Tag: software

Some useful software for programmers stuck on MS-Windows

Sometimes, even if you mainly develop on Unix/Linux boxes, you are stuck with MS-Windows on your desktop. Moreover, although your are a developer (i.e. someone who is supposed to know how to run a computer), you have no administrator rights so you can’t install the right tools that can improve your productivity and enhance your code stability/security. This is for the sad part.

Fortunately, Free Software are there and most of them can even be run without being installed on your machine, just copy the software and use it! Here is a list of some of the software I’m using. Feel free to promote your favourite application in the comments.

  • CamStudio: record video of bugs for support (free to use)
  • Virtual Desktop Manager: many desktops on MS-Windows (free to use)
  • doxygen: automatically generate documentation from your code (Free Software)
  • Eclipse: integrated development environment with support of many languages (including old COBOL!) and version control systems (Free Software)
  • FileZillaPortable: move file to/from servers (Free Software)
  • Firefox: test web application in a popular browser (Free Software)
  • freemind: mind mapping application (Free Software)
  • GIMPPortable: edit screenshots when you encounter a bug (Free Software)
  • htmlhelp: edit help files for end-users (free to use)
  • InkscapePortable: easily draw any scheme (Free Software)
  • j2sdk1.4: support old Java applications (free to use)
  • jdk1.6: develop and run new Java applications (free to use)
  • LaTeX (MiKTeX): write your dev reports (Free Software)
  • Lynx: surf fast without distraction (Free Software)
  • Netbeans: integrated development environment with support of version control systems (Free Software)
  • PuTTY: connect to servers in SSH (Free Software)
  • PuTTY connection manager: regroup PuTTY windows (Free Software)
  • SumatraPDF: free PDF reader (Free Software)
  • TeXnicCenter: LaTeX editor working with MiKTeX (Free Software)
  • tidy.exe: tidy your HTML code (Free Software)
  • todolist: simple todolist (Free Software)
  • TOra: Oracle database front-end (Free Software)
  • VLCPortable: listen to music and watch all movies (Free Software)
  • wget.exe: easily get files without a browser (Free Software)
  • xmlstarlet: check and process XML files (Free Software)

Pixel lapse under Linux

pixel-lapse under Linux

Finally, I got a working pixel lapse software under Linux 🙂 It’s a bit late (and I have to work tomorrow), code is rather dirty but I’ll publish it as soon as possible (btw that’s why I needed a webcam and a library to read it yesterday). Originally,

"pixel lapse" photography is the process of creating an image one pixel at a time. Beginning in the upper left corner, pixels are captured sequentially at a set rate until the entire image is formed.

Unfortunately, their software only runs on MacOS and Windows and requires Quicktime. Here, I "only" use OpenCV which is free and available under all the OS mentioned in this post. More details soon …

The “full-size” (640×480) image is here on Flickr

Edit on November 5th, 2008: version 0.1 of the software is available here.

The problem with TinyURL …

The problem with TinyURL.com is that its source code is not free. And I can’t find any other open services/projects that offers the same features (1).

I realized this when trying to add a long link in a Twitter update (2, 3). A maximum of 140 characters doesn’t allow you to add much text around. And it seems that a lot of Twitter users are using the TinyURL.com service which allows you to translate a small URL it gives you to the full, “regular” URL. For example, http://www.poirrier.be/~jean-etienne/ (37 characters) becomes http://tinyurl.com/6kq84z (25 characters).

But … TinyURL is trademarked and its terms of services explicitely tell us they may report your activity to some “agencies” … In addition to the reasons why Udi hates TinyURLs, I wonder how is stored your URLs. Well, it’s not exactly “how?” but “with which additional information?”. I guess they store your IP address, ISP and location (to be able to report your activity to your ISP and U.S. agencies) along with your submition, date & time, … Nothing is said about privacy in their page. Nothing is said either about the time they will keep your URL (what if you try to use your TinyURL in 5 months or 5 years?). And obviously, no source code available. On the other hand, if you don’t want to use the service, you are also free not to use it.

The only problem is that I can’t find proper, free/open alternatives. There are dead/unborn projects like this one at Mozdev or url(x) (no, GiganticURL is not a solution 😉 ). And there is even a PEAR service to TinyURL. Decent URL is not a solution since it’s only a variation on TinyURL (still not open/free and nothing about privacy). BURL is often cited but the only link I have is broken.

It could be nice to have a TinyURL-like service with open source/free source code and a clear overview of privacy settings (why not à-la-carte settings defined when the user submit his/her long URL?). (Note that Udi also has interesting additional ideas in his previously cited post, mainly about knowing what kind of media you’ll get with the short URL)

(1) The first sentence of this post is a kind of “executive summary”. I hope I’m not getting too old to indulge myself in this kind of thing 😉
(2) Yes, I now have a Twitter account. I don’t know the real purpose of having this kind of thing along with my own blog. Let’s see …
(3) I know, Twitter doesn’t have an open/free source code too. But open source microblogging site may become Twitter fallback.

Two nice schemes about Open Source

I don’t know how I stumble upon this report of a conference (English translation) from Avi Alkalay but I liked 2 schemes he showed.

In this first scheme (left), I like the way it reminds you that “Open” is not only about software, source code. But now that more and more people are aware of the benefits of Open Source software, it’s interesting to also stress the other sides of openness: open standards (like OpenDocument), open hardware, open architecture.
In the second scheme (below) is about the trend from private control / closed access to public control / open access (apparently from Rebecca Henderson; it could be interesting to find this whole presentation from 2004).

There is a third scheme in Avi’s post but there is something I don’t like in it, although it’s visually appealing. Although I understand that proprietary and open innovations should collaborate for the time being, I think that Open Innovation is the model to follow. Moreover, the “speed-to-market” criteria is, imho, better in the Open Innovation model (but maybe I should see Rebecca Henderson’s presentation).