to Stuff a Wild Hard Drive
Choosing the software
for Your PC
By Jim Bray
Whatever your PC, its
the software that makes you productive, and whatever your home business,
theres software champing at the bit, waiting to help you.
Choosing software assuming
your PC doesnt come loaded with it depends on your business.
But some applications have broad appeal, and most are available for both
Windows and Mac or theres at least something comparable.
At home with Office
An Office suite is your staple.
Whether scaled down, like Microsoft or Claris Works, or elephant gun like
Microsoft Office or Lotus SmartSuite, you get word processor, spreadsheet,
and applications like "presentations" or personal organizers.
Among the biggies, MS Office
competes with Lotus SmartSuite and Corel WordPerfect. Microsoft and Corel
also offer "Professional" versions with even more stuff, like
a database. Whether or not you need it all do you want Access or
will Excel suffice? only you can decide.
Profitability depends on financial
management! You can use your spreadsheet (I do, then my accountant bails
me out at tax time), or you can get honest-to-goodness accounting software.
Quicken or MS Money are okay if youre very small
otherwise try QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, or MYOB (Mind Your Own Business),
which are designed for the small/home business.
Faxing via computer is the
BEST unless you have a lot of existing paper to send in
which case youll want a scanner to augment it.
Probably the most popular PC
faxing packages are WinFax Pro and ProComm Plus. Or you can just use the
fax software that comes with Windows or the Mac.
Fax software lets you send
stuff right from your application just as if you were printing
it out so if youre firing off invoices created in Lotus 1-2-3,
you can print one copy for your records and fax the other directly to
your customer, without leaving 1-2-3.
Receiving faxes via modem is
great, too: you only print the ones you want, and can delete the junk
faxes, saving you paper, ink, and time.
is best for you depends on how much flexibility you need; if you only
want to fax as if the fax machine were your printer, you can get away
with very little. If you send file attachments, have a lot of phone books
to manipulate, want remote access and/or paging, then you'll need one
of the bigger guns.
Artists can move their creative
processes from drawing pad to mouse pad or graphics pad
and with so much flexibility itll make your head spin.
With packages like the CorelDRAW
suite, and competitors like Adobe Illustrator/PhotoShop and MicroGrafx
ABC Graphics suite, you can create artwork and illustrations, edit someone
elses creations, or even manipulate photographs in spectacular ways.
You can not only paint a moustache onto the Mona Lisa, you could transform
Mona into a man
Lower end, but still powerful
apps, include Broderbund's Print Shop (the newest version) and Corel Print/Photo
If youre a publisher,
your choices range from Broderbund's Print Shop PressWriter and Microsoft
Publisher to biggies like Adobe PageMaker, Corel Ventura and QuarkXpress.
QuarkXpress is the heavyweight, while PageMaker has long been the favorite
of desktop pros. Ventura seemed to have almost disappeared for a couple
of years, but Corel is determined to see it bounc back with its extremely
powerful and flexible versions. Some of these packages will also let you
publish electronic documents, either for the WWW or multimedia apps.
Using Publisher and PressWriter
is extremely easy and they're probably the best if you need to
lay out pages occasionally but dont really know what youre
World Wide Wonders...
Building a web site used to
be a real pain in the butt (well, it still is, but not nearly so much
as before). Fortunately, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) apps abound
now, from lower end packages like Ixla's Web Easy and Broderbund's Web
Site Designer. Microsoft FrontPage ups
the ante, but takes control over your site and adds a lot of extra HTML.
It's very easy to use, however.
Higher end apps like SoftQuad's
Hot Metal Pro and Macromedia's Dreamweaver
are arguably the Lexus's of site design software, offering heavy duty
site design and maintenance tools. They're not as easy to use (but they're
not that difficult to learn, either) but they're sure powerful and flexible.
Determine your needs and your
budget before you buy your software. There's no sense getting a Lexus
if all you need is a Tercel - and you'll save yourself time (learning
curve), money and hassle.
included prices because theyre all over the map. It depends where,
and which version (upgrade or standalone, Standard or Enhanced), you buy.
For example, Ive seen Office and graphics suites ranging from just
over $100 to over $700 for what are basically similar products
so dont be afraid to shop and compare.
And remember: once youve
mastered your software, itll be replaced by a new version thats
Fortunately, youll be
eligible for upgrade pricing next time.
Microsoft Office (Standard,
Professional, Small Business Edition, Developers Edition)
Corel WordPerfect Suite, Office
QuickBooks, QuickBooks Pro
Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop
ABC Graphics Suite
Symantec WinFax Pro
Broderbund Web Site Designer
SoftQuad Hot Metal Pro
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think