Pulling myself together with OSS

For too long now I’ve worked on too many little projects, snippets of code and web designs to really stay sane.

A few months ago I was assaulted at work. It has been a crap time in all honesty but if I can take one positive thing from the experience it is that I need to get organized. I really do love working at Plonkers (who wouldn’t want to work at an off-license called that!?) but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life.

So, right now I’m throwing all my spare time (well, a lot of it) into getting this site ship-shape enough to call my portfolio. Going through my hard drive(s) I’ve designed a great many web templates and themes over the years, used or not, which go some way to illustrate my capabilities and go hand in hand with my favourite thing – Open Source technologies. I am a strong believer in community development and really do trust that one day Microsoft will be toppled and everyone will buy computers with (preferably several, I like quite a few and that’s kind of the point anyway – people having the choice about what operating system they use on their PC’s) whatever OS they want, not the enforced default as Windows has been for some time. But I digress, that’s merely a personal pet peeve…

The reason I bring up Open Source is because I refuse to use proprietary software to get something done when free options are staring me in the face and asking for my feedback. When was the last time your average Windows user was given the opportunity to contribute something to the Windows operating system? Yeah sure, if you were quick enough to download the windows 7 beta you could have a look at it, but only if you were comfortable repartitioning your hard-drive – if you even knew what that meant.

Note, I’m not trying to patronize users here. I’m merely highlighting Microsoft’s “keep them ignorant” user policy (not a quote you’ll find on their website I’m sure). MS is quite happy keeping users in the dark about what goes on underneath the hood of one of their operating systems, and many users are happy with that state of affairs. But what happens when something goes wrong with the computer? You’ve got to pay to get it fixed. Either that or do a heck of a lot of research and learning.

But again I digress. It’s so easy to do – no wonder I drive my family/girlfriend/friends mad with this topic!

I design websites using four things:

  1. A web browser, pretty obvious really. Firefox and the web developer toolbar is a must.
  2. A text editor, gedit for gnome is a personal favourite but if I’m stuck in Windows then notepad plus isn’t bad.
  3. Inkscape, a fantastic open source vector image editor, great for initial layout design and some brilliant logo’s.
  4. Gimp, The GNU Image Manipulation Program, to my mind the most useful bitmap image editor ever created.

All these tools are freely available to anyone. Inkscape and Gimp are even also available to Windows users so you don’t have to use linux to gain access to these great apps. I thoroughly recommend anyone looking to edit images or do some designing of their own they start with these programs. There are thousands, maybe even millions of users out there eager to offer help and many who’ve set up tutorial websites to get you started.

Hopefully by now you’ve guessed where I’m going with all this – if not I apologize, I do have a tendency towards tangents. All my designs are created using open source software and so I see it as a kind of celebration of what can be achieved with them and that their really is no limit to their functions. You don’t need to remortgage your house or take out a loan (fat chance currently) to start creating beautiful designs. All the tools are but a few clicks away.

If you’ve read through all this (firstly congratulations…) and want to share my passion but aren’t so hot on running a website or coding for that matter, get in touch and show me what you can do – there’s always room at the Inn.

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