The Tool Bar & Grill kitchen is the equivalent of an executive’s corner office for this chef. And apropos to Office, I’ve been cooking up some new treats for you. But first, let me tell you a love story…My Love Affair with Microsoft Word
Relax, there is none. I hated Word when I first started using the DOS version in the early ’90s (WordStar, I miss you!), soon followed by Word 2 for Windows 3.1 (WordPerfect, I miss you even more!). I hated Word 6. I hated Word 95 a bit less, and Word 97 even less than that. I still hated Word 2000, which moved a lot of menu options around, and I hated Word 2002 (XP), though a bit less. I hated Word 2003 less than any of its predecessors. And I hate Word 2007 the most of all.
Lest you assume that my attitude stems from ignorance, take note that much of my income over the past 15 years has derived from my expertise in using Word. I design and program templates, and train others how to use Word. No, my frustration with Word developed through intimate familiarity with its innermost secrets.
Office 2007 adopted the “ribbon” interface instead of tool bars. As I complained in post #70, I now have to spend extra find hunting for commands that are no longer in their familiar places. Back then, I told you about the Search Commands add-in for Office 2007, which helps you find commands that the new Office 2007 ribbon interface misplaced.Tool Bar Nostalgia
Now thanks to fellow Tool Bar & Grill reader Shailesh Shah, I have another great way to cope with Office 2007. In a comment to post #70, he pointed me to his Web site, where he provides classic Office menu add-in templates for Office 2007, free of charge.
These add-ins display the Office 2003 menu bar, Standard tool bar, and Formatting tool bar in the Add-Ins tab on the Office 2007 ribbon. Because my other specialized templates appear there, I found myself clicking back and forth between the Add-Ins tab and other tabs (mostly Home). Here’s the Word version:
Now all the functions I need are on one tab, and in their familiar places (though many shortcut keys are still a problem).
Add-ins are available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access 2007. Here’s the Excel version of the Office 2003 add-in:
I do wish the tool bar were customizable, so I could add or remove buttons. But this is a minor problem. Those of us who feel punished by Office 2007 owe a great debt of gratitude to Shailesh Shah for his contributions to easing our misery. His home page offers a number of other useful-looking Excel utilities.
And now, here is Mark Lautman with his take on the latest Ubuntu Linux release.
Some Laurels for this Hardy
by Mark Lautman
I recently went with my mother to a steakhouse. “I'll have the ground round steak,” she said to the waiter. “Please tell the chef I want it well done.”
“Why do you insist on well done?” I asked after the waiter left.
“Because when it comes to ground beef, you never know what's really inside it. Ordering well done means all the bugs and bacteria are properly removed.”
The first thing that came to my mind was shock and disgust: why do we eat food that has such a problematic history as industrialized meat? The second thing that came to my mind was, again, shock and disgust: why do we use software that, like steak, has bugs and bacteria in it?
I haven't purchased a copy of Windows Vista, but from all the bad publicity, it seems that XP is a better product.
The most recent version of Ubuntu, called the Hardy Heron, doesn't have a lot of bugs, but it has a different kind of problem. Ubuntu, like any other Linux distribution, is a collection of the Linux kernel and a variety of programs, such as OpenOffice, Firefox, media players, and an email application. The people who manage the distribution decide which programs to include, and which versions of those programs to include. In the case of Ubuntu’s Hardy Heron, things got a bit ahead of themselves. For example, the version of Firefox included with the Heron is a beta version for release 3.0.
This version of Firefox isn't available to the general public; you can only get it as a “release candidate.” (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html) However, as part of the Hardy Heron, it is readily available. One consequence is that one of my critical plug-ins, Foxmarks, doesn't work until it is also upgraded.
Another indication of an unripe distribution is the number of upgrades that are installed. Ubuntu uses the Debian package manager, which automatically checks for upgrades to programs. Since installing the Hardy Heron one month ago, I've downloaded at least 200 MB of individual updates. This is a sign that not everything was properly integrated. Below is an image of a typical upgrade notification.
In spite of my complaints, the Hardy Heron is yet another reason why Ubuntu continues to be the most popular Linux distribution. Networking, Web surfing, emailing, and playing media are effortless. Most importantly, the upgrade from Gutsy Gibbon was seamless: just start the download/install routine, go watch a movie, and by the time you come back you're all upgraded.
The Hardy Heron includes some fabulous improvements. The best one is Wubi. (Wubi is an African term that means “Do I get potato with my sirloin?”) Wubi installs Ubuntu onto your Windows machine like any other application. In post #48, I recommended virtual machines as a way to try out Ubuntu. That avenue is now obsolete. Wubi is a much better way to go. I tried it, and it works perfectly. If you have 8 GB of free drive space and a fast Internet connection, you'll be running Ubuntu in 10 minutes.
Other enhancements include packages for Inkscape (which I discussed in post #56, the latest Gnome desktop, and a remote desktop viewer that can connect to more than one computer. The full list of the Heron's features is here. From the list you can see that the folks at Ubuntu have indeed been busy!
In the future, I'll wait a few months before upgrading to a new version of Ubuntu. That gives it a chance to get cooked well done, with a nice char-broil sear on the outside, like the way my mom likes her steaks. Incidentally, she loved her ground round side. Not a single cell of bacteria was on it. I ordered a vegetarian dish, a raw spinach salad. Two hours later I was in the hospital with E. coli poisoning! –Mark Lautman
Thank you all for dropping by my office today. I hope it has been beneficial; if so, please bring your friends next time. Did I overlook your favorite utility? Tell me about it by clicking on “comments” below or, if you prefer privacy, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please show our appreciation to our advertisers by clicking through to their sites.