Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Open Source Software (OSS) is provided with a license that gives the end user the right to use it freely for private or commercial use. You also have the right to inspect and even modify the underlying source code. You can give away or sell the original version you received or one with your modification, provided that you then in turn pass on the modified source code so that others can benefit from the changes you have made. This last clause protects the developer's work from unfair exploitation by others, while allowing the source code to be released to the community. You are not required to pay royalties to previous developers, but you are still permitted to charge money for the sale of OSS. This disc may have been given to you by a friend; or sold to you for a small fee, and both are permitted.

If you have no interest in source code, you may ask why the availability of this matters. One answer is that the release of source allows external observers to inspect the true functioning of the program, which means that you can be confident that the program treats your private data with respect. A real problem with proprietary software can be that your data is locked in to a software's proprietary file format, which means that you may eventually be forced to upgrade to newer versions of that software to retain access to your data. This does not happen with OSS, because when the source code for opening and saving files is available, a third party can easily write an import filter for the next generation of software, ensuring that your data will always be available.

Finally, the release of source code has in some cases spawned large communities of volunteer developers who have in turn provided the world with highly useful, and entirely free software such as Linux, OpenOffice, and Mozilla. These are then available free of charge to schools or anyone else who may not have a large budget available for software. So, you can see that the freedom of software is important for everyone, not just software developers.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Firefox Popularity

Firefox, rose to 7.4 percent, up 5 percentage points from May. And, this is why: Firefox is stable and has proven to be a viable alternative to its archrival, Internet Explorer.

When considering how it handles downloads, the absence of ActiveX, the total lack of Firefox users complaining about excessive spyware infestations and even the fact that the browser has allowed for such great extensions to be created by motivated Firefox users is an exciting achievement.

Another side of it likely comes from the grassroots end of the web browser itself. We need to first consider that people don't just like this web browser, they are in love with it. As we have seen in other cases, when a large enough group of people become motivated about something, grassroots media is not all that far behind.

This might very well explain the success behind the Spread Firefox campaign. It's viral based on the video content and locating motivated producers has proven pretty easy based on its community focus What strikes me as totally amazing is that Firefox has in many ways succeeded in breathing life into the open source movement.

Firefox is not bloated. Both IE and Netscape Navigator are quite bloated. This by itself likely presented enough of a challenge on people running machines that may not have done all that well with running such a bloated program.

Firefox allows and encourages user created add-ons. Open source or not, Firefox really opened the doors and allowed for extensions whereas others do not.

Firefox has been made accessible on Linux, Windows and the Mac platforms from the early days of the browser. At no time were people being told what special circumstances needed to happen in order to use their product. Hardcore users know that Firefox has been about choice from the very beginning.

Another item that has begun to show its head is the "based on Firefox" world. This includes, but is not limited to, the Flock browser, and of course, the Democracy media player. By hedging their bets with Firefox browser code, projects such as these have seen some fair success of their own.

It is my belief that over time, Firefox will become less about the browser itself and more about how it has made an unsafe surfing environment a lot less scary thanks to their common sense design.

If you haven't tried Firefox out yet, just click on the Firefox banner below. So, go-ahead and give it a try, take it for a spin, kick the tires and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Little Humor

Did you ever go to google to try to find a site you found last week but you can't remember what you typed in to find it? So you get in this habit of setting bookmarks but then you get like a ga-jillion bookmarks and you still can't find it.

Google has this new database service where you can upload anything you want and they will store it and make it searchable. So, I'm uploading all my bookmarks to the google database...