Open Source Software…

I had a minor problem at work today, namely less that 90mb free hard drive space on my system partition. That, for those that don’t know, is a Bad Thing, and can lead to your computer slowing down dramatically (which is what happened) and even errors because Windows doesn’t have enough room to swing it’s virtual cats. The solution? Simple, repartition, reformat, load Windows XP. I know, I know, I’ve sold my soul to Bill, but when you work on a Windows network there really isn’t a choice.

At home it’s another matter. I won’t pretend that I have a Microsoft-free house, but I’m working on it. And the first part of that is loading Mandrakelinux 10 on a spare machine I have (a Celeron 1300 with 512mb RAM and 20gb hard drive, so it should run OK). No doubt will have to pummel my friendly Linux guy a lot before I have it finally set up, but my hopes are high. I actually had another flavour of Linux on a machine here about a year ago – Debian, I think. That looked good, and I’m hoping for even better things from Mandrake.

For those that don’t know there are a bunch of people all over the world who said “Why should we pay extortianate prices for software, let’s make it ourselves”. And so they did. The result is the wonderful world known as Open Source Software – software that is free to get, free to use, free to modify and free to update. In fact the browser I advertised in my last post is Open Source – meaning that anyone can add features and functions to it. And lot’s of people do, so many, actually, that the Open Source movement now has it’s own:

And before you think that these things are small fry, just look at the statistics: Firefox gaining browser market share in leaps and bounds, and Apache the most popular web server software. In fact the Wibsite wouldn’t be here today without Linux, PHP and MySQL. If you’re interested in trying out a piece of Open Source software this is a good place to start.

Technology convergance…

I had a chat with my dad today about technology. Whenever I see him we generally chat about technology, at the moment even more so because there is a slim chance I might be doing a website for something he is involved with. Fingers crossed for that. However this particular time we were talking about technology convergance, which sounds awfully posh, but it isn’t really.

He was admiring my USB memory stick and I was telling him about the wonderful things they are doing with MP3 players, portble memory and mobile phones. For instance, you can now buy memory chips with albums on for use in your mobile phone. Portable MP3 players can also be used to store files in much the same way I used to carry handfuls of floppy disks around with me a few years ago – or, more recently, handfuls of CD-Rs with 5-20mb data on each of them.

I also saw this picture (from this page, where Andrew Jones is wearing what is now affectionately known in my office as “geek bling” (probably; I know the picture isn’t very clear). Notice he also has a camera (probably a digital camera) in his hands. Technological convergence means that while yesterday he could take some pictures, today he can save those pictures to his portable memory stick, and tomorrow the digital camera will have a 200gb hard drive built in to save millions of picture. By next week he’ll be able to take professional quality photos with his mobile phone, save millions of them on the internal memory, share them with other phones, computers and cameras using WiFi, and upload them to his blog at super-fast speeds.

In fact, it’s taken me so long to write that paragraph that it’s probably possible already. Technology convergence means we’ll be able to pay less to get the same features, spawning a whole new “keeping up with the Joneses” race, and, obviously, making a mint for the technology companies that are clever anough and quick enough to come up with the Killer App. Technology convergence, it’s a wonderful thing. Perhaps one day this will all be possible with tiny implants in our heads.

This isn’t a laughing matter…

I’m talking about validation. There you are with a lovely site, which works in all popular browsers on a raft of screen resolutions, and even on the dreaded Mac. It looks good, is graphically pixel perfect, and the code is a clean as your grandmothers kitchen sink. So you go to validate.

205 errors.

Ouch. I wasn’t expecting that. Oh well, back to the drawing board …. or maybe not. Let’s have a look at the errors. Hmm, darn DOCTYPEs, that’s one down. 204 to go…

Designers block…

It’s a terrible thing. To be honest I am more at home writing code, designing database schema, stretching the capabilities of HTML, PHP and ASP. Well, not really stretching, just doing what I’ve not seen done before. However part of my gainful employment involves me putting on my graphic designers hat. And, occasionally, I find that the hat must have shrunk in the wash. Perhaps I left it out in the rain.

I’m at that stage at the moment. Fortunately it’s not a major problem, the deadline isn’t for a couple of weeks yet, but still it’s annoying. Even more so when it’s a project I have loads of enthusiasm for, and lots of ideas – code and database ideas, that is. So tomorrow, among other things, I will be trawling the many many sites out there dedicated to releasing a tortured designers mind. Sites where, let’s be honest about it, you see something that looks good, start to copy it and somewhere along the way it mutates and evolves into something original. And, hopefully, something that fulfils your requirements.

So, here’s the list. Eventually they may find their way into this blogs Wiblink section, but for now they are just here.

Cool sites list at Moreover
Free web templates
Template Monster
Macromedia site of the day

I’ll add a lot more tomorrow when I get back to The Master List.


OK, as promised, a couple more links.

A List Apart