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It's that stormy month of the year again, when people expect us to be silly in print.
I feel silly for saying this but it seems like we have to every month:
- There is no guarantee that questions will ever be answered, especially if not related to Linux.
- HTML attachments drive us nuts...
ICANN expressed a desire to make a foolish mess of the entire internet. I wrote "An Open Letter to ICANN" which has been published in Linux Journal recently: http://www.linuxjournal.com/articles/conversations/0022.html
While we're thinking of messes, and Easter coming up, how about cute fluffy bunnies? I cleaned up the ol' home office a bit. I think Dust Puppy (http://www.userfriendly.org) can find a girlfriend named Dust Bunny if he tries hard enough.
As you hopefully know by now this is a Linux magazine and we normally only answer Linux questions. But, it's the silly month, so once again with that cardboard box thread that snuck in ...
And finally, something I've been messing with that makes us all continue to look foolish for using Linux. How can we call ourselves a desktop system when all the word processors suck? Oh yeah. We don't. We just call it an operating system, apps are for distros. Well, they still need to work on it.
The first thing you may wonder is why would Ms. My Box Is More Productive Without Producticity Software even care, anyway? Well, it so happens that a friend of mine, who isn't computer oriented in the slightest, wanted a resumé and of course since we're close, she asks me. No problem, I think. It's just an rpm -i or an apt-get install away. Right.
For a more positive view, see Tony's telecommunications article this issue.
Don't believe me, eh? Well let's start at the top. WordPerfect is time bomb ware. Their idea of "for personal use" includes dying at 90 days so you have to go get a registration key, allegedly free. In my old shareware days I always avoided timebombs. You never know if they might also try to take your documents with them or something. It's a shame because I always liked their DOS software. I may buy it someday, when I need it for myself, after all, with my consulting biz I guess I don't count as personal use anyway. But I resist - my principles don't call for supporting time bombs. Grr.
I tried StarOffice a few months ago. It shows many of the worst features of having originally been a port from the windows version via some translation library. Its "everything lives inside the Staroffice Window" mold was one of the GUI features I was glad to get away from when I left Windows behind, and its printer configuration is evil and broken. Okay, when it finally works it's rather cool to have numerous Avery papers selectable in the dialog so you can do labels and index cards. But, it's actually easier to set up a printer with plain old lpr and magicfilter. Yuck.
Applix might be okay. I dunno, I was in a hurry, and wanted something a bit smaller. I guess I just hate the idea that I have to download a whole suite just to get one part.
I think I have LyX installed, I try that. I do. It doesn't do a number of things that need doing. I tried to do spring margins and it has its own ideas how wide to make the table. This will never work.
The SIAG people have loose parts. Their word processor is called Pathetic Writer. I tried it... and they're right. If I recall correctly Wordpad has more features. Sigh.
How about Abiword? Those abisuite guys have their head on straight, let's try it. So happens Terry already has it on his box since we put Progeny on his desk. He tries to use it for one page reports and growls at it because it can't deal with tabs very well. Hmmm... anyway, just an ssh session over there and access it via X, right? Wrong! It whines that a font is missing. That's insane. Betel has the most complete font collection in the house, since it's setup to be our TTF font server...
Fine. Install it locally. (I have to get the whole suite. Oh well. Get a soda, come back.) One SuSE style rpm i coming up! (wave magic wand) uh, this doesn't load at all, even to pop up with the complaint. No error message in the xterm window, nothing. Fume.
Well, let's try the K office then. Kword coming up. Installs sweet enough. Even runs. (Yay!) Can't do tables even though it has buttons for it. Now, we are talking about everyone's favorite use for spring margins, putting the dates of your last employ all the way to the right, and since almost nothing has proper spring margins, can't do it without tables. At least it does those long beautiful bars, which I had figured would need tables. Even when I use just plain white space to push things to the end, the thing is iffy about whether they show up over there. If I change the font anywhere on the line its metrics are a scramble and things fall off entirely.
On the bright side, its preview feature generates very clean Postscript, not yet encapsulated. So, being the programmer type that I am, I let Kword do what it could, and improved the rest in text mode, previewing directly in ghostview.
One shouldn't have to be a programmer to whip together a friend's job hunting paperwork. It takes us back to the old days, when a CP/M box could be a decent terminal for a brighter Postscript printer, if you slipped it a sneaky enough program.
Oddly enough if I had just thrown it together in HTML it would have been pretty quick. But that would have been in a plain old text editor too -- since the state of the art in WYSIWYG editors for HTML is about the same. Bluefish and August seem to have them beat all over the place. I think I like Bluefish better, it has a feel very similar to HTMLedPro which I used when I used to live more closely with that other operating system.
If the Dot Com Fallout has made your company foolishly let you go, at least the Linux world has room for you. You can check out Linux Journal's Career Center (http://www.linuxjournal.com/employ), Geekfinder (http://www.geekfinder.com), the Sysadmin's Guild (SAGE) Job Center (http://www.usenix.org/sage/jobs/sage-jobs.html), or pay attention to your local area papers for when major high tech Job Fairs are in your area, so you can go to them. There are also some really generic job sites like Dice.Com (http://www.dice.com) or MonsterBoard (http://www.monsterboard.com). If you hate the corporate mold, check out some of the project offers at SourceXchange (http://www.sourcexchange.com) or Collab.Net (http://www.collab.net). Or put up your consulting shingle by listing yourself at Linuxports (http://www.linuxports.com) and getting listed into a few search engines.
Me, I don't have to worry about getting into search engines, do I? Have a happy April!