Software

I Prefer Mine Free

Everyone that uses a computer uses software. Most people know they turn on the computer, it does things, then they have a computer to work on and use. Lots of people even know they have a CPU. Unfortunately, they don’t know what the differences are between a computer, a CPU, and software. They just know they have all that.

Software encompasses all the programs and applications you use, whether it is on the cellphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. That is pretty much everything that is not a physical device. You run windows, that is software. You run an Office program, that is software. You run a game, that, too, is software. Even those nifty apps you download to the phone are software.

I prefer open source and public domain software, myself. I do not use Windows, it is neither open source or public domain. I am willing to pay for software that fits those categories, but I do not pay for software that does not fit. I do not pirate software, either. I use linux, which is a replacement for Windows. If you follow me on google+, you see my desktop images I post on Fridays. Those are not windows, but linux. I use LibreOffice, which is an open source replacement for Microsoft Office. It is not perfect, but it works great for me. I also use Mozilla Firefox, which replaces Internet Explorer. I do everything with my computers that everyone else does, but I do not use proprietary software.

For those that do not know, proprietary software is normally paid for software. You pay for upgrades, and you sometimes pay for assistance. My software I use, I can modify when I want or need to. You can not modify proprietary software. The license agreement does not permit you to. It also normally does not permit you to own the software. It leases it to you. Notice that my secondary title above is “I Prefer Mine Free”. Free does not always mean non-paid for, but it does mean free to modify it and free to use it my way.

I firmly believe that any user should be allowed to use the software they pay for. I also believe that if that software needs to be modified, it should be allowed. I believe that if I pay for software, I should become the owner of that software. These beliefs of mine are not true in the technologically advanced world we live in today. More and more, companies want to make you pay money to USE their software. Most of the agreements are so full of lawyer speak, you, the user, do not read them. Perhaps it is time to dig out those agreements, and read them over. Then contact me and let me know you decided to stop paying to USE software, and decided you would like to do something about it.

I have a dream. That dream is to help those who desire to find a way to use software they can use their way! That dream is to help people understand what software is, and their rights to own it. That dream is also to help people understand that proprietary software is not normally theirs to own and sell, it is theirs to use. I want people to understand that they did not pay for the right to give the software away, even if they want to. That is my dream for 2014.

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KeepingDreams_Accessibility and Linux

Why Can’t I Use What You Do?

Maybe I am a special use case in programming. I want to be able to use the internet the same way everyone does. I really do. I can not do that today. I could not do that in the past, either.

I have experienced blindness (2/1200ths corrected vision), loss of use of my legs, loss of use of my right hand, loss of use of my fingers, confusion and difficulty with cognitive thinking, blurred vision, and a few other medical issues. Through these experiences, I have continued to use computers and the internet. Not of all these happened at the same time, and not all continue to this day. However, having experienced these things allowed me to try many of the accessibility applications available.

When I could not see, I learned to use Orca, a screen reader application. Orca is great, when it works. Of course, you must have good hearing to use Orca, but that is another issue. The problem is that Orca works very well with Gnome Desktop Environment (DE). I want to use Xfce DE. It doesn’t use Orca. I want to use KDE. Does it use Orca today? It did not use it in the past.

I learned to use Dasher, when my hands did not work enough to type. Dasher is an on-screen keyboard program. It works great! But again, it doesn’t always work. You must find applications it can work with. Want to use Abiword? Dasher might work with it. Test it and find out. Oh, you tried and dasher won’t work on your Linux DE? Yes, that is common.

I use an automatic zoom plugin when I use firefox. A well-known fact is that most websites use code to reduce the size of text. Most will reduce it to 80%. That means, if I need text zoomed out to 24 point fonts, your website makes you zoom it more than normal. Since most websites appear to written to take advantage of 8 point fonts, and that is reduced to 80% of and 8 point font, guess what? People with less than perfect vision miss half the text!

Ever heard of hearing disabilities? People that can not hear need visual clues to replace sound. Before we go further, take a look at the setting in your computer to flash important data on screen. Did you find that setting? It may or may not exist in your DE. If it does not exist, then someone can not use that DE.

For a number of years, I have advocated for better accessibility in linux. I know it is possible. I have taught many developers how to test for accessibility. It really is possible. I will try to write a few posts in 2014 giving some tips on it. It doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. But, it really needs to happen.

Why don’t others complain loudly about missing features? I am unique. I have experienced many issues that caused me to use accessibility features. As my body allows me to return to “normal”, I find out how much I missed. I have been able to find out how bad or good applications work for the disabled, because I have used them. If you never were able to not use them, you don’t know what is broken.

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Reading Slower

Cataracts?

I will slowing down on the number of books accepted in 2014 for review. There are a couple of reasons for this which I will explain below.

I read over 50 books a year the last two years. It comes out to a book a week. That’s a lot of reading. However, I find myself pushing to get reviews written, instead of taking time to enjoy a book now and again. I have always read a lot, so that won’t really change.

Since I have about 125 books in my “To be Read” category now, I am going to read a book I own every other review book. This will be reflected in the number of books I accept, since I will only accept about 25 books for review in 2014. I will probably still write about 50 reviews, though, since I will be reading about 50 books.

Now for the second half of the reasoning. I was diagnosed with cataracts a few years ago. Fortunately, they are slow growing for me. I have an ability to know what is happening with my own body, and I can tell when the cataracts are actively growing. My left eye is blurring a lot these days, and the cataract in it is growing faster these days. If the blurring continues, it will make reading much slower, and I may not be able to read more than a book or two a month. They will not operate on cataracts under my TriCare Insurance until the vision is no longer correctable. I will find in in April/May how it is doing this year.

I will hope that I can continue to provide a service to independent authors through my reviews. With a bit of luck and a lot of persistence, I will do my best to read and review a lot of books.

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