"Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is an outreach of the American Baptist Association (ABA) to Native Americans, and is Oklahoma's oldest center for higher education, established in 1880. The small, four-year liberal arts school doesn't receive any form of government funding, so finding economical ways to provide the best education possible is a priority for the staff. Recently, Bacone's technologist Robert Duncan III, transferred a Linux hobby into huge savings for the school's IT department. "
And the last paragraph:
"Duncan remains pleased with the results of his creativity. "This puts us in control of our tech resources, instead of relying on some third party. It's kind of a scary to say there's some company out there telling me I'm going to buy a new computer every two years. We've doubled the number of computers we have available to us with the cost-savings of OpenOffice.org versus Microsoft Office. We've made available open access to labs and cyber cafés using hardware that others would have just thrown away. "
I'm on Bainbridge Island near Seattle this week, training teachers who are switching to OpenOffice.org. (Bill would have charged them many hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years to keep going with MS Office, so they decided to spend the money on things like teachers' salaries instead.)
The thing that seems to be a big hit is the ability to select non-consecutive pieces of text. I'm not sure if I've blogged on that before, so this seemed like a good time.
Say you've got this text here.
NOTICE FOR ALL NEW HIRES
Your date of hire must be April or earlier.
Your paperwork must be in by May 15th.
Please pick up your donuts in the gym.
You want the text for the heading, plus Date, Paperwork, and Donuts to be bold. These are non-consecutive pieces of text.
You could select the first line, click Bold, select the next line, click Bold, and so on.
Or you could select everything that you want bold, and click Bold once!
Here's what you do.
1. Select the first piece of text that you want to select, just normally.
2. Hold down the Ctrl key.
3. Select each additional piece of text that you want to format.
4. Release the Ctrl key.
5. Click Bold, or select a different font, or whatever other formatting you want to do.
This is a much quicker way than applying the formatting to one piece of text at a time.
If you don't have really specific requirements, you can just insert a table and drag the columns around to make it spaced the way you want it.
You can also do a lot of good work with the automatic spacing options on the Table toolbar. (View > Toolbars > Table.)
But for good old-fashioned "I want this column to be 2.53 inches wide and I don't care who think's that's anal and geeky" control, you want the Table and Colums tabs of the Table Properties window. (Table > Table Properties.)
Here we go.
So let's say you're not happy with the table just spreading itself all over the whole width of the page. You can drag the right-hand edge if you want or you can be more precise.
Select your table and choose Table > Table Properties. Click the Table tab.
To align at the left, which is the default, select Left. However, to have an indent from left, select From Left.
Then in the Left field, specify how far in from left you want to indent, such as a half inch.
Click OK, and you see the results.
Also in the Table Properties window, if you selected the table and went back in again, you could specify a smaller width for the table in the Width field. The value for how far in from Right the indent is would be recalculated, in the Right field.
Click OK, and you see those results.
The other interesting option in the Table tab, for alignment, is the Manual tab. Select Manual, and set your indents from the left and right in the Left and Right fields.
You can use the Manual setting in combination with the column measurements in the Column tab. Click the Column tab.
If you leave both the checkmarks unmarked, here's what happens. Just put the measurements that you want for each column in the appropriate field. If these measurements don't add up to the same amounts you set in the Table tab, then the margins will be adjusted and the column widths will remain the same.
Click OK and you see the results.
Let's say that you want the margins to be the same but the table width to be adjusted, under the same circumstances. Then select the Adapt Table Width checkbox, and the margins from the Table tab will remain the same but the column widths you enter here will be goofed around a bit. I find this setting a bit annoying, but try it if the margins are the most important thing.
If you want to still preserve the margins but adjust the widths of the columns proportionately under the same circumstances, select the Adjust Columns Proportionately checkbox. Warning, however. It's not proportionate adjustment. If you have columns of 3, 2, and 1, and you decrease the first column to 2.5, then both of the other columns are decreased by the same amount. This is weird.
That's about it for today's installment of table measurement control. Generally, if you want absolute control, select the Manual option in the Table tab. Then enter your margin measurements in the Table tab and your column measurements in the Columns tab. And don't select either of the wacky checkboxes in that tab.
I'm back! And not with a vengeance, just with a couple Calc display tips that you might find useful.
It's all about investigating what's in there when you choose Tools > Options and start rooting around.
Under Tools > Options > Calc, there's the General category.
There's the Press Enter to Move Selection option, with the corresponding dropdown list. Normally when you press Enter, you move down a cell. However, if you want to move in a different direction, just select it.
Just below that option, there's another option, Press Enter to Switch to Edit Mode. This is good for non-mouse-types. Normally if you want to type in, rather than select, a cell, you need to double-click in the cell. (Or click in the entry field in the toolbar, of course.) With this option, you just press Enter and you're in edit mode with the cursor, as shown here.
Once you select your options, click OK to save changes and close the window.
Under Tools > Options > Calc, there's also the Edit option.
In the upper right corner, you have the option to show Formulas, rather than the result of the formulas. Mark that option and your spreadsheets will look more like this.
Another option is Value Highlighting. In this case the text is shown in black, numbers in blue and formulas (the results, not the formula) in green.
A third option farther down is Text Overflow. This is on by default, and I like it, but I want to point it out. It's what makes the red triangle show up when you've got too much unwrapped text in a cell, with text in the cell to its right. (If there's nothing in the cell to the right, then the text just flows all the way through. Another approach is to choose Format > Cells, click the Alignment tab, and choose to wrap the text.)
Once you select your options, click OK to save changes and close the window.
Go ahead and explore the other options in these windows, as well; some are pretty obvious and on by default. But some aren't -- and you might find just the option you want to make things a bit easier every day.
I'm not counting my chickens -- well, not all of them -- quite yet.
But my editor at Prentice Hall says (sorry Greg, but I love the second line so here it is):
"Just got clearance to do OO.org as an ebook/Print on
Demand. Release the hounds!"
I do not yet know the details of all that, but they're proofing the manuscript I sent in a few months ago and things *should* be good.
I'm a little fuzzy on the details but I think the general theme is "thumbs up" and we should have something in a PDF or print or both by the end of September. Please don't quote me on that or schedule anything around that but that's my understanding. And I believe there will be some way to provide something for those who have placed orders on Amazon, for an appropriate price. Ditto for the date disclaimer.
As my friend Jonna wrote, at the end of the Life: A Post-Feminist Fable penned for our group of English major friends at the end of college, "Yay!"
What's better, software that does what it thinks you want, or software that does what you tell it to?
If it's rocket-launching software, and I don't know much about rocket-launching, I guess I would let the software do what it wants. However, I know what I darn well want my office suite software to do. I know how I want it to behave. I know what features I want and I know, for instance, that I do not want it suggesting to me what word I am typing and offering to help me finish the arduous task of typing it.
OpenOffice.org has its default behavior and default settings just like any other software but is very cooperative in letting you customize those behavior and settings the way you want them. Which is refreshing. You just have to tell it how to behave.
So I've put together a list of the top customizations I think are the most helpful and/or powerful. I make sure that everyone in my classes learns these by lunchtime, and review them afterwards. When the software behaves the way you want, that makes everything better.
(By the way, this is a little bit off topic, but I wanted to mention that the scroll graphic at the top of this blog is a drawing shape in OOo 2.0. I'm a bit of a giggly schoolgirl when it comes to the OOo drawing tools, especially the new 2.0 features.)
1. Turn off the word completion.
I hate word completion, and it’s really easy to turn off. Choose Tools > AutoCorrect and click on the Word Completion tab. Make sure the Enable Word Completion option is unmarked, and click OK.
2. Turn off any automatic formatting that you don’t want.
Would you let people live in your house who you didn’t know? Then you don’t want automatic formatting going on that you don’t understand. Choose Tools > AutoCorrect and click on the Options tab. Unmark everything except the top option, Use Replacement Table. Then go back through and see if you really want anything.
(You can unmark the Use Replacement Table option too....but that table is handy, as you'll see in the next item.)
3. Use the automatic formatting to create handy shortcuts.
The same tab where you turned off word completion has a really great feature for creating shortcuts. Let’s say you type the word supercalfragilisticexpealidocious a zillion times a day, or your name and title, or anything kinda long. You can set up a shortcut for it. It's a much more reliable approach than word completion.
To do this: Choose Tools > AutoCorrect and click on the Replace tab.
A. In the left-hand field type your shortcut like sig and in the right-hand field, type the word you’re tired of typing all the time.
B. Click New, then click OK.
C. Click the Options tab and be sure that both checkboxes for the top item, Use Replacement Table, are marked. That just means "use the stuff in the Replace tab."
D. In your document, type the shortcut, followed by a space, and your word will appear.
Note: You can also delete anything in the Replace tab that you don't want.
4. Display the icons that you want.
There are a zillion icons in OOo as with any software and you probably don’t use all of them. There’s also that dandy little result of having to click on the black arrow to get to the icons you want, while the ones you do want sit there taking up space and, quite frankly, smiling a bit smugly. So take off the ones you don’t want, leave room for the ones you do want, and add some other ones.
First step is to take off the ones you don’t want. Click on the dropdown arrow and choose Visible Buttons. Find the icons you don’t want, like double spacing, and select them. That’ll remove the checkbox by them, and that removes them from the toolbar.
Now add the icons you want. The first thing to try is to click the dropdown arrow again and choose Visible Buttons. If the icon you want is there, select it and it’ll appear.
If the icon you want isn’t there, click on the dropdown arrow again and instead of Visible Buttons, select Customize Toolbar. Find the toolbar you want to add icons to. Click Add, and in the window that appears just keep looking through the categories on the left til you find the feature you want in the list on the right. Select it and click Add.
Back in the customization window, you can leave the icon as is and just click OK, or change the icon by clicking and holding down on the Modify button and choosing Icon.
5. Get to know the choices under Tools > Options.
Choose Tools > Options, and you’ll see the big fat configuration window. Just as the items under Tools > Autocorrect were about default behavior, Tools > Options is about default settings, default values. Anything about the program, from icon size to language settings to where the program looks when you choose File > Open, is set here.
I suggest that you open the OpenOffice.org (or StarOffice as in this illutration) item at the top, then select Paths, and change the values for any paths you use a lot. Change the My Documents item, for instance, to change the default for where OOo tries to save documents. You’ll save a lot of time scrolling around in your Save windows.
To change the path, select it in the window, click Edit, and just point to the new location.
You might also want to expand the StarOffice Write item, select Default Fonts, and choose the ones you prefer.
When you’re done, just click OK.
You can turn off the Save for Autorecovery feature if you want--or increase the save interval I find this feature entirely un-annoying, but you can turn it off easily if you want. Autorecovery means if OpenOffice.org crashes or you have to coldboot your machine, at least you'll have something recent to return to. If you're hypervigilant, increase the interval to every minute or 5; if you don't care about it, set it to every hour or just turn it off.
Choose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Load/Save > General. You're looking for the Save AutoRecovery Information Every option. Unmark it, or change the interval.
Click the thumbnail below to see a bigger image of the window.
Now OOo is more like a well-behaved pet and less likely to jump up at you, licking and biting inappropriately.
Those are not all the configuration steps you can do, by a long shot. But I like them, and students seem to like them. And they're an important set of steps in the general process of showing that OpenOffice.org does what you tell it to do.
I know I should probably be using Nvu or just hand coding everything in HTML or using cascading style sheets.
But for those of us who still redesign our web sites on Saturday morning while listening to Car Talk and Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, I wanted to talk about what I did for my site at www.getopenoffice.org. Since it worked out pretty well, to my not-that-artistic mind. At least, it's vaguely pleasant and not Five Bright Colors of the Same Shade. Click to see a bigger version if you like.
I was pretty happy with what I was able to do, how I was able to design the colors, and I'm stoked with the image map. It turned out in a far more normal, controlled way than I usually experience. So for all of you out there who are a little fuzzy on web design but do it anyway, here are some features I think you can use for some pretty decent results.
I'm not here to talk about how FAAAbulous the new design is, but to focus on the steps I used in OpenOffice.org to do it. It's also by no means a lesson on web design—I'm just showing what I was able to do in a morning (OK, a long morning) in OpenOffice.org, and hoping it helps other people.
Creating my own colors
Cool drawing shapes for nav bar
Reasonably well-behaved HTML editing in Web documents (HTML purists, just let me go with this ;> )
By the way: I'm sooooo sorry for the bright blue design at www.getopenoffice.org for the past few months. I got the templates from a free templates site and it just didn't work.
Getting the Design
Side story: Kristin started her literary agency maybe four years ago, and she lives in Denver, not New York. She's made incredible progress, including selling the film rights to many of the books. If you've got some marketable fiction and you're looking for an agent, consider her.
So, armed with the ideas “maroon!” and “taupe!” and figuring I would just use the same simple top/side navigation style, I continued to the beginnings of implementation.
Creating the Colors
One of the wonderful things about OpenOffice.org is that you can create your own colors. So I chose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Colors, and created my maroon and my taupe. The far right color, and the ones on the bottom, are various colors I created for the site.
I did various shades of maroon, a lighter one for a bit of shadow and contrast, and a few different taupes for the nav area, the text in the nav area (nearly black), and other taupes for shading and for the background color of the page.
To create your own colors:
1. Choose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Colors. Click on the Edit button in the colors window. Click the image to see a bigger version if you like.
2. Then mess around in those windows with the various settings til you get what you want.
3. Then click OK, click Add, and name the new color.
Creating the Nav Graphic
I went into OpenOffice.org Draw and after some fiddling with colors and fonts, came up with the navigation graphic, including all the text along the left and top. It's in two separate chunks, for the top and the left side.
I used this beveled rectangle tool to draw the navigation shape at the top, and just used a couple graphics behind each other in different colors for the other shading.
I exported each of the two graphics just by selecting the components of each, choosing File > Export, and exporting to .gif. Other options of course are JPG, PNG, etc.
Creating the Web Page Master
I created a new web page (File > New > HTML Document). I inserted an eight-inch-wide table in the center (well, kind of ;> ) of the document to control where the graphics and text go. The table was two rows and three columns, no heading, with a left column of 2 inches, a middle spacer column of 1 inch, and then the rest. Click to see a bigger image of the setup window here if you like.
Then I merged the top row of cells, where the top nav graphic is going, to end up with something like this.
And I also removed the table borders.
Adding the Graphic to a Document and Additional Formatting
I just chose Insert > From File and added the top graphic in the top merged row, and the left graphic in the left cell. I right-clicked on each graphic and set it to Original Size since there was some wackiness with automatic size reduction.
I also right-clicked on each graphic and choose Anchor > As Character to get rid of extra space below them.
Some extra white space showed at the bottom of the nav bar because of the formatting of the apparently nonchangeable Table Contents paragraph style. However, this wasn't an issue when browsing the document.
I also set the background color of the cells to match the graphic in them; the spacer and right lower cells were set to white since they'll have text and I want a white background.
I made the page background color a lighter taupe. (I chose Format > Page and clicked the Background tab.)
And I set the page size nice and big so that there would be plenty of room for the graphics. Same window, Format > Page and choose the Page tab.
Doing the Image Map: Linking Portions of Each Graphic to the Pages on My Web Site
I right-clicked on the top nav bar graphic and chose Image Map.
In the Image Map window, I used the rectangle tool to draw a box around each piece of text on the graphic that I wanted linked, and entered the URL It's a little odd—you have to draw the box around the image in the window, so it's a little small but manageable.
Then I did the same for the left nav bar.
You end up with nothing happening to the graphic itself, but a bunch of code in the document with the tag MAP1, MAP2, etc. The code gives the coordinates of the links. That means of course that you don't change anything that would shift the graphic up or down or left or right, once you get this done.
The image map would have been too small to see in this window if I had used the full length one here for the editing. I kind of cheated—I used a short version of the left nav graphic in the beginning, then created a much longer one in Draw and inserted that after the map was done. Since the only thing that changed between the short graphic and the long graphic was the bottom, where there are no links, this didn't affect the image map.
I had to tweak some stuff, of course, in the HTML. No biggie. My graphics seem to end up local sooner or later for no readily apparent reason. I use EvrSoft's 1stPage. I also tweaked a bit in Netscape's Composer since it seems that Web's graphics wrapping features, at least in the GUI, aren't all that great. (Of course, if I bothered to memorize a few more HTML commands, I wouldn't have needed Netscape at all.)
Pasting in the Content
Nothing shocking here. I pasted in the content from my old site, creating a new page with File > Save As.
I adjusted the right margin as I would in normal formatting. (Again, HTML purists, I know it's Wrong but it felt so right.... ;> )
Posted the pages. Did some retweaking.
Heck, I didn't even use the Web Wizard. (File > Wizards > Web Wizard.) That tool of course is more for quick “just get it on the web” work when you have a lot of existing content to slam up on the web.
So....who should be using these tools versus Nvu, DreamWeaver, handcoding, better overall extensible design, etc.--well, I'm not debating any of those issues. Just wanted to show you what was available, and let you know you might be surprised at how much cool stuff you can do without a huge headache.
I did it by entering 1 - 12 in three columns. I just typed 1 in the top cell, then dragged the small lower-right-corner of the cell down to create a series of 1-12.
I did the same with the x for the multiplication sign.
And I put this formula in each cell where I wanted a random number between 1 and 12 to come up. =RANDBETWEEN(1;12)
The document regenerates with different multiplication questions in different order each time you open it, so students can't remember which answers were where. Print the document to PDF if you want to preserve it in a particular way.