are a few of
my favourite things--a sampling of software selections for all reasons
by Alan Zisman (c) 1996 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #348 June 25, 1996 High Tech Office column
get a lot of
software as free evaluation copies, but I end up keeping only about
10 per cent of it on my computer. I also try out a fair amount of
shareware--software that can be freely downloaded from on-line sources,
but should be registered if it's used on a long-term basis. Again,
maybe one in 10 is a keeper.
a list of
the software I like: be aware that like my choice of shoes, what's
comfortable for me may not fit someone else. I could pretend that
my choices are "the best," but the reasons for my choices are often
subjective, and sometimes quirky.
95 versions, almost everything I've listed has a Windows 3.1
and nearly all have Mac versions as well. Put them all together, and
it's a 250-meg package. Here goes.
For a word
I'm running Microsoft Word, the current industry standard.
I prefer the Windows 95 version--I love the way it underlines
words while I type. I used to use Lotus Ami Pro for Windows
3.1--small, fast, with good desktop publishing features--but I switched
to Word 7.0 when I moved over to Windows 95.
I also use
Office stablemate, Excel, but I have to admit that I probably use
25 per cent or less of the features of these big programs. For that
reason, I like the all-in-one integrated programs, and also keep
Works on my drive: for a while, I used its word processor and
for most daily uses. I still use its database: I find it easy to use,
and powerful enough, while I find dedicated database programs--even
the so-called simple ones--too complex. But I've been able to combine
the word processor and database in MS Works to create some pretty
documents--a customized invitation for each of 400 guests, for
I'm not a
and I really can't justify keeping the pro-level publishing and
programs around. Nevertheless, I do have to sometimes produce a more
complex page than I can easily create in Word. For those times, I
work with Microsoft Publisher. It's sometimes frustrating to use,
but it's generally easy to produce attractive results. It's also
the only Microsoft business product with a sense of humour (try the
Paper Airplane Wizard, if you need to be convinced.)
it's been something
of a Microsoft sweep--I'm aware of many people who love to bash Big
Bill's products, but after trying lots of alternatives, these are
the ones I keep coming back to.
I do have
to work with
picture files pretty regularly--I need to scan, resize, and convert
pictures--but again, something like Adobe Photoshop would be
overkill. Instead, I use a shareware product--JASC PaintShop
Pro. It includes all the file conversion I can use, along with basic
editing tools. It even accepts Photoshop filters.
I keep my
and calendar on disk: I use Lotus Organizer, which mimics a traditional
Day-Timer notebook. While I've upgraded many of my applications, I've
stuck with version 1.1 of this one--later versions have grown massively
in size, mostly adding networking features that I don't need. This
version ships on a single floppy, and its compact code is still
even in this age of gigantic hard drives.
I used to use Lotus Freelance, but I've moved away from it and equally
big Microsoft PowerPoint, preferring SPC's ASAP, which even
in its Windows 95 incarnation takes a mere two floppies. Its instant
presentations are good enough for most of what I need to show, and
take a fraction of the time to create.
Navigator for Microsoft (again!) Internet Explorer: version 2.0 ships
on a single floppy (and is available for Mac and Win 3.1 as well as
Win95). It doesn't have current-fad Java support, but I still haven't
found any Java applets that I really care to run.
of Eudora works fine for my Internet mail needs, far more
than Windows 95's complex and cumbersome Exchange. I do find Win95's
basic fax program adequate, however.
of traditional bulletin board systems and on-line services, I continue
to work in those environments, and when I do, I use Unicom, a shareware
telecom program from Seattle's Datagraphics. The support is
pitiful, but the program does everything I need, simply, efficiently,
and with a minimum of hard-drive space.
Adobe's free Acrobat reader for viewing and printing out all sorts
of documents--Revenue Canada forms from the Internet, for
instance; Iomega's Zip drive for 100 megs of storage on $20
disks; WinZipImso's QuickView Plus for viewing a huge
of data files; and DataViz Convert Plus for converting almost
any Mac or PC datafile format into virtually any other.
shareware for working with compressed files;
are no big
utility packages on the list--the more modest tools that ship with
Win95 seem to meet my needs.