Archive for the ‘Productivity/Tools’ category


January 29, 2007

Dan Russell, a full-time research scientist at Google, wrote a series of post on sensemaking at the Creating Passionate Users Blog. In the first post, Sensemaking 1, Dan starts with an interesting question: “How do you make sense of something that’s big and complicated?” Dan, then goes to give a brief overview of the responses people usually give him.

In the second post, Sensemaking 2: What I do to make sense, Dan explains his approach for sensemaking:

  • Figure out what it is that you’re trying to understand or get done
  • Collect a lot of information about the domain
  • Organize the information
  • Iterate
  • Do

Dan uses the third post, Sensemaking 3:The search for a representation, to show us how he used his approach to sensemaking to answer the question: How do people manage interruptions?

Finally, in the fourth post, Sensemaking 4: Summary of your comments, Dan comments on key issues that were brought up in the comments the readers left.

If you have to make sense of data, this group of posts is a must read!



Advertisements 2.0.3: Open For Business

July 18, 2006 2.0.3 is recommended for all. Enhancements include:

  • performance improvements: for example, a 23 percent improvement in certain Calc benchmarks
  • further improvements to file format compatibility with Microsoft Office files
  • new email integration features for users wanting to send emails in Microsoft file formats
  • more control over how exported PDF documents will display when opened in a PDF reader
  • support for more languages and improvements in hyphenation and thesaurus
  • support for Intel architecture for Mac OS X plus improved Mac OS X System integration
  • built-in check for updated versions

We also recommend 2.0.3 because it includes important security fixes. These have not been exploited but all users of any prior version of are urged to download 2.0.3. A standalone patch will be available soon.


About Calc tutorial

June 2, 2006

I have made a couple of posts regarding Calc because I wanted to give a sort of tutorial (from beginning to intermediate). In the process, I noticed that there are some good tutorials available so I decided that maybe is better to halt that project (unless my fans out there 😉 ask me not to do it ). For now, you can see my last post on the topic at


Designing Spreadsheets with OpenOffice Calc (Part I)

May 29, 2006



  1. Spreadsheet: file
  2. Cell: location that can contain information. Defined by rows and columns
  3. Constant value: data typed directly
  4. Formula: sequence of values, cell references, names, functions, or operators that produce a new value from existing values

Before starting this session, I have two administrative points to cover:

  1. Once you click on a topic, you have to click the “Go Back” button in your browser to return to this Blog
  2. Topics 2 though 13 will link to the website over which I do not have any control

Now, we can start this session on Designing Spreadsheets with OpenOffice Calc (Part I).

Today’s topics:

  1. Learning the parts of the screen
  2. Entering data
  3. Selecting items
  4. Adding/deleting rows and columns
  5. Saving your work
  6. Creating a new color
  7. Changing the cell background color
  8. Formatting text
  9. Changing the cell alignment
  10. Rotating text
  11. Optimizing row/column size
  12. Freezing column/row headings
  13. Hiding/showing rows/columns

To learn more:


Installing OpenOffice

May 22, 2006

This is the first of a weekly set of posts about OpenOffice.

OpenOffice is the most popular Open Source Office Suite. In this post, I am assuming you want to install OpenOffice on a computer with a Microsoft Windows Operating System.

First, we have to note the system requirements for installing OpenOffice:

  • Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 (Service Pack 2 or higher), Windows XP, Windows 2003
  • 128 Mbytes RAM
  • 200 Mbytes available disk space
  • 800 x 600 or higher resolution with at least 256 colours

Second, for a step by step guide on installing OpenOffice, you can check this page, I wrote:

Once you have successfully installed OpenOffice, you should register it. A step by step guide to registering OpenOffice is available at:

If you have comments or questions about the installation or registration processes, please do not hesitate to drop me a line


New Plug-in will enable Microsoft Office users to read and write ODF documents

May 5, 2006

Just two days after hearing the news about the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ratifying the Open Document Format (ODF) as a file format standard, we have the news about a new plug-in for Microsoft Office. This plug-in promises to enable Microsoft Office users to open, display, and save ODF files.

In an interview for Graklaw, Gary Edwards, from the OpenDocument Foundation, said they have developed the plug-in and have finished testing it. This news come just a day after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a request for information on any plug-in that would allow MS Office users to interact with ODF documents.

There is no excuse now. Everybody can switch to use the Open Document Format!


Open Office Calc. Introduction

May 1, 2006

Today we start our series of articles about Open Office Calc.

You might be asking: what is Calc? And by the way, what is Open Office?

Let’s start with Open Office. Open Office is a free and open source office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database components. Open Office is available under Linux, Mac OS, BSD, and, of course, Windows. Among the main benefits of using Open Office we have:

  • It is free of charge!
  • It allows you to create PDF files without having to pay for additional licenses
  • It supports multiple languages without additional costs
  • It uses an open document standard
  • It reads and writes documents in popular formats (including Microsoft proprietary formats)
  • It is free of charge! Didn’t I say that already?

Some statistics from the Open Office Newsletter tells us that:

  • More than 61,800,000 have downloaded so far (as of 8 April 2006).
  • The project has about 35,000 unique people subscribed to the mailing lists (as of 8 April 2006).
  • 716 people and companies have signed a JCA and are thus either already contributing or considering to do so (as of 28 April 2006):
  • More than 620,000 people completed the user survey since the launch of 2.0 on October 20, 2005 (as of 28 April 2006).

For more information about Open Office or to download it, you can check their website at

Now, let’s talk about Open Office Calc. Calc is a spreadsheet program [1] with a rich set of features. The set of features available in Calc make it a clear alternative to Microsoft Excel. Some of these feature are:

  • Advanced DataPilot technology to facilitate data analysis
  • Natural language formulas to create formulas using words (columns headers) instead of references to rows and columns (e.g. “sales – costs”).
  • Intelligent Sum Button to insert automatically a sum function
  • Wizards to guide you through a comprehensive set of functions
  • A rich set of Styles and Formatting features to make your work stand out.
  • Scenario Manager to perform “what if …” analysis at the touch of a button

Next week, we are going to start designing spreadsheets using Open Office Calc.

[1] a spreadsheet is a file that holds information in table formed by cells. Each cell is identified by its corresponding row and column