This is the second strip that we've completed while I've been away from home, and it's a great opportunity for me to bring up the open-source movement.
If you haven't ever heard of open-source software, you should Netflix your way over to a documentary named “Revolution OS.” It's about the origins of Linux and the entire idea of open software vs. proprietary systems like Windows or Unix. It's one of those rare opportunities to see lots of people all of whom are paler and nerdier than you could ever hope to be.
I'm actually writing this in OpenOffice, which I offered to install on my host's computer as a way of thanking her for the room and board. If you don't have MS Office, or if you do and your version is woefully outdated, I highly recommend switching to the open-source alternative.
Open-source software is free. I don't just mean “free” as in “no-charge,” even though that is typically the case. I mean “free” as in “First Amendment Free Speech.” Not only can you download and install the software on your machine for free, but you can modify that software however you like and then distribute that to the community. The code (or source) is open to you.
What's phenomenal about this movement is the types of communities that arise when everyone is able to have a hand in developing the software that they use. That way, the valuable commodity is not the software itself, but rather the people who know how to use it and modify it for a custom purpose. Anyone who wants to take the time to learn can become experts in these technologies. There are no certification processes or costly requisite seminars; it's all open to the public. This puts the power in the hands of the people, not of the massive corporations who might have the time and money to develop proprietary software that locks users and developers out.
The Crooked Gremlins, as well as most of the other webcomics out there, runs on the WordPress platform using the ComicPress plugin. If WordPress were a proprietary piece of software owned by a company instead of the community developed open-source platform that it is, the development of plugins would have been significantly harder.
Here endeth the lesson. Now, I must return to further acquaint myself with the dozen or so new family members I've garnered in yesterday's ceremonies.