Software FAQs

What are some browser plug-ins that will aid in my online experience?

Plug-ins are software that add functionality, such as viewing a document, listening to audio or playing a video, to your Web browser. Their purposes range from adding music, video and animation to Web pages to allowing users to access files that weren't designed to work through a Web browser.

Below is a list of essential and most common plug-ins. The process for downloading and installing a plug-in depends on its maker, so follow the directions on the plug-in maker's Web site.

All of the plug-ins listed here are available to download for free. Some offer advanced versions of their plug-ins for a fee, but in most cases the free version is all you'll need.

Essential Plug-ins

Adobe Reader - This program allows you to read Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. This is a stand-alone application as well as a plug-in, which means you can use it to read PDF files that you have saved to your computer without using your Web browser.

realPlayer - The realPlayer is used to play streaming audio and video. Many Web browsers come with some version of this player. You need to download it to listen to Internet radio stations or news broadcasts among other things.

Adobe Flash Player - This player is needed to view Flash multimedia files. Most Web browsers will have some version of this plug-in. Flash is used to create items such as virtual tours and animations.

Adobe Shockwave Player - This player is needed to view Shockwave multimedia applications. Shockwave is very close in functionality to Flash, but used when more advanced features are needed, such as online interactive courseware or demonstrations.

Java Plug-in - This plug-in is used to run Java applets (short application programs for performing simple, specific tasks) and applications through the Web browser. It is only for Windows systems. The Mac OS X has Java built in, so the plug-in is not needed. Sorry, there is no Java Plug-in for older versions of the Mac OS.

Other Useful Plug-ins

QuickTime - This plug-in is used to view QuickTime movies. QuickTime is a video file format created by Apple computers.

Windows Media Player - This is used to play many different media file formats.

Which antivirus software should I use?

You have two choices when it comes to antivirus software—commercial software, which will have support from the publisher, or freeware, which is good if you are on a tight budget but may lack the bells and whistles that come with the commercial products. Several choices from each category are listed below.

Commercial Antivirus Software 

Freeware Antivirus Software 

How can I limit pop-ups and spyware?

Pop-ups are annoying, and spyware can slow your system performance to a crawl and leave you exposed to hackers. Here are a couple of applications to keep you in control of your computer.

Ad-Aware - Software that detects and removes unwanted shareware/freeware, which may cause your Internet connection to run slower.

Spybot - Search & Destroy - Spyware/adware removal software to protect your online privacy and at the same time to eliminate advertisement pop-ups during Web surfing.

What productivity software will aid in my online course?

Google Pack - The Google Pack is a suite of free software applications, including many of the applications needed for a safe and enjoyable time on the Web. For a complete list of the available applications, see their site.

Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007 - This software allows you to open PowerPoint presentations even if you don't own a copy of PowerPoint. The viewer will let you view existing files, but not create files, and is completely free.

OpenOffice - This complete open-source office suite is free for anyone to use and can open, edit and save most formats including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

WinZip - This software is needed to create and open zipped (compressed) file archives.