Don't count Microsoft out just yet - the tech behemoth is reinventing itself. (Creative Commons Photo: Nils Geylen)

A different Microsoft

ABOUT two years back, someone reached out to me because of our digital tourism initiative. He introduced himself as the open source software specialist of Microsoft Philippines. I choked on my midnight coffee. Until recently, one does not find the phrase open source in the same sentence as Microsoft, unless in opposition.

Among the many things former Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer is known for was his statement on the open source license under which Linux is being developed.

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” Ballmer was quoted as saying in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source.” Continue reading →

The elementary OS desktop is one of the most beautiful and easy to use out-of-the-box Linux distributions.

Elementary OS, my dear PC

IT used to be that you’d never find the words “Linux” and “easy to use” in the same sentence.

Linux, to the unfamiliar, is an operating system – the basic software that allows you to use your computer. It’s like Windows (although that comparison probably made a lot of its developers and users cringe).

The main difference between Linux and Windows is the way these are developed. Windows is a proprietary system built by a single company- Microsoft. Linux is built by a global community of users under an open source license – a framework that encourages sharing and collaboration.

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Stop paying for (or pirating) Microsoft Office, get LibreOffice

LibreOffice released version 4.0 of its office productivity suite a few days ago and early reviews and feedback point to a solid release.

LibreOffice is the free and open source equivalent to Microsoft Office. Unlike Microsoft Office, which costs as much as P10,995 for a single license under the Home and Small Business edition, LibreOffice is free.

It is, as advocates are wont to say, free as in beer and free as in speech, meaning it costs nothing and does not come with license restrictions.

The LibreOffice suite of applications includes Writer (for word processing, the equivalent of Word), Impress (for presentations, think PowerPoint), Calc (a spreadsheet program similar to Excel), Math (a program for dealing with mathematical formulas and causing nose bleed), Draw (a drawing and diagramming tool similar to Visio), and Base (a database program similar to Microsoft Access). Continue reading →

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Open source for the win

ON Christmas Eve, I cobbled together a network-attached storage (NAS) at home to enable everyone in our house to have a shared directory for school, work and personal files. This shared directory is also accessible from outside the house – like a rudimentary personal “cloud” for our family.

It wasn’t complicated — you can go to my blog for the article on the process — because the setup was a matter of connecting an old portable USB drive to a cheap CD-R King wireless router and setting things up using a visual interface.

The magic sauce in the setup is the Tomato firmware that runs on the router. Tomato is a Linux-based router firmware that allows you to manage your device on such things as filtering and setting quality of service rules for certain types of connections so that people browsing websites don’t experience crawling connection when someone downloads using a torrent.

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

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WP Remote simplifies and centralizes the monitoring, backing up and upgrading of your WordPress sites. It is a free service. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Running multiple WordPress sites? Here’s a service and plugin you should use

The maintenance of multiple WordPress sites can be tedious and time-consuming. The necessary tasks of updating plugins and themes and backing up your files and database site-by-site can take up a large chunk of your time, depending on the number of sites you manage. This is time better spent writing and blogging.

WP Remote simplifies and centralizes this task with its excellent free service. I have been using the service for more than a month now and it has been a great tool and time-saver.

WP Remote is a free service that provides a single interface to monitor your WordPress installations, back up files and data and upgrade plugins and themes. It is both a service that you sign up to and a plugin that you install in the WordPress sites that you want to manage with the service.

WP Remote simplifies and centralizes the monitoring, backing up and upgrading of your WordPress sites. It is a free service. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

WP Remote simplifies and centralizes the monitoring, backing up and upgrading of your WordPress sites. It is a free service. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

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2 crazy ones

TWO giants of technology died in recent weeks in widely contrasting fashion. Many mourned the passing of the genius who was Steve Jobs, only a few marked the demise of the genius who was Dennis Ritchie.

But despite that disparity, in life as in death, there is a thread that binds Jobs and Ritchie – that of greatness, genius and Unix.

Jobs changed technology and made it elegant, producing product after product that transformed industries — the Apple II, Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad. Any one of those products would have been enough to cement the legacy of a technology entrepreneur.

Jobs was uncanny in seeing technology trends. “He told us what we needed before we wanted it,” the Associated Press said in reporting his death. And it was something he was particularly proud of.

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will,” Jobs said in 2007.

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matt

WordPress rides the open source juggernaut

Eight years after it was started by a 19-year-old college freshman as a blogging software, WordPress now powers 14.7 percent of the world’s top one million websites. It is used in 55 million websites.

In his annual State of The Word address last week, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg also said the open source content management system (CMS) now runs 22 out of every 100 new websites created in the US.

The velocity in WordPress adoption and its dominance illustrate the strength of the open source model, where the community is involved in the development of the software. It is not a coincidence that the top open source CMS packages today, WordPress and Drupal, also have the most active developer and user communities.

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address.

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CE-GNU-LUG talks about Meego during a meetup last July 29 in TechBar at the Asiatown It Park.

CE-GNU-LUG keeps, spreads the faith

LITTLE John looms large in the Cebu open source community. In installfests, he towers.

My first encounter with John Clark “Little John” Naldoza and his merry band of local open source advocates was in an installfest, a gathering hosted by a Linux users’ group (LUG) where people can bring their computers for installation of a Linux operating system (OS), in about 2000.

CE-GNU-LUG talks about Meego during a meetup last July 29 in TechBar at the Asiatown It Park.

CE-GNU-LUG talks about Meego during a meetup last July 29 in TechBar at the Asiatown It Park. (PHOTO BY JONEL ALBACETE AGUTAYA)

Back then, open source wasn’t as widely accepted by people or businesses.

I had arranged, via e-mail, to meet Little John and looked around one of the trade halls in SM City Cebu with level eyes, only to be approached by a giant of a man with an expansive knowledge of everything tech. Little John is a man you look up to, literally and figuratively.

In 1999, Naldoza, Emmanuel William Yu and Ryan Go discussed in Plug (Philippine Linux Users’ Group) the setting up of a Cebu Linux Users’ Group. They decided to name the group phonetically after the festival that helped make Cebu known worldwide.

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Copyright? Try copyleft

STOP the “culture of copying” among Filipinos, Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Philippines Director General Ricardo Blancaflor said in his speech during the Cebu Creative Industries Summit on June 21.

Blancaflor pressed on the need to respect copyrights, saying creative industries rely on intellectual property.

Creative industries, he said, posted a yearly growth of 14 percent from 2002 to 2008. Blancaflor said the Philippines can compete with more developed countries through creative industries, which make full use of skills and talent.

Blancaflor makes a very important point. Software piracy, for example, is estimated at 69 percent in the country, accounting for $278 million in financial losses in 2010.

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Showing Windows the door: the case for open source

THE warnings are ominous. The Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT) is strengthening its campaign against pirated software and cautioning businesses that refuse to have their software inspected that they will “face legal sanctions unless they show proof that they are using licensed software.”

All Open Source. Editing my blog post in WordPress in my Linux work station.

ALL OPEN SOURCE. Editing my blog post on WordPress, a powerful open source content management system, in my Ubuntu Linux workstation.

The warnings come even as PAPT found rural banks, universities and hospitals using unlicensed software in a recent series of raids in Iloilo City. PAPT said they are set to hold more raids in other parts of the country.

In 2010, the Philippines’ PC software piracy rate stood at 69 percent, the fourth consecutive year that it stayed unchanged. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) pegged losses caused by software piracy in the Philippines at $278 million, a staggering amount from the $141.7 million recorded in 2007.

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