By Rob Cheng
Welcome to yet another edition of the Free Software News. One of the reasons that I love the Windows world is the availability of lots of high quality and totally free software. I love using free software and here are some tips and advice from the world of free software.
Office 2007 extensions
Starting with Office 2007, Microsoft started doing something that really grits my teeth. Office 2007 brings a new file format that ends with the letter X. Therefore, a Word document now has the file extension docx instead of doc. PowerPoint is pptx, and Excel is xlsx. Although Microsoft made a few attempts to add a few new features, the primary reason for this change is to create an incompatibility between Office 2007 and other versions.
Therefore if someone sends an email with a docx attachment, you’ll double click and older versions of Office will not be able to open the file. In my view, it is a hard ball technique to get users to upgrade more quickly to Office 2007. Personally, I don’t appreciate these kind of marketing techniques. If they want me to upgrade and spend more money on Office 2007, then they should add features that we find useful.
I bought my latest computer in April 2009, and it came standard with Office 2007. To be honest, I hated it. Microsoft changed around the user interface and left no simple way to revert to the prior, more familiar user interface. I figured I could spend a couple of hours learning the new interface, but instead I spent about 20 minutes and downgraded to my old trusty friend, Office 2000.
That left one problem. I get an occasional email with an attachment that Office 2000 can not read. So I found the Office 2007 compatibility pack, and things have been great ever since.
I love Paint.net. It is very powerful, yet easy to use. Not a day goes by when I don’t use paint.net for something. One of my key activities is modifying a screen shot and then sending it via email. It’s a great way of showing someone exactly what you are seeing when you are browsing the web. One of the key reasons that paint.net is so powerful is that it has a multitude of FREE plugins. Here are three that I have found very handy.
I don’t use Skype a lot but I installed it about a month ago. It is handy when you are in a hotel and want to make an international call. But through this process, I discovered a major annoyance. In addition to installing Skype, the installer also placed down something called “Skype extra features”. One of these features is that in my browser, where ever there was a phone number, Skype would make a clickable link and I could call that number via Skype. The problem was that it made my browser a lot slower. Pages took longer to load, and even simple things like scrolling up and down took a split second longer. It had me scratching my head for a while, until I uninstalled the extensions and I am back to speedy browsing.
Based on a LOT of feedback on prior issues of Free Software News, I have removed Adobe reader from my system and replaced it 100% with FoxIt Reader. I am a satisfied FoxIt user. The loadtimes are substantially faster. In my work, nowadays, I get a lot of PDF’s, and it is very noticeable how much faster FoxIt loads than Adobe. I have yet to see a a feature that I am missing with FoxIt Reader. I also found a handy little tool to send a series of images (JPG’s) into one PDF. For example, I had to scan a series of papers the other day, and then I wanted to assemble them all back into one PDF so the user knew the order of the pages. I found a quick and cool utility called JPG to PDF.
Top Free Software
Last but certainly not least is our latest compilation of the World’s Top Free Software. The popularity is calculated as the percentage of computers that have that particular application installed. Keep the comments coming about what people like and dislike and we will keep on tabulating.