Jitsi

Jitsi is open-source, cross-platform video conferencing software from 8×8 Inc. that offers an alternative to Zoom, Skype, etc. Features include encryption, password protection, chat, desktop sharing, simple meeting invitations, telephone dial-in/dial-out, recording, simulcasting, WebRTC support, plus “lower latency, better quality and, if you are running your own service, a much more scalable and inexpensive solution” and more. (See Jitsi FAQ, Jitsi Projects, a news post and an installation guide for more details.)

Jitsi is free, open-source software with a Jitsi Meet online service that supports Chromium-based browsers (e.g. Google Chrome), as well as clients for macOS, iOS, Linux, Windows, and Android.

Jitsi Meet server software is available in open-source downloads for Debian/Ubuntu systems and also for Docker.

 

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a cross-platform, open-source office software suite from The Document Foundation that offers word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, a drawing application that does 3D, a database front-end, and file compatibility with Microsoft Office and other formats. (See LibreOffice vs. Microsoft Office feature comparison for more details.) The current LibreOffice version is “a feature-rich major release of the LibreOffice 6 family with better performance, a large number of new and improved features, and enhanced interoperability with proprietary document formats.”

LibreOffice 6.4.2 is a free, donationware download for OS X 10.10 and up (with a separately installed Java Runtime Environment (JRE) required for some features, notably the database front-end, Base), and it runs on Windows and Linux, as well.

The latest LibreOffice release notes mention that “Mac users will be happy to know that the issue of blurry fonts on Retina displays has been resolved.”

LibreOffice 6.3.5 is a more mature version recommended for enterprise, corporate environments and more conservative users who don’t need all the very latest features. (See also: LibreOffice security updates.)

LibreOffice Online is available as a Docker image, “which provides basic collaborative editing of documents in a browser by re-using the LibreOffice core; rendering fidelity should be excellent, and interoperability match that of LibreOffice” for those willing to set up the necessary host platform.

Lockdown

Lockdown is an open-source firewall app for macOS and iOS from ex-Apple engineer Johnny Lin (Confirmed Inc.) “that blocks tracking, ads, badware and more” with the following features listed:

  • Block any domain / service
  • Works for all apps, not just the browser
  • Useful preconfigured defaults
  • See what’s being blocked
  • Optional VPN for additional privacy

In addition, “everything Lockdown does stays on your device,” according to the company.

Lockdown Apps 0.3.1 is a free download for iOS 11 and later (with optional VPN services priced starting at $7.99/mo.).

Lockdown Apps 0.1.1 is a free download for macOS 10.15 Catalina only.

(See “Here’s What The “Do Not Sell My Personal Data” Button Does” for Johnny’s detailed and revealing look at modern Internet privacy problems.)

Bitwarden

Bitwarden is a cross-platform password management system from 8bit Solutions LLC that uses cloud storage to hold your encrypted password vault, either the Bitwarden service or your own self-hosted server. Features include end-to-end encryption, two-step login (2FA), a password/passphrase generator, data export, URI match-detection options, password checking (weak, exposed, reused, etc.), folders, file attachments, organization support, and more. Four types of items are available: login, card (e.g. credit card), identity, and secure note, and you can add custom fields to an item. (See Bitwarden Help Center for more information.)

Bitwarden, which requires creation of a free user account and vault master password, can be downloaded and used free of charge for OS X 10.10 and later, iOS 10 and later, Linux, Windows, Android, and web browsers. Free accounts are limited to two users and two “collections“, while additional users and features (e.g. file storage, vault “health reports”, self-hosting, audit logs, 2FA, etc.) are priced starting at $10 per user per year.

Shotcut

Shotcut is a cross-platform video editing app from Meltytech LLC (Dan Dennedy) that offers a rich set of features, including native editing support for “oodles” of audio, video and image formats (including ProRes); native multitrack and multiformat timeline editing (no import required) with trimming, thumbnails and waveforms (cached); resolution support to 4K; audio mixing and video compositing across all tracks; append, insert, overwrite, lift, and delete (ripple) editing on the timeline; color correction and audio filters; the ability to create, play, edit, save, load, encode, and stream MLT XML playlists; encode/transcode, capture, streaming and batch encoding with job control; and much more.

Shotcut 20.12.17 is a free, open-source download for OS X 10.10 and up, Linux, and Windows. The latest release brings low-resolution previews, an audio pitch filter, and other improvements, while low-resolution proxies are planned for the months ahead.

Please remember that today there is still a processing cost to scale down the source video to the preview resolution. So, this is still not a silver-bullet, magical cure-all for performance issues. This feature will be more beneficial when low resolution proxies are used, which is planned for version 20.04 in April.

LiveCode

LiveCode is a cross-platform, open-source, visual, rapid development system that provides authoring on Windows, Mac or Linux systems and deployment of apps, royalty-free, across Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Raspberry Pi, web servers, and HTML5 web apps. It has strong similarities in design and programming to Bill Atkinson’s brilliantly revolutionary HyperCard for early Macs but is much more powerful.

LiveCode can open HyperCard stacks (though you may need an older LiveCode version to do it, and the stacks may need changes to function and look the way they did before). LiveCode guides, lessons, and dictionary offer more details.

LiveCode 9.5.1 is the latest “stable” download for OS X 10.10 through 10.13+, as well as Windows and Linux. (Earlier versions support PowerPC and Intel Macs back to Mac OS X 10.5).

LiveCode licensing options range from the free, open-source Community license through several commercial versions with support for closed-source apps and additional support. There’s also a 10-day trial available.

LiveCode for FileMaker (“LCFM Native”) promises to convert FileMaker applications into native smartphone apps. (Pricing depends on several different factors.)

Our new tool lets you take an existing FileMaker layout, run it through the compiler, use built-in LiveCode functionality to augment your app with native functionality and deploy it as a native app. For example take a FileMaker Go or Desktop layout and convert it to become a native Android app. Presto, your FileMaker solution is now a native Android app. And still talking to FileMaker.

MuseScore

MuseScore is a professional music notation program that’s cross-platform and open-source. In addition to a full set of notation and formatting feature, text support, and MIDI import/conversion, MuseScore offers playback capabilities with a mixer, MIDI output, synthesizer, and SoundFont samples. For getting started, there’s a Startup Wizard Tour feature along with a library of video tutorials. Other features include support for MusicXML files, early music, fretboard diagrams, keyboard shortcuts, and much more. (See the MuseScore 3 Handbook for more information.)

MuseScore 3.4.1 is freely downloadable open-source donationware for macOS 10.12 and later, plus Linux, Windows, and additional platforms.

Gramps

Gramps (Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) is a free, cross-platform genealogical app from Donald N. Allingham and the Gramps Team that “helps you track your family tree” – people, relationships, places, events, sources, citations, repositories, media, notes, calendars, bookmarks, filters, image metadata, and more. Other features include tools for database checking, duplicate detection, merging, “soundex” analysis, and support for GEDCOM import/export, as well as Web Family Tree export. (See Gramps Wiki for more details.)

Gramps 5.1.2 is a free Python app download for Mac OS X 10.5 and later and for various versions of Linux, or Windows.

Gramps attempts to provide all of the common capabilities of other genealogical programs, but, more importantly, to provide an additional capability of integration not common to these programs. This is the ability to input any bits and pieces of information directly into Gramps and rearrange/manipulate any/all data events in the entire data base (in any order or sequence) to assist the user in doing research, analysis and correlation with the potential of filling relationship gaps.

Firefox: critical security patch (72.0.1)

Firefox 72.0.1 brings a critical security patch for “targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw.”

Version 72.0.0, the previous version released just a day earlier, also brought security fixes, plus additional privacy and security protections and feature updates:

Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection marks a major new milestone in our battle against cross-site tracking: we now block fingerprinting scripts by default for all users, taking a new bold step in the fight for our users’ privacy.

Firefox replaces annoying notification request pop-ups with a more delightful experience, by default for all users. The pop-ups no longer interrupt your browsing, in its place, a speech bubble will appear in the address bar when you interact with the site.

Picture-in-picture video is now also available in Firefox for Mac and Linux: Select the blue icon from the right edge of a video to pop open a floating window so you can keep watching while working in other tabs or apps.

Firefox is the free, cross-platform web browser from Mozilla, promising better privacy than Google’s Chrome and offering an appealing, open-source alternative to Apple’s Safari.

Firefox 72.0.1 is a free download for OS X 10.9 and up, plus Linux, and Windows.

Firefox ESR 68.4.1 (see security notes and downloads) adds the critical security fix to the Extended Support Release family for OS X 10.9 or later, Linux, or Windows. A Firefox FTP server includes all the various versions for downloading.

Firefox Quantum Developer Edition is an alternate version for desktop systems that incorporates tools such as editors, debuggers and responsive design views.

Firefox Quantum for Enterprise is a version that lets people set up policies (e.g. proxy, restrict features) with Group Policy on Windows and a JSON file on Mac and Linux.

Firefox for iOS 20.2 is a free mobile version for iOS 11 and up, with automatic search suggestions, a private browsing mode, tracking protection and Siri Shortcut support for iOS 12.

Shairport Sync

Shairport Sync is software from Mike Brady (building on the original work of James Laird and others) that functions as an AirPlay wireless audio player – “it plays audio streamed from iTunes, iOS, Apple TV and macOS devices and AirPlay sources such as Quicktime Player and ForkedDaapd, among others.” (It does not support video or photo streaming, however.)
  Features include full audio synchronization – “it stays synchronised with the source and hence with similar devices playing the same source. In this way, synchronised multi-room audio is possible for players that support it, such as iTunes and the macOS Music app.” The software also handles Apple ALAC decoding, high bit rates and frame rates, metadata delivery, and more.

Shairport Sync is freely downloadable open-source software for Linux, Raspberry Pi, OpenBSD and other Unix-based systems. A Mac HomeBrew package is available but lacks synchronization capability.

Disk Inventory X

Disk Inventory X is a Mac app from Tjark Derlien for analyzing storage usage and displaying folders and files in color-coded treemaps to make it easier to quickly identify and manage files taking up the most space. You can choose volumes or folders to analyze then click on the treemap to see which files/folders are using blocks of space or vice versa.

Disk Inventory X 1.3 is freely downloadable, open-source donationware for macOS 10.13 and up, and Disk Inventory 1.0 is available to support Macs all the way back to Mac OS X 10.3.  The latest version adds support for macOS 10.15 Catalina.