June 30, 2008

Free Mac Software

I just replied to a request for recommended free Macintosh software at the NECC 2008 Ning site. I figured I might as well repurpose this information, so here goes... My favorite free Mac apps:

Adium - IM client, works with multiple services
Camino browser
CamTwist: broadcast your desktop as a video source in skype, etc (though not iChat)
CocoThumbX: Great utility for creating thumbnail images of files including BMP, TIFF, GIF, PNG, JPG, PICT, PDF, EPS, DOC, RTF, RTFD, HTML, CSS, TXT and QuickTime supported Movies.
Cyberduck: FTP and SFTP client
EasyFind: Even faster than Spotlight
Firefox browser
Flock browser: The social browser
Flip4Mac: Play WMA and WMV files in QuickTime Player--no need for Windows Media Player!
iSquint: Convert video files for iPod or other handhelds
Jing: Free screen capture (still image and video) for Mac & PC
Joost: Internet TV
KompoZer: A more recent spin-off of Netscape Composer, then Mozilla Composer, then Nvu, now KompoZer--very good built-in CSS editor for newbies
MacTracker: Know everything about your Macs (and all others)
MeBeam: No software to download, just enter a room name to video conference with multiple people for free!
Miro: Internet TV (and video podcasts, torrents, etc.)
Mousepose: OK, this one ain't free, but it's worth the price for highlighting areas of your screen for demos and screencasts!
NeoOffice: OpenOffice for Mac (free alternative to MS Office)
Opera browser
Paparazzi: Easily create screen captures of full web pages
SecondLife: Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE)
Skype: VoIP and video conferencing solution
ThumbsUp: Another great thumbnail maker for files
Thunderbird: Great alternative to OS Mail, a Mozilla project
Transmission: BitTorrent client
Jiggler: Jiggle the mouse at specified intervals to keep your Mac from sleeping
Onyx: Enable hidden features of OS X or run maintenance scripts.
SuperDuper: Backup utility software, create a bootable clone of your startup disk.
Vienna: Free RSS/Atom newsreader
VLC: Video player, plays multiple video formats
Web Minimalist: Great simple and free HTML editor with built-in preview--excellent for teaching HTML and web design
YemuZip: Great Zip compression utility, create Zip files in native PC or Mac formats
Blogged with the Flock Browser

June 29, 2008

Why 13 percent think Obama is Muslim

Who is responsible for the baseless email smear campaign claiming Barack Obama is a Muslim? You know, the various emails claiming that Obama was born into Islam, isn't a real Christian, is hiding a radical Islamic upbringing, or that he chose to be sworn into the US Senate with a Koran--all misinformation designed to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate. Look, there's Dick Cheney posing with a Koran!

The Washington Post reports on the attempts of Dr. Danielle Allen, a political theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study, to trace the origin(s) of these email chains. Interestingly, some of her first clues emerged as the result of simply Googling some of the more unusual phrases contained in the various emails. The changing terminology and addition or subtraction of certain claims in the malicious email messages seemed synchronized with certain individuals' contributions to the FreeRepublic website. Dr. Allen's investigative journey highlights both the ease and complexity involved with spreading misinformation via the internet. The article also quotes the man who credits himself as the first to label Obama a Muslim back in 2004, Andy Martin, a former Illinois political opponent of Obama.

This smear campaign isn't new, of course. Such nefarious emails followed Obama throughout the primary process, coincidentally surging in states with upcoming primaries or caucuses. One would think that such an obvious attempt to Swiftboat the candidate would by now have run its course. However, as the Washington Post article reports, polls suggest the number of voters who believe Obama is a Muslim is actually increasing (from 8 percent of voters in November of 2007 to 13 percent in March, 2008). So, expect to see more of these deplorable rumors and insinuations to arrive in your inbox during the general election.

Democrats should fight back. Direct people to websites like FightTheSmears.com and isbarackobamaamuslim.com, but don't stop there! Perhaps we should start publishing the email addresses of the people who send us such emails. We could use our blogs, YouTube, social networks, Flickr, wikis, and numerous other Web 2.0 tools to expose the persons who are actively spreading these baseless rumors and misinformation. Let them receive a barrage of replies to provide clarity of the facts--and their own morality.

June 25, 2008

Road trip

A trip to Ocracoke it ain't, but we're on the way to Grandma's. We realized Lucy's highchair (Chicco brand) was easy enough to pull out of the trunk and use at this rest area. I'm checking my email, using Twitter mobile (http://m.twitter.com), and Blogger from my cell phone while Lucy eats. Life is good with the mobile web!

June 19, 2008

Comparing midwest floods to Katrina

I've noticed emails like this begin to circulate. They make me mad.

> Subject: Flooding in Iowa/Illinois
> "I have been reading about and seeing the devastation of the floods in
> Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. It is terrible. I have heard it compared to
> the devastation of Katrina. One thing I haven't noticed. I have not
> noticed anyone blaming President Bush. I have not noted any looting. I
> have not noted anyone spending any money vouchers on Tattoos, Body
> Piercings, Drugs, or Parties. I have noticed people helping each other and
> working together. Not just sitting around and waiting for some Government
> Agency to bail them out and give them a bunch of freebies, and then
> complaining that what they are given is not enough. Perhaps the Press has
> just missed that. Can anyone explain this?"

This is a hillbilly comparison--and, frankly, racist. There's a big difference between A) abandoning thousands of people for days without water, shelter or adequate security while the incompetent cronies that President Bush hired to run federal agencies debated what they could or should do and B) responding immediately to provide shelters, FEMA trailers, the national guard, and other agencies to make sure that people in the midwest have been safeguarded during (even before) the floods.

I'm proud of the way Iowans have responded to our local disasters, but that does not change the fact the local, state and federal governments failed miserably to serve the victims of Katrina. Even President Bush himself has acknowledged that our government did not respond appropriately to that disaster.

June 16, 2008

Here on campus!

Having a great time with 17 students in our new IT Masters 2008 cohort. This morning, we've been exploring some mobile tools like GOOG-411 and SMS.