Productivity Sauce

Dmitri Popov
Extension Watch: Denting with IdentiFox

Apr 22, 2009 GMT may not generate the same buzz as Twitter, but the open source microblogging service based on the Laconica engine is quickly gaining popularity among open source developers, enthusiasts, and casual users alike. While you can post and read status updates -- or dents in's parlance -- using the service's Web front-end, a dedicated client can help you to manage your microblogging activites more efficiently. After trying a few available microblogging tools such as Gwibber and twidge, I finally settled for IdentiFox.   It's essentially a tweaked version of the popular TwitterFox extension for Firefox, and as such it offers pretty much the same feature set. It supports...
Using as an Outliner

Apr 17, 2009 GMT

Although Writer can't replace a dedicated outlining application, there are two ways to turn the word processor into a lightweight outliner. The easiest one is to press the Numbering On/Off button in the main toolbar or the F12 key. This turns the current line in the documents into a numbered entry and displays the Bullets and Numbering context toolbar which offers basic outlining tools. The Promote, Demote, Move Up and Move Down buttons in the toolbar allow you to easily rearrange outline entries, while Bullet and Numbering opens the dialog window which lets you tweak different settings such as Numbering type, Outline, Position, etc. You can also create a custom outlining...
Using Data Sources with Calc

Apr 15, 2009 GMT

Say you use a simple Base database to keep track of your invoices and you want to analyze the invoicing data. One way to do this is to create reports and SQL queries, but this requires skill and a lot of time. Another approach is to pull database records into a Calc spreadsheet and then use Calc's tools to analyze the data. To do this, you have to register the invoice database as a data source in Choose Tools -> Options, select Base -> Databases and press the New button. Select then the database and give the new connection a name. Press OK -> OK to save the settings and close the window.   Create a new Calc spreadsheet and press...
Connect to MySQL Using the Native Driver

Apr 10, 2009 GMT

While has always sported the ability to talk to MySQL databases, connecting the productivity suite to the popular database engine wasn't particularly straightforward. Establishing a connection to MySQL involved installing and configuring a connector software, which did require some skills and made the whole idea less attractive. But it seems that you don't have to put up with this situation for much longer. A recent post on the GullFOSS blog has announced the availability of a native MySQL driver for You can download the alpha version of the driver which works with 3.1. The blog points out that you should use the stock version of...
Add Real-Time Word Count to Writer

Apr 08, 2009 GMT

The Writer's Tools extension for developed by yours truly comes with a simple Visual Word Counter tool written using Basic. While this tool does the job, it has one serious drawback: once evoked, it doesn't allow you to do anything until you close its window. There are two solutions to this problem: you can either rewrite the macro from the ground up to add a so-called non-modal dialog window (i.e., a window you can keep opened while working on your documents), or you can use an already available Python-based macro from Yawar's Journal. The latter approach, obviously, makes more sense than the former. To make it easier for you, here is the macro in its...
Track Time with timebook

Apr 02, 2009 GMT

Time tracking tools are a dime a dozen these days, so what makes timebook so special? Two things: tiny size and simplicity. This command-line time tracking utility requires hardly any resources at all and it's extremely easy to get to grips with. timebook is written in Python, and it's pretty easy to install. Download the archived version of the utility and unpack it. In the terminal, switch to the resulting directory, and run the python install command as root. Using timebook is also pretty straightforward. The utility uses timesheets for grouping timing sessions. For example, you can create a timesheet called "writing" for all your writing activities using the switch...
Turbo charge Google Search with a Greasemonkey Script

Mar 30, 2009 GMT

As a Firefox user, you are probably familiar with Greasemonkey, a nifty extension that allows you to tweak Web pages to add all kinds of interesting features using scripts. One such handy script is Google Search Sidebar which adds a sidebar to the Google search page containing search results from YouTube, Wikipedia,, and Flickr.   Obviously, the script requires the Greasemonkey extension, so you have to install it before you proceed. Once you've done that, navigate to the script's Web page and press the Install button. That's it. Do a search directly from the Google search page or using the search bar in Firefox, and you should see results from YouTube, Wikipedia,...

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