Engadget today is reporting on a plan by French authorities to issue USB drives stocked with Open Source software to 175,000 Parisian high school students. For now the list of OS programs is up in the air. The Greater Paris Regional Council, which appears to be in charge of the initiative, will be taking bids from firms interested in providing the drives. Apparently the wining bidder will be choosing which Open Source apps make the cut.
Just about everyone is expecting Firefox and Thunderbird to end up on the drives but I thought I'd include a few other "must have" open source apps that would be great for students.
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Freeware screen capture utility Cropper is a must have for anyone who finds themselves regularly needing to grab images off their desktop. Simply launch the app and frame the image you need within Cropper's transparent UI. Double click twice and you've got a screenshot formatted for your needs.
Cropper can be set to save anywhere on your PC and can also capture images to .bmp, .jpg, .png, your clipboard and even straight to your printer.
Have you ever clicked on a link only to get brought to a page that's not available?
[ErrorZilla] Implements a useful error page when a website cannot be reached. Will add "Try Again," "Google Cache," "Coralize," "Wayback," "Ping," "Trace," and "Whois" buttons, along with the Firefox logo to the error page when a website isn't found or a web server is down.
This is a great way to figure out if a site is permanently unavailable as well as track down what was originally on it.
If you're a longtime internet user you probably remember IRC and other chat systems that were around before instant messaging. If that's the case you're probably also familiar with bots or "chatterbots." Back in the day these things were used for automating chat room functions like creating moderators and "ops."
While most people may not be familiar with bots they still do exist in a number of different ways. The most familiar bot most AIM users know today usually pretends to be one of your friends. I see these a lot - most of my friends have no idea how to create a hypertext link so I'm instantly suspicious when they send me a message with one in it!
There are several helpful bots that exist today though - one of them is SmarterChild by Colloquis, Inc. Just add SmarterChild to your buddy list and drop it an IM.
When you first IM SmarterChild it'll ask you a few questions (not in the creepy a/s/l way) and then you're ready to go. Type something like "define Synonym" and it will give you a definition. "Synonym Define" and you'll get see a thesaurus. You can even type "Square root of 100" and it'll provide you with an answer!
Besides a dictionary, thesaurus, and calculator you can also use SmarterChild to poll your friends and even send you reminders. That's right, type "Remind me about Heroes at 8:45 PM" and you'll get a text message reminding you to watch TV!
The best news about all of this is that SmarterChild is owned by Microsoft so you can be sure it's trustworthy for sending basic messages.
When I first downloaded Google Browser Sync a few months back I really wasn't very impressed. While it was certainly helpful there were some bugs in it that really bogged it down.
Last week, while rebuilding my Portable Apps Suite installation I thought I'd give it another go. Right now I work across three computers where I am free to install my own stuff and a couple where I'm fairly restricted. Despite being unable to install Firefox I can certainly run it off a USB or SD card - the issue was just keeping my bookmarks up-to-date. After re-installing Google Browser Sync on my three primary PCs and setting it up on my USB Firefox install I'm happy to say everything is working great!
Anytime I boot Firefox on any of my machines (or from my USB drive) all the bookmarks I've collected on ANY of those computers are available to me. If I add a bookmark while at work - it's on my home PC as soon as I start Firefox.
Besides being able to sync my bookmarks and personal data I also learned that Google Browser Sync will sync notes taken in Google Notebook. Trust me, it's a great feature.
Setting up Browser Sync does require having a Google Account - but who doesn't these days?