Combatting Software Piracy through the use of FLOSS

by Eyre Austero 21. December 2009 06:38

     According to the IDC Global Software Piracy Study conducted during the years 2004 and 2005, the software piracy rate of the Philippines remained at 71%. Losses due to this was also found to  increase from 69 million USD to 76 million USD. 

     This only goes to show the obvious: that, indeed, software piracy is rampant in our country.  And the sad thing is, it is also hurting the economy. As concerned citizens who would like to abide with our existing Intellectual Porperty laws (RA 8293 (Intellectual Property Code) and RA 9239 (Optical Media Act)) , what can we do to help? For me, one solution is through the use of free/libre/open source softwares (FLOSS) as alternatives  to commercial softwares that are sometimes difficult to afford.

    My first encounter with FLOSS was during my university days. This was in my one-semester programming class where we created and compiled programs on PCs powered by a Linux OS. My first impression was that the GUI looks nice but at the back of my mind, I did not really think that it can work as well as Windows.  My next encounter is with OpenOffice.org.  Again, this was during my university days when some of the computer facilities (like those in the main library) were starting to have it as the default office software suite.  As with before, I thought that it looks nice (even comparable to Microsoft Office) but was not really convinced that it can work as well as MS Office. 

     I can't fault myself for thinking that way in the past. For one, I did not have much opportunity to explore their functionalities at length. Second, I had this notion that since they're free, something might be wrong with them somewhere.

     Now, things have changed.  Almost all softwares installed in my PC are either open source or freeware. This is because I've used them myself and found them to work fine for my everyday needs. 

     Let me now show you some of the free/libre/open source softwares that I am currently using. I'm inviting you to give them a try to see for yourselves if they're enough for your needs. If ever you don't like them or can't live with their limitations there's always a commercial software out there for you.

Category Software Type
Operating Sytem (Dual-boot with Win7) Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)
Open Source
Office Software Suite OpenOffice.org Open Source
Photo Editing GIMP 2 Open Source
Media Player VLC Media Player Open Source
FTP Client FileZilla Open Source
Encryption TrueCrypt Open Source
Graphics Viewer InfranView Freeware


Computer Software

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A Hassle-free Way to Install IIS, SQL Server, .NET Framework, etc.

by Eyre Austero 16. December 2009 09:33

     If you are currently into web development (or are considering of exploring it) using Microsoft's web platform, here's a nice application that will install IIS, the .NET framework, SQL Server, Visual Web Developer Express, and web applications such as BlogEngine.NET and Wordpress the hassle-free way.  It is called the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI). Quoting from Microsoft's website ,"Web PI handles the heavy-lifting by installing and configuring each component of the platform from top to bottom."

     I personally used it to install BlogEngine.NET after doing a clean install of Windows 7. To my delight, it worked out of the box without me having to configure anything. 

     Attached below are some screenshots of the Web PI.

Web PI Web Platform Tab Web PI Web Applications Tab

Please click images to view larger version.

     For more information about this application, visit  Microsoft's website.


Computer Software | Web Development

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My Beginner Photographer Starter Kit

by Eyre Austero 10. December 2009 06:47

     Inspired by the creative controls for taking photos available in my Canon PowerShot G9, an advanced point and shoot camera, I am now finally completely decided in moving a notch higher.  I am now going into the DSLR plunge and the biggest question now is: What camera  should I get and what accessories at a budget of only around Php 50k (~1000 USD)?

     If only the Canon 40D, a semi-pro (prosumer) camera, were still available in the Philippine market, I would have gone for it considering the steep drop in prices (for even as low as PHP 45k with the kit lens and a local Canon warranty) before it got phased out. As for its successor, the Canon 50D, the camera body alone already exceeds PHP 50K so I'm  removing it out of the picture. With the prosumer model out of my budget's reach, this now leaves me with the next best thing (or should we say cheaper alternative): the latest models in the mid-range segment namely the Canon 500D and the Nikon D5000.

Photos of the D5000 and the 500D

     In terms of performance and features, these two models are in a tight neck-to-neck battle. In the 500D's favor, it sports a 15.1 MP sensor as opposed to the D5000's 12.9 MP; a 920,000 dots LCD monitor resolution as opposed to Nikon's 230,000 dots; a 1080p movie mode as opposed to Nikon's 720p; a maximum sensitivity of 12800 ISO compared to the D5000's 6400 ISO; a greater tonal depth (14 bits vs 12bit); a slightly larger viewfinder; a live histogram in live view; an autofocus motor built into the body; and an optional battery grip.  In D5000's favor on the other hand is its slightly more sophisticated AF system (11-point vs. 9-point); its quicker continuous shooting (4 fps vs 3.4 fps); its on demand grid lines in the optical viewfinder; its fully articulated screen; its lower noise level at higher sensitivities; its time-lapse movie mode; interval shooting; and a more user-friendly interface for beginners.  For a more detailed comparison between these two models, please refer to this article. Over-all, these cameras are very decent performers at their price points.

     For my first DSLR camera then, it would be either of the two. To complete my "starter kit", i'll be needing the kit lens as my temporary walkaround lens (if budget were not an issue, I would go for the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens); a cheap prime lens; and a tripod. Other accessories such as filters, battery grips, external flashes, etc. will have to follow after I fully learned the basics of photography.

     For a preview of how much my  planned "starter kit" (camera+kit lens+accessories) will cost, summarized below are the components plus the corresponding prices (as of Dec 10, 2009).

Item Canon Nikon Notes
Canon 500D kit (EF-S 18-55mm IS Lens) 42,500   3 yrs. Canon Warranty (parts and service)
Nikon D5000 kit (Nikkor DX 18-55mm VR)   45,800 2 yrs. Columbia Warranty (parts and service)
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II 4,000   1 yr. Canon Warranty
Nikkor 50mm 1.8   8000 1 yr. Warranty
Velbon Sherpa 435 5,100 5,100  
Total 51,600  58,900  

     Given the PHP 7k difference between "my" Nikon and Canon "starter kits", I'll go for the Canon 500D,hopefully, within January of next year. 


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