Monthly Archives: July 2014

  • LibreOffice 4.3 ready for download

    Via its blog, The Document Foundation has announced the release of LibreOffice 4.3; this is the 8th major release of the free and open source office suite since the birth of the project in September 2010.

    image of LibreOffice Mime type icons
    LibreOffice for all your office suite needs: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, database, drawing and formulas

    LibreOffice 4.3 offers a large number of improvements and new features, including:

    • Document interoperability: support for MS’ OOXML Strict, OOXML graphics improvements (DrawingML, theme fonts, preservation of drawing styles and attributes), embedding OOXML files inside another OOXML file, support for 30 new Excel formulas, support for MS Works spreadsheets and databases, as well as Mac legacy file formats such as ClarisWorks, ClarisResolve, MacWorks, SuperPaint and more.
    • Comment management: comments can now be printed in the document margin, formatted in a better way, and imported and exported – including nested comments – in ODF, DOC, OOXML and RTF documents, for improved productivity and better collaboration.
    • Intuitive spreadsheet handling: Calc now allows several tasks to be carried out more intuitively, thanks to the smarter highlighting of formulas in cells, the display of the number of selected rows and columns in the status bar, the ability to start editing a cell with the content of the cell above it and the user being fully able to select text conversion models.
    • 3D models in Impress: support of animated 3D models in the new open glTF format, plus initial support for Collada and kmz files that are found in Google Warehouse, in order to add a fresh new look and animations to keynotes (support for this feature is currently on Windows and Linux versions only).

    LibreOffice 4.3 also supports “monster” paragraphs exceeding 65,000 characters in length. This is an example of an 11 years old bug solved thanks to the modernization of the old OpenOffice source code. In addition, the accessibility technology on Windows has become a standard feature, thanks to the improvements based on IBM’s IAccessible2 framework.

    The full list of new features and improvements of LibreOffice 4.3 is available on the wiki.

    According to the Coverity Scan service, the quality of LibreOffice source code has improved dramatically during the last two years, with a reduction of the defect density per 1,000 lines of code from an above the average 1.11 to an industry leading 0.08. Read Coverity’s report for more information.

    LibreOffice 4.3 and LibreOffice 4.2.6 – which will be released on Friday – are available for download from the following link: Extensions and templates to enhance the software’s functionality and add specific features can be found at

  • Cricket explained

    The second Test series between England and India is currently taking place in Southampton (it’ll be day 3 today. Ed.) and my radio is tuned to the epic poem that is the BBC’s Test Match Special from 10.25 until the close of play each day, with the likes of Aggers, Blowers, Tuffers and Geoffrey Boycott (posts passim) filling the air with their wise words and wit.

    Cricket is a complex game that can take a long time to understand fully and I’m still occasionally baffled by the commentators. For the uninitiated, the many different laws and the strange names for positions on the field can seem overwhelming. For instance, which other game has a position on the field called ‘cow corner’*?.

    Below is a simple explanation for the uninitiated, which I originally heard at school decades ago as a brief summary of the game for foreigners.

    You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

    For those who need help with fielding positions, Wikimedia Commons has helpfully provided the following graphic.

    image of cricket fielding positions

    Note that the fielding positions would be reversed for a left-handed batsman.

    * Cow corner = the area of the field (roughly) between deep mid-wicket and wide long-on. So called because few ‘legitimate’ shots are aimed to this part of the field, so fielders are rarely placed there – leading to the concept that cows could happily graze in that area.

  • An interpreter with your dim sum, learned counsel?

    The Law Society Gazette reports today on Capita’s failures to provide interpreters for Cardiff Crown Court.

    image of Cardiff Crown Court
    Cardiff Crown Court. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
    Liu Sun was taken to Cardiff Crown Court on 16th July after being arrested on a warrant in relation to offences of importing prohibited goods. She denies the charges.

    His Honour Judge Burr adjourned the case until the following day (17th July) as no Mandarin interpreter had been provided by Capita.

    When the case returned to court on 17 July there was still no interpreter, following which the judge – possibly in desperation – asked a defence barrister to trawl Cardiff’s Chinese restaurants to find an interpreter.

    However, after 2 consecutive days of failures, Capita did manage to provide an interpreter when the defendant was brought to court for the third time.

    The same report states that a similar problem had occurred at the same court on 15th July when the case of another Chinese defendant, Liu Guiying, had to be adjourned.

    Capita naturally denies there have been any failures in Cardiff. A Capita spokeswoman is reported to have stated the company “does not have a record of unfulfilled bookings for Cardiff Crown Court that match the name and dates provided,” adding that for the second case – that of Liu Guiying – Capita assigned an interpreter but that the court had made the booking for the wrong time (Capita blaming courts for its own failures is a ruse that’s been used before. Ed.). The spokeswoman also remarked that the interpreter could not make the revised time, as well as stating that Capita “continued to try and source an alternative interpreter up until the day of the booking and kept the court fully informed throughout”.

    Update 30/07/2014: This story was reported on the Daily Mirror’s website yesterday. In the Mirror’s piece, Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter MP is quoted as saying; “This is the latest example of how the criminal justice system under David Cameron has descended into a complete farce.

  • Swansea news exclusive

    Over in Swansea, Bristol Post owners Local World have a local news title – the South Wales Evening Post, which describes itself as “Wales’ largest selling newspaper“.

    As such, one would have thought that such a boast was based upon hard-hitting stories and investigative journalism.

    However, this is not so.

    Just like its Bristol counterpart, the South Wales Evening Post also has an approach to what constitutes news and headlines which could be described as parochial, i.e. narrow in outlook or scope.

    image of advert for paper with headline mouldy rolls ruined family bbq

    Hat tip: Marjory Smith

  • Street furniture

    According to Wikipedia, street furniture is a collective term for objects and pieces of equipment installed on streets and roads for various purposes. It includes benches, traffic barriers, bollards, post boxes, phone boxes, streetlamps, traffic lights, traffic signs, bus stops, tram stops, taxi stands, public lavatories, fountains, watering troughs, memorials, public sculptures, and waste receptacles.

    image of fly-tipped chairs

    The communal refuse bin in the picture above is street furniture, the office chairs lazily left beside it are not; they are fly-tipping.

    Tackling fly-tipping, litter and waste in some parts of Bristol can seem at times like nailing fog to the wall and the fly-tipping shown above has been notified to Bristol City Council via Twitter and complete with the #tidybs5 hashtag (posts passim).

    Besides Twitter, fly-tipping can be reported to the city council by:

    • using the dedicated fly-tipping report form (also has a mobile version that works on smartphones);
    • a third party smartphone app, such as My Council (which is available for both Android and iOS; and
    • telephoning 0117 922 2100.

    The most direct reporting route is using the fly-tipping form as the report is sent directly to the department concerned, whereas the other methods require the report to be forwarded.

  • Document Foundation congratulates UK government

    ODF file iconThe Document Foundation (TDF), the organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite, is congratulating the UK government for choosing Open Document Format (ODF), in addition to Portable Document Format (PDF) to meet user needs (posts passim).

    “TDF has always been a strong supporter of ODF and a believer in open document standards”, says Thorsten Behrens, TDF Chairman. July 22 will be a date to remember as the culmination of a dream inaugurated when ODF become a ISO standard on November 30 2006. By standardising on ODF and PDF, the UK government is showing the world that it is entirely possible to find a way out of proprietary formats to enhance user freedom”.

    LibreOffice supports both ODF – the suite’s native document format – and PDF (including PDF/A). Furthermore, LibreOffice can handle Hybrid PDF files, which combine the advantages of PDF and ODF by embedding a fully editable ODF document into a PDF without breaking any of the standard characteristics of both formats.

  • The Department of Dirty: coming soon to UK government?

    The Open Rights Group has launched the Department of Dirty website to draw attention to the filtering (also known as censorship. Ed.) of internet content by UK ISPs, particularly mobile providers.

    To find out if you can access the Dirty Internet via your mobile, phone your provider’s Department of Dirty customer services. Your mobile phone normally has internet filtering enabled by default.

    • 02 – 0800 977 7337
    • EE – 0844 381 6301
    • Vodafone – 08700 700 191 or 191
    • Three – 0333 300 3333 or 3333
    • Giffgaff Access adult content
  • UK government opts for open standards

    ODF file iconGreat news for all lovers of open standards! It’s goodbye to the ubiquitous use of MS Office formats in Whitehall; and what’s more, the government has decided not to sanction the use of Microsoft’s OOXML ‘standard’ despite lobbying by the US software giant and its supporters.

    The open standards selected for sharing and viewing government documents have been announced today by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

    The standards set out the document file formats that are expected to be used by all government bodies. Central government will begin using open formats to ensure that the general public and civil servants can use the applications that best meet their needs when viewing or collaborating on documents.

    The selected standards, which are compatible with commonly used document applications, are:

    When government departments have adopted these open standards:

    • the general public, businesses and voluntary organisations will no longer need specialist software to open or work with government documents;
    • civil servants will be able to share and work with documents in the same format, reducing problems when shifting between formats;
    • government organisations will be able to choose the most suitable and cost-effective applications, knowing their documents will work for people both within and outside government (does this mean Whitehall will be moving towards using LibreOffice or OpenOffice, both of which are free of charge? Ed.).

    The adoption of open standards comes in the wake of a consultation on open standards (news passim) which attracted over 500 contributions, as well as by talking directly to users.

    The new standards will come into effect straight away for all new procurements subject to the HMG’s Open Standards Principles. The Government Digital Service will work with Whitehall departments to publish guidance and implementation plans.

  • Snowden addresses Hope X

    image of Edward Snowden
    Edward Snowden. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the extent of internet and telecommunications surveillance by the USA’s National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ to the world, made a surprise appearance at the Hope X conference in New York over the weekend.

    In his address, Snowden called upon geeks of the world to develop anti-surveillance technology to prevent governments spying on their citizens, stating: “You, in this room right now, have both the means and the capabilities to help build a better future by encoding our rights into the programs and protocols on which we rely on every day.”

    Snowden also stated that the technology developed needed to be easy to use. “We need non-attributable communications for unattributed internet access that is easy, transparent and reliable,” he said and added that GPG, while effective, was “damn-near unusable” for the average user.

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