Three Open Source Applications Everyone Should Have

February 2nd, 2010 |

The number one reason people stick to what they know is because they don’t know any better. In my last article, I wrote that most people have no clue what alternatives are available in the software world. It’s hard to go out and look for an alternative that works. While there are tons of great resources to start with such as Lifehacker, many find it too tedious to constantly keep up with emerging technology.

Here is a list of what I think are essential open source applications that everyone should have, with the exception of web browsers. The following three recommendations are available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

OpenOffice.org – One of the most troubling things about purchasing a new computer is that it doesn’t come with the tools that most people need to get real work done. By real work, I mean an office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheets, and a presentation program. By default, we know these commonly as Microsoft Office, a.k.a. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. These are brand names, yet we associate them almost entirely with what we expect from an office suite because of how ubiquitous they have become, much in the same way we substitute “Google” for “search”.

How much does Microsoft Office costs these days? Last time I checked, it was roughly $400 for the standard edition, give or take some savings here and there at Amazon or wherever you purchase your software. The student edition isn’t as hard on your wallet as the Standard version, costing only around the suggested retail price of $150.

We are so aware of MS Office because that is what the business and education sectors use for the most part. However, alternatives do exist. Sometimes they match MS Office in features or extend beyond what Office provides. You can buy Apple’s iWorks ’09 for $80, a savings of $70 over the student version of Office, but how does free sound instead? It sounds a lot cheaper, right? I thought as much. However, the $0 price tag shouldn’t come at the cost of functionality. Read the rest of this entry »

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Raymond Wong

Facebook Applications and User Privacy

September 22nd, 2009 |

PhotobucketThe last couple of blogs I posted covered applications on Facebook, and how these applications basically were a trade-off between your privacy as a Facebook user (and that of all your friends) and using the application.  Thus, if you wanted to play Mafia Wars on Facebook, Mafia Wars will be able to access your personal information to use at their discretion. The Huffington Post describes the “loss of privacy” in a great article:

The frightening penetration of Facebook, My-space, Twitter and other virtual social communities adds a lot of leverage to this loss of privacy. What you say or write in confidence to someone, can possibly be advertised by that person or worse, by a hacker, and exposed to the whole 200 million users of Facebook or the 1 billion users of the Internet!

The Facebook Application and Privacy settings are found here. Per the agreement with the application: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jeff Louis

The Devil’s in the Details (Part II)

September 10th, 2009 |

On the last blog, we left off with the following statement regarding Facebook’s Privacy practices:

ALLOWING CAUSES ACCESS WILL LET IT PULL YOUR PROFILE INFORMATION, PHOTOS, YOUR FRIENDS’ INFO, AND OTHER CONTENT THAT IT REQUIRES TO WORK.

Most users hit “Allow,” use the application, and move on. Facebook posts the fact that the user accessed the application by posting the information on the his or her homepage, and on the live feed Wall of all the user’s friends. There is an option to not post at this point, but it does not seem to be used very often. Photobucket So, the application has access to the user’s entire profile, as well as that of his/her friends. Once the user’s friends add their two-cents to the poll or take a quiz, the application has access to all of their friends. And so on. Soon, like a gigantic spiderweb, the application has access to millions of profiles. Just in case you’re not familiar with these applications, a few of the more popular ones are Gifts, Mafia Wars, Like/Dislike, Flixter, We’re Related, Who Has the Biggest Brain, and Causes. I visited the Living Social website (one of applications I had allowed) to read their Privacy Policy and Read the rest of this entry »

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Jeff Louis