I don't think there's a useful answer to this question: is open-source software support better than closed-source software support? While I believe that open source aligns vendor interests with customer interests, I don't think that this necessarily translates into world-class support. At the end of the day, people and process create excellent support organizations. Source code access is an important but not the defining factor in how good support is.
There is only one email program for Windows users. No, I haven't lost my mind, and yes Windows users can chose from many client side email programs. But this is a Defensive Computing blog and speaking defensively, that is, with the hope of avoiding problems in the future, there is only one choice when it comes to email programs (webmail is another topic entirely - if you use webmail exclusively you can stop reading here).Outlook
Outlook is out because it stores all your email in a single file. You don't need to be a techie/nerd to … Read more
Slashdot has an intriguing question posed by Scott_F:I recently reviewed several commercial, closed-source slideshow authoring packages for Windows and came across an alarming trend. Several of the packages I installed included GPL and LGPL software without any mention of the GPL, much less source code. For example, DVD Photo Slideshow included mkisofs, cdrdao, dvdauthor, spumux, id3lib, lame, mpeg2enc, and mplex (all of which are GPL or LGPL). The company tried to hide this by wrapping them all in DLLs. There are other violations in other packages as well. Based on my testing of other software, it seems that use of GPL software in commercial Windows applications is on the rise. My question is how much are GPL violations in the Windows world being pursued?
Probably not. But the larger question is, why do these proprietary software companies think it's OK to steal from open source, but abhor the notion of anyone stealing from them?… Read more
I stumbled across this excellent commentary from Stephen Baker in BusinessWeek on "good enough" technology. It's actually a great foil to an earlier post I wrote on software as a service (SaaS).
Baker asks, "Are we helped or hindered by imperfect technology that is merely 'good enough'?" He comes down squarely on the "helped" side, and with interesting reasons:… Read more
What makes a cell phone more than a phone? What it can do. Software can elevate your plastic slider, candy bar, or PDA above its earthly mechanics and turn it into the kind of dream machine that entertains you and organizes your life.
Consider, for example, ListPro (for Pocket PC, Palm, and Smartphone), a handy organizer with a slew of built-in, customizable list templates for managing everything from your shopping to your calendar to the sudden surge of brilliance that will eventually lead to that multimillion-dollar idea. No really, it can do that.… Read more
So ... what happened?! It seems like I should be sitting by a pool, sipping a fruity cocktail. However, the calendar claims that it's back-to-school season. (Most frighteningly, I saw my first Christmas advertisement yesterday.)
The end of August is an excellent time to optimize that old laptop for your son's freshman year of college, or to find great free software for empowering that new PC with an arsenal of goodies. Check out two collections of excellent back-to-school software: the first (with video!) from honor-roll assistant editor Jessica Dolcourt; the second from our favorite superhero, Power Downloader.
In the … Read more
We do not...agree with Microsoft's characterization of the situation involving GPLv3. Microsoft cannot by any act of anticipatory repudiation divest itself of its obligation to respect others' copyrights. If Microsoft distributes our works licensed under GPLv3, or pays others to distribute them on its behalf, it is bound to do so under the terms of that license. It may not do so under any other terms; it cannot declare itself exempt from the requirements of GPLv3.… Read more
Students everywhere are stirring from their summer stupors to stock up on supplies for the coming year. If your back-to-school must list doesn't include software, listen up. Browse some picks of student-friendly downloads for elementary-aged young'uns to graduate scholars, or get a run-down in the video below.
Earlier I had a trilogy of postings about DropMyRights (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) that included the warning to run Microsoft Office applications in restricted mode in case a file (Word document, Excel spreadsheet, etc.) carried a virus or some other type of malicious software.
But what do you do if a Word document or Excel spreadsheet doesn't display or work properly when the application is run in restricted mode? A decision needs to be made whether to trust the file and open it in unrestricted mode.
If the file was sent to you by e-mail, you'… Read more
Why would anyone steal free software? Hint: it's not about the price, it's about the freedom. Some downstream users want their software with no obligations attached. In other words, they want someone else's cake, and they want to eat it, too.
Selfish, greedy, naughty people.
But now there's apparently a way to detect and prove GPL violations, as reported on Slashdot. The technique is called birthmarking, and while the academic paper [PDF] calls for birthmarking Java, the same technique is generalizable to other languages.
Here's how it works:… Read more