Peer to Peer is Good for the Economy

File Sharing, using bit torrent or Limewire for example, has been given a bad name and is associated with hacking and criminal intention. But file sharing isn’t all that bad. In fact it might help the economy.

According to a press article, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said “Music is about discovery. You should be able to have a conversation about the music you like. Tell somebody you disagree with what they like. Find things serendipitously.” The Microsoft Zune player encourages music sharing by having the ability to discover music with other Zune players. But, isn’t that what we are doing on a global scale? This type of discovery increases artist’s fan base. True fans are not satisfied with just listening to their favorite artist’s music. They want to own the original album art, go to live concerts, and buy merchandise; all which compensate the artist. So by increasing fan base you increase artist revenue.

What about software? With each generation we become more savvy and fluent with computer technology. It should be no surprise that file sharing nourishes this ability. Budding artists which cant afford Photoshop or Flash, get a copy from a friend so they can become familiar with the program and increase their abilities. The exposure the new generation has to programs like Excel and Adobe Premier creates a talented workforce before they even enter the job market, thus reducing the learning curve and increasing efficiencies. This also increases the software company’s user base, which in turn increases the software’s popularity and the software’s dominance in the market. Again leading to more sales and revenue

As the younger generation “grows up” and becomes a responsible member of society, they will tend to legally purchase software and music. Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, has publicly addresses on his show, Diggnation, that his company is legitimately purchasing software and that he himself is legitimately purchasing music. Many people like Kevin have exhibited this behavior. Perhaps this behavior out of guilt from prior immoral activities or perhaps since they have more to lose if any authority was to come after them? Either way, the music and software industries are winning more than losing.

These companies don’t actually lose any money from making a copy of a file. It’s not like you stole a computer out of their inventory that they can never get back again. What the companies usually complain about is the opportunity cost or the money they could have made if the software or music was purchased. What the companies don’t realize is if people are sharing their music or software it’s probable because it’s popular or good and they should just focus on making it better and people will buy more.

Free Accounting Software for Cheapskates

The ability to create invoices, track expenses, pay employees, and so forth is essential for many businesses. The right financial software can be an extreme help, especially if you are doing it all yourself. For a small business or self employed individuals, financial software can be expensive. Well open source saves the day again with GNU Cash.

GNU Cash Title

If you are familiar with other accounting software like Quickbooks, GNU Cash has a short learning curve. There is a tutorial and accounting concepts help if you are not familiar with accounting software. GNU Cash will automatically set up many common accounts or categories for you cash to flow in and out. It has many of the features that expensive software like Quickbooks has such as invoices, reporting, and account reconciliation.
GNU Cash AccountsGNU Cash Expense reportGNU Cash InvoiceGNU Cash Save

Some features that I was surprised to see in this free accounting software was the ability to import Quicken and Quickbook files, automatic saves and online banking integration. It is safe to say that this free software is an open source gem that can be used by many small businesses.

However, if you are new to accounting software, you may want something more mainstream since you are more likely to find support. Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks have a FREE version of Quickbooks called Quickbooks Simple Start. It is a scaled down version of Quickbooks Pro but it has many of the features you would need for a new or small business. If this sounds to good to some of you that are already using Quickbooks, the catch with the free version is it will not allow you to open Quickbook files created in other versions of Quickbooks.

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