Now there’s something that’s always bugged me: should software be free?
Because let’s face it, even if you recognize the fact that the author should be rewarded for his or her effort in sequencing the bits in that particular fashion, there is also the fact that remains: once that sequence exists, it costs virtually nothing to reproduce it, but the price tag may sometimes be quite elaborate. And the packaging invariable costs way more than the information that is contained in it.
Now I’m not here to defend or condemn movie and software piracy either way: to me this is a free will cosmos, and we all have created the cosmos around us to reflect whatever situation we find ourselves in, or we find within ourselves. I’m just shedding some light on it from ‘our’ common perspective, as I see it.
As a professional software engineer, I have an obligation towards my employer to insert into our software whatever measures he sees fit to protect his property. After all, many people work on it, and they need to be paid, so we need to get money for our product to make ends meet. Regardless of what I think of that, it is the wise thing to do.
But privately, my software skills are not at all interesting to me, if I could only use them to ‘make a few quick bucks’. Sure, being recognized for having made something nice is great, but if I made it myself, as far as I care, anyone can have it for free! Not that I’m a regular software factory at home: only one of my creations is worth even putting out there, and the rest are primarily quick and not too dirty hacks to solve one of my own ‘problems’ which pop up every now and then: MP3 player won’t shuffle the tracks, write a quick tool to scramble its filenames so if it plays them alphabetically, they will still be scrambled. Stuff like that, you know?
Anyway, to ‘put up or shut up’ I should at least mention that one worthy application I have out there. You may have heard of it already, because I have mentioned it once or twice on moorelife. It is a light-weight program for maintaining a diary, which has the apt name of ‘Diary’ (imaginative eh?) and which can be found right here on this site, at http://diary.moorelife.nl/. All other info about it is there, so I won’t bother to repeat it here, other than to say I’m quite pleased with my creation as it stands: even on a system bogged down to 100% CPU, this little baby stays responsive! And she’s tiny enough to live on even the most modest memory sticks.
Back to software however: if one person won’t give it to you, and you don’t think it’s worth what he or she is asking for it, why not find one who will? And that doesn’t mean you should actively engage software pirates and their own sometimes devious tricks. Why not just use software that has been designated to be totally free? It’s not that there’s not a lot of it: sites like http://www.completelyfreesoftware.com/ gather it, and your favorite search engine can get you dozens more like that. Other programs have their own sites, complete with full support. I will just name a few of the programs I use by default in my alternate vocation as a software helpdesk person. Totally free of course, although donations decided on by the customer are usually gratefully accepted.
http://openoffice.org/ has a full-fledged software suite capable of manipulating many types of office documents, including the ever popular Microsoft stuff. Why hand out several hundred dollars or euros, when this can be had for the cost of a 300MB download? It used to be supported by Sun Microsystems, but recently they’ve handed it over to Oracle.
http://www.teamviewer.com/ and related national sites deliver TeamViewer, also free for private use. It enables you to help your friends get their system in order, by enlisting your help from around the globe. This makes sure that for small problems (to me at least) I don’t have to go and fix what is a large problem for them. Basically, it allows the customer to hand over control and sight of his or her computer to a friend somewhere else.
http://www.ccleaner.com/ removes the unwanted stuff from your hard drive, keeping you in disk space where otherwise there wouldn’t be. Also neatly cleans out the registry, which tends to soil after a while.
http://www.defraggler.com/ reorganises your hard disks so their files become continuous streams of blocks, minimizing the amount of searching the computer has to do to gather a file if you need it. I know this is built into Windows as well, but this one allows you to see what happens, like earlier versions of the windows alternative did too.
http://www.notepadplusplus.org/ is for you if you need a text editor that has a little more bite than notepad. Totally free, although I still miss a few features that are there in a product like MultiEdit, which unfortunately goes at a price.
And those are by far not the only ones readily available to those willing to buy a computer, but not the bits that can be freely copied. Heck, if you do go by the statement that everything you see out there has been created by you anyway, then even using pirated software becomes a nobrainer. Free will, and why shouldn’t you use what can be had? I’m not going to be throwing stones here, because I too have on occasion used software that wasn’t intended to be free, figuring that if it really was wrong, higher powers would eventually work me over. Either that or karma, although lately I’m not really afraid of that anymore…..
Love your Choices, there are plenty!