What's new and cool in FOSS

OpenOffice.Org 3.1 (and Extensions)

posted Oct 15, 2009, 6:37 PM by David Trask

OpenOffice has been around for quite some time.  It's morphed and evolved into a mature and useful office suite.  OpenOffice is available for Mac OS X (even packaged for MLTI III), Windows, and Linux. 

From the web site OpenOffice.org:

OpenOffice.org 3 forms an ideal teaching platform for core computer literacy skills, without tying students to commercial products. The free software licence means students can be given copies of software to use at home - perfectly legally - a useful 'added value'. For IT students, OpenOffice.org's component based software is also an ideal platform for developing IT skills and understanding real-life software engineering.

OpenOffice.org 3 is also an ideal platform for creating teaching materials and managing administrative tasks. For example, the
Writer word processor is easy to use for simple memos, but also powerful enough to cope with complex dissertations. For IT staff, the open-source software license means an end to license compliance worries and the threat of software audits. OpenOffice.org 3 is developed, translated, and supported by an international community linked by the internet, opening exciting possibilities for school projects.

OpenOffice.org 3 is a leading international force in the movement for digital inclusion - making software of the highest quality available to all, regardless of income. OpenOffice.org 3 is available in a wide variety of languages, and we actively encourage local teams to produce versions for local languages. We develop software on an open-source process - the computing equivalent of peer-reviewed publishing - creating software of the highest quality.

BUT!  One of the most powerful features of OpenOffice is its extensibility!  Often overlooked, OpenOffice has a built-in extensions manager that allows the user to download and add cool features to OpenOffice!

 OpenOffice Extensions allow the user to add tons of functionality to their OO installation.  Templates, clip art, dictionaries, presentation tools and so much more!  Check it out via the Tools > Extensions Manager in OpenOffice or click here.

VUE "Visual Understanding Environment"

posted Oct 15, 2009, 6:22 PM by David Trask

To quote the web site: 
The Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) is an Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.

This video highlights some of the power of VUE

I invite you to check out the VUE site...download VUE and check out the numerous samples and videos. 


posted Oct 15, 2009, 5:15 PM by David Trask   [ updated Oct 15, 2009, 5:23 PM ]

You know Open Source has arrived when the worlds largest chip maker, Intel, climbs aboard with their own cutting edge project.  Moblin is an open source project focused on building a Linux-based platform optimized for the next generation of mobile devices including Netbooks, Mobile Internet Devices, and In-vehicle information and entertainment systems.  Moblin brings incredibly fast boot up times, a new and innovative interface, as well as many other innovations to mobile computing devices.  Moblin devices will begin hitting the shelves as early as fall 2009.  Since Moblin is open source...you can download it and see for yourself!  Check out Moblin today!

OpenShot Video Editor

posted Oct 15, 2009, 4:46 PM by David Trask   [ updated Oct 15, 2009, 5:00 PM ]

Video editing has long been a thorn in the side of open source users.  There simply wasn't an easy to use video editor...until now!  Make no mistake, Linux and Open Source are HUGE in the film industry.  Many major motion pictures are created using Linux/Unix based video editing software.  Remember the fun animated film "Shrek"?  Anyway...until now there has not been a good entry level video editing program that could be used by beginners to create videos.  Enter....(drumroll please) OpenShot Video EditorOpenShot is a relatively new project, yet development is moving along at a good clip.  Check out some of the screencasts and videos below!  Give it a try!

Screencast of OpenShot 0.8.2 from Jonathan Thomas on Vimeo.

OpenShot Video Gets Effects!!! from Jonathan Thomas on Vimeo.

Output from Effects Screencast from Jonathan Thomas on Vimeo.

Screencast of OpenShot Chroma-Key Effect from Jonathan Thomas on Vimeo.

Sockso Music Server

posted Oct 14, 2009, 4:22 PM by David Trask

Sockso is, without a doubt, one of the simplest music servers you'll ever have the pleasure of using.  Need to share your music with others?  Want to be able to access your music library from anywhere?  Need to serve up that special reading program CD to your kindergarten classrooms so they can listen to it anytime they want without using a several hundred dollar computer as a CD player?  Check out Sockso!

I use Sockso for the last scenario I described....to serve up our Reading Program CD's to our K-2 students...particularly the kindergarten classrooms.  This year I decided that I was spending way too much time trying to make the thin-clients in their classrooms into very expensive CD players.  So, I decided it would be best to simply rip the CD's and serve the music over our school network.  I set out to find a music server to handle the task.  I was fully expecting to put some time and effort into it, but was very happy when I stumbled across Sockso.  I had my first Sockso server up and running on my own machine in less than 2 minutes.  Check out the screenshots below...try it for yourself!  (click for larger images)

Sockso Music Server

Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala...scheduled release date is October 29, 2009)

posted Oct 14, 2009, 4:14 PM by David Trask   [ updated Oct 14, 2009, 4:22 PM ]

I've been a long time user of Ubuntu.  I used to flit like a butterfly from one Linux operating system to another, never lasting more than two weeks with any one distribution before I wanted to try something else.  On my own laptop, I spent countless hours tweaking, configuring, and generally just messing around with each distribution until I got bored and moved on.  I learned a lot, but I wasn't very productive.  Then....along came Ubuntu.  A colleague of mine pointed me toward Ubuntu during the Warty Warthog days...(I love the cool code names)....Ubuntu 4.10.  The naming scheme is actually quite easy to follow...the first number is the year and the second is the month....hence 4.10 was released in October of 2004.  The newest version to come down the pipe is 9.10 (get it?  October, 2009) codenamed Karmic Koala.  Ubuntu releases like clockwork every six months.  Each release features some new stuff and some improvements, but every 5th release is an LTS or a long-term support release.  Extra care is taken at these junctures to insure stability and reliability so that IT folks can count on an LTS release to be supported for 3 years on the desktop and 5 years for servers.  The regular releases are supported for 18 months.  Unless you're a corporate environment or afraid of making many changes...the regular releases will be just fine for you....and you'll get all the cutting edge new features.  Karmic Koala is no exception.  Since the release of Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) in April, netbooks have taken the tech world by storm.  Once a fun novelty item, netbooks are now making their way into schools and classrooms all over the world.  Ubuntu takes the netbook experience to the next level with Ubuntu Netbook Remix, an interface specifically designed for the small screen of a netbook,  UNR provides all the same functionality of a regular version, but in a manner that works best for the end user on a netbook.  Let's look at some screenshots...click to see larger versions of the images.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10

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