Sunday, January 28, 2007

The many shoulders on which we stand

I want to highlight the fact that what we're doing here is by no means a completely original act: we stand on the shoulders of giants. And sometimes pirates. Sometimes, we also stand on the shoulders of normal people, but not if we can at all help it.

For the next few weeks, I'm going to highlight some of the shoulders upon which we stand. Most will be technical, but others will be literary, artistic, and philosophical. It's our way of saying thanks to the many people who (knowingly or unknowingly) help and inspire us.

This week: computers, software, and general geekiness.

Google They Do Everything.
I'm certain they are blissfully unaware of this, but Google plays a huge part in our quest to publish and share information, gain sponsors, communicate, and do anything useful. Heck, they even let us use their bandwidth! We use Google maps for our mapping page (click the map picture and you'll see a dynamic map of our planned route). Obviously we use blogger (owned by Google) for this blog, youTube (again, owned by Google) to distribute our videos (by the way: more to come), but we also use Google docs to organize our thoughts. This post was actually composed using Google notebook, and I do much of my research with Google's RSS reader. I installed SketchUp just because they own it. In other words, I heart Google.

NVU Website Editor
I'm a true-blue geek, but I hate HTML coding - it's tedious, slow, and a pain in the arse. There, I said it. Thanks then, to the wonderful folks who created NVU, a free, open-source WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) HTML editor that made slapping our website together a breeze. If they would make a WYSIWYG CSS editor, I'd be in heaven. Hint, hint.

Apple Computers
For making the svelte 12" powerbook I'm using right this instant, and for making iMovie - the best software experience I've had in recent memory.

GIMP Image Manipulation
The GNU Image Manipulation Program. It's like photoshop, only it's free, open source, and it is easier to use when dealing with the internet. Need that picture to be 100x200 pixels? No problem for the GIMP.

NeoOffice Office Suite
When I need more powerful text formatting, or image generation, I use NeoOffice, the Mac OS port of It looks great, and again, is free and open source.

Firefox Web Browser
It's free, secure, and generally a better internet experience than anything else out there. Why aren't you using this? Actually, if the website logs are to be believed, the vast majority of you are already using Firefox, so you know how awesome this thing is.

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