Every now and then |I like to get back to basics and review my advice on the |fundamentals of a good PC setup - the software I |think no computer can do |without.
Technology changes over time and none more so than software. Most popular software is regularly updated.
Updates can solve problems and deliver great improvements, or as is often the case, add complexity and frustration.
When I find a product has outlived its usefulness or has become a burden on my system's resources, I seek an alternative and switch.
Competition in the software |marketplace leads to innovative new ideas and clever features.
Smaller software vendors aim to challenge established players by thinking outside the box. Every now and then, they get it right and build a useful alternative to the mainstream product.
An example is Nitro Reader 3, an alternative to Adobe's Acrobat Reader, which is used for opening PDF documents, a common file format.
I use PDFs every day, and being able to read and search through them easily on-screen means less wasteful printing and less hassle. Adobe's free Reader software is functional, but seems to bother me for yet another update almost every week.
I find the lengthy updates and restarts annoying. I also find the program too slow and cumbersome for what is essentially a basic viewer utility.
Nitro Reader is fast, lean and unobtrusive. It opens, views and prints any PDF just as well as Adobe Reader, but it also adds a few nifty features.
First, it installs a PDF "printer" allowing you to create PDFs directly from any Windows program by |simply printing the document and choosing the "Nitro PDF Creator" printer.
Nitro's other excellent feature is tabbed viewing. If you have several PDFs opened simultaneously, Nitro uses tabs across the top of the page so that you can easily move from one PDF to another.
I like this feature as it |replicates the way most modern web browsers handle multiple web pages, and it's far easier than |jumping from one open window to another. I've made the switch to the free Nitro Reader and can recommend it.
You'll find the download link and more information at www.nitropdf.com/pdf-reader
Modern computer threats such as malware or fraudulent scam websites can have serious financial consequences. Fortunately, there are good tools available free of charge to defend against this sort of rubbish.
Use a regularly-updated web |filter such as
Web of Trust is a filter between you and any website you visit. If it thinks the website you're about to open is risky, it will pause and warn you with a simple traffic-light system. You can investigate further or ignore the warning and proceed.
This way, you're alerted of scams, financial fraud, inappropriate or illegal content and even low-quality merchandise from dodgy sellers.
The Web of Trust user community reviews coupled with robust, constantly updated databases deliver trustworthy indicators of a website's reputation. Don't browse without it.
There is no perfect antivirus |solution. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses.
I generally recommend any of the popular, well-reviewed products, but also suggest you keep at least one alternative product in your arsenal to help you deal with a nasty that your usual antivirus might miss.
l Next month, I'll review my top three antivirus products and explain why I've changed to a new product on my own computers.
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