Support Your Favorite Creators Today

There’s a good chance you frequently use free software and consume free content. Some of it is created by companies who support themselves by selling you private information to the highest bidder and by displaying intrusive ads. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are among the most prominent companies that do this.

But some of the free software and content you use, are created by organizations and individuals who don’t earn any money from doing it. Instead, they rely on user donations. Ever since I got a steady income, I’ve made donations to creators of free software and content I use regularly.

Here’s a list of my current, monthly donations:

Distraction Free Writing

When you’re trying to get in the zone, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

But how do you eliminate distractions when you’re writing on a computer, a device which is itself a distraction? A distraction free writing tool might help. These full screen text editors do their best to remove everything that is not important to the task of writing. In this post, I’ll have a look at five of them in an attempt to find the right one for me. Let’s see what Left, Ghostwriter, iA Writer, Writemonkey 3, and Calmly Writer have to offer.

Left

Left is distraction-free plaintext editor designed to quickly navigate between segments of an essay, or multiple documents. It features auto-complete, Markdown support, synonyms suggestions, writing statistics, markup-based navigation and a speed-reader.

The application was initially created to help Rekka with the writing of the upcoming novel Wiktopher, and later made available as a free and open source software.

Left isn’t truly full-screen. In Windows, I can still see the menu bar, which annoys me like crazy. The auto-complete and synonymous features are very nice, but they have an unfortunate side effect. As you write, information flashes along on the bottom of the screen, where both the auto-complete and synonym suggests appear. This is a distraction in itself, which is unfortunate for a text editor that aims to eliminate them. Also, there is no way to control the width of the text in full-screen mode. This means that on a wide-screen monitor, you have to move your eyes a lot from side to side as you write.

Left

The Gathering

As I’m writing this, more than 4000 nerds, geeks, and freaks are attending The Gathering. It’s a good time for an aging nerd to take a quick trip down memory line.

The Gathering, or TG for short, is the world’s second largest LAN party. Computer enthusiast meet to play games, flex their creative muscles, show off their custom rigs, get new games1, make new friends, and generally have a good time. The very first TG was organized during Easter back in 1992. All the schools are closed for 5 days during Easter, it was a perfect time to gather the core audience. More than 1200 people attended the first TG, and in 1993 an additional 200 people visited the party.

The Gathering soon outgrew its original venue, and in 1996 TG moved to The Viking Ship just outside Hamar. The indoor sports arena was built for the 1994 Winter Olympics. With modern infrastructure and prime geographical location, The Viking Ship contributed further to The Gathering’s success. In 1996 the party was visited by a record breaking 2500 people.

Short Stories

How Twitter’s new 280 character limit can actually be used for good.

Earlier this year, Twitter extended its tweet character limit from 140 to 280 characters. Many users, including myself, thought it was a bad move. My argument was that it wouldn’t lead to more content, but rather more overhead. Turns out I was wrong. While it might be the case for a few of the accounts I follow, some Twitter accounts have found a glorious way of using the 280 characters limit for good: Short stories.

When writing short stories, 280 characters give the author a lot more leverage than 140 characters.

Why Not The Sun?

The world is relying heavily on non-renewable, dirty, and poisonous oil, gas, and coal as energy sources. Why not use the giant, glowing ball of energy in the sky instead?

Every day, the Earth is bombarded with the Sun’s powerful rays. Some of the energy is used by plants and trees in photosynthesis, but most of it just heats up the planet. A better use would be to use the energy from the Sun to create electricity. The most common way to do this is by utilizing solar panels. Through the photovoltaic effect, electricity is produced when photons hit the solar panels. The commercially available panels are slowly getting more an more efficient. Currently, the sunlight conversion rate is roughly 21.5%, but this is expected to increase to 40% or even higher in the not-so-distant future.

So why aren’t the world throwing all their research money into solar panel technology? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if we used a virtually endless, free source of energy instead of having to invest billions to be able to strip-mine non-renewable sources?