Software

There’s a Program for Everything

There’s probably a program for anything you can think of – creating text, calculating financial/accounting information, designing graphics, using email, writing music, playing digital media and Internet radio/TV, managing databases, preparing presentations, playing games, faxing, designing buildings, steering spacecraft – the possibilities are amazing. Rarely does a month go by without a new software program being created or an existing one being updated.

Your primary software can be ordered when you purchase a computer, and you can add supplemental software later. Since most of us use just a few programs, it’s wise to save memory space and install only those you will use. Talk with the My Favorite Tech team to decide which software programs are best for you.

Upgrading and Updating Software

Software should be upgraded when a new version contains considerably different features that you need, or when your operating system has been updated. Now, your software, also needs updates to remain in sync with the operating system. Always check with My Favorite Tech, to determine if updates are necessary, before making costly errors.

Manufacturers often offer program updates with minor, but helpful, enhancements. These can be conveniently downloaded directly to your system, avoiding the need to purchase software. Some manufacturers send an automatic notice when an update is available; for others, you’ll need to manually check their web site; still others offer both methods (see below).

There are three typical kinds of updates – critical, service pack and driver updates:

  • Critical updates should be installed immediately, as they’re often crucial to the continued smooth running of the program.
  • A service pack is a bundle of updates that are important but not as time-sensitive as critical updates. It’s recommended to wait about a month after they’re released to make sure all the bugs have been worked out.
  • Driver updates provide the newest software for your hardware devices (modems, network cards, printers, etc.) to help keep them working properly. Your current version may be fine or you may wish to download the update – it depends on your set-up and preferences.

It’s highly recommended to install critical and all anti-virus updates right away. This protects your system’s security and prevents potentially serious hardware and software damage. In fact, some users manually check every day for these two types of updates.

On the other hand, installing a service pack or driver update is optional. While most have some value, there are some which may actually impair your existing software. Before installing any one of these updates, see if it applies to your system; some will, some won’t. For example, an update may relate to foreign language usage. Unless you’re running programs in that language, you can skip it. But you’ll want to install an update that improves an application you use regularly. If you’re unsure, call My Favorite Tech and we’ll advise you.

Check with My Favorite Tech before you install any new program, as not all software is compatible with other programs or hardware. Likewise, check before you delete a program as it may affect your system configuration.

Wallpapers & Screensavers

A wallpaper is the background image on your monitor when you turn your system on and off.

A screen saver is an image that’s primarily used for decorative purposes. It can be a fixed image, one that moves, or a series of rotating images. It’s triggered once your system has been inactive for a period of time that you set, usually a few minutes. As soon as you move the mouse or enter a keystroke, the image reverts back to the program you were using.

Your screen saver also can be configured as a security tool. The screen saver can be activated after a pre-set period of inactivity or by pre-determined keystrokes, and released only by entering a personal password. This prevents access to your system by unauthorized persons.

Most systems come with lots of wallpapers and screen savers, so select whichever ones suit your fancy. The Internet is an endless source of both – just follow the download instructions presented with them. Or, upload your own photos to create custom images. It’s fun and easy to change images whenever you feel the whim.

Beyond the Usual Applications

Take time to explore the different applications your programs offer. You’ll find that there’s more than meets the eye.

An Excel spreadsheet goes past financial uses. It’s great for lists since you can create as many columns as you need and sort them any way you like. Try it for:

  • home/business inventories
  • guest lists
  • personal/professional address books
  • birthday/anniversary master calendar
  • holiday card mailings
  • gift lists
  • project tracking
  • any records that need to be updated or sorted easily

Word is for a lot more than text documents:

  • If you don’t have a graphics program, use Word to prepare basic designs such as flyers, invitations and posters. Add clip art for a decorative element.
  • Select the “Table” option to create schedules, project summaries or production calendars.
  • Merge Word with your address book to create mailing labels.
  • If your computer is connected to a phone line, you likely have faxing capability. Create a cover letter and documents, then send them directly from your system to a fax machine without ever using a piece of paper.
  • holiday card mailings
  • Explore the templates in Word – you’ll be amazed by the variety that comes with the program. To access: go to File, click on New, and look through the options under “New from template.”

Let us know as you discover uses for other programs and we’ll add them to this site.

Software Care

Software programs normally need little maintenance. Here are a few tips to keep them running smoothly:

  • Daily
    - back-up crucial data
    - run a virus scan (this can be activated manually or pre-set to run daily)
  • Weekly
    - back-up replaceable data