Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

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Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:11 pm

I don't want to derail the ACF Fall thread with this, nor do I want this to turn into a generalized computer debate. This isn't about Windows, OSX, or Linux in the abstract, nor is it about what you use for your academic or personal needs. I'm talking solely about quizbowl demands here:

I have had a sequence of very bad experiences with trying to use OpenOffice and files modified by OpenOffice for quizbowl purposes. The files it exports often can't be opened at all, or without severe garbling, by other programs; this has directly led to people failing to give me questions on time, because they are incapable of sending them to me in a format I can read (on any version of Word or Google Docs or anything else). It doesn't support page breaks, which are put into final packets, such as those sent to ACF Fall hosts, for a reason. It has many instabilities which make me completely unsurprised to hear that it's scrolling through pages without being told to by the user, or so on.

I did have two readers use OpenOffice at the VCU Fall site with no apparent problems. It doesn't fail 100% of the time. But it seems to be markedly worse at the basic quizbowl-related things that you would use such a program for (submitting questions, and reading questions) in terms of the percentage of failures out of all attempts. In terms of submitting questions, you better be able to export a usable .doc or .rtf file, and take care of the conversions and corrections on your end if something goes wrong, rather than passing your computer troubles on to me. For reading, either we need to make sure we have computers with Word available as backups, or we can start sending out packets as PDFs (the latter being a more truly universal format that supports everything we currently use .doc files for, including password-protection, I think it might be the way go to).

Again, I'm going empirically here regarding what I've seen in quizbowl. I don't care about your ideological opinions about why Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/Richard Stallman are Jesus/Satan. Getting into those things will be totally unproductive here and I urge people to avoid them and focus on the question at hand, which is how to avoid causing problems with editing and reading questions given the multitude of OSes and programs that people in qb use.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:14 pm

Microsoft-created files being opened in OpenOffice is, typically, not an issue.

OpenOffice-created files being opened in Microsoft Word/Excel/etc usually leads to terrible formatting, in my experience.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:16 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
I did have two readers use OpenOffice at the VCU Fall site with no apparent problems. It doesn't fail 100% of the time. But it seems to be markedly worse at the basic quizbowl-related things that you would use such a program for (submitting questions, and reading questions) in terms of the percentage of failures out of all attempts. In terms of submitting questions, you better be able to export a usable .doc or .rtf file, and take care of the conversions and corrections on your end if something goes wrong, rather than passing your computer troubles on to me. For reading, either we need to make sure we have computers with Word available as backups, or we can start sending out packets as PDFs (the latter being a more truly universal format that supports everything we currently use .doc files for, including password-protection, I think it might be the way go to).
Just to clarify this, my computer has a program a friend of mine recommended called NeoOffice. I've never used OpenOffice, so I know nothing about it, but NeoOffice recognizes page breaks, as far as I can tell, and saves in .rtf or .doc just fine.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by jonah » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:18 pm

PDF PDF PDF
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:20 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:
I did have two readers use OpenOffice at the VCU Fall site with no apparent problems. It doesn't fail 100% of the time. But it seems to be markedly worse at the basic quizbowl-related things that you would use such a program for (submitting questions, and reading questions) in terms of the percentage of failures out of all attempts. In terms of submitting questions, you better be able to export a usable .doc or .rtf file, and take care of the conversions and corrections on your end if something goes wrong, rather than passing your computer troubles on to me. For reading, either we need to make sure we have computers with Word available as backups, or we can start sending out packets as PDFs (the latter being a more truly universal format that supports everything we currently use .doc files for, including password-protection, I think it might be the way go to).
Just to clarify this, my computer has a program a friend of mine recommended called NeoOffice. I've never used OpenOffice, so I know nothing about it, but NeoOffice recognizes page breaks, as far as I can tell, and saves in .rtf or .doc just fine.
NeoOffice is actually based on OpenOffice but with better OSX integration.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:26 pm

jonah wrote:PDF PDF PDF
winner winner chicken dinner
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:29 pm

If people have problems with improper page breaks when opening word files in open office, try changing the "Add spaces before paragraph and tables" and "Do not add leading between lines of text" options under compatibility.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:37 pm

Because of the software Harvard has in its clusters (and the fact that for some reason the Linux computers don't always have working Mathematica), I frequently find myself opening OpenOffice files in Office. I have encountered a problem once, and that was in using a complicated template for a JACS paper that used all manner of features that a packet never will.

I guess I might have the best luck in the world, but to me, five hundred datapoints can't be too wrong.

I continue to support PDF (or ps fools) for obvious reasons.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Sir Thopas » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:53 pm

I, too, have had no problems with OpenOffice, but I am also of the opinion that every tournament should have each round in .doc and .pdf.

Also, no Calibri.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:58 pm

Sir Thopas wrote:I, too, have had no problems with OpenOffice, but I am also of the opinion that every tournament should have each round in .doc and .pdf.

Also, no Calibri.
I give this post an A-. A would suggest Gentium.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Sir Thopas » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:01 pm

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
Sir Thopas wrote:I, too, have had no problems with OpenOffice, but I am also of the opinion that every tournament should have each round in .doc and .pdf.

Also, no Calibri.
I give this post an A-. A would suggest Gentium.
Can't be that pushy about it, though.

...yet
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by lchen » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:03 pm

OpenOffice does tend to be less than ideal for quizbowl. The most annoying thing that I've run into is that when you scroll through a document using the down arrow key, it jumps by about 4 lines every time you hit the bottom of the screen, as opposed to going line by line. This can be very annoying when you're trying to read questions without revealing the answer lines.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:04 pm

lchen wrote:OpenOffice does tend to be less than ideal for quizbowl. The most annoying thing that I've run into is that when you scroll through a document using the down arrow key, it jumps by about 4 lines every time you hit the bottom of the screen, as opposed to going line by line. This can be very annoying when you're trying to read questions without revealing the answer lines.
Much of my archive is text, for space reasons and for that reason.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:10 pm

lchen wrote:OpenOffice does tend to be less than ideal for quizbowl. The most annoying thing that I've run into is that when you scroll through a document using the down arrow key, it jumps by about 4 lines every time you hit the bottom of the screen, as opposed to going line by line. This can be very annoying when you're trying to read questions without revealing the answer lines.
Yeah, I was just telling some people this very thing. Thanks for bringing it up in this thread!
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:17 pm

I have never successfully opened an OpenOffice or OpenOffice-created file in Word 07.

EDIT: and I'd be totally fine with PDFs, as long as I never have to see Computer Modern.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Auroni » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:17 pm

you can control what file format Open Office produces (drop down menu under save as)
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Howard » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:13 pm

jpn wrote:you can control what file format Open Office produces (drop down menu under save as)
Once I started using Word97 format when I saved my Open Office files, people have had no trouble opening them. I can't speak as to whether all the desired functions are there. Unfortunately, saving in pdf format isn't available as one of the options.

I've read using Open Office on my laptop with little issue.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by nobthehobbit » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:26 pm

Howard wrote:Once I started using Word97 format when I saved my Open Office files, people have had no trouble opening them. I can't speak as to whether all the desired functions are there. Unfortunately, saving in pdf format isn't available as one of the options.

I've read using Open Office on my laptop with little issue.
I can't speak much to reading off of laptops (4 games' experience that I can recall), but OpenOffice (at least my version) has an Export as PDF option under File. It's not available in the Save As dialog, though it is in the general Export dialog. (No option for PostScript, though.)

Maybe we should just go to reading plain text files with answers _underlined like this_. As Andy says, it'd save space in archives.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:56 pm

I have a related question:

I installed OpenOffice for Mac OS X on my MacBook Pro recently. The only reason I installed it was to help Weiner and Sorice test whether ACF Fall packets worked on Mac OS X Open Office. To my horror, the program ended up making itself the default application for DOC files on my computer. It never asked me for permission to do this.

How do I make MS Word once again the default? Right now, if I want to open a DOC file, I have to drag it onto the MS Word icon in my dock, which is annoying.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Golran » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:59 pm

My best guess would be to two-finger click on any .doc file, go to "open with", click on other, and find microsoft word in your applications folder, and check the always open with button. Let me know if this works.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:06 am

dinoian wrote:My best guess would be to two-finger click on any .doc file, go to "open with", click on other, and find microsoft word in your applications folder, and check the always open with button. Let me know if this works.
This works only on a document-by-document basis.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:18 am

I have never had the problems that people are describing with OpenOffice, and I have not done anything special; just install and use. You can just save all your files in Word 97 format and you'll never have trouble porting them.

I'll jump on the bandwagon call for PDFs though, since this should easily resolve any compatibility issues.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by ScoBo » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:34 am

Whig's Boson wrote:
dinoian wrote:My best guess would be to two-finger click on any .doc file, go to "open with", click on other, and find microsoft word in your applications folder, and check the always open with button. Let me know if this works.
This works only on a document-by-document basis.
If you open the Get Info dialog, where you can change the "open with" setting I believe there is a "Change All" button. (It's been a while since I heavily used a Mac so I could be wrong)
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Golran » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:43 am

That looks like it should work.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:43 am

Jeremy Gibbs Phase Rule wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:
dinoian wrote:My best guess would be to two-finger click on any .doc file, go to "open with", click on other, and find microsoft word in your applications folder, and check the always open with button. Let me know if this works.
This works only on a document-by-document basis.
If you open the Get Info dialog, where you can change the "open with" setting I believe there is a "Change All" button. (It's been a while since I heavily used a Mac so I could be wrong)
This works, thanks. I wonder if OpenOffice will attempt to change this setting every time I open it, however...
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:46 am

You could probably just uninstall it now that you've got your settings back.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by DumbJaques » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:11 am

Well, I use open office for everything I do, and have never had any tournament-related problems (nor, to my knowledge, did anyone reading TIT packets last year). The issue, as Jerry says, is that you just have to save your files in the 07 office format. It can be set as a default if you're not in the habit. There is literally nothing inherent about open office that causes any of these problems, it's all about the person who saves the file doing so in the correct format.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:20 am

DumbJaques wrote:Well, I use open office for everything I do, and have never had any tournament-related problems (nor, to my knowledge, did anyone reading TIT packets last year). The issue, as Jerry says, is that you just have to save your files in the 07 office format. It can be set as a default if you're not in the habit. There is literally nothing inherent about open office that causes any of these problems, it's all about the person who saves the file doing so in the correct format.
It's the 97/2000/XP format that works, so far as I can tell.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by OntarioQuizzer » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:58 am

I use OpenOffice all the time and as long as I save my files as .DOC files when I know they're going to be edited by somebody else, I'm fine.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by fleurdelivre » Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:37 pm

Just adding another voice to the growing "it's not OpenOffice, it's people using OpenOffice stupidly" consensus. It's the only office suite on my main notebook, and the school computers I use to print only run MS Office, and I've not yet had a serious problem in the transfer (occasional formatting issues really don't concern me). All Fall packets opened, copied and ran fine on my laptop, though I would have preferred PDFs (and did use the breaks between games to convert packets - using handy-dandy Open Office tools! - when I had the time).
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:33 pm

Hopping on this train as well; I had zero issues using OpenOffice.org to read at VCU on Saturday.
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Re: Hey let's talk about OpenOffice

Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:06 pm

The fact remains that people need to be responsible for making sure that their laptop is usable for themselves or whoever's using it before they show up to the tournament. You can't arrive and cause a huge delay because you only have OpenOffice and you don't know how to use it.
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