5 Places for Free Software

Inside a computerThere’s no such thing as Free Software, someone, somewhere is paying for it. You may have to fill out a form with your demographic data or just be pulled onto a site that wants you to click their ads as well as their download link. Still, for very little cost to yourself there are incredibly useful pieces of software out there that don’t want to take your money (at least not directly). Free software comes in many different varieties as well, but here are 5 sites that I visit for free software and they all cater to a different market:

  1. Giveaway of the Day – One piece of software is given away everyday, but you must download and register the software within the 24 hour period that it’s available or the carriage turns back into a pumpkin and the software goes back to it’s regular price. You’ll see a lot of duplicate types of software but it ranges pretty widely.
  2. Game Giveaway of the Day – Giveaway of the Day’s sister site, but you’ll only find games here!
  3. Take My Tech – This is a less traditional way to get free software, have someone else give it away randomly to you after they are finished with it. The owner of the site, Jason Burns, is driving traffic to his site by giving away old hardware/ software/ etc. and trying to make enough from ads to cover his shipping at a minimum.
  4. Handango is giving away one (1) high quality, fully-functioning mobile software application for FREE on Fridays! The free app is available from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. CST on Friday only. In addition, the promotion features other applications at a 25% discount throughout the week. Just visit www.handango.com/FreeAppFriday for details. All you have to do is complete a short survey. Handango will then send you an email with a link so you can download your free app. They are calling the promotion, “Free App Friday.”
  5. Last, but by no means least, there are tons of Open Source projects out there that make their software freely available, if you don’t know where to start then head over to SourceForge.net and find anything you might want! If that’s overwhelming then take a look at the past Projects of the Month for software that might interest you!

The Future of Freedom

I’ve spent several hours reading and soaking in the post on the O’Reilly Radar Blog titled My Tongue-Lashing from Eben Moglen and it’s a lot to take in. The main point of the piece is the video where said tongue-lashing occurs. Tim O’Reilly is on the stage at the beginning dressed like he somehow got Steve Jobs and Mr. Roger’s wardrobe instead of his own, and he invites an obviously emotionally charged Moglen onto the stage for a discussion that quickly takes an unexpected and combative path.

Moglen seemed to feel betrayed and perhaps jealous at the way O’Reilly has chosen to pursue his life and some of the leadership positions O’Reilly has taken. After you weed out all of that there is a really important discussion about Freedom, not just the types of freedoms that involve copyrighted music and code, but the security and control of our data. Just the thought of having to clean up your life after an identity theft should give you an idea of how important that data is and make you question that fact of how little control you have over it.

It’s an amazing discussion and the post and resulting comments are worth the read as well, one the best that summaries everything is this one by O’Reilly himself so I’ll end with it:

“The fact that Eben claims that I’ve been neglecting talking about freedom all these years doesn’t make it true. I’ve been talking about the challenges that web applications will bring to the world of free software for the better part of ten years.

I’d suggest you read what I’ve actually written, and watch some of the talks I’ve given, before accepting Eben’s characterization of my position.

I don’t think I misunderstand Eben’s position; I do think he either misunderstands or deliberately mischaracterizes mine.

The only reason he sees this as a conflict of rights issue is that he’s framing it only as about whether or not it’s OK to for someone to make private changes to free software in a software as a service environment. I’m saying that a software as a service environment provides new challenges to those who care about users’ freedom…”

“…I do think that the free and open source communities will eventually succeed in a response — but it will be by challenging the centralized architecture of many web 2.0 databases (and by writing new licenses that have more to do with the users’ freedom to own, modify, and share their own data than to modify the software.)

There’s a lot of thinking to be done to get this right. But we won’t get there if we start by denying that there’s any problem to be solved, and insisting that anyone who says there is has no standing because he’s been talking about open source rather than freedom.”

Windows Flakiness Solved: The Desktop Heap

Old, dead, obsolete computers
Originally uploaded by Extra Ketchup

This is a picture of a HEAP of Desktops. Recently I found out the hard way that Windows XP also has a Desktop HEAP. I recently was upgraded at work to a Dell Optiplex GX620 with Windows XP Pro. I received the nice new machine with 2 gigs of RAM, a fast large hard drive, and a dual core processor. I thought everything would be great. After about 1 month the flakiness began.

With about 10 or more applications open Windows XP began freaking out. When I right clicked on a desktop icon nothing would happen. I would click on the My Computer icon and get nothing. I would click anything that should open another Window and get nothing. It was if I had reached the maximum total number of Windows.

I tried restarting EXPLORER.EXE. Basically EXPLORER.EXE controls your start bar and coordinates many windows functions. This did not seem to help. If I closed out of 1 application it seemed to temporarily fix it. After a Windows reboot it would seem to be better for a short period of time.

After enduring this problem for far too long a session Googling produced THE answer…. (more…)

Hex Editing – for data not magic curses

HexHave you ever cast an evil spell on someone that didn’t work out exactly as you had hoped?  Like when that guy called you a horse-face and you wanted to get back at him, but used the word Stud when you were trying to turn HIM into a horse?  Well then this won’t help you at all, because we’re talking about hexadecimal here!  Not that there isn’t any magic in hex… a 10 is magically turned into an ‘A’ up through 15 being turned into ‘F’.  So what is hexadecimal and why would you want to edit it using a hex editor?

 Well, as you probably know and don’t think about.. everything on your computer is just a whole bunch of 1s and 0s that are interpreted to show you numbers, letters, pictures, music, video, and minesweeper.  To make those 1s and 0s a little easier for programmers to deal with, we squish them into groups of 8 and represent the various 1 and 0 combinations in base-16 (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E,F).  Boring huh?  Well I program in assembly so I get to look at data in that format all the time and a good Hex editor is a must for me and is handy even if you program in a higher level language, want to dig around in different file formats, or just want to hack your cell phone…