Your screen is ringing, playing with an iPod, and the mother of all hardware hacks.
Your Screen is Ringing
Voice Over Internet Protocol (or just VoIP), a hot sector in the enterprise market for years, has finally trickled down to the desktop. Popular services like Vonage and Skype sidestep Ma Bell’s steep rates, but an amazing alternative is rapidly gaining traction: Gizmo (http://www.gizmoproject.com/.)
Gizmo marries Jabber- based instant messaging with an Internet telephone and loads of other features, including free Gizmo-to-Gizmo calls, free voicemail, and free conferencing. Gizmo also offers great audio quality, and with a small piece of hardware, can even be used as a traditional landline. Client software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux is free, and the company is working on an open source version of the software to be provided under the GNU Public License.
Hey, call me on Gizmo! We’ll do lunch!
End iTunes Envy
Have a burgeoning music library? Banshee (http://banshee-project.org/) is here to tame it. Listen, rip, organize, and burn.
A GNOME-based tool, Banshee provides a gorgeous user interface (pictured) and many of the features you find in an application like Apple’s iTunes, such as importing and editing tracks, CD burning and playlists. Better yet, Banshee also bundles excellent iPod support, a key feature for those of us tethered to our little white bundles of audible joy. You can connect multiple iPods simultaneously, edit iPod properties, and you can even DJ straight from an iPod playlist! Banshee is simply a must-have for audiophiles.
Banshee is included in several recent Linux distributions and packages for many other flavors of Linux are also available, too. So what are you waiting for? Your iPod still has 6 GB free……
Web 2.0 Meets Open Source
You may have heard the term” Web 2.0″ and wondered if you were missing some novel browser. Nope. The moniker describes a new wave of sites that offer social and collaborative features designed to help users find relevant content. For example, tagging, a central theme in the 2.0 world, allows users to attach arbitrary keywords to content to help categorize and classify it. Now, a new site, OS Zone (http://oszone.org/), brings tagging to open source.
OS Zone, seeing the explosive growth of open source, realized how difficult it is to keep track of open source projects and stepped in with a site that organizes project releases, provides news and information, and keeps much of the software listed in a repository ready for immediate download. Of course, all projects are also tagged, an effective way to rapidly identify content and improve search results.
The site offers a clean interface designed to help you quickly find software for all needs. And in true open source fashion, the community can only improve the service by submitting more site and tags.
Hardware Hackers Hit the Mother Lode
Following the path of OpenSolaris, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy thinks hardware, just like software, can benefit from the power of open source. To wit, Sun has released parts of their newest Niagra processor, the UltraSPARC T1, as open source, providing the Verilog hardware description specifications under an Opens Source Initiative-approved license. (See www.sun.com/processors/opensparc/.)
Mind you, a Verilog description file is a far cry from a complete processor or a working computer, but Sun has adopted a radical approach to garner interest in the chip design. There are other open source hardware projects, but none with mystique or history of a Sun processor. The UltraSPARC T1 is a low-power consumption chip that paradoxically supports up to thirty-two threads per chip in eight, 4-way multithreaded cores.
Perhaps McNealy is on to something. Reviews of the new UltraSPARC servers have been great and Sun will continue to generate buzz with moves like this.
Send product news and press releases to Matt Tanase at