Monday, February 22, 2010

Open Street Map

This is a cool project: a wiki-based street map of the world to compete with Google's maps. It's quite amazing how dependent we are on Google to provide mapping mash-ups for the web: geocaching, real estate sales, finding our way to places, business directories etc. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a community-owned alternative that couldn't be turned into a revenue stream at a future date? Well, yes that would be nice. Oh wait.. there is one:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Create panoramic images

I stumbled across this application via the

"Goal: an easy to use cross-platform panoramic imaging toolchain based on Panorama Tools.

With Hugin you can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much more."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Summer reading...

When I'm not learning to be a father, I try to read as much as I can (which falls short of as much as I'd like to). One of Koha's cool features is the ability to create and share lists. Here's a quick list called 'Mark's Favourite Books' which I'll continue to update. Happy reading...

Two-minute Moodles

No it's not a typo, two-minute Moodles is a collection of screencast how-to videos put together by Tomaz Lasic. It's a really useful site for people who want a little bit of help, or who want to build their Moodle skills. Thanks Tabitha for the tip.

"What is Moodle" explained with Lego (full version) from Tomaz Lasic on Vimeo.

It's a shame these were recorded on a Windows computer (which means they can't be put into the public domain) but they're a fantastic help nevertheless. I'll be putting my staff onto them next week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LCA2010: Antifeatures

One of the keynotes at LCA2010 was Ben Mako Hill. His presentation on 'Antifeatures' in software was very nicely put together and for me illustrates some of the madness that exists in proprietary software. An antifeature is something that the developer works hard to develop and include in a product that limits that product's abilities. Sometime considerable effort and expense goes into developing these antifeatures because the developers know that there will be a profit in it further down the track. The best illustration of a simple antifeature is unlisted numbers in the phonebook. Although it's much easier for a telephone company to exclude a number from a directory than include it, somehow it has transpired that in order to have your number left off the directory, it costs you money.
Mako has a long list of these antifeatures in products, and all of them were designed to exploit consumers through:
  • extract money from the user.
  • segmenting the market.
  • creating or extending monopolies.
  • protecting copyright.

Perhaps the most well-known example of the second kind of antifeature is the scam perpetrated by Microsoft around the Windows NT Workstation & Server editions. It was the same product, but by changing one digit in the registry, M$ could cripple the software so it couldn't act as a webserver.
Another good example is the Canon G7. All cameras (including the Cann G6) shoot RAW. It's simply the uncompressed 'raw' data from the camera's CCD. Canon decided that in order to push people who wanted RAW into the next price bracket, they would cripple the G7 so it would only produced compressed JPG images.
I love the word 'antifeatures'. It's a perfect label for some of the anti-consumer practices most companies engage in. Let's always remember that companies are designed to make money. Keeping customers happy is only a mean to that end. And let's take back a bit of consumer power- it's our money after all.

40 fast facts about Linux

This is a good little intro to the world of Linux. It contains some interesting facts that some people might not know, such as:
  • Linux powers 446 of the world's top 500 supercomputers.
  • Director James Cameron again chose Linux servers for box-office smash Avatar.
  • Google runs its web servers on Linux.
  • In 2009, Linux had 33.8% revenue marketshare of servers, compared to Microsoft's 7.3%

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Open Clip Art

If you're going to use Clip Art, you might as well make it open... "This project aims to create an archive of user contributed clip art that can be freely used. All graphics submitted to the project should be placed into the Public Domain according to the statement by the Creative Commons. If you'd like to help out, please join the mailing list, and review the archives. "

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


If you've ever tried to find the batch processing features in The Gimp, you'll probably have worked out that they don't exist. Phatch might be of use for you if you want to edit more than one image at a time. It's a photo batch processing application that could save you quite a bit of time. It includes: