About two years ago I searched for some educational software for Linux or MacOS X and failed. Jan Materne once pointed me to Gcompris but I forgot about it. This afternoon I spent a few hours installing it and it is great, really.

This software comes packed with more than forty "activities" ranging from wiping semi-transparent fog from images to learn how to move the mouse (which Sarah - four years - enjoyed a lot) to learning games that go well beyond Florian's (eight years) current knowledge. It took some authority to pull the kids from the keyboard.

The website says Gcompris was translated into more than 40 languages and so far I haven't found a flaw in the German translation.

Installing Gcompris on Fedora Core 3 wasn't easy but doable. There are no RPMs so you have to compile from source and it requires sqlite and pysqlite which are not part of stock FC3 and I had to be compiled from sources as well since an rpmfind search came empty.

Installing it on my Mac is going to become a bit more difficult, darminports has been pulling down half the open source universe and compiling it for hours now just to prepare the Gnome environment that is needed. Did I say it is a five your old G3 iBook?

Gcompris' listing at Ofset also points to Childsplay which takes a very similar approach as Gcompris but uses Python and pygame. It was straight forward to install on my Mac but so far refuses to speak any language other than English.

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This isn't really new since the votes happened in late November, it just took me two months to update the Ant site. Three Ant libraries have been promoted from the sandbox and are now open to get real releases and become first class Ant components.

The three libraries are the .NET Antlib I've talked about before, a Subversion library and AntUnit which is scheduled to take over as testing framework to test Ant tasks but covers far more than that (more on my ideas later). See the Ant site for more details.

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It's hardly the first award Ant has won[1] and it hopefully won't be the last. When I saw Developer.com announcing the winners of this year's Reader's Choice Award and Ant winning the category "Development Utility of the Year" I wondered why this year?.

When Ant 1.6 was released in late 2003 it brought a ton of new features that changed the way you work with Ant and and I think it really deserved special attention, but over the past two years it has only seen a few maintenance releases.

I waited for the details and now (nice title, BTW) I know who the runner ups have been (two editors, VMWare and a profiler) but I'm not really further. My best guess is that Ant 1.6.x started to ship with the major IDEs in 2005, a year ago most of them have been at the 1.5.x level. We know that downloads from Apache reach only a smallish fraction of Ant's user base and most users simply stick to the version shipping with their IDE.

Anyway. A big thanks to all the people who've improved Ant with bug reports, feature requests, feedback, tests, documentation and code over the past six years.

[1] As far as I know the first one has been the JavaWorld Editor's Choice Award in 2002.

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