Tag Archives: open-source

Does Microsoft Hate Open Source Software?


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Josh represented Microsoft during OpenCamp recently. People were quite confused as to why Microsoft would be interested in Open Source products. While Windows and Linux may be competitors, much of the Open Source applications are not. They run really well in Windows.

The IIS team is making sure that open source software runs better on Windows than it does on Linux. Microsoft is very supportive of the people making these applications, and attends a lot of conferences to help them in every way they can.

To anyone who feels that Microsoft hates Open Source, Josh asks them to take a new look at the Redmond team. They compete hard where they have a product that may be similar, such as the operating system and Microsoft Office. However, when it comes to everything else – keep your eyes open and let Microsoft work with you to make the best application you can produce.

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Use TypeWith.me to Collaborate on Documents in Real-Time

Having to shift between different computers and mobile devices is something we do without thinking about. We spend so much time staying connected that it’s second nature to us by now. However, our flow is interrupted whenever we have to figure out a way to work on something we may not have easy access to. What if you forgot to email yourself a copy of a document? Perhaps you might need to quickly collaborate with several people to create a proposal – and none of them are in the same location.

This is where a tool such as TypeWith.me comes in handy. You can either use a generic URL which the application will assign to you, or choose your own document name by typing in typewith.me/documentname (if it’s not already taken, that is!). There’s nothing to configure or install, and you’ll find a host of options to help you get things done. If you’ve already been scratching out notes in a standard text program and need to share it with others, simply choose to import your file from HTML, standard text, Microsoft Word or from a Rich Text File document.

This application (based on the open sourced EtherPad code) allows you to invite anyone to join in the process simply by sending them an email from inside your document or by pasting a link in an email or IM. Your unique URL is created when you begin the document, and every change is saved immediately. You can quickly revert to a previous version at any point in time, and adjust the slider bar to only save in increments of your choosing.

While you are viewing a saved version, you can grab a link to it (instead of your working document) and share it with others to read-only or collaborate with you on. You’ll also be allowed to download these saved versions at any point in time – exactly the way each of them were saved. No more deciding “I like the old way better!” and having to completely redo things. Just click on the version you want and go from there.

Your collaborators can each type in their changes and additions in a color assigned to them. This makes it a snap for you to see who has done what… and why! You can, of course, also strip away background colors completely, as well as the line numbers. Additionally, you can change the spacing of the document slightly so that it is easier for others to read. Simply click on the Options tab at the top of the page and make your changes.

You can use this free service from virtually any type of laptop, computer or phone that you might own – as long as it can access the Internet. This genius little document creator even works on an iPad. You’ll have to export the document as text or HTML first in order to select text on that particular device. Your export options include HTML, plain-text, bookmark file, PDF and Microsoft Word.

TypeWith.me is not meant to replace traditional text-editing documents. It is, however, a fantastic way to quickly access your documents from any machine or device you happen to be using. Type or click your URL and you’re there.

And be careful about what you place on the open Internet. The chances of people finding what you’ve done is slim… but you never know!

Open Source vs Closed Source


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Justin called from southern California recently to talk about open source projects. He’s doing some research into this for school, and had a few questions. Justin asked my opinion as to the pros and cons of both open source and closed source applications, along with positives and negatives of each. My opinions are not definitive, of course. As a user, I can appreciate either platform. It’s ultimately about what the software has to offer.

From a code perspective, there are some developers who want complete control over their code. They want to control development, and don’t want any input from others. They know every line of code inside and out, and live and breathe their creation alone.

Open source is more like one person sketching out an idea and then collaborating with others in order to come up with better iterations. If something in the closed source realm changes (or something happens to the original developer), you end up with a product that is dead for all intents and purposes.

Software is living. It’s omnipresent. You’re only as good as your latest version. Software is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are merits on both sides of this particular debate.

I’m a big fan of WordPress, and I’m always on the lookout for coding rockstars. I think there is so much more I could be doing if I had good designers and developers at my disposal.

What are YOUR thoughts? Are you a proponent of an open source ecosystem – or a closed one?

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Apple and Adobe: Where is the Common Ground?

There is no middle-of-the-road when it comes to Steve Jobs and public opinion: you either love him or hate him. The same can be said about Apple products. You are either someone who rushes to buy everything the company rolls out of production or you shudder in disgust and swear you’ll never cave in. Any time Steve has something to say, his words are rehashed a few hundred times on pages all across the blogosphere. Steve Jobs is, without a doubt, a man one cannot ignore. Even if you are on the side of the road that doesn’t much care for the man, you have to respect what goes on inside his head. Take, for instance, his post today regarding Adobe Flash.

I have written in the past about my reasons for hating Flash. However, Steve-o today said it better than I could have ever hoped to do. He eloquently lists several reasons why you won’t ever find Flash enabled on his mobile devices, including the fact that it hogs resources and isn’t the most secure offering on the block. However, the part that captured my attention the most was his discussion of being open vs being closed.

Jobs states that “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.” HELLO! It’s about time someone pointed that out loud and clear for the folks at Adobe to read. He goes on to point out how “Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards.”

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We finally have all of our cards out on the table. Steve fully admits that Apple’s products are closed systems. What’s wrong with that? No one has ever tried to pretend otherwise. However… the important factor is that they adopt open standards. Apple’s mobile devices make it simple for you to consume media of every type on widely-used and accepted platforms… all of which are open.

Our lives are open. Our Web is open. We have fought for years to get to this beautiful place in time. Why the hell would we want to take a giant step backwards and embrace the closed and stagnant environment of Adobe Flash?

Is it Time for Summer Yet?

The weather in Seattle has been amazingly beautiful for the past week. Kat couldn’t believe her luck when she visited for a week, and had nothing but sunshine and warm temps. I couldn’t help but grumble. I know this will mean we’re going to end up having an extremely hot summer this year. I am not a fan of extreme temperatures in either direction. The rain has finally returned to the Pacific NorthWest though. Kat only missed it by two days.

However, the same day she returned home from Seattle, she left with her family to drive to Boston. They have a family member in the hospital there who has been seriously ill. Instead of heading back home today, though, they had to drive further north to stay with her fiance’s parents for a few days. There’s currently a lovely blizzard nailing much of New York and Pennsylvania, making it impossible for her to drive home. With her away from home, our work flow has gotten all twisted up and turned around. If we’ve missed something we were supposed to get done for you, we both deeply apologize! We’re tag-teaming to get everything done as scheduled!

I know Kat isn’t the only person ready for winter to end. Personally, I prefer Spring or Fall. I know a lot of you out there are pining for Summer, though, waiting on the hot temps and gorgeous sunshine. Are you one of them?

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How to Build Your Community Using Open Atrium


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Gregory Heller was an attendee at Gnomedex this past summer. During our open mic session, he talked to us about the Open Atrium service, which is a free (and apparently better!) alternative to Drupal. It comes with six features – a blog, a wiki, a calendar, a to do list, a shoutbox, and a dashboard to manage it all. Open Atrium is completely customizable. If you want a feature that’s not on that list, you can add it yourself.

The fun really starts when people start sharing the features they build for their own Open Atrium with everyone else. Then everyone doesn’t just have access to six features, but also a bunch of others that are easy to plugin to the basic package. Open Atrium is built on Drupal. This makes it easy to add other Drupal modules to the package and to build new features for it.

If you’ve ever tried to build something with Drupal, I’m willing to bet you got frustrated in a hurry. Open Atrium is so simple to use out of the box that you won’t have to worry about whether you’re getting it right anymore. It just… works.

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Firefox Weave Sync Add-On Now Available

Mozilla announced yesterday that the much-antipiacted Weave Sync is finally ready for the general market. Using it will allow you to sync your Mozilla experience across all of your supported devices, including your desktop, your laptop and your mobile phone.

Any pages open within Firefox on your desktop will automagically open in the mobile version. At the end of your workday, you can walk away from your desk, and continue right where you left off from your phone. All of the information is encrypted and sent through the Cloud between your desktop and your phone. This could potentially increase productivity, allowing you to finish up last-minute details and projects while riding home on the bus or train – but not while driving!

This is excellent news for many Firefox fans, and I was very happy to read this news today. There have also been many excellent things posted in our community. I’ve gathered together some of the best, in the hopes you don’t miss out on anything!

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Christine Peterson – Life Extension for Geeks


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Compared to our computers, our bodies are mind-bogglingly complex systems. There’s no “life extension pill” available today, and none is likely to arrive soon. Fortunately for us, we can use our technical skills to evaluate and implement today’s life extension techniques, some of which can be fun – at least from a geek perspective.

Christine Peterson catalyzes new technologies: first, focusing on atoms, she co-founded Foresight Instituteto advance the field of nanotech. This work is accomplished by providing balanced, accurate and timely information to help society understand and prepare for nanotechnology through public policy activities, publications, guidelines, networking events, tutorials, conferences, roadmaps, and prizes.

Her work is motivated by a desire to help Earth’s environment and traditional human communities avoid harm and instead benefit from expected dramatic advances in technology. This goal of spreading benefits led to an interest in new varieties of intellectual property including open source software, a term she is credited with originating.

More recently, having noticed that — as some crudely put it — “aging sucks”, she works to further life extension, especially within the tech community.

She serves on the Advisory Board of the International Council on Nanotechnologyand the Editorial Advisory Board of NASA’s Nanotech Briefs, and served on California’s Blue Ribbon Task Forceon Nanotechnology.

Christine is the co-author of one book on nanotech, and another on collaboration technologies. She is a member of IEEE, and an alumna of MIT.

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What is Google Wave?


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I ran into Ben from Mashable recently, and asked him for his thoughts on Google Wave. Google Wave is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year.

Ben says that Google Wave is a “very, very interesting project”, and that it could be the next big form of communication. His favorite feature is Windows – style editing. Say you have a group of friends and want to plan a party. Instead of sending a bajillion emails back and forth, you can just edit the original email in the bottom “pane”. You can edit messages at any point, and see everyone’s conversation at once. It’s a completely new way to communicate, and more effective.

With Gmail and Exchange… it’s just different. For attachments, you would have to click, add the attachment, download the attachment… blah! With Google Wave, you simply drag and drop whatever you need to share among the group. You can embed your own Wave into things like YouTube, your blog, and more. It can replace a normal commenting system! There’s even an iPhone App being released along with Wave.

Google Wave is open-source, so you can build anything you want with it. Create desktop apps, web apps, an Adobe Air app… or make it work for your Exchange account (like I rely on!). This is definitely going to be something to watch unfold, and sounds like it’s going to be an absolutely amazing service.

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Cross-Platform Open Source Video Game: Nexuiz

I’m all about open source – and I know my community is all about gaming. Put these two things together, and it’s a formula for success (usually). Not every project shines, but Samual wanted us to know about this one in particular…

Hey, I’m in a community of developers and game enthusiasts who created the game Nexuiz, built on the Darkplaces game engine (derived from the Quake I game engine). I know you may not normally review open source game projects, but take a look at this game. The physics in this game are the most unique, allowing for strafing and weapon jumping. Since this game is open source and uses OpenGL, you can imagine it has been compiled for quite a few platforms. Including, but not limited to, Windows, OS X, Linux and UNIX. There has been talk about moving the game to a console, but no action has been taken yet.

The community has created a full tournament system (The Ladders) where people can enter into competitions of our many game types. Public multiplayer servers usually have about 20 to 100 active players at one time – if not, bots can be placed into the game. Single player has a large amount of levels which get harder with each stage. In total, the game has 12 game types, most popular being: LMS (Last Man Standing), CTF (Capture the Flag), DM (DeathMatch), TDM (Team DeathMatch), 1v1 (One versus One, mainly on private servers), Race (because of the physics in this game, you can accelerate yourself at very high speeds, allowing you to race through checkpoints in maps), and many more. All in all, the game is developed by professionals with some free time, and is, in essence, able to compete with the industry’s standards.