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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Software!

Took a few minutes today, during my lunch break, to search for some newer versions of some of the free software that I use.

Inkscape upgraded from version 0.45 to 0.46, and the modest number increase doesn't do justice to the amazing enhancements that have been added. The 3D polygon tool that was added is a great addition, although it's clear from a cursory use of it that a little bit more polish is required on it. The new brush tool is interesting too. Enhancements to the user interface alone (including dockable dialog boxes) are worth the download. Anybody using an older version of Inkscape should definitely upgrade ASAP.

My version of Pidgin was way out of date, I was using 2.1.1, and they are now on 2.4.1. I don't want to say that this represents a "big" jump, but every little bit helps. Since this is a product that I use every day, small improvements can have a large net impact on the overall software experience. Of course, it's another issue entirely as to whether I actually employ any of the new features or not.

I haven't yet, but I'm probably going to upgrade to ActivePerl 5.10.0 sometime tonight. I may take a quick look at Strawberry Perl instead, however. It's not that I don't like ActiveState, I actually love them and would love to work for them if I had the opportunity (I haven't put in a resume because a relocation to Vancouver would be very difficult for Dana and I right now). However, I would like to try Strawberry Perl out since I hear so much about it and because it's supposed to offer better integration with CPAN. If you're a Perl user, you'll know that better integration with CPAN is key.

I talked with Jason a little bit today, working out some of the details about my impending move to Linux. I have a long history of using Fedora, I've used it since version 4 or 5. However, in the interests of expanding my horizons, I'm thinking about using Ubuntu. Maybe I'm just a bandwagon jumper, that's entirely possible. However, I've been out of the Linux-loop for so long, and it's such a fast-moving community, that I can't possibly have a reasonable and informed preference anymore. If Ubuntu doesn't end up floating my boat, I always have Fedora as a good standby. Both distros apparently have new versions due out soon, so by the time I make the switch there should be fancy new versions to jump in to.

What I am most hesitant about in all of this is not leaving Windows behind. I've been a loyal Windows user since 3.1, and have no particular outstanding complaints, although I refuse to upgrade to Vista. I've also been a relatively loyal user of Microsoft Office for my school applications, although I'm in mid-migration to OpenOffice. Again, it's not that I'm anti-microsoft, but I'm a cash-strapped student and I can't afford to update from my Office 2000. What I am going to miss most is Notepad++, my all-time favorite text editor. Luckily, support for Notepad++ in Wine is rated "Platinum", which I assume is a good thing.

On a related note, my mother and her sisters are talking about chipping in to buy my grandfather a new laptop. His computer is set up down in the basement, and in their old age my grandparents can't make the trip as regularly as they might like. A laptop (a wireless one to boot) would solve that problem in a jiff. Also, once he gets a laptop, I might get back the desktop that I lent him, which was in pretty decent condition. I definitely want to set up a server for backing up data and for operating bots.

I'll have to go through and figure out if there is any other software that is in need of upgrading. I don't like to stay on the bleeding edge, but the occasional update can usually add plenty of cool new features, and features are always appreciated.

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