Escaping Excel X to OOo 1.1.2

I've previously described just how deeply awful Excel X is when using Visual Basic. But things recently got even worse when I found a bizarre bug in Excel X's For Each operator that prevented me from iterating on an array. Desperate for some kind of alternative I checked out Open Office for the Mac again and found a new version, 1.1.2, which is significantly better than the previous version and fits my needs much better than Excel X.
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Rsync, RsyncX 2.1 & OS X

I really needed to backup my system. I had evaluated a bunch of backup software when a friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) pointed out Rsync and RsyncX 2.1. Rsync is a command line open source program used to do sophisticated data backup. RsyncX is a 'friendly' front end to Rsync. Rsync by itself is about as friendly as an angry viper. RsyncX is a little less unfriendly, say about the level of a club to the head. After seven or so hours I finally managed to get everything working. Below I give step-by-step instructions on how I used RsyncX to set up both my local and remote backups. My take away from this experience is that I should have just bought backup software.
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How to mount a Firewire Drive using an iLink (1394/Firewire) port with Mepis Linux Live CD on a Dell Inspiron 8200

What To Do

  1. Open a root terminal and type in "modprobe ieee1394 ; modprobe ohci1394 ; modprobe sbp2"
  2. Download and then "sh".
  3. "Fdisk -l" to get a list of all available drives. You should be able to see the firewire drive listed along with what devices (e.g. /dev/sda1 or /dev/sdb1 or whatever) its partitions have been assigned to.
  4. For each partition you want to mount (e.g. for each /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2, etc.) create a directory somewhere to mount to. I created /mnt/sda1, /mnt/sda2, etc. Then run "mount -t auto /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1" where you replace sda1 with the actual device of the partition you want to mount. Repeat for all partitions you want to mount.

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port with Mepis Linux Live CD on a Dell Inspiron 8200

Printing, IPP, OS X & Defeat

Sometimes you just have to know when to give up. I've been trying to figure out how to get my wife's Linux box to print on the printer I've hooked up to my OS X box. I configured the printer. I set up printer sharing. I connected to the CUPS server locally without problem. Then I tried to connect remotely. No luck. I edited /etc/cups/cupsd.conf to add the IP address of the linux box. No luck. At some point you just have to know when to give up. I give up. If there is a way to get printer sharing over IPP working with an OS X box as server and a Linux box as client I can't figure it out.

Mac and Me

In a classic example of 'too stupid for my own good' I tried something very dangerous during my upgrade to Mandrake 10, the Linux distribution I run, and managed to fry my partition table. Even though the damage was my fault I was sick of driving a car with no seatbelt. I had enough of figuring out how to run Java, or print pictures or deal with install quirks or never figuring out how to get flash running or living in fear of installing non-RPM software lest it toast my system. I really just had enough. So I decided to buy a Macintosh G5.

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Why LinkedIn is a better fit for me than Orkut

This article compares LinkedIn and Orkut. These are websites that allow you to enter in people you know and then those people can enter in people they know which then lets you perform searches over your entire social 'network'. Orkut focuses primarily on personal relationships while LinkedIn focuses on business relationship. I prefer LinkedIn because it provides tools and features that are extremely useful to me both in hiring people and in putting myself in a better position to be hired if I should need a new job.
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My Experiences Installing Mandrake 9.2

It took one day and a few hassles but upgrading from Mandrake 9.1 to Mandrake 9.2 was worth all the effort. Better yet, the amount of effort required was much less then with either Windows (3.1, 95, 98, 2000) or other versions of Linux I have installed. Not only was I able to get access to the latest versions of Open Office, Mozilla & GnuCash but the new Mandrake 9.2 fonts are just outstanding. The increased clarity makes reading the screen pleasurable and by letting me keep my windows smaller it gives me extra screen real estate. It's like getting a new monitor.

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Microsoft and Office Innovation

As a thought for today, Microsoft really hasn't managed to add too many compelling features to their Office monopoly. On top of that their recent licensing games have certainly given customers an incentive to look elsewhere. At the high end Office is still the best there is. But the majority of customers are no where near the high end. There are now a large number of competing products, many available for free, that more than meet the needs of most users.

The irony is that Microsoft has traditionally killed off the majority players in any market they enter by offering a product that is 'good enough', lower priced and leverages their existing monopolies. The Office alternatives has reached the point where they have certainly nailed two out of three. Given Office's institutionalized refusal to base any of its code on Windows it doesn't even get to take advantage of the Window's monopoly beyond getting first access to new versions and getting its bugs fixed NOW. But given how mature the office market is and given the generally low rate of new features it isn't clear how much of an advantage that really is.

In the short term none of this matters, no body gets fired for buying Microsoft. But in the medium and long term the change of events spells interesting times. How long until some CIO becomes a hero by slashing the company's Office budget to near zero and the pattern is set? I realize training and support is a bigger issue but anyone who knows Office will be comfortable with the alternatives and I suspect the support for the free/low cost choices are generally better then anything Microsoft can offer.

Microsoft's lack of innovation and pricing games is exactly the sort of help its competitors need.