27 October 2007

Guilt-free Software

For years, I struggled with a basic computer dilemma - fork out hundreds of dollars I couldn't afford, accept illegal copies cheerfully offered by friends, or go without word processing and graphics software? Thank God, there's a better way.

Open Source Software

To be exact, 'open source' software is any program whose source code is available for use by developers. Typically, though, a good open source program is one that hundreds or thousands of people have worked on. Together. Absolutely free of charge.

For a non-developer-type software user, the important points are:

  • It's completely free of charge to use
  • People have worked hard to make it function, so if you can afford to donate your time or money, it will be appreciated
  • However, there are NO guilt-inducing "are you SURE you don't want to donate?" messages

So Where Do I Find It?

Here are information and download links for my two all-time favourite pieces of open source software:

Word Processing - OpenOffice (download it)
Graphics and Photo Editing - GIMP (download it)

In the next article, we'll look at how to accomplish basic photo-editing tasks in GIMP.


25 October 2007

Practicing the Presence of God - pt 1

It seems bizarre to 'practice the presence of God' as though we call him into our lives when and where we want him. But we humans seem wired to only see the physical world, by default. God being always with us is often simply a theoretical concept, no matter how much belief and faith we have in it. It's like sitting next to someone on public transport - you can make eye contact and smile (maybe start a conversation), or ignore them with the help of a pair of headphones and a book.

To me, 'practicing the presence of God' is all about learning to acknowledge and converse with a God who is always present and always interested. It's not a new concept, by any means. Brother Lawrence was drawn out on the topic centuries ago, and his ideas are still relevant today. Over the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting what I think were some of his key points in the practice of God's presence.


22 October 2007

Diary of a Broken Heart - pt 1

26 Days Before Surgery

My name's Naomi. I'm a christian, a wife, a mum, a writer, and... well, lots else. When I was born, I had life-threatening heart problems. Without surgery, I probably wouldn't be alive today.

I don't remember anything from that surgery or the recovery. But during my last pregnancy, I discovered that I had a leaky heart valve, and half of my heart is getting more and more enlarged. Right now, I'm waiting for open heart surgery to repair the valve.

Why the diary? Because every now and then I sit here and wonder what on earth I can expect from this surgery. I know all the medical stuff. I have an idea of how long it will take me – from a medical point of view! - to heal from the surgery. I expect to feel as though I've been hit by a bus. But I don't know what I'll go through emotionally, or the weird side effects, or what I'll be able to wear in hospital. There's a big black hole of knowledge there. So I've got a couple of hopes. One, that I'll work out exactly what it is I'm needing to know. The other, that others facing the same surgery might be able to read this diary and get an idea of what's facing them.


19 October 2007

Not Quite Art

ABC Australia launched a new show last week, and by some miracle, I actually stumbled across the very first show and watched it.

Not Quite Art is a show about the not-so-clean, not-so-ordered art world all around us, outside the galleries and 'cultural precincts'. Where funding is low or non-existent, and art happens almost randomly.

Sound interesting? Read more on the show's website.

Download the entire first episode from the ABC website:
Not Quite Art - Episode 1 (mp4 format)
Not Quite Art - Episode 1 (wmv format)

Or subscribe to the vodcast:
MP4 Vodcast
WMV Vodcast

To see what others are saying about Not Quite Art, including some comments from the presenter, Marcus Westbury:
Larvatus Prodeo group blog