John LeMasney, the manager of instructional technology at Rider University has an intense love for technology and enjoys turning people on to the open source software Linux, which can run any computer and is totally free. “It can be a great tool for doing lots of things in life, including communicating, recreation, and helping people to learn,” he says. “The combination of technology and freedom of source is an amazing combination.”
At Rider, where he is also the instructional technology coordinator for the Center for Innovative Instruction, the dissemination arm of the Teaching and Learning Center, he helps the faculty to integrate technology into teaching and learning. Among his most recent projects the revamping of the university’s streaming media server, with emphasis on podcasting and open formats.
LeMasney gives “An Overview of Open Source Software” as a part of the Tuesday Tech Talk series at the Princeton Public Library on Tuesday, November 7, at 7 p.m. The event is free. Call 609-924-9529 or visit http://tuesdaytechtalks.blogspot.com.
LeMasney, who maintains a website at www.lemasney.com, says that there are many free applications that are now available for both for Windows and MacOS. They are of use to business users, graphic artists, home users, and video buffs. Among them are music, videos, digital photography, digital audio, and business application software.
“You can try out Linux on a Windows PC or Mac without actually installing it by obtaining a ‘live CD’ and then using it to boot up your computer,” he says. “Then you can download and try all the free applications. If you don’t like using Linux, it’s as simple as rebooting your computer without the CD and you will be back to using Windows or Mac OS.”
There is a long list of Linux applications available to download at no cost that do all of the same things that the expensive graphics and office applications do — but which cost thousands of dollars to purchase.
One example is the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), which can be used instead of Adobe Photoshop. This program runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac and is totally free and “open source.” It is available free at www.GIMP.org. Another application available for users with an artistic bent is called INKSCAPE and is available at www.inkscape.org. This software can be used in place of Adobe Illustrator.
Looking to do pagination and page layout? “Give Scribus a try,” LeMasney says. Scribus will give QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign a run for their money at the cost of zero dollars to the user. It is available at www.scribus.net.
There are also alternatives to Microsoft Office software for the business users, and they can be of great benefit to the small business owner on a limited budget.
Finally, devices like TIVO, the digital VCR that records on your TV without your having to program it, work well with the open source software.
LeMasney completed his BFA in sculpture with honors at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and enjoys the creative aspects of any project he is involved in. He achieved LPI Level One Certification for Linux administration, and was the inaugural chief marketing officer for the Linux User’s Group in Princeton (LUG/IP), which you can visit at http://www.lugip.org. The group meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Lawrence branch of the Mercer County Library.
He grew up in Bensalem, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. His father was a cardboard box salesman and his mother was a full-time homemaker. He received an AA in fine arts from Bucks County Community College. He then went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied sculpture and graduated with a BFA in sculpture.
When he graduated from the university, he started to sell pieces of sculpture, but found it very hard to part with his creations. “I just don’t like to sell them,” he says. “I give some of the pieces to friends and family, but hate selling to people I don’t know. Once I got a commission and completed the piece, but then couldn’t bear to part with it, and so I gave the money back. The buyer was really angry but I couldn’t help it.”
At that point, LeMasney knew that he could not make a living with sculpture. He then took a trip to Europe and went to Budapest, Hungary, a trip which he says enlightened his world view. When he came back he started looking for a job and was happy to accept an instructional technologist position at Rider University.
During his time there, John met a student who was interested in an open source software called Linux, which was fairly new to the computer world in 1998, and causing a great deal of excitement. It was this meeting that led to his love of the new software.
LeMasney’s work history includes, among other things, furniture mover, camp counselor, welder, guitarist, sculptor, painter, graphic designer, art director, photographer, volunteer muralist, webmaster, systems administrator, and chief marketing officer. All of his experience comes to play when he lectures on the many uses of open source technology and the applications that are now available.