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Firefogg: Transcoding videos to open web standards with Mozilla Firefox

GNU/Linux has never been short of audio and video players, but they live in a world of multiple codecs, chief culprit amongst them being MP3, AAC, WMA and (Adobe) Flash. I say "culprits" because they are not free and open codecs. They are encumbered by patents; most websites with embedded audio/video use them and most of the people who view them are also using other patented software: Windows. GNU/Linux is a good alternative and all distros come bundled with free and open multimedia alternatives too: Ogg. You would not be surprised that these players can handle Ogg but what if I told you that Mozilla's Firefox browser could not only handle this codec but could be used also to transcode videos to that format? Interested? Read on.

The Morevna Project: Anime with Synfig and Blender

The Morevna Project aims to create an animated film in a modern anime-style retelling a very old Russian folktale known as "Marya Morevna". It's a free culture production project pushing the envelope in several ways -- entirely using free software tools and releasing under the free Creative Commons Attribution license. The project is purely community-based, without any foundation funding, so they can probably use your help. Joining could be a terrific learning opportunity, whether your interest is in literature, music, animation, or software development.

Save "Sita Sings the Blues" from the Flash format: can you convert FLA?

Nina Paley's "Sita Sings the Blues" is becoming a huge critical success, and may even succeed financially, which is unusual for any independent film, but virtually unprecedented for free culture films ("Sita" was released under the CC By-SA). There's only one sad thing about this for free software fans, and that's that "Sita" was made using proprietary software, and the "source code" is in a proprietary format: Adobe Flash's "FLA" format, to be precise. Paley has posted these files on the Internet Archive, but she doesn't know how to translate them into any free software friendly format (and neither do I). Can you help?

Linux performance: is Linux becoming just too slow and bloated?

This is an aspect of FOSS that is regaining some measure of interest: for years, it was considered that writing production-ready FOSS meant lean and mean software. However, recent events have shown that, in the case of the Linux kernel, this is no longer exactly true: performance is dropping slowly yet steadily.

How come?

The Open-PC: one step closer to open-hardware

At the Gran Canaria Open Desktop Summit in July 2009, the Open-PC project was announced. The statement said the project aimed to "cooperatively design a Free Software based computer by and for the community". Further this PC would use only hardware for which there are free software drivers available. This would be a PC with the minimal compromise required for running a free desktop. In January 2010 the project announced the launch of its first product.

Web code is already open - why not make it free as well

Oh dear. After the debacle with Microsoft Poland's apparent racist photoshopping, Microsoft China went and got the company in hot water for allegedly "stealing" code. Yes you read that right: Microsoft and wholesale "theft" of code from another website. Of course it's not "theft" it's copyright infringement but tomayto/tomarto. Microsoft confessed blaming a vendor they had worked with. No surprise really but the damage to their name may have already been done. There's more to discuss here than Microsoft's already tarnished reputation though. The issue raises some important points in favour of free software and points to why more if not all code should benefit from free licencing.

Question Copyright's "Minute Memes" challenge copyright rhetoric

How do you deal with an entrenched content industry that tries to pump its twisted values down your throat with ludicrously illogical emotional appeals? Well, one way is to fight fire with fire by making your own emotional appeals, and trust to the viral amplification of free culture distribution to get the message out. This is the essence of the "minute meme" idea from Question Copyright, and animator Nina Paley has fired the first volley with her one-minute animation "Copying Is Not Theft."

Mastering a DVD using QDVDAuthor

There are not a lot of free software options for mastering DVDs. One of the more complete solutions is QDVDAuthor, although it still has a number of rough spots. It's a front-end to a collection of command-line free software tools that do each of the individual steps involved in going from a collection of digital video files, audio files, and images to a DVD with menus. As such, it's quite complicated, and not as stable as some software. Still, it is a rewarding experience if you stick with it. Here I'm going to walk through creating a DVD for a collection of animated videos by my new favorite free-culture artist, Nina Paley (partly because the CC By-SA 3.0 license eliminates any questions about copying the material here, and partly because they're pretty cool in themselves).

The rise of web applications and Chrome: it's all about timescales

The significant thing about Chrome is that it sets a new way of thinking. It does not mean Chrome will dominate the world. Open standards mean that other companies could provide similar services. It's the 80% scenario. 80% of what we do could be web based and probably will be in the future. It is near 100% for 80% of the population. It does not then make much sense to have everyone running a desktop OS just in case they might happen to want a specialist application that is dependent on that technology. Some people will still need this, but not the majority.

Cheap SCALE tickets: a present to Free Software Magazine's readers

Hello everbody. The title says it all. The good people at SCALE (Southern California Linux Expo offered our readers a super-discount: just mention the coupon code FSM8X and receive a 40% (forty percent!) discount on your SCALE tickets! Merry Christmas, and enjoy SCALE!

Open Science and climategate: The IPCC/CRU needs to take a leaf out of CERN's Book

This is not the place to debate the immense subject of climate science but it is necessary to say something about "climategate" in order to explain what happens when scientists and politicians collude to distort, hide and even destroy critical (raw) data and methodologies which, unlike the output of CERN, have absolutely colossal financial implications for every man, woman and child on this planet.

Chrome OS and the death of the Free desktop: a response

The article "Google Chrome OS. Or, how KDE and GNOME managed to shoot each other dead" is intentionally outspoken and controversial. It invites comment and criticism - one can hardly declare two of the best known and most widely used Free Software projects to be "dead" without causing uproar.

A key part of the author's argument is that Google Chrome OS is likely to be both valuable to the public, and also very widely used. I'd like to contest the first part of this assumption.

When Javascript became the world's new CPU

The computing world is always very unpredictable. That must be why there is a small number of people who make large amounts of money from it: they are in the right (unpredictable) place, at the right (unpredictable) time. Who would have ever guessed that Javascript, a simple scripting language initially thought as a simple means to make web pages "cooler", would become... drum roll... the world's new CPU?

I doubt anybody expected it. Even after seeing AJAX (which was ironically started by Microsoft...), very few would have bet that Javascript would become quite so important. Javascript is the only really widespread, multiplatform solution the modern IT world has seen. And yet, it made it. Google Documents is an office suite which runs in your browser -- and it's not even the best one. And that's only the beginning: the world is absolutely full of software -- and I am talking about full blown software -- which will run for you wherever you are.

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