I am not a computer expert, or professional computer user. I am just an ordinary person who has been messing about with computers since the early 1990’s. My first computer was a 8 Mhz Unisys 88286, with 640 Kb of ram, 20 Mb harddisk. It ran for 3 months then got wrecked by a virus and refused to function after that. I have experienced the joys and frustrations of using the following operative systems:- Dos, Windows 2.0, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista (the worst Windows version I have ever used), and a trial version of Windows 7, which wouldn’t install :-(. My experiences are not confined to Windows, as I have also used Corel Linux, Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva), Damn Small Linux, Ubuntu Linux and Vixta Linux. So I have gained a fair bit of experience over the years.
What do I use my computer for ? Well I enjoy being creative, so I have spent many happy hours doing photo editing, Desktop Publishing, multimedia editing and creation, building this website in a WYSIWYG web editor, audio editing and conversion, video editing, trying out system utilities, trying out Freeware, Shareware and weird programs, browsing the web, creating 3D objects and text, and lastly playing games, YES.... I admit to wasting some of my time playing games:-)
I am also intrigued by programming, and have created a couple of small programs with Delphi, which is fun, but I must admit... I am a lazy “so and so”, having to sort out the code and write it down I find quite tedious and have never had the time to sit down and really get to learn it. The Scale-Q-lator program featured else where on this site, was built in a multimedia editor (Opus Creator) which does all the coding invisibly.
Through the pages of this section, I hope to take you through some of the software I have found very useful, brilliant, or indispensable. Also to look at some of the operative systems available and my experiences with them. Who knows I might be able to hand on some tips and tricks as well !
Hopefully I will be able to point you in the direction of some really useful Freeware and Shareware. I am a skinflint...and not a wealthy man..So why pay money unnecessarily? The majority of software I use is either FREEWARE or SHAREWARE. In a couple of cases I have bought what I would call relatively expensive software, as I have been unable to find alternatives that are as good or effective. By “expensive”, I mean anything that costs over $100. For me there is nothing more irritating than buying expensive software, only to learn 3 months or a year later that there is now a new and better version available that can do X amount of wonderful things that the version one has bought cannot do. Constantly paying for updates is a really pain, and something I tend not to do, keeping to the original version and not speculating about the X amount of wonderful things I cannot do with it !
I am paranoid about the security of my PC. If you are NOT and have an internet connection, then you should be, it is getting more and more dangerous out there. For those of you who want to keep your PC safe and secure without it costing money, in the near future, I hope to have have a page devoted to security, antivirus, software firewalls, antispyware/malware, and a few ways to help to keep you safer, for the most part, vwithout it costing anything, or being too nerdy.
Hopefully in these following pages, I will be able to introduce you to some of the software that I have found particularly useful. Over the years I have tried many weird and wonderful items of software. Some have been brilliant and others a waste of time. As much as possible I try to use “Freeware”, for the obvious reason.... my wallet doesn’t suffer and the manager of the local bank can sleep easy at night ! There are a vast amount of “Freeware programs available in all sorts of categories. There are many gems to be found, although it can often take a fair bit of time installing programs and then deleting them when they are not what one expected. But when a real gem turns up, it is worth all the effort !
Other programs listed in these pages are “Shareware”, usually with a free trial period, after which the software stops working until registered. If you are looking for software and willing to pay for it, this is the best way to go. There is nothing worse than buying software in a shop, and then discovering that it is not quite what one wants, or is missing some of the functions one needs.
Also listed, are a few very expensive, fairly expensive, or plain and simply, “a bit expensive” software. A few of them I have actually bought because they had all the features I needed, which were not available in Freeware or Shareware programs.
A great source of free, fully functional software is the DVD’s / CD Roms that come with PC magazines, especially from a magazine called PC Format. These free give-away’s often have an older version of a piece of software that normally costs a fair bit. A good example of this is the website editor I use for this website. Many years ago, PC Format had a free, full version of NetObjects Fusion Version 2 on its give-away disk. This is a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) web editor, meaning that what objects you put on the page, the editor invisibly converts it all to code ready to be uploaded to the web server, so I need not worry my head about HTML code. At the time of my discovery of version 2, the latest version for sale was version 4. I used version 2 for a few years, until PC Format gave away a fully functional, unlimited version 7. This had the ability to create roll down menus. I registered that version (free) and then saw that version 8 had a couple of features that I would like, so I eventually bought version 8 after trying it out free for the time limited period and finding that it suited my needs perfectly.. As luck would have it, version 9 came on the market a few of weeks later, and NetObjects Fusion contacted me and sent me a free version of version 9, because I had bought version 8 so close to the release of the newest version. Which I thought was very kind of them. Over the years I have tried at least 10 “WYSIWYG” editors, but this has been the easiest and most powerful, and well worth buying.
Net Fusion Objects was the easiest WYSIWYG web editor in my opinion, when I wrote the mass of words above. However in January 2011, I stumbled on a pretty cheap shareware web editor called WYSIWYG Web Builder 7.5 from Pablo Software, which was available as a 30 day trial fully functioning version. I downloaded it, and gave it a go, the result of which is this site as it is now, as of the 28th of January 2011. The full version at the time of writing normally costs $44 which is much less than half of the price Net Objects Fusion were asking for a mere upgrade to the latest version. Being very surprised by all the finesses and components in Web Builder 7.5 and finding it pretty easy to use, I bought it ! I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to build a website without knowledge of html or any other form of code.