Viewing an OpenOffice file on university computers

I posted my essay through the leave-your-essays-here slot, and was done with it. At which point I walked outside and remarked as much to a classmate, who said ‘we just need the cover sheet, bibliography and two copies, right?’.

Two copies. Bugger.

I asked at the office and was told I could ‘simply’ post another copy. This turned out to be way more difficult than you’d think. I’d started writing the essay in Google Docs for portability, but dropped down to OpenOffice due to GD’s (and, to be fair, HTML’s) lack of proper footnote support. I had the OpenOffice files, but no university computer could read them. Obviously their system doesn’t allow you to install anything so OpenOffice itself wasn’t an option, and none of the various third-party viewers had a no-setup-necessary download. I tried Zamzar – a website that converts file formats for free – but the conversion to Word format wasn’t quite right, and the footers were broken.

I phoned home with the intention of asking somebody to open up the essay in OpenOffice and save it as Word format, in the hope OO’s conversion worked better than Zamzar’s. While on the phone, however, I realised the obvious solution, and asked them to export to PDF instead. Zamzar probably could have done that, if I’d thought of it. This worked flawlessly, and I was able to print out the emailed copies and hand it in during breaks in the afternoon class.

I can’t believe how difficult it turned out to be. If file-types are going to cause this much hassle I’m quite tempted by the ridiculously cheap student version of MS Office.