Hey you, Christmas holiday season, I’m so glad you’re about done. Just a few more hours to go before that meaningless act of rote consumption gets buried away for another year, when you’ll be nothing more than some extra digits on a despised credit card statement. You truly do suck, what with that concept of socially mandated buying-of-crap that is nothing more than a thinly veiled act of commodity exchange. You’ve ruined the idea and practice of The Gift, making it a chore devoid of generosity, lacking any hint of wonder, vanquishing all traces of actual giving. You’re a bastard.
That being said, I’m not all grinch, I’ve still got some sugar plum in me (don’t worry, I’m gonna see a doctor about it) so instead of the lumps of coal you all probably deserve, I’ve compiled a lil’ list of regalitos for you to unwrap tomorrow morning. It’s a collection of software that I find easy and useful, and maybe it’ll help you branch out from that email/myspace/youtube rut you’re currently in. What? Are you calling me cheap just because this stuff is readily available for free on the internet? Well then, just for that, you don’t get to click on the links. Malagradecido. For the rest of you, click ahead!
Google has an easy to use program by which to manage your pictures and though I assumed that was just unnecessary, turns out this program saves some time: you can quickly and easily crop, resize, edit, and export your pics without messing with the original, you can even make photo screensavers or video clips! I’m surprised at how intuitive and useful this program is, and it’s easy enough for anyone to learn.
Open Office Linux/Mac/Windows
It’s amazing that anyone would still pay for the MS Office suite, or even bother getting a bootleg version, those days are over! You need to get acquainted with open source programs, they’re made by people that think the idea of free software is worthy enough to gift the world with a vast number of programs that are functional and free. Yes, you can still open your .doc and .ppt and .xls documents, you just don’t have to pay a fortune to do so. Get on the ball, people!
Lots of people think it’s hard to do a webpage when it’s actually easy. Well, as long as you’ve registered a domain name, set your dns settings to your webhost providers nameservers, and have an ftp account enabled, it’s fucking sinchy! There’s lots of webpage editors available, but the open source NVU makes it easy for newbies (pfft!) to give it a try, it even comes with an ftp client so you don’t have to actually know how things work! No, I don’t want to do your webpage, do it yourself!
You may have heard about bittorrent, a sort of distributed network where you download stuff while you share it as well, making it easier and cheaper for people to share large files. If you want to get in on all that action, check out Azureus, an open source client that makes it easy to manage your downloads/uploads. Then you can go to the Pirate Bay to see what swag you’d like to loot, arrr!
I use Nicotine to access the soulseek network, an online file sharing service focused on independent music, where you’re likely to find that obscure band from 10 years ago you just heard about last week. Very useful.
I don’t care for video games since they’re mostly boring and take too much time. But I am addicted to one open source game where you drive a tank inside a small map, jump and fly around, shoot other tanks, and try to capture an enemy flag. Sounds kinda stupid, eh? Yeah, it is, but its still lots of fun: you can pop into an online match for a few minutes, shoot ’em up, and get back to work before anyone notices! Theres lots of free online servers where you can play, but I’m partial to the maps at silvercat.bzflag.org, see ya there!
I’ve been digitizing my collection of cd’s using grip, an easy to use ripper and encoder frontend that goes online to get the cd info so you don’t have to type all the tracks in, although it can’t seem to find any of the Banda Pachuco albums, crazy!
During the previously mentioned digitizing process, I forgot to enable the option to embed the track info into the mp3, making a couple hundred cd rips useless to an ipod as it requires that info to save the tracks. Dreading the idea of going thru each file individually, I stumbled upon this software that made that process much easier. Still a bitch but less so.
One of the coolest software programs I’ve used, it can keep track of all your collections! It can track cd’s, books, even your collection of crap wine. You can even export it all as a webpage. It’s a good enough reason to switch to a linux system, which I should mention is also free.
How’s that for an unexpected gift? Enjoy your presents!
PS. The picture at the top of this post was sent to me by a friend, a screenshot from the movie “The City of Lost Children” and he claims it’s sort of anti-christmas, and I’ll take his word for it, though I guess that means I need to watch it again. Thanks Mr. Celery!