M. Sean Fosmire is with the Michigan law firm of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.
ActiveWords – http://www.activewords.com/
This multifunctional utility works in any Windows program, as a sort of throwback to text-based computing. (Remember DOS?) The primary component will expand user-defined abbreviations to enter boilerplate text, invoke a URL, or run a Windows program.
Examples – you are typing a message in the editor window of your e-mail client. Type “yah” and hit F11. The browser window opens and the Yahoo home page loads. Type “disclaim” and hit F8. Your firm’s standard 8-line disclaimer is typed in at the insertion point. Type “pd” and hit F11; PowerDesk opens. With some work, you could avoid having to use the Start button for commonly-run programs.
Several other components are available. One component is similar to Flyfish, which can be either very useful or very annoying. Select any word in any Windows application and hit F11, and a search on a pre-selected search engine such as Google opens in the web browser. Another component allows you to type “4×4 ” (including two spaces) in a Word document and a table consisting of four rows and four columns is created. Lots of useful things here.
EasyOffice – http://www.e-press.com/
A freeware office suite which claims full compatibility with Microsoft Word and Excel. Geared to the novice user. The components include word processing, spreadsheet, database, accounting, contact manager, and even text to speech capabilities. A recent addition is the ability to create PDF files. A user may choose to download a 4 MB “tiny version”, limited to a nicely integrated word processor and contact manager, or the entire 28 MB suite.
PowerPro – http://www.windowspowerpro.com/
Very useful as a launcher, with other utilities. Build one or more icon bars and create menus to run programs or open documents. Includes a “snippets” menu, using which selections from predefined libraries of text can be inserted into any Windows program with a click of the mouse. Two useful features are a “browse and run” feature which may make it unnecessary to ever open Explorer, and a scheduler with alarm to pop up a message two hours or two months from now. PowerPro will also let you control the windows of other programs, set timers to keep track of how long you are working in various programs, etc. Freeware.
Where Is It? – http://www.whereisit-soft.com/
A file manager and cataloger which separates the catalog from the source, so that removable disks of all kinds can be included in the listings. In addition to the usual properties of name, size, date created, Where Is It? allows the user to create descriptions and assign the file or folder to one of a set of user-defined categories. Descriptions are automatically created from known sources for certain files, such as the title page for HTM files, the internal fields (including bookmark lists) for PDF files, etc. Using the properties feature, the user can change alias names, assign custom icons, set categories, flags, and disk locations, rename disks, or setup catalog protection.