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Suggested Computer Tools & Resources [Knowledge Base Index]

Online volunteers use a variety of computers, software and operating systems -- most online volunteer opportunities are not limited to only one type of computer user.

Also, online volunteers often have better software and hardware than the organizations they are assisting. It is the volunteers' responsibility to provide materials in formats the organization they are helping can use; it is NOT a volunteer's responsibility to insist that the organization upgrade or change its computers or software.

This is a listing of tools and shareware available to help your computer to be compatible with others', and to help you perform various online tasks.

PLEASE NOTE: these are merely suggestions, with no expressed or implied warranty, guarentee, or formal commercial endorsement. Please read carefully all manufacturer's materials regarding software before downloading any product. UNV nor organizations you are assisting can be held responsible for problems on your computer that may arise from your downloading and use of the materials referred below.

Links and materials will expire periodically; please contact us if there is a link that no longer works, or a particular resource is no longer available.  

Suggested Resources to Help Volunteers and Agencies Share Files and Resources

Evrsoft 1st Page 2000 free web builder
A free web builder (and favorite tool of some online volunteers) to create and manage Web sites. "Ask any professional web builder and they'll tell you the sad stories behind using standard WYSIWYG editors. Professional web builders know that WYSIWYG editors never create clean html code which means they'll end up wasting more time fixing, cleaning and correcting code later on. With this common problem in mind, you'll be glad to hear that 1st Page never ruins HTML code, infact it doesn't even add unwanted html codes to your important projects." Evrsoft 1st Page 2000 helps you write, edit and improve your HTML and let you author websites faster, easier and better. "Whether you're a beginner or an HTML guru you'll find 1st Page 2000 great to use!"  

Maintaining Flexibility-Support for Mac and PC Compatibility

    Macs and IBM/clones have come a long way from their oil-and-water-don't-mix past. As the marketplace has become flooded with IBM/clones, developers for both platforms, especially Macintosh, have strived to help users share information.

    IBM/Clone users must have all of their files saved using names that are eight letters or less, followed by a three-letter file extension -- for instance, thisfile.doc or data1.xls, etc. When a Mac user sends an IBM/Clone user a file, either the Mac user must name the file correctly (the kind of software used determines the file extension); or, the IBM/Clone user must rename the file.

    The most important thing when sharing files between IBM/Clone and Mac users is that they have compatible software; they don't necessarily have to have the same software, however. For instance, ClarisWorks (AppleWorks), a Mac program, can read a variety of different kinds of word processing files generated by other software. Microsoft Excel (available for both machines) can read a variety of different kinds of spreadsheet and database files generated by other software.

    There is a comprehensive list of IBM/Clone file extensions (more than 700 are listed) and of the programs they belong to at: http://www.webopedia.com/ .

    One large issue in inter-platform file sharing is just being able to open the files and save them on the different computers. There are a few sites that offer downloads of shareware and freeware that address cross-platform problems. In reading just the descriptions of what's out there, you start to learn about what might be important in troubleshooting compatibility issues.

    Publish magazine exists for graphic designers, a large group with cross-platform concerns. Their web site, www.publish.com has a software closet with various shareware, freeware and postcardware that helps interpret data between the two platforms. You must register to enter the software closet, but it is free. Some titles that seemed promising were: 

       DOS 2 Mac 2.1;

       DOS-Namer 1.7.3;

       Name Cleaner 1.8.0; and

       Word 6.0 Convertor for MS Word.

    C-Net has a web site called www.download.com that has lots of different shareware to address all kinds of issues. It lets you indicate whether you are a IBM/clone or Mac user and gives different menus to choose from. One of our volunteers says she has had good luck with the File and Disk Management subcategory from the Utilities Menu, for both platforms.

     Under the Mac listing, there are a few descriptions that sound useful: 

       Cross Platform 1.0

       File Lift 2.21

       Name Cleaner 1.8.1.  

    And the PC: 

       Executor 2.0 w beta

       Internet Text Translator

       Mac-in-Dos

       RK Mac-Win3.5

       TransMac 3.1

       X change for Windows 

    Another helpful site for Macintosh shareware is http://www.appleprograms.com/ 

Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting advice is available on www.zdhelp.com. This is a site run by Ziff-Davis publishers. Upon entering compatibility in the search box, a one-screen list of tips and FAQs came up. The descriptions indicate that the corresponding information would help with common cross-platform problems like sending compatible e-mails and opening image files.

Coyote Communications also offers the document Keep Your Computer Humming: Basic Computer Maintenance and Problem Solving. These are general tips for all computers, as well as specific information for both Macintosh and IBM/Clone PC maintenance regarding problem-solving, basic printer problem-solving, etc.

Other Resources
    Tek-Tips
    An award-winning community of thousands of computer professionals with over 800 support forums and an ever-expanding link library for every conceivable support issue. Free e-mail notification service to let you know when your questions have been answered. Membership is free and totally confidential, and no cookies are used. Forums are divided into two groups and seven subgroups: SOFTWARE (MIS, Programmers, ISPs, Instructors) and HARDWARD (Server Rack, Communications Rack, Wiring Closet)

    zdnet.com
    great tips and tricks, as well as troubleshooting, site for techies

    Resources For Users of Older Computers
    Not-for-profit and public sector organizations often don't have the option to buy or to upgrade their computers to the latest and greatest toys on the market. And older computers can't use the latest software and systems version. Still, you CAN get a lot out of such older computer systems -- you can surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, create databases, do desktop publishing, etc. This tip sheet shows that a lot can be done with just a little technology, and where to find resources for older computers.

    TechSoup.org
    This initiative by CompuMentor offers many, many IT resources for volunteers working with community-based organizations. Though most are for onsite volunteers, much of this material is applicable to online volunteers as well.

    Technology Web Sites to Support Community-Based Groups
    There are links to web sites that provide free online information for community-based groups regarding computer and Internet technologies. These resources:

    • are focused primarily on helping nonprofit organizations, NGOs, schools, etc. use computer or Internet technology
    • offer free online information can be easily accessed by individuals and organizations who do not have the latest version of a Web browsing software, do not have the latest Mac or IBM/Clone, and who may have ISP access via a regular phone line, rather than DSN or T1.

 

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