USDA Farmers' Bulletin No. 2277: Computers on the Farm, by Deborah Takiff Smith is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here: [LINK TO TABLE OF LINK]. How to Select Software - Checklist for Evaluating Software
The key criteria for selecting good software are the following: Does it meet your needs? Does it do what it says it will do? And does it have good support documentation?
Here are some factors to consider when evaluating and comparing software:
Documentation. Look at the "documentation" or the written (paper) materials that come with your program. These should explain clearly what the program does and what you have to do to use it.
Ease of Use. Is the program fairly easy to use? Does it guide you through the program?
Instructions. Another factor you should consider in evaluating software is the instructions. Are there instructions in the program or in the written documentation? Are they readable? You should be sure you understand how to operate the program.
Help. What help can you get if you run into problems? Does the program have a "help" function? When you don't know how to answer a question or need help, can you turn to a separate part of the computer program or to a part of the accompanying documentation to answer your question? Is there a company phone-in service you can call if you need help?
Some software programs may come to you with bugs (errors) in them. Find out what backup services are available. Is there a hotline you can call for help if the program has a problem you can't solve? Does the company provide updated versions periodically? Are they free or at nominal cost?
Compatibility with Hardware. Is the software compatible with hardware you already have, or does it run on an operating system you can use with your hardware?
Some computers use tape cassettes, like audio tape you use on a tape recorder. The most standard storage medium for programs and data is the floppy diskette, which looks like a soft phonograph record. The diskette comes in several sizes—the most common are 8 inches and 5¼ inches. A newer possibility is the 8-inch hard disk. The hard disk may be used for storage, but you buy the software on a floppy disk and transfer it.
Memory. Does your computer have enough memory to run the program?
Recommendation. Does the program come from a reputable source, or does it come with a recommendation from someone you trust?
Effectiveness. Does the program do what you want it to do correctly and consistently?
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Smith, Deborah Takiff. 2019. USDA Farmers: Bulletin No. 2277: Computer on the Farm. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59316/59316-h/59316-h.htm#How_to_Select_Software
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