Software Potpourri

A roundup of interesting software articles.

 From cool innovations to tips and tricks to new ways to use older software, sometimes there are just too many good articles available to focus on just one. This week is one of those weeks! So, we'll mention a couple of noteworthy items here and include the others in the Supporting Web Links section.

First up is an interesting article on Gizmodo from Alex Cranz. He starts out lamenting a recent change to Ulysses, a writing app he's used for a number of years. Like many other software applications, Ulysses is following Adobe's lead and switching to a subscription model. While Cranz is not happy about it (and neither are many others that use the app), he does explore the reasons why many software developers are switching to subscription models and grudgingly admits that they may have a valid point.

Next, this article by DJ Pangburn looks at how a combination of innovative software and hardware may allow skateboarders to turn their tricks into 3D-printed sculptures. Skateboarder Paul Ferragut of Convivial Studio explains the process he used to capture the skateboarding data and convert it to digital files, and provides an interesting video documenting the process. The project is still evolving, so stay tuned!

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. There are lots of different directions to take for a class discussion on these articles. Consider discussing the differences between subscription models vs. installed software. This could lead into a discussion about the misconceptions surrounding software "ownership." Alternately, you may want to share the skateboarding video with the class and talk about the work Paul Farragut is doing.
  2. Divide the class into two groups to debate the pros and cons of subscription models for software.Give students time to research the ways different software companies handle software distribution. Students may also want to research the work that goes into software development and the ethics of subscription models. 
  3. As an individual project, ask students to explore a software program of their choice. The Supporting Web Links section may help generate some ideas. Students may choose to investigate legacy software like Microsoft Paint, look for a new way to use an old standby like Notepad, learn some tips and tricks for a software program they already use, or explore a new program. Students should create a brief presentation or a demo to showcase the program they researched and share this information with the class.


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