Older blog entries for msevior (starting at number 58)

AbiWord-2.4 released!

AbiWord-2.4 has been released!

A world first in free software. Now with an integrated Grammar Checker!

Read all about it http://www.abisource.com/release-notes/2.4.0.phtml

Download it for Linux, Windows and Mac's http://www.abisource.com/download/

Enjoy our latest gift to Humanity :-)

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1 Oct 2005 (updated 1 Oct 2005 at 03:47 UTC) »
"A real alternative to MS Word"

A lovely quote from a review of AbiWord from tomshardware.com

See "Pepping up Windows" Tomshardware.com

There's a nice review of the GIMP too :-)

20 Sep 2005 (updated 20 Sep 2005 at 00:54 UTC) »
I love stuff like this.

A few days ago I got an email of the blue from Daniel Naber ( http://www.danielnaber.de ) who will be giving a talk at a OO.o convention about OO's linguistic capabilities. He asked if the grammar checking facility we have in AbiWord can give suggestions for incorrect grammar as well as marking incorrect regions.

Unfortunately link-grammar, which we use for our grammar checker, does not have this capability and told him that. He then told me about his project, LanguageTool. LanguageTool is written in java, can currently grammar check in English and German and provides natural language descriptions of suspected grammatical mistakes.

I asked him if he'd tried gjc and if he knew how provide a C/C++ interface to his code. If we can work this out, the AbiWord side of things is very straight forward. We only have to subclass one existing piece of code in a plugin and wrap his code with a two method API. It's all in a plugin so it won't disturb the rest of our codebase.

If we can work out how to use gcj and do the C/C++ interface we'll can test out his grammar checker in AbiWord in less than one week of real time.

Unfortunately neither he nor I know how to make a gcj <-> C/C++ bridge. So if you do, let us know and we'll Rock On with Free Software<sup>TM</sup> :-)

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13 Sep 2005 (updated 13 Sep 2005 at 00:43 UTC) »
So England finally regain the Ashes...

Well England finally regain the Ashes. Congratulations. England did outplay Australia in the majority of of the series. The Australian team is looking a bit long in the tooth these days. It's prolly time to give some young turks a bit of a go.

The bright side of losing the Ashes is that it's now politically correct to Bash Poms again. It's been so easy these last 10 years it was no longer fun down here.

The other bright side is that there appears to be a English sporting revival so the 2006 Commonwealth games here in Melbourne may not be the Australian procession the last few events have been. It would be good to have a bit of challenge and interest from the rest of Commonwealth.

I lived in Canada for a while. While I was there I was continually told how Canadians were different from Americans. I always thought that if Canada was actually any good at sports played in the rest of the Commonwealth they could stop looking at the Country to it's South and have fun bashing the Poms like we do. There is nothing like supporting your National Team over a 3 month tour.

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AbiWord v2.3.6 "Math is hard!" Released

Long time no blog. I've been busy working with a group of people on a Nuclear Power Education website. We will fill the "niche" between the Nuclear Power Industry and Greenpeace :-)

In other news the rest of AbiWord team has been hard at work on our next great release, due Any Day Now. So, without further ado..

The AbiWord team is happy to announce AbiWord v2.3.6 for your stress-testing pleasure. This release is virtually identical to what will become AbiWord 2.4, but still contains some bugs that we'd like to see squashed over the next few days.

Since the previous release, equation support has become available to Mac OSX >= 10.3 and Windows NT based systems as well. At the moment of writing these release notes support for Windows 9x/ME systems has been included, but this was not ready in time to go in v2.3.6.

Note: While standard symbol fonts can be used to render equations, the best results are achieved when the Computer Modern fonts are installed. Also note that equation input and rendering are still considered to be experimental. We welcome your feedback on this new feature.

AbiWord v2.3.x is parallel installable with AbiWord v2.2 so users can try it out without disturbing their stable AbiWord 2.2 version. Binaries for the various supported platforms will be provided as soon as possble. For Linux based systems we have again created an easy to use installer ("Autopackage") that should work on virtually every x86 linux distribution. The only requirement is that basic GNOME libraries are installed. This makes it possible for people who are interested in testing this release to instantly install it on their computer, there's no need to compile stuff or wait until it's shipped by the distribution.

The installer includes the following extra functionality ("plugins"):

  • Grammar checking (only English supported at the moment)
  • Support for entering formulas and equations
  • Wordperfect file import
  • OpenDocument file import (the OpenOffice.org 2 format)
  • Gnumeric charts support (experimental, only works with recent GNOME)

The installer is available from the download page. For more information about Autopackage please visit http://www.autopackage.org.

We are very much interested in any bug you may find. Please report these to http://bugzilla.abisource.com/.

While we encourage people to try out this new snapshot, please be aware that is a development snapshot and is not expected to be stable in any sort of way.

Availability: http://www.abisource.com/download/development.phtml.

More information: http://www.abisource.com/.


   The AbiWord Development Team

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26 Jul 2005 (updated 26 Jul 2005 at 09:59 UTC) »
How To end World Hunger

The recent set of rock concerts aimed at focussing World Attention to the plight of people in the poorest Countries of the world succeeded. Many people in the richer world looked at this issue with renewed focus.

However, while the aim of the concerts was fantastic, I was left with a bit of a sour taste. To me, it appears that we are condescending to the people we intend to help. The people in these countries are just as human, intelligent and creative as those in the Western World. It is simply that these people, as individuals, do not have access to the successful community we have built in Australia and other Countries.

The importance of sucessful community and culture was really brought home to me when I read this article about Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe travelling to China in an attempt to secure Aid. 20 years ago, China was substantially poorer than Zimbabwe on a per-Capita basis. But for the last 25 years China's economy has been doubling every 8-10 years with so sign of letting up at all.

Clearly the Chinese have learned some powerful lessons and have found a way to unleash the human spirit within their own Country. They did not do this with handouts and massive aid programs.

Why can't every nation on earth do this?

I think that every nation can and will but that the time this transformation takes can be substantially reduced by avoiding the condescention of Aid handouts and by directly encouraging individuals to use their own talents as productively as possible.

The following story on the pitfalls of Aid handouts was written by Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar head of the Hunger Project in Bangladesh. http://www.ph.unimelb.edu.au/~msevior/Parrot_Story.html

The success of the approach adopted by Dr. Majumdar was witnessed first hand by my good friend, Carol Godham. This is very clever way to foster local economic development by empowering people in local communities. You can read about her experiences here.

The Hunger Project acheives exponential growth by directly empowering people to create their own futures.

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12 Jul 2005 (updated 12 Jul 2005 at 00:03 UTC) »
Desktop - Linux going backwards?

Well since I spend so much time developing a desktop application for Linux, it's very frustrating to watch the two steps forward, one step backwards lurches of Linux-on-the-desktop.

When I installed Fedora Core 1 on my laptop I thought I could finally see it all coming together. Suspend worked out of the box, sound worked out the box. USB mostly worked. HAL and DBUS were coming along nicely, it looked like we would soon be into plug and play Nirvana. Take some random piece of hardware, plug it in and it works :-)

Fast forward to Fedora Core 4. I've installed this onto three different machines. Sound did not work out of the box on a single one of them. My DELL Inspiron Laptop 8100 with it's NVidia chipset won't work with data projectors with the standard "nv" driver. It certainly no longer suspends. I had to do a hurried reboot into windows yesterday so I could make a presentation.

I have not focused on learning how sound, video or the details of how suspend works in Linux. I know a lot about computers, far more than your average person on the street, and like JWZ, I don't see why I should have to know the details about how these sub-systems are supposed to work. I want to install an OS and have these things just work.

Yes FC4 has some great applications like eVince. But it has also removed great apps like AbiWord and Gnumeric and it still screws up with hardware that worked back in the RedHat 9 era.

I've since played with Ubuntu a bit. It also has serious issues with sound and video. It's all a bit depressing. Maybe there needs to be better ways for desktop focussed distros to cooperate to get the basics right, like sound, video, suspend. Give us application developers some reason to actually recommend Linux with a clean conscious to people.

Frankly I can't now unless I'm prepared to spend hours fiddling with different parameters to get everything working.

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30 Jun 2005 (updated 30 Jun 2005 at 23:17 UTC) »
Robert Staudinger's Python bindings for AbiWidget

Well although I have to concentrate on bug fixing, other AbiWord hackers get to do fun stuff.

Robsta has written python bindings for our new library based AbiWord builds (thanks fjf :-). Here is a great screen shot of his work in action.


So now you can get an embedded spell-checked, grammar checked, Word Processor in your app in 18 LOC.

Great work robsta!

More GNOME Office goodness

After applying a patch from Jean Brefort to Gnumeric CVS and some hacking on AbiWord from me we can now copy and paste charts from Gnumeric into AbiWord.

Obligatory screen shot here:


There is not much more of these fun new features for a while. We're now doing the final push to get 2.4 out the door.

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