Apache has released OpenOffice 4.0, a major update to the free, open-source productivity suite. The biggest visible change is the new Sidebar user interface, which displays context-sensitive panels whose properties change according to the current editing task. Additionally, developers have been given a framework to build extensions to the Sidebar. The update improves compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, including support for Office Open XML (OOXML), .docx outline levels, table background color from table style in .docx files, and font color in .pptx files. It also brings an enhanced and extended color palette to the DrawObject, as well as new gradients, new gallery themes, refined selection handles, and many other graphic-related improvements. OpenOffice 4.0 improves translations for 19 languages, and adds three new localizations: Greek, Portuguese, and Tamil. (Free, 163 MB, release notes)
Stylin' a Word Comment Balloon
If you work with Word's Comment feature, you may find that the comment-balloon text is too small to work with, or you may just want some variety. To modify the style, choose Format > Style. From the List pop-up menu, choose All Styles. Select Balloon Text from the Style list. Modify the style as you like, and then click Apply. I like Arial Narrow, 12 point.