FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)
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24 Jan

Planning (All)

The result of this exercise you see before you.

28 Feb

OpenOffice Writer styles (Andy Pepperdine)

Starting from bare and unedited text, a demonstration was given showing how styles can be used to massage the appearance into a leaflet. The leaflet itself is a 9-page leaflet (PDF) describing how to produce itself from the bare text (ODT). An ODT form of the leaflet is also available, but if you do not have the same fonts, it may not look exactly like the PDF version.

27 Mar

OpenOffice Base experiences (Brian Martin)

An example of how to create a database and set up the tables was shown. To shorten some of the work, a cut-down version of the U3A membership database was used with made-up data entries. This example (.odb), the associated macros as text (.txt) and descriptions (.odt), together with how to install it (.odt) and a user manual (.odt) are all on this site. For Linux users note that the text file is encoded as Latin1 (iso 8859-1).

24 Apr

Firefox extensions (Mike Godfrey)

Mike Godfrey started from a bare Firefox installation in an empty user on a Linux machine, although all the examples could equally well have been shown on a Windows machine of any recent vintage, as Firefox has a universally applicable interface. He installed some of his favourite extensions, like Adblock, and we all discovered new ones we did not know before. Here are the notes (.pdf) he gave out to us all.

22 May

Labels in OpenOffice (Ron Millen)

Ron Millen started with a review of his attempts over many years of producing labels with various computers, starting with a Sharp PC1500 in 1982, through a Grundy Newbrain, and then to PC's and FoxPro about 1990 and on to Windows 98. Finally, to OpenOffice in 2008 - that's 26 years of printing labels!

He went through the process of creating the source of the data for the label, registering it in OpenOffice, and finally defining the formats and printing them. The data source he used was a Calc spreadsheet. At the end, there were some things he mentioned that he still wishes to find out about. Here are the notes to accompany the talk(.pdf).

26 Jun

Thunderbird accounts and identities (Andy Pepperdine)

Andy Pepperdine described some of the many features of Thunderbird, concentrating on different aspects of defining ones own identity. He covered Profiles, Accounts, Identities, Folders and Filters to show how different aspects of ones work can be kept separate and can be given differing signatures. Incoming messages can be filtered to different folders depending on their content. He showed how to look at the message headers and make appropriate decisions based on their values.

The notes that were given out are here (.odt)

24 Jul

Linux discussion: experiences, analysis, possible recommendations (All)

There was a lively and very informative discussion about various Linux distros, but mostly Ubuntu, and driven by Brian's recent trials to get it running. Overall, he was very successful even without experienced help to start with, and almost all of the questions were answered at the meeting.

He was greatly helped by a book he got from the local library, "Moving to Ubuntu Linux" by Marcel Gagne. Here is a link to it in the library.

We also covered general things like searching on the web for "howto"s and "faq"s to solve problems.

To see how the distros compare, is very useful.

Mike G contributed the following useful links:

HOWTO: Cleaning up all those unnecessary junk files...
Residual config files; Partial packages; Locale data; 'orphaned' packages.

Comprehensive Multimedia & Video How-to:

How to install RealPlayer on Ubuntu (for playing BBC radio replays): NOTE (2016-04-24): This link is no longer valid. BBC player is now via an app.

28 Aug


The intention was to finalise the programme for the remainder of the year and as far as we can see into next. The session started with 45 minutes of very useful questions, answers, and problem solving suggestions and explanations. We might make this a regular (but much shorter) feature of the sessions. As well as the initial proposed timetable, some leaders of the sessions were identified and we are set up for the next year.

25 Sep

Sun Report Builder for Base (Brian Martin)

An example can be found here(.odt).

23 Oct

GIMP for photographers (Chris Turner)

A brief introduction to the programme and suggestions for some basic fixes for digital images. The notes for this talk are here (.odt)

27 Nov

Data recovery using a live Linux CD (Andy Pepperdine)

When your machine won't boot, how can you get your data off it? The notes for this demonstration are here (PDF).

25 Dec

Happy Xmas, no meeting