Articles

Free Software News 9 September 2010 to 16 september 2010

The free software news review for people who just don't have time not to laugh.

You can unsubscribe from this at any time, by replying "Mercy on me". Or, you could send me a good RSS source of news to make fun o^H^H^H^H^Hreport.

Magento is now officially available in their Magento mobile version. Magento is very powerful, but it's also the best way to turn a server into an overloaded, underpaid slave if you are not careful with the specs. Their mobile version is reported to respect your PDA's worker rights. In the meantime, for the sleepless, learn how to manage orders using Magento.

Project Management: Apollo, Fengoffice, Projectpier, Basecamp... and the world changed

We are all accustomed to the concept of TODO lists. You might have a shopping list in your pocket right now, or a piece of paper in the shed with a list of things that need to be done around the garden. Or when you go to work in the morning, you might have a morning meeting where your team decides who does what. Or, like some, you might consider every email you receive as a TODO item.

Life -- personal life and working life -- seems to be an immense, endless TODO list. Or, worse, two or three or four TODO lists, probably racing into your head.

The Internet gave us Facebook, the biggest time waster since the invention of the television. Can the Internet also provide us with tricks to manage time properly, rather than wasting it?

Welcome to the world of project management software, a world started by the guys at Basecamp (proprietary) and then continued by free software projects like Fengoffice and then revolutionised by Apollo.

Reflections on a page design: my, how the web has changed...

It's been a long time since I really designed a webpage, and the web -- or rather users' expectations of the web -- has changed a lot. "Craft" web pages constructed largely for fun by individual users, designed from the ground-up in simple HTML, went out sometime in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, the web was all about "content management systems." Later, specific forms of content like forums, wikis, and blogs began to take over.

Try ZenOSS, free monitoring software

Have you tried ZenOSS server monitoring yet? It's free software; we have also published a book on ZenOSS in this very magazine!

Today, even blogs are too content dense for most viewers, and "microblogging" and "social networking" are the new buzzwords. Static images were replaced by kitschy animation and then by full-motion video as most of the viewers are not only using fast machines that can handle the rendering, but are also connected to the server by "pipes" that would've shamed a university computer center back in the 1980s.

Flip: A Simple Camera Done Right

Sometime back I gave a pretty strong pan review of a couple of "toys" that were not compatible with GNU/Linux -- with open standards really, since the community ensures that free software is compliant -- and were therefore nothing more than a disappointment to my kids. Recently, I fully expected to repeat this depressing experience when my brother-in-law gave my son a "Flip" digital video camera, but I was pleasantly surprised: it works exactly as it should. That seemed worth a column in itself.

My Quest for Free Licensed Japanese Pop Music with Wacca.Fm's XMLRPC API and Python's xmlrpclib

This is my story about searching for Japanese pop music under a free culture license. It's a little tricky, because the best sites for this are of course, in Japan, and not well advertised on the English web. I discovered how to use Python's XMLRPC library to run searches using the web API for a Japanese music sharing site called "Wacca". The results were very interesting -- I found some of what I was looking for, though not all.

Net Neutrality: what does the Google Verizon proposal mean for GNU Linux?

Net neutrality has been a hot and persistent topic on the internet for some time, so I'm not even going to attempt to summarize the debate here. Anyone who values their personal and online freedom knows it's a crucial issue. Regardless of your operating system or the software we use it will affect each and every one of us. However, if you use GNU/Linux you're already tech savvy and familiar with the politics and philosophy of free and open software, so you'll be particularly sensitized to the impact of threats to net neutrality on free software.

Tales From the Front: in Search of APT-GET UNDO

I am currently in that level of hell reserved for people who upgrade their GNU/Linux system too quickly. I have for some time now been happily using KDE 4 with the plasma desktop enjoying the cute little animations and eye candy, and learning to use the task-bar and widgets. Then my bliss was interrupted by a simple mistake. I decided to upgrade. I forgot that my /etc/apt/sources.list was set to load experimental versions of the software, and now my X-server system is broken. It is only now that I am discovering that there is no apt-get undo.

Packt launch the fifth annual awards for free and open source software

Packt publishing is now organising the 2010 Open Source Awards. The winning projects will actually get a monetary prize (which I am sure will be most welcome).

I am always a little skeptical of these awards. However, I have to say that Packt really have proved themselves here: they started with the Open Source CMS Award a few years back, and they have now expanded it to several different categories.

Go and check out their web site, and make sure you nominate the projects you think should win!

The Made-To-Order revolution: custom flexible manufacturing is here

Manufacturing has been getting smaller, cheaper, and more flexible for years. It's now possible to make products as sophisticated as smart cel-phones, PDAs, toys, clothing, books, and even houses in almost any shape or form you want down to very small numbers. The mass production barrier has fallen, so that today, it's possible for a home inventor, hobbyist, or crafter to create almost anything by assembling one-off manufactured components, either from a service or from affordable home-fabrication equipment (or a combination of these).

Why can't free software lead to hardware innovation?

In the past few years we've seen a lot of hardware-based innovation (or at the very least expansion). New products and markets have arisen built around hardware and its use. Smartphones, tablets, netbooks and gaming systems are all examples of markets that have expanded and some if not most of the products make use of free software. This is great but why does it seem to be that the free-software products are second-generation, playing catch up. Where is the device innovation driven by free software?

Goodbye Google Wave - hello humble pie and good news?

If you haven't heard, Google have announced they are pulling the plug on Wave, their interactive, real-time communication product. It's a shame but I can understand why. It never really took off. Google have blamed lack of user adoption for the poor showing, and maybe that's true, but in the end if people aren't using your product: it's not their fault - it's yours.

Flattr: A Social Micropayment Platform for Financing Free Works

People have been talking about "micropayments" since the early days of the world-wide-web, so I'm always skeptical of micropayment systems. Flattr is an interesting variation on the idea though. It's a voluntary system, without the overhead or chilling effects associated with "pay walls" and it puts donors in control of how much they spend, allowing them to split their donations among beneficiaries based on a monthly "pie" model. The greatest asset of Flattr is its simplicity of use -- similar in many ways to the various social networking services that abound on the web today. Flattr may well succeed, and it may fill a niche of financing small projects from free software to online videos.

10 years on: free software wins, but you have nowhere to install it

I am typing this as I am finally connected in shell to my Android phone. The prompt reminds me that it's based on the Linux kernel (it's free), the Dalvik virtual machine (it's free), and free libraries. Millions of Android devices are shipped every day, each one is a Linux system. Today, it's phone. Soon, it will be tablets: Android 3.0 (coming out at the end of the year) will finally be very suitable for tablets. Apple alone will have to face fierce competition on pretty much every front. Microsoft... who? They are more irrelevant every day. I should be happy, right? Well, sort of. Looking back at how long it took me to get this shell prompt makes me worried. Very worried. We are heading towards a world where we no longer own the hardware we buy -- and there is no point in having free software if you can't own your hardware.

Apollo Project and Contact Management

Drowning in your TODO list? Need some todo list software? Trouble organizing project and contacts? Try Apollo, project and contact management done right.

http://www.apollohq.com

A single-page Ajax application that finally looks and feels like an application.

The Jargon of Freedom: 60 Words and Phrases with Context

What exactly does it mean when Richard Stallman says that the Creative Commons' Attribution-ShareAlike license has a "Weak Copyleft"? Why exactly is it that "Freeware" and "Non-Free Software" mean the same thing, while "Free Software" is something else entirely? And what is this business with "Free Beer", and where can I get some? If you've asked yourself these questions, this column is for you.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - articles