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cdriga's - old blog

Friday, April 07, 2006


NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

This blog has been moved to a new address and new infrastructure.

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The new address is:

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Friday, December 02, 2005

First ECDL certification in Romania using OpenOffice.org

NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

November 30th 2005: The Romanian national operator for ECDL announces that they have held the first ECDL Module 3 - Word Processing - examination using the OpenOffice.org office suite. This is a first time in Romania and it finally gives the ECDL certifications true vendor independence in this country and it also proves that the OpenOffice.org suite is a competitive alternative to the popular Microsoft Office suite - users being able to do the same things using OpenOffice.org as those using it's main competitor.

The romanian language press release is located here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Open standards for office documents

NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

November 21st, 2005 - Microsoft Corporation has admitted for the first time that the public demand for open standards in office documents file format is huge. They also announced that they are going to submit their Office 12 XML file format for adoption as a standard. The news is great in the sense that they finally admit the public's need for continuous future access to the documents they create. But:

Why create a new standard when there is already an existing one ?
The existing file format is named OpenDocument and it has already been addopted as an Open Standard for Office Documents by OASIS, it has been continuously developed in the last 5 years, it is mature, stable, free to use and implement, it is vendor independent and it has been already submitted to the International Standards Organization for ratification as an ISO standard since September 30th. Click here for a technical comparison between the two formats.

At its origins, the OpenDocument format has been developed from the file format that the OpenOffice.org office suite is using and it is now being supported by other office suites. Rather than creating a new standard, many think that Microsoft should include OpenDocument support in its office suite (today's results: 8414 individuals representing 227471). You too can sign a petition to Microsoft here. They declared that they will support OpenDocument if there is public demand for it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

SYNERGY - or - How to control two computers with a single keyboard and mouse

NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

Since 1992 when I got my first home PC I dreamed of expanding my desktop on several monitors and also of controlling more than one computer from the same keyboard and mouse. Of course there are many solutions in this direction that have been created over the years, one better than another.

In this article I want to share my experience with one particular Open Source solution I discovered today and which seems extremely easy to install and use on multiple operating systems:

I work under Linux but from time to time I have to create tutorials with screenshots for various programs that work under Windows. Having two computers on the same desk with two pairs of mouse & keyboard is definitely counter-productive when you want speed. Changing chairs and desks just to do another snapshot is again annoying. Same with having a dual-boot computer.

Quoting from the Synergy Project website (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/):
"synergy: [noun] a mutually advantageous conjunction of distinct elements.
Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.

What I wanted to tell about it is that from the first time I tried it, it did exactly what it says. What I had to do was only to download and install the program on both computers:
  • I downloaded both the .RPM for Linux and the .exe Setup files for Windows and installed them;
  • Configured as server the computer on which I want to stay and work (using the configuration tutorial);
  • Configured the other (MS-Windows) computer as client and made it connect to my server computer at startup;
  • Started the server and it worked instantly !!

I now can stay in front of my favourite computer, work with it and when I want to do something on the other one I simply move the mouse to the right side of the screen. The mouse passes on to the other computer's desktop and I can control it both from keyboard and mouse.
I even created the screenshots under Windows, copied in the clipboard and moving the mouse back to my desktop I pasted the images directly in GIMP image editor. As simple as easy.

What is remarcable is the fact that you can link multiple computers this way, no matter the operating systems (Linux/Unix/MS-Windows/MAC OS X). All you need is that they are connected through a TCP/IP network.
Definitely a "must-try-it-now" software which is free to use by anybody, no costs at all. Of course, if you can help out the team who creates it, you are welcome.

Synergy is open source and released under the GNU Public License (GPL).


Saturday, October 29, 2005

kFacts (and figures)

NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

The number of users who register a software application represents only a small fraction from the total number of people who download and install it. This is a fact.

NOW the figures: There are more than 65K (65000) registrations of the OpenOffice.org free office suite gathered in 9 days since the new version 2.0 has been launched on Oct 20th. How big do you think is the number of downloads for this application then?
More to come shortly...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

OpenOffice.org 2.0 - freedom reloaded

NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 Is Here

20 October, 2005

OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the productivity suite that individuals, governments, and corporations around the world have been expecting for the last two years. Easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 realises the potential of open source. Besides a powerful new database module and advanced XML capabilities, OpenOffice.org natively supports the internationally standardised OpenDocument format, which several countries, as well as the U.S. state of Massachusetts, have established as the default for office documents. More than any other suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 gives users around the globe the tools to be engaged and productive members of their society.

Friday, October 14, 2005


NOTE: This blog has moved. Click here to go to the new location. This article and new ones can be found at the new address http://cdriga.kfacts.com.

In April 2002 I discovered in a computer magazine an article describing an office suite application which was free and had all the main components we needed in our daily work in my newly created company. We were having a tough start on a market already full of competitors and we needed solutions to cut costs and direct funds in other areas that would've brought us more clients.

At that time I tested the application which was in a Beta version and because it still had errors, I had to wait for a while untill it reached a milestone release. From that point my decision was made and I implemented the new office suite in all the desktops in my company.

Being grateful for the gift I received through that application, I wanted to register my copy of the software and I used the menu's Help -> Register command. Instead of finding a web form allowing me to register, I found a page saying that there is no registration survey created yet and instead, I was invited to explore the website of what they called "The OpenOffice.org Community".

At that time I had no idea about what is an open source community and I knew only little about open source software. It took me a while to read and browse their website untill I figured out what was going on there and I still could not believe it.

I was expecting a corporate website - you know - those websites which present the company, the products, try to be customer friendly - but behind that you cannot see anything and they remain cold and distant.
I was also looking for the catch behing the free product. But I found none of those on their website.

Instead, I was amazed by the transparency of everything there. Any visitor was able to see what is going on, how they do things, what are their needs and, in fact, everybody was invited to discover the things behind the OpenOffice.org name. More than that... no "Careers" link, but instead one could actually enroll and help if he (or she) felt up to it and had the time.

For me it was the first glimpse of what is an open source community. You like their product and use it for free, and if you are able to contribute you are welcome to give something in return by helping out with the needs of that community.

Next I went exploring deeper, by subscribing to their mailing lists, and I was attracted by the effervescence of the activities there. Being no programmer I chose to act in an area where no programming skills were required and subscribed to the corresponding mailing lists. I was pleasantly surprised to see people wanting to actually do things, giving new ideas, debating what is best to do in a certain direction, organizing and participating to public events, etc.

Anyone who was entering the mailing lists was quickly feeling at home there because of the friendliness with which they were welcomed and encouraged to bring their ideas to life or take an existing task and coordinate with the others on getting them done, and shortly after that, they were actually enrolling in doing things.

Here I have to mention the project leads who were always there, coordinating everything, responding promptly to any enquiry, making sure that to-do lists are getting done, offering their personal example in work and in atitude towards the problems of the community.

I saw examples of both warm welcome to new members, help for starters, participation in complex activities, public recognition of member's achievements, but also prompt reaction in removing somebody from the mailing lists and the project when that person was only willing to break things, disturb activities and sabotage the working atmosphere.

Project leads have a really delicate position in such an open project: combining politics and vision at community level, hard work in getting things done but also risking the public blame on certain key decisions. That's a tough job.

Further on: Working together, debating and helping each other pass the difficulties encountered in the process, the names, the nicknames and email addresses were also developing something higher than the product: a team, a common attitude, even a way of living - and above all - friendship and a community.

A beautiful moment was when I met many of the community members at the OpenOffice.org conferences, the first one in Hamburg and the third one in 2005 in Slovenia. Associating faces with the nicknames and email addresses you knew for ages is an amazing moment.

You see someone for the first time... a total stranger you'd think... but after you read his/her name and realize that you know that person for so many years, have worked together, discussed a lot, even things from his/her private life, and that you both are actually very good friends - you will surely feel great.

Five years have passed since the OpenOffice.org Community was formed and more than three since I joined them and I can say only two things:

Try it by yourself, the experience is worthin'.
- and -
Happy Birthday OpenOffice.org on your fifth aniversary!