Jon Peck's articles

Managing your iPod without iTunes

While iTunes is a powerful application, it does have its limitations, mostly stemming from both Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions and the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) interest in preventing unauthorized copying of music, regardless of fair use and personal flexibility. The free software community believes that the ability to freely copy content you own between your iPod and a computer is a right, not a privilege. In this article, I’ll discuss how to fully manage the content on your iPod using completely free software.

Making PDFs with free software

Portable Document Format (PDF) files have become somewhat of a de-facto standard for representing fixed layout 2D documents, and their use and versatility have grown over the past decade. Recently, Adobe announced that it intends to release the PDF 1.7 specification for publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As demand increases for this format, many are wondering, what tools can be used to create PDFs with free software?

Using free software to build professional and life skills

There are many obvious and fundamental ways in which usingfree software is good for you, such as choice, cost, andrights. Additionally, there are more abstract fringe benefitsthat should be considered as well. I feel that free softwarecan be used to build both professional and life skills.

Do we need an Ubuntu installer for Windows?

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a new Ubuntu-oriented project that’s been making waves: install.exe. In short, it’s a way to install Ubuntu onto the same file system as Microsoft Windows without repartitioning your drive. Justifications include minimizing the risk of data loss during repartitioning, a more user-friendly installation process, and eliminating the need of burning a CD to install. However, is there truly a need for an Ubuntu installer for Windows?

Has the free desktop revolution arrived?

An oft-trumpeted home triumph in technology discussion sites isthe conversion of friends or loved ones to a GNU/Linux desktop. “Iwas tired of fixing Windows on my kid's/grandmother's/in-law'scomputer, so I set up a Linux desktop. They love it! It's so easyto use, and I don't have to do anything to maintain it! No ad-wareor viruses, and best of all, it's free!” It sounds almost too goodto be true.... has the free desktop revolution arrived? I recentlyfound myself in a position to find out first hand.

Finding GNU/Linux replacements for Windows software

When discussing ways to switch to GNU/Linux, one of thebiggest difficulties I've found is finding answers to the question,"What can I replace this program with?" It's completelyunderstandable; people don't want to lose functionality. However, Googling for answers can easily lead to confusion andfrustration if you don't have the background or knowledge to be able todifferentiate between the wheat and the chaff. Is there a comprehensive resource for finding GNU/Linux replacements for Windows software?

How usability inhibits good software

Have you ever founda new piece of software that sounds like it's the perfect match foryour needs, only to get bogged down by bad documentation or ahorrendous interface? Many people will quickly discardprograms out of frustration caused by avoidable usabilityissues. How can software developers avoid disenfranchisingpotential users?

Usability refers to how easy it isto use a product in order to achieve a goal. Measured inefficiency and elegance, software usability is affected by a number offactors; two of the biggest hurdles are the interface and documentation.

Interface

Free software New Year's resolutions

As the New Year swiftly approaches, it’s time to write those resolutions. From exercising more, eating fewer snacks, or remembering to call your mother on her birthday, we all think of various ways we can improve our lives, by starting good habits or ending bad ones. I’d like to suggest some resolutions that will assist you in your pursuit of free software.

Contribute to a free software project

Backing up your system with free software

You've spent hours installing,configuring, and tweaking your system into perfection. Everydevice isworking properly, every patch applied, every last last application isup to date, and your system is contently purring like a lion with abelly full of wildebeest. This is a prime time to savean image of your system in case anything screws it up. Thereare manycommercial solutions available, but what free utilities will properlyback up your system?

Wait, what's an image?

KompoZer - Unofficial bugfix stopgap for Nvu

Nvu, the GPL "complete web authoring system for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows"has been a boon to web developers seeking a free cross-platform WYSIWYG HTML editor since its 0.1 release back in early2004. However, following the acclaimed final release of Nvu 1.0 in June of2005, lead developer Daniel Glazman announced that he had stoppedofficialdevelopment to work on its successor, Composer 2.0 as anofficial Mozilla.org project. Whilework on Composer 2.0 is steadilyprogressing, many began wondering, where's the stopgap?

Visualize your disk usage

Take a hard, honest look at your desk. It's mostly neat,but there are stacks of papers that you've been meaning to file, a fewbooks, maybe a DVD in a half-open case... you know, the regular clutterthat slowly creeps into a workspace. Now, take a look at yourcomputer's desktop; same thing, right? Pretty well organized, but when you focuson it, there's probably folders and files all over the place. When youcheck your remaining hard drive space, you're shocked! Where'd all thatspace go?

Solution

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