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I’ve been thinking a bit too much about paying for things.

I take a lot of software for granted. I don’t mean anything that requires a license or subscription-based services, both of which I’ll happily pay for if I think they’re necessary, rather software that allows free usage but explicitly solicits donations (or, less wordily, donationware). I’m taking software to mean pretty much anything in this context; browser extensions, desktop apps, JS libraries, whatever.

I mentally shove these into two broad categories:

  • Project-specific software
  • General tools

Items from the first category would ideally be included as a line-item when invoicing for a project but I’ve found that while clients are normally happy to pony up for licenses when required they tend not to be so keen on making donations. Understandable, I guess.

So, I plan to set aside a percentage of income from each project and a percentage of my overall income each month and donate that to one or more donationware projects. I can’t see myself implicitly passing the extra on to clients by charging more; instead, I’ll try to see it as a reasonable and necessary cost of doing business (and, to be fair, as a way of assuaging any guilty feelings about not contributing back).

I want to note the choices I make here so I can easily keep track and also offer a wee vote for each project, in a “so good I paid for it!” style.

I’ve settled on the following rules for making choices:

  • Only donate to projects that explicitly solicit donations
  • Favour individuals first, then small organisations, then large
  • Project-specific tools take priority over general tools

The last is perhaps a little counter-intuitive but I know I’ll have times when I won’t need any project-specific software, in which case I’ll donate to a general tool instead. Hopefully this will balance coverage between the two.

I don’t have the numbers ready to go so this month I’ve done this on a pretty ad-hoc basis.

Right, off we go then.

Apple Keyboard Layout (KBD) for Windows

This is nothing particularly complicated; it’s a custom keyboard layout designed for anyone using a Mac keyboard with a Windows OS. But some fairly serious time must have gone into the research and it solves one of my top ten irritating computering issues.

I’ve added this to my base virtual machines, so now that VirtualBox supports easy cloning I shouldn’t have to think about it ever again (which is partly why I’m donating now - I’ll forget otherwise). It’d be even better if someone at Oracle would stick it in VirtualBox Guest Additions or something.

Web Developer

I’ve been using Chris Pederick’s excellent Web Developer extension almost daily since 2003, more than long enough to feel like it’s actually a part of Firefox. That’s my excuse for not donating until now, anyway.