231. Some useful software finds

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I'm on the tail end of my second football game of the day, but I while sitting here at the computer, I did a check for new software. It started off as me installing some software I hadn't installed since my most recent total system restore. I install the basics, and then install programs as needed.

Today, I installed Adobe Acrobat 7.0. I had downloaded the file months ago, but I hadn't upgraded from the Acrobat 5.0 that came installed on my computer. After installing today, I took a look around some of the program's features, which I hadn't done before. I usually just start the program and open the PDF file. Well while looking around things, I found two features that I wasn't aware Adobe Reader had - one of them being the ability to save PDF as text files. I had been using a separate software program to do that task, but it was an imperfect solution. The resulting file had so many errors. I'm hoping the same isn’t the case with Adobe.

I also noticed a read text aloud feature. Now, I never knew that Adobe could do that. I plugged in a file, and it started to read. This will definitely make things easier, and more time efficient. Instead of sitting here reading page after page, I can have the pages read to me. This will definitely make things faster for me reviewing as well. All you have to have installed is the Microsoft Agent and Text to Speech engines. You can download more voices as well. This site can tell you if you have the software needed installed, and if you don't let you download them.

Once Adobe was installed, I checked out some other software. I noticed that Word Web, a freeware dictionary and thesaurus program, has been recently upgraded from version 3.03 to 4.0. This file can sit in your system tray just waiting for you to use it. It can be set to use with your MS Word and for those that use the Rough Draft Writing Word Processor, Word Web works directly from that program as well. Check for the link to the free download near the bottom of the Word Web website.

A few other software programs I use that I think others might want to look at are Essential PIM, Slim Browser and Writer's Block.

  • Essential PIM comes in a freeware version and a pro version. The program has several features that make it the calendar and information organizer for me. It is small, and loads on your computer small. This makes it ideal to leave running in your system tray. I have it load at start-up for me. It has a calendar, to-do list, notes and contact manager. All of it can set to back-up every single time you minimize to a folder of your choosing. I have mine back up to my secondary drive in case of computer problems. If anything happens, my back up is still there, and waiting for me to reinstall the main program. You can import your contacts from Outlook or Outlook Express quickly and easily. I just did this today in fact. I use the Notes section to create files for the guidelines for all my up-coming submission calls, which are in my calendar. So many look for a good way to organize their lives, especially writers. This program makes it easy for me. For even more features, there is the Pro version, but I find all I need with the free version.
  • For those that like the tabbed browsing you find in Fire fox but are unable to use that program for one reason or another, I offer a solution, Slim Browser. This browser is a small download, and it uses the same engine your Internet Explorer uses. It has tabbed browsing, the ability to save your login passwords to sites, and even password protect that login information so no one else can use them, and a bunch of other great features. I've had little to no problems using this browser, and I have tried Fire fox. It didn't work like I wanted it too, so I'll stick with this one.
  • Writer's Block is a new program I've found for writers. I haven't had much time to play with this yet. It has a built in word processor, browser, journal and generators for almost anything you can think of. The word processor is a bit on the basic side, so I will stick with Word or Rough Draft, but I like the generators, and the program is free, which makes it definitely worth a look.
What programs do you use on your computer? Anything writing related or at least makes the computing experience easier for a writer, like Slim Browser or Essential PIM? There are others I use, but I'll leave those for another time.

I've made some more recent additions to my sidebar. As some of you might have noticed, I've added some sponsored advertising to my sidebar. I use a number of these sponsors on my review site, so I grabbed a few that thought might be of interest to my readers here, with some sponsors only appearing on this site. One of those sponsors being Fiction Wise, an e-book provider I recently discovered. The site has many books for download, and more are added on a weekly basis. Some are even available for free. I've also updated my blog links to include blogs for those blogging writers over at the Abolute Write Water Cooler. Check them out! This is my Blog of the Week's last night, so if you haven't checked it out, do so. It will then move to the Past BotW list!

Have a lovely Sunday night everyone. I need to go break up a catfight, so I'm off!


Gone Away said...

I use Firefox or Opera as my browser. Firefox can do all the things that IE can't and Opera can do all those and then some, plus a bit faster. Opera was released as a free download recently so is definitely worth a try. It is fast replacing Firefox as my default browser.

I hate Microsoft so have WordPerfect as my primary word processor. It does everything that Word can and a few extras, looks prettier and doesn't phone home to tell Mr Gates what you're doing.

For straight text, I have a little freeware text editor called Notespad - much more capable than Windows Notepad. You can open lots of text files at once (something I do as a matter of course), edit system, HTML and XML files, and plenty of other clever things that I never use.

Best thing about the latest Adobe Reader is the fancy splash screen on loading. ;)

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