Morton Fox (mortonfox) wrote,
Morton Fox

Some free things are more free than others


Backed up my desktop PC tonight. I do a backup to CD-R once every two or three months. (The last one was in early January.) I use Carbonite to fill in the gaps between these backups and I also email copies of whatever I'm currently working on to Gmail. I really hate having to redo anything, so such caution is warranted.

Wednesday was Free Small Iced Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts. I got one cup at the Dunkin Donuts on Route 17 in Ramsey and that was it. Could've gotten another one later, but I didn't think it was worth going out again in the evening. I'm guessing they intended their Free Iced Coffee Day to be on the first day of Spring, but there was still snow on the ground and the outside temperature was just a bit above freezing, so it wasn't really iced coffee weather. Even so, there was quite a number of people at the DD who asked for the iced coffee. Free makes it worthwhile.

Anyway, the iced coffee was free but here's something else that is free, but with strings attached. While reading Lifehacker today, I came across this discussion, which brought up the unusual licensing conditions of Wordweb Free, namely:

You can use the program free of charge only if:
  • You take at most 4 flights (2 return flights) in any 12 month period
  • AND you do not own or regularly drive an SUV (sports utility vehicle).
That strikes me as somewhat wrongheaded. What if you have to fly more than 4 times a year for your job? Nuh-uh, you'd be SOL. Although I fly zero times a year, I do own an SUV, so I don't meet those conditions either, even if the SUV happens to be a hybrid vehicle that is on par with or better than some cars in terms of fuel usage. While I don't think my emissions are really any of the WordWeb developer's business, I respect his right to impose conditions on the use of his software. So I uninstalled WordWeb and switched to StarDict. (In my defense though, those licensing conditions are new. I didn't see any such conditions when I downloaded and installed WordWeb two years ago.)

I think StarDict actually is a good alternative to WordWeb, even if its installation process is quite a bit more involved. You need to install the GTK+ runtime if you haven't done so already. Also, there is a paucity of installation documentation and novices may not know where to find the tools needed to unpack the dictionary files. Aside from the initial program load, StarDict feels more responsive than WordWeb. It's also more configurable. You can pick and choose from a number of downloadable dictionaries and reference sources, or create/edit your own dictionaries with the StarDict Editor. (I installed 16 dictionaries, which is probably overkill. :) ) StarDict also does wildcard and fuzzy searches, which WordWeb doesn't do unless you upgrade to WordWeb Pro.

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