Monthly Archives: January 2024

  • LibreOffice 24.2 released

    The blog of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German-based organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice suite of productivity software, has today announced the release of LibreOffice 24.2 Community for all major operating systems – Linux. MacOS (Apple and Intel processors) and Windows (Intel, AMD and ARM processors). LibreOffice 24.2 banner

    This is LibreOffice’s first use the new calendar-based numbering scheme (YY.M) for releases, which it hoped will help users in keeping their LibreOffice installations up to date.

    New release highlights – general
    • Save AutoRecovery information is enabled by default, and is always creating backup copies. This reduces the risk of losing content for first-time users who are unfamiliar with LibreOffice settings.
    • Fixed various NotebookBar options, with many menu improvements, better print preview support, proper resetting of customised layout, and enhanced use of radio buttons. This improves the experience for users familiar with the Microsoft Office UI.
    • The Insert Special Character drop-down list now displays a character description for the selected character (and in the tooltip when you hover over it).
    • “Legal” ordered list numbering: make a given list level use Arabic numbering for all its numeric portions.
    • Comments can now use styles, with the Comment paragraph style being the default. This makes it easier to change the formatting of all comments at once, or to visually categorise different types of comments.
    • Improved various aspects of multi-page floating table support: overlap control, borders and footnotes, nesting, wrap on all pages, and related UI improvements.
    • A new search field has been added to the Functions sidebar deck.
    • The scientific number format is now supported and saved in ODF: embedded text (with number format like ###.000E0); lower case for exponent (with number format like ###.000e0); exponent with empty ‘?’ instead of ‘0’ (with number format like 0.00E+?0).
    • Highlight the Row and Column corresponding to the active cell.
    • The handling of small caps has been implemented for Impress.
    • Moved Presenter Console and Remote control settings from Tools > Options > LibreOffice Impress to Slide Show > Slide Show Settings, with improved labelling and dialogue layout.
    • Several improvements and fixes to templates: added and improved placement of various placeholders; fixed order of slides; made fonts and formatting consistent; fixed styles and their hierarchy; improved ODF compliance; made it easier to use templates in languages other than English; fixed use of wrong fonts for CJK and CTL.
    • Several significant improvements to the handling of mouse positions and the presentation of dialogue boxes via the Accessibility APIs, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Improved management of IAccessible2 roles and text/object attributes, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Status bars in dialogue boxes are reported with the correct accessible role so that screen readers can find and report them appropriately, while checkboxes in dialogue boxes can be toggled using the space bar.
    • The Save with Password dialogue box now has a password strength meter. This uses zxcvbn-c to determine the password strength.
    • New password-based ODF encryption that performs better, hides metadata better, and is more resistant to tampering and brute force.
    • Clarification of the text in the options dialogue box around the macro security settings, so that it is clear exactly what is allowed and what is not.

    A full description of all the new features can be found in the release notes.

    Contributors to LibreOffice 24.2 Community

    There are 166 contributors to the new features of LibreOffice 24.2 Community: 57% of code commits come from the 50 developers employed by three companies on the TDF Advisory Board – Collabora, allotropia and Red Hat – or other organisations, 20% from 8 developers at The Document Foundation; the remaining 23% originated from 108 individual volunteers.

    An additional 159 volunteers have committed to localisation in 160 languages, representing hundreds of people providing translations. LibreOffice 24.2 Community is available in 120 languages, more than any other desktop software, making it available to over 5.5 billion people worldwide in their native language. In addition, over 2.4 billion people speak one of these 120 languages as a second language.

    Interoperability with Microsoft Office

    LibreOffice 24.2 offers a number of improvements and new features aimed at users who share documents with or migrate from MS Office A few of the most significant improvements are as follows:

    • Writer: improved first page headers/footers OOXML import by using the first page property in the existing page style instead of creating a new page style just for the first page.
    • Writer: templates optimised for Japanese text added to the Localisation category to improve interoperability with Microsoft Word for Japanese users.
    • Writer: import of “drawing canvas” from DOCX documents, with connectors no longer imported as simple shapes but as true connectors, primitive shapes like ellipses imported as OOXML shapes (text inside the shape can now wrap), and multicolour gradients, theme colours and glow effects for shapes.
    • OOXML: support for the SVG OOXML extension, which imports the SVG image (svgBlip element) instead of the fallback PNG, and exports the SVG image in addition to the fallback PNG image used when the svgBlip element is not supported (older MS Office versions).

    Download LibreOffice 24.2.

    Your ‘umble scribe is not using the latest official release, but an as-yet unreleased development version. If you would like to help out with LibreOffice testing and development, visit the pre-release versions server and download a development package for your particular operating system.

  • Mozilla release new version of Firefox, sets up Debian repository

    Firefox logoVersion 122 of the free and open source Firefox web browser was released last week and duly reported by the tech media, including The Register.

    Furthermore, El Reg also notes that Mozilla, the organisation behind the browser, has set up its own deb package repository, the software package format for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and its derivatives such as the Ubuntu family and Linux Mint.

    The installation instructions page on Mozilla’s website now contains specific instructions on how to access the Firefox deb repository, from downloading the repository’s OpenPGP keyring, to adding the repository to one’s own APT list of trusted sources from which to download software.

    Also included are instructions for how to download the version specific to one’s own language, if that just happens not to be EN-US, as well as such vital stuff as importing one’s profile from an old installation to a new, shiny browser from the Mozilla repository.

  • And now, a message about the prime minister…

    As seen yesterday on the fringes of Bristol’s Broadmead shopping ‘quarter’.

    Sticker reading Rishi Sunak is a pussy hole.

    As it bears no imprint, your correspondent doubts this is official party political campaign material.

    However, it is on a par with former Scottish First Minister Nicola Surgeon’s assessment of one of Sunak’s predecessors in the post, namely disgraced former party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    Further less than complementary appraisals of senior Tory politicians, including one comparing lettuce shelf-life prime minister Mary Elizabeth Truss to a marzipan sex toy, were subsequently revealed to be spurious.

  • More writing on the wall

    Yet more Bristol street art, this time from the wall of the Coach at the junction of Braggs Lane and Gloucester Lane in the St Jude’s area.

    Aeroplane with weapons plus the wording Stop Killing People You Tucking Fwats

    Your ‘umble scribe is unaware whether the Twats being referenced are involved in Israel’s latest slaughter in the Gaza Strip, the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine, the US and UK attacks on Yemeni Houthis for their targeting of Red Sea shipping or any one of the manifold armed conflicts – whether international or internal civil wars/insurrections – which seem to afflict the world at any given moment.

    Perhaps the artist Merny would like to comment below as to her/his motivation.

  • The writing on the wall

    Bristol has a reputation for radical politics; a reputation that stretches back to the riots of 1831 and the 1793 Bristol Bridge riot. Some might even say its radical history dates back even further: in the 11th century, Bishop Wulfstan made it his mission to end the practice of selling Christian slaves to the Vikings Ireland and spent months preaching to the people of Bristol against the practice.

    This radical tradition is continued by a new piece of street art which has appeared on St Mark’s Road in the Easton district in the last few days and clearly emphasises the area’s attitudes.

    Graffiti with words Easton Feminist Antifascist on black border
  • Tilde lands Breton parents in court

    Baby's feet being held by female hand. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.A couple from the Maine-et-Loire region has been summons to appear in court for having named their son Fañch, a traditional Breton name with a tilde (which equates to François in French. Ed.), French broadcaster France 3 reports.

    The tilde (~) is a diacritic whose use is not permitted in birth, death and marriage certificates in France, despite its existence in Breton, the traditional regional language of Brittany.

    The couple have been summonsed to appear before the family court in February for their choice of first name for their son, who was born last summer. The registrar at the maternity hospital had warned the parents that the spelling of Fañch could pose a problem, but they stuck by their decision. The mother is of Breton descent.

    The public prosecutor’s office in Angers has now initiated proceedings to ask the judge to remove the first name Fañch from the birth certificate and to give the child another first name minus the tilde, with or without parental consent. The public prosecutor is using a circular of July 23 2014 as the legal basis for his action. This circular lists the diacritics such as the cedilla, grave and acute accents and diaeresis authorised for use on civil registration documents.

    “We’ve been told we are not taking the best interests of our child into account,” said the mother. “That’s harsh. Just because of a tilde, it’s implied that we’re bad parents.”

    Strange first names often mocked

    In its summons the Angers public prosecutor’s office recalls that “The civil code provides that “the child’s first names are chosen freely by its father and mother”, but with the child’s best interests as a limit”.

    First names have often been banned because they were likely to give rise to ridicule. Thus the parents of little Titeuf, Fraise, Nutella, Mini-Cooper or the Babord and Tribord twins have had to amend their children’s birth certificates.

    First names intended to pay homage to the parents’ idols – e.g. “Griezmann-Mbappé” or “MJ” in reference to Michael Jackson – have likewise been censured, then censored.

    Fañch, a traditional Breton first name

    The problem of the tilde in Fañch is different, because in several cases the courts ultimately ruled in favour of the parents who had chosen this traditional Breton first name. Thus, one little Fañch who was born in Quimper in 2017, finally saw the Court of Appeal rule in favour of his parents after a legal case lasting over two years.

    Politicians and civil society organisations swung into action citing the European Court of Human Rights affirming that “the choice of first name has an intimate and emotional character and consequently belongs to the realm of private life.”

    The cultural council of Brittany has also commented, rejecting the argument that the “ñ” is a foreign character since it has been used “for centuries in Latin, French, Gallo, Breton and Basque and is not an exclusive feature of Spanish”.

    A long battle before the courts, parliament and the Constitutional Council

    In February 2020, a parliamentary report drew up a list of diacritics used in regional languages such as Breton, Tahitian, Alsatian, Corsican or Creole, recommending in particular use of the tilde be permitted to “clarify the current situation and to definitively thwart any refusals which could opposed parents’ legitimate requests for recognition of the integrity of their name or the first name that they have chosen to give to their child be respected.”

    The provision was then rejected by the Constitutional Council which thought this would be tantamount to giving individuals “a right to use a language other than French in their relations with public sector organisations and public services.”

    The proceedings initiated against the couple from Maine-et-Loire will therefore mark a new skirmish in this long battle.

    France is one of a handful of countries in western Europe not to have ratified the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

  • January – the pick of Barton Hill

    Saturday 6th January saw the first Barton Hill community litter pick of 2024.

    The December event had been rained off at the last minute. However, this time the weather gods were beneficent and the sun shone.

    All told five volunteers turned up, tidying the Ducie Road area, including its council-owned car park. In meetings with the council, your correspondent has been informed in the past that the car is supposed to be visited and cleansed by street cleaning crews once a week, although this appeared not to have been done well – or at all – in recent times.

    Some of the swag from the January litter pick
    Bags of swag

    In one hour we managed to collect over 6 bags of general waste and recyclable materials for collection by Bristol Waste, after which three of us had another one our of usual interesting chats over tea and biscuits at the Wellspring Settlement before going our separate ways until next month.

    As per usual, many thanks to Shona for organising and my fellow pickers for turning out on a cold morning. 😀

  • Its name is Cymru, not a Saxon slur

    To the west of a ditch and bank built by the Saxon Offa of Mercia between the Irish and the Severn Seas, lies a country with a language and culture distinct from the English. It’s called Cymru by its inhabitants known as the Cymry.

    These words are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning fellow-countrymen and probably came into use before the 7th century.

    Some time before then, but after the Roman occupiers of Britannia withdrew in the early 5th century, incomers from the other side of the North Sea started to arrive and settle on the eastern and southern shores of what is now England. These incomers included the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

    Map of Britain in 500 CE showing distribution of Britons speaking Cymraeg and other Celtic languages, plus areas where incomers from Europe predominated
    Image courtesy of Project Gutenberg and Wikimedia Commons.

    These new arrivals brought their language with them, which over time developed into English, which went on with addenda and changes from other languages (including early French and Norse) in subsequent times to become one of the world’s most widely used tongues in today’s world.

    One word these Germanic speakers brought with them was Waelh, denoting a foreigner.

    That word survives today as the name of a country known in English as Wales, thus denoting it as a land of people who weren’t Saxon and talked funny, hence Offa’s action of putting a defensive boundary between him and his and those over the dyke who most likely ate funny food too.

    Following recent changes to the names of two national parks – Eryri and Bannau Brycheiniog – in Cymru to their equivalents in Cymraeg, a petition to call the country solely by the name Cymru has now been posted on the Senedd’s website and is collecting signatures. At the time of writing, it has collected nearly 9,000 signatures. A total of 10,000 is required before it will be considered for debate in Caerdydd.

    The text of the petition states:

    Wales is a name imposed on Cymru and is essentially not a Welsh word at all. The world knows about Wales because of its English connection since 1282. Hardly anyone has heard of Cymru or realises that we have our own unique language and culture which is totally different from the other countries within the United Kingdom.

    Sign the petition.

    Update 07/01/24: The petition has now reached over 9,000 signatories.

    Update 12/01/24: The petition will now be considered for debate by the Senedd, having now reached over 10,400 signatories.

  • American Idiots

    Another day, another social media post showing how unaware some people are of the world about them, particularly in relation to popular music and politics.

    Green Day is an American rock band with a reputation of not being afraid to include political content in their lyrics.

    Take the song American Idiot, for instance.

    Released in 2004, it’s a protest song critical of the policies of the then US President, one George W. Bush, particularly his response to the atrocities of September 11 and his subsequent launch of the so-called War on Terror. It clearly went down well upon release as it was nominated for four 2005 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song and Best Music Video. According to Wikipedia, it is considered one of the band’s signature songs.

    As a prominent element of Green Day’s discography, the band performed it on ABC’s broadcast of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest, but with a modern update, used the opportunity to call out Trump supporters by changing one word in the original lyrics, amending the line “I’m not part of a redneck agenda” to “I’m not part of the MAGA agenda“.

    This did not go down well with the right-leaning part of the populace of the 50 states, who denounced the band on social media.

    Then there were those like the gentleman in the screenshot* below, who seems totally oblivious to the blatantly political content of the original song or did not engage brain before placing fingers on keyboard and posting the following,an action which resulted in him ending up with his foot firmly inserted in his mouth.

    Post reads - You know the more I thought about it, why did Green Day have to insert politics into their performance of American Idiot? We're trying to get away from that for a few hours.

    For the benefit of Mr Starzynski and his like, your ‘umble scribe has transcribed the full, original lyrics of American Idiot below. 😀

    Don’t wanna be an American idiot
    Don’t want a nation under the new media
    And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
    The subliminal mind fuck America

    Welcome to a new kind of tension
    All across the alienation
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
    Television dreams of tomorrow
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
    For that’s enough to argue

    Well maybe I’m the faggot America
    I’m not a part of a redneck agenda
    Now everybody do the propaganda
    And sing along to the age of paranoia

    Welcome to a new kind of tension
    All across the alienation
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
    Television dreams of tomorrow
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
    For that’s enough to argue

    Don’t want to be an American idiot
    One nation controlled by the media
    Information age of hysteria
    It’s calling out to idiot America

    Welcome to a new kind of tension
    All across the alienation
    Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
    Television dreams of tomorrow
    We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
    For that’s enough to argue

    Have a Happy New Year, y’all!

    * = Courtesy of George Takei‘s Mastodon account.