Archive for the ‘July 2007’ Category

Open Up your Office

July 16, 2007

Open Office.org is already being used in a number of government offices , businesses and academic institutions in the country. This requires users to undergo a transition from old ways of doing things to new ones. Installing OpenOffice.org is probably the easiest part of the process. The greatest hurdle is getting officemates to embrace the new application. Whether you’re the self proclaimed OpenOffice.org evangelist or the IT support officer tasked to integrate OpenOffice.org into the work environment amidst irate or anxious MS Office-using officemates, here are some tips and resources that could make that transition much easier.

1) Top management should be your ally. If you argue compatibility, open documents or open source code to top management, you might never get that “go ahead” to drop MS Office for OpenOffice.org. But they do appreciate and understand the bottomline figures. Make a proposal that includes cost savings potentials that just might convert into greater net profits, and performance bonuses for everyone or investments in something else (like a new company car for the boss). One concern that top managers could have is that the training costs of such a move could be time-consuming and costly. But what if training costs absolutely nothing? There are lots of free training resources onlline. OpenOffice.org Support page lists links to free community support, commercial support and training. It can be accessed at: http://support.openoffice.org/index.html

The website, NewsForge offers 11 OpenOffice.org training videos for anyone to use. It uses video segments that demonstrate installation procedures as well as usage of OpenOffice.org. Even without your help, your officemates can learn OpenOffice.org easily, visually. The video clips will play on any browser on any operating system as long as Flash is available. One important tool that middle managers might be interested in first is the topic, ‘making a slide presentation in a hurry.'”

The Learnopenoffice.org website also offers free easy-to-comprehend video clips . It can be accessed at: http://www.learnopenoffice.org/tutorials.htm

2) “Keep Your Mind Wide Open”. After Leslie tells Jesse to keep his mind wide open, in the movie, “Bridge to Terrabithia”, Jesse’s view of the dull forest turns into a magical canvas with sparkling rivers and a castle far away. As the office’s Open Office advocate , you are likely to be an experienced computer user. You have probably played with a lot of software applictions in the past, and know that underneath the glitzy user interface, they more or less work the same way. As an experienced computer user, you can easily transfer your existing knowledge to any new office suite without much of a problem. As a result, you just might find it inconceivable that many of your officemates have never used applications other than MS Office in their lives. Assuming that they have the skill sets necessary for a smooth transition to Open Office.org might be the biggest mistake you make.

3) Listen- but more importantly, find out. Evaluate your officemates’ skill sets, then formulate a plan that will to address their “transition” issues. While your officemates wouldn’t have a problem asking you some pertinent question, they wouldn’t dare to ask you the simplest , but more relevant questions that they fear could make them look like idiots . In this case , it’s best to do the asking. You can do this using a questionnaire that asks about their basic computing skills, or concerns about transitioning. You can converse with them casually at lunch time, or after work. If their pride becomes such a barrier that that doesn’t work, send out the troops! Ask some of your more personable IT staff to get out of their cubicles and observe your officemates using the computer. If your officemates are comfortable having you around, then get out there yourself! This way, you will discover which skills your officemates are missing. This lack of skills should not hinder you from completing a successful transition to OpenOffice.org .

4) Show them. People have a fear of the unk nown. They could express their fear by ratting it out with their mouths, complaining to bosses or fellow officemates, or by refusing to participate. What must you do? Show your officemates how the new software looks like. Emphasize its learnability due to its similarity to MS Office. Show the similar commands, icons and toolbars. You must also assure them that their old files are still accessible with OpenOffice.org. For people who remain angry and resistant rather than fearful and dodge all opportunities to learn OO, then that’s not a transition issue. It’s more likely to be a management one.

5) Be there for your officemates. Dont just throw OpenOffice.org into their computers and figure your job is done. The less experienced computer users would resent that. The end result: increased tech support calls , angry voicemail and complaints to your immediate superior about your “attitude”. Once the transition damages employee morale and eventually work productivity, top management begins to question whether the transition is worth the disruption.

6) Concentrate on immediate needs. People who do repetitive tasks all day, like write memos, faxes, or mail merge documents, can be your ally. Help them first, and do it well. Teach them how to do these specific tasks using templates and documents that come with OpenOffice.org. Make sure you also leave them documentation for how to do those tasks. Then when they have mastered the skills, they will brag to officemates and supervisors how easy it is. Their supervisors would be ashamed not to master OpenOffice.org themselves.

7)Show them the cool stuff. OpenOffice.org has many hidden treasures. They’re so cool that it’s not constrained into any of those Open Office.org users manuals but are cool enough to be the subject of discussion on the Web. Here are some of the OO features everyone’s blogging about.

You can use Writer to browse theWeb. To do this, open a Writer document containing text. Select View – Toolbars – Hyperlink Bar from the Main menu. Select text or set of text that are adjacent to each other. The selected text appears in the left text box of the Hyperlink Bar. Click the rightmost icon on the Hyperlink Bar. A dropdown list of Internet search sites appears. Select a search site. The default Web browser opens and displays the search results. You can also search text is not found in the document. Simply type the text in the text box beside the Hyperlink bar. Then clilck the icon to the right of the Hyperlink Bar.

You can use OpenOffice,org Calc to open a game. The Star Wars game is a perk is hidden inside Open Office.org Calc. To access the game, open a new Calc file.

1.Enter this formula in a cell : =game()
2.Then press the Enter key. The cell will display “say what?”
3. Enter this formula: =GAME(“StarWars”)
4.The Star Wars game window opens. The first window is in German.The succeeding windows are in English.
5.If you closed the game, then decide to open it again by typing the using the same commands, the cell will return the display “oh no, not again!”
To be able to play again, exit Openoffice.org and then launch it again.
Note that this game only works with openoffice.org, v1.9.109 (2 beta version) and later versions. It will also work with the Portable apps version of open office for for U3 Smart jumpdrives.