Te Big Bang Teory

So since we’ve spent the last ten months or so basically never leaving the house (other than to take the animals to the vet when necessary), we have, unsurprisingly, been watching a lot of television. One show that we picked up—which, amazingly enough, we never watched when it was originally airing—is The Big Bang Theory. My wife refers to this show as “dessert”, i.e., a nice little marzipan confection to be consumed after watching something dark, say, an episode of His Dark Materials or I May Destroy You or Lovecraft Country* or, you know, the news.

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Free Software for Everyone: Avidemux

So it’s been quite a while since I did a “free software” post, mainly because I had already blown through all the free software that I use that might be of general interest. (Unless someone wants to hear about the wonderful PekWM window manager for Linux. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) However, recently I’ve been spending time with Avidemux, a simple yet powerful application that allows you to do some basic video manipulation. You’re not going to be creating green-screen Stephen Colbert lightsaber duel videos with it, but you might find it useful for other things. Like what, you say? Let’s take a look:

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Seeing as how I like to bash Windows now and then, I thought it would only be fair for me to note a colossal security flaw in the Debian Linux distribution (which is the basis for, among other things, Ubuntu, which I use) affecting the OpenSSL encryption software program.  This isn’t a bug in OpenSSL, but rather, it’s something that a Debian programmer did to it that amounts to, shall we say, an orchiectomy.  Basically, in order to stop some code debugging/profiling tools from complaining, somebody commented out a line of code that was evidently responsible for creating entropy (pseudo-randomness) in order to generate an unguessable encryption key.  Oopsie.  As this is not a technology blog (and I am far from a cryptography expert), I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of what happened; for those who are interested and are of a technical bent, some good articles are here and here (and here, too).

You might’ve heard of SSL.  It’s what’s used to, among other things, broker secure (“https”) connections to web sites.  I’m not sure how bad I made this issue sound, but however bad you think it is, it’s actually worse.  (On the other hand, being open source software, we at least actually know what happened to it.)

And I still don’t have a virus, Google.

Free Software For Everybody: Video Editing

A few days ago, Goodbear asked about free video editing software.  This isn’t an area in which I have a lot of experience, as I don’t do much video editing (all my video is perfect as shot … :-P), so I did a little research.  Linux users have a number of choices in this area, including Cinelerra and Kino; these are the only ones I have tried (although see Blender, below).  OS X users, of course, have iMovie built in as part of the iLife suite (I’m not going to get into the whole iMovie ’08 vs. earlier versions of iMovie controversy). But what are Windows users to do?

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Thanks to Chess Griffin at Linux Reality

A big “thank you” goes out to Chess Griffin at Linux Reality, a podcast for the new and not-so-new Linux user, for mentioning my site in his latest podcast!  I’ve been a Linux user since about 2004 (originally using Mandrake, currently using Ubuntu) and highly recommend Chess’s podcast for anyone who’s using, interested in using, or just curious about Linux, a free, stable, secure alternative to Windows.  You can even order a computer now with Ubuntu preinstalled, for example, from System 76 or Dell.

Consider Linux for your next machine.  You might be surprised.