Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sat 24th Nov 2012 17:52 UTC
Editorial Do you depend on your computer for your living? If so, I'm sure you've thought long and hard about which hardware and software to use. I'd like to explain why I use generic "white boxes" running open source software. These give me a platform I rely on for 100% availability. They also provide a low-cost solution with excellent security and privacy.
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RE: Alas...
by tony on Sun 25th Nov 2012 11:19 UTC in reply to "Alas..."
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

That mirrors my experience. Open/Libre Office would be fine in a vacuum, but Microsoft Office's stranglehold on the market has little to do with the programs themselves, but rather the file format.

When inter-operating between MS Office and O/L Office, many little formatting issues would crop up here and there: A paragraph that should be single spaced but shows up double, a PowerPoint with an off-center picture, a spread sheet with unreadable formatting.

If you put any value on your time above say, minimum wage, it's cheaper to pay the Microsoft tax then to spend the countless hours fixing those maddening little problems in document after document after document.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Alas...
by zhuravlik on Sun 25th Nov 2012 12:09 in reply to "RE: Alas..."
zhuravlik Member since:
2009-08-24

>When inter-operating between MS Office and O/L Office, many little formatting issues would crop up here and there

They also crop here and there even when inter-operating between MS Office and MS Office. I remember one day when colleague brought me MSO document typed in the same version of MS Word as I had, and there were formatting issues here and there.

The main problem is how the documents are really formatted. If the user uses several pre-defined style templates, the document will be rendered and printed correctly even in OOo. Or it will be very easy to fix it just by changing style a bit.

But much more frequent case is: text and pictures are formatted using tabs+spaces combination until they are properly aligned in this particular instance of text editor. Some pictures are inserted in presentation using absolute/relative values inappropriately.

And if you presented something in PowerPoint format, you may easily remember that you should triple-check your presentation on the same computer where you present it, otherwise, some magic can happen.

After all, at our faculty (where Windows prevale a bit) there is even the recommendation to publish presentation to PDFs for the defence of dissertations instead of PowerPoint, because otherwise some formulas are unreadable or improperly displayed, or there could be encoding problems, or someone would bring PowerPoint 2003 presentation to display in PowerPoint 2007 and have a lot of fun, etc.

It is the same for all WYSIWYG software, that if improperly used, WYG on another machine is not the same as WYS on current machine.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[3]: Alas...
by tony on Mon 26th Nov 2012 05:38 in reply to "RE[2]: Alas..."
tony Member since:
2005-07-06

>When inter-operating between MS Office and O/L Office, many little formatting issues would crop up here and there

They also crop here and there even when inter-operating between MS Office and MS Office. I remember one day when colleague brought me MSO document typed in the same version of MS Word as I had, and there were formatting issues here and there.

The main problem is how the documents are really formatted. If the user uses several pre-defined style templates, the document will be rendered and printed correctly even in OOo. Or it will be very easy to fix it just by changing style a bit.

But much more frequent case is: text and pictures are formatted using tabs+spaces combination until they are properly aligned in this particular instance of text editor. Some pictures are inserted in presentation using absolute/relative values inappropriately.

And if you presented something in PowerPoint format, you may easily remember that you should triple-check your presentation on the same computer where you present it, otherwise, some magic can happen.

After all, at our faculty (where Windows prevale a bit) there is even the recommendation to publish presentation to PDFs for the defence of dissertations instead of PowerPoint, because otherwise some formulas are unreadable or improperly displayed, or there could be encoding problems, or someone would bring PowerPoint 2003 presentation to display in PowerPoint 2007 and have a lot of fun, etc.

It is the same for all WYSIWYG software, that if improperly used, WYG on another machine is not the same as WYS on current machine.


I've seen an issue here and there between MS Office versions, but they're incredibly rare. Issues between L/Oo and MS, however, are the norm. Usually just little issues, but they're enough to drive one mad.

Usually when sending documents to other parties, they're sent to be reviewed and edited, comments added, etc. PDFs would work in maybe 15% of the situations, tops. And even then, it's extra work, and it's just plain a hassle because it's not a working format, just an output.

Like I said, if you value your time even a little bit, it quickly makes sense to pay the MS tax, as loathsome as I find it.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Alas...
by Tim Locke on Sun 25th Nov 2012 15:42 in reply to "RE: Alas..."
Tim Locke Member since:
2006-03-23

Wouldn't a more sane strategy be to use LO/OOo internally and not export them outside of the company? Any document needing to be exported could be a PDF. LO and MSO (with a free plugin from MS) both can export as a PDF.

If you wanted to take it further, you could put a filter on the mail server not allowing doc/xls/ppt files and giving an error to the sender that such files are not allowed due to viruses and to try re-sending them as PDFs. This should fix the problem of opening stuff in LO/OOo and not seeing all of it. If people *really* need to send an MSO file, they can zip it.

If an office file needs to be edited on both internally and externally, shouldn't it be in Google Docs or a web app?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Alas...
by ingraham on Sun 25th Nov 2012 20:15 in reply to "RE[2]: Alas..."
ingraham Member since:
2006-05-20

Wouldn't a more sane strategy be to use LO/OOo internally and not export them outside of the company?


That is precisely what we did. However, PDF was not always a workable solution. Customers often wanted editable files, especially with spreadsheets. At any rate, most of the issues were from docs sent to us, not what we sent out.

As for Google Docs, I'd be perfectly happy with it. I don't get to pick. I have to work with my customers, not force them to work with me.


... you could put a filter on the mail server not allowing doc/xls/ppt files and giving an error to the sender that such files are not allowed due to viruses and to try re-sending them as PDFs.


Again, my customers would not accept this. I would literally go out of business inside of a year if I refused documents from my customers like that. We have 50 employees, and many of our customers are Fortune 500 level. Seriously, if you sent an RFQ out to a vendor 1/100th your size and they complained they don't want your Microsoft Word file, would you bother with them ever again?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Alas...
by zima on Wed 28th Nov 2012 10:58 in reply to "RE[2]: Alas..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

If you wanted to take it further, you could put a filter on the mail server not allowing doc/xls/ppt files and giving an error to the sender that such files are not allowed due to viruses and to try re-sending them as PDFs. This should fix the problem of opening stuff in LO/OOo

Blocking clients essentially like spam? And some people wonder why OSS advocates are sometimes not taken seriously...

(if anything, a filter of LO/OOo files in the other direction would be a more plausible solution - work internally in LO/OOo if you want to, but make sure to communicate with the outside world in MSO files, from the few computers which have MSO)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Alas...
by Soulbender on Wed 28th Nov 2012 11:24 in reply to "RE[2]: Alas..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

This should fix the problem of opening stuff in LO/OOo and not seeing all of it. If people *really* need to send an MSO file, they can zip it.


it also fixes the problem where you have to deal with customers since you won't have any.

Reply Parent Score: 2