FOSS as Alternative to Software Piracy

Those who installed illegally acquired software in their PC have many reasons as you can imagine. Some say buying pirated software is the best alternative to very expensive proprietary software. Another argue that if it’s not used commercially, there is nothing wrong about it. Some point out that without that pirated software, they can not run their PC because license is too expensive for an ordinary user.

I will not over-emphasize here the economic and social impact of software piracy. I will do that in separate article. This is my response to several reactions among friends who said that advocacy against software piracy is like bumping one’s head to blank walls and likened it fighting against windmills (Don Quijote dela Mancha). It seems there are no other ways than to use pirated software.

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Peering into Software Piracy

Microsoft Office 2007 is sold at 80 pesos! That’s less than two dollars. Yes, it is displayed and sold in stalls along Colon Street, Cebu City. The oldest street in the Philippines becomes the venue of software piracy.

The same stall sold Microsoft Operating System (OS), from Windows 2000 to Windows Vista. For XP system, buyers can choose, Windows XP Professional or Home Edition. Not just Microsoft, the same stall sold Photoshop, CorelDaraw and other proprietary software installers. It surprises me how the owner of the stall can sleep without the fear of the risk of selling pirated stuff.

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Political Patch, Political Maneuver

There is no question to the right of President Arroyo to grant pardon (Article VII, Section 19, The 1987 Philippine Constitution) to convicted former president Estrada. President Arroyo knows that granting pardon to Estrada will create clamor among Filipinos as there will surely support and condemn such decision.

Arroyo is famous of making bold political decisions, first when she declared not to run as president in 2004 but eventually run and won; second when she ask “sorry” for Hello Garci scandal interpreted by many as admission of massive fraud in 2004 elections; and recently, her unpopular decision to grant pardon to Estrada interpreted as her way to divert people’s attention on the recent controversies that continue to rock her administration, as patch to her ailing political position, and as her way of getting back the sympathy of the masses.

Estrada’s pardon is just another dose of political packaging of Arroyo, more than just political patch but directed towards another political maneuver. When she publicly declared that she will not run on the 2004 presidential election, she made a political maneuver. She did it to pacify the issues and suspicion that she might be using her position in positioning herself as the best person to lead the country. By declaring that she will not run, she played safe. How she maneuver again when she declared her candidacy was just a matter of well-engineered public relations (PR) packaging.

The famous “I’m sorry” line saved her. Although she never gained back her credibility as leader as she always under public scrutiny and suspicion that she cheat in whatever undertaking she do. It was not just because of “I’m sorry” though. Her political maneuver was focused on the massive projects and lean funds evenly distributed to local executives. Arroyo then, has local executives remain loyal to her.

When Arroyo granted the pardon to Estrada, she never expect all Filipinos to be happy with it. She never need that her decision must be popular among the people. She only need that important political elements that will ensure safety for her political position. She may lose some supporters but she gain influence of major political block. Isn’t it too personal?

I am not convinced that Arroyo granted pardon to Estrada to heal the political wounds of this nation. I am not convinced that the pardon is a good step towards national unity and reconciliation because the pardon is wrapped with personal interest of Arroyo and Estrada.

Estrada shamelessly takes his pride for his own sake. Arroyo gambles to protect her own political interest. Are we not deceived by these two great politicians?

Poor Filipinos suffer these political maneuver.

Old Songs

Tonight my heart sings. My melodies waft through the breeze of pristine evening. When everyone sleeps with serenity, my heart incessantly chant even no one listens, even no one hears. My heart sings until its melody fades out like darkness at dawn.

My heart sings olds songs to refresh the memories that sustain my hope. With silent prayers that someone out there listens, my heart sings the songs with notes of smile, of encouragement, of admiration, of promises, of hope, of assurance, of shattered dreams.

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Quick Editing Guide for Technical Writer

Documentation is like sex; when it’s good, it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad, it’s better than nothing. – Dick Brandon

Technical documents such as User Guide, Configuration Guide, Installation Manual and others must be written in such a way that these translate the complex and puzzling into something that everyone and anyone can understand. When the user reads the user guide, it must obviously guide him and should not confuse him. The step-by-step guide must be clearly stated and logically arranged.

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Footnote to aspiring Technical Writer

Writing skills and technical knowledge form the foundation of technical writing career. One do not need to be a software developer to become a successful technical writer (in IT). He only needs to understand what the developers do.

Although some companies prefer to get a very “technical” writer – those with technical degree – many companies have apprehensions that “technical” writer will soon get more interested on coding rather than writing/developing online help systems, designing web sites, and delivering multimedia training.

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Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice

Choices! There are many choices. Early this year, a friend ask me if he needs to say goodbye to his MS Office 2003 to welcome 2007 Microsoft Office system (Microsoft Office 2007).

Instead of an answer, I asked, “why not give a try?” Then, I cracked a joke, “give me your money for that pretty expensive software and I will give you free office tool – the OpenOffice. Several days later, we started to use Office 2007 at work. My friend then frequently ask about what pretty features Office 2007 has.

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