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February 28, 2007


I like the database idea. I have some things I want to do with Base, but I'm a DB novice and am having trouble putting the pieces together. Oh, I can get the info into Base, I just can't get ot out very well or make good connections or figure out how to link between things. I bought a book about databases, but it's pretty theoretical (not necessarily bad) and has nothing to do with Base.

What about a guidebook to the new Google Apps? There should be a huge audience for that subject, if it's true what Google says - that over 100,000 businesses are using the service already. And Google Apps are compatible with OpenDocument Format, so they are complementary to OpenOffice!

How about something like "Writing your Dissertation with OpenOffice", or something else that targets a set of users who would be naturally attracted to OO.org? With enclosed CD or online supplement you could provide a set of templates to jump-start the task.

Or, "Switching Your Small/Home Business to OpenOffice" and deal with issues of migration, translation, training, etc.

>> What about a guidebook to the new Google Apps?


Dang. Now, hmm, that's definitely something to hitch my wagon to. People have heard of Google ;> (as opposed to Openoffice, sometimes), it's new, no books on it yet....dang.

That is definitely going on the list. Thanks!

I like the targeted audience. Yes, focus on an audience instead of topic, that's a better orientation. Templates--that's a good point, a lot of the stuff I can tell people to do is far more easily conveyed through templates that already have the stuff in it. ;>

Maybe homeschoolers too? Convert a bunch of the docs they need to use for grades, etc. to OOo? Hmmm....

The database book would of course be the most work for me. ;> Of course, that might mean as you indicate that it would be very useful for other people.

"No Starch Press Ubuntu book"

I really liked Ubuntu, but SimplyMEPIS' latest release seems to be a better Ubuntu than Ubuntu. To me, anyway. If I'm correct, MEPIS uses Ubuntu as its engine, but opted for the KDE desktop instead of Gnome. Now I have no dog in the Gnome vs. KDE fight; I like them both. But if I were going to go with a KDE version of Ubuntu, I'd pick MEPIS. Frankly, MEPIS is superior to Ubuntu's KDE cousin, Kubuntu.

Just my opinion, of course. I could be wrong. In any event, I think that I could distribute several copies of your book(s) to my friends and relatives.

The suggestion about "Writing your Dissertation with OpenOffice" is a great idea. I think it would have to have a better title to attract more interest. But I envision a book like this would be a great way to talk people through using styles and templates and what their strengths are in longer documents.

This would not even need to be a 300+ page book. You could probably cover everything needed for something like that is 100-200 pages.

It could be a hands on guide to writing/formatting/working with long documents.


I like the idea of a Linux book for regular people. I recently installed Ubuntu on a machine that didn't have Internet access. The installation didn't set up the monitor properly, so I had to get on the Internet and post a forum message. The community was nice and helpful and I soon had the monitor set up, but suppose I didn't know about using the Ubuntu forum or I was writing my great American novel in the backwoods. A book that leads nontechnical users through the Linux setup process and gets them on OpenOffice would fill a yawning gap.

BTW I lived in Grand Forks, ND fro seven years.

As good of a writer as you are Solveig, why waste your time on still yet ANOTHER "Linux" Book ? And while I too like the idea of a true User Friendly book on harnessing the real world power of OpenOffice Base... why not use your immense talent(s) and create something many of us are crying for.... a User's Manual for The G.I.M.P., or Scribus; or some other powerful open source offering we might not even know exits ?

Hi Ken,

See, this is why I ask for advice.

>> a User's Manual for The G.I.M.P., or Scribus;

I had thought about a GIMP book a while ago but had forgotten all about it. Yes. Plus then I wouldn't have to learn more about Linux drivers and peripheral troubleshooting. ;>

So I'm getting a sense of some sort of book on end user apps that aren't yet covered by a book. GIMP; or the Google apps; or a selection of 20 or so apps like GNUcash and Tomboy and others, kind of a book that functions partly as a guide and partly just to point out that there are a buttload of Linux apps out there.

Alternately, the task-based OpenOffice guide, working title How to Use OpenOffice to Write Your Thesis.

Nobody's gettin' a jolt from the English book idea, eh? ;>

Joel, Dpeach, and Rob,

Can you give me a sense of the size of the audience, and just who is the audience, for the Dissertation/How to Do Something With Advanced Writer, book? My impression is that that kind of document is very specific in the formatting you need to do, like if the margins are off 1/8th of an inch you flunk, and that students might be too scared to use anything but the templates and instructions given to them in class?

Or are you thinking a wider range, like How to Do Papers, not dissertations per se?

Or....how about something like "Replacing Publisher With Writer and Draw" that would concentrate on fancy layout and also have a lot of templates for postcards, cute brochures, clipart and instructions for adding it to the gallery, etc?

Joel, were you in Grand Forks during the big fire and flood?


Well whatever you end up writing, I know it will be good ! Why ? Because Solveig you seem to write to those of us in the "middle" so to speak. It's been my personal experience that 75% of the comptuer books for sale are either; (A) so basic in the material presented, that they're a total waste of money. (B) So advanced that only the superest of geeks stands a chance of understanding them ! You, on the other hand, write in a way that doesn't insult those of us wanting to upgrade our skills, nor blow us away with techno babble. That's why I'd like for YOU to write us a real world, typical applications style book for the G.I.M.P. in the same way you did OpenOffice.org 2.

No Solveig, I left Grand Forks 29 years ago. Of course we had a flood every year, but fires were rare occurrences. I remember two, but the FD was on them fairly fast.

I believe the market for an easy-to-read Linux install manual is bigger than you might imagine. A hundred pages with a single distribution CD in the back that can be installed with a minimum of fiddling. I like Ubuntu or Kubuntu, there are others that would do as well. I think downloading a distribution and on-line manuals are too geeky for the average user.


Hi Joel,

Glad you missed the horrors of 1997 in Grand Forks.

One trouble with selling a Linux book is that Amazon does not allow individual publishers like me to sell software. We're not trustworthy, I guess. Which is not to say that I couldn't sell such a book directly through PayPal or point to an Ubuntu download.

100 pages, eh? That would certainly give the impression of easiness. And perhaps I could just offer a couple pages and a reference table for each of the many apps like Gnucash and Tomboy rather than documenting them all.



Thank you so much! I try to hit the sweet spot. In my time as a techwriter I learned in the first year or so that if I didn't understand something, then it was very likely the target audience, even if they were accountants or programmers who knew more than I did, didn't understand it.

I would have a FABULOUS time writing a GIMP book. I wanted to write a GIMP/Draw book a few years ago but my editor at Pearson wasn't excited. ;> Of course, they have to have huge sales before they have enough profit to spread around to the editor and ten other people who work on the book; self-publishing is an entirely different story.


I am thinking independent computer dealeres. In Houston we have BestComputerUSA. They sell parts, motherboards, cases, disk drives and soforth. For $50 they will assemble the computer. Windows Vista will kill their low end business. They can save this segment by installing Linux with OpenOffice and give the customer your book. Allow them a $10 markup and I bet they will be happy. They can keep a dump on the counter for individual sales.

You only have to approach the small fry. I am thinking Windows Vista is giving us a sweet spot in the market.


Hey you must write about databases, at the moment this is the worst explained topic in OO and many people, like me, needs to know it deeply. Please, write about it!!!!!!

You would win one new customer - me! - if you write a book that covers the non-obvious aspects of what you can do with Ooo Base.

I would for instance love to learn how to dynamically incorporate data from Base into the calculations of a Calc spreadsheet.

That would be something I´d actually pay for.

Hi Matt,

>> I would for instance love to learn how to dynamically incorporate data from Base into the calculations of a Calc spreadsheet.

That sounds very cool! I'm thinking that all the database-related stuff in Calc is in the Database section of the Function wizard. Click the Function Wizard icon on the main Calc calculations toolbar, select Database from the dropdown list, and see if there's anything you need. If it's not there....I'm guessing, but it might not be possible.

I think a Database book would be good, but I think it might not be the first one I do. I'd have a lot of research to do, and also it might not hurt to have another version of Base come out first. V1 products and all that.


Love the Linux book idea, but clearly the more popular book would be the Google Apps book — especially if it explained how ODF is the universal format users should choose. I won't be using Google Apps (don't need it), but I'm sure many, many people will within the next three years.

And make an updated PDF version available online for purchase?

Hi Zaine,

I've been looking at the Linux books out there, and there are a LOT of the kind I've been thinking of writing. ;> So I think I would prefer to go with something else and Google Apps would definitely be an option if use seems to be getting more common. Might consider a PDF version.


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