I’m very pleased with the new release of the Firefox browser. While I’ve generally been pleased by Firefox’s features, it has become slower and more demanding of computing resources in recent versions. The new version corrects the lag, and adds a new feature besides: the ability to embed audio and video without a separate plugin.
If you use Firefox 3.5, it will play Ogg encoded audio and video linked from the page, which right now is most handy with media found at Wikipedia, as it uses Ogg, a free and open-source way of compressing and decompressing sound and video. So it’s a bit of a selfish request: I’d love Firefox 3.5 to get a large enough market share to make this simplified way of sharing media an option.
Get Firefox 3.5
And open — that is, non-proprietary — standards, too. No secret blend of herbs and spices here. We’d certainly no Web as we know it. Not even close.
Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the deed of software by CERN — “the supercollider people” — for the software that makes the Web work.
Here’s the “birth certificate“.
The BBC marked the anniversary last year. I think that observation bears repeating.
No, I’m not preparing for a robotic mission. But after years of rejecting having a cell phone, I gave in — and did so with an Android phone. (After reading how a significant plurality of homeless persons have a cell phone, and how it is a leading entry-point for Internet technologies for persons in developing countries, I decided it was OK for me to have one, too.)
It’s a so-called smart phone distinguished by its Linux-based and largely open-source operating system. I love both the hardware and software to bits.
I do not love the available Bible applications for it. Poor user interfaces, thin in features. Bahai’is and Muslims are much better served (it seems) in their Android needs.
- Does anyone have a favorite Bible text and biblical research Android application?
- Are there some people out there who care, should I (and others) review the available options?
David of the Central Midwest District of the UUA writes about Audacity, a cross-platform free (libre) and open-source audio editor for their Virtual Accessibility — for their virtual office –Â project.
That’s good news! And a great model of administrative transparency.
Have you successfully used the free and open-source software GNUCash to run the finances of a nonprofit organization, like a church?
Not so great a blog entry, but I’m hoping to attract the attention of someone who has done such a thing.
Notes from my scanning workflow from yesterday.
I’ve had my Epson Perfection 3490 Photo scanner for years — a gift from Hubby, Christmas 2003 or 2004, I think — but it never played happily with whatever Linux set-up I had at the time. But there’s a maxim that Linux distributions (editions) work better with older equipment, so I decided to give it another try. (The maxim, however, is breaking down as manufacturers begin supporting Linux.) Even now, I needed a proprietary driver from Epson.Â Entries 46 and 59 of this thread at Ubuntuforums.com was all I needed to get my scanner to work.
Now for software. I’ve never liked the xsane frontend — it’s too dang hard to use; through thanks to the developers for leading the way — so I immediately sought an alternative.Â Installed and tried and tried to make GNOME Scan (flegita) work. PDG images came out fine, but when attempting to scan for PDFs, I could only get my scanner to make a little fragment of the selected area. Fail. With Gscan2PDF, which you can add the usual way, I had a winner — a surprise to boot: integration with tesseract-ocr, an optical character recognition system. And not just any one: the system that Google Books uses, and which now Google supports.Â If you’re running the Intrepid Ibex (8.10) version of Ubuntu Linux, get tesseract-ocr in universe; grab language support, too: tesseract-ocr-eng for English.
Started gscan2pdf — it’s in the main Applications menu under “Graphics” — and selected “Scan” using either the menu or icon. This pulls up a dialog box. Under the “Scan Options” tab, I found “Paper Size”, which I edited to create a new size for the opened Liberala Himnaro, with the sizes in millimeters. This saved scanning and cropping time.Â Back to the “Page Options” tab, I selected for “Post processing” a rotation of 90 degrees (because that’s how it fit on the scanner) and “clean up”.Â Â Then I scanned all the pages.
The Save dialog allowed different color (color, gray, line art) and resolution options and I tried a few until I got both aÂ file of a manageable size for sharing and a robust one for archiving. Note: this is a pretty slow process.
There was an option for OCR under “Page Options” whichÂ didn’t use since Esperanto isn’t a supported language. But I’ll rummage through my archives to find a scan — and perhaps an OCR — worthy of my readership.
What a sharp looking piece of software, with several improvements that I already appreciate. For instance, I am writing this blog post from within the dashboard — no burrowing down a couple of levels to do the one thing that brings me to the admin side of my blog the most. Can zap spam from the same place and review the drafts I’ve left to moulder.
And — this is good news for the less web-handy bloggers out there — this ought to be the last manual upgrade you would have to do. Nice.
Download it here.
My favorite lightweight distro (edition) of Linux is Philip Newborough’s young CrunchBang Linux, an unofficial variant of Ubuntu Linux using the OpenBox window environment. Now that it’s moved past its wobbly fawn phase, Newborough’s moved it from his CrunchBang blog to crunchbanglinux.com. Bookmark and savor.
But who would make the most of this distro? Perhaps someone who already knows his or her own way around Linux desktops: some of the settings need to be made in text files, with skill equal to someone who maintains a simple Web site. Perhaps someone who has a spare old (but not antiquated) computer that needs to be pressed into service and needs to be more than an Internet appliance. Someone who demands a desktop have a certain aesthetic cachet. A CrunchBang machine might act like the resurrected Lazarus, but ought not smell like him. It might become a no- or low-cost gift in the spirit (or necessity) of a recessiontide Christmas. Or a job-hunting workhorse for a fellow church member who otherwise might be tempted to go into debt for a computer, provided you’re willing to help if bugs rise up.
Like Michelle Murrain, I’ve been using the free and open-source office suite OpenOffice.org “before it was OpenOffice.org” — thanks to the good example of the Labarum military chaplaincy liturgy site, which released some of its files in the older Star Office format.
I’m also glad the new version of OpenOffice.org has, for the first time, a native release for all you Mac users out there. (Both Intel and PowerPC chip sets, she reminds.) At the same time, I’m going through the available extension to see what might be useful for an office setting, and particularly for churches. Extensions was what gave the Firefox browser so much of its appeal; perhaps OpenOffice.org is about to break out? (I’m especially interested in an extension that allows the editing of existing PDFs.)
And the price (free of charge, as well as free to be modified and redistributed) is right, especially in this economy.
Do go grab it, or upgrade. Three million others have.
With this post, and long overdue, I’m opening the category FOSS, meaning “free and open-source software”