OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) will begin taking orders for the xo laptop starting on November 12 with a nice twist: You pay for two (around $400), one is shipped to you and the other to a needy child in a third world country.
Another interesting news item: EA donates SimCity to OLPC.
I still have mixed feelings about this project, but am increasingly persuaded that it is a good idea to insure that this technology is available. It is really quite amazing that OLPC has been able to create a durable, functional laptop computer though a bit over the original $100 per mark. One major aspect of this being the dependence on OSS and the creation of a unique OS called sugar. The modified RedHat Linux is really quite amazing. You can try it out yourself by downloading the live ISO. As I mentioned in a previous post the OS is really important on a low-end system, and GNU/Linux does this well. This is the same with the Nigerian decisions to purchase Intel Classmate PCs with Mandriva Linux installed instead of Windows. This, despite some last-minute meddling from Microsoft. Add to the ability to run on low-end resources, the ability to customize the Linux OS depending on the use and you have a uniquely pliable system that can fit many uses.
I had an instructor upload a document in the new Microsoft Word 2007 .docx format and was in a panic to open it until I found this import filter for OpenOffice.org. A quick web search produced this page from mypapit. To make the magic work, you simply download this file to your desktop.
- Double-click the odf_filter.tar.bz2 on your desktop, then click Extract.
- This will place the files in a folder titled “files” on your desktop.
- Click Applications, then Accessories, then Terminal.
- In the terminal, type the following commands:
- cd Desktop/
- cd files/
- sudo cp OdfConverter /usr/lib/openoffice/program/
***** The next line in the included instructions is wrong, so be sure to add the /(slash) before usr.
- sudo cp MOOXFilter_cpp.xcu /usr/lib/openoffice/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/
- sudo cp MOOXTypeDetection.xcu /usr/lib/openoffice/share/registry/modules/org/openoffice/TypeDetection/Types/
- Click Applications > Office > OpenOffice Word Processor.
- Click open and select Microsoft Word 2007 document as the file type.
- Realize this could be avoided if Microsoft would just adhere to the open document format (ODF) accepted by the ISO as the standard for document formats. Check out my previous blog about this
- Realize as well that if this is an archival document – someone in the future may NOT be able to access it because it is in a proprietary format (claiming to be open) like the one used in Microsoft Office 2007.
Here’s an interesting piece from eWeek about MS Office Alternatives:
Believe it or not, there are many choices available to IT managers considering switching from Microsoft Office to an alternative office productivity suite. A simple Google search will prove just how many competing suites are in the marketplace. StarOffice 8, OpenOffice.org, ThinkFree Office, Corel WordPerfect Office X3, NeoOffice, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and Apple’s iWork are a handful of options available.
The vote count was close, but it appears that Microsoft’s OOXML as an International standard has been voted down .
A ballot on whether to publish the draft standard ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML file formats, as an International Standard by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) has not achieved the required number of votes for approval.
This seems to be good news for fans of open standards… for now at least. The Open Document Format (ODF) has been accepted by ISO and could be implemented by Microsoft in their Office suite as it has been in all other word processing and office software packages (Notably the FOSS OpenOffice.org). It seems quite interesting that Microsoft is a member of Open Standards for the Information Society (OASIS) which created the ODF standard, but Microsoft wishes to make their own standard instead of adopting a standard already embraced by the ISO and increasingly the world. For governments (and others like libraries) concerned with open access to information and freedom from proprietary formats, the battle for a standard causes more confusion.
Many have accused MS of influencing votes and the evidence does seem compelling. The Free Software Foundation of Europe has uncovered influence peddling on Microsoft’s part in many countries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation shows a link between corrupt countries and “yes” votes:
Open standards are critical for open government and many governments are standing firm on this principal. Libraries should also demand open standards. We simply cannot afford the cost of proprietary systems for archiving and retrieving information. Our aim is much the same as governments concern with open and transparent access: standards must be open to ensure open access to information.
I just recieved an email from eWeek titled The Trouble with Vista.
The linked sideshow addresses ten major problems with Windows Vista, and I have to say I’ve been reading a lot about this lately and have had several friends and patrons who don’t like Vista. Some people who recently bought systems pre-installed with Vista asked for my help to switch back to Windows XP (which really is a fairly good and stable OS). I also got a link to a new low-priced ($379 Vostro 200) Dell and popped it up to check it out. I was mainly interested in whether the cost reduction was due to Ubuntu Linux as an OS since this is now an option on some Dells. I was surprised to find that Dell is recommending Windows XP over Vista. If you are in the market for a new computer, I would follow Dell’s recommendation and NOT get Vista preloaded. Of course, there are other¹ options.
1. Other options: A Mac or a Dell preloaded with Ubuntu Linux.