The web is a treasure trove is free software. But will it stay true and serve its purpose? Or crash and burn your expensive system? We've rounded-up the best genuine free software and services the web has to offer.
Authors of the E-age
When Stephanie Klein started her blog Greek Tragedyy, little did she know that it would elevate her to the status of celebrated author (ie Very Rich) and trendsetter. Blogs have generated book deals, challenged governments, and unfortunately become a forum for people to regurgitate pointless prattle. They have indelibly marked their presence on our cultural consciousness and show no signs of dying out.
Now you can join this community as a lot of sites offer you this space for free. But not all blogs offer the same services or are suited to everyone. One of the most popular sites offering free blog space is Blogger. Founded by Pyra Labs, the site was taken over by Google and users sign in using Gmail IDs. Google then purchased Picasa; and integrated it and its photo sharing utility Hello into Blogger so that users could add images to their blogs.
A further revamp saw CSS-compliant templates, individual archive pages, comments, and posting by email being added as part of the service. With the migration to Google servers, features such as label organisation, the ability to create private blogs, webfeed options and drag-and-drop features were added.
The Google Toolbar included a feature BlogThis, which lets users post links directly to their blogs. The inclusion of Google's AdSense service also allows users to generate revenue from their blogs. The site also allows multiple author support, which has led to the birth of many group blogs.
Another popular site is Wordpress. Launched as an invitation-only service, today there are more than 1.1 million accounts on Wordpress. While the basic features are free, some premium features such as CSS editor, domain mapping, and storage upgrades are paid services. Some of the main attractions of the site are a What You See Is What You Get (wysiwyg) post editor, a templating system, link management, nested and multiple categories for articles, TrackBack and Pingback typographic filters for formatting and styling text, static pages, multiple authors and tag support. The site also lets you store a list of people who visit your blog and even lets you block certain IP addresses.
A site that is primarily a blog but integrates some social networking features is Live Journal. Each journal entry has its own web page that also carries comments left by other users. In addition, each user has a journal page, listing recent journal entries and their comments.
What sets LiveJournal apart is the "friends list," that provides various syndication and privacy services. Each user has a friend page, that collates their recent journal entries.
The S2 programming language allows journal templates to be modified by members. Member are allowed to use graphical avatars, or "userpics," which appear next to their name.