Free


With the price of gas at all time highs, how do you feed your second drain on disposable income?

i.e. your computer

Look for free software.  The folks from PCWorld.ca have posted this resource.

They’re calling the article 101 Fantastic Freebies.  I wandered through them.  Many I recognized and actually already use.  I wonder if they should rename it “Things that you absolutely must have.”  The collection is great.

You owe it to yourself to check it out and do some serious downloading.

You’ll be so much more productive.

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An Invitation to Edit


It was a boring Sunday afternoon and, after my bike ride, I sat down to check out the NASCAR race.  I was actually curious as to whether Goodyear was going to upset Tony Stewart with another strange tire incident.

I’d been meaning to sit down and so something like this for a while.

In the traditional software world, we run to the local software shop and plunk down some money for a package.

Then, the world of Open Source dangles the promise of everything in front of you.  Like wandering through a free buffet, software is download and tested and the best of the best remains on the hard drive until hard drive space is needed.

Today, there’s a third alternative.  Excellent programmers are making top rate software packages free on the web.  With the promise of capability with desktop cousins and only the need of a good browser and internet access, this is the new enticement.

It may also be the new reality.

Why buy or download when the resource is online?

I created this table as a starting point to compare the three alternatives.

http://dougpete.pbwiki.com/Software%20Comparisons

Consider this an invitation to visit the Wiki and add to the table.

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Greatest Moment at NECC


There are so many terrific moments at any NECC Conference. Great speakers, new friends, great vendors, and the lot.

One of my favourite activities though is to browse through the poster sessions. Here, nobody is selling anything or pushing you to upgrade or drive you crazy with the newest technology that you know darn well you can’t afford.

At the posters, it’s just people (big ones and kids) showing off a project that they were involved with. Instead of something that might be beyond reach, here are people showing what they can do, and what they did. All of them are so motivating and you know that, with the right conditions, you could do it as well.

There is one that stood way, way out and still is in my mind.

I don’t remember which NECC it was but I’m thinking it might have been Seattle. It doesn’t matter.

I do know that it was before the OSAPAC Committee licensed SMART Ideas in the category of Graphic Organizers.

I was walking through the poster sessions and it was particularly busy. There were large crowds everywhere — except at this one table where a young man was standing with a computer and a relatively low end monitor. The lack of an audience even made me think that perhaps his computer had died or something. There literally was nobody around his station.

Ever the champion of the underdog, I went over and greeted the gentleman and asked what he was showing.

A couple of clicks later and my jaw was wide open. He had developed a graphic organizer designed to help teach Hebrew to English speakers. Within moments, we were clicking around the screen and I got two things. I fully understood, for the first time, the power of using a Graphic Organizer. It opened new windows for me. Secondly, in the few moments that I spent, I learned a little bit of Hebrew.

This was one of the things that I intended to follow up with after that NECC. Unfortunately, I pitched the reference materials with so much of the other stuff that I picked up. However, I can’t jettison my mind and I’ll always remember that demonstration of demonstrations.

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Evolving Language


At the RCAC meeting on Friday, we did a sharing about how we’re embracing many of the components of the Read/Write Web. While I don’t like the phrase Web 2.0, I use the other and it’s a tongue twister to me. I end up more often than not doing an electronic version of Wascally Wabbit. Spent too much time in front of the television as a kid, I guess. But, I’ve adopted the one and not the other.

As we were going around, I was mindful of the new technology that was just flowing off our lips. Second Life, Wiki, Twitter, Del.icio.us to name a few.

it was a very enjoyable sharing session and we certainly took to heart many of the messages that came from Symposium 2007 and have made them part of our daily routine and our daily language. They are new terms and worthy of evolving into use into the language.

There’s one that shouldn’t though.

“Powerpoint”. As in “Let me see your Powerpoint”.

The Microsoft Office Suite contains a number of software applications. Notably Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint. The newest versions of the product running under Microsoft Windows are known as Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, and Microsoft Office Powerpoint 2007. They create Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and Microsoft Powerpoint presentations.

In language use, the third program doesn’t create a “Powerpoint” anymore than the first one creates a “Word” or the second one creates an “Excel”.

In conversations, there are those that use it that way. On numerous occasions, I’ve had people let me know that they’ve used StarOffice to create a “Powerpoint”. Grrrr.

The one that gets me is “How can I create a Powerpoint like ### does?” The answer is “Get a Macintosh computer, get a copy of iWork and develop a presentation in Keynote”. Even then, you don’t “Create a Powerpoint”. You create a presentation and you may wish to export it in Microsoft Powerpoint format.

Some words are ready for evolution status and some just aren’t.

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Netherlands adopts Open Source Software


From the AP, comes this story: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gK-eb7SFzG8QLvOOlfdt_cPMnFmwD8TGNLJ80

I can’t begin to agree wholeheartedly with organizations that take this approach. One of the biggest reasons why you’ll hear people talk about this approach (and it makes so much sense) is the cost savings. After all, why would anyone pay the huge fees when there is an equally as good or even better solution available as Open Source. The biggest example that often gets tossed out in these examples is Open Office. While it’s a terrific example, there is so much more.

Many people are available of the high quality alternatives. You hear of the Audacity or Firefox products to a lesser extent. But there’s so much more. If you’re new to this whole concept, take a wander around http://sourceforge.net/. You’ll be able to find free alternatives written by terrific programmers. Not only that, but you’ll have a shorter path to contact the developer for whatever reason. My favourite home browser is Flock, which is based on the Firefox product. When I had a question, I just fired off my query to what you might think is your typical faceless point of contact. I received a response with suggestions for what might resolve the situation overnight. You can’t get that anywhere else.

If you aren’t new to this area, you’ll undoubtedly feel good for the taxpayer and the computer using clientelle in the Netherlands.

Even the casual computer user requires more than one or two applications to survive these days. When a solution is just a download away; when support is just an email away; when quality and usability are constantly under revision; where user needs determine the development pattern of the product, it only makes sense.

The best solution isn’t necessarily the one that you might think of first.