Software

[This page was last updated 2014.10.9]


Adobe Acrobat

The PDF is a de facto standard format now for many documents available on the Web and elsewhere. It allows documents to be formatted precisely for their intended appearance, while web pages may vary according to the browser, version, and other factors.

Adobe Acrobat is the original software for PDF files. Adobe Acrobat Reader http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html is freeware and Adobe Acrobat (which must be purchased) is used to create files.

Other programs can also be used to create, modify or read PDF files.

To avoid Acrobat Reader taking over your browser window (which sometimes locks up the browser):

  1. open Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Start > Programs menu
  2. then use the Edit drop-down menu
  3. select Preferences
  4. choose Options (or Internet in 6.x)
  5. uncheck the box for “Display PDF in Browser” (make it blank). After that, you’ll get a file download box when you access a PDF file, and Acrobat Reader starts automatically when you choose Open.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Android

The Android operating system is a popular system that runs many phones and tablets.  The software for it is called an “app” (short for “Application”).  Many of them are free or low-cost.

HOWEVER — malware does exist in the Android world.  Some apps might even be updated by an outside person, to contain dangerous malware, so be careful about what you download.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Boots, Multiple Operating System

(also Virtual Operating Systems)

The solution for some people to choosing between one operating system, such as Windows XP or Windows Vista, or Windows versus Mac, or WIndows versus some form of Linux such as Ubantu, is to have more than one operating system available on their computer. It’s also helpful if some of your applications are not compatible with another, or newer, operating system.

There are two basic ways to do that:

  • Have two or more complete systems on your computer or drive(s), and either choose between them or (in the case of Macintosh computers with Intel chips) switch between them. In the case of booting from a USB Flash drive, you’ll need to enable that option in the BIOS.
  • Have two or more complete systems, and run one as a “virtual” operating system on top of another, such as running XP or Linux on top of Vista.

Multiple Booting

The Windows Secrets web site and newsletter has several articles on dual booting:

It’s also possible to use a USB Flash drive for some additional operating systems:

Virtual Operating Systems


Daylight Saving Time

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.

As much software (and sometime hardware) was created before this new extension began in 2007, you may see computers, clocks, and other electronic devices display the wrong time during the periods between the old changeover dates and the new ones. Your software may need to be updated to allow for this. Hardware may need to have a firmware update or actually have parts changed to allow for the difference.


Finance Software & Links

Putting your data online means opening up your information to a third party. Even if the company is honest, it could have legal action taken against it to reveal your information. Use online software at your own risk.

Using any software for your finances should be done only with reputable software from confirmed links or CDs. Software is often capable of communicating critical confidential information back to whoever created or altered it, so that person or company must be trustworthy.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.



Fonts Software & Links

Warning: some sites may have shareware and/or pay fonts, as well as free fonts. Please respect the font authors’ terms. Download these at your own risk!

Fonts are also known as typefaces. These are the styles of letters, digits, punctuation and other characters in documents and other uses. They can vary in style such as italic, or weight such as bold. Fonts may also be specialized for specific purposes such as mathematics or science, or just for fun or decoration.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Freeware/Shareware Resources

Try only at your own risk! Check for viruses first if the site does not! In some cases, freeware/shareware may be offered by malware sites which have altered the program. Be sure you obtain your software from a reputable site rather than just anyplace that might provide it.

Freeware: software offered for free, although the author(s) may request a donation if you like and use it.

Shareware: software offered for use which must/should be licensed after a stated period, usually for a fee.

Open Source: software which has been made available for creation and/or improvement by collaborating programmers, often unpaid. Usually offered as freeware but a donation may be requested. Since the number of contributors is not usually limited by the income the software can produce, there may be many more people working on the program than would normally be assigned by a for-profit company. An example would be the Firefox browser.

Here are just a few of many resources for freeware/shareware on the web:

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Graphics and Photo Software & Links

This topic includes art, photos, and the software to create, edit and organize them.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Linux

While Linux is not a usual system at the Boreham Library, there is increasing interest in this alternate operating system.

Gizmo Richards has a columnist covering his experiences with Ubuntu in The Battle for the Desktop, part 2.

Windows Secrets covers putting Linux on a USB Flash drive so you can Carry an entire operating system in your pocket which covers Linux and gives useful details on which version to use.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Macros and Shortcuts Software & Links

A computer macro is a method of doing a sequence of steps automatically, without the user having to type each instruction.

Shortcuts can be keyboard or mouse combinations that jump over intermediate steps to get directly to the result.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is included in the Microsoft Office Suite of programs. It is a spreadsheet program, primarily for manipulating numbers.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Microsoft Office Software & Links

Microsoft Office Web Apps are available free and include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.

The latest posts specifically on Microsoft Excel are available by clicking here.

The latest posts specifically on Microsoft PowerPoint are available by clicking here.

The latest posts specifically on Microsoft Word are available by clicking here.

Microsoft Office “X” Formats

Starting in Microsoft Office Suite 2007, a number of changes were made. This included the introduction of Microsoft’s Office Open XML formats. These include file name extensions ending in “x” such as .docx instead of .doc. These files are not compatible with the older types of files, and can be used only with Office 2007, or older versions of Office with certain add-ons installed, and only such other programs which state specifically that they support the new format.

Office Suite 2007 by default will save in the new format, but users can choose to save in the older, more widely used “97-2003” formats which do not end in “x”. These will still by usable in Office 2007, but will also be usable in older Office versions and many other software programs, including OpenOffice (which should not be confused with Office Open XML).

There have been arguments pro and con on making this new format an international standard, especially for government documents. Examples are available by clicking here.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here, including ways to convert files and allow older Office versions to use the new formats.



Microsoft PowerPoint

Some useful advice on using PowerPoint in this video.

Linking to YouTube videos within PowerPoint

You will need ActiveX and Shockwave installed and enabled on your computer to do this.

YouTube rules do NOT allow you to legally capture or convert videos for use in PowerPoint, and Library computers have no software for converting the format anyway.

However, you can get a YouTube video to work in PowerPoint (sort of). What happens is that by inserting a Link to the video and then clicking on it, Internet Explorer starts up and runs the video, and it can be done without all the extra stuff on the YouTube page. This is called “streaming” the video.

For example if you found a movie like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsz-wxi9ixw you would create a link to it, but in the process you need to modify the web link. Remove the “watch?v=” and replace it with “v/”, as in http://www.youtube.com/v/zsz-wxi9ixw to create a direct link to just the media file and none of the web page navigation. When you launch your presentation, click once on the link to start Internet Explorer. Then click on the arrow button to load and run the video. REMEMBER: it will take time to load the video, since it is being streamed from YouTube, not being stored on your computer.

The “Linking” advice above is adapted from the RasterVector blog. Tested with PowerPoint in 2003 format. A similar way to do this is available from WebGuru.

Click for advice from TechRepublic on how to Turn PowerPoint slides into image files to use in other apps.

The latest posts on Microsoft PowerPoint are available by clicking here.



Microsoft Windows Media Player

Microsoft provides information on using Windows Media Player for DVDs.

Microsoft states that you must have “either a software or hardware DVD decoder installed on your computer. (By default, Windows does not include a DVD decoder.)”  In other words, you can’t play a DVD with what they gave you.  You need another piece of software.  They suggest you buy it from one of the vendors they link to.  You might have a DVD program that came with your DVD drive, but those don’t always like certain DVDs, especially DVD-R format (which is very common, including many Library DVDs).

However, if you feel you’ve bought enough…

One of the simplest ways to handle this is to use a different player altogether.  One very simple freeware player for Windows is SMPlayer (which is actually a front end for MPlayer).  All you need to do is install it and tell it (the first time you use it only) which drive is your DVD drive.  This was tested and seems to be able to handle the DVDs in DVD-R format without trouble.



Microsoft Word

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Microsoft Works Help

Microsoft Works is a program included on many Windows computers as a low-cost way to provide minimal word processing and other popular functions. However, it is not the same as the Microsoft Office Suite, and is much more limited. By default, it saves files in formats which may not be compatible with Microsoft Office programs, and this has sometimes inconvenienced students who bring documents saved in Works format (ending in .wps) and try to use them in Microsoft Office.

Attention Microsoft Works users:

REMEMBER: Do NOT save ANYTHING in Microsoft Works default formats (.wps) – change the format and extention to the 97-2003 version of formats or later for the program you are using!

The most recent versions of Microsoft Works (Works 2001, 2002, 2003, etc.) have Microsoft Word built in, but may still (by default) write to the Works .wps format instead of the Word .doc format.

Older versions of MS Works wrote (unless you told it otherwise) to Microsoft’s proprietary .wps format.

Avoid using the .wps or other Works formats! Save to the 97-2003 or later format!

This is because even Microsoft’s own Office Suite can’t read older .wps files. To save Works files for versions 3.x to 6.x, save them in the .rtf (Rich Text Format), which can be used on practically any word processor including MS Word (all versions), WordPad, and others. To save files in later versions of Works, save them in the .doc format for MS Word.



Presentation Software & Links

Presentation software is what is used to present ideas, information, etc. Microsoft Powerpoint is one of the leading software programs for this.

The latest posts on Microsoft PowerPoint are available by clicking here.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.



Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are a specialized form of software used to display information in a table or grid formation. They began with using numbers, but have graduated to being used for all sorts of information.

The current standard for spreadsheet software is Microsoft Excel, but other types of software are available which can handle many of the same functions and even formats.

The latest posts on Microsoft Excel are available by clicking here.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.



Utilities Software & Links

“Utilities” are programs which help the computer perform certain tasks, or handle them in a different — preferably more convenient or more efficient — manner. They may also give the user options not otherwise available.

A few top freeware utilities recommended by many experts:

  • 7Zip to compress and uncompress files
  • Audacity for recording and editing audio (sound) files
  • Belarc Advisor scans your computer and creates a complete report
  • CCleaner to optimize your system
  • IrfanView to view, edit and process images
  • Revo Uninstaller to remove stubborn programs that leave files behind
  • TrueCrypt encrypts your files and keeps them confidential

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.


Widgets Software & Links

What is a Widget? In computing, a Widget is a JavaScript program that performs a certain task or set of tasks. Often you’ll need to get another program just to run the widget, but some of them can be worth it.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here.

Warning! Use Widgits at your own risk. As always, when using software programmed by somebody else, or obtained from a third party distributor, the original software might be dangerous or defective, or the distributor might have a fake version of normally safe software which could be dangerous or defective.


Windows Software Help & Links

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Microsoft Windows help in general, or see your specific version of Windows below.



Windows 7

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Windows 7 posts, including help and software.



Windows Vista

Windows Vista (known as “Longhorn” during development) was officially issued in 2006 and 2007 to succeed Windows XP.

Internet Fixes has Vista Run Commands listed.

Gizmo Richards has a columnist covering how he optimized Vista to run faster at The Battle for the Desktop, part 1. More advice on improving Vista is at Vista Bloge in “Get Vista to boot the way you want, how you want and faster.”

Gizmo’s TechSupport Alert Newsletter has columnist Briard’s advice “How to make Vista fly” to speed up your Vista system.

SANS has Windows Vista: First Steps to help you set up a new Vista system.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Windows Vista posts, including help and software.

Windows XP

Windows XP (known as “Whistler” during development) was officially released in 2001 to succeed Windows 98.

Internet Fixes has the XP Run Commands listed.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Windows XP posts, including help and software.

Windows 98

Windows 98 (known as “Memphis” during development) was released in 1988 to succeed Windows 95.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Windows 98 posts including help and software.

Windows ME

Windows ME or Windows Millennium was released in 2000 as an improvement to Windows 98, and was soon replaced by Windows XP.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for the latest Windows ME posts.



Word Processing Software & Links

Word processing in one form or another is one of the most popular uses of computers. While Microsoft Word is the usual standard here on campus, other programs are available for Windows, and some of them are capable of saving documents in Microsoft Word format (.doc or .docx).

DonationCoder.com did a review of word processor software so you can compare them. It covers both software and online services for word processing.

The latest posts on this topic are available by clicking here for Microsoft Word and other word processor information.

Another program often “bundled” with computers is the WordPerfect Office suite. This is from the Corel family of software. You can usually save documents to the 93-2003 format for Microsoft Word using this software, although you should watch for minor changes in the results. WordPerfect is also in beta testing for a freeware version of their Lightning software.



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