FFOSS (Freeware/Free & Open Source Software) Friday

by Todd Ogasawara

iStumbler Release 98: WiFi/Bluetooth Network Activity Monitor
The latest version of the freeware Mac OS X wireless network detection tool was released this past February.

iStumbler Release 98

iStumbler not only detects WiFi. It also detects Bluetooth wireless activity as well as Apple Bonjour network sharing.

A Dashboard iStumbler widget is also available from the same site.

Google Presentation (PowerPoint-like app) Hype
There's been a lot of talk on the net about Google's Eric Schmidt announcing that a presentation manager (PowerPoint-like) web application that will be available within a few months. The hype is that the Google Docs (word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation manager) will be an Office killer. I was there along with thousands of other people at the Web 2.0 Expo keynote presentation yesterday when Schmidt showed a few plain slides of black text on a white background before making the announcement. And, I think that most of the hype in the news is just that: hype. When asked, Schmidt himself said that it is Google Docs is not positioned to be an Office killer. He considers is complementary (as do I).

maccam: USB Webcam Support
I have an old 640x480 Intel USB webcam that I wanted to try with my 1st generation Mac mini (G4 variety). The camera is auto-magically recognized by Windows XP and works fine there. So, I was surprised how awful the image from it looked when I tried the Open Source...

maccam: USB Webcam Support for Mac OS X

But, your mileage may vary. So, if you have a webcam on the list of supported devices for this project and have a camera-less Mac, check out macmcam and see if it helps you out.

HandBrake 0.8.5b1 Released for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux
First there was HandBrake (the premiere Open Source DVD to MPEG4 solution for Mac OS X), then it slowed down, then MediaFork picked up the slack, then they announced regrouping and working together. And, now, here's the latest version:

HandBrake 0.8.5b1

While it is great to see the project reinvigorated, the big news, I think, is that it is no longer just a Mac OS X based project. There is also a Windows and a Linux installer available with this release (as mentioned by the MediaFork people earlier in its development).


Chris Allison
2007-04-27 15:00:39
A correction: HandBrake was never "just a Mac OS X based project," and the recent developments have actually meant fewer supported platforms. As documented at the top of handbrake.m0k.org, prior to the post-MediaFork project remerge and site redesign:
HandBrake is a GPL'd multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter. HandBrake was originally available on the BeOS, but now has been ported over to MacOS X and to GNU/Linux. A Windows port is being worked on.
(emphasis added)
So, while the new HandBrake (nee: MediaFork) guys pushed forward the Windows codebase a good deal, moving it from a testing CLI build available in the HandBrake forums (and linked on the downloads page) to a stable Windows CLI and GUI listed with the other official builds, rather than expanding upon the number of platforms Titer originally supported, they actually shrunk the project by dropping support for the original development platform - BeOS, apparently because of its small and shrinking user base.

Of course, practically speaking, the literal shrink in supported platforms also represents a massive increase in supported systems because the move forward from an experimental to a stable user-friendly Windows build means a far broader potential user base than BeOS could have ever offered, even in its heyday.

Nonetheless, let's give credit where credit is due: Original design, BeOS, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and *BSD support - Titer (original developer). Expanded Windows support (from 3rd party experimental builds) and continued development - the new HandBrake/former MediaFork crew.

Thank you to everyone who has, and continues to, work on this wonderful piece of software: Titer, who pioneered it, and the folks who have picked it up, now that he is no longer able to give it the attention it deserves.