Monday, February 20, 2006

There's "free" and then there's Free.

I got my MSDN Flash email today, describing thoroughly Microsoft's idea of "free"... Basically they say, "We've got all kinds of free stuff for you today, like:
  • A second shot at at taking and incredibly overpriced exam you've been studying for at great expense all last year. All you have to do is fail it the first time.
  • 21 hours of training. Oh, wait, it's not free at all... we only put it in this list because we're idiots.
  • Some more exams, but these are beta exams, so you don't get any certification. You just get to spend a lovely afternoon taking the exam and giving us free feedback. That makes it doubly free!.
  • And to cap things off we decided to throw in something really free: the Composite UI Application Block. This application block is a reusable, source code–based component based on the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. That's as opposed to all the NON-source code-based components you have clogging up your compiler.
Ain't we great?"

There. That was a lot shorter and easier to read than the actual mail.

On the other hand, there are really free things out there... I keep a list of the ones I use the most. Here's a few new ones:
  • Stellarium Stellarium is free GPL software which renders realistic skies in real time with openGL. With Stellarium, you really see what you can see with your eyes, binoculars or a small telescope. So says the website. And guess what? They're not lying. It's an absolutely beautiful piece of software. If you've got any interest at all in the heavens you should most certainly check this out.
  • DominoWiki is a fine little wiki I found on Best of all, it runs on a Domino server and is distributed in a single Lotus Notes database. I happen to like it a lot... it's easy to install, easy to configure, and easy to maintain. Like any good wiki, it's easy to use.
  • And, of course, there's the new release of VIC CRM. It's free and useful.
Have fun!