7-Zip: My favorite file archive tool!

7-zip As a self-described geek, I often have friends and colleagues ask me for advice on what tools they should be using. For example, when someone sets up a new computer, they often need some sort of tool for working with zip files, because the tool built into Windows XP leaves much to be desired.

WinZip is probably the most popular file compression utility, and WinRAR is also really common. My favorite though, without a doubt, is an open-source tool called 7-Zip.

7-Zip does everything you’d expect it to and more! And it does it better than WinZip in most cases. Not only does 7-Zip allow you to work with it’s own compression format (7z) but also ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, and TAR for both packing and unpacking, and RAR, CAB, ISO, and a whole bunch of others for unpacking only.

The install is really quick and painless (the setup file is a mere 840 KB). What you end up with is the 7-Zip File Manager, a command line interface, and most importantly – Windows Shell integration! I use 7-Zip exclusively through the Windows Shell. For instance, to add a file or files to a new archive, just right-click and go to the 7-Zip menu:

add

If you choose “Add to archive…” a little window pops up that lets you configure the type of archive, as well as compression settings. Usually though, it’s easier to just pick the “Add to filename.zip” option. It’ll create the zip file right in the same directory.

Unpacking archives is just as easy. Simply right-click on any archive file, and go to the 7-Zip menu:

extract

Again you have a bunch of options, with “Extract Here” and “Extract to folder” being the two most useful. As you can see, in most cases the only 7-Zip interface you see are these context menus.

That’s my favorite part about 7-Zip: it does one thing and it does it well. It’s fast, and mostly stays out of the way. If you are sick of WinZip or WinRAR, or if you *gasp* use the Windows XP zip functionality, I strongly urge to you download and install 7-Zip!

Here is the 7-Zip website, and you can get the latest download here. Developers – you may be interested in the LZMA SDK (so that you can take advantage of the 7z compression format in your own applications).

Tomorrow's Open Source

Post ImageSome notes on the open source session hosted by Matt Westervelt, Asa Dotzler (Mozilla), Scott Collins, and Matt Mullenweg (WordPress):

  • Asa: “Open source is changing things, and open source itself is changing.”
  • Asa seems to think that we’re starting to see open source projects be chosen on quality rather than simply because it is open source or free.
  • SpreadFirefox is an example of handing over control of the brand and marketing to the product’s users who are generally more honest and passionate about the product. Scott points out that Firefox is something of an anomaly, there is no plan to enable the same effect with other products. According to Asa, it comes down to the testimonials.
  • Matt M. explains that WordPress is a great example of a community driven project, because it is improved by the people using it, resulting in a much better end product. Instead of developer driven development, you have user driven development.
  • The ad that ran in the New York Times for Firefox didn’t really create a download spike itself, but the associated media articles that covered the event sure did, according to Asa.
  • Scott makes a good point, IMO, Firefox had a really great head start to becoming successful, something that other open source projects can’t match: it exists in a market that was dominated by a single product so consumers were eager for something new, it was incubated by a company with financial backing and a team of programmers to ensure it reached the “it works great” level before being cut loose, and it is a product that people use everyday.

And that’s all I got from the session because after that last point I went to ride David Geller‘s Segway. More on that later!

Read: Gnomedex

Policing Ourmedia

Dickson has written up a post explaining a few more problems with Ourmedia. I also listened to the interview on IT Conversations that Dickson did, and I have pretty much the same thoughts – pipe dream. I’m ready to be proven wrong, but the policing of content will be another headache to add to the list I created a few days ago.

Marc Canter just kills me. Near the beginning of the interview, he tries to apply the term “open source” to Google, Amazon and eBay because they provide an API for their platform. Aside from the fact that Eric Raymond and others probably have a thing or two to say about that, if those three companies are open source, why not Microsoft? Microsoft is not a software company, they are a platforms company. Windows is a platform with extensive APIs. Same with .NET. Same with Windows Mobile. Same with Office. Same with the new XBOX. The list goes on.

While we’re talking about Ourmedia, if you want to know what its like for users who just go and try it out, read this post and this post from Robert Scoble. Robert described it like this: “The Our Media experience was a bit rough.”

Will Firefox always be more secure?

Speaking at PC Forum, Mitchell Baker of the Mozilla Foundation proclaimed that Firefox will always have less security vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer, even as its popularity grows. But he didn’t stop there! Baker went on to say:

“There is this idea that market share alone will make you have more vulnerabilities. It is not relational at all.”

No? I guess we’ll find out when Firefox has more than the 5% market share it has now. I am willing to bet the number of vulnerabilities will increase. Furthermore, Firefox will experience new security breaches at a faster rate than Internet Explorer ever did. Why? Because it’s open source. A hacker has to play with IE a bit, use some trial and error, to get the desired result. With Firefox, anyone can look at the code. As soon as Mozilla patches something, a hacker (for lack of a better name) can go and look at the code for the patch to see if it was in fact implemented correctly.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Firefox. It has been my default browser on all computers for a long time now. It’s just that I don’t agree with the “invincibility” some open source pundits think they have. Sooner or later it’ll all come crashing down.

Read: CNET News.com