Microsoft employee Steven Elop became the first non-Finnish director in Nokia’s history.

Windows applications making GRUB 2 unbootable

“We need to defend ourselves against the predatory practices of some companies making us look bad: a relatively small number of people do enough detective work to realise that it’s the fault of a particular Windows application, but many more simply blame our operating system because it won’t start any more.” Debian developer Colin Watson asks for your help in an effort to mitigate the problems caused by antifeatures built into Windows software that result in broken Windows/Linux double-boot systems.

Desktop Linux for the Windows power user

“As a lifelong Windows user, system builder, ex-gamer, and performance freak, I’m not drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid. I just want the most amount of control over my system as possible, and at this point in time, Ubuntu is the best follow-up to Windows XP.” Adam Overa walks the Windows user through the Ubuntu installation process from downloading the CD image to finding help online.

What exactly is LaTeX for?

“Many people discover LaTeX after years of struggling with wordprocessors and desktop publishing systems, and are amazed to find that TeX has been around for over 25 years and they hadn’t heard of it.”
Peter Flynn

LaTeX is a free document preparation system that enables you to create beautifully typeset pages. It implements a set of commands designed to control TeX, the typesetting engine developed by Donald E Knuth. LaTeX stores the information about your documents as plain text, thus avoiding the risk of vendor lock-in and ensuring that your documents will still be editable twenty years from now. LaTeX processes the plain text data and, with pdfTeX working in the background, generates PDF output of the highest typographic quality—perfect for viewing on-screen or printing on paper. LaTeX runs on many platforms and is included as standard with most Linux distributions. Ready-to-run LaTeX systems are also available for Windows and Mac OS X.
miktex.org, tug.org/mactex

Still sending naked email?

“In a world of repressive governments and a growing reliance on insecure networks, there’s no way anyone can be sure their most sensitive messages aren’t intercepted by the forces of darkness. But you can make it mathematically improbable that all but the most well-funded snoops could ever make heads or tales of your communications.” Use Dan Goodin’s step-by-step guide to email encryption and keep your communications private.

Bug reports

Florian Reuter is a software engineer for Sun Microsystems and a contributor to the OpenOffice.org project. His particular interest is in the ongoing development of OpenOffice.org’s import and export filters for the .doc, .rtf and Word ML formats.

What follows is an exerpt from an interview Florian recently gave to Mad Penguin’s Christian Einfeld, highlighting the importance of end users submitting bug reports to help in the development of OpenOffice.org.

MP: You said earlier that you were helped out by end user bug reports. Many end users don’t really understand how they fit into your world as a developer. They don’t understand that there are developers out there who really do read their bug reports. What message do you have for simple end users about bug reports?

FR: If you have a Word document in .doc or .rtf or Word ML, and you use the current filter, and something goes wrong, even something not very noticeable, please submit the document as a bug document to OpenOffice.org, so that we can get a critical mass of documents that we can look at.

When we do the investigation of the file formats, we do it in the following way. We look at the basic engineering approach. We look at what happens, and we make an assumption. Then you have to see if your assumption is correct or not. The more documents we have, the more we can test whether our assumption is correct. The real value to me as a developer is having a huge amount of documents available so that I can check my hypothesis to see if it’s correct.

MP: Let’s break that down a bit. How does an end user help you out. What are the mechanical steps for submitting a bug document?

FR: Go to the OpenOffice.org website. Register as a user. You just have to pick up a user name. Enter your email address. Click on issue. Click on submit a new issue. Select the WW8 filter. Attach the file, and submit the bug. If possible, please also provide a description with what is wrong with the document.

MP: How is an end user going to know that there is something wrong with the document so that they need to do a bug report?

FR: That’s easy. If you document doesn’t look right, just go ahead and submit it as a bug. Let us worry if it is a bug or not. Don’t assume that you have made a mistake. It could be a bug.

If you use Windows, you can download a free Word viewer which will let you see what the document looks like. So you can download the viewer, view the document in Word, compare it to what OpenOffice.org looks like, and if it doesn’t look right, then submit it as a bug.

MP: Give us a little more detail about the value of bug reports. You mentioned something earlier about having lots of tables, and how that was helpful. Could you elaborate on that a little more?

FR: You need to have a critical mass of documents to either prove or disprove your current hypothesis as to how the Microsoft layout formatting works. As a developer, you see the differences at the edges of performance.

OpenOffice.org can import >90% of the documents correctly in 2.0. It is in the remaining 10% or 1% that some kind of magic happens, and you’re not sure what it is. You can only figure out what magic is making that work by looking at lots of samples. It’s only by seeing patterns in that small margin that you can get an idea of what makes the magic happen.

You need to have users making unexpected use of the application to figure out what is going on. As a developer, it’s hard to imagine all the different ways that something might be used. In computer science, having lots of samples helps us refine our hypotheses as to how to best import files from Microsoft Word. Real world samples make a big difference for us. It’s that way in most fields of science. You need to have a critical mass of data to test your theory.

So simple end users are really critical in the process of making the code better. It’s important for end users to understand how important they are in the process. That’s one reason why I enjoy working with the OpenOffice.org community. They help me do my job better. So thanks!

This work is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivs 2.5 license.

OpenOffice.org 1.1.5

OpenOffice.org 1.1.5 is a free, multi-platform office suite. It includes key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program.

Installing OpenOffice.org 1.1.5 on Windows NT/2000/XPSP1/XPSP2

OpenOffice.org 1.1.5 is not difficult to install. However, there are a couple of steps to the installation procedure which differ from what you might expect.
Once you have obtained the software, installation takes place in two distinct phases. The first is performed with administrator rights, placing the installation resource onto your system. The second is then performed for each user individually, providing them with an environment that they can configure to reflect their personal preferences.

Obtaining the Software (Administrator)

OpenOffice.org 1.1.5 works best with Java installed on your system. Hence, you should begin by downloading the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment and installing it onto your system.

Download OpenOffice.org by confirming your choices and saving the file OOo_1.1.5_Win32Intel_install.zip onto the Desktop. Extract the folder OOo_1.1.5_Win32Intel_install from inside the archive onto the desktop by using the built-in functionality of Windows XP or a free utility such as FreeZip. You are now ready to install OpenOffice.org.

Copying the Installation Resource (Administrator)

From the Start menu, choose Run and browse to open Setup inside the OOo_1.1.5_Win32Intel_install folder on your Desktop.

Append -net to the string in the Open field:

"C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Desktop\
OOo_1.1.5_Win32Intel_install\setup.exe" -net

Click OK to start the installation script and follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, chose to perform a Standard Installation. In the Java Setup dialogue, select the Java Runtime Environment.

Click Complete to finish the first phase of your OpenOffice.org installation.

Setting Up the OpenOffice.org Environment (User)

Find the OpenOffice.org1.1.5 folder inside the Program Files folder on your C: drive.

Double-click OpenOffice.org Setup inside the OpenOffice.org1.1.5 folder to begin setting up the user environment.

Click Next to start the installation script and follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, chose to perform a Workstation Installation.

Select the file types Microsoft Word Documents, Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations. If you prefer to use alternative software, deselect the option to use OpenOffice.org Writer/Web as the Default HTML editor.

Click Complete to finish the second phase of your OpenOffice.org installation.

Adjusting the Menu Fonts (User)

In OpenOffice.org 1.1.5, you can easily adjust the menu fonts to blend in with your system wide settings. This example uses Tahoma, which is the default on Windows:

Open OpenOffice.org and go to Tools > Options.
In the Options box, expand the OpenOffice.org section and select Fonts.

Select Apply Replacement Table and enter AndaleSans UI into the Font field.

Enter Tahoma into the Replace field and confirm your choices with the green tick button to the right.

In the replacement table, select Always and Screen for AndaleSans UI.

Click OK to apply your changes.

Creating a Desktop Icon

If you would like to use a desktop icon to launch OpenOffice.org 1.1.5, follow these simple steps:

Find the Program folder inside the OpenOffice.org1.1.5 folder inside the Program Files folder on your C: drive.

Right-click soffice inside the Program folder and from the context menu select Create Shortcut.

Choose to have the shortcut placed on the desktop. Otherwise move the resulting file from the Program folder to the desktop.

Rename Shortcut to soffice to OpenOffice.org and you’re done.

Adding New Dictionaries Using the AutoPilot

OpenOffice.org 1.1.5 makes it easy to install additional language modules. Follow these simple steps:

Open OpenOffice.org and go to File > AutoPilot > Install New Dictionaries.

Select the language in which you would like to interact with the installation wizard and click Start DicOOo.

If you are logged into your system as an administrator and wish to install the language modules system wide, chose Administrator Setup. Otherwise select Current User Setup. Click Next to proceed. Please note that installation of Thesaurus dictionaries can only take place if you select Administrator Setup.

Follow the on-screen instructions and make your selections from the available Spelling Checker, Hyphenation and Thesaurus dictionaries.

The installation wizard now informs you about the overall size of the required downloads. Click Next to proceed.

After the installation is complete, click Finish to exit the wizard. Close OpenOffice.org.

When next you start OpenOffice.org, the newly installed dictionaries will be available to you as language modules under Tools > Options > Language Settings > Writing Aids.