Sunday, April 10, 2011

Software when you need it most

I spent some time last week with a leader from one of the many schools devastated by the earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand, and he raised a really good point about access to learning tools. He pointed out that not only are many Christchurch (or Japan's) schools' servers, laptops and desktops locked away in buildings that are too dangerous to enter, so too are all their software licences. One of the many tragedies of the earthquake is that if a school has 5 licences for a piece of software, and that software is for lost or permananetly inaccessible to staff and students, the school has very few choices but to pay for more licences or not use the software. I'm sure some insurance companies or software vendors would be able to provide replacement licences in cases of demonstrable hardship, but timeliness is the key. Staff and students have been without digital learning tools since the quake on 22nd February, and can't afford to wait for paperwork to be completed. Using software that is free to install on any computer a student has access to gets around this problem and helps us take one further step towards any-where, any-time, any-device learning. Not only can students use digital tools outside of school hours in places physically distant from the school, they can also continue learning in times of crisis.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fast contact sheets for photos

Fast post this one: if you want to print contact sheets of a whole bunch of photos, do it using GQView. You can customise every aspect of the print job, from the labels printed underneath each image to the layout and rotation of thumbnails.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The story of Linux video

This is a great little 'RSA animates' style video that runs through the history of Linux. A really nice exercise in reducing a complex topic to something easy to digest.
"You use linux literally every time you surf the internet. It's in your phone. It's in your TV. Running 95% of supercomputers." Bless that little penguin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Use the forks Luke!

Luke Skywalker: These chopsticks are driving me nuts!
Darth Vader: Use the forks Luke, use the forks.

A few big forks in the open source world: has become LibreOffice and Open Solaris has become Open Indiana. I've installed Libreoffice and have been quite impressed with it. For one thing, mail merges work perfectly (something I've always struggled with in Open Office) as well as a few other nice touches.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about these forks is that their presence reminds us that no large company can ever control an open source project. As soon as Oracle began putting noses out of joint over their handling of Sun's open source assets, the community just up and left, taking its goodwill with it. A cautionary tale for quite a few companies I would have thought.