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Yet another open source failure

tomhudson (43916) writes | about 2 years ago

Open Source 14

Trying to print an envelope address in openoffice under linux? What a waste of time.

Do the people who code this sh*t actually ever use it? Or do they never use anything else, so they simply don't know that it's possible to do better?

Trying to print an envelope address in openoffice under linux? What a waste of time.

Do the people who code this sh*t actually ever use it? Or do they never use anything else, so they simply don't know that it's possible to do better?

Easy prediction - open source will never be competitive. When it's so bad that I'm tempted to throw a copy of XP (or even Wn95) on the box because linux on the desktop is still 2 decades behind the times anyway, there's a fundamental problem that obviously will never be fixed.

I really hate them, but my next computer is going to be a mac.

14 comments

Have you tried it in Windows lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39701983)

On any size envelope except American Standard Business, anyway?

Our company mailed out postcards and eventually gave up trying to get Word and the printer to cooperate on printing onto the postcards. Used Avery Standard Labels and two days of sticking labels on the postcards.

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39702385)

I was trying to print on a standard envelope. What a joke. I ended up using the "original digital editor system" - all 10 fingers worth. Maybe I should hunt around for an abacus so for when they "improve" the spreadsheets?

Oh, it was the latest LibreOffice, not OpenOffice.

We're not making progress ...

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#39712427)

When I read this I realized that I hadn't tried to print an envelope since '89 using Timeworks' WordWriter on my Atari 1040STe to a 24-pin Epson. Guess I must have had fun then, also.

So, being adventurous, I thought to give it a go. Along the way I figured I should check if'n I had the latest firmware, driver, and utilities (Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit) for the Laserjet P1006 on the table. What with that, checking settings both in LibreOffice Writer and printer, after an hour, I successfully printed an envelope. I mean, it really, really worked! First time in decades.

Except that HP expects the top of the envelope to be facing left, and apparently LO figured otherwise, so the envelope was printed upside down (but at least it's on the correct side.) Maybe I fiddled with one setting too many.

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39721551)

Now you see why I ended up doing it by hand ... and hour just to print an address? Dot-matrix and daisy-wheel printers from the command prompt weren't so bad ... just "copy address.txt < LPT2" - on a stupid 286/20 with 2 megs of ram, 2hds, 4 comm ports (3 modems, 1 mouse), 3 lpt ports, 2 monitors, 2 hds, and the whole thing only took 17 seconds from a cold boot to ready to work, or under 15 seconds for a warm boot.

Posted from debian, because fedora has failed the "update w/o breaking too much" test - updating the kernel several times failed to update the boot loader, so old kernel+newer libs==unstable. Tsk, tsk. Of course, Iceweasel has already crashed 4 times in less than 5 minutes, but installing ghostery seems to have made it a bit more stable.

What a pita. No wonder everyone I know likes their macs.

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#39722705)

Well, I remember printing envelopes with Atari (Shephardson; my favorite from those days) Basic on the 800 in '81 or so... It worked fine, after one worked out where the addresses would appear. Printer had tractor and friction feed; using a plain envelope in either orientation needed some watching to see that it fed through squarely. I think I ended up writing a wee Basic prg to handle regular and business size, also postcards. Somewhen back there one could get tractor fed envelopes and such but they were pricey.

What took me an hour was mostly two things, deciding to install the latest firmware and stuff, then reading directions for doing envelopes on an unfamiliar printer and applying settings. I got a bit confused as well, because the size choices from the HP drop-down menu didn't include my own measurement of a standard US envelope, and LibreOffice let me set my own. It might have worked better to accept the default settings to see what happened and then make adjustments. Further, while HP's directions included changing portrait to landscape in the printer profile, LO didn't seem to care. Since I didn't have a stack of plain envelopes to play with I took extra time to read and dither. Never occurred to me to try it from my XP vm.

This is the first laser printer I've owned and I'm liking it. When I get my next SS check, I'll get a box of Walgreens plain and take the time to get envelope printing working spiffily, using the template in LO. Thanks for posting this topic, 'cuz it got me fired up to try it.

Sorry to hear how much fun you're having (hope your eyes are better as well!); could I help, I would. I've not even looked at Fedora for a few years. Something about "grub --update" maybe? My only two Linux vm installs are Ubuntu beta and Zorin. I keep promising myself to check out some of the latest offerings from Mint, Puppy, Vector, and a few others, but I'm getting lazy with age.

I've never tried Iceweasel, but love Ghostery; it works well with Opera. Only difficulty I've found with it is finding out what to unblock on a page to get something working, although often the problem is solved by turning off AdBlock for that page or site.

Yeah, computers are great when they work, majorily PITA when they don't. Maybe even more "fun" than troubleshooting a car or washing machine. I think partly it's because we work more intimately with them than most of our other machinery, so there's a _de facto_ emotional, psychological involvement. When my toaster doesn't work it's fix, save to replace, or use a frying pan. When my computer doesn't work or an app doesn't do what I hope/expect, it's anger, frustration, betrayal, puzzlement, Sherlock Holmes; hours of RTFM, search, read, try, curse, configure, tweak, lather-rinse-repeat. What, and the seniors' specialist wants me to find time to have a "real" hobby too? (Sorry this got so long; blame it on old and coffee.)

Re:Have yoIt all sucku tried it in Windows lately? (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39725795)

I've already decided that Debian is just more open-source garbage. I changed the theme because the default one is too low-contrast and too bright, and the end result is now every single theme I use, neither the "Subject" nor the "Comment" text boxes appear any more. Even after logging out and back in.

So, I have to write my reply in a text editor, and then paste it in the invisible comment box, and then, to make sure it's actually there, do a CTRL-A to select it all.

How stupid is THAT?

So, until I can install XP (haven't used it in a decade or so) I guess I'll be stuck booting a knoppix dvd. I'm tired of every distro breaking on updates and/or upgrades, and distro-hopping, and none of them working as well as even win9x.

This is the final result when you have too much fragmentation - since everything is up for grabs, everything gets "tweaked", everything breaks, and we end up no further ahead 15 years later.

It's becoming the same for Android - Google screwed the pooch on that one. They should have just bought Motorola 5 years ago, and made Android ONLY for GogleRola phones. One series of hardware platforms to support, a merger of two global brands, instead of the current mess, where almost no phones ever get an update when a new version comes out.

Open Source has seriously failed - and I place most of the blame on the GPL for allowing the code to be modified willy-nilly, instead of a "look but don't touch" approach. Everyone forks, nobody fixes the critical but boring problems, and 20 years from now it will be the same story.

Anyway, it's not my problem any more. I had thought that my eyesight had recovered enough to actually try to do stuff, but it hasn't - it's simply not feasible to string together a few good days here and there into anything meaningful. For every "good day", there's a few "penalty days" to pay for it, even when there is no further bleeding.

My real problem now is discovering what, if anything, I can do. And try to get the stupid government to be at least a little bit helpful, rather than 100% of zero.

Re:Have yoIt all sucku tried it in Windows lately? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#39742543)

"So, I have to write my reply in a text editor, and then paste it in the invisible comment box, and then, to make sure it's actually there, do a CTRL-A to select it all."

Yar, 'atsa pretty stupid.

I've been a bit luckier; mostly been using Ubuntu last five years, most stuff just works, pretty much. Your open-source complaints are well taken; I suppose that's what happens when stuff gets done by people 'as the spirit moves them.' Yet stuff does get reviewed and vetted, at least for the kernel. The rest? Yeah, too much a free-for-all.

I guess that's the question, how do you harness and guide - from within - the vitality of open source without hindering its very nature? Both Torvalds and Shuttleworth, among others, have talked about it, and work at it.

"GogleRola" phones - that would have been interesting; far less messy. I suspect that, like teen-age acne, a lot of the Android mess will clear up in the next few years. Single biggest obstacle I see is the bitchiness of the various providers.

Well, if decent sight is a sometime thing, maybe reserve the good eye days for things you want to work on or play with, and pursue disability (some of your writing might could be dictated but that could be slim pickens.) Having been through the process viz. the cardio crap, it's frustrating, but it can work. Losing my sight scares the bejeezus out of me but it's not yet gotten beyond the annoyance stage. I've lost too much feeling to learn Braille, and decent speakie-talkie I/O is either not ready for prime time or far too pricey.

"Any day above ground is a good day." Gotta love them optimists. YMMV.

Re:Have yoIt all sucku tried it in Windows lately? (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39746377)

I just finished trying out the Windows 8 Preview ... I'm now downloading Fedora 17 Beta to get rid of that garbage ASAP.

Microsoft has a real disaster in the making on their hands. The Metro UI is kludgy, is NOT going to work for businesses OR consumers, and about the only thing I can say is you really have to experience it first hand to see just how bad it is.

My guess? It doesn't matter what Microsoft does, businesses are just going to keep re-imaging using their existing XP licenses every time a computer gets munged up and/or run XP in a VM. The problems with WinME and Vista were that they were not ready for prime time buggy, and overhyped, but both eventually got enough of the bugs out to be good enough to do the job. Metro will never be "good enough" because it simply doesn't work the way people want to use their computers - especially if they want to WORK with them, rather than have an OS that is a pretender to the "Social" throne.

If I don't code, and take lots of breaks (an hour or two at a time) I can do stuff - but programming simply requires too much focusing on the actual code for hours at a time, where a missed period or a typo makes a big diff, so it's not an option. If I had any brains, I'd ghost-write term papers - that I can do with my eyes shut :-)

How will the Android mess clear up? I don't know ... it's a thought ... who knows, maybe we'll see Google produce a GoogleRola phone and say "this is the standard - we're not supporting anything else - use it or go away." The alternative is the same situation that caused the decline in Sun revenue from licensing JavaME - over 1,000 different forks of JavaME, almost one for each different handset.

Could they do this? Sure - they own Dalvik. And secretly, the manufacturers would probably welcome a level, standardized playing field, no matter how much they would moan and groan and scream in public. The end users would certainly welcome it - not being dependent on the handset manufacturers for updates.

Re:Have yoIt all sucku tried it in Windows lately? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#39751637)

I had W8 as a vm for a few months, maybe spent twenty hours with it all told. Once I figured out how to get a desktop and how to shut it down... it's not totally horrible; one can see they put a lot of work into it. Speedy boot and shutdown. Had I a tablet I might even consider using it. Did I still use Windows as a working OS I'd use 7 - it's a decent successor to XP; compatibility mode mostly just works. It's more robust than XP, has better overall recovery stuff, log viewer, and a much-improved graphics manager over Vista (see Russinovich's explanation from a few years back - he worked on it.) Seriously, with Windows 7 in hand, I see no reason to use XP - unless there's something which absolutely needs XP to run.

If you wouldn't take unkindly to a suggestion, depending on hardware, try Ubuntu or Mint. Seriously. I tried, and used, Fedora over five years. There's always a lot to like but something always seemed to break just when I needed it to work. It's nice bleeding-edge to look at but I'll only run it in a vm and not for anything needful.

Ubuntu's not that bad. I added classicmenu-indicator so's to easily find all the normal stuff. My biggest gripes were finding a theme that had thick enough window borders to give me something to grab, and I still haven't figured out how to enlarge the mouse cursor. The unified window menus take a little getting used to; just ensure the active window is the one you want.

Only thing I can think of for coding is to work out a section in your head and go burst mode at the keyboard for an hour. Too bad Dragon wouldn't work. It'd be a fits and starts thing, but something.

I forgotten about Dalvik. That's interesting. Google's own phone, heck, they could spin it off to the old Motorola folks.

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39702547)

Indeed, printing envelopes has always been a PITA in any of the word processors I've used (and I've used a lot of them).

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#39704899)

Making Labels pre-ribbon was actually a ton easier than now. Back then, there was a wizard that guided you step by step.

Now with the ribbon, you get all the buttons yourself, and you have to figure out what order to push them in, and you have to dodge traps like the "Create Labels" button, or forgetting to push the "Update Labels" button to let Word know you actually wanted every label cell to contain an address block.

Re:Have you tried it in Windows lately? (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | about 2 years ago | (#39706963)

Most of the trouble I have is with the printer and the custom printer drivers that come from the manufacturers -- I usually have to print a couple of envelopes to get it lined up right.

Printers? I hate them (1)

tqft (619476) | about 2 years ago | (#39707937)

While it is in the machine I can cope. Printers in the process of collapsing the wave function of my ideas into a fixed form tend to get very mixed up. Even plain text. Yes I have had nightmares about the things. You know deadline, VIP's waiting. Printer dies or worse mysteriously corrupts. Unfortunately the nightmares come from experience not imagination.

Once many years ago my direct supervisor sent me around the building looking for very specific version of telegraph paper (yes it was to go into a dot matrix for WordStar to work on). Had the settings exactly correct for ths version.

3 weeks ago our main printer here broke. Took 3 days for them to fix the fucking thing.

Printer at home is fucked and I won't install the linux driver again beause fucking stupid asshole Lexmark can't write software to save their life (spams the log and consumes 5-10% of cpu when idle). My fault for buying Lexmark. And the printhead is fucked.

actual useful advice: get ten (10) times as many envelopes as you need and keep trying until it works, or do it by hand like you did.
Even doing form letter print runs, which supposedly work - complete MS office suite - you always get problems. Always a bonus when you get halfway thru and the printer borks - supposedly it can restart (if you are doing it on the 3 rd blue moon of the year with your tongue in the right knot). Easier just to reprint the lot. Thankfully that is someone else's problem around this office.

I made a template once... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 2 years ago | (#39707985)

Took a lot of time, now I just load the template. Yes, in OpenOffice... and no, Word's way of handling labels and envelopes isn't intuitive or easy either.
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