OK, the OS upgrade (heh) went great, but I’ve discovered one problem area that I didn’t expect. I have a spreadsheet for all of my workout data, going back over three years. I turn the numbers into a chart, with a trend line. Yeah, I’m a big nerd. Anyway, I’ve been doing this in an old version of Microsoft Word, but now I don’t have that on the laptop so I tried OpenOffice Calc instead. What did I find?

  • Adding a trendline at all seemed unduly difficult, with the option appearing in an odd place (“Statistics”?!?) and only after double-clicking on the chart so the menus all change (excessive modality IMO). I’m willing to chalk that up to my own lack of familiarity, though, and it is annoying when people expect X to be just like some other Y they’ve been using. Color me only slightly aggravated.
  • There are several apparent options for trendlines, but no options e.g. to differentiate between quadratic and cubic best-fit (they’re both “exponential”). Worse, no matter which option you select, you get linear. Now I’m starting to get annoyed.
  • I finally decided to live without a trendline, and went to save. OO froze. It also did something to make the mouse unusable. Fortunately I could still use the keyboard to switch to a terminal window I happened to have open and use it to kill the OO process. Now I’m really annoyed.
  • Starting up the program again, I decide to risk another attempt at saving. OO freezes again. This time, before I can get to the other window to kill it, the whole system crashes. Now I’m beyond annoyed and into disgusted.

To be fair, the crash itself might not have been strictly OO’s fault. Specifically, it might have been TrueCrypt’s fault. Both of the freezes happened when I had opened the file directly from a TrueCrypt volume on a USB stick; when I copied the same file to the hard disk I was able to save it without incident. Still, I’ve used TrueCrypt a lot in the past, with a lot of different programs, and it has always seemed reliable. Even if it caused the crash, the application must be doing something pretty unusual to send it down that code path. A program that hides some functions and pretends to have others when it really doesn’t, and that screws up the mouse for the entire system during the potentially lengthy process of saving a file (which could also be a problem with e.g. an unreachable NFS volume), doesn’t impress me very much. Can it really be the case that there’s no decent spreadsheet on Linux? I tried kspread and it was too obviously pathetic (couldn’t even preserve cell formulae) even to bother with. I might have tried gnumeric except that I’m on a fundamentally KDE-based system and the list of GNOME packages that I would have to install before I could run gnumeric put me off. Is it worth it? Or is OO really the best option available? That would be sad.