CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Decoding the on-line services in cyberspace
03/06/95

by Cathi Schuler


If you have been brave enough to venture online into cyberspace, you've probably noticed the terms "download" and "file transfer". Downloading of files refers to the hundreds of thousands of text files and shareware/freeware programs that are available for you to transfer via modem for use on your own system. Text files are reports or documents on every subject imaginable. Shareware usually refers to programs that ask for a registration fee, once they've been downloaded. Freeware is truly free!

All the online services as well as most BBSs have files available for downloading. Shareware and freeware files run the gamut of full blown applications to utility programs. Though I have been reticent in the past to download files, because I'm viru-phobic, I think the mainstream online services are now pretty safe and a good source for shareware and freeware.

If you're a regular America Online user you will love PowerTools for AOL.This is a utility designed specifically for use with America Online. PowerTools features a control panel that attaches automatically to your AOL screen and provides a bevy of power buttons to execute various functions with ease.

Have you ever been in a chat area and wondered how those guys type the same clever phrases so fast? Try the Phrase Manager in PowerTools to create and manage prepared text phrases. Then with a mere click of a button, you can send a message to any or all members in a chat area.

With PowerTools, special options are just a right mouse click away. You can set up an answering machine for instant messages, customize your favorite rooms and places and maintain a billing log for your time spent online. I think it's really slick!

For information or to download PowerTools for AOL, select Go To, Search Software Libraries from the menu bar. Type PWRTOOLS and press enter. Once you have downloaded the file, exit AOL and go to your File Manager in Windows. Double-click on the file PWRT1_5.exe in your AOL download directory and follow the instructions.

PowerTools is a "self-installing .exe" program, meaning that it can be executed directly from your File Manager. Many downloaded files, however, are not immediately executable. They are compressed or "zipped up" and need to be "unzipped". Zipped files always end in .zip

PKZIP, by PKWare is the compression utility most often used to zip and unzip files. Compression technology actually shrinks files by deleting any repeated characters, yet leaving placeholders where they belong. When files are decompressed the characters are put back in their proper places. Files are compressed, or zipped, to conserve disk space.

Many downloaded files provide a PKUNZIP command, however some do not. PKZIP is a shareware file that can also be downloaded from many resources. From AOL, select Go To, Search Software Libraries from the menu bar. Type PKZIP and press enter. This compression utility is not only good for unzipping downloaded files, but also great for shrinking your own files or programs for storage on a floppy disk, or merely to free up space on your hard disk. Both PKZIP and PowerTools are shareware and should be registered with the authors.

Microsoft Download Library provides many freeware files. If you don't have a sound card and want to add the ability to play .WAV files with your internal PC speaker, check out the Windows 3.1 PC Speaker Driver. Though the results vary from OK to tinny, a little more sound is always fun, and this add-in driver is harmless.

Compuserve users can find this file by GO:CIS:MSL. America Online users will find this file in the Windows Forum, Software Libraries, Drivers. You can also call the Microsoft BBS at 206- 936-6735, via modem, and browse their download files on your own.

For the time being, I'd avoid downloading too much from the Internet. It's wild and crazy out there and a good place to catch a computer cold.

Feedback? E-Mail cschuler@ceeprompt.com

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