Archive for October 2008
I have started my first “official” free software project! It’s called Mnemonic and it is available from launchpad.net. Here’s how I have described it:
Mnemonic is a Python library for analyzing experimental data about human memory. It contains functions for performing several specialized analyses and a library which allows users to readily build their own analyses.
If you want to check it out, and you have the Bazaar version control system, you can get it this way:
$ bzr branch lp:mnemonic
Mnemonic is in the earliest stages of development, but I would welcome contributions from anyone who finds it useful. My hope is that it will one day replace the MATLAB codebase at the Computational Memory Lab, where I work as a Research Coordinator. Please let me know if you use it!
I have a second-generation MacBook (bought in spring of 2007), and due to a bunch of recent issues which have turned me off from OS X (e.g., the machine randomly will fail to wake up from sleep, compiling software is a huge pain, etc.), I have been aroused from my complacency and have decided to try my hand at getting gNewSense, an all-free software derivative of Ubuntu, running. I didn’t expect this to be an entirely painless or automatic process — I had tried Ubuntu on the same hardware a little over a year ago, and found it to be lacking — but I needed a distraction from studying for the GRE, and so I dove in last weekend and burned a LiveCD.
Dear GRE PowerPrep Tech Support:
I want to inform you that, because your software is proprietary and because it is only made for the Microsoft Windows operating system, I am completely unable to use it. I hope that you will take the technical steps necessary to make the software available on other platforms, and release the source code under a free software license, such as the GNU GPL.
I have tried to run the software in a variety of ways: I first tried to use it at home, using the WINE Windows compatibility layer for POSIX systems, without success. I also tried to use a Windows machine at my library, but I cannot use it on that computer either, because I do not have the administrative privileges required to install the software. I do not have access to another machine which runs Microsoft Windows. The PowerPrep software is therefore completely unusable to me.
I feel that this puts me at an unfair disadvantage as I prepare to take the GRE, and I am sure there are others who are similarly disenfranchised. I hope that ETS views this as a problem and will take steps to remedy it. The best way to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to use your software to prepare for the GRE is to release the source code and compiled packages for a variety of platforms. You won’t lose any money, since no one is paying for the software except by paying to register for the test, which they will continue to do; and you’ll be ensuring fair access to your software and services to everyone, regardless of their choice of computing platform.
I hope you will consider this issue as you make revisions and prepare future releases of the PowerPrep software.