Thursday, March 31, 2011

PDFCreator the Lifesaver!

The work I do involves sending documents of various formats and extensions (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .pps, .txt, just to name a few).  Within upgrades of the same software, there may also be multiple formats not compatible with each other.  Sometimes I waste a whole morning just saving documents in different formats to be sent a second or a third time.  Naturally, I searched for a solution.  And it was a no-brainer.  PDF was the answer to my problem.  With documents in PDF, everyone would be able to view them.

For those less in the know, PDF stands for Portable Document Format.  However, the ubiquitous (and free!) Adobe Acrobat Reader only reads docs.  I needed to be able to create them.

At first I used a pirate version of Adobe Acrobat but through multiple upgrades and through the hassle of dealing with cancelling requests for connections to the Adobe website, I gave up on it.  Besides, I was busy teaching others about the evils of piracy.  How could I use pirate software myself?  Sigh.

So I searched through the net forums for discussions on a reliable PDF creator tool.  After trolling through lines and paragraphs of text, I found my way to PDFCreator.  Why did I pick this one?  Easy.

One, it's open source software. It's free and the product of many people's input and sweat. One of my favourite websites is Sourceforge :) 

Two, it's always being updated.  As of today (31 March 2011, 9.28 a.m.), the latest update was four hours ago.  How's that for being with the times??

Three, as of now, 9667 users have recommended it.  That's good enough for me.

So now I'm using it.  Pretty good piece of software, by the way.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Joy and The Pain of Windows 7 64-bit

Last year, I began having problems with my old notebook (Dell 700m Inspiron).  The old Faithful has served me for about six years and is STILL serving me but it just won't display pictures anymore.  I blame this on the gazillion-MB pictures produced by the new cameras.  HOWEVER, as I was expected to deal with pictures in the course of my work, this posed a huge problem for me.  At first, it was only the screen that refused to show me the pictures (they would print out fine).  But after a while, the pictures wouldn't even print out. 

So I decided to walk through the shiny electronics-awash halls of Karamunsing Complex Third Floor.  The specs of notebooks and desktops flabbergasted me.  320GB hard disks, 4GB RAM etc etc.  I checked old Faithful's specs... 60GB hard disk memory... 256MB RAM... ohhh, no wonder the poor thing couldn't cope.  I upgraded the RAM to 1GB.  Pictures still refused to show themselves.  So I bit the bullet and bought myself an Acer.

At first, I was overjoyed by the ease of use.... Windows 7 was so wonderful, all I had to do was connect a device to the laptop and Windows Update would automatically download drivers and software from manufacturers' sites.  Wow, my days of digging out installation CDs were over!  PDA, handphone, externals... all were installed and recognised with a minimum of fuss.

THEN began the true pain... an odyssey of learning.  Windows 7 downloaded drivers for both scanner and printer in my office.  BUT it didn't recognise them.  I thought, fine... I'll just have to find the solutions on forums on the net.  Forums and me...we're best buddies.  So I cracked my agile fingers and started googling and forum-ing.  Days went by... multiple downloads of myriad drivers took place.

ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH... Windows 7 64-bit isn't compatible with MANY devices!!!!  Especially my Canon LIDE 25 scanner and Canon Laser Shot LBP 1120 printer!  After years of having access to printer and scanner, I was now HOBBLED! 

Then a friend suggested I downgrade to Windows 7 32-bit.  He said he'd help.   With the hope of being able to use my printer and scanner, I turned my Acer over to him.  But then, I found out he installed a pirate copy of the software into my Acer!  I DON'T WANT UNLICENSED SOFTWARE!  I want to be able to download updates from Microsoft.  Updates, patches, fixes, whatevers!  Who knows, Bill might feel generous and download a million USD into my hard disk.  One never knows.... but one MUST be ready!

Of course that was also the time my friend fell ill and was unable to help me restore my system.  So I took the laptop back, tried to restore my system but couldn't (don't ask me why... grrrrr).  In the end, I formatted my C Drive, reinstalled Windows 7 64-bit and began the whole process of reinstalling drivers and software.

What did I learn from this?  If the device isn't compatible, it isn't compatible.  It wasn't compatible yesterday, it isn't compatible today and it probably wouldnt' be compatible tomorrow.  So now I will make sure I will check out Microsoft's list of compatible devices... although it isn't very accurate.  It listed my scanner as being compatible (BILL GATES, CANON LIDE 25 SCANNERS AREN'T COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR WINDOWS 7 64-BIT!).

Well, anyway.  I like Windows 7.