Computer aided design is fun and for many of us a necessary skill. Whether or not you need to know your way around a CAD program, many of us can and will find a use for one, as time goes by.
Unfortunately, most CAD programs cost rather a lot of money. Far too much for those of us on limited budgets to afford one just for play, small jobs or casual learning. QCad offers a chance to get your feet wet on 2D (two dimensional) CAD for free. If later you need to progress on to 3D (3 dimensional) drawings, you may need to buy one of those expensive applications but, for those of us with only limited use in mind, QCad will make the nut. Gail turned me on to QCad and I've been using it now for two weeks, rather intensively. It's a stable application with enough features to meet all the needs of many of us. So far, I have not found one feature I needed that it didn't have. It even prints well!
QCad is open source (and free of charge) and runs on Windows, Mac OS X and many *nix platforms. See it at; http://www.qcad.org/index.php3 While the application as currently offered is rather full-featured and will do for many of us, it is still under development and features will be added as time goes by. Documentation is available and of a fairly high quality.
So far, I've only used the Windows binaries, but by all reports, the application is just fine on all platforms it is offered for. I'll put it on my Linux machine soon and if there's any reason for concern or problems, I'll let you know in this space.
Ribbonsoft, the company that puts out QCad, also has several other products for sale or free download. Among the free ones is ManStyle, an application for creating HTML help pages. I'm checking that one out now. You may wish to, also.
There are a lot of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) applications available for the various Windows platforms. Deepak recommended SmartFTP to me and I've used it with complete satisfaction for several months now. The program is free for personal use. Find it at
The user interface of SmartFTP is highly customizable and yet in it's default form easily understood by the new user. Being on dialup, I especially appreciate the reliable resume features of it, as unexpected disconnects rarely spoil a download (assuming the server in question supports resumption of incomplete downloads). If I am cut off, I can resume where it failed and still be assured of the integrity of the download.
I've been more pleased with this FTP program than any other under Windows, ever. It really is that good. If this one doesn't suit you, it won't be for a performance issue. As I stated before; there are a lot of good FTP programs out there and I've not tried them all. This is my favorite, though.
Though all versions of Windows give you the ability to capture the display screen and save it, this results in rather huge bitmap files that then usually have to be cropped. Because of this, my wife and I use a screen capture utility. There are a bunch of these around. The one we use is called ScreenRip32 and is available at;
This is a fine utility and we are very happy with it. According to the developer, it supports Windows 9x, NT and 2000. I have run it on XP Home with no problems, also. As is usual with my recommendations, it is free.
Because there is such a variety of screen capture utilities, here is a link to webattack.com where you can see many others also available for free, should ScreenRip32 not suit you.
© 2003 Jack Imsdahl
© 2002 - 2004 by On Computers and the Videotex Services Coalition.