I've used OpenOffice.org since it was known as Star Office. (That's been a while.) When it was absorbed into the Sun umbrella, I wasn't sure what to expect, but Sun seemed to be a pretty good steward of the project, even creating a plugin to allow Microsoft Office to read and write Open Document Format (ODF) files. Then Oracle bought Sun. Again I wasn't sure what to expect. However, all became clear pretty quickly when Oracle began charging for the free plugin for MS Office. Things have continued to change since April and I'm honestly not sure about the current status of the plugin. It's obvious, however, that Oracle is going to handle these things differently.
Now what do I do? Then, I found out about The Document Foundation. (This is not to be confused with the Open Document Foundation.) The Document Foundation is to OpenOffice.org what the Mozilla Foundation was to Netscape. It is a shift to a vendor-neutral body that is picking up the code of OpenOffice.org and moving it forward without the entanglements. They are hoping that Oracle will release the name OpenOffice.org for consistency, but in the mean time they are going with the name Libre Office. I've installed it and it works just fine. So far it's dealt with all of my existing documents and done everything that I expected. I'm having trouble with one gadget that I use to translate developerWorks submissions from a Word Processing template into our XML format, but that will get figured out over time.
What excites me about this is that it's a demonstration of what open projects are all about. I think it's great when companies take advantage of Open Source and contribute to projects. But open means open for everyone. That freedom means that projects can't be hidden or held back as long as there are people who are interested in using them and doing the work to keep them going. My hat is off to people like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds who helped drive the vision that you could make things and set them free. It really is working.
If you're nervous about that Oracle stamp on OpenOffice.org, go grab LibreOffice and check it out. It's in a transitional stage right now, so the logo is a little chunky for the moment, but all of this will quickly clean up. You might even consider being a contributor.
Poor, Fragmented Android - Not!
For a while, I've watched with amusement about this phrase "fragmented" being applied to Android. Since I've been a Linux user for years, I'm already accustomed to the idea of many contributors and many options available. I thought that the response by Andy Rubin, creator of Android, was beautiful and elegant:
| @Arubin Andy Rubin
the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"
If you type in the code within the quotes, it will download and build the android kernel on your system. (There are a few prerequisites, but if you already compile code you probably have them installed, especially on Linux.) I tried it and it worked. I'm running a 32-bit version of Linux right now because I was tired of wrestling with some applications, so the compile stopped at one point complaining about my environment, but it was clearly going through. Again, the point is clear. Anyone can get hold of this. Anyone can do something with it.
I have an Android phone and I've been very pleased with everything it does. I especially appreciate the flexibility. I think it would make a great platform for a tablet or other devices that need a limited interface. With Linux at its heart it would also be extremely adaptable to various kinds of integration. Imagine all of your devices talking easily to each other through open protocols! It would be a beautiful thing. If what we get with "fragmentation" is easy integration and easy porting of applications to multiple environments then I'm all for it. Frag me!
Adding Emblems to Media
I'm a big fan of Creative Commons media. I listen to a lot of it. I have projects that I do where I need to play music, and I appreciate having a source of good music that composers have designed to be shared. However, I have to keep track of which piece of media I can use for what. I keep lists and usually there is a note somewhere about the license for that music, but that can be a pain. I try to keep them separated into folders, but that doesn't always work.
In the Gnome desktop there is something called an "emblem" in the file browser. It's a little visual tag that you can apply to a file. I took the common symbols for the various Creative Commons Licenses and saved them as emblems. Now, I can tag a file with the right emblem and see at a glance what the license is.
Here are the emblems I created:
|cc-sa (share-alike)||cc-nd (no derivatives)||
cc-nc (no commercial use)
And here is an example of these in use:
Your file browser might have a way to add emblems. In mine I went into Edit, Backgrounds and Emblems, and selected Emblems on the left side. It showed me existing emblems and allowed me to add my own:
It's a great way to mark my file and make sure that I use the right media for the right purpose. The emblem is specific to my system, and would not transfer if I copied the file elsewhere... but maybe someday there will be a standard for this.