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Open Source Games: Widelands

April 15th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Widelands is an open source real-time strategy game, inspired by Settlers I and II.

The screenshots look good, and I’m downloading the game now and hope to try playing it over the next weekend.

Hungary and Tatarstan Choose FOSS

April 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Our friend Christian Einfeldt reports on Slashdot that Hungary and Tatarstan (in Russia) have made strategic moves to adopt Free and Open Source Software.

On April 2, the Hungarian government announced that it will be modifying its procurement rules to mandate that open source procurement funding match expenditures for proprietary software, according to Ferenc Baja, deputy minister for information technology. In Tatarstan, a Republic of 3.8 million inhabitants, the Deputy Minister of Education announced that by the end of this school year, all 2,400 educational institutions in Tatarstan will have completed a transition to GNU/Linux, following a successful pilot program it rolled out in 2008.

With the 2010 annual conference to be held in Budapest, Hungary, this is especially timely news.

101 Great Open Courseware Projects

April 10th, 2009 Benjamin Horst posted a list of 101 Killer Open Courseware Projects from Around the World: Ivy League and Beyond.

The following list of 100 open courseware projects are designed to offer readers access to supplementary materials for education. They are free (hence “open”) and available to anyone who has access to the Internet. The downside to these courseware projects is that you cannot earn credits; however, a few colleges do offer tuition-paying students a chance to earn credits by completing some projects online.

The list is quite sizable and not organized into subcategories (though each entry is annotated), so there’s still work to do if you want to understand it and choose a program and/or individual courses.

To my knowledge, the one university that created Open Courseware and appears to have placed all of its 1,800 courses online, deserves special mention. That university is MIT.

Many other great resources make this list essential to bookmark. Enjoy!

PC Mag’s OpenOffice Tips

April 9th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

It’s great to see the increase in ordinary articles about in mainstream computer (and other) magazines. Not just “here’s an open source alternative app” but instead, “how to do X in OpenOffice”…

Today’s entry in this category comes from PC Mag, in 7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do.

They are not complex things, and you probably already knew they were possible, but for the target audience of this article, the tips it contains could be quite helpful.

The first tip is for editing multiple parts of a document in different windows at one time: doesn’t let you split a window into two panes, but it offers an even better feature. Click the Window menu, then New Window, to open a new window that displays the same document you’re working on. You can open as many windows as you want, each at a different place in your document; any change you make in one window immediately appears in all others.

(I don’t think I knew this one…)

Other tips include opening legacy document formats–in which OOo is a true champion–modifying the default saved file format, playing an easter egg game, and automating various actions with macros.

Androids in the Home!

April 8th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Google’s Android platform, while starting slow, shows a great deal of potential and has piqued the interest of many phone vendors and carriers. In the NY Times’ piece T-Mobile to Use Google Software in Devices for Home, Ashley Vance discusses new T-Mobile devices planned for Android.

T-Mobile plans to sell a home phone early next year and soon after a tablet computer, both running Android, according to confidential documents obtained from one of the company’s partners. The phone will plug into a docking station and come with another device that handles data synchronization as it recharges the phone’s battery.

There have been many rumors of netbooks adopting Android, in part because it is expected the brand power of Google would be strong enough to convince buyers they don’t need Windows. In fact, T-Mobile’s home phone sounds very much like a phone-netbook hybrid to me:

T-Mobile’s use of Android to advance its ambitions also shows just how blurry the line has become between phones and computers. Its tablet-size phone device resembles a small laptop without a keyboard and has a seven-inch touch screen. It would handle basic computing jobs like checking the weather or managing data across a variety of devices in the home. 3.1 with 100 Languages

April 7th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Frank Mau writes Pootle and, in which he discusses continued refinements to the translation tools available for OOo native language communities. Among those tools is Pootle, which helps to manage translation project teams.

Of interest to the whole community, is the vast breadth of translations that have already been completed for the development branch of OpenOffice 3.1. Mau announces: 3.1 is knocking on the door and we are proud to deliver more languages than ever before. I’ve seen near by 100 full install-sets for m5 testing! Great to see this engagement by the community, big thanks to everyone.

25 Highly-Anticipated Open Source Releases

April 6th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

ComputerWorld publishes a lengthy piece titled 25 Highly-Anticipated Open Source Releases Coming This Year.

It’s a roundup of some major open source project releases scheduled for the rest of this year, although article commentors pointed out a number of important projects that weren’t mentioned… which shows how important and enormous the field of open source has become.

Firefox 3.5, Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10, Android, Maemo, Eclipse, 3.1, Kaltura, Dimdim, Foswiki, WordPress, several open source hardware projects, and much more.

It’s going to be a huge year for open source!

Dvorak Prefers Ubuntu

April 3rd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

John C. Dvorak, a PC Mag columnist long seen as a major Microsoft apologist supporter, has become enamored of Ubuntu for himself and his readers, and expresses it in a recent column, Dvorak Likes Linux:

The critical mass has been reached, and it’s time everyone tried Ubuntu.

A strong statement, and a major shift for the irascible writer. He expands it with:

I seriously like the Ubuntu 8.10 implementation and will now install it permanently on my latest machines. It’s a winner…

In many instances the complexity of Linux turns out to be smoothed over by the Ubuntu architecture. It’s so good that I’m a little annoyed with myself for not getting to it sooner.

It’s a pretty amazing change for this IT veteran, made even more so when he caps off the piece with this:

If I had a small or mid-size company, I’d probably use only Linux and open-source software, just to stay out of the way of the software police and their onerous “audits”—another abhorrent situation that, to me, is intolerable.

Congratulations, John, for coming around! Welcome to the new world.

Open Video Conference

April 2nd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

This June 19th and 20th, New York City will play host to the Open Video Conference.

Open Video is a broad based movement of video creators, technologists, academics, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, activists, remixers, and many others. When most folks think of “open,” they think of open source and open codecs. They’re right—but there’s more to Open Video than open codecs. Open Video is the growing movement for transparency, interoperability, and further decentralization in online video. These qualities provide more fertile ground for independent producers, bottom-up innovation, and greater protection for free speech online.

As important as the openness of HTML and web protocols, is the importance of open video, for the future of the web. The web’s greatest strengths include decentralization and the free playing field provided by open standards and open formats. As video becomes ever more intrinsic and central to the web and internet, it’s of great importance that the founding values of these media are maintained and strengthened.

The Open Video Conference, organized in part by the Miro project, should be a milestone in ensuring we achieve this future.

OpenOffice Performance Contests

April 1st, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Our friends at Ninja have concluded a performance test between and several derivatives on the Linux and Windows platforms.

Performance has rarely bothered me, but it can be a severe irritant for many users, although the differences from one OOo distro to another and one platform to another are rarely more than seconds. Indeed, Ziem writes:

All editions and both operating systems performed well, and it’s not possible to identify a single champion.

He also points out that 3.1, due to be released soon, is expected to offer further performance enhancements.

Great graphs and analyses make Ziem’s original post well worth reading.