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What can a Linux geek do for that special someone on Valentine's Day? Create a gift using open source software, of course.
One of the easiest and most heartfelt things to do is make a love note with Audacity and put it on your significant other's portable music device or smart phone. The note does not need to say much -- just let her (or him) know that you appreciate and enjoy having her around. Audacity makes this task easy -- just hook up a microphone, click the record button, and off you go. If your valentine doesn't have a music player, you can put the audio track on a CD and slide it into her car stereo for the Valentine's Day morning commute.
If you want something a little more traditional, you can create a Valentine's Day card with a custom message using OpenOffice.org. There are several excellent resources on the Internet for OOo templates and clip art. The OpenOffice.org project has a special area just for templates, and the OOExtras project has a couple of greeting card templates.
Consider compiling a CD of music that your valentine might like. Several full-featured burning utilities for Linux make this process easy. In addition, there are several Linux-friendly digital music services, including Magnatune, Mindawn, and Amazon MP3.
If you have some spare time, put together a scrapbook or picture book of special times in your relationship. Several Web sites allow you to make photo books, but for the true hands-on experience -- and full creative freedom -- I suggest using Inkscape or Scribus. Either tool allows you to create pages with borders, captions, notes, and clip art. When you are finished, print the pages and bind them with ribbon, or put them in a store-bought photo album.
Not everybody has a special someone on Valentine's Day. If you're interested in somebody, Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to make something happen -- and of course Linux can help.
A neat way of letting somebody know they have a secret admirer is to record audio tracks on strategically placed CDs or cheap MP3 players. The idea is to record small, funny, romantic bits and put them places where the person will find them. On the last track, instruct the person to meet you for a romantic dinner. Linux can help in many ways for this little project: Audacity to record the audio, other applications for burning the CDs, and OpenOffice.org templates or Koverartist for creating disk covers.
If you want to go all out, you can compose a cartoon with Synfig Studio or Blender that has a message for your muse. A good idea is a cartoon of yourself that makes your introduction and lets the admiree know that you would like to take her out on a date. When you are finished creating your masterpiece you can render it then put it on the Web. You can render it to digital video and use Kino to edit and put the video on a DVD.
You can also record a video of yourself professing your love, edit it with Cinelerra, and upload it to a video sharing site such as YouTube. Then just send the link to the object of you affection.
As with anything, your mileage may vary. The author is not responsible for slapped faces, things thrown at you, or any bodily harm that may be inflicted as a result of your efforts. Happy Valentine's Day.
Chad Files, a software developer and writer, has been developing software applications for more than 10 years, and is a contributing developer to many open source projects.