Free or almost free web tools:
Great browsers and e-mail clients (FREE) from Mozilla: Firefox (for browsing), Camino (a great browser for Mac only), Thunderbird (for e-mail), Mozilla (for browsing, e-mail, ICQ, Chat, plus a code editor to build a web site) and a calendar (much better than iCal or Microsoft's Calendar).
All of Mozilla's builds are built for every various platform (PC, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS, and more). And they are ALL FREE, open source. A community of developers that are moving the web forward. There are over 100 million people using Firefox as their primary browser now. What a great company.
Below are some resources for freeware, shareware, and open source products. Most are cross-platform (PC and Mac friendly)
Blogger.com: if you don't have the time or the inclination to build your own web site, use Blogger. It's easy enough for the most tech-challenged person, and it's FREE. A FREE web space in minutes. See my blogspot
Softpedia: freeware and shareware for Mac and PC; searchable database of hundreds of thousands of programs, updated hourly
Versiontracker: freeware and shareware for Mac and PC; if it's good software you'll find it here. Also, become a member and receive daily updates on your software, making life a lot easier for those too busy too search the huge database
Mozilla.org and Mozilla.com, where you can pick up cross-platform software that we call 'open-source'; it's built by many users and the code is FREE. They make great browsers (Firefox and Camino) and a super E-mail client (Thunderbird); they also make MOZILLA, a browser that has a built-in code editor which you can use to BUILD WEBSITES. I built my first web site with an early version!
Nvu (another solution)
Finally. A complete Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. FREE.
Nvu (pronounced N-view, for a 'new view') makes managing a web site a snap. Now anyone can create web pages and manage a web site with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.
Nvu 1.0 is available for download for a variety of Linux distributions including Linspire 5.0, SuSE Linux 9.2, Mandrake Linux 10.0, Fedora Core 2 and 3, Debian Linux (sid) and MEPIS linux. If you are using Mac OSX or Windows, you can download Nvu for Windows and Nvu for Mac from the link below.
To me, it seems that it's never been a worse OR a better time to be a musician. On the one hand, the true creative improviser is faced with a whole new set of conditions, all seemingly designed to keep us from doing what is essential to our very survival, not just financially, but spiritually.
And on the other hand, the open source technology that we can access, for little or no money for music software, is astounding. The ways in which we can best put this tech to work for us and our music is not always as easy as some folks make it sound. For those of us who were born during or just after WWII, our learning curve is steep when it comes to geekspeak.
We need a computer; that's a given. And there's no better platform out there right now than Mac's new OS (X at the moment) with its Unix core underpinnings. But not everyone can afford such an investment, and there are plenty of FREE, open source software programs that are now cross-platform (they run on Mac and PC and Linux and are essentially free-BSD, platform independent); ways to record at home, ways to broadcast our music in podcasts, ways to let the world know we exist, ways to share our music on-line, and ways to MAKE MONEY by selling our music on-line, either in CD format, or as tune-by-tune downloads exactly as iTunes does it.
(And don't forget; most of the work we get now is by e-mail communications...a musician without e-mail is at a serious disadvantage.)
It's important to have a web site. In the perfect world, all musicians would be given a web site and an e-mail address at birth. If you don't have a web site, get one now, and build it yourself. You do NOT want to have to pester some lazy ne'er do well to update your schedule page.
How to build your own web site
Here are some more hints and tips to help you begin designing your own web site, controlling your own destiny, and attaining world domination if that's your goal. Actually, for me, it's a matter of simply learning new ways to get things done, and it's FUN. I taught myself basic web design to help me kick the nicotine habit.
Now I have a serious HTML jones, but it's a lot healthier, and rewarding financially as well. It enables me to update my pages, make new ones, sell my music, and exert more control over my life and my art.
To get started:
Install it on your hard-drive. It is also a very solid web browser, but keep that evil old Internet Explorer so that you can view your web pages on a variety of platforms. (IMPORTANT: be sure to download a browser that is specific to your OS; either Windows PC, Mac, NeXT, etc.)
Invest in a small graphics program (to edit photos, make icons, and generate visual content). Photoshop is THE image-editor, but there are many that will get you started for a fraction of the cost. A good bet is Adobe PhotoDeluxe. or Adobe PhotoshopLE (at press time there are many FREE image editors: do a search at Softpedia. It's a wonderful place for all kinds of free apps for all platforms, such as audio software and text editors. Audacity is a FREE audio editing program that is absolutely top- notch. You'll find it by searching any major software site.
Read all the 'HELP' files, but more important: PLAY with the software. Trial and error is the best way to learn.
Once you get The Mozilla Suite installed, go up into the menu marked 'file': it'll be in the upper-left corner of your screen.
Click on 'open blank page in Communicator' and you're ready to rock. Build your page using 'tables': put all your text and images in tables, or read about CSS and learn how to use 'div' tags to position your content.
The tables hold everything where you put it (it is hoped). Play with the pretty colors. Make links. Read the 'HELP' files again and again. Soon you'll have a web page, and not too long thereafter, a web site.
Eventually, you'll want to upgrade to a more comprehensive web design package. I prefer Dreamweaver by Macromedia - I also use Photoshop (Adobe Systems). I increasingly hand-code with BBedit or TextWrangler.
And then you're ready for the world of ISP's and FTP and cache updates and mp3 downloads.
If I can do it, so can you! One step at a time.
Download and dissect other web sites that you like to see how they are built. This is a GREAT way to learn.
Rollover images are old stuff; the same effects can be achieved with one-tenth the code using CSS. And animated gifs are like Edsels: obsolete.
Be sure to look in the 'head' of a document to see what tools were used to construct the page (lots of 'Frontpage' users out there). Also, keywords are important for the search engine robots, but the TITLE of your page is what the robots really seize upon; it is the single most important piece of 'metadata' in a web page. This helps to get your site indexed for sites like Yahoo and Google.
From my (Firefox) Bookmark Folder: