TeX and Other Selected Windows Freeware:
21 Aug 2008.
(Some of the software described below can also be found on
a CD distributed for free to the Vanderbilt community by
Information Technology Services.)
leave your front door wide open on the information
superhighway; there are some very clever vandals and
thieves lurking about. Here are a few very basic recommendations:
- Don't run unexpected programs that come in the email.
And a "program" could be all sorts of things -- the most obvious
ones are executables, i.e., files with names ending in ".exe", but there are many
other kinds of runnable programs too -- bat, vbs, com, and so on.
Take a look at the list of filetypes.
And is your computer configured to show the file endings, or to hide them?
If it's hiding some of the file endings, then "harmless.gif" might actually
be "harmless.gif.exe", which is not so harmless after all. Hiding the
file endings (a default setting)
is one of the stupidest things Microsoft has ever done, but
continuing to hide them is even stupider. You can easily change
- Beware of email scams. People who ask for
personal identity information by email generally are up to no good.
If an email from your bank or your phone company asks for
your social security number or something like that, the
email almost certainly is not from your bank or your
phone company. Major companies do not send out mail
of that sort. Look at the company's website and you'll see
a message about that. But don't trust a website that you're
directed to by an unexpected email message -- it might be a fake
In recent years scammers have been using very clever
social engineering to trick people into opening bad mail.
I myself was taken in once -- I think it was in early 2005 -- and I accidentally
installed a virus, one that was so new that it got past my antivirus software.
Fortunately I detected it and removed it before it could do any harm.
But here's how I was taken in: I'm one of the webmasters for my
department, so I received an email addressed to the webmaster.
It said something like this (I don't remember the exact wording):
"Dear Webmaster: I'm the webmaster at my company, and I've
been looking at a lot of web pages to get ideas for our website.
I like your web page -- it has a lot of good ideas -- but there is
a bug in it that you might not be aware of. Attached is a screen
shot marked to indicate where the problem is." (A screen shot
is a snapshot of the screen, taken not with a camera but with the
"print screen" key.) Now, this sounded like a very generous
email -- this person had praised my web page, and had
taken the time and trouble to try to help me fix it. I believed his
message, since I've actually sent messages like this myself
in the past. I felt, ahh, how nice, a kindred spirit.
So, without thinking, I clicked on his attached file,
which I assumed was a picture file. If I had taken a moment
to look, I would have seen that it was not a picture file, but
rather an executable.
- Make sure file-sharing is
disabled. Don't just leave it running
with password protection; hackers have found ways to get
past the passwords.
check on this: (1) Go to Start -
Settings - Control Panel - Network. Then click on
"File and Print Sharing..." and make sure that both the boxes
-- "I want to be able to give others access to my files" and
"I want to be able to allow others access to my printer(s)"
- Turn on Windows Firewall
- Guard against spyware
(also known sometimes as
though that term also has other meanings).
Spyware is software that spies on you and sends information
about your computer activities (e.g., what products you are
might be interested in buying) to their home companies.
Perhaps the biggest penalty is not your loss of privacy
(most of us really don't have anything to hide, and we
don't put crucial information like credit card numbers
on our computers), but
the fact that these programs running in the background
will slow down your computer,
in some cases drastically.
Generally spyware is installed without your knowledge --
sometimes as a hidden ingredient in some program that
you have knowingly installed.
(As far as I presently know, none of the programs
listed on this
website contain spyware.)
Some of the most popular free
or have included spyware in past editions, are
(including "Reader Rabbit", etc.),
"FreeZip!" (not to be confused with "FreeZip"),
and the "smart download managers" distributed
by RealNetworks and Netscape/AOL.
Here are some programs for
removing spyware. (You can use more than one of these!)
- Install an anti-virus program. The commercial one supplied for us by Vanderbilt is quite good.
For people outside Vanderbilt who are reading this, here are some free anti-virus programs:
- Keep your antivirus program updated. Good antivirus programs
include some feature for updating the program's data files. In fact, most
of the better programs can be configured to update automatically, once
every week or so, on some schedule, without even asking you. Some
antivirus programs are configured by default for automatic updating,
but some are not. Make sure that yours is set for automatic updating.
Out-of-date antivirus data won't protect you from new viruses.
- Even if you keep your antivirus program updated, it can
occasionally happen that a new virus gets into your computer --
one that is so new that you receive it before the people who
update your antivirus program have learned about it and worked
it into their database. (Be the first kid on your block to have virus X!)
Naturally, you need to guard against such things by practicing
safe computing -- don't open unexpected attachments, don't run
unexpected executables or macros, etc. ...
If you find a suspicious-looking file on your computer, and you are afraid it
might be a new virus (i.e., one not yet recognized by your antivirus software),
one of the things you can do is upload a copy of the suspicious file to
Jotti's malware scan.
This is a free service, but don't use it unless you really need it.
Jotti will run your suspicious file through a wide variety of antivirus
programs to see if any of them recognize it.
- Keep up to date on Microsoft's
"critical updates," available through the "Windows Update"
tool that came with your computer. If you've misplaced the tool, here it is: Just go to
using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your browser. Actually, if you have your settings on
your computer the way they should be, you'll never need to visit that website (except
maybe the first time you use your computer), because it should be set up to automatically
The frequent need for security
patches to Microsoft software is due in part to the
fact that malicious hackers have made Microsoft
their primary target, mostly because Microsoft is
the biggest target -- i.e., it is most widely used.
But there is another reason: Unix software was
designed with security in mind, right from the start
(with "permissions", "administrators", etc.), whereas
Microsoft software was originally designed with
accessibility in mind (so that your company's
computer administrators, or
the Microsoft company itself, could adjust your
computer for you). But the same overall design
that made MS software accessible to
legitimate adjustors, also made it accessible
to clever hackers.
This situation was discussed in more technical detail in
(of all places) the May 2000 issue of
an online magazine that is
funded by Microsoft! (Microsoft may not be perfect,
but at least they can be praised for funding a
magazine that is so independent that it criticizes
is a useful, free tool for detecting and removing malware, but really only for advanced users.
It lists the contents of key areas of the Registry and hard drive -- areas that are used
by both legitimate programmers and hijackers. If you can tell which things are which on
the list, you can delete the bad things.
- Geeks To Go has a detailed introduction/guide to how to remove malware.
- Secure shell -- see below.
As a computer adviser to my department, I get asked, "why doesn't my telnet
or ftp program work?" perhaps more often than any other question.
Traditional telnet and ftp
programs are being
replaced by SSH ("secure shell telnet")
and SFTP/SCP ("secure ftp" or "secure copy") at an increasing number
of institutions, including Vanderbilt. These newer
programs are more secure, because your initial
login is encrypted; hackers will have a much harder
time learning your password when you use these
programs. Even in places where you still
can use the old-fashioned programs, I urge
you to replace them with the secure versions.
Adjusting to them won't take very long -- they
are used much like the old-fashioned insecure versions.
You can get one program (the "secure shell
package" described below) that handles both secure
telnet and secure ftp. Or, if you prefer, you can separate
the two operations --- you can get a secure telnet program
(such as "Putty", described below) and a secure ftp program
(such as "Filezilla" or "Ixplorer", both described below).
This web page is concerned only with software for Windows.
Macintosh users might try
Secure shell package
confuse things further, SSH is not only the name of
a protocol, but also the name of a company that produces
a good program implementing that protocol, and it used
to be the name of the program too.
Versions up to and including version 3.2.9 were available for free for
The program combines SSH and SFTP (secure telnet and secure ftp) in one
package. The two parts interact in a convenient way:
Once you've opened either half, you can open the other half
as needed by just clicking on one button.
Here is a greatly
abbreviated description of how to use the program.
See circled items in illustration. Start with the button labeled
you'll need to create and then edit a profile for each remote location
that you'll want to exchange files with. After you've created a
you can use it by clicking on "Profiles" and then clicking on the name
of the profile. ... The icon of a monitor with a red diagonal line
is the "disconnect" button. ... The two icons contained in one red
are for starting up another ssh window or another sftp window. ...
To transfer files, you can simply drag
files in either direction
the local file liest (under "Local Name") and the remote file list
(under "Remote Name"). You can also drag files between the remote file
list and any of your local computer's file folders, if you
have them displayed on your screen. ... If that's too many buttons,
go to "View" "Customize" "Toolbars" and then start dragging buttons
you don't want off of their toolbars. (Don't worry about accidentally
deleting a button you want -- you can always click "Reset" to
return the toolbars to their default settings.
The SSH package is the program
I generally give to
the less computer savvy
members of my department when they
need help with secure protocol, since this involves only
installing one program and only learning to use one program.
However, people who are more experimentative with their
computers may prefer some of the programs listed below.
(Secure) telnet programs
program is a program with text
interface, that you
can use to log into an account with command- driven user
interface on a remote computer.
Some of the advanced features you might want in a telnet
program are copy and paste, session logging, scripting,
macro keys, ftp, and a security protocol.
(Actually, you can add the equivalent
of macro keys, to a telnet program or any other Windows
program, by using Windows
Recorder; see description
elsewhere on this website. And you can get ftp in a
One popular free secure telnet
program is PuTTY
[444kb, ver 0.60]. It is small, loads quickly, and doesn't take many
keystrokes to get where you want to go.
Its development is
being continued -- it supports the latest versions of SSH.
It is fairly simple to set up. For documentation see
the next few paragraphs of this page, and/or see PuTTY's
Putty has two
parts -- its terminal screen, which I've pictured at right,
and its configuration
program, which I have illustrated below. The left column of
the configuration display, labeled "Category:", is a menu
that stays in sight and unchanged (except for the location
of the highlight) while you go through the other screens
of the configuration program, choosing them from the
menu. The category named "Session" is the main, initial
display, which includes things like the "Load" and "Save"
buttons. Other categories include
"Appearance" (where you can change the font size) and "Connection"
(where you can teach PuTTY your username, if you're not sharing
this computer with many other people).
You can create and save a configuration for
later use: Give it whatever name you like, by typing into the one-line
box immediately below the words "Saved Sessions"; after you've saved
it, it will also show up in the larger box below that. Go through
the other categories ("Appearance", etc.) and change the settings
as you wish; then go back to "Session" and click on "Save".
You can load a session that has previously
been saved, by clicking
on the session's name and then clicking on "Load". From there
you can edit it (i.e., alter the configuration settings)
and save it again under the same name or under a new name;
or you can click on "Open" to start a connection to the
remote computer. (However, to update a saved session, you
may need to exit from PuTTY and then start it again.)
For everyday use (you're usually not going
to want to change the settings), just doubleclick on the
name of the saved session to open the connection.
Or, better yet, create a Windows shortcut that points,
not just to "putty.exe", but to "putty.exe @sessname",
where "sessname" is the name of your saved session
configuration; then clicking on that shortcut will
start up PuTTY in that configuration.
When you first connect to a new machine
using PuTTY, you'll get a
warning message because you're trying to make a secure connection to an
unknown machine. Choose "OK" to add the machine to the list of known
hosts and to continue connecting.
Copy and paste in PuTTY work a little like
Unix xterm and similar programs.
the left mouse button in a
PuTTY terminal window selects text and automatically copies
it to the Windows clipboard. (You don't need to subsequently
press control-V or control-insert, the keys commonly used in
Windows programs to copy the highlighted text.)
the right mouse button in
a PuTTY window pastes
the contents of the Windows clipboard into the
session as if it were typed at the keyboard.
will also accomplish that.)
for "File Transfer Protocol"; that's what you use
to copy files from one computer to another. Usually (but
not always), to "upload" a file means to copy it from the
computer you're sitting at to some remote computer; to
"download" a file means to copy it from the remote computer
to the one you're sitting at.
For most Windows users in our department,
I would recommend
the Secure Shell package, mentioned
on this page -- it includes
an integrated ftp and telnet program that work together
quite nicely. But some people may prefer:
[3.46 mb, ver 188.8.131.52] - An open source project. Here are a few usage
To create or to use a profile, you'll have to go through the "Site
window. That's under "File", or shortcut "control-S", or use the first
icon at the left end of the toobar. For users in our department, the
servertype should be
"SFTP using SSH2".
Once you've set up your profiles, you
can use the triangle (second icon on the toolbar). To transfer files,
drag them between the local file list (left pane) and remote file list
(right pane). -- This program will remember passwords if you ask it to
a convenience if your computer is not shared and is stored in a
fairly secure location (e.g., your residence). -- To create a shortcut
to a particular profile, just use this command line:
of course, "profilename" is replaced by the name of your profile.
A minor tool related to FTP programs: If you upload files from
Windows to Unix, you'll want to check their filenames
first. Windows doesn't always keep track of upper versus
lower case in filenames, but Unix does; sometimes
Windows even displays the cases incorrectly
you may want
to rename all your files so that their names are all lower case,
or something like that. There are some little tools that make it
easy to change the case on a big bunch of filenames
at one time. Here are a couple:
you can find more if you search under "case rename".
For some of these programs, you can add the program as an association
to the filetype "Folder", which will enable you to call up the program
on the tiny little picture of an open manila folder in the upper left
Windows Explorer's windows.
different client programs are listed below. But first,
some general notes on how to set up your email client:
- If you follow these
instructions, you can switch easily
between these clients; you can try a few and see which ones you like. You're not stuck with one.
- I recommend that you set
your email client for
IMAP, rather than POP. This means that messages will be stored on
the server; they will only be copied to your local computer as needed.
That has several advantages:
You can switch easily between one mail client and another, and
you can read your mail easily from any computer -- the one
in your office, the one at home, the one you borrow from the people
you're visiting, a "public kiosk" computer at the library, etc.
- There may be some confusion in the Vanderbilt Math Department over
the fact that we used to have two email systems --
one on our department's
server, and one on the university's server. The department's mail server
has been discontinued. Vanderbilt Mathematics Department members
now get their mail through the Vanderbilt email system --
or through outside email systems of their own choosing, such as Yahoo mail, Gmail, Hotmail,
AOL / AIM mail, etc.
first time that you set up Eudora
or any other conventional email program, when you're setting
up your account profile,
look through the options to see if there is an option for
"Delete mail after download" or
something like that. On many of these email clients, that box
by default, and I recommend that you uncheck
That way you can keep your email on the server, and access it
from any client at any location (e.g., from at home, from your
office, and from whatever place you travel to). Also, this
makes it easy to switch clients later
(e.g., from Eudora to Firefox) if you want to.
- Additional information
about configuring email clients
for Vanderbilt University email can be found at
- Most recent email clients
have spam filters that are easy to learn
to use. Many of them are adaptive
-- i.e., they learn your
preferences after a while. But in some of the email programs,
the default setting is "off"; you have to turn the filter on
in order to use it.
And now, here is a list of a few email clients:
Finally, here are a few more programs and links related to email:
- For people using our
university's email system, if they're
not very computer-savvy, I recommend webmail.
It has the advantage
that there is nothing to
install. Presumably you already
have a web browser
installed on your computer -- preferably a recent major browser, i.e.,
recent version of Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, etc. Point it at
this web page:
- If you need compatibility with other programs, then your best bet may be
Outlook (not free) or Outlook Express (free with Windows). I say
this reluctantly, because I think the Microsoft programs are ugly and inconvenient, and
moreover (because they are made by Microsoft) they are a high-priority target for
But compatibility is sometimes worth the trouble. For instance, my cellphone is also a
miniature computer, and the only way I can synchronize everything on it (appointments,
contacts, etc.) with my computer is via Outlook. (By the way, if you have a cellphone that
can be synchronized with your computer, I recommend synchronizing it at least once
a day. Someday one of the two devices will die, and you'll be glad you have a second
copy of your appointments, contacts, etc.)
If you use one of these programs, be sure to keep up to date with Microsoft's
- Before I got this fancy cellphone that forced me to switch to Outlook,
my favorite email client was
a free stand-alone email client from the Mozilla organization.
The current version is 184.108.40.206, which is 6.44 megabytes.
Thunderbird is fairly small, much smaller than Outlook, so it doesn't take up much
memory or hard disk space and starts fairly fast. Also, it is easy to use, and has a nice built-in spam
filter. And it is highly configurable -- you can change the way the program presents
itself, and you can add your choices from among hundreds of tiny little
that people have written for Thunderbird. Thus, you can have a few really advanced and
convenient features that you want, without also adding dozens of specialized features that
you don't have any use for.
Here is a tip for using Thunderbird (or
If you mess up the settings and can't figure out how
to fix it, just start a new profile (i.e., a new username) and then
the old profile. (For other tips see the
- Eudora is a popular email client program named after Eudora Welty,
one of whose short stories was titled "Why I Live at the Post Office." For a
long time, Eudora was produced by the Qualcomm company, and was available
both in commercial (full-featured) and free (limited) versions. You can still
download free version 7.1 from the Qualcomm Eudora website.
May 2007, Qualcomm ceased handling Eudora, and turned it over to the
open-source Mozilla Foundation, which is now developing it, in conjunction with
Thunderbird and a new program named
(for the wife of Odysseus, though I'm not sure why). Actually, there is
some complicated relationship between Thunderbird, Eudora, and
Penelope -- apparently one is a component of another, or something like that; I
haven't understood it yet.
At the time of this writing, you can get the beta release version of
Eudora version 8
(more precisely, version 8.0.0b3).
program for converting addressbooks from one format to another.
It may be helpful if you switch clients, provided you're switching between
two clients that Dawn is familiar with, in versions that it's familiar with. However,
Dawn is a little old, so it might not work with the newest email clients. (Here is a simpler
method that you might try first: See whether your old email client has an "export addressbook"
command, and you new email client has an "import addressbook" command. If they do,
each will have a list of a few file formats they can work with. See whether they share at
least one filetype.)
converts your email address (for your web page)
to a form that still works the same way for human
users, but doesn't work for the computer programs used by most
Result: Supposedly, you get less spam. (I'm not sure whether this
Some other programs working with the same idea are
Email Link Creator (OELC) and
is a list
of links to all sorts of other email programs
X Window System
"X Window" is the graphic interface used by Unix computers.
An "X-terminal" is a terminal which connects to the
Unix computer, generally using an X Window program.
The terms "X Window" and "X Terminal" are also sometimes applied
to programs that you can run on a Micrsoft Windows computer
to make it act like an X Terminal. Such programs are also
known as "remote control programs", because they enable
you to run the Unix computer remotely -- i.e., from another
of our department who run such a program
can use their personal computers as graphics
terminals for Atlas, thereby making available
to themselves some of our department's advanced
software -- e.g., Mathematica.
The copy and paste commands for Unix are not
quite the same as those for
- To copy
the X Window screen to the Windows clipboard,
drag the left mouse button.
- To paste
text from the Windows clipboard to the
X Window screen, click the
second mouse button.
(That's the scroll wheel on some mice; the middle button
on other mice; the right button on mice that have only
two buttons and no scroll wheel.)
VNC (Virtual Network Computing) means using your personal computer as a terminal,
including graphics, for a remote server. Several free programs are available for this purpose.
Personally, I have not yet tried
UltraVNC, but -- just judging from its web page -- it
looks like it has been recently updated and is easy to install and to use. File transfer is one of
the included features, so you might be able to dispense with your FTP / SFTP programs.
Installation and usage instructions can be found at
in a couple of Youtube videos located at
Version 1.0.2 can also be downloaded from that page. Version 1.0.4 release candidate 17
is also available, and is quite recent; I would guess that version 1.0.4 (final release) will
be available fairly soon.
Since I have not yet tested UltraVNC, I will mention two other programs that do roughly
the same thing; if one of them doesn't work for you, you might try another.
One is RealVNC, which
is in some sense the "original" VNC, or at least it is being developed
by the original developers; its viewer has more options than TightVNC
does but I don't understand all the options. I have not investigated it much either.
The one program that I have tried extensively is:
Version 1.3.9. (235 kb). Its usage is not entirely self-explanatory. I will explain this program (including
its installation) in somewhat
greater detail than most, so that people in my department can install it themselves
Most people will not need all components of the program; all they'll need is the
"viewer" (235 kb). This program does not require installation.
Now, after you've installed the program, here's how to use it,
(These instructions are just for people in the Vanderbilt Mathematics
Department; people logging into other servers will need to use other
Those are all the essential steps to using the TightVNCviewer. But
here are some additional steps you might consider
if you're going to be using the program frequently:
- Start up a secure telnet session -- not using TightVNC, but
using some other program (e.g., Putty or SSH Client). Log into your
account on apollo or artemis (or atlas, but I'd recommend apollo or artemis if you're going to
- When the server gives you a
command prompt, type
(The idea is that you're going to run the program "vncserver" on apollo or one of the other servers,
and then you're going
to run a version of "vncviewer" on your Windows computer.)
- The first time you use VNC
Server on apollo (or artemis or whatever) , it will prompt you for a password.
(I'd suggest using the same one you used to log into the server, since that
way you don't have to remember another password.) On subsequent
uses of the program on that server, you will not be prompted for a password.
will be stored, in encrypted form, in a hidden file named
- Wait a few seconds, and apollo (or whatever other server) will respond with a message.
It will display many lines, but you can ignore most of it; all we really
need to look at is the last part of the last line.
"schectex" (my username), you'll see your own username. And instead of the number "3",
you'll probably see some other number. Keep track of that number; that's the only
information we're really looking for.
Warning: apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:1 is taken because of ... (etc.)
Remove this file if there is no X server apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:1
Warning: apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:2 is taken because of ... (etc.)
Remove this file if there is no X server apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:2
New 'X' desktop is apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:3
Starting applications specified in /home/schectex/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/schectex/.vnc/apollo.math.vanderbilt.edu:3.log
- Now click on the icon you put on your desktop -- i.e., the shortcut to the program
TightvncViewer. It will bring up a box like the one shown in the picture at right.
In the box labeled "VNC Server:", you should type
(or replace 3 with whatever was the number you found in the preceding
Actually, in all times after the first time you do this,
you won't have to type very much; the box will already be filled in with
whatever value you had last time you used the program. So probably
all you'll have to do is change the number after the colon.
- Then click on the "OK" button.
- Wait a few seconds, and you'll be prompted for
your password. Type it in.
- Wait a few more seconds, and your
X-terminal session will start up.
- Now you can use the X-terminal. Reminder:
The copy and paste commands won't work quite the same as
in Microsoft Windows; see my earlier discussion of this.
How to close the session when you're done with it.
- In your X-terminal, find the logout command. It's
probably in the popup menu at the left end of the unix toolbar.
- Close the VNC Viewer
program on your Windows computer.
- On the telnet session,
again changing the number after the colon as needed.
(Note that there is a space before the colon.)
- If you're done with the
telnet session, close that too.
If you don't like the size of the X-terminal on the screen,
you can get a different size. The command
"vncserver" gets the default size of
1024x768, but (for instance) the command
gets a width of 940 and height of 700.
If you're going to be using a command like this fairly often,
you might want to
add a line
like this to the ".login" file in your apollo home directory:
After that, just typing "vs" on your telnet screen wil issue the
vs 'vncserver -geometry 940x700'
pages are just textfiles in a markup language (see introduction
to markup languages), so you can
edit them using any plain old text
editor -- even something simple like Windows Notepad. But they may be
easier to edit if you use some special program designed
especially for editing web pages.
Here are some of the features I look for:
- Syntax color highlighting
-- different parts of the file
are shown in different colors.
- Tag buttons, laid out
conveniently so that you can just
click on a button to insert some text such as
Preferably, if the text that you're inserting consists
of both a begin-tag and an end-tag (as in the example of
Blockquote), then those tags should surround whatever
you had highlighted before you clicked the button.
- I like to use a few tags
that usually aren't included
among the "standard" tags that appear on buttons in most
html editors. (For instance,
is for "no break", which I place around any mathematical
formula.) So I prefer an editor which includes some
Many, many html editors are available for free.
Here are a few that I've selected because they look
promising, though I haven't tried most of them
color high lighting?
layout of buttons? (in my
definable tag buttons?
||This is my current
favorite. The buttons are
arranged in a very intuitive way, to make it
easy for a beginning or intermediate level
web designer to write HTML.
Not compatible with Windows 2000, unfortunately,
but at least it will do Windows 9x and XP. No longer supported.
++2004 [1.73 mb]
||This is my second
though I haven't tried it for very long.
Its layout of buttons is very intuitive.
This program has built-in syntax highlighting
not only for HTML, but for a number of other
markup and programming languages, including TEX. It
doesn't have buttons for inserting tex code, but I
suppose you could supplement this with the "Latex macros"
program. So perhaps this program could also be used as
an editing shell for latex. Personally, I don't
think the advantages of having one editor for
both HTML and Latex are significant; I'd rather
get two separate editors that are both as good
as possible. But your needs may differ from mine.
The spellchecker is not internal -- it just links
to Microsoft Word; and even if you have
spellchecker doesn't work with tex files.
[6.57 mb, ver. 1.0]
||NO, but the button bar is somewhat
||This one is an open source project.
Using it, you can switch between several different
displays: the source file (edit the markup HMTL),
preview (WYSIWYG), and two compromises
between those extremes, "normal" and
"HTML tags". Switching between those
displays is a bit slow, but this is only a beta;
maybe later versions will be faster.
This program uses some ingredients
taken from the Mozilla project. ... I like this program,
but one peculiarity it has is that the WYSIWYG
editor adds lots of extra
carriage returns to the source file; you'll see them
when you switch to HTML mode.
[7.6 mb, ver. 0.7.10]
||NO, but the button bar is somewhat
||This is an "unofficial" variant of NVU, intended to overcome some of NVU's bugs.
||NO, but you can copy your favorite buttons
the other bars onto
a "favorites" bar
||I'm not really
familiar with this one. One feature is a
huge collection of optional
plugins -- apparently you can
features you want to add, so the program remains small and
fast but will probably still serve your needs well -- if you
know what your needs are. Basic features are free; additional features if you pay for registration.
|1st Page 2006
||Can be started in
"Easy", "Normal", "Expert", or "Hardcore" mode;
so this might be a good program for someone who is
Cold Fusion), Java. I haven't tried the new version "2006" yet.
v2.5 [4.1 mb;
omitted from the CD]
||I'm not familiar with
this program, but apparently it's
an editor for both HTML (web pages) and SVG (scalable
It looks very fancy and very professional.
Notes 1.19 [1.17 mb; omitted
from the CD]
||Fair. Most commonly used buttons are on the
more commands are in the pull-down "insert" menu.
can customize 5 buttons so that
clicking on each of them inserts a textfile of your
choosing, but that text will replace,
any text you've highlighted.
||This program hasn't
been updated in several years; you
might prefer it if you like old-style programs or if you
have an old computer. It starts very fast -- you could
use this as a "notepad replacement", particularly if you're
keeping an HTML file on the Active Desktop. Also,
this program does a fairly good job of converting
an RTF file automatically to an HTML file.
See discussion of RTF
(the office suite) includes a
WYSIWYG (what you see is
approximately what you get) web editor.
WYSIWYG editors are easy to learn to use --
you can actually
see the results on the screen while you're editing,
and you don't need to learn all sorts of arcane special
codes, such as the fact that <b>
means "begin boldface"
means "end boldface". The web pages
that these programs produce look okay,
but the HTML code hidden behind those web pages tends to be
inefficient and "dirty". For instance, they may insert separate
explicit font specifications for every line of the
page. These inefficiencies mean the resulting web page
may have a filesize 5 times larger than would be
the case for a hand-written HTML code, so the page
takes 5 times longer to load. If your recipient has a
fast internet connection, that's not a problem; but if
they're still chugging away on a 56K modem, they may
not enjoy it. See my discussion
processors and text editors.
[545 kb, ver 1.2j] is a program for checking the links on your website,
to see that
none of them are broken (i.e., pointing to other web pages that no
Unfortunately, Xenu and other such programs cannot detect
another common problem with websites: A link's domain may
have been purchased outright and redirected; thus the link
may point to something entirely unrelated to what it used to
- Fastmenu is the program I used as part of the
margins, etc.) after the program is done.
It has the advantage that it is compatible with most major browsers (including Konqueror, which is widely
compatible with Konqueror). Fastmenu is fairly inexpensive, and it is free for
schools and nonprofits.
- You may find various graphics
editing tools helpful in editing
your web pages.
is a spell-checker which we discuss further in
our section on TeX
since 4spell is able to spellcheck TeX files. We mention
it here because it is also able to spellcheck HTML files.
The specifications for MathML 2.0 were released by the World
Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
in February 2001, and they're now working on MathML 3.0
MathML is "a low-level specification for describing mathematics as a basis for machine to machine communication."
Ultimately, it is intended not only for high quality display of mathematical content, but
also for presentation of mathematical content ---
i.e., the presentation of usable coding that can be copied and pasted into mathematical
software such as Tex or Mathematica. More information about MathML, including
browser-specific information, can be found
on the W3C's website about MathML.
(That web page also includes links to information about other methods, besides
MathML, for displaying math on the web.)
Recent versions of some major browsers have been designed
to display some MathML-encoded web pages, though (i) the initial offerings of these
browsers concentrate on display rather than content, and (ii) in some cases the
user of the browser must install additional software (e.g., fonts) that, though available
for free, are not included in the default installation of the browser. To see whether
your current browser needs additional fonts or other add-ons, you might try
going to this test page
or this online book.
My own impression is that MathML is not ready for widespread use, because you
cannot yet count on your audience using a MathML-equipped browser. My recommendations
for displaying mathematical content on the web are (i) use gif images, which can be viewed
in any conventional browser; or (ii) use PDF documents, which at least can be downloaded
by any conventional browser. I can recommend MathML for two smaller groups of people:
(a) people who wish to experiment with the latest technology, and (b) people who
have a more narrowly specified audience -- e.g., a researcher who is communicating with
specific colleagues, or a teacher who have instructed his or her class to download, install,
and use some particular web browsing software.
Browsers: Internet Explorer & its relatives(Other
browsers are covered later on this page.)
or MSIE for short,
has become something of a Standard. I don't like to use
it, because it has lots of security flaws and it crashes
fairly often, and just when I was starting to get used to it Microsoft suddenly
made big changes in its appearance. But some websites are designed
for it and won't display properly with anything else.
(One solution is to use Firefox with the "view as IE"
plugin installed; see later on this page.)
I am no longer keeping a copy of Internet Explorer's
installation files on the department CD, as it has simply
gotten too big, and too dependent on what other programs
you also have on the same computer.
If you're going to use IE,
make sure you have the
latest version, together with its latest updates
and security patches -- that won't make you
completely safe, but it will make you safer than
if you don't have them. ---
If you're going to use Internet Explorer, here is a tip that you might
find useful. In its default setting, when you use "open in new window"
(mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago), the new window isn't maximized.
I prefer to have all my browser windows maximized. Here is a way
to change IE's default setting so that every new window is
1. Use "Open in a New Window" in the usual fashion (i.e., not
2. Keeping that new window open, close all your other IE windows.
3. For that one IE window that is now open, maximize it "manually",
by dragging the edges of the window to the edges of the screen; do not
use the square maximizing button in the upper right corner of the
4. Close this window, using the close box.
5. All IE windows should now open maximized.
result you get isn't really maximized -- you can tell by the
button next to the "close" button in the upper right corner of
the window -- but it's the same size
as maximized, so it's just
as useful for most purposes I can think of.)
If you have a recent version
of the Internet Explorer program installed on
your computer, then -- even if you don't use that version -- some
other programs can use parts
of that program.
A number of programs have been designed to do this.
Generally they run a bit faster than Internet Explorer itself,
and they may also offer extra features. Many such programs
are available; here are just a few of them:
Mozilla, Netscape, & their relatives
If you're excited about open source software,
you can read almost
daily news about the Mozilla project. The Mozilla community was very
excited during the years when it was overtaking Internet Explorer.
those who want it, the old Classical
"classical" Netscape is still available; the final version was
version 4.8 (22.7 megabytes). But there was
no version 5, and starting with version 6 Netscape began a "new
which is an entirely new program, not just a revision of the old
Netscape. Here, are the main members of
this new family of browsers:
For a while, Netscape was based on the preceding version of Mozilla.
That was true up through Netscape version
7.2. In version 8, Netscape
went off in a peculiar new direction -- browser only, with none of the
other features (hence a smaller file size), but mixing together features
from Mozilla and Internet Explorer. I have not bothered to follow the
Netscape browsers since then.
is an integrated combination of web browser, email client,
and web page editor. The current version is
11.4 megabytes; version 1.7.13. But that's from
April 2006; work on this program apparently has stopped. Which means that using it might be a security risk.
Mozilla efforts are going into their other projects -- Firefox, Thunderbird, etc.
People who want to use MathML with
Mozilla should install the free Fonts for MathML-enabled Mozilla.
Here are some tips for both Mozilla and
Firefox: If your program stops working, it may be because you
have installed some incompatible or defective extensions or
add-ons. One way to get access to the program, so that
you can disable or remove those extensions, is as follows:
Go to Windows "Start" "Programs" "Mozilla" (or "Firefox") "Safe Mode".
This will start the program without loading your usual
extensions. --- If you still can't get it to work, here is another thing
Create a new profile (and then delete
old profile). To get to the profile manager, first exit the program
(using "file...exit", not just the X in the upper right corner of the
Then run the program from the "Run" prompt, with " -ProfileManager" at
the end of the command line -- e.g.,
(formerly known as "Phoenix" and "Firebird").
This is just a browser -- no email or other components.
It's my favorite browser, and it seems to be growing in popularity
among many other poeple too; it's been winning all sorts of awards.
The latest "stable release" is
version 3.0.1, size 7.15 mb,
but it's getting minor updates fairly often.
If you ignore Firefox's "extensions," then (in my opinion)
you're overlooking the best feature of the program.
To keep Firefox fairly lean and simple, its designers followed this
idea: Instead of packing every possible feature into
the program, build it with a few really good basics, plus
the capability of adding whichever features YOU choose
from a very long list. And people keep adding to the list
all the time.
The extensions are quite easy to install (though
creating a new extension of your own would take some
Most of the extensions can be found on the "official" list at
but occasionally you may see someone mention an extension not on that list.
Some of my favorite extensions, for the current or recent
versions of Firefox, are as follows: [this list updated 1 Nov '07]
- Add Bookmark Here 2 -- makes it easier to preserve whatever kind of folder hierarchy you've got for your bookmarks. When you want to bookmark the web page that
you're currently viewing, don't just click on "bookmark." Instead, go into the bookmark folder where you want the bookmark to be added, and click on the "Add bookmark here" tab.
- Add to Search Bar -- Any search form on any web page can be added to the pull-down search list on your browser. By the way, here are the search engines that I use most often: Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo, IMDB, Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com, Amazon.com, Youtube, Alternet. But you can get lots more search engines at
- Close Button - Adds a Close Tab (or Window, or Browser) button to the toolbar. There are other ways to close the tab, of course, but I like to have a close tab button too.
- Context Search -- Highlight a word or phrase on the web page and then right-click on it. One of the items that will come up in the resulting menu is the option to search for that word or phrase in any one of the search engines that you've put in your pull-down search list.
- deskCut -- right-click on any blank spot on a web page, and one of the options offered in the resulting menu is to put a shortcut to this web page on your Windows desktop.
-- similar to Internet Explorer's "Send shortcut to desktop". (You can also make shortcuts by dragging the icon from the left end of the address box onto the desktop, but that may require resizing your browser to reveal some blank desktop space.)
- Firefoxmenubuttons -- you can add lots more buttons to the menu bar. But only the ones you want.
- IE View or IE View Lite -- right-click on the page that you're currently viewing in Firefox and select this option, and up will come Internet Explorer with the same page loaded.
I use Firefox most of the time, but once in a while, if I encounter
a page that doesn't seem to be displaying correctly, I try IEview,
to see if the page displays better in Internet Explorer.
-- I store my name, address, email address, etc. in this program's
little database. Then, whenever I'm filling out a form on the web
(e.g., making a purchase or signing a petition), I just click in the appropriate places
instead of having to type everything in. To store information
(after you've installed this program), go through Firefox's
main menu via "Tools" "Extensions" "InFormEnter" "Options".
- Menu Editor -- If you use as many add-ons as I do, your context menus are going to get crowded. You may want to arrange what shows and what doesn't, and in what order.
- PlainOldFavorites -- Use Internet Explorer Favorites directly from Firefox. No need to import, export or synchronize - the same Favorites appear.
- Tab Mix Plus -- enhances Firefox's tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. It also includes a full-featured session manager.
- Unwrap Text -- (1) Unwraps a multi-line URL and opens it in a new tab. (2) Unwraps a multi-line street address and opens it in Google maps.
[5.42 mb, ver 1.5] is based on Mozilla.
It is a trimmed down version, optimized for speed. It is customizable -- i.e., many
of its features can be adjusted or turned off. Also, it has a macro language, so
people with just a little skill in programming can easily add their own macros.
[ver. 9.5] runs smoothly -- it's done
professionally. It was an ad-supported product,
but as of 20 Sept 2005 the main
version of Opera became a free product, with no ads.
(It's supported by revenues from the versions other
than the main one.) Some people say this program runs
faster and more smoothly than IE or any of the Mozilla/Netscape
browsers. (I haven't tried it long enough yet to give an
opinion of my own.)
By One browser
[0.98mb, ver 3.5.d] is extremely small, and runs well even on a very
old and slow computer. It never crashes. It is a bit limited
ftp, flash, or SSL. In short, it can't handle fancy web pages.
But will do text, basic graphics, and simple tables, so it
is adequate for many purposes.. It can download files that
are posted with the
"http" format (but not with the "ftp" format).
It can handle some bookmarks/favorites, though not quite as
conveniently as the major browsers. ... [Added 2005: new version
of OB1 includes tabbed browsing. Cool!]
By the way, if you like OffByOne, you'll
want to increase the
length of its Hotlist. This capability seems to have disappeared
in recent versions of the documentation, but it still works.
Open up the textfile "C:WINDOWS\OB1.INI" with an unformatted
text editor such as Notepad (NOT with Word). In the section
under "[Properties]", add a line that says
"HotlistSize=20" (omitting the quotes). Or use any
number you like; but 20 is a reasonable size. -- You can
also edit the hotlist itself, which appears later in
the same textfile; be careful to preserve the format
in which the data is arranged.
is a non-graphical
browser -- i.e., it only does text. (Omitted from the CD.)
Just imagine your favorite browser, but
without the pictures. (It also can't handle
It's less fun than a graphical browser,
but it may be adequate for much
of the actual work
that you need to do online.
It's very fast, even on slow old computers.
Available in one version for 32-bit Windows (Windows 95, 98,
NT, and perhaps also 2000 and m.e.) and another version
for Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS.
This is a port to Windows,
so for more information you may also want to look at
the web page for the Unix version.