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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

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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.

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Computer Software | Web Development

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Upscaling DVD to Near HD Resolution

by Eyre Austero 27. November 2009 07:17

TotalMedia Theatre 3

      A trip to your nearest appliance shop will say it all. What you'll be seeing are HDTVs on one side; HD ready camcorders on the other; and more HD compliant gadgets scattered all throughout. It can no longer be denied.  Indeed, HD nowadays is the next thing. But reality check would also show you how expensive it is, well as far as average 'Juans' like me are concerned. Even if we work on the assumption that we were lucky to have saved enough to complete the hardware requirements to enjoy Full HD (1080p), we are still faced with the problem of whether we can afford a lifestyle of shelling out at least around Php 1.3k on a regular basis just to be able to  purchase at least one BD title. Luckily however, there is a way to experience HD or near HD resolution using the cheaper DVD format. The technology is called DVD upscaling/upconverting.

     Just what is this upscaling thing all about?  Simply put, DVD upscaling is a complex process of  upconverting the standard DVD resolution of 480i/p to at least 720p or to a higher one that one's display can support (such as 1080p) . Unlike a mere resizing of image from a lower to a higher resolution, upscaling involves the creation of interpolated data so as to make the resulting image appear to have a notably higher quality.

     If you're like me who is using a PC for movie viewing, a promising solution caught my eyes after spending a bit of my time googling. I'm now going to show  my experience with the trial version of Arcsoft's TotalMedia Theatre 3 with SimHD plugin. SimHD is Arcsoft's upscaling technology that promises to bring standard definition multimedia files or DVDs to high definition ones in real time using its advanced post processing technology. Efficient balance between GPU and CPU usage is achieved through utilizing the NVIDIA CUDA and ATI Stream computing technologies " to solve complex calculations in a fraction of the time required on a CPU".

     There are two options to choose from in using SimHD in TotalMedia Theatre 3: CPU-processing or GPU-processing.  For my purposes, I used the latter option.  After all, this is what my newly purchased Radeon HD4770 is for.

SimHD Options GPU-processing SimHD Options CPU-processing

     Using the splitting video mode wherein the screen is split into two with the left side rendered with SimHD off and the right with SimHD on, the images below will speak for themselves. Clearly, the images on the right screen appear to be shaper and to have more details compared with those on the left.

TotalMedia Theatre 3 Split Mode

TotalMedia Theatre 3 Split Mode

     Although I'm not yet availing this technology for now, it's re-assuring to know that that technology is there and that it keeps on evolving for the better.  

     PS: The video  'captures' presented in this article were taken from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.      

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Computer Software

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