Open Source Review

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Gaming Dice

Yes, I'm back again. I stumbled on this one in a sort of random way, the details of which you can read about in my livejournal if you're interested.

Anyway, the idea behind the program is pretty basic - it's a dice simulator! :-) LOL. The thing that makes it cool though is that you can set up very complex dice rolls with HUGE impossible dice. The makers don't say how where the limit lies, although through some experimentation my guess is somewhere at about 75 sides. You can also set up complex roles of multiple dice...so for example, entering the command "2d8" will roll two eight sided dice and add the total together. The command "d6" will role a single, standard die. That's about it really.

Gaming Dice Version 0.1.5

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Phew!

Not been updating this over the last few days. My life is a bit insane right now - I'm looking for a new job, about to move house...so everything's a bit hectic, hence the sporadic posting. I don't really have anything to review right now, so I'd thought I'd leave you with some of the sources I've used to find stuff over the last few months.

Sourceforge - THE place to start when looking for open-source stuff for any platform. The search they have there is really comprehensive, and the projects cover more the vast majority of platforms. The problem is - there's so much there, that it's difficult to find something unless you know what you're looking for.

BBC OpenSource - I mentioned this a few months ago when it was launched. There's not much to interest the average desktop user there right now, the projects they have up are probably only of interest to developers.

Linspire have a good directory of software up - obviously, their website is geared towards Linux and in particular, Linspire...but a lot of open source stuff is cross-platform - so, I've looked through there before now, found a program that looks interesting and then used Google or Sourceforge to find the project's homepage and versions of the software for other platforms.

Freshmeat - again this geared towards Linux really, but there's cross platform stuff there too that's worth checking out.

Opensourcelist.org - this one is targetted at Windows users. Not hugely comprehensive, but it's well presented in categories with a small description and comments on each program.

The OSSwin project - absolutely HUGE list of categorised open-source stuff for windows. It's just a list of links though, so it's a good one to check out if you've got time to surf around and investigate stuff yourself.

The Open CD project - this is a suite of open source programs put together in a single ISO (a CD image). The software they've chosen represents some of the best open source programs out there right now, so it's worth checking out what they've included....whether you download and burn the ISO or trackdown the individual software you're looking for yourself.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Noscript (firefox extension)

This one's a bit of a cop-out on my part, but I've been using it over the last few days and I think it's fantastic. Anyway, what noscript is is a firefox extension that blocks all scripts and plugins from the sites you visit - unless you specifically whitelist them.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, security for a start. While Firefox is much more secure than Internet Explorer - why even let a script run unless you want it's functionality? It blocks those new Flash based pop-ups that can sneak around Firefox's pop-up blocker (see here for another way to kill those). It also stops those autoplaying music videos that some idiots insist on having on their sites (please don't do that - it's annoying and frankly, tacky). So, it kills potentially dangerous and annoying things on the net.

What about if you come across a site where you want plugins and scripts to run?

Well, you click on it's icon in the bottom right corner of the browser where you can whitelist the site permently, or just for this session. Once you do that, everything will be re-enabled for that site and the page will be refreshed. If the page is loading content from multiple servers, then you can selectively allow and disallow them (for example, if the page is loading a flash movie from it's own server and a flash based ad from an ad-server - you can just selectively allow the original server, leaving the ad-server blocked).

Noscript Homepage

Friday, August 12, 2005

Complete 1.0.3

Complete is a really cool, simple idea. It's a small open-source application that sits on top of all your windows and monitors the words you type, storing each one in a dictionary. If you start to type the same word you've already typed once before, it'll pop in the list of "current completions" in the program...if you then press both shift keys at the same time, that word is automatically typed in for you.



It works really, really well (the only place it doesn't work is in MS-DOS boxes). There are plenty of options in there to define what keyboard shortcut completes a remembered word, the number of words to remember, the minimum length of remembered words...that sort of thing.

I'm sure someone will find this useful, but personally I wouldn't use it. Not that I don't like it, it works quite well and it's a cool idea...but I've been using a keyboard virtually before I could walk so it's easier for me to just type. Plus, it can distract from your flow when writing (which is something that the auto-complete-ness of MS-Office products suffer from too), but like I said, I'm sure it has plenty of uses for some people...just not me.

Complete Homepage

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

jMemorize 0.9.1

This is sort of unusual for piece of software but simple in concept. Basically, it's computerised flash cards for learning facts.

You define a side of a card that's shown to you, maybe a question or an English word if you're trying to learn foreign vocabulary. You then define the answer to that card. Set up a series of cards, then you can get the software to play back the "question side" of the card and you give the answer.

You can't answer a card on the computer though - it shows the "question" and then it's up to you to try to think of the answer. You can then click a button to reveal the other side and choose whether you got the answer right or wrong. The program keeps track of all your right and wrong answers and will show you which cards you've learnt - it's all down to your own honesty though. If you check the box that says you got the right answer when you didn't, you're obviously not going to get anywhere with it. :-)

There are loads of options for arranging cards into categories and trees, as well as options to choose how long a "learning session" will last and whether the program will retest you on the cards you got wrong. It's written in java and supplied as a .jar file - so it should run on pretty much any OS as long as you have Java set up properly. It's also reasonably quick for something written in Java (for a change! :-) )

jMemorize Homepage