Free Software Directory

The Free Software Foundation’s new Free Software Directory, was officially re-launched earlier this week.

More than 6500 programs are listed in the newly updated directory, all of them free for any computer user to download, run and share. According to the Free Software Foundation, each entry is individually checked and tested so users will know that any program they come across in the directory will be truly free software, according to the group’s formal definition, with free documentation and without proprietary software requirements.

Programs that run on proprietary operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows are listed as well, but only if they run fully on GNU/Linux.

The new directory has been rebuilt using MediaWiki–the same software that powers Wikipedia. A set of extensions called Semantic MediaWiki add advanced search and presentation capabilities.

A great resource for anyone looking for open source alternatives to the paid-for proprietary offerings. Additionally, promo codes for advanced technology add to the savings.

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New look and new features for Communities of Practice website

As of today, new features and a new look for the IDeA Communities of Practice (CoP) platform. This is the first major new release for over 12 months, and brings a number of usability enhancements to the platform, which is provided as a free resource to staff working on local government throughout the UK.

New features include:

  • a more compact and cleaner design for the Welcome page which now includes: (i) service and general information announcements, (ii)details of  most active communities and (iii) details of new communities, (iii) details of featured/special communities.
  • a “tag cloud” for quickly finding content and communities by keyword.
  • the MyHome page has been changed from green to blue to ensure consistency with any personalised content pages (My Profile My Blogs, My Alerts, My Messages, My Contacts etc.)
  • finding an existing Community of Practice has been made simpler by the addition of an A-Z index and tag cloud to the ‘Communities’ webpage.
  • the Help facilities have been improved to ensure users can make the most of all the various features on the website.
  • a new on-line process for setting-up communities enabling faster turnaround.
  • the addition of ‘themes’ for Forum threads and Library files, enabling a blended approach between taxonomy and tags for organising content
  • the Forum section now allows for ‘sticky’ discussion threads, where a topic can be marked to remain at or near the top of the list of topics.
  • a facility for closing threads, for example where a discussion must be time-limited.

This release is the first of 3 major upgrades being planned between now and early 2009.  Watch this space for further announcements, or better still, go the the CoP platform and start connecting, collaborating and innovating!

Background

The community of practice platform was launched in December 2007 as part of an initiative to encourage collaboration and more effective knowledge sharing between local councils. The anticipated benefits which are now being realise are better/more efficient public services and greater opportunities for innovation and co-production.  It currently supports over 18,000 users and more than 550 separate online communities, working on a range of initiatives from climate change to preventing violent extremism.  The platform supports a range of social networking and social media tools.

[Steve Dale is the business analyst and technical lead for the IDeA CoP Platform]
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Top 100 Social Media Tools

Social NetworkNot sure if this is something to be proud of, or ashamed about, but I’m using (or have used) about 70% of the applications in the list. The encouraging thing is to note how many of these applications are free to use. Others might have applicable promo code discounts.

The list has been compiled from a cohort of learning professionals who shared their Top 10 Tools for Learning both for their own personal learning/productivity and for creating learning solutions for others.

If you want to influence the list and rankings, then head off to the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies.

TOP 10

Key to availability: D=download; H=hosted; C=insert code onto page

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

1

2

del.icio.us

58

del.icio.us
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

2

1

Firefox

50.5

Firefox
Web browser

Free

D

3

3=

Skype

43.5

Skype
Instant messaging, VoIP tool

Free

D

4

7=

Google Reader

42

Google Reader
RSS/Feed reader

Free

H

5

3=

Google Search

38.5

Google Search
Web search tool

Free

H

6

6

WordPress

35

WordPress
Blogging tool

Free

H/D

7

5

PowerPoint

32.5

PowerPoint
Presentation software

£

D

8

14

Google Docs

29

Google Docs
Web-based documents

Free

H

9

11

Audacity

28

Audacity
Sound editor and recorder

Free

D

10

7=

Gmail

27

GMail
Web-based email

Free

H

TOP 11-20

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

11

26=

Wikipedia

26.5

Wikipedia
Online encylopedia

Free

H

12

9

Blogger

26

Blogger
Blogging tool

Free

H

13

12=

Moodle

26

Moodle
Course management system

Free

D/H

14=

17=

iGoogle

20

iGoogle
Personalised start page

Free

H

31=

Slideshare

20

Slideshare
Hosting/sharing presentations

Free

H

16=

22=

YouTube

19

YouTube
Video hosting/sharing site.

Free

H

16

flickr

19

flickr
Photo storage/sharing site

Free

H

43=

twitter

19

twitter
Microblogging and social network

Free

H

19

31=

Ning

18

Ning
Social networking tool

Free

H

20

15

Wikispaces

17

Wikispaces
Wiki tool

Free/£

H

22-91

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

21=

22=

Articulate

15

Articulate
Presenter/Engage/Quizmaker

£

D

101=

VoiceThread

15

VoiceThread
Collaborative slideshows

Free/£

H

23=

12=

Bloglines

13

Bloglines
RSS/Feed reader

Free

H

26=

SnagIt

13

Snagit
Screen capture tool

Free/£

D

10

Word

13

Word
Word processing software

£

D

26

17=

Captivate

12

Captivate
Demo and scenario-based tool

£

D

27=

17=

Facebook

11

Facebook
Social networking site

Free

H

26=

iTunes

11

iTunes
Music and podcast player

Free

D

29

17=

Outlook

10

Outlook
Email software

£

D

30

43=

Flash

9

Flash
Animation authoring tool

£

D

36=

Google Calendar

9

Google Calendar
Web-based calendar

Free

H

Jing

9

Jing
Record/share screen captures/casts

Free

D/H

101=

Pageflakes

9

Pageflakes
Start page

Free

H

57=

Zoho

9

Zoho Suite
Online office suite

Free

H

35=

50=

Camtasia Studio

8

Camtasia Studio
Screencasting tool

£

D

31=

LinkedIn

8

LinkedIn
Social network

Free/£

H

17=

MindManager

8

MindManager
Mind mapping tool

£

D

38=

31=

OpenOffice

7

OpenOffice
Office software suite

Free

D

43=

PB Wiki

7

PB Wiki
Wiki tool

Free/£

H

57=

TypePad

7

TypePad
Blogging tool

£

H

41=

26=

Dreamweaver

6

Dreamweaver
Web authoring tool

£

D

36=

Google Maps

6

Google Maps
Maps of the US. UK, etc

Free

H

101=

SecondLife

6

Second Life
Virtual world application

Free

H

44

22=

Excel

5.5

Excel
Spreadsheet software

£

D

45=

72=

Adobe Connect

5

Adobe Connect
Web meeting/conferencing

£

H

Blogs/Blogging

5

Blogs and blogging tools
Of all types

Free/£

H/D

72=

diigo

5

diigo
Social bookmarking

Free

H

72=

Edublogs

5

edublogs
Blogging tool for educators

Free

H

72=

eXe

5

eXe
SCORM content authoring

Free

D

50=

FreeMind

5

Freemind
Mind mapping tool

Free

D

Garageband

4

Garageband
Personal recording studio

Free

D

57=

Google Alerts

5

Google Alerts
Keep track of new information

Free

H

101=

Google Apps

5

Google Apps
Communication/collaboration

£

H

31=

Internet Explorer

5

Internet Explorer
Web browser

Free

D

43=

iPod

5

iPod
MP3 player

£

72=

Keynote

5

Keynote
Presentation software

£

D

26=

Netvibes

5

Netvibes
Personal start page

Free

H

Nvu

5

Nvu
Web authoring tool

Free

D

Wetpaint

5

Wetpaint
Wiki tool

Free

H

58

72=

Adobe Reader

4.5

Adobe Reader
PDF Reader

Free

D

59=

50=

Adobe Photoshop

4

Photoshop
Photo/Image editing tools

£

D

Basecamp

4

Basecamp
Collaborative, project management tool

Free/£

H

50=

Elluminate

4

Elluminate
Web meeting/conferencing

Free/£

H

40=

Google Earth

4

Google Earth
Geographic information

Free

D

36=

Google Scholar

4

Google Scholar
Search for scholarly literature

Free

H

Linux/LAMP

4

LAMP
Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP

Free

D

72=

Notepad

4

Notepad
HTML and text editor

Free

D

OneNote

4

OneNote
Personal Information Manager

£

D

Opera

4

Opera/Opera mini
Web browser

Free

D

Paint.NET

4

Paint.NET
Image and photo editing

Free

D

Stumbleupon

4

Stumbleupon
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

Ustream

4

Ustream
Live, interactive broadcasting

Free

H

Wink

4

Wink
Software demonstration tool

Free

D

72=

Yugma

4

Yugma
Web meeting/conferencing

Free/£

D

73=

22=

Thunderbird

3.5

Thunderbird
Email client

Free

D

74=

101=

Blackboard

3

Blackboard
Course management system

£

D

101=

Bubbl.us

3

Bubbl.us
Mind mapping tool

Free

D

ClassTools

3

ClassTools
Create Flash-based learning

Free

D

72=

Drupal

3

Drupal/DrupalEd
Content management system

Free

D

Filezilla

3

Filezilla
FTP client

Free

D

72=

Furl

3

Furl
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

Google Analytics

3

Google Analytics
Website analysis tool

Free

C

101=

Google Sites/ Jotspot

3

Google Sites/Jotspot
Wiki tool

Free

H

iMovie

3

iMovie
Video editing software

£

D

Lectora

3

Lectora
Course authoring tools

£

D

36=

MediaWiki

3

MediaWiki
Wiki tool

Free

D

Polldaddy

3

Polldaddy
Polling and survey tool

Free

H/C

RSS

3

RSS
Really Simple Syndication

Free

Skitch

3

Skitch
Screen capture tool

Free

D

SMART interactive whiteboard

3

SMART Board
Interactive whiteboard tools

Free

D

Survey Monkey

3

Survey Monkey
Survey and questionnaire tool
Free

H

57=

Yahoo Mail

3

Yahoo Mail
Web-based email

Free

H

91

57=

TeacherTube

2.5

TeacherTube
Instructional video sharing site

Free

H

92-133

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

92=

72=

Adobe Presenter

2

Adobe Presenter
Narrated presentations

£

D

72=

Cmap

2

Cmap
Concept mapping tool

Free/£

D

Comic Life

2

Comic Life
Create comics from photos

£

D

101=

CourseLab

2

CourseLab
Course authoring tool

Free

D

101=

CutePDF Writer

2

Cute PDF Writer
PDF Conversion tool

Free

D

digg

2

Digg
Social bookmarking and rating

Free

H

101=

eSnips

2

eSnips
Upload and share files

Free

H

101=

FeedBlitz

2

FeedBlitz
Feed to email service

Free

H

101=

Gabcast

2

Gabcast
Phone in your podcast

Free

H

Gcast

2

Gcast
Podcasting service

Free

H

Geogebra

2

Geogebra
Mathematics software

Free

D

43=

GIMP

2

GIMP
Image/photo editing tool

Free

D

72=

Gliffy

2

Gliffy
Diagramming tool

Free

H

40=

Google Desktop

2

Google Desktop
Computer search/organiser

Free

D

50=

Google Notebook

2

Google Notebook
Personal online notebook

Free

H

iPhoto

2

iPhoto
Photo management tool

£

D

Joomla

2

Joomla!
Content management system

Free

D

101=

Meebo

2

Meebo
Instant messaging tool

Free

H

101=

MindMeister

2

MindMeister
Mind mapping tool

Free/£

D

101=

Mozy

2

Mozy
Online backup tool

£

H

OmniFocus

2

OmniFocus
Task management tool

£

D

72=

OmniGraffle

2

OmniGraffle
Diagramming tool

£

D

OmniOutliner

2

OmniOutliner
Keep track of projects

£

D

ooVoo

2

ooVoo
Video chat and conferencing

Free

D/H

72=

Paint Shop Pro

2

Paint Shop Pro
Image editing tool

£

D

57=

Picasa

2

Picasa
Picture editing tool

Free

D

Portable apps

2

Portable apps
Suite of apps for a USB stick

Free

D

72=

Quicksilver

2

Quicksilver
Interface to work with PC apps on Mac

£

D

Remember the Milk

2

Remember the Milk
Manage your tasks

Free

H

72=

Safari

2

Safari
Web browser

Free

D

Scratch

2

Scratch
Create interactive stories/animations

Free

D/H

50=

Scribd

2

Scribd
Document hosting and sharing site

Free

H

Sony Vegas Video

2

Sony Vegas Video
Video production tool

£

D

72=

Tiddlywiki

2

TiddlyWiki
Personal wiki tool

Free

D

Trillian

2

Trillian
IM Aggregator

Free

H

tumblr

2

tumblr
Micro-blogging platform

Free

H

Ubuntu

2

Ubuntu
Linux-based operating system

Free

D

Wikis

2

Wikis
Of all types

Free

D/H

Windows LiveWriter

2

Windows LiveWriter
Desktop blogging tool

Free

D

50=

Yahoo Groups

2

Yahoo Groups
Community tool

Free

H

Zamzar

2

Zamzar
Online file conversion tool

Free

D

72=

Zotero

2

Zotero
Firefox add-on to support research

Free

D

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Social Networking with Sharepoint Server 2007 – a limited solution to a wider business requirement

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The most comprehensive summary I’ve read so far on Microsoft’s foray into social networking via their Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) product. The article is an extract from a forthcoming white paper written by three Microsoft gurus – Eric Charran, Dino Dato-on and Greg Lang.

The article seems a bit too preoccupied with the profiles, active directory and people search facilities at the expense of how they’ve implemented tools such as RSS, wikis and blogs. However, it does seem to be a vast improvement over the facilities offered on Sharepoint 2003. Given the usual complexity that Microsoft seem to automatically build into the deployment of any of their products, it looks like it could meet the  social networking requirements of most organisations, provided that networking and collaboration is limited to within the organisation’s firewall. My guess is that it would be hugely expensive to deploy as a social networking solution across and between organisations,  e.g. for connecting councils in local government or for collaboration between agencies and learning providers in the education sector. Sector-wide social networking solutions for business still seem to be limited platforms such as GovX or I&DeA, and products such as Blogtronix and CommunityServer. Still, given the huge investment that many organisations have already made in Microsoft’s Office products, I anticipate a huge take-up for MOSS 2007. I just hope they’ll also recognise its limitations for (social) networking outside the firewall.

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Enterprise Social Software Platforms – is Blogtronix the real deal?

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Blogtronix
I read with interest that my old employer – Reuters – has chosen Blogtronix as the social media platform for their recently launched Green Market Social Community. I’ve been pondering which platform would best suit the social media network I’m planning for the Information Authority, which will be supporting data providers across the Further Education system. Knowing how rigorous Reuters are in their procurement process, I’d be foolish not to include Blogtronix in the short list.

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Google Gears up for off-line browser apps

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Google_logo

As a closet fan of all that is ‘Google’, I was wondering when I should make the final step in my transition from Bloglines to Google Reader. I’ve been using both for some time now, which is bit of a pain when I have to add and categorise a new feed since I end up replicating the process twice. However, I think the recent announcement about Google Gears is the tipping point I needed. So, sadly, it’s goodbye to Bloglines, but loyalty only goes so far.

Basically, Gears is a browser add-on that enables web-based applications to run locally whilst off-line. The product is in Beta at the moment, and only supports the Google Reader (RSS feed aggregator). However, we can expect to see support for Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Mail, Google Blogger, and in fact any of their applications where there is value to be gained by working off-line and on-line.

Looks like another killer app to me!

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Launch of Directgov for kids

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Directgov, has launched a new Flash animated site for children aged
5-11. DirectgovKids
welcomes our future generation of civil servants (else why else would they be visiting Directgov?) into a self-contained little world full of virtual buildings to explore, each representing a part of
government – so introducing, says the blurb, "important ideas about
citizenship, democracy, and political participation".

Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes proclaimed "This is the first time children in the UK have been communicated with
directly by Government through an online site". 

The site is quite well constructed, with lots of animated games to play, though I don’t think the makers of Sim City have got anything to worry about just yet. I thought they could perhaps have introduced a bit more realism into the relationships between communities and government by introducing some elements from Doom3, but perhaps that’s part of a later release.

To pick up on an editorial from Public Sector Forums…" after all, which five-year-old wouldn’t tear themselves away from Hungry Hippos or their PlayStation 2 for a heated debate on ‘Sustainable Schools’? In the words of Eric Morecambe…"there’s no answer to that"!

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Ning – Social media platform

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I’ve picked up on a couple of blogs recently referring to Ning, a platform for creating individual social networks or communities of practice.
It allows you to have your own site to which people can sign up and
leave blog posts, have forum discussions, upload photos and videos and
publish RSS feeds. The most recent commentary was from Dave Briggs over at LGNewmedia.

I sometimes wonder whether it would be preferable to abandon the bespoke work we’re doing with the IDeA CoP paltform
and use an off the shelf development environment such as Ning. Not sure
yet what the right answer is, since I also have to ensure the IDeA CoP
solution is fully integrated with other (legacy) platforms, such as the
IDeA knowledge web site.  I can see that the technology trend – call it Web 2.0, mashups, Ajax or whatever – is bringing sophisticated content integration and publishing tools within the reach of anyone with a broadband connection. 

Scoble has a couple of videos up about Ning if you want to know more.

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