Category Archives: Software

Category containing all information relating to software.

Review: Nuance PowerPDF 2 Standard – great all-rounder at less than half the cost of Adobe

Rating: ★★★★ VALUE CHOICE


  • Inexpensive – sells for around £80 while Adobe’s equivelant is £282 upfront
  • Easy integration with Microsoft Office
  • PDF editor is quick and simple to use if a little basic
  • Wide array of security options including password protection and certificate implementation
  • Easy creation of interactive forms – ideal for making data collection more user friendly


  • UI a tad dull and feels plain
  • Mac version not included (limited version available seperately)

Learn more about Power PDF 2.0

Rendering PDFs is something that is now a lot simpler than it used to be. Microsoft Office has had built in PDF support for some time allowing you to export most documents as a PDF and there are numerous online converters that will translate images and documents into PDFs in a single click. However, the task of actually creating PDFs from scratch or using more advanced PDF functionalities such as encryption, write protection and built-in word processing capabilities is still a premium feature within PDF software. Nowadays, there’s quite a lot of choice in terms of software in this category – with the obvious choice being an Adobe solution, but they’re horrendously overpriced. The question is, can other providers do the same thing for less? I’ve got some new software in my hands to try!

Nuance isn’t new to the PDF market – their previous Power PDF software was well received by critics as a good value choice for working with PDFs. Their recently released new version, Power PDF 2, is designed to build on previous success and provide some new functionality to bring up to speed.

Using Power PDF 2 is a piece of cake. The simple controls along the title bar work in a very similar way to Microsoft Office, providing simple tabs to find key controls. In a similar way, it also has a “ribbon” type menu under the file menu, making usability a key highlight in this program.

You are able to import documents to form PDFs in a number of ways using the simple tiles within the “ribbon” menu, and one of the key new features in Power PDF 2 is the ability to import from and export to cloud services such as Dropbox and Evernote. You can even import multiple documents simletaneously to mould into a single PDF document – great if you need to stick together multiple collaborated files or simply want to stitch together a document and spreadsheet into a report.

All of the usual security features are present and accounted for – with the simple security panel you can encrypt your documents, restrict editing, prevent copying and even create certificates for providing authenticity.

Power PDF 2 also adds new integration into Microsoft Office – making it easy to transport any document, spreadsheet or presentation into the software and apply any advanced functionality a simple conversion wouldn’t offer.

Power PDF 2 Office plug-in

Power PDF 2 adds an easy to access tab to each of your Office applications, making exporting as easy as can be.

One of the most powerful features of the software, in my view, is the ability to really easily create fillable PDF forms from existing documents. Isn’t it really irritating when you’re asked to fill in a document online that you have to print, fill in by hand and then scan? With Power PDF 2, you simply open any document that has space for a user input, select the FormTyper function, and the software automatically works out where text inputs or checkboxes can be filled in. This is almost flawless, managing to work out around 95% of the user inputs in my sample NHS doctor registration document.

Power PDF 2 automatically creates text and data inputs for your existing forms, making them completely interactive in a couple of clicks!

Power PDF 2 automatically creates text and data inputs for your existing forms, making them completely interactive in a couple of clicks!

My only real gripe with the software is the UI and design. Don’t get me wrong – all of the important functions are really easy to access and Nuance have done a good job of going halfway between the Microsoft Office ribbon and the Adobe sidebar controls. It just feels a little dull and uninviting – something I’m sure business users will be undeterred by, but as a home office user, it’s a little uninspiring!

Overall, though, it’s easy to see that the software is absolutely solid. At just £80, it’s reachable for a fraction of the cost of the Adobe Acrobat software while offering mostly identical features. It would have been nice if Nuance had made Power PDF 2 Mac compatible too – but they do offer a cut-down alternative for Apple users (at an additional cost). If you need to use the advanced features of the PDF platform but don’t want to shell out huge amounts of money to Adobe, this is the way to go – and I’ve given it a value choice award for its attractive price tag. Power PDF 2 is avaialble now directly from Nuance and should eventually be availalable from other third parties, too.

Buy now from Nuance direct – best price at time of writing £79.99

Guide: Make almost any printer AirPrint compatible with a Raspberry Pi in 20 minutes!

Got a printer kicking around that you wish had AirPrint? Maybe it’s one you’ve had for several years, or maybe it’s a cheaper one you recently picked up and wished it had support for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In any case, if you’ve got yourself a Raspberry Pi, have 20 minutes to spare and a tiny bit of experience with SSH, you can get your printer working natively in AirPrint in a flash!

It doesn’t matter whether your printer connects via USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi – this trick will still work. I’ll guide you through the process!

Step 1: Ensure your Raspberry Pi is up to date.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll find yourself installing out of date software if you don’t keep your Pi’s sources up to date. Open up a VNC connection with your Pi and then open Terminal. Run the following:

sudo apt-get update


sudo apt-get upgrade

If there are any upgrades listed, type Y and press Enter to continue installing updates. Once that’s done, you can start installing your device.

Step 2: (If you’re connecting via USB) Connect your printer with its USB cable.

If you printer normally connects via USB, now would be a good time to connect it to your Pi’s USB port. If you’re currently connecting your printer via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, run straight to step 3. Don’t panic about unplugging it from about PC that it was connected to before – it’ll be a wireless printer soon!

Connect the printer to your Pi and reboot the Pi with the following command:

sudo reboot

Once it has rebooted and you’re back at a desktop, run Terminal again and then run:


All devices that are connected via USB should be listed at this point. If your printer doesn’t show, make sure it is turned on and functioning normally.

Step 3: Install samba and CUPS.

At this point you can start installing the backbone software that will provide the printer networking. In terminal, run the following commands:

sudo apt-get install samba

You’ll probably see apt asking to install a relatively large number of packages – don’t worry about this, just press and then Enter to continue. When that’s done, then run:

sudo apt-get install cups

Again, you’ll see apt wanting to install an assortment of packages. Carry on as before! After that, you just need to add a printing administrator so that CUPS can manage printers on the Pi. Run the following command:

sudo usermod –a –G lpadmin pi

Step 4: Add your printer. 

You now need to add your printer to your print server. To do this, you need to navigate to the CUPS user interface. Open up a web browser on your Pi and then navigate to You should see something like this:


CUPS admin homepage

Click the Administration tab, then click Add Printer. You may be asked to switch to SSL at this point – just follow the link it tells you to go to. You’ll then be prompted to log in – just use your normal Pi credentials (username is usually Pi and the password either raspberry or whatever you might have changed it to.

Once you’re logged in, you should be given a list of currently connected printers. Find yours in the list – it should show up however it is connected (either by USB or over your network). Select it, then click Continue.

At the next step, give it a name (you can keep the default if you wish), a description (this is how your printer will be identified to your iDevice) and a location (optional). Make sure you tick Share This Printer and then click Continue.

Next, you need to select a driver. With any luck your Pi should have already identified a suitable driver – if not, you may need to scroll through the list until you find a suitable candidate. Then click Add Printer and select any default preferences you may have. Click Set Default Options when you’re done and that’s the hardest bit done!

You can check the printer has been added successfully by heading over to the Printers tab and ensuring your printer is shown. To print a test page, select your printer from the list, click the Maintenance dropdown and then click Print Test Page.


Hopefully your printer is listed at this point!

Step 5: Fine tune a few settings.

A few settings should be fine tuned here to get best performance. Return to the Administration tab and check Share printers connected to this system. If you want to be able to manage CUPS (i.e. add new printers) remotely in future over your network, also check Allow remote administration. Then click Change Settings, the server will then reboot and you’re all good at this point.

Step 6: (Optional) Add Samba support for Windows networking

If you want to use your printer with a Windows device after this setup, you’ll need to activate Samba for Windows. To do this, run Terminal once more and run the following:

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

Scroll right to the bottom and then paste in the following:

# CUPS printing. See also the cupsaddsmb(8) manpage in the
# cupsys-client package.
printing = cups
printcap name = cups
comment = All Printers
browseable = no
path = /var/spool/samba
printable = yes
guest ok = yes
read only = yes
create mask = 0700

# Windows clients look for this share name as a source of downloadable
# printer drivers
comment = Printer Drivers
path = /usr/share/cups/drivers
browseable = yes
read only = yes
guest ok = no

Now, do CTRL and type in workgroup, followed by Enter to find workgroup configuration. Your workgroup is probably already correctly set it if you haven’t ever changed your workgroup before – if you have, set the correct name at workgroup =. Then change wins support = no to wins support = yes.

Then do CTTL + on your keyboard, followed by Enter, to save that configuration.

Restart samba with the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart

Your printer will now work on a Windows network.

Step 7: (If your Raspberry Pi is connected to your network via Wi-Fi) Change a quick setting here.

Skip this step if your Pi connects to your network via an Ethernet cable. If it uses Wi-Fi, you need to turn off power saving for its Wi-Fi adapter to prevent it going to sleep and isolating AirPrint. To do this, you need to edit a file in Terminal:

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/8192cu.conf

Add the following at the bottom:

# No power saving
options 8192cu rtw_power_mgnt=0 rtw_enusbss=1 rtw_ips_mode=1

Then do another CTRL O, followed by Enter to save changes.

Step 8: Install Bonjour for AirPrint

Nearly there, I promise! You now need to install the AirPrint software. This is a doddle, thankfully!

Still in your Terminal, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install avahi-discover

Let that install as normal – this shouldn’t take long! Once that’s done, it would be a good idea to reboot your Pi to let all these settings sink in. In terminal, run:

sudo reboot

Step 9: Test it out! 

All should now be up and running – you’ll be pleased to know that’s the configuration done! Grab an iOS device, open up an email or Safari page, and follow the Share icon until you find a Print option. Hit Select Printer and yours should (fairly quickly) appear. If it doesn’t, don’t panic! Give it a couple more minutes and then try again – it should appear after a couple of tries the first time.

Your printer should appear at this point.

Your printer should appear at this point.

If you click the (i), you might even be able to check ink levels.

If you click the (i), you might even be able to check ink levels.

Select your printer, adjust any preferences you wish, and then click Print. Voila! It might take a few seconds to spool with your printer – this is to be expected.

Once you've chosen the printer, adjust any preferences such as number of copies and page selection, then click Print.

Once you’ve chosen the printer, adjust any preferences such as number of copies and page selection, then click Print.

And there you have it! An AirPrint printer with a little configuration from your Pi. If you’d like to add more printers to your network, you’ll need to return to the CUPS administration panel and repeat Step 4. In any case, you should now have a printer that works over your network and on all of your favourite iOS devices, without the need for any third party app!

FREE Microsoft Office for UK university students!

If you’re a current university student in the UK, you could well have access to full free desktop versions of Microsoft Office through Office 365.

Microsoft says over 99% of UK universities are signed up to the subscription plan so for the length of your studies you can get free access to the entire suite of Microsoft Office suite.

Simply click here to go to Microsoft’s site and enter your university email address. Check your email for a confirmation link, and voila free Office!

You can use the software on up to 5 PCs and/or Macs and the subscription is valid until your studies end. There are also a certain number of colleges that are signed up for the service, so it’s worth checking with your academic email address.

Drop us a comment if you grabbed free Office!

Google Chrome being unresponsive or unusually slow? Here’s a fix!

In recent weeks I’ve been finding my favourite browser, Google Chrome, walking on thin ice. It used to be a seriously speedy browser dancing from page to page… OK, cut the fairy tale. Nonetheless, it was getting increasingly slow performing basic tasks like opening new tabs and launching video playback. It even seemed to cause mouse lag when multiple tabs were open.

Nonetheless, I was fiddling with settings and finally seem to have found a reasonable solution. It seems hardware acceleration has been a relatively new feature for Chrome (available from early 2014-ish). but many seem to be reporting this has led to Chrome becoming slower rather than faster.

Try turning it off using the instructions below and see if it makes a difference.

  1. Type chrome://settings into your address bar. Alternatively, click on the Google Chrome customize button (far top right button in Chrome with the 3 lines, then click Settings)
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click Show advanced settings…
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and find the System section. Untick Use hardware acceleration where available. Chrome will tell you it’ll need to restart, so do that by clicking restart (or closing Chrome fully and reloading it)

Try browsing to some sites now or opening some new tabs. I noticed an immediate improvement myself, but let me know if it makes any difference for you.

HTC releases software update for HTC Sensation/Sensation XE – speeds up boot, fixes bugs (3.33.401.6 / 3.33.401.106)

HTC have just released a software update for the Sensation and Sensation XE. The update, which is described as an “enhancement” update is around 60MB in size and takes around 5 minutes to install. It is listed as version number 3.33.401.6 for the Sensation and 3.33.401.106 for the Sensation XE.

HTC have been rather vague in any improvements/updates that have been implemented. As far as I can see, these are the changes:

  • The “Android is upgrading” phase that occurs when rebooting the phone from ‘cold’ has been removed. The phone no longer attempts to optimize apps when starting up. This appears to have drastically improved boot time – now around 20 seconds from power on.
  • The autocorrect keyboard has had fixes implemented now meaning it works properly again with apps such as Twitter (it stopped working after the initial release of ICS for the devices).
  • Spelling corrections in the UI – e.g. “develop option” now rewritten as “developer options” in the Settings menu.
  • The device now responds much faster from sleep – the initial release of ICS left the device taking 2-3 seconds to respond to a wake-from-sleep request in some instances.
  • Bluetooth streaming appears to have improved on my initial tests – the bitrate of Bluetooth streams was dreadful with the initial release of ICS but now seems to be better, although only time will tell if this is actually the case.
  • ADDED: My phone no longer spontaneously reminds me every so often that it is up to date and that no updates are available.

However, some users are already reporting major issues with Wi-Fi on some devices since the update. According to some users, Wi-Fi will no longer connect properly (especially over longer ranges). I’m not personally experiencing the issue but will report back if I start to run into issues.

Most stock Sensation/XE users should be able to update OTA now. If you’re using a network supplied phone, it may be a little while longer before you receive the update.