Some Great Free Stuff

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Who said that post-bubble the free ride ended? It still amazes me how much functionality you can get these days for free (as in beer). Case-in-point, I’m writing this from a free-as-in-beer operating system using a free browser. The OS also happens to be running free office productivity, email, IM, RSS, FTP, graphics and music software. Is it as good? Nope, not always. Can I get everything? No – I miss One Note the most. But it’s pretty damn good, and I’m productive every day. More importantly, there are things that you can get that just make your day that much easier. A few recent favorites?

  1. Bloglines: Found this one via Jon Udell, and while at first I was skeptical, as I was fairly wedded to the offline capabilities offered by Straw, it’s gradually making me a believer. The best feature for me? The Blogroll function. No longer am I manually editing MT templates for my Blogroll. I can maintain it one place, and have those adjust dynamically.
  2. Firefox: Fast, extensible, possessor of tabbed browsing, what more can you say? Best extensions I’ve found are the Google Bar, Single View, Bookmarks Synchronizer, and EditCSS. Tremendous browser, and as I mentioned yesterday, it’s now the “in” browser of an expanding population of net saavy individuals.
  3. Gentoo: the aforementioned free operating system, Gentoo’s my new OS of choice. Will have a more detailed post on my migration experience, but couldn’t leave it off the list. It’s not for everyone, mind you, as it comes with caveats, but it’s been a terrific fit thus far. Even more impressive, however, is the community. Open source fans often brag about the value of community, yet many potential open sourcers are put off or intimidated by impatience with newbie type question. Gentoo’s community, however, has been nothing short of miraculous. It actually beats the paid support I’ve had on a great many products. One user went so far as to personally install the same kernel and sources I had to try to replicate some problems I was having with a modem. When that failed, he personally emailed his drivers, with detailed installation instructions. Think I’d get that from Lucent?

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