Friday, August 20, 2010

Adobe Reader Update 9.3.4, PDF Readers and File Conversion

Adobe Reader Update 9.3.4
When Flash and Shockwave have updates, Adobe Reader can't be far behind. Yesterday we began seeing prompts to update Reader. The simplest way to update is to click on the prompt and follow the instructions. It's fast and easy, and when done it will stop prompting you to update.

If you'd like to download the update patch alone and install on several machines, here's the link to the Patch page:

Therer are alternatives to Adobe Reader for viewing PDF documents, all with their own fans. Foxit Reader is probably the best-known; you can download it here free:  Foxit does the job, with a smaller application; but when you start installing the addons it becomes quite confusing and nightmarish to me.

PDF Document Conversion
Foxit also allows you to convert documents to PDF, which is increasingly valuable. I use CutePDF Writer, and another free PDF utility is PDF995. has long included a PDF converter.

When you save or print a document to PDF (Portable Document Format), that document becomes readable by any PDF reader utility, such as Adobe Reader or Foxit. As these utilities are free and widely available online, most people will have a PDF reader installed on their computer. That means the end to conversion issues, which happens when someone sends you a Word or Works document, for example, and you don't have the program or the right version to read the document.

To create a PDF from your document or picture, with a PDF converter installed, simply print the document to the PDF converter program. Click File - Print, then select CutePDF Writer or whatever you have installed.

Microsoft Office File Converters
Another way around the conversion issue ("Somebody sent me this file, but I can't open it") is for the originator to save the document in a more universal format. In other words, if she's using Word from Microsoft Office 2010, and you're still on Office 2003, you may not be able to open the .docx file she sends to you. She can fix that by saving the document as a lower version of Word or as RTF (Rich Text Format). Or, she can simply print the 2010 document to a PDF printer (CutePDF Writer, Foxit, etc.). Then she sends to you the RTF or PDF or DOC in a version more people can open and read.

Of course, Microsoft also makes it possible for users of Office XP or 2003 to open and create documents in the new "x" format (Open XML) that began with Office 2007.  Go here to download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. As per the Microsoft instructions, be SURE to download and install all Microsoft High Priority Updates prior to installing the Compatibility Pack. (In XP, open Internet Explorer, go to Tools - Windows Update and follow the prompts to download the High Priority Updates. In Vista or Window 7, click Start - Windows Update.)

Remember This
The documents you create can be saved in many formats, and you should consider the recipient's probable resources when sending the document. Does he have Office 2010, or just Microsoft Works, or WordPerfect?  PDF almost always works, converting to RTF also always works.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Updates for August 11 - Windows, Office, lots of Adobe

Yesterday was Microsoft's Patch Tuesday, and a record number of updates were released. When you see the prompt in your System Tray (lower right corner), click on it and install the updates. Or, go to Windows Update on your Start Menu (Vista and Windows 7) and follow the prompts. Libraries with Deep Freeze Enterprise installed, be sure to leave those specific machines on overnight to get the latest updates. Check Staff machines to update manually.

Adobe just released updates for AIR, Flash for Internet Explorer and Flash for Firefox. Install when you see the prompts, or go to to install manually. You'll need to visit with both IE and Firefox to get the proper plugins installed.

CCleaner updated earlier this month - download and install the update and clean out your temporary files now.

And while you're at it, why not back up your files? Getting your computer updated and protecting your stuff can be pretty satisfying!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

HP/Compaq - Just Say No. Acer, eMachines Not Far Behind

I've been venting on Facebook, Twitter, here and anywhere within ear- or eyeshot about my battles with HP Tech Support and their consistent failures. I'm sick of it, you're sick of it, and these should be my last words on the subject for now.

Gaining experience from my recent interactions with HP/Compaq Tech Support, I can only advise you not to purchase an HP consumer product, unless you consider it disposable. You can do the research - a simple Google or Yahoo search on "HP support rankings" or something similar will reveal plenty.  The corporate products do not seem to have this trouble... so far. I'm sitting here right now looking at ten new HP desktops with trepidation.

Tech Support from HP/Compaq for me has been incomptent, unreponsive and has failed to resolve the last 4 issues I've brought to them - three of them under warranty, all within the last 15 months. 

No one wants to bring up a problem without a solution, so my recommended solution is to research the computer and the manufacturer before you buy. If you go for the inexpensive, instant fix from WalMart or OfficeMax, that's what you'll be using daily until it doesn't work. When you take it back for repairs, be prepared to wait and spend money.

Acer has its share of hardware and support problems, and I've been along for the ride more than I care to. I'll spare you the details; this is a summary of my experience. Also, if you value your sanity and mine, do not buy anything that says eMachines on it.

That's it. Back to help and support from here. You've been asking for this information, I've put it out there, and that's it.