by Devanshu Mehta
Many people around the world plan their charitable giving around this time of the year, for religious, tax or other similarly benevolent reasons. As a geek who spends an inordinate amount of time with around his computer, these are the entities that have made my life easier in the past year and deserve all the recognition, money and general fulfillment of all Amazon Wish List desires:
- “Firefox”:http://spreadfirefox.com/community/?q=affiliates&id=76836&t=1 : This has undoubtedly been the year of Firefox. If you aren’t using it yet… what are you waiting for? With “plugins”:https://addons.mozilla.org/?application=firefox, “extensions”:http://www.mozilla.com/extensions/, tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and the fact that it’s free and open for all make it the IE-killer that we’ve all been waiting for.
“Get FireFox”:http://spreadfirefox.com/community/?q=affiliates&id=76836&t=1 | “Get Involved”:http://www.mozilla.com/about/get-involved.html | “Donate”:http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/donate.html
- “Wikipedia”:http://www.wikipedia.org If this year was the year of Firefox, then Wikipedia was a close second. This is the largest single resource of information ever created by men. They are having their quarterly fund drive; please give generously. Become a contributor; and editor. Many people believe they don’t know enough or need to be an expert in order to contribute meaningfully. You don’t have to be. I’m no expert and I’ve written about “my home town”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vadodara, “my college”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarvajanik_College_of_Engineering_and_Technology, “my favorite sports team”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_cricket_team, “and other random stuff I find errors or omissions in”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Devanjedi. Give it a try and enjoy.
- “OpenOffice.org”:http://www.openoffice.org : By providing a viable, free and open option to the over-priced monopoly of MS Office, OO.o has shown us “a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes
- “WordPress”:http://www.wordpress.org : The spectacular piece of software that powers this and my “other”:http://www.galaxyfaraway.com “two”:http://www.widescreenglory.com websites deserves all the attention it can get and more. It’s extensibility and ease of use/install is legendary- become a blogger or move to wordpress!
- “Fedora”:http://fedora.redhat.com : The low-hassle Linux distribution that I’ve been using for a year or so; a worthy successor to the “Red Hat”:http://www.redhat.com name; easy to get up and running in addition to or in place of that MS OS of yesterday. “Contribute”:http://fedora.redhat.com
- “Gnucash”:http://www.gnucash.org : This year, there was life before “Gnucash”:http://www.gnucash.org and then there was life after Gnucash. And life after has been undoubtedly better. This is a smash free and open source personal (and small business) financial accounting tool that blows everything else out of the water- mainly because it’s free and extensible to do what you want it to. Gnucash, you’ve changed my life for the better. I may not save more money than I used to, but at least I know what I’m not saving money on.
- “Emacs”:http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs.html : Emacs, “you complete me”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116695/quotes. ’nuff said.
- “Adium”:http://www.adiumx.com : There was a time when I would have multiple messenger applications running at the same time. Then came “Gaim”:http://gaim.sourceforge.net. There was a time when Gaim was ugly; then came “Adium”:http://www.adiumx.com, a tremendous messenger client for the Mac OS that looks great, is extensible (has great plugins) and is free/open.
“Donate”:http://www.adiumx.com (donate link at bottom of page)
- “NetNewsWire”://ranchero.com/netnewswire/ : This piece of software is one of the great RSS readers of the world (for the Mac). In the new year, I will be buying the full version. Easy to use, great to look at and powerful under the hood; this is the app that made turned me into an RSS junky.
- “Fink”:http://fink.sourceforge.net : Fink allows Mac OS to be more Unixey than it already is. With easy to install ports of all major UNIX/Linux packages through the command-line or GUI interface, Mac OS X without Fink is like Windows without Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
- “Brattle”:http://www.brattlefilm.org/brattlefilm/index.html : The “Brattle Theatre”:http://www.brattlefilm.org/brattlefilm/index.html in Cambridge, Mass. is in trouble. If they can’t put together enough funding to pay past debts and future leases, they will “be closed by February 2006”:http://www.brattlefilm.org/brattlefilm/filmfoundation/legacy_campaign.html. This is unacceptable- the Brattle is one of few truly independent movie theatres in the country. Without Brattle I would have never seen Casablanca on the big screen and would not have the opportunity to see the 1930s King Kong on the big screen next month.
- “Radio Open Source”:http://www.radioopensource.org : These guys are simultaneously changing the internet and radio. “Christopher Lydon”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Lydon and his group at “Radio Open Source”:http://www.radioopensource.org make a few hours every week the most thought provoking of my life and make for great conversation, blogging, surfing and a better informed populace. Available on “real” radio, for download and as a podcast.
- “EFF”:http://www.eff.org : The Electronic Fronteir Foundation fight the good fight every time. While they’ve been recently faulted for causing precedent to be set too early in the battles against government and big business, if we allow these battles to go uncontested we will have a less free internet, software, technology and society at large.