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PC Tech Tips - Vol. 3.3


Don't Copy That Software!

Did you know that copying software is illegal? Software is licensed by computer, not to the owner of the computer. Technically, if you have two computers, you should have two copies of the software in order to use it on both machines. It's tempting when your friend tells you he/she will load a great program on your machine.

Business Software Alliance is the watchdog that polices the software piracy laws. Civil penalties can be $100,000.00 for willful piracy of one program, plus the cost of the program. Criminal penalties can be $250,000.00 and/or five years in jail for 10 or more illegal copies.

Legal issues are not the only reason why you should not copy software. What if your harddrive gets damaged? How will you reload the program? What if you need technical support or you need to check something in the manual? Just know, there are benefits to having a licensed copy of the software.

Be aware when purchasing a computer from a computer "boutique" store. When they promise to load the computer with software, be sure you receive the diskettes and documentation for the software. Don't be left without the diskettes and manuals.

If you own a company, know the rules and laws. Know your licensing issues. Are your licenses concurrent (based on simultaneous users) or per machine? Also, make a written policy. Enforce the policy, have employees sign a code of ethics. Be sure they know they can be terminated for loading illegal software.

Install an automatic audit such as McAfee's softscan. It inventories harddrives on a network for new software programs. Also, conduct manual audits and destroy any unlicensed software immediately.

What about the software you can download from the Internet or online services? There are two types: freeware and shareware.

Freeware, usually utilities software, is available to anyone interested, at no cost. It can be copied and given to anyone, but it cannot be sold.

Shareware is software that you are allowed to use for a limited trial period at no cost, usually up to 30 days. When the trial period is over, if you decide to continue using it, you are expected to pay a small fee and register your name with the author. It is illegal to keep and use shareware past the trial period and not pay for it.

For more information on software piracy laws, check out the Business Software Alliance's web site at: www.bsa.org. The next time someone asks you for a copy of your software or someone offers you a copy of theirs - think twice before you act.

Searching the Web

Now you have the modem, you have loaded the software, you have an email address and you have access to the World Wide Web. Microsoft's TV ads ask you, "Where do you want to go today?" "Well," you answer, "what I really want to know is, how do I get to where I want to go?" You could just put an address in the address box (A.K.A. "Name" box or "URL" box). WWW.gatorade.com, www.ford.com, www.nba.com - these would take you "there". But, what if you didn't know an address?

Use an Internet search engine. Excite, Yahoo, Hotbot, Webcrawler, these are some of the more popular search engines. Simply type "www.yahoo.com". This takes you to a web site which allows you to search the web for a specific topic. HotBot even lets you search by Website names, people and URLs (universal resource locator, aka "address"). Search engine sites to visit:

  • www.altavista.digital.com
  • www.dejanews.com
  • www.excite.com
  • www.hotbot.com
  • www.infoseek.com
  • www.lycos.com
  • www.webcrawler.com
  • www.yahoo.com

After you reach the site, a search box appears. Type in your topic, such as "Porsche", click the Search button. Away it goes, searching the Web for sites containing the word Porsche. It returns a list of sites. A quick click on the "colored words" sends you to a site with the content you requested.

Knowing how to search for people, places and information, now I think it's appropriate to ask where you want to go today.

Suite Software Sweet Deal?

Computer software companies are using a new technique to sell software. They are bundling several packages together and selling them as "suites." Microsoft is packaging MSOffice (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and OfficePro (same as Office, but includes Access). You may have seen their Business Productivity package, too. Lotus Smart Suite is another suite and Corel puts together Perfect Office.

Do we really need all this software? It depends. Know that we will use a word processing package (Word, WordPerfect, WordPro). If we need to create small spreadsheets or tables, these word processing programs can handle spreadsheets and calculations (to a certain degree). Will we be creating presentations? We can create some pretty nifty transparencies, and handouts with the wordprocessing program, too.

If we want to do some heavy duty spreadsheets with calculations, transfer the information onto multiple sheets and produce large calculated reports, then we should think about using a spreadsheet product.

As for the presentation packages, (Powerpoint, WP Presentations, etc) what they can do! Slides, color transparencies, computer-based presentations, whew! Nothing compares to what these programs can produce quickly and easily.

Of course, we can buy just the word processor alone, save some money and disk space. However, if we need the features that only a spreadsheet and/or presentations program can give us, these "suite" packages are a sweet deal!

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