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TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

Here is the list of some of my favorite TED presentations, but there are just so many inspiring presentations:

Joshua Prince-Ramus believes that if architects re-engineer their design process, the results can be spectacular. Speaking at TEDxSMU, Dallas, he walks us through his fantastic re-creation of the local Wyly Theater as a giant “theatrical machine” that reconfigures itself at the touch of a button.

At TED2009, Al Gore presents updated slides from around the globe to make the case that worrying climate trends are even worse than scientists predicted, and to make clear his stance on “clean coal.”

At TEDIndia, Pranav Mistry demos several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data — including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper “laptop.” In an onstage Q&A, Mistry says he’ll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all.

We’re at a unique moment in history, says UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: we can use today’s interconnectedness to develop our shared global ethic — and work together to confront the challenges of poverty, security, climate change and the economy.

Can the interests of an individual nation be reconciled with humanity’s greater good? Can a patriotic, nationally elected politician really give people in other countries equal consideration? Following his TEDTalk calling for a global ethic, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown fields questions from TED Curator Chris Anderson.

You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”

20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. For his next project, he’s building a web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together.

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As the spring is approaching shortly, hopefully,  I have decided to start a round of spring cleaning on my computers.  Full data backup, restructure folders, delete unnecessary stuff off the laptop, defrag the harddrives, etc.  One of the things I do is to update all the open source / free tools I have on my computers.  Here is a list of tools I use these days:

  • Pidgin – a nice all-in-one IM application supports popular networks, such as AIM, Google Talk, IRC, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo!, etc.
  • KeePass Password Safe – easy to use password manager.  You can put it on a USB key without installation.
  • Filezilla – This is probably the most stable FTP client I’ve ever use.
  • VLC media player – cross-platform media player for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.  It plays everything, no need to get separate codec updates ever again.
  • ClamWin – Open source GPL virus scanner, its pretty darn good IMHO.  It gets the job done and not using a lot of RAM or CPU when scanning.
  • TweetDeck – Allow you to twit on your computer, and it supports Mac OS X and Windows.  Its based on Adobe AIR.
  • Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Picasa, GIMP, etc. – no need for introduction eh?
  • ZScreen – open-source screen capture program, which allows you to capture region/window/full-screen screenshots.

Updated: Forgot to mention about PortableApps, a useful way to carry some good tools around and get access whenever you can using a USB key.

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