By Alix E. Peshette
I love Open Source and Freeware! As a past junior high computer science teacher, I was always looking at software prices and multiplying them x 34 workstations. Even the least expensive software took a pretty large bite out of the department budget. I spent a lot of time researching, installing, testing and using Open Source and freeware as the only viable alternative.
In the years since I was in the computer lab, Open Source and Freeware have gained a higher visibility and a well-deserved respectability in the technology world. The egalitarian paradigm of Open Source software is hopefully the way of the future!
So, here are some of my favorite picks:
ieSpell – The Blogger’s friend! This little gem is an Internet Explorer spell-checker for input text boxes on web pages.
CamStudio - A really decent screen capture program. CamStudio records activity from your screen and audio from a microphone into AVI video files and can also convert the AVIs into Streaming Flash videos (SWFs) using its built-in SWF Producer.
Audacity - Probably the most popular audio recording software in the K-12 tech arena. This software runs on almost everything; Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux.
Levelator - A great companion to Audacity for podcasting and radio theatre. Levelator adjusts the audio levels for variations from one speaker to the next. Levelator runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) or 10.3 (Panther)
Sony AcidXPress - It's easy to create original music-even if you're new to loop-based music software. The power of the application stems from its ability to take any audio loop and make it fit into the tempo of a project. This fully functioning freeware has some high-end features, but pop-ups inviting one to purchase companion software can be annoying. But hey – it’s free!
Among the paint, image editing and graphics programs I have known and loved:
Photo Story 3 – This very cool software falls somewhere between simple graphics program, presentation software and video editor. Once one uses Photo Story 3, it’s hard to go back to PowerPoint! Win 2000 and higher
PhotoFiltre – This is a very nice basic graphics editor with a great selection of useful and fun artistic filters. The interface is pretty standard and simple – great for kids.
GimpShop – Finally, a version of Gimp that has a nice familiar interface! This is the closest thing to a free copy of PhotoShop.
Deep Paint - Deep Paint integrates stroke-by-stroke artistic photo-cloning, fully editable brush and canvas settings, and paint functionality for realistic and stunning paint effects.
Paint.net - Free image editing and photo manipulation software designed to be used on computers that run Windows. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools.
TuxPaint - Tux Paint is a free drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program.
ArtRage - Paint with oils, sketch with pencils, sprinkle glitter, and more. You can paint with gold leaf, silver foil, and other metallic colors. You can even load in your photos as Tracing Images to help you recreate them as paintings. Runs on Windows and Mac OS X
The Rasterbator - The Rasterbator is an application which creates rasterized versions of images that can be printed and assembled into enormous posters.
Andy Warhol Replicator - An application for adding Pop-Art effects to your digital photos. The freeware comes with ready to use filter effects pre-defined in various color compositions.
Audio and Video Tools:
Rad Video Tools –The Freeware RAD Video Tools are a set of utilities for processing video, animation, and sound data. RAD Video Tools run on Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.
Nvu - A complete Web Authoring System for Linux desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. Now anyone can create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.
Well, I’m sure I could dig up some more favorites but these make a good start. Got any Open Source and Freeware favorites you would like to share? Please do!