Must have Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS)

sourceforgeRecently I had to rebuild my computer (you can tell I’m a Windows user). I just built it clean and then installed only what I thought were essential programs as I needed them. There were so many desktop programs and utilities that I didn’t realize I used often that were all Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) so here is my must have list for Windows:

Firefox – Web browser that should just be part of the Windows install (IMO)

Thunderbird – Mail Client, RSS reader

Filezilla – FTP Client / Server

ExtractNow – Archive utility handles zip, rar, gz, tar, 7zip, and others

Open Office – FLOSS Microsoft Office alternative

XPDF – Adobe Acrobate PDF reader

DVDx – DVD to Avi, mpeg, wmv converter

Audacity – Audio editing software

DeepBurner – CD Burning

VLC – Media player. Love the traffic cone

Gimp – Photo editing software

Pidgin – Instant messaging AIM, MSN, Jabber, ICQ, etc.

Spybot – Anti-Spyware

Notepad ++ – Text editor for programers

CDeX – CD to mp3 converter

uTorrent – BitTorrent client

TightVNC – Remote Control

ClamWin – Antivirus

ProcessExplorer – Originally a Sysinternals product now owned by Mircosoft is Task manager on Crack!


Offline Gmail

Gmail Logo
Gmail Logo




Google announced that they will be providing a way to get to your Gmail even is you don’t have an internet connection. From Google’s blog:

Web-based email is great because you can check it from any computer, but there’s one little catch: it’s inherently limited by your internet connection.

By using a google application called Gears, you are able to store a copy of you gmail to your local machine. It will automatically switch between “online” and “offline” if you have an unrelaiable internet connecetion. According to the blog, the feature should eb avaible in the next fw days. This would be handy for those of us who use gmail as a searchable repository.

Convert DVD to AVI MPEG or WMV using open source

I was looking to rip my DVD to a digital format like AVI or MPEG to watch on any number of portable devices. There are tons of paid software out there to do this but I am a fan of free license and open source software (FLOSS). I came across DVDx an open source DVD backup software that  copies DVD movies to VCD, SVCD, DivX, AVI or WMV in a single step.dvdx

The installation was straight forward and it installs a link to the DVDx guide that has all the explanation needed to backup your DVDs. This has quickly become one of my must have open source software list.


WordPress 2.7 upgrade image upload not visible

I finally got around to upgrading to WordPress 2.7 and of course I ran into an issue. According to the WordPress documentation, I backed up my folders first and then deleted them from my server. I uploaded the new WordPress 2.7 files to my server and ran the wp-admin/upgrade.php script. After my database was updated my blog was not visible. I needed to upload my themes back up to the server as well as plugins and images.wordpress The issue I ran into was I was missing the post editor. So I had a blog that I was unable to edit. After reading a few posts, I disabled all my plugins and re-enabled them. They all required an update for WordPress 2.7, however, the new plugin upgrade process was easy and flawless.
That did not fix my issues.  The resolution was to download a fresh copy of WordPress and overwrite the /wp-admin folder on my server.

Google kills off more services

According to an article in Information Week, Google is terminating some services. Among these are Dodgeball, Google Catalog Search, Google Mashup Editor, Jaiku, and Notebook. This is due to layoffs in many Google offices around the world. I guess everyone is feeling the pinch. I am really sad to see Notebook go. This was a very handy tool that I used frequently. I’m not as upset as when they canceled Google BrowserSync, which let you synchronize your bookmarks and browser sessions and tabs to another computer browser. Hopefully someone will revive these projects in the future.

Downadup AKA Conficker worm infects millions

Computer VirusAbout a month ago, Microsoft released an critical “out-of-cycle” security patch (MS08-067) for all versions of Windows. We quickly patched our servers and apparently just in time. The anitivirus company F-Secure recently posted a blog entry which suggests that a worm called Downadup AKA Conficker has been infecting unpatched servers with this vulernerablity.  According to the post an estimated 2.5 million computers are infected. This would make a very large botnet if implented. Both Symantec and Mcafee have a removal tool available. Both site assess this is a level 2 low risk. Some variants of the worm are using scheduled tasks and Autorun.inf file to replicate on to non vulnerable systems or to reinfect previously infected systems after they have been cleaned.  I personally think this should be a higher risk assessment

Working out with the Wii Fit

The Nintendo Wii Fit is technically an accessory for the Nintendo Wii Game System. The Wii Fit consists of a pressure sensitive board that is used in conjunction with the Wii remote control. The board requires 2 AA batteries which are included and is quite sturdy.
The Wii Fit tracks your weight and how long you are exercising each day, and let you know when your 30 minutes are up. It also calculates your body mass index (BMI) based on your age and weight. You can choose from yoga, aerobic, strength, or game workouts.
It is possible to lose weight using the Wii Fit. If you use the Wii Fit for 20 -30 mins four to five times a week accompanied by a low calorie diet you will lose weight. The Wii Fit will track you’re progress and allow you to set goals and deadlines to give you additional motivation.
My experience with the Wii Fit has been a good one. The exercises are varied enough to keep you interested and it makes exercise fun. Since you can compare stats with other Wii Fit users, competition is another motivating factor. I like being able to do different exercises depending on my mood and energy level. Just like any other piece of exercise equipment, consistency is key, but the Wii Fit’s fun activities keeps you coming back. Good Luck!


I had an issue with the Wii Fit board losing connection to the Wii but it appeared to be a battery problem. Here is how I fixed it.

Here is a fun quiz on how many calories yo can burn on the Wii:

TomTom 720 GPS

TomTom 720 GPS
I went to visit my parents this weekend and I helped them setup their new TomTom 720 GPS . It’s got a nice 4.3” touch screen and the text was large and legible which was key for my parents. It also speaks the street names instead of “turn right in 200ft”, which was also important to them. It also had bluetooth so you could use hands-free phone operation.  It was loud enough for my parents which was  controlled using an on screen slider bar. We got it at BestBuy for about $250. Overall a nice GPS.

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