Monthly Archives: March 2008

Drawing Freely with Inkscape

Inkscape is a free, open source vector graphics editor in the same vein as Adobe Illustrator and Xara Xtreme.

It is capable of a very broad set of features, and has a simple interface that can be learned in minutes. In the help menu, you’ll find a set of tutorials which are themselves Inkscape documents. These contain examples of the concepts taught embedded right into the help document itself, allowing you to try out something new you’ve learned in the same environment. The ‘effects’ menu holds a set of customizable plug-ins, and more can be easily downloaded and installed. This gives a third-party developer boost to Inkscape, because it now has a small community of plug-in writers making little improvements and adding impressive features to the editor. This works similar to the third-party developer community around the Gimp and Firefox. Inkscape can export to a wide variety of file formats, including image files, PDFs, Adobe Illustrator .IA, encapsulated postscript, LaTeX, and many others.

Reset Your Windows Password

Windows Key Enterprise is a nice addition to any software library.

People often forget their admin password which means they are locked out of their computers. Often your options are limited and people often have to reinstall their operational system, which means loss of data and that you’ll have to install most programs again.

Fortunately, there is another option, namely “Windows Key Enterprise”. With this program you will create a CD that you can use when you start your computer. This CD will allow you to reset your admin password – and you’re saved. Much better than reinstalling your operational system don’t you agree? Windows Key Enterprise can be used currently to reset a password for Windows XP/2000/NT. This software is not for free but you can try out their demo version.

Track Your Files Using GIT

GIT is an open source version control system that runs best on unix machines, but is also available for windows.

Software developers are constantly tracking changes to their file system so that any false steps during the development of a software product can be reverted. Git allows you to snapshot your current work and to query to see what has changed since your last snapshot. The tool is used via the command line, but there are GUI versions available. To those unfamiliar with software development, this all may sound quite strange, but to an average computer user this capability is quite useful. For example, suppose you are editing an HTML document, and you’d like to try out an alternate version. Simply use git to snapshot your work, then continue writing. If you don’t like your changes, you can simply revert to a previous revision. You can also use git to push and pull changes from remote machines in order to collaborate with other users of git around the internet or you work team.

Stellarium – Your Own Planetarium

Stellarium is a stellar sky simulator.

It puts the shifting and changing beautiful night sky on a star watcher’s computer screen deplete of city lights. Users can fast forward or rewind time to see how stars shift position over time. Otherwise, you can just watch the moon, sun, and stars go by at your location in real time without braving the great outdoors.

Curious what the other hemisphere looks like at night? Just remove the ground and see the big picture. Or watch the zodiac go by when the constellation options are checked. Visit stellarium.org and figure out where the north star (Polaris) was 4,000 years ago for the same price as going outside. Free.

Spacetime 3D – The Future of Browsing?

Spacetime 3D extends the world of browsing into third dimension.

With Spacetime 3D you can display multiple web pages in a 3D space, allowing you to adjust the position of pages as you desire and navigation of web pages is like as objects in 3D virtual space. Spacetime’s search functionality loads multiple search results as a stack of separate pages, simultaneously loading 10 results at a time, each in its own window. Users can then flip through results, re-arrange the pages or manipulate them.

The feature I liked most is spacetime 3D image search. With this you can simultaneously search G & Y Images. It makes image search a hell lot of easier. The drawback which I felt most was it makes browsing much slower if you don’t have fast internet connection. Apart from this obvious drawback, it lacks bookmark support and many other functions as compared to firefox or IE. Spacetime 3D is pure eye candy but lacks many functions as compared to other present day browsers but it makes you imagine the future of web browsing!

Kindle v. Paperbacks

Amazon.com released the first generation of their new e-book reading device in late 2007 with the device selling out in hours.

The Kindle uses electronic paper screen technology (E Ink) to reduce eye fatigue from flicker and glare. Unlike traditional screens, paper screens are not backlit providing an experience closer to true ink and paper. The device reads Kindle formatted books and periodicals which can be downloaded from anywhere in the US without a computer over the Sprint EVDO network without any continuing fee for the wireless access.

Documents formatted otherwise can be emailed to Amazon and converted to Kindle-formatting and then sent directly to the device for $0.10. Access to a handful of internet resources like wikipedia.com is included in the purchase price and web browsing is available at a cost. At just about $400, the Kindle certainly costs more than the average best-seller, but is not out of line with the competition. The cost to download the average e-book from the Kindle store is less than a physical copy (approx. $9.99 for a best-seller).

The cost-effectiveness of Kindle will vary substantially among users depending on their needs. It seems safe to assume that Kindle is already proving itself cost-effective to Amazon.com. This sort of device has significant appeal to numerous consumers; the reader, the techie, the green consumer etc. Amazon is also offering a self-publishing service for authors (or would-be authors) out there with their new digital text platform. This allows authors to self-publish, set their own prices, and receive 35% of the revenues. With Amazon’s more than considerable resources, the Kindle will most likely not only take the lion’s share of e-book consumers out there, it will create a sustainable market for this technology.