If you're a fan of open source, you're a fan of licensing. Okay, maybe not a fan. But you still have to respect the legal power of the documents attached to open-source software and projects, which describe for you the exact ways you can and cannot use, modify, and pass-along the licensed material. While a newcomer to the open source might see these licenses as restrictive entities prohibiting commercial exploitation of a body of work, they're the lifeblood of those who spend untold hours poring over the bits and bytes of a dream. Not as a means of financial extortion for companies that want to use the software, rather, these licensing documents ensure that the spirit of open source carries on regardless of a project's potential iterations.
I sometimes wish I could apply a license to everything I do on the Internet. And perhaps you will too, once you realize that you're a content creator -- just like me, anyone who writes for this site, and any of the estimated 17 million (and counting) microbloggers on the popular Twitter service. As of yesterday, Twitter has joined forces with Threadless. The t-shirt retailer and community hub is now the centerpiece in a massive effort to transform your witty public Tweets into cash-generating, hipster t-shirts. But this partnership respects the spirit of licensing, even though the actual legal rights you hold as a Twitter user are still open for debate.
Fire up your best 140-word comment and click the jump to learn about this fashionable new deal!
Just like the Spy pulling a fast one over on the Sniper for this week's Team Fortress 2 update, I'm not going to be profiling a list of freeware applications this time around. Nope. Not a single program. I'm going meta with this update. Instead of tossing a list of superior apps your way, I'm going to give you a list of the top five Firefox extensions that will take your power downloading to untold heights of awesomeness.
Now what does that entail?
Are you sick of having to sort through your expanding download directory just to find and organize the new files you've picked up? Boom. There's an add-on for that. Does it frustrate you every time you have to wait for a countdown on one of the free file hosts before you can grab the file you want? Oh-ho-ho: There's an add-on for that as well! Do you hate the very act of clicking on multiple links on a page to download files?You might be a little lazy on that one, but no hate here. Yes, there's an application to make even this most-mundane of tasks easier.
If you aren't using Firefox, well, I can't say much to that. But check out this list anyway -- I bet you'll be tempted to switch over once you realize all the additional functionality you can pack into this foxy browser. Click the jump (no, an add-on won't do that for you) and let's get started!
When's the last time you surfed on over to your Pligg and updated what you were doing for the entire Internet to see? What about Elgg? Have you changed your favorite movies to reflect that big blockbuster hit you saw this weekend? You probably don't have to, because all of your friends using the Tweetero client on their iPhones could just log on and see exactly what you were up to. Or not. Because you aren't on Twitter -- you're on Identi.ca, the open-source equivalent of the popular messaging program.
Unlike the open-source software world, where even the smallest gems of programs can find a meaningful existence, the open-source social networking world depends on people. Masses of people. You can't just launch a new social networking platform and expect it to flourish if it doesn't have a decently sized audience. And you're never going to pull away the users that are already comfortable on their existing Web 2.0 platforms if you just imitate the best practices of the current litany of sites. But that's what's happening in the open-source social networking world right now. There's a healthy mix of innovation and duplication, giving some segments of the online world new and interesting applications... and others with their 25th version of Twitter.
Which areas of social networking are dead zones for open-source development? Click the jump to find out!
One of the most rewarding parts of doing these weekly freeware roundups for Maximum PC is the sheer wealth of software that I get to play with each month -- applications that I not only use myself, but ones that I feel compelled to tell you about as well. But coming in a close second are the responses that you, the readers, leave in these posts. For as much as I scour the Internet to find awesome new programs for you to check out, you too have become my eyes and ears for the latest in amazing free software.
You might guess where this one's going. I'm looking toward the pool of Maximum PC users this week and highlighting programs that you, yourselves, have recommended in the various comments you've posted to these articles. For a number of you have left links and comments featuring compelling alternatives or hidden gems that relate to the programs I've posted. Although I'm featuring your best answers this week, don't let that stop you from joining the discussion! If a certain freeware application has really caught your eye, jump in the thread and say something! Or hit me up on Twitter and let me know when you've found something great!
After the jump: The Maximum PC commenters get their day in Freeware Court!
OpenOffice.org has made available version 3.1 of its OpenOffice software suite, marking the first major release in the 3.0 series. Several new features have been added to just about every aspect of the open-source office program, making this a must-have update if you roll free with your productivity apps.
As a whole, the 3.1 update sports an improved screen appearance, as it now uses anti-aliasing to smooth out any rough edges. Dragging is made easier by trading in the dotted outline for a shadow of the object you're trying to move. Other non program-specific enhancements include improved file locking to prevent others from overwriting a file, and support for overlining text.
Just a handful of the many program-specific changes:
Carry out a conversation through Comments by selecting 'Reply' (Writer)
Better grammar checker integration (Writer)
Rename sheets with a double-click (Calc)
Significant performance improvements (Calc)
Font size buttons (Impress)
You can view a full list of changes here and download the 3.1 update here.
I normally stay out of the Linux conversations because it's like placing oneself between two packs of rabid, fanboy wolves. Not that being enthusiastic about your operating system of choice is a bad thing. It's just a lot of flame for one meager columnist to handle.
That said, I couldn't help but notice a number of articles passing around the Web this week, praising Linux for pushing past the one-percent adoption rate for desktop operating systems. Huh? One percent? That's like throwing a ticker-tape parade for a one-year-old. I mean, kudos to Linux for making it this far and all, but I think that people are selectively focusing on the "concept" of the number a bit too much. Because when you dig a little bit deeper into the statistics, you'll find that Linux's big "Achievement Unlocked" isn't really that big of a deal at all.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. You can drag and drop your programs all across your display, then resize the windows--or have the operating system tile them for you--to maximize your multi-application productivity. If you're using Vista, you can call forth a cascading, three-dimensional display of your Windows and cycle through live displays of each until you're ready to select an active panel. You can create new toolbars and assign them to new edges of the screen. You can minimize everything at once to show you a clean desktop image.
The Windows desktop can do a lot of things. But you can't do everything. And that's why I've hunted down five freeware applications that give you just-that-much-more control over the programs, windows, and taskbars that clog up your PC's display. Split your desktop into individual regions for maximum display control, or take matters into your own hands and assign the customized height, width, and positining of every application you use.
That's just a slice of the Windows pie I'm ready to dish up. Fire up some programs, put on a bib, and let's chow down on some freeware.
A large part of the Web as we know it today is built around independent communities. Think about it. You have a login for your Twitter account, a login for your Facebook account, a login for your [insert favorite Web site here] account. And while each of these independent entities can play with each other via plugins, coding trickery, or outright hacks... you're still stuck in three separate sandboxes at the end of the day. Does Twitter know what I like on my Facebook page? Can Amazon take a gander at my current interests and suggest related purchases? Do any of these sites know who my friends really are--not just the people I tweet, but the people I email on a regular basis?
While that's the current state of social affairs on the Web, it's not necessarily the future. Open-source projects like OpenID are paving the way for a new generation of connectivity, one where differing Web entities come to you for information and display it in a format and location of your choosing. Instead of jacking your life into the Web on a variety of fronts, you will have one point of interaction, one location to present your information. Your interaction with your typical litany of sites will become highly accurate and customized for your lifestyle. And best of all, you won't have to login to 85 different places to make it work.
Learn how OpenID has played a role in this transformation after the jump!
Green. It's all the rage in the technology world nowadays. You've got green hard drives. Green laptops. Green desktops. Green printers (with soy ink!). Green displays. Green power strips. Louis Armstrong saw skies of blue and clouds of white, but any geek worth his electric bill sees nothing but green. It's the color of the environment, and it's the color of all the cash you'll be saving by using green-themed applications to curtail your out-of-control PC habits. Or normal PC habits, because anyone can benefit from the open-source and freeware applications we're profiling in this week's software roundup. Best of all, most of these applications automatically take care of your green actions for you--set them up to run, and you won't have to lift a finger to tap into increased savings and Captain Planet-style goodwill.
At least, that's the greeting I now expect to see whenever I fire up a page on SourceForge. And before you ask, no, the Wachowski brothers haven't bought the rights to the Web site. The open source software world is huge--billions of dollars huge--but trying to figure out its breadth makes me think of The Matrix. Or, at least, a construct of Matrix-like proportions.
Amazingly enough, a company called Black Duck Software has taken on the task of creating a complete and compelling picture of open source software development. And I'm not just talking about a simple Linux survey or two. Black Duck has used everything from the largest of the open-source operating systems to the smallest of massively-multiplayer frameworks to develop an epic valuation of open-source software. It's been running these numbers and scanning for projects since the company's founding in 2002, if that helps you to visualize just how deep the rabbit hole gets.
And what have they found? Enough code, representing enough cash, to create a little Matrix of your very own. Jack in, click the jump, and I'll tell you just how much that is.