[olug] MSWord Rqmt and MS lock in

Eric Penne epenne at olug.org
Sat May 29 04:43:09 UTC 2004

I don't do the PDF conversion in the end.  I'm not authorized to sign 
off on them.  I just do the grunt work.  The lab manager (Windows only) 
does the final PDF conversion.  It is a Windows business but I'm using 
Linux.  They are stuck with MSOffice and I haven't/can't put together a 
convincing enough argument for them to switch to OpenOffice.  The 
computers they use are owned by Southeast Community College and 
therefore fall under the site licensing for SCC so they software is 
already paid for.  To this business (not for profit) the software is 
"free".  In fact, everything that they have is owned by SCC.

To fit the framework of the business I need to have the final step be a 
MSWord document.  This way I won't "rock the boat" too much.

I've already tried to present them with an LDAP address book that would 
work for them but I ran into a couple of problems (all me) and they 
choose a $600 ACT software package.  It doesn't work worth a shit but it 
is "normal" software.  They could have paid me $400 and I would have 
made sure to fix all the problems I was having but I was trying to put 
together a proof of concept.

They tend to change thier criteria for software between free and paid 
for.  I put together the LDAP address book as a proof of concept.  Their 
criteria at the time was that it would seamlessly integrate into 
MSOutlook.  I said MS Outlook could read from the address book but not 
write to it.  They would have to open a web browser to change the 
address book and put in notes on the customer.  That wasn't good enough. 
  Apparently ACT! is good enough, yet it doesn't integrate with Outlook 
   other than to send email.

I put together an email server.  They said the goal was to integrate 
seamlessly into Outlook and be backed up with our regular backup 
schedule.  I set it up as an IMAP server.  Outlook doesn't play with 
IMAP the same way it works with POP.  When you delete a message with 
IMAP it just puts a strikethrough on it.  You have to add a button 
"Expunge" to get rid of the message.  Mozilla moves the message to the 
Trash folder to get it out of your way.  This is consistent with POP and 
IMAP in mozilla.  They didn't like the way Outlook did it so they said 
forget it.  They download all their mail via POP and store it on their 
local hard drives.  It never gets backed up.  I pointed out the 
advantages of the server and how via samba I could have the Win2k server 
back up the mail files.  They still said no.  The general manager has 
over 1GB of email spanning 4 years that isn't backed up.  The lab 
manager has just under 1GB that isn't backed up.  I'm worried about what 
happens when a few sectors of their hard drive goes bad right in the 
middle of that outlook email file.

It has been a rather good learning experience on the challenges facing 
open source software to break into the desktop arena.  The lab manager 
and I are pretty open but the general manager and his wife (marketing) 
are not so open.  I don't get paid to research and fix alternatives. 
They only respond to something concrete.

I'll put together this script that does a lot of the work of report 
writing for me.  Then i'll use it to generate reports in half the time 
and I'll still charge them my full rate for writing reports.  After that 
I'll try to integrate it into a new linux server that can help them out 
and charge them for that. I'll use this experience on my resume and 
somebody will pay me big bucks to design electrical hardware. :)

In reality I probably won't go anywhere with it but it is always nice to 
dream.  I'm just a contract employee for them, I'm a little afraid to 
push too hard.  I have a good feeling that many companies are like this. 
  If anybody is looking for help in making drop in solutions for these 
type of people I would be happy to help.

Do you understand the MSWord requirement yet? :)


Jay Hannah wrote:
> On May 28, 2004, at 7:02 PM, Eric Penne wrote:
>> The plot generated by the scanning software are in PDF.  The 
>> individual test values measured are also included in that plot.  I 
>> need to extract that data from the PDF.
> There's one billion + 1 PDF read/write packages for Perl:
>    http://search.cpan.org/search?query=pdf&mode=all
>> The final customer report is done in MSWord and saved.  Then it is 
>> printed to PDF with Acrobat4.  With Acrobat4 we sign it and send it.
>> I need to get everything to MSWord first so that it can be put 
>> together for final output in PDF.
> Sorry I'm so slow -- I still don't see the point in the MSWord step. You 
> can string anything you want straight from whatever format into .pdf...
> Missing something as usual,  -grin-
> j
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