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We recently e-mailed a correspondent some requested information. As several files were involved we compressed and combined them into a single “zip” format file, which was a lot smaller than the original files and much more convenient to send. Our correspondent answered with thanks, but indicated that he had no idea of what to do with the zip attachment. We had assumed that everyone knew that a zip file consisted of one or more files in a compressed archive and required one of many zip utility files to extract the underlying files back into their original condition. We converted the file to a self extracting .exe file and sent that to him. The next e-mail again thanked us but asked how he could read the Word for Windows file that his older word processing program couldn’t understand. We reformatted that file into a format that he could read and also recommended that he get a copy of something like Conversions Plus, a $100 suite that zips and unzips, enables a PC user to read and convert files created by an Apple Macintosh and a variety of PC-based word processing, spreadsheet, database and graphics files, even though that user doesn’t have the creating program on his computer. CONVERSIONS PLUS Folks with a fast Internet connection can download Conversions Plus 13 megabyte file from the developer’s Web site. We got Conversions Plus Suite on CD-ROM, and the program, which is said to require 20 megabytes of free hard disk space, installed automatically. The program comes with a small but concise manual, and free — but not toll-free — technical support is provided to registered owners weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Eastern time. Once installed, the program establishes the Windows associations to become the default program for reading and extracting .zip files and becomes available to read a wide variety of word processing, spreadsheet, database, and picture and graphic formats common to the PC world and some common to the Apple Macintosh world. Once the file is open for reading, the user can convert it to some other supported format. The program is available with a right button click whenever you have selected a file from the Windows Explorer or, as far as we could figure out, at any point when a file is selected within the Windows file management system. The biggest problem we had with Conversions Plus was that when we archived a group of files with the program’s DropZip facility, the resulting archive automatically took the name of the first file in the group. It was, of course, no problem to rename the file once the archiving was completed. The biggest disappointment we had with the program was that it doesn’t seem to read Microsoft Publisher files. In general, if Conversions Plus cannot read a particular file format it will, if you wish, convert the file to ASCII characters and display those. It won’t interpret an HTML file as a browser might, but it will open the HTML file as a text file (which it is, of course) and display the HTML content and coding. If you don’t already have a good zip program, Conversions Plus will do the job. If you already have a good zip program, the various PC format file readings and conversions and ability to read Apple Macintosh formats and files alone make it a program well worth having around, just in case you need it when you can’t read a file that a client sent over the Internet or on a floppy disc. SUMMARY Conversions Plus Suite is a handy reading/conversion program for files with strange formats and includes an easy to use Zip/UnZip utility if you don’t have one of those. DETAILS Conversions Plus Suite. Price: Single User: $99.95. to $1,799.95 for 30-user license. Requires IBM PC or compatible running Microsoft Windows 95/98, 2000 or NT 4.0. DataViz, Inc. 55 Corporate Drive, Trumbull CT 06611. Phone: (800) 703-0030 or (203) 286-0030. Fax: (203) 268-4345. Web: E-mail: [email protected]

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