Tag Archive 'Open Source'

Nov 10 2011

Unzip It ith 7-Zip!

If you’ve ever spent time on the Internet, you’ve undoubtedly encountered zip files. Zip files (.zip) are typically used as a means to send multiple files from one computer to the next in an easy fashion. However, unless you’re a computer science major, you may have had some trouble understanding how to easily open them. Some people turn to programs like WinZip, for which you have to pay, in order to handle the job. You, however, are a poor but savvy UMW student, and you want a better option!

The Express Zipper

"The Express Zipper" by Tam Nguyen Photography at Flickr

I offer you a free program that is just as easy to use: 7-Zip. It’s an open-source freeware for Windows and Linux that I’ve been using for years. In fact, I’ve been using it for so long that when I went to research this post, I desperately needed to update the program from the 4.65 incarnation I was using to its latest, 9.20. That’s how good 7-Zip is, and how useful. It’s a simple program–1mb in size–that never devalues.

7-zip also features an active forum for support and questions. Give it a try, and make your file transfers much easier–and cheaper!

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Nov 10 2011

Sage: because MATLAB is too expensive

Do you have anything to do with math, ever? Have you been assigned projects which require you to make use of some kind of mathematical software, like MAPLE, or MATLAB, or Mathematica? Chances are, if you take anything heavy in statistics or applied math, you have been or will be. Now, you have options. You could pay for a license ($99 for MAPLE, $139 for Mathematica and these are student prices), you could pirate them (risky, banned at UMW and illegal), you could trudge on over to Trinkle in the dark and the snow (winter is coming, after all), or you could go for the free, open-source alternative: Sage.

Pretty cunning, right?

Right.

Sage works on Windows, Mac (binaries are coming for Lion, but the Snow Leopard release should work) and Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora or source). It’s a hefty download (1.4 gigs for Windows), but after that you’re using your computer for what computers were built for: all that math stuff. Do you have any account online, ever? Google, Yahoo!, WordPress? (Myspace?) Try it free, online (i.e., no download), here. DO IT NOW.

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Mar 09 2010

Free(Your)Mind

"Free your mind, Neo." (Use FreeMind!)

When Morpheus from The Matrix instructs his pupil Neo to “free [his] mind”, it’s doubtful he was referring to FreeMind–the  online Java program that allows users to form easily editable mindmaps–but I bet Neo would have benefited from using the software, and maybe even figured out he was The One before Switch, Dozer, Apoc, and Mouse had to died.

Alas, Neo chose to do it the hard way.

FreeMind makes it easy to organize your thoughts, letting you construct something reminiscent of the brainstorms your primary school teachers introduced to you.  With FreeMind, however, you’re upgrading from pen and pencil to a digital format that doesn’t require your erasers to shed when you run out of room on carbon paper. And if you haven’t used the brainstorm format since those elementary

FreeMind Screenshot

FreeMind's Digital Method of Brainstorming

school days, it’s a disarmingly simple exercise that’s worth returning to for a try, especially when you’re juggling multiple ideas for that essay due tomorrow.  After all, an overabundance of ideas can crowd the smartest head until a new idea is impossible to generate.

The freeware (yup, free) is a fantastically light addition to your hard drive–4mb for the MS Windows lite version, and 9mb for the all-inclusive package (SVG and PDF export capabilities); and if you’re running a Mac or Linux OS, they’ve got you covered, too.

Stand-out features include the ability to “drag’n drop” nodes (information concepts), the fold- and unfolding of node trees, smart copying & pasting, and a plethora of means to highlight node importance or change its design (icons, background color, bubbles, clouds).  Check out an excellent introduction to FreeMind on YouTube here: FreeMind Tutorial.

So if you’re finding your brain overloaded by your university courses, try freeing up some mental space by dumping it onto your computer’s–and get it all organized at the same time!

Trust me and maybe you’ll find yourself bending some intellectual spoons of your own someday, too.

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Sep 22 2009

Ubuntu Update!

Published by under Uncategorized

Last week theYeahNo added a post to sfss about the amazing Ubuntu.  I thought I’d let you all know that if you don’t want to take the time to download Ubuntu on your computer, say you want to take this baby for a test drive, you can come down to the third floor of Dupont and pick yourself up a copy.  If you like it, keep it on your machine, but if not, that’s okay too!  So I have lots of copies, check it out.

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Sep 18 2009

Linux for Human Beings

Published by under Software Stuff

What do you have on your computer? Check it out, we’ll wait.

If our stats are correct, odds are good that it’s Windows. Maybe Windows XP, but probably Windows Vista. Maybe you’re getting ready to upgrade to this “Windows 7″ that Microsoft is hyping recently. Want to save your money? Get Ubuntu instead.

Whoa. Whoa. Wait.

WTF is Ubuntu? Ubuntu is a distribution (basically a version) of an operating system called Linux (sometimes GNU/Linux). Ubuntu is built completely open source by people who love what they do and distributed absolutely free (free as in beer and free as in speech ).

You don’t need to be a geek to use Linux. Ubuntu is easy to install, and just about everything you need is a few clicks away. It comes with Firefox and a complete office suite and everything else you need to get up and running right away. It’s not a virus-magnet like Windows (remember how you had to install antivirus software to get onto the network?) because it is stable, reliable and secure. The support community is huge because it’s open source, and the people who know it really know it. Ubuntu and most (if not all) of the software bundled with it is released under the GNU General Public License.

Check out Ubuntu here. Talk to someone about it. Above all, be free.

-A

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Jul 14 2009

The Audacity of Free Audio Editors (There is Hope!)

Ok, pay no attention to the cheesy and poorly written joke in the title of this post. This ‘Stuff’ post features one of my favorite open source software, Audacity, a free audio editor and recorder. Audacity has many features including recording, import & export capabilities, editing and effects. For a free piece of software Audacity has a lot of power.

I have used Audacity to record lectures during classes (very helpful if you learn best through auditory input), to create a quick recording of my friend’s jamming to a song on their guitars and to poorly mashup songs to create a whole new song. From basic recordings to advanced editing Audacity can handle it all. Even if you don’t need a piece of software like this all the time (I certainly don’t) it is a good program to have in your repoitore. Maybe you’ll even find reasons to use it more often once you start playing around with it.

I will mention that in order to export from Audacity and encode your stuff you will need to download something extra but, Audacity will point you to where you need to go. So if you plan on exporting an mp3 from Audacity you’ll need to have the extra file.

So there you have it, Audacity, a handy piece of free audio editing software. Just to reassure you that this piece of software is used by the best, take a look at UMW’s New Media Center and you will discover that this software is endorsed by our New Media Specialist Andy Rush. If you don’t trust his opinion on this new media stuff I don’t know who you can trust 🙂

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