Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Free/Open Source’ Category

Walmart, Linux, and Little Green Men

Posted by telecommatt on November 2, 2007

Download gOS, the operating system of Wal-Mart’s $199 PC – Download Squad

This week Wal-Mart started selling a $199 PC with a Linux based operating system called gOS pre-loaded.

The "g" in gOS apparently stands for "green" and not "Google" as people suspected. Now I have to give the Live CD a test run, just because it’s green and being green is cool.

I’m pretty anti-Walmart when it comes to most things, but when you get get gOS installed in a pretty decent PC for less than 200 little green men, it makes me hate them slightly less. When you recall that a Linux-based OS runs much more efficiently than a Windows OS, it looks even better. Based on my own experience (not any benchmarking, etc.) the average Linux OS runs about as well as WinXP on twice as much RAM.  (Can anyone else comment on this?) I’ve found that processor speed makes more of a difference, but mostly I’ve run Live CD’s. This means that the Walmart 512MB might well see performance like a WinXP machine with 1GB RAM. Throw in the fact that you don’t have to deal with Win-only headaches such as the dreaded automatic update, Genuine (dis)Advantage verification, constant antivirus updates, etc, and I’ve almost convinced myself that it’s worth going without groceries for a few weeks to put one of these in my living room. I’m still torn about contributing to the Walmartizing of America though. Anyone else have any thoughts? Leave your comments here or kontact me.

Posted in Free/Open Source | Leave a Comment »

Pimp Your OpenOffice

Posted by telecommatt on October 22, 2007

Featured Download: Extend OpenOffice with OxygenOffice


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Greener Software Development Through Open Source

Posted by telecommatt on October 9, 2007

Open Source: The Sustainable Business Model

How do you make software development dramatically more eco-friendly?Two Words: Open Source.

Make sure you check out this week’s Tech Tuesday post over at 21st Century Citizen. The topic this week is Open Source software as an eco-friendly business model. Tech Tuesday is a weekly column I write for the 21st Century Citizen community that looks at various ways in which technology and the internet impact the environment.

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Sandboxie Gets Download Squad Love

Posted by telecommatt on October 2, 2007

Protect your browsing session with Sandboxie – Download Squad

there’s one surefire way to protect your computer: make sure you’re not writing anything to your system.

I’m going to flatter myself by thinking that the Download Squad crew are all faithful readers of Matt’s Cuppa. It’s nice to see that DLS agrees with me.

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Foxit Reader Upgrade Still Keeps Resource Use Light

Posted by telecommatt on October 2, 2007

Foxit Reader 2.2 released: Now with improved text select – Download Squad

Adobe may have innovated the PDF file format, but Foxit Reader is our favorite application for reading PDFs.

I mentioned Foxit in a recent post. Adobe’s product is rather overblown and resource heavy for casual use. (Not to mention the security exploit mentioned in my earlier post!) The Foxit upgrade manages to keep resource use light while improving on the feature set.

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ZoneAlarm ForceField Takes The Sandbox To The Masses

Posted by telecommatt on September 27, 2007

While not exactly a new concept, this is pretty sweet. I think it’s great that ZoneAlarm is taking the idea of sandboxed browsing to the general public. After all, Most spyware/malware solutions are focused on fixing your machine after it’s infected, but the best way to keep spyware and malware off your machine is to never let it touch your machine to begin with.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, check out this short Wikipedia article. Basically, a sandbox is an isolated virtual environment that software can be run in. Being virtual means it doesn’t actually exist, meaning when something in the sandbox encounters malware, the malware is actually infecting nothing. Literally!

While I think that a $30 subscription fee to ZoneAlarm’s service is reasonable for most consumers, the computer-savvy might think about using something like the free Sandboxie. This is my browsing and testing environment of choice at the moment. Sandboxie not only allows you to run a sandboxed browser (or any app), but it allows you to install software within the sandbox as well. I’ve found this is the best way to test beta software without having to worry about it taking down my box.

ZoneAlarm ForceField protects your browsing session – DLS Interview

Filed under: , , , ,

has launched a public beta of a new security tool that basically puts
your web browser into a sandbox. Visit sites you know are unsafe, check
your bank statements on a computer that you know is infected with
viruses and spyware. We caught up with ZoneAlarm Director of Consumer Product Management John Gable at ShowStoppers in New York, and he told us a bit about the new product. ZoneAlarm ForceField
sets up a “virtualized surfing” system, that prevents your PC from
downloading malicious code from the web. It also prevents keylogging,
blocks spyware, and scans downloads. There’s also a private browsing
feature that immediately erases all details of your browsing session
once you shut down the browser.ZoneAlarm ForceField is free
while in beta, but will cost $30 when it’s officially launched next
year. The program works with Internet Explorer and Firefox (but not
Opera), and is Windows only.

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Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Free/Open Source | 2 Comments »

It’s A Good Thing There Are Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Posted by telecommatt on September 26, 2007

Yet another reason that we love Or any number of available online office suites. (I’m still partial to Zoho Office.) Or perhaps Google Calculator might have done the trick. All of these tools are available for free so we can double check the work we do with Microsoft Office 😉

Excel 2007 can’t do math (unless 850 * 77.1 = 100,000)

Filed under: ,

Excel 2007

some members of the Download Squad team may be math whizzes, some are
lucky if they can find the Windows calculator. But once it’s up and
running, we’re pretty sure that when you multiply 850 by 77.1, the
answer should be 65,535. But for some reason when you perform the same
calculation using Microsoft Excel 2007, you get 100,000.Now,
100,000 is a nice round number. Generally speaking, we like it. But in
this particular instance it’s wrong. And that’s not something we like
to see in a spreadsheet application. As it turns out, any time you
enter an equation that should result in 65,535, you’ll get 100,000.Microsoft
has been made aware of the problem and is developing a fix. But it’s a
bit surprising that the software’s been on the shelves as long as it
has been without anyone discovering this flaw. Anyone find any other
calculations that come up wrong?[via AppScout]

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Posted in Free/Open Source, Google, WTF?! | Leave a Comment »

Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup for 9-22-07

Posted by telecommatt on September 22, 2007

I’m behind on my news feeds again. And that means it’s time for another Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup. Here are a few stories that I thought particularly interesting. Please comment or contact me with your thoughts.

Weekend Web 2.0 roundup for September 22nd

Filed under: , ,


group calls from a cell phone, mobile device or a desktop computer.
This service uses your existing landline (if you still have one) or
mobile number, but calls are done through IM applications like AIM,
Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo! The service is currently getting ready to
launch in a private beta.

Somewhat skeptical about mass adoption here. I’m wondering who will find value in this. Is this likely to be conference-calling-on-the-cheap or party line 2.0?

Science: How Evolutionary Biology Explains Office Politics


There may be ancient evolutionary impulses behind modern-day office politics.
If human nature is shaped by our monkey pasts, and the tens of
thousands of years our species spent as hunter-gatherers, we might want
to use some 100,000 year-old solutions to fights over the printer,
snarky sysadmins, and lateral promotions. In that spirit, Stanford
neuroscientist and author Robert M. Sapolsky offers Lifehacker some lessons from human prehistory to solve modern-day office dilemmas.

Now ask yourself, “Doesn’t that explain a lot?” Makes you think about your boss and coworkers in a whole new way, huh?

Information Addiction: A recent survey shows most Americans are …

A recent survey shows most Americans are uncomfortable going more than a day without the internet; online activity also lessens the amount of time people spend having sex and socializing with friends face-to-face.

No comment…

Office Supplies: Temporarily Pin Documents with Your Stapler


Blogger Jacob Grier discovers what Wikipedia calls “the least known
stapling method”: pinning. If you rotate the plate on the bottom of
your stapler, it will bend staples outward instead of inward to fasten
things temporarily. Easily remove a pinned staple by pulling it along
the plane of the document. Many modern staplers don’t have this feature
any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out.
The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence]

Ah, the joys of being a cube warrior again! Apparently, everything in my office requires a staple. I’ve seen staple marks on single sheets of paper often enough to no longer be surprised. As for “modern” staplers, a modern stapler in my little cube nation is one that still works! Which means I’ll have plenty of opportunity to try this little trick out.

Windows: Find Out If Your Computer Is Secretly Connecting to the Web

you are trying to track down why your computer is running so
slooowwwly, try using this simple DOS command from Digital Inspiration
to uncover a possible problem:

  • Type cmd in your Windows Run box.
  • Type “netstat -b 5 > activity.txt” and press enter.
  • After say 2 minutes, press Ctrl+C.
  • Type “activity.txt” on the command line to open the log file in notepad (or your default text editor)

This .txt file will have a record of everything that has made an
Internet connection in the last couple of minutes; you can then check
your task manager to find out where it is and take care of it.
Is Your Computer Connecting To Websites Without Your Knowledge [Digital Inspiration]

I might pull this out and file it under Tech Tips. It drives me crazy when something suddenly starts using my PC that isn’t me! Most of the time, it’s nothing to be concerned about, but when it gets in the way of what I’m doing, it’s gotta stop. This is especially true if I’ve been running Firefox for a while and it’s started swallowing my RAM whole.

Major Media Companies Found Hacking The Pirate Bayfrom Mashable! by Kristen Nicole

Some leaked emails at the MediaDefender-Defenders has granted The Pirate Bay
the proof it needed to file charges against several media companies.
These emails prove that some major record labels and film production
and distribution companies have hired professional hackers and
saboteurs to destroy The Pirate Bay’s trackers.

Okay, that’s just sad!

Beware of PDF Files! Adobe Security Vulnerability Found.

Don’t open any PDF files anytime soon. Better yet, don’t
even go to any websites where PDF files may be embedded. According to
hacker Petko Petkov, there’s a vulnerability in Adobe Acrobat/Reader
that lets malware into your Windows box with no prompts of any sort.
All you need to do is open a PDF file or open a URL that has a PDF file
Petkov says that this has been confirmed for Adobe Reader 8.1 on
Windows XP, though a comprehensive list of other affected versions has
not been compiled or published. It’s important to note that this
vulnerability has not been confirmed by any third parties or Adobe as
of yet. A similar vulnerability for Quicktime on Firefox had been found by Petkov as well, and has been addressed with Firefox’s latest release
[via wired]

Wow! Major setback for Adobe! Not to mention the entire corporate world… In the meantime, I highly recommend Foxit. It’s free, it’s fast, and it’s not Adobe.

Help Find Memory Leaks in Firefox

firefox logo

If you’re a Firefox enthusiast, the Mozilla community is
currently looking for additional volunteers to help reduce memory usage
and fix any memory leaks in the browser. If you’re not a
programmer, Firefox programmer Jesse Ruderman says you can still help:

“If you’re a Firefox user, an easy way to help is to browse
with a trunk nightly build wrapped in a script that calls
when Firefox exits. If it reports that documents or windows leaked, try
to figure out how to reproduce the leak and then file a bug

The goal of the project is to reduce the memory usage in Firefox 3.
On his blog, Ruderman details a number of leaks that have already been
identified and fixed.
For more info on Firefox 3, check out the project’s wiki page at Mozilla.

Count me in! I very often will find that I have to do silly things like eat and sleep when I’m in the middle of a project or writing assignment. I prefer to leave Firefox running so I know exactly where I left off when I come back. And it’s not uncommon for me to find that Firefox is consuming a whopping 350+MB’s of memory. A portion of this is due to memory intensive Firefox extensions, but the majority is due to a known memory leak in Firefox itself. So, if you’re a Firefox user, roll up your sleeves and lets tackle this memory thing!

Your Very Own Podcasts–The Easy Way

you want to be a star? You don’t actually have to want to be a
star to begin recording and distributing your very own podcasts.
Increasingly, businesses and web sites of all stripes are turning to
podcasting for everything from online marketing to tutorials. Also,
many commuters and travelers now get business information from
podcasts. Web workers of numerous kinds can benefit from learning to
produce them, whether they are for audio blogs, remote presentations,
tutorials intended for a workgroup, or other purposes.

The good news is, the equipment you need to do very professional
material is either inexpensive or free, and there are multiple ways to
distribute your content to audiences that can grow in size if you
engage them. In this post, I’ll delve into some of the best
choices for your podcasting effort.

I’ve posted about podcasts and podcasting before, and I can’t stress enough the value a quality podcast can create for any business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a SOHO working in the basement or a marketing exec in a 500+ employee company, a quality podcast proves that you are the expert in what you do. After all, why does Emeril have a product line that sells successfully? Because he has a show that proves to people he’s the expert, with a personality that people come back for, and that people walk away from having learned something that’s important to them. (Just a note, podcasts don’t have to be audio-only. Vodcasting, with video, adds an entirely new dimension with which to engage your audience.) Do you know more than your competition? Prove it! Podcast it!

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Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Firefox, Free/Open Source, Freelancing, LinkRoundup, Mobile, OMG!, Podcasts/Podcasting, Tech Tips | 2 Comments »

Forget About Microsoft Office with 2.3

Posted by telecommatt on September 17, 2007

Even if you missed your chance at an early download, is an absolutely must-have software suite. I do most of my document editing online, but this Microsoft Office killer is one of the first pieces of software I install on a new machine. 2.3

Download 2.3 a few days early

Filed under: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Office,, Open Source
2.3 will officially be released on Monday. But if you’re the impatient
sort, you can download it this weekend. The software has been
distributed to download mirrors including OSUOSL a few days early in order to make launch day run a bit more smoothly.All
you have to do is select 2.3, choose your operating
system and language, and away you go. There are a ton of bug fixes and
feature updates since OpenOffice 2.2 was launched. Here are just a few.

  • New export filter for writing Wiki pages
  • Spell check 1 letter words
  • New chart wizard
  • A whole slew of new local data including Jewish holidays in the US, and updated currency in Venezuela
  • Language guessing for unknown text
    You can find more updates in the release notes.

[via Ejoh]

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Microsoft Encourages Stealing with New MS Office Promo

Posted by telecommatt on September 13, 2007

Microsoft wants students to “steal” Office (for $60) – Download Squad

We’re not sure that’s a “steal,” considering you can get for free. But $60 is still a lot cheaper than $400.

Posted in Free/Open Source | Leave a Comment »