MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

Vol. 2007d

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

In This Issue ...
1.     Open Source Software
2.     Enjoying Ubuntu 7.10
3.     Dave's Favorite Places (website)

1.    Open Source Software
To get a quick take on open source software, have a quick read of an "official" definition of Open Source as described by Wikipedia.  Essentially, open source software is developed by a collaborative community of writers not directly benefiting financially from the software and allowing the general public to use the software under a relaxed set of rules.  By comparison, proprietary software is owned or licensed by a company or individual and usually is for sale.

Linux distributions and their accompanying software generally are open source; Microsoft Corporation and Apple Computers sell proprietary software to run their systems.   Applications such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 is a proprietary product.  On the other hand if you're using Mozilla's Firefox, then you're using an open source software product that is free for public use and distribution.  Open source software tends to improve over time with upgrades that are free.  Proprietary software upgrades usually can only be had by spending more money and are available through the company.

Why is this important to you?  It's important because of the issues of increased freedom to use and distribute the software along with little or no cost, versus strict licensing and locked in costs.  Over time, costs of running or upgrading software can mount up.  For example, consider downloading and using the free version 2.3 package instead of the latest, costly Microsoft Office version to run on your Windows or iMac computer.  If you like using Firefox, I think you'll like using version 2.3. (See for details.)

2.    Enjoying Ubuntu 7.10
The March and June, 2007 newsletters, I described my experiences with the open source, Linux distribution called Ubuntu.  The latest upgrade version 7.10 is a slight improvement as far as the software and usability of Ubuntu are concerned--for me.  Improved support for reading and writing to the Windows NTFS structure is a real plus when it comes to transferring files between the Windows NTFS and the Linux Ext3 partitioned structures. version 2.3 is now what I use. (It replaces Microsoft Office running on my Windows XP computer.)  The package apparently has improvements, though I haven't dug around to explore the relevant issues.  Compatibility issues between it and Microsoft Office are minor and manageable with transfers between the environments non-issues.

I'm just getting started with the open source program called "GnuCash" that allows me to do double-entry bookkeeping for my business.  As best I can figure, it's a simplified version of the well-known Windows application called "QuickBooks" by Intuit.  I will be running GnuCash for my business--in parallel on the Ubuntu notebook computer while I do my regular bookkeeping on a Windows XP computer using Microsoft Excel.  By June, I should have a good feel for how the switch over is going.

Ubuntu 7.10 seems pretty solid with consistent performance.  While I've had it not find the wireless network after waking from suspend mode; a simple restart cured the problem.  Ubuntu found and can use my new network printer, HP Photosmart C6280 All-In-One C6280, that is connected with an Ethernet cable to my router.  It finds all the parts of my internal network of computers and peripherals.

In my lab are 4 computers: 2 (Windows XP and Windows ME--for most of my business), 2 (Ubuntu 7.10--experimental, though gradually taking over my day-to-day tasks)  By mid 2008 I expect that most of my business computing needs will be regularly taken care of with Ubuntu 7.10 running on my Dell Inspiron E1505n notebook.

Windows XP at present is a great environment with good performance and with numerous good programs, but when it eventually gets phased out by Microsoft Corp., I will be using Ubuntu in its place.  (I have NO plans to move to Microsoft Vista.)  By then I expect that my business model for MadMod Computing will undergo substantial changes as well as including servers & applications support in the Ubuntu realm.  However, I plan to support Windows pre-Vista customers for as long as is practical--into 2009 hopefully.

3.    Dave's Favorite Places (website)
Dave's Favorite Places is for you, my loyal customers and readers.  If you find it useful, fine; if not, let me know and I'll make some changes.

I should explain why it's even there.  Most websites are into business as business--entirely with links to their featured products, advertising, etc.  That's not the plan for MadMod Computing's website; MadMod is basically a service-oriented company supplying the needs of individuals and small businesses.  The website is provided as a freebie to show a "face" for my company, but it's also to supply a jumping off point to many useful sites without having to do a lot of typing.

I have similar local pages on my office computers that function in the same way--to my e-mail, banking, credit cards, websites I'm working on, etc.  I'll do almost anything to avoid typing a long URL for a website.  Considering security, I don't want to mistype a website and land up at phishing site instead.

What you can also enjoy at my company's site, MadMod Computing are Newsletters, links to Freebies, Information about New Systems, etc. as well as Dave's Favorite Places.  At the same time, many of the resources I need to run my business are also at the company website at locations unannounced--for me to use.  As I see it, the website should be useful for my customers and myself.  Thus what you see upon visiting MadMod Computing's website is only half of what is really there.  I think other companies should use their websites in a similar manner.  Perhaps they do.

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E-mail to the editor: David Mawdsley

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