Finally moving from Apple’s Keynote to LibreOffice Impress

Apple’s Keynote has been my preferred presentation tool for about a decade. For a long time it felt like the ideal tool, easy to use, powerful and flexible. But at some point, probably around the time when the iOS version of Keynote came along, the Mac version of Keynote started loosing features and became more limited than it had used to be. Since then, I have experienced all sorts of problems, including non-compatibility of new and old presentation file versions, problems with linked video files, crashes, etc.

Even with its increasing amount of shortcomings, Keynote has been one of the few programs that I have been missing after my move to Ubuntu as my main OS three years ago. Keynote has also been one of the few reasons I have often decided to bring along my old MacBook rather than my current Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro workhorse.

Over the years, I have been trying other presentation software. I was an early user of Prezi, and still like the looks and non-linear approach that it affords. However, the lack of a native Prezi client for Linux has been a turn-off, particularly since I never trust the network connections when I am out traveling. I am also somewhat skeptic about not being able to use local media in Prezi presentations, particularly since I often use a lot of video material.

I have also been excited about trying out some markdown-based presentation solutions, including reveal.js and Remark. This has been refreshing, and I like such an approach when working mainly with text-based presentations. I do realize, however, that many of my presentations rely heavily on images, sounds and videos, which make the markdown-based approaches less ideal.

I have been trying Impress, the presentation part of OpenOffice/LibreOffice, on and off for several years, and have, to say it mildly, never been impressed. The design of the software has been ok, not even close to as intuitive as Keynote, but not so far away from MS PowerPoint. The biggest drawback, however, has been its performance, both when it comes to editing presentations, but also when presenting. After all, a presentation software has to be efficient to work with and needs to perform flawlessly in presentation mode.

Luckily, I decided to give Impress yet another try before giving a presentation in Hamburg this week. I exported a Keynote presentation to a .pptx file, and opened it up in LibreOffice Impress on my Ubuntu laptop. To my big surprise it worked very well! Not only did the graphical elements look good, but also the embedded videos worked well. There must have been some major update to the software recently, because suddenly the speed of editing also worked quite fine. There are still some issues when scrolling through a large presentation with lots of multimedia content, but not more than I can live with.

The conclusion: today I held my first multimedia-rich conference presentation using my Ubuntu laptop. Not only did the projector connection work flawlessly (which has not always been the case with Linux systems…), but also the presentation ran without any performance issues whatsoever. A new era has begun in my presentation life! LibreOffice Impress is still not as smooth and solid as Keynote was a few years back, but it is now at a point where it is stable and easy enough that I actually want to use it professionally.

Add date to files in Ubuntu

Even though I have been running Ubuntu as my main OS for more than a year now, I am still trying to figure out a good workflow. One thing I have been missing from my former OSX setup was the ability to quickly and easily prepend the date to a number of files. Having moved my files between many different OSes, hard drives, network drives, etc. over many years, I know that the files’ creation dates will break at some point. For that reason, I prefer to prepend the date to filenames of photos, random text files, etc. That way I am able to quickly search through the files easily.

On OSX I have made a small Automator script called add-date that does exactly this: prepends a file’s creation date to the filename. It has worked like a charm for many years, and still works, so feel free to try it out if you are on OSX.

In Ubuntu there are, of course, numerous terminal based methods to do something like this. But I haven’t really been that eager to mess around with mv, rename and regexp just to rename a bunch of files once in a while. In the quietness of the Norwegian summer I finally got around to look a little more into how to do this in Ubuntu, and it turned out to be very easy. Nautilus, the file manager on Ubuntu, actually sports the ability to run scripts from the GUI. The scripts, of any programming flavor (python, perl, etc.) just need to be put in the folder:

 ~/.local/share/nautilus/scripts

There are many examples of adding today’s date to the files, such as this python example, but it took a little while to figure out how to do it using the modification date of the file. I finally got this to work as a little bash script:

#!/bin/sh
for f in "$@"; do mv "$f" "$(date -d@$(stat --printf='%Y' "$f") +%Y-%m-%d)-$f"; done

Save this as a file in the scripts folder, make it executable (chmod a+x), and restart nautilus. Then I can easily add the date to all files I want directly from the GUI.

Screenshot from 2015-08-03 21:53:02