Consumers give Vista thumbs down

2008-03-27 00:00

Office 2007 file format converter

So I don’t think much of Windows Vista. Apparently, in 2007, Vista was only shipped with 39% of all new PCs because nobody wanted it. I also heard that in June this year, XP will no longer be available to buy, so anybody needing to stock up on licences should do so soon, if they prefer to steer clear of Vista. Although you don’t need Vista to run Microsoft Office 2007 (it can be run on XP), not too many people are using Office 2007 yet either. It looks radically different from the conventional Microsoft Office 2003 so many believe that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it by migrating to 2007. The main reason for the reluctance to migrate is the file format change. MS Word 2003 and prior versions created documents with an extension “.doc” and MS Word 2007 has “.docx”, the old Excel uses “.xls” vs Excel 2007’s “.xlsx” and old PowerPoint uses “.ppt”, while 2007 has “.pptx”.

Users of previous versions of Office can’t read documents created in new versions and the only solution is for 2007 users to back-save before distributing to their older version contacts. Not quite. Microsoft has come out with a file format converter that allows Office 2003 to be spruced up to open 2007 documents.

This converter is free to download from www.microsoft.com Microsoft says you must ensure your system (if an Office XP or 2003 user) is up to date by installing all High-Priority/required updates on http://update.microsoft.com beforehand. Then, in the search window on www.microsoft.com type FileFormatConverters.exe and download this hefty 27 MB executable. Double-click to install and that should take care of opening documents from 2007 in 2003.

Avast outstrips AVG

Next update is on the Antivirus front. AVG used to be the most popular free antivirus program out, but, in recent times, a new name has made itself felt and people, including myself, have started to uninstall AVG and migrate to Avast.

Avast is available free for home users on www.avast.com I have come across a couple of viruses or trojans that AVG did not pick up but Avast did. If you suspect your system is compromised, the thing to do is download Avast (19 MB), load it, download the latest virus database as per Avast menu, restart your computer in safe mode and virus check your system.

Safe Mode

Chances of adware/spyware/viruses loading in Safe Mode are minimal. To boot into Safe Mode in Windows XP, shut down the computer totally (as in power off — keep power off for 30 seconds). Turn the computer on and start tapping the F8 key every second as the white (pre-windows) writing starts coming up on the screen. You will drop into the Windows Advanced Options Menu. Using the arrow keys on your keyboard (the mouse won’t work yet), choose Start Windows in Safe Mode. Virus check your system, then reboot normally to get back into conventional Windows.

Sync it with Google

An interesting addition happened in Google Calendar not long ago. The Google team came up with “Sync with Microsoft Outlook calendar”.

If you use the Google Calendar to its fullest, inclusive of free reminder smses of upcoming events, but you also want the features offered by Microsoft Outlook, synchronising Google Calendar to Outlook (or Outlook with Google — or both) is now possible and easily set up. Surf to www.google.com/calendar, click on the new red link at the top that leads to the Sync feature and download the executable GoogleCalendarSyncInstaller.exe

Once downloaded, double click on it to install it and decide if you want a two-way sync or a one way from or to Google Calendar. You are also able to set the interval between each synchronisation. This can now easily be incorporated into your existing Microsoft Outlook Calendar. It only syncs your main calendar for now, which is a downside if you use several calendars in Google.

Load Shedding Info

Focusing on the wonderful world of load shedding, forewarned is better than being caught off guard. The Internet has a number of websites dedicated to the power issue. The important one is when to expect a load shed. Keep an eye on www.eskom.co.za/live and watch that dial shown on TV. If it goes into brown — trouble.

Another useful site which quotes more links is www.poweringsouthafrica.co.za, where one can find out what can be done to help Eskom out of its quandary and how to save electricity. And if you want to take power saving to new heights, use www.blackle.com instead of www.google.com which swaps the white background with a black one, thus saving energy. Or does it? The jury really is out on this one.

Don’t blow your lid

If you need to be prepared, there is a company in Cape Town that specialises in UPSes (Uninterrupted Power Supply) as electronic equipment not shut off in time can blow. If you need a solution, maybe www.powerbackups.co.za has it.

• E-mail The Witness geek at geek@ witness.co.za or visit her blog at www. witnessgeek.blogspot.com www.pmbblog.co.za is also updated with her blog.

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