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The Software We Use

We spend a lot of time using computers and the internet, and are always on the lookout for good quality software that helps us be more productive.

Here are the some of the programs that we use and/or recommend.

Virus Checking

We regard a current virus checking program and a firewall as essential for all computers that are connected to the internet. If you don't use them, you are risking damage to your own computer, and to your email contacts.

Recommended Anti Virus Programs

How Easily Could a Hacker Take Over Your Computer?

Test the effectiveness of your current computer firewall protection, visit www.grc.com. Steve Gibson, (founder of Gibson Research) is an internationally recognised technical journalist and programmer who has done extensive work in the security field.

When you get to his site, click on the "Shields Up" link to give your security systems a test.

 

Firewalls

A firewall is like a solid barrier around your computer, that only admits information that you have asked for. It blocks everything else.
If you don't have a firewall, you were probably shocked at the results of the Shields Up test.

 

Firewalls can be either a program that runs on your computer, or a piece of hardware that is installed on your incoming data line. Firewalls are often built into routers or modems.

Software Firewall. Before our hardware firewall was installed, we used the very effective Zone Alarm Pro, which passed every "Shields Up" test.
Download a free trial at www.zonealarm.com

Web Browsers

We don't use Internet Explorer unless absolutely necessary. Here's why.

Alternative Web Browsers:

Mozilla Firefox Available free from http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
(This is a fast, fully featured web browser, that has rapidly become our favorite. the download is is under 5 megabytes, it installs easily, and with one click you can import all your existing IE bookmarks, cookies, history, etc.

Mozilla -available from www.mozilla.org
A complete replacement for Outlook and Internet Explorer.

Opera
Available at http://www.opera.com
Another excellent browser. The free version will show you adverts, which you can get rid of by paying the $US39 registration fee.

Netscape Navigator

Download version 7.1 at
http://channels.netscape.com/ns/browsers/default.jsp

Email

Almost all harmful programs target the users of Microsoft products. We recommend that you try alternatives that are faster and safer.

Eudora is far superior to Outlook in our opinion. It has the advantage of being immune to the email borne viruses and worms that are specially written for Outlook.

We have used Eudora for years, and it is available free at www.eudora.com. (The paid version will eliminate the advertisement panel.)

Thunderbird. Available at http://mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/
A new, totally free email program from Mozilla. It has many features, including very effective SPAM filtering. There is no advertising in this very efficient email program.

 

Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

Open Office - www.openoffice.org

Microsoft Office just keeps getting more bloated and more expensive. This is a free alternative which contains a word processor, spreadsheet, database, etc and the files it produces are fully compatible with Microsoft Office. We used this program for a couple of months, and it did everything we asked of it.

Easy Office - www.e-press.com/

If you want a whole range of Microsoft compatible applications without paying the high cost, check out Easy Office. It comes complete with many additional applications. It even creates PDF files!

Easy Office is available free for home users, and costs only $US 28 to register. We tried it for a couple of weeks, and experienced no problems swapping programs between Office, Easy Office, and Open Office. (The splash screen that comes up each time you open a program is annoying, and obviously designed to encourage regular users to cough up the registration cost)

The user interfaces of these programs are a bit different to Office, but are easy to use and learn. Obtaining the functionality of Microsoft products at around 10% of the price makes products like these very attractive to many people.

If you are on a dial up connection, try to look for these programs on one of the CD's that are given away with computer magazines - they are big downloads - over 50 megabytes.

File Management

Power Desk Pro 5. This file management program runs rings around Windows Explorer.
A couple of advantages are increased speed, colour coded folders, and multiple windows which make copying and moving files much easier.
Free trial from http://www.v-com.com/product/pd_ind.html

Bookmark Management

Powermarks. www.kaylon.com
This program is makes it a breeze to retrieve the web pages that you have stored as favorites. Just type in the keyword you want to use to find the pages, or accept the defaults. This is SO much better than the slow, clumsy, "Favorites" system used by Internet Explorer.

Text Editor

NoteTab Pro. We've tried lots of other text editors, and kept coming back to this one because of its speed, ease of use, and range of features. We use the powerful outlining features to keep track of hundreds of fragments of information, and the pasteboard feature alone is worth the cost of the program.

You'll never go back to "notepad" once you've tried this. Trial versions are available at www.notetab.com (Other excellent programs from Fookes software are available there too!)

Graphics

 Color Wheel Pro - a unique software program that allows you to see color theory in action. With Color Wheel Pro, you can create harmonious color schemes and preview them on real-world examples.
A free 30 day trial is available from http://www.color-wheel-pro.com and there's some fantastic tutorials available on how to use colour on your website.

Irfan View www.irfanview.com
Irfan View is an amazing program that allows you to view, modify, and print virtually any kind of graphics image. It's easy to use, but you'll need to read the documentation if you want to fully explore the wide range of options. Free for personal use, and commercial registration costs only $US10.

VikarPlus JPEG Resizer. http://www.vikarplus.com/english-index.html
Resizing a load of digital images for use on the web is normally a real pain. This freeware program makes the job quick and easy. The site also has other programs for renaming lots of files at once, creating a web gallery of photos, and making a screensaver with your own photos.

"Easy Thumbnails" www.fookes.com
Will optimise, convert, multiple images in a directory and save the result into another directory. An excellent piece of software from Fookes, who also wrote NoteTab Pro. There's lots of other great graphics and other software available on their site.

ULEAD PhotoImpact. www.ulead.com

We have been using PhotoImpact as our main image editor for several years. It is not shareware, but demos are available from time to time on Magazine CD-ROMs.
This program does pretty well everything you can do with market leader Photoshop, at a fraction of the cost.

JASC Paint Shop Pro www.jasc.com
Paint Shop Pro is another great low cost graphics editing package. We used it extensively before moving across to Photoimpact.

Utilities

ExpPrint from www.jddesign.co.uk
This program just prints out a listing of the files that are on your hard disk, or in any folder. Believe it or not, this basic feature is not possible in Windows Explorer. The free version works well, but you can't save your customised settings. It's worth paying for the registered one. There are also several other useful utilities on this site.

Adaware http://www.lavasoftusa.com
Identifies and optionally disables all of the spyware and adware "features" that some programs install on your computer, with or without your knowledge.
The paid version has additional features.

Clickcat -P2H (PDF-to-HTML converter): www.pdf-to-html.com
Converts Adobe Acrobat pdf format files into a HTML files that you can edit. Works with tables, indexes, etc.
Basic version is free, but you'll need the $US39 Professional version if you want graphic conversion to be high quality.

E-Cloaker http://www.codefoot.com/software/ecloaker/index.html
Prevent email addresses being lifted from your website and put onto CD's that are sold to spammer. This little utility converts your email addresses into Unicode, which is very difficult for SPAM harvesters to read - so they ignore it. Just put your email address into this program, and paste the unicode text into your web page.

Lots of other nifty utilities are available on links from this site.

Xenu Link Sleuth http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
Check your web site for broken links. If you have a lot of links from your web site, it's very tedious to make sure that they are all working.
This program will do it for you, as well as checking the availability of all the images and files on your site. A report is generated when it finishes.

File Transfer

WS-FTP Pro. This is the workhorse that we use to move files on and off the internet, and for some of the management work on our server. Even the free version is very powerful. Available at http://www.ipswitch.com

If you are using Firefox, I recommend a wonderful free Extension called FireFTP.

Sources of Software

We generally use the following sites when looking for software. However, we always try to do the actual download from the developer's own site to ensure that we are getting the latest version of the software.

www.downloads.com This site provides valuable comments from users. some are contradictory for a given piece of software, but you can generally work out whether a program is worthwile or not.

www.tucows.com One of the original sources of shareware programs. They provide ratings for the software they have listed.

If you are on a modem, downloading software and upgrades can take several hours. (We've heard of people spending over 12 hours downloading the latest version of Internet Explorer.)

A good solution to this is to go to your newsagent and find a computer magazine with a CD-Rom that contains the programs you want . As a bonus, they often include full versions of slightly outdated commercial programs.

Australian PC User, PC Authority, and PC World are some that provide a free CD. They cost under $A10 a copy, and are well worth getting every now and then.


WebAngel Pty. Ltd. (ABN 50 098 071 124)
GPO Box 370 Hobart, Tasmania Australia 7001.
Phone (03) 6243 1334 email: sales@webangel.com.au

Internet: WebAngel.com.au

Blog: EricGraudins.com

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