Issue 16

Issue 16

Play and touch-type with TypeFaster

In this fast and over active world of computers, there is only one thing that seems to remain slow and underrated. I see it at school, with my fellow students; I see it with my friends. At home, I spot the same thing with my mom, and my dad and even my younger brother. It is the keyboard! In this article you will learn how to use TypeFaster to yes type faster!

Introduction

The free Tron Universe—Armagetron

After all these years, I still remember the sounds and primary colours associated with the climatic lightcycle scene in the 1982 Walt Disney film TRON. As the noise-ridden cycles raced to certain destruction, synthetic electronic reverberations could be felt throughout the whole audience and my bones at the cinema. Sure, since my long forgotten childhood there were a couple of well-made arcade games.

MINIX: what is it, and why is it still relevant?

MINIX, as originated by Andy Tanenbaum, is an operating system that has its roots and heart in academia as a tool that teaches you how kernels really should work. Recently, however, with the advent of version three of this rock solid OS, the focus is on making a production ripe embedded distribution. Being POSIX compatible with a Kernel of 3800 lines of code and a unique approach to handling drivers, MINIX 3 is well worth the effort to review for readiness.

A very brief history

The lazy user’s guide to OpenOffice.org Writer

All hail the lazy, for they will find the most efficient way to work a computer in general, and a word processor in particular. In this article, I’ll look at three lazy writer’s tricks that can relieve you of most of the drudgery involved in creating a fairly large document in OpenOffice.org Writer (henceforth, OOo Writer or simply Writer).

Make the computer do most of the work

Freeing an old game

Do you remember that old game that you used to play all the time? Do you still play it? It probably isn’t free software. Do you wish it was? Sometimes writing a clone of a game is a lot of work compared to the amount of work it takes to relicense one. Here is a story about how one group of people are going about freeing the game known as “Moria”.

Introduction

Configuring a Linux home internet gateway

My family is hooked on Windows. I’ve thought about trying to coerce them into switching to GNU/Linux, but the very thought of what I’d have to put up with for the next year just makes my head ache. I’m not talking about software maintenance issues. I’m talking about trying to defend my position time and time again as they complain that they can’t run their favorite games or applications. Telling them to change their favorites is like spitting into the wind—it’s sort of masochistic.

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.

A media center based on GNU/Linux

When my DVD player stopped working, I definitively proved to myself (and to people I know) that if there is a simple and effective solution to a problem and a complex one which promises unpredictable results, I always choose the second option. Instead of buying a new DVD/DivX/MP3 player for the modest price of $40-50, I decided to build a home-made device that would allow me to record the TV, receive podcasts, watch my favorite movies, view webtv, play games, and a lot of other things that I considered cool. So my modest adventure with Freevo, GNU/Linux and a lot other free software begins...

Introduction

Paper is dead - has PDF followed suit?

Note: Tony will not address comments made to this editorial. Please refer to his blog entry for more information.

When I was 14, I bought my first computer magazine. Yes, I was a late starter! What I found amazing was that, after buying my first issue, I understood pretty none of what I had read. There were terms like CPU, RAM, protected mode, driver... I had simply no idea. I was partially excused: we are talking almost 20 years ago, and back then many of those terms weren't as popular as they are now.

Most forwarded

Interview with Dave Mohyla, of DTIDATA

Dave Mohyla is the president and founder of dtidata.com, a hard drive recovery facility based in Tampa, Florida.

TM: Where are you based? What does your company do?
DTI Data recovery is based in South Pasadena, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa. We have been here for over 10 years. We operate a bio-metrically secured class 100 clean room where we perform hard drive recovery on all types of hard disks, from laptop hard drives to multi drive RAID systems.

Hosting service favorites: Gallery

Sharing photos has become one of the more popular methods of sharing information on the internet. A wide range of different people, groups and organisations are using photo sharing as a way both to promote their activities or simply to share their photos with friends and family. Some companies, for example, are using online photo systems to show product shots (like the shop for electric bikes in Perth, others to enable users and customers to provide examples of the company products in use. Many professionals are using photo software to advertise and show off their expertise and portfolios.

Most emailed

Free Open Document label templates

If you’ve ever spent hours at work doing mailings, cursed your printer for printing outside the lines on your labels, or moaned “There has got to be a better way to do this,” here’s the solution you’ve been looking for. Working smarter, not harder! Worldlabel.com, a manufacture of labels offers Open Office / Libre Office labels templates for downloading in ODF format which will save you time, effort, and (if you want) make really cool-looking labels

Creating a user-centric site in Drupal

A little while ago, while talking in the #drupal mailing list, I showed my latest creation to one of the core developers there. His reaction was "Wow, I am always surprised what people use Drupal for". His surprise is somehow justified: I did create a site for a bunch of entertainers in Perth, a company set to use Drupal to take over the world with Entertainers.Biz.

Update: since writing this article, I have updated the system so that the whole booking process happens online. I will update the article accordingly!

So, why, why do people and companies develop free software?

More and more people are discovering free software. Many people only do so after weeks, or even months, of using it. I wonder, for example, how many Firefox users actually know how free Firefox really is—many of them realise that you can get it for free, but find it hard to believe that anybody can modify it and even redistribute it legally.

When the discovery is made, the first instinct is to ask: why do they do it? Programming is hard work. Even though most (if not all) programmers are driven by their higher-than-normal IQs and their amazing passion for solving problems, it’s still hard to understand why so many of them would donate so much of their time to creating something that they can’t really show off to anybody but their colleagues or geek friends.

Sure, anybody can buy laptops, and just program. No need to get a full-on lab or spend thousands of dollars in equipment. But... is that the full story?

Fun articles

Santa Claus - the most successful open source project

It dawned on me the other day, as I was shopping for the dozens of gifts it seems I have to buy every December (this year, I bought myself a holiday accommodation in Denmark, WA!), that Santa Claus is the most successful open source project in history. (Bridget @ Illiterarty would agree with that). Santa Claus is essentially a marketing development that is embodied by everyone who stuffs a sock, gives a gift, hosts a dinner or wishes Merry Christmas over the holiday season.

The next big thing in personal computing

As far as personal computing, there has been a strong shift, in the last few years, towards multimedia contents. It started with digital cameras in phones, around 2003, which is when people really started taking a lot pictures with their phones, and started using their computers to organise them. They also started using MP3 players, and having to manage their music. If pictures and music weren't big and cumbersome enough, people also started managing their movie libraries (even though today a lot of people give up and opt for a cheap satellite TV subscription from sites like http://www.saveontvdirect.com/) instead, as movies still are too big to manage for a lot of people...

Most emailed

Editorial

When I first started thinking about Free Software Magazine, I was feeling enthusiastic about the dream. I had Dave, Gianluca, and Alan willing to help me, I had established members of the free software community willing to help me out, I had writers volunteering their time and energy for free, and I had a generous offer from OpenHosting for servers, all before I'd proved myself. There was a sense of excitement in the air, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.

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