Lodahl's blog: 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008

28 February 2008

OpenOffice.org Newsletter in Danish

The monthly newsletter is again on the street. This time with a breaking story about the Municipal of Tønder.

All elementary schools have changed to the use of free and open source software and the municipal has actually made a financial benefit analysis showing cost reduction DKK 410.000. If we project this amount of money into national level, we are talking about DKK 55 mio. that could be spend on more valuable project, teach books etc.

Newsletter: http://doc.oooforum.dk/Nyhed/2008Marts.pdf
Municipal of Tønder: http://www.toender.dk
Comments on Version2.dk: http://www.version2.dk/artikel/6450

23 February 2008

Windmill out of control

Yesterday we had quite a storm around Denmark. We are used to windy weather and a small storm like this shouldn't be a problem. Anyway, we usually see some things happen from time to time. This time it was a windmill from Vestas.

22 February 2008

Open ? - Yah right !

Microsoft has announced that they are open.
http://www.version2.dk/artikel/6341 (Danish) about Steve Balmers announcment from yesterday

Yah, and I believe in Santa.

Of cause I see any approach from Microsoft towards openness and interoperability as positive. But my experience with that company is, that they say one thing and continues as nothing has happened.

http://www.version2.dk/artikel/6346 (Danish) about the European Commission in doubt about Microsoft being honest.

From my own point of view, this is just Microsoft trying to catch a few votes in the BRM meeting in Geneva next week. Many of the outstanding objections to ISO approval of OOXML is about referencing binary and proprietary file formats. Some participants might change their vote to a yes if Microsoft can convince them, that these file formats are open in some way.

The big problem is, that none o the participants have time to find out whats behind all this.
http://www.version2.dk/artikel/6340 (Danish) about warning: It's happening too fast.
They can only read the headlines, not the complete articles. Microsoft hopes that they can change votes from the headlines only.

20 February 2008

Openoffice.org as integrated format in Lotus Notes

Yesterday and the day before I have been writing about how we have implemented OpenOffice.org text documents in our product eOffice.

Today we did the same in Symfoni QMS Quality Manager.


So far we have implemented the document format successfully in the editorial process but there is still a few problems when publishing to public. I expect that we will finish this by tomorrow.

Maps and random photos from the air

There are plenty of examples of funny situations on Google maps and similar projects. Take a look at this one:

Is it one of the many examples of wrong perspective ?

No. The truck is actually on its side. you can see the help is already there (Read trucks to the left of the truck).

19 February 2008

Successfully mailmerge

Yesterday I got our mailmerge template ready. Today I found some additional issues, thus I needed to find out if my colleges could find out how to use it.

I found out that IBM made a serious mistake when they first implemented ODF file format in Lotus Notes. I hope to see 8.01 tomorrow.

The problem is, that if you ever try to open any ODF document with Lotus Notes (productivity tool or Lotus Symphony), the Eclipse framework takes over all (amd I meen all) the ODF file types. It's easy to change this back, by selecting the file, right-click, and select open with etc. So far it's all right. But it took me some time to figure out that Lotus Notes also takes the ODB (Database) file type as hostage. You must remember, that IBM has nothing to do with such file, because there is no ODB database thing in the application.

So, in case the user has ever opened a ODF file with Lotus Notes (approx: 100%), the mailmerge didn't work, because the mail merge wizard creates an ODB file to hold the connection from Lotus Notes to OpenOffice.org.

But Lotus Notes couldn't create such file, because the file type registration was corrupted - byt Lotus Notes.

Well, I learned that lesson today.

The result ?

I made a mailmerge letter based on a search query (32.000 adresses). Search time was about 20 minutes and the merge it self was about the double.

18 February 2008

Busy monday

First day at the office after a week on vacation. And a busy day too.

My company has decided to introduce common layout on our letter stationaries. Huh ?

So my job was to consolidate all the individual letter templates, contract templates etc. to a common company layout. Fantastic decision. The rest of the world did this in the late 80's I think.

OK now, we are using Lotus Notes in several versions and OpenOffice.org. We have decided to use the Swing Integrator from Swing Software (http://swingsoftware.com) and I can only recommend this solution.

Well, I started out making the blank letter template and decided to do some house keeping also, so I cleared all the data fields that was transfered, but not in use. Fascinating how little effort it takes to speed up a computer system. I also decided to improve the layout by removing (hiding) the field labels in case the field doesn't receive any data.

After that i was asked to look into the mail merge template to see if I could figure out what was wrong with it. I found out, that the data exchange wasn't very accurate, because about half the mapped data fields actually missed the target. No wonder why it didn't work. Ok, now it actually works, but I still have an error message on the screen, but I don't have the right (skills) to debug the thing.

I actually made it work, and tomorrow I'll try to run a massive test and see if its possible to mail merge several hundred (or 1,000) letters.

Se how easy it is to set up the field mapping (from Notes field to OpenOffice.org field):

17 February 2008

I don' know ...

I work with IT and information systems every day. I use the Internet and I am often working with project regarding knowledge management. I always work with things that can be related to knowledge or information. I find information, I use information, and I share information. Today I got two questions from my family that i couldn't give an answer to.

That made me think of a Danish poet, Piet Hein:
Knowing what Thou knowest not
Is in a sense Omniscience.
-Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

My youngest son has been through a tough year. Last year in January he went to the hospital to get his left leg fixed. It was approximately 6 cm too short and without surgery it would end up being 12cm too short (shorter than the right leg). We are just about to finish the treatment and today he asked me:
Dad, do you think I will ever be as the other guys in school ?
He was referring to the fact that he is limping a little and that he doesn't run very well. He would very much like to play soccer again. For six months he didn't use his muscles, so the legs are still quite week. All I could do to answer that question was to refer to the doctors and physiotherapists: They don't know.
We know where you started and we can see how far you are now. But we can't say how far you can get. Perhaps because we don't want to know the true answer. The true might be too much for us.
Piet Hein again:
If you knew
what you will know
when your candle
has burnt low,
it would greatly
ease your plight
while your candle
still burns bright.
-Piet Hein

The other question ?
From my wife - and thats none of your business ;-)

15 February 2008

OOoCon 2008 - where should we hold it ?

Last year we gathered in Barcelona, Spain. Where should the conference be held this year ? Six proposals is up for a vote:

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Beijing, China
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Dundalk, Ireland
  • Orvieto, Italy
Read more about the conference and the election here: http://marketing.openoffice.org/ooocon2008/cfl/

I think China sounds very nice, but i'm afraid that I wouldn't be able to find sponsors for the travel. My vote will probably fall at one of the European locations. Sorry China, I would love to visit you in Beijing.

14 February 2008

OpenOffice.org 2.4 rc1

Version 2.4 is announced to be released next month, but we already have a release candidate. At this moment there seems to be no more showstoppers.

I can recommend to try it !

Build OOH680_m7 is the technical name and it can be found here http://download.openoffice.org/680/index.html and various languages (including the Danish) here: http://ftp.linux.cz/pub/localization/OpenOffice.org/devel/680/OOH680_m7/Build-1/

The application installs as OpenOffice.org 2.4.

12 February 2008

On open source communities

A small piece on open source communities in general and OpenOffice.org specific

Each time you enter a shop to buy something, this can be grosseries or a computer program, you have an expectation that it is ok and that everything works as described. You have the right to demand certain quality because you payed for what you have bought. If the new DVD player doesn't work, you can have it repaired, exchanged with another one or in the end, get your money back.

This is not the case when you use open source software from the simple reason that you didn't pay anything. Of cause you can uninstall the software. If you need a piece of software in conjunction with a guaranty, you can buy a commercial application like StarOffice from SUN Microsystems. StarOffice is a commercial version of OpenOffice.org and you can buy StarOffice with both garanties and support.

  • How does the open source environment actually work ?
  • How can anyone make a business when the software is free ?

From time to time I get a question from people that would like me to confirm that it actually *is* free of charge to use OpenOffice.org. "Can we use it in the company too ?" is the question.

Yes. OpenOffice.org is free of charge. Also in a company - without any limitations.

This can be true because several IT companies has found a possibility to make money on selling consulting and education. These companies doesn't make any money if the application doesn't exist, so the company is indirectly making money on supporting and helping the application development. Furthermore, several companies, organizations and governments that supports the development because they are using OpenOffice.org. By supporting the development, they make sure that the application is developed in a way that ensures OpenOffice.org to be developed in the right direction. You could call it a kind of self decided license fee. In most cases two or several companies or organization stick together and solves a specific problem in common. That way they can achieve something without each of them is getting involved directly.

In Denmark there is a lot of companies, organizations and authorities that is using OpenOffice.org, but as far as I know, only very few of them is actually giving a contribution back to the community. All members of the community are private contributers.

In the last two years of discussion on open standards and use of open source software like OpenOffice.org I have often heard that OpenOffice.org is not good enough and other programs are much better. But I have never heard from anyone that Denmark could participate and contribute to solve some of these problems. In Denmark we raise demands and criticisme, but we don't contribute.

I think this is caused by the lack of understanding for the way open source software works. And how development works.

In Denmark there is a lot of schools that is using OpenOffice.org in education. There must be some of the schools that has made some kind of education material like a syllabus or maybe even a teaching book. It would be much more effective if the schools could get together and develop this material in high quality once and release it under one of the free licenses.

The community behind OpenOffice.org in Denmark would very much like to contribute to get people together. Public schools can even get supported with fundings from the National IT- and Tele Agency.

In 2007 we started a new project in the international level of OpenOffice.org with the purpose to develop some kind of certification of users. A common goal of knowledge. The project is unfortunately partly closed for the moment, because we cant find participants.


Next time you wonder why something hasn't been developed yet or why you can't find a course to join or why you can't open .docx-files in OpenOffice.org or why you can't play multimedia files in presentations properly, change the question to: "How can I help to make it work ?".

You don't have to be a programmer to contribute to development. We can use anybody who can spend a few hours among friends in a wonderful community. Can you write a short how-to description or help us with graphical work or perhaps help us writing press releases. Do you know a lot of politicians or just a lot of people, you can help us promote the cause. There is always a job for everyone. And remember, its always YOU that sets the limits, so you can always say no thanks and back out for a while.

If your company uses OpenOffice.org, please remember to join the reference list on http://da.openoffice.org or http://www.openoffice.org. This is also considered a contribution.

11 February 2008

Tip: Store menues and toolbars in a template

In different work situations we need to use different tools and we have the opportunity to design OpenOffice.org to provide us with the relevant tools at all times. This because we can store specific settings in documents and templates.

If you have created a new menu or menu item or maybe a new toolbar, you can choose not to store it in the application, but in one specific document or template file. In this way you will be able to use that tool in the situation where you need it.

Open the template in edit mode and make your changes using Tools - Customize... . When you are finished making your changes, just remember to select the template as storage for your change. Whenever you use the template in the future, the new tool will be available for you.

If you don't like it - stay away

A certain reader has on several occasions posted sarcastic comments to my blog when I refer to other blogs or websites. Comments like: "Don't you have an opinion of your own ?" and "Is that all you'we got ?".

I always accept all comments on my blog and these posts has all been accepted.

To Jesper I will only say: If you are not satisfied with how I run my blog, then stay away. I have no obligations to you and I have never asked you to read my blog. I find this kind of criticisms personally offending because you don't know anything and you are not in a position to criticize me.

I will not spend time explaining the reasons for posting or not posting about certain issues.

When I write something and if I'm wrong in what I write, then your criticism is relevant and if you comment on my opinion thats OK. But don't tell me how to run my blog.

09 February 2008


07 February 2008

We have a problem - honestly

Please see my earlier post http://lodahl.blogspot.com/2008/02/yes-minister-we-have-problem.html

The chairman of the Association of Local Governments in Denmark (KL - http://www.kl.dk) now responds: "Maybe we should get used to this e-mail thing." and he continues: "The citizens should continue to send e-mails to their local government" (http://www.computerworld.dk/art/44114). The problem is that about 33% of the local governments will not respond or even read the mail you send.

Grotesque, if you ask me. Get into the 21th. century.

05 February 2008

Complaint to EU about Danish approach to open standards

The Danish UNIX User Group (dkuug) has posted a complaint to the EU regarding the Danish approach to open standards. Read the complaint here: http://www.dkuug.dk/keld/complaint.pdf

The key issue is this:

The Danish state represented by ITST has made ECMA 376 mandatory from the 1st of January 2008 for cartain procurements in the Danish state, thus making the procurement unacceptably favouring a specific company and their product, and setting their competitors in the field of office software at a competitive disadvantage.

A key point is this report from Ovitas AS about openness and competition: http://www.itst.dk/arkitektur-og-standarder/Standardisering/Aabnestandarder/baggrundsrapporter/Research_OXML.ODF2.pdf/view

This complaint has raised the debate in the Danish media again, whether OOXML is an open standard or not.

01 February 2008

Yes Minister, we have a problem

From January 1th. 2008 all Danish authorities should be able to receive text files of in the formats ODF and Docx. One of the Danish internet based computer magazines decided to find out if the municipals could live up to the resolution from the Danish Parliament. (http://www.computerworld.dk/art/43939). The headline is 'Danish municipals flunk on open standards'.

The result is very disappointing, I must say.

First of all, the journalists send three e-mails to each municipal. One with an ODF file, one with a docx file and on e-mail with plain text. The first astonishing thing is, that quite many municipals never answered to any of the e-mails, not even the one with plain text.

Hey Minister, how can you expect the authorities to be able to receive attached files if they don't know how to open and answer a plain text e-mail ?

We have a problem here...

Now, how about the attached files ?
  • 31 municipals answered, that they are not able to read an odf file
  • 13 municipals answered, that they are not able to read a docx file
  • Several municipals answered, please send us the document as a doc-file.
The opposition parties says that this is a serious matter (http://www.computerworld.dk/art/44003). Headline: 'The Minister must see to this matter'

The Minister has been asked to (officially) answer to this in the Parliament (http://www.ft.dk/doc.aspx?/samling/20072/spoergsmaal/s546/index.htm).
Minister, we certainly have a problem.

The problem, Minister, is not that the whole world is laughing at the Danish solution. The problem is, that we can't even live up to our own promises. Thats a worth a laugh.