Guest Post: Responsible Ownership

Guest Post by “Artim:”

When I got my first car, I wasn’t allowed to drive it until I could demonstrate how to check the oil, coolant, belts, hoses, lights, signals, tires and stuff. A lot of people chipped in and got this special set of elevated pedals for it since I’m very small:

In fact I still get pulled over when I’m not in my own home town, by police responding to reports of “a small child driving a car.” The officers usually just laugh along with me after running my license, and pass the word along to other cops, LOL. The point being that a lot of good people have gone to a lots of trouble to make it possible and easy for me to operate a car, but I am still responsible to know how to maintain it as well as operating it.

Computers are the same way! A lot of good people have done a lot of work to make it possible for li’l ol’ me to use LINUX (Linux Lite, Linux Mint, etc) instead of Windows. But just like my car, I need to be responsible with it. Like any major appliance, a computer needs maintenance and you can’t just “drive” it without updates, cleanup, etc. That’s not just blowing the dust out of the box and keyboard, either. But the operating system needs to be kept up as well, with regular maintenance.

Linux has lots of advantages over Windows! It’s practically virus proof (unless you treat it like Windows, downloading stuff from web sites and installing it), it works on modest hardware or even really old 32-bit computers people used before I was even a twinkle in my daddy’s eyes. It’s amazing how awesome Linux is. It costs nothing, there’s all kindsa software for it for school, web, social media stuff, music and video editing, and even games. All at no cost (but donations are suggested for your favorite stuff).

But like me with my car, learn how to maintain it! And thanks to Linux Lite especially, much more than Linux Mint in my opinion, learning and maintaining your computer with the Linux Lite operating system is the easiest, simplest, and fastest way for new Linux users to do that. The welcome screen gives you all the steps, in order, and with point-and-click simplicity. You can even bring back the Welcome screen any time, even after you’ve been running Linux Lite for a long time. It does the updates, the cleanup, and tune-up stuff so you hardly even have to think about it!

With support for Windows7 ending in a few days, now is the perfect time to try it out. And you don’t even have to install it to try it out, just test-drive it on a USB thumbdrive without making any changes to your computer at all! Then if you like it, click to install. Just be sure you have backups for all your important stuff, like bookmarks, passwords, school papers, pictures, music, and stuff. Oh, and backing up stuff in Linux is super easy too by the way.

Since so many good people did so much hard work to make it possible for a tiny boy like me to drive a car, I drive it carefully and keep up on the maintenance. In the same way, since so many people have worked so hard to make it simple and easy for a kid with no technical expertise to use the amazing Linux Lite operating system, be sure to maintain it, just like my car, and donate if you can to the people who give us so much.

Get Linux Lite here!

Thank you!

Converting LibreOffice Writer Documents to Microsoft Format

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Until today I’ve always been frustrated by the fact that LibreOffice wouldn’t properly save my schoolwork in Microsoft format as my school requires. But now once again technology has rescued me from having to spend a bunch of money on a stupid Microsoft computer and that expensive proprietary office suite of theirs. I’ve found a way to perfectly, flawlessly preserve my schoolwork created in LibreOffice in Microsoft’s .doc format as well as pdf format. Even that complicated stuff like the headers, page numbers, and properly-formatted reference pages required by MLA and APA remain perfectly intact using this method!

Oh, those of you who are militant FOSS purists aren’t going to like this solution, though. It requires those non-free Microsoft Core Fonts, for one thing. In Ubuntu and derivatives like the one I use, however, installing those non-free bits is as easy as opening Synaptic Package Manager and installing the appropriate restricted-extras package (ubuntu-restricted-extras, xubuntu-restricted-extras, etc) from the Ubuntu repositories. That’s the first step. Get those Microsoft Core fonts. If you use a non-Microsoft font, then when your professor opens it on his or her Windows computer, Microsoft Office will choose a font to display it in – and there goes your formatting! Sorry, FOSS purists.

The second step is to choose Times New Roman font (or whatever font your professor insists on) and compose your paper entirely in that font. Do not set up LibreOffice to auto-save in .doc or .docx format, and do not save it except as a regular .odt file until it is completely finished, proofread, and edited to perfection. Make the entire thing in .odt format, NOT Microsoft format until it is absolutely totally permanently and forever finished being created and edited to completion.

NOW, after it’s all done, you save it in .doc format, not in .docx format! Doc is older and much less prone to goofs than that fancy new .docx format is. If you have it auto-save in .doc format during the creation of your document, every instance of saving adds a layer of stuff that is prone to error. The trick is to save the conversion to the very laaaaaaaast thing you do, other than uploading it to your Microsoft-bound professor in his or her proprietary prison.

The paper I did today, 8 pages long in APA format (y’know, with that stupid running head and page number fields and stuff), didn’t even give me that stupid warning I used to always get when saving in any format other than .odt! I e-mailed it to myself in .doc format and retrieved it on a borrowed Windows machine to see how it looked when opened in Microsoft Word, and YESSSSS! Perfect in every detail. It’s never happened before, that I didn’t have to edit my schoolwork in Word on a borrowed Windows computer.

Well, I hope this helps some other starving college student from “the wrong side of the Digital Divide” who just can’t go spend an entire parental paycheck on a stupid Microsoft Windows box that’ll be obsolete in a couple of years. Keep your old hand-me-down computer, load it with MX-Linux, and use good ol’ awesome LibreOffice Writer without worry!