Saturday, June 2, 2012



I recently received this question and thought I’d share: “This is probably a stupid question but it is one that I am about to pull my hair out with. I am into the digital scrapbooking and am trying to download and install fonts that are stored in ‘zip’ files.  My question is this:  What are Winzip files and how do I use them?”

There is no such thing as a stupid question.  . . . Actually, that’s not true.  Why, someone once asked me if I could translate a computer’s processor speed from megahertz to miles per hour. But this particular question isn’t stupid at all. So, please stop abusing your hair for a moment and read on.

WinZip is a computer program that can group and compress files so that they take, on average, 50% to 70% less space and, therefore, take 50% to 70% less time to download from the Internet.  When you download and “unzip” this computer file, the same algorithm reverses the process and restores the file to its original form.

The story behind the creator of zip compression is morbidly interesting. The original technology was developed (or stolen from others depending on who you believe) by a fellow named Phil Katz back in 1986.  Mr. Katz called this technology “Phil Katz Zip Program” or PKZip. The product’s popularity exploded among users of Electronic Bulletin Board Systems – one of the precursors of the World Wide Web. Money started pouring in to Katz and, almost overnight, the former loner and computer hobbyist found himself rich, famous and mildly disturbed.

Most of us would handle sudden wealth and fame pretty well but personal struggles and alcoholism quickly took their toll on Mr. Katz. In 1997, authorities obtained a search warrant after Katz’s neighbors complained about odors, insects and mice at his luxury condominium. Authorities said they found knee-deep garbage and decaying food. 

Katz’s lawyers paid the city of Mequon, WI, about $8,000 for the cost of the cleanup, pest exterminators and legal fees.  In April of 2000, after a string of DUI’s and other brushes with the law, Phil’s dead body was found in a luxury hotel room at the ripe old age of 37. He still had an empty bottle of Schnapps in his hand. The death was caused by complications from chronic alcoholism.

I’m sure that is way more than you ever wanted to know about zip files but the truth is, I needed some interesting fluff to fill this column because zipped files are actually quite simple to deal with. Windows has built-in support for "zipped" files. To uncompress a zipped file, you simply double-click on the file and it will open a folder containing the contents of the unzipped file. From there, you can click on an icon to install software or, in your case, copy the new fonts to your fonts folder.

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