Monthly Archives: May 2021

  • Printed manuals available for LibreOffice 7

    The Document Foundation (TDF) blog reports today that users of the TDF’s free and open source LibreOffice suite can now acquire hard copies of guides to the various modules in version 7.* of the suite (Writer, Calc, Impress, Math and Base) as well as a general Getting Started Guide.

    These new guides are full of tips, tricks and tutorials to help users get the best out of the whole office suite.

    Cover image of LibreOffice Getting Started Guide

    The guides are already available for download in both PDF and ODT versions.

    There will nevertheless always be people who appreciate hard copies of manuals, so the LibreOffice Documentation community has joined forces with online bookshop Lulu (which was started by Red Hat co-founder Bob Young) made these available guides. The guides will be printed on demand in various locations and be shipped to anywhere in the world.

    Pricing for the UK is shown as £10 per guide. Lulu also provide guides for earlier versions of LibreOffice.

  • Tree catches train?

    One of the joys of reading the Bristol Post/BristolLive website is their hidden exclusives – the ones that are really newsworthy, but are buried in other pieces, such as in this example from Wednesday.

    Headline reads Woman died after being hit by branch leaning out of train window, inquest hears

    The flippant side of me wants to ask the journalist about the circumstantial details implied by the headline. What was a tree doing on the train in the first place? What kind of ticket was it sold? Where was it travelling from and to? Did it pay full price for the ticket or was it a railcard holder? Did it buy anything from the buffet during its journey? And ultimately why did it feel the need to stick a branch out of the window when the train was travelling at 75 mph, particularly as it resulted in a person’s death?

    The tragic story of a life cut short by a moment’s carelessness has been turned upside down by sloppy headline writing, which implies that part of the tree was poking out of a train window was the cause of death, rather than the deceased being careless, leaning out of a train window being struck by lineside vegetation.

    However, despite my flippancy above, I do realise and appreciate that it must be very distressing to the victim’s friends and family to have the read the circumstances of the incident so misrepresented by someone allegedly supposed to be working for an organ whic is supposed a trusted source of local news.

    As the victim came from Penarth, WalesOnline, the Reach plc’s South Wales equivalent of BristolLive, has also carried the story, but with a clear and unambiguous headline.

    Please take note, servants of the Bristol’s Temple Way Ministry of Truth.

  • Irish Sea tunnel: a distant problem

    One phrase that has come to prominence is recent years is dead cat strategy, or dead cat for short.

    This term denotes the introduction of a dramatic, shocking, or sensationalist topic to divert discourse away from a more damaging topic, according to Wikipedia.

    Which brings us to this week, which although we’ve only got as far as Wednesday has so far furnished two deceased felines ahead of the appearance of former Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings before the combined Commons health and science and technology select committees: firstly, the announcement of part-time alleged Prime Minister Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson’s forthcoming third marriage; and secondly the proposed Holyhead to Dublin road tunnel.

    Grant Shapps alias Michael Green, Sebastian Fox and Corinne StockwoodThe latter attracted my interest as the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently under the stewardship of that well-known latter-day spiv, Grant Shapps, alias Michael Green, Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockwood (posts passim).

    Anyway, let’s examine the anatomy of the DfT’s defunct domestic pet.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, Shapps suggested a 50-mile tunnel between Wales and Ireland as an alternative to PM Johnson’s scheme for a bridge to link Scotland with Northern Ireland, another announcement of the dead feline variety made in March. Shapps’ tunnel could run between Holyhead to Dublin and had been previously been priced at £15bn. This Holyhead-Dublin link would ostensibly be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel, according to the Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.).

    Distances seem to be a major problem for the combined intellectual might of the civil servants in the DfT and the massed ranks of the country’s free and fearless press.

    Firstly, the Channel Tunnel is 31.35 miles (50.45 km) long, so the Shapps Chute would be under twice the length of the Tunnel sous la Manche.

    Secondly, there is the very minor matter that the straight line distance between Holyhead and Dublin is 67.5 miles (108.6 km). This means one end of the tunnel would terminate several miles out in the Irish Sea.

    I wonder what lengths the feasibility study currently reported as being underway has taken this minor matter into account.

  • Bristol on the buses

    Buses are Bristol’s major mode of public transport and as your ‘umble scribe is now in possession of a geriatric’s bus pass, he might actually get around to exploring their possibilities.

    One linguistic peculiarity of using the city’s buses which must be perplexing to outsiders and visitors is the use of the term drive to denote the person in charge of the vehicle. This normally takes the form of the grateful form of address “Cheers Drive” as passengers get off at their intended stops.

    This phrase was last year used to name a new street in the BS5 postcode area, as reported at the time by BBC News.

    Bus destination board sign reads: Sorry me babbers. I'm not in serviceIt now seems that the buses themselves have also taken to addressing potential passengers in dialect, as per this photo courtesy of the WeLoveKeynsham Twitter account.

    Of course, it’s not always been a smooth ride on the city’s buses.

    Back in 1963, there was a boycott of the city’s buses led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and others over the Bristol Omnibus Company’s shameful and discriminatory refusal to employ black or Asian people.

    Furthermore, the reliability of quality of services has been a perennial problem and formed the subject of Fred Wedlock’s song, Bristol Buses.

    Cheers drive!

  • LibreOffice 7.1 Calc Guide available

    The Document Foundation (TDF), the organisation behind the free and open source cross-platform LibreOffice suite, announced on its blog on Friday that a new guide for the suite’s Calc spreadsheet module had been released. Version 7.1 of LibreOffice was released in February this year.

    Cover of lastest Calc guide

    The guide has been produced by members of the LibreOffice documentation community to take account of the improvements to Calc in the new release.

    The Guide includes the volunteer effort of many members of the documentation community – Rafael Lima from Brazil, Martin Van Zijl and Kees Kriek from the Netherlands and Celia Palacios from the Spanish language community. Yusuf Keten from the Google Summer of Code program merits a special mention for work new extensions and template dialogs, as does Steve Fanning for his editorial review and to Jean Hollis Weber for her work on improving and organising the text. Work on the new guide was co-ordinated by Felipe Viggiano from Brazil.

    The 545-page guide is available as a PDF and covers all of Calc’s basic and advanced features, making it a must-read for getting the most out of Calc.

  • Another confusing headline

    Today the WalesOnline website features a textbook example of an ambiguous headline, i.e one that has or expresses more than one possible meaning.

    Ambiguity in a headline – or anywhere else in a piece of factual reporting – is not an example of good writing style.

    A headline should be clear, convey sufficient information to interest or pique the curiosity the (potential) reader and not be capable of being misinterpreted.

    Headline reads The amazing 200-year-old shell grotto hidden in a corner of Wales you can only visit with a secret key

    WalesOnline is part of the Reach plc* stable of regional press titles.

    Reach titles have past form with ambiguous headlines (posts passim).

    One would almost think it’s written into the group’s style guide (if it has one. Ed.).

    * The Reach stable also includes the national titles, the Daily Mirror and Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.)

  • American Express? That won’t do nicely!

    Yesterday the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) reported that it had fined American Express Services Europe Ltd. (Amex) £90,000 for sending four million unlawful, unsolicited marketing emails.

    Tin of SpamIT news site The Register has done some number crunching and worked out that the fine imposed by the ICO is equivalent to 0.021p per offending email or 0.009 per cent of Amex’s annual profits.

    The regulator instigated investigations after receiving complaints from American Express customers who had specifically opted out of receiving marketing information. During its investigation the ICO found that American Express had sent over 50 million so-called “servicing emails” to customers (which anyone sensible would call spam. Ed.). The ICO revealed that between 1st June 2018 and 21st May 2019, over 4 million of those emails were marketing emails, designed to encourage customers to make purchases on their cards, thus benefiting the company financially.

    Andy Curry, the ICO’s Head of Investigations said:

    This is a clear example of a company getting it wrong and now facing the reputational consequences of that error.
    The emails in question all clearly contained marketing material, as they sought to persuade and encourage customers to use their card to make purchases. Amex’s arguments, which included, that customers would be disadvantaged if they weren’t aware of campaigns, and that the emails were a requirement of its Credit Agreements with customers, were groundless.
    Our investigation was initiated from just a handful of complaints from customers, tired of being interrupted with emails they did not want to receive. I would encourage all companies to revisit their procedures and familiarise themselves with the differences between a service email and a marketing email, and ensure their email communications with customers are compliant with the law.
  • Track & trace ‘partner’ sent 84,000 nuisance emails

    ICO logoThe Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today reported it has fined a Hertfordshire company for sending direct marketing emails to people who provided their personal data for contact tracing purposes as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    St Albans-based Ltd (TML) provides digital contact tracing services which work by offering people a QR code to scan when arriving at their destination.

    TML sent nearly 84,000 nuisance emails at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic between September and November last year, when businesses were using private QR code providers to collect personal data to comply with government contact tracing rules.

    The ICO fined TML £8,000 for using personal data for marketing purposes without adequate valid consent, contrary to law.

    The ICO has created guidelines for businesses to follow as the UK economy continues to open up. Providers should:

    • Adopt a data protection by design approach (DPBD) from the start when they develop new products;
    • Make privacy policies clear and simple so that people understand how their information will be handled;
    • Not keep any personal data they have collected for more than 21 days – in line with regulations brought in last year for the collection of information for contact tracing;
    • Not use the personal data for marketing or any other purpose;
    • Keep up to date with the ICO’s online guidance.
  • SUSE S.A. successfully launched on Frankfurt stock exchange

    SUSE logo

    SUSE was the first Linux distribution I ever got working successfully on one of my machines. Therefore, I still keep an eye on developments within the company.

    Today German IT news site heise reports that SUSE S.A. has now launched on the stock market. Shares in the Nuremberg-based software supplier are being traded in Frankfurt. The company had previously set the final offer price at €30 Euro, at the lower end of the originally planned €29-34 price range. At 9:15 the opening price after the IPO auction, the initial opening share price was €29.50.

    By launching on the stock market, the Linux developer originally wanted to raise up to €1.1 bn. The share price declined slightly after the start of trading, which is not uncommon after an IPO, and the shares are currently trading at over €30.

    The traditional ringing of a bell was replaced by a virtual version with SUSE CEO Melissa Di Donato ringing a 3D-animated virtual bell in front of a video wall.

    SUSE has been marketing open source software since 1992, particularly its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) Linux distribution, together with several infrastructure products for commercial use. It has been based in Nuremberg since 2011 and Melissa Di Donato, who previously worked for SAP, has been the company’s CEO since 2019. Ms Di Donato remarked that the stock market flotation was a new chapter for SUSE. In 2019 SUSE was acquired from Micro Focus by global investment company EQT, since when SUSE has undergone considerable year-on-year growth both in terms of its income and customer base, particularly as regards long-term commercial contracts.

    SUSE recently stated that its takeover of Rancher Labs – completed in December 2019 – has proved to be particularly promising. Following this move, SUSE is now offering Rancher’s popular management platform for Kubernetes clusters in addition to its SLES software products.

Posts navigation