Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Few Useful Web Tools & Sites


Zamzar is an online file conversion site. I have turned to this very useful site several times over the past year in aiding patrons of the library. The site hasn't failed a file conversion yet that I've tried. And, it's free.

One of the common reasons I've used
Zamzar is for library patrons who bring in a disc with a WPS file on it. WPS files are documents created using Microsoft Works Word Processor which occasionally cannot be open or are opened in hieroglyphic-like text using updated versions of Microsoft Word or Office. Another common problem with opening patrons' files at the library is a docx document; these are documents produced on a newer version of Word than what is on our computers. So, the conversion problem exists for systems above & below the level of Word we own.

To convert a file, in the first step on the site, you'll need to have a document saved on the computer or available through a disc & upload the file to the site. The next step is to select the file type you wish to convert to. Next, enter an email address at which you will receive a url link to an updated version of the document. Last, click the "convert" button. The time needed to convert the file & send an email to you is usually under two hours. For faster service, you can register & may need to pay a small subscribing fee for a subscription. So, if you are in urgent or at-no-charge need of a file conversion, Zamzar may not be for you. There are other file-conversion sites (such as Free File Converter), but I am not familiar with their success rate or what costs may be associated.

In addition to text files, Zamzar can also convert audio, image, & video files. I haven't yet used Zamzar for either of these types of conversions, but I would imagine their success rate is as good as the text conversion rate of success I've had.

Another option for converting files is to download Microsoft Works 6-9 Converter.

FastStone Capture

One of my favorite web tools is another free download called
FastStone Capture. This tool is, according to FastStone's website, "a powerful, lightweight, yet full-featured screen capture tool that allows you to easily capture and annotate anything on the screen including windows, objects, menus, full screen, rectangular/freehand regions and even scrolling windows/web pages." [Note: I'm not exactly sure where FS gets their concept of the capture tool being "lightweight" as it is not an actual object. Perhaps they mean it's light on the amount of memory needed to store it? Or maybe they're just being funny].

FS Capture allows you to create image documents of portions of a computer screen. These images can be stored as jpegs or as other image types.

FS Capture is a particularly useful tool. I have used it for almost all blog posts I've done. Here is a link to a past blog entry I made that relied heavily on FS Capture:

Another cool way to use
FS Capture is to freeze an online video such as one on YouTube to create your own pictures. Here's one I did from a very popular music video from the 1980s: To download FS Capture, click this link:

Any Other Useful Tools?

If you know of any useful tools or websites, feel welcome to share them here on this blog.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Patrick Layne:

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