2014


o s
nearlyFreeSoftware for Android     
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help for Vista     

w i n d o w s    8
introduction                 
free programs             
procedures                 

h o m e   p a g e s
computing for nothing?     
recommended sites         
prognostications           
contact me                
d o n a t i o n s
My hope is that everyone who reads this site saves some money and gets a more reliable computer from the advice on it.

If you feel this site is worthwhile a donation will help cover some of the expenses.

Email and Paypal information is available in the 'contact me' link above.
s o u r c e
I don't normally keep copies of programs on this site - instead there are links to the download pages of the copyright owners. This means you always download an up-to-date version of the program. While I don't have any use for continual updating (change = trouble) it seems reasonable to start a new install with an up-to-date version.

The exception to this rule is if I can't find the original author's site.
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F R E E    P R O G R A M S


s e c u r i t y    &    m a i n t e n a n c e
For a computer to be secure it must also be well-maintained. Checkout the 'processes' section of this site to see how to maintain an installation of Windows8. The only cost involved is a little time every couple of months.

Security:
If you're going to connect a computer to the internet there are four forms of security you must have:
   o   Firewall - controls the flow of data in and out of your computer,
   o   Anti-virus - examines data for virii as it arrives on your hard drive,
   o   Anti-malware - used to identify and remove unwanted programs and popups (malware),
   o   Anti-spyware - used to identify and remove programs which report on your activity (spyware).

In practise there's a lot of overlap in the four definitions above. Virii can be both a virus and spyware. Likewise the functionality of the programs to defeat these threats overlaps considerably so you may not need them all - judgement call.

Maintenance:
This is a matter of checking your computer for:
   o   The accuracy of the operating environment,
   o   Unwanted programs loaded and stealing resources,
   o   Unwanted drivers
   o   A healthy filesystem

Most of this can be done with tools already in Windows7 but the addition of a Registry Checking program is essential and an Advanced Task Manager is useful.

    F i r e w a l l
Description - Controls network traffic to and from your computer and protects from net-bourne attacks.
Recommended - Privatefirewall.
Comment - This is better than the Windows8 firewall but it needs to be properly setup on installation. Its possible to set this up without needing to read instructions so that part is good. The interface is simple and easy to use but it does do the job. It also includes a process version checker which you can can turn off if its too much of a nuisance.
Usage - Should be started when the system starts and then run continuously. Do not allow auto-update.
Download - here

    A n t i - v i r u s
Description - Prevents virus-laden programs being installed on your computer.
Recommended - Avast Free Antivirus
Comment - I've been using this pretty much since it was invented in 1988 and only ever had one viral problem. That was when i overrode its installation reccomendation.
update: I'm not quite as enamoured as I was with Avast, its become a lot more aggressive with nag screens and advertising but its OK if you put it in silent mode.
Usage - Should be started when the system starts and then run continuously. Always allow auto-update but turn on the 'delay after start' feature.
Download - here

    A n t i - m a l w a r e
Description - Can remove malware programs and pop-ups from your computer.
Recommended - Malwarebytes' Anti-malware.
Comment - I've used this on several clients computers. It works well under XP and Vista. It installs and scans under Windows 8 but I've not had the chance to use it in anger yet.
update 2014: Still true after 18 months of use.
Usage - Run only when in difficulty with unwanted popups and an uncontrollable internet browser. Run a manual update before use.
Download - here

    A n t i - s p y w a r e
Description - Can remove spyware and logging cookies from your computer.
Recommended - nothing installed
Comment - This can be dispensed with if you set your browser to refuse all cookies except from websites you approve or if, like me, you set your browser to delete everything when it is closed. Accepted cookies should be on a 'per session' basis only.
Usage - checkout the 'procedures' page
Download - here

    R e g i s t r y     C h e c k e r
Description - Can examine the Windows8 registry and correct parts which are causing problems.
Recommended - Eusing Free Registry Cleaner.
Comment - This is a recent aquisition for me, but it seems to be working well.
update: It turned out this was a renamed and updated version of the program I had been using for the last four years. Ah well... On its first run under Windows 8 (after 18 months) it found 257 problems which is not a lot. I selected 'repair' for all of them and the system still boots. That seems good to go. update 2014: still good.
Usage - Run a scan once a month and always after uninstalling a program. Run a manual update before use.
Download - here

    H a r d    D r i v e    S M A R T    R e a d e r
Description - Can read the performance log information stored on your hard drive and give you a good idea how long it has to live.
Recommended - CrystalDiskInfo
Comment - This is a recent aquisition.. I've now had it installed for 6 months and its working well under Windows7 - recommended. You have to install it manually or it turns into adware. Installation goes like this:
   o   Download the 'Standard Edition' (2.7MB)
   o   Open the zipfile in WinRAR
   o   Created a folder in 'Program Files (86)' called 'CrystalDiskInfo'
   o   Extract only 'DiskInfo.exe' into the the new folder
   o   Extract only the 'CdiResource' folder into the new folder
   o   Create a shortcut to the executeable on the taskbar
Usage - Take a look once a month - it only takes a second or so. It gives an idea of how well your hard drive(s) is working, how hot its getting, also whether its likely to go belly-up in the near future.
Download - here

    A d v a n c e d    T a s k    M a n a g e r
Description - Displays information about programs and processes running on your computer. A good one will allow you to control the programs which start with your operating system.
Recommended - Anvir Task Manager Free
Comment - Another recent aquisition. I'm quite impressed with it. There is a small nag message in the program header.
    Works fine in Windows7. See if any programs are using a high proportion of your processor cycles or if there are any strange processes.
    Use it to check your auto start list - out of 54 programs which have tried to put themselves in my Win8 'auto startup' list I allow 4 to run. I did think of turning them all back on, just to see what happened but I decided I wasn't that much of a masochist.
    update 2014: Well impressed after 18 months under Win8.
Usage - Deselect all the extras on installation, it does try to take over your computer. Run regularly.
Download - here

    B a c k u p    C o p y
Description - Makes copies of your files for safe-keeping.
Recommended - ViceVersa Free
Comment - I've been using ViceVersa for a five years now. It does the job very well under Win8, Win7 and XP.
    Its not a backup program in the generally accepted sense, its a synchronisation program. It makes an exact copy of the folders you select. While copying it compares with previous copies and then copies only the changes, saving a lot of time. Its best used copying complete folders or drives. So you have a data drive you work with and a backup drive which is synchronised when you choose. If you do lose a file there's no messing about 'retrieving' files, you just make a copy from the backup drive.
Usage - Run regularly.
Download - here

    D i s c    C l e a n e r
Description - Removes the information from your hard drive.
Recommended - Eraser
Comment - Why do you need this? When you use the delete command in Windows your file may seem to disappear but the file information remains on the disc. All that happens is the references to your file information are deleted and its space on the disc is marked as empty.
    Those files can be recovered.
    Even a full format of the drive does not remove your file information. To properly delete your data that file must be overwritten with different data. This is where programs like Eraser come in.
    Eraser will overwrite your disk - wiping it completely. It takes a long time to do it properly but if you're selling a computer with a disc in it, its the only way to be secure.
Usage - This is a dangerous program for obvious reasons. I keep a copy of the installer and install Eraser when needed, use it very carefully and then uninstall it.
Download - here

    E n c r y p t i o n    f o r    F i l e s
Description - Renders your information unreadable without a password.
Recommended - Cryptophane/PGP
Comment -     I trust the open source approach to encryption 'cos you've got a lot of people trying to crack the end result. Any flaws or back-doors would soon become public knowlege.
    Cryptophane is an easy-to-use Windows application that works with GnuPG It supports public/private and symmetric key encryption.
    If you need to put private information on the cloud the symmetric form works well. Of course if their server crashes and your files are wiped it won't help at all, so you still need local backups.
    If you need someone to send you private information, you send them your public key and only you can decrypt the resulting file.
Usage - Once you've got your head around how it works its easy enough.
Download - here

    E n c r y p t i o n    f o r    D r i v e s
Description - Renders your information unreadable without a password.
Recommended - MS Bitlocker
Comment - Bitlocker encrypts entire drives. If the computer/drive is stolen, access is impossible without a password up to and including access using an external boot. Who would trust Microsoft to produce a security product? Well, me actually. The reasons go like this:
   o   MS claim the product has no back doors. If it later turns out that there actually are, it will cost them a great deal of credibility and money.
   o   Lots of hackers and professional engineers dislike MS and would happily publicise any flaws or foibles in their products.
   o   MS offer a reward system to anyone who can break the security of their products.
   o   MS are a load of idiotic tosspots - Actually MS engineers are among the best of the second-raters (the best go to the glamour companies; SpaceX, Tesla, Google, Arm, Intel, et al.) The problem with MS is its designers, most of whom couldn't find their arse with both hands.
Usage - DON'T write down the password and DON'T save the recovery information, except in a Cryptophane file.
Download - Part of Windows 8 Pro.

    C D / D V D    B u r n e r
Description - Burns CDs and DVDs.
Recommended - DeepBurner Free
Comment - A small program which is simple to use and does its job well. Can burn a collection of files or an ISO onto CD/DVD. Works fine under Win8.
Usage - As required.
Download - here
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o f f i c e
These days office programs tend to come in small collections. Typically you get:
   o   Word processor - for mainly linear text-based documents,
   o   Spreadsheet - for sequential connected calculations,
   o   Database - for collections of related data,
   o   Presentation - used to produce mainly text-based slide shows.

In addition there may be one or more of a number of other programs including:
   o   Graphics - a simple drawing program,
   o   Flowchart - a program to lay out process flow diagrams,
   o   Database - for collections of related data,
   o   eMail - a program used to access pop-based email services,
   o   Organiser - appointment and contact related database program.

Other useful office-type small programs are included with Windows 8 eg; a character mapper, a calculator and a jotter. In fact you could add any number of programs as being useful in an office environment.

    O f f i c e    S u i t e
Description - A collection of programs for office-type tasks.
Recommended - OpenOffice.org
Comment - OpenOffice.org is a collection of five programs:
   o   Writer - the word processor,
   o   Calc - the spreadsheet,
   o   Impress - the presentation/slideshow product,
   o   Draw - the graphics program,
   o   Base - the database.

       Its written by Sun Microsystems and a huge array of other contributors, so its not exactly a fly-by-night operation. Its easy to use and as capable as 98% of users will ever need. It can read MS Office formats and can be set to default to them if required.
       Although I'm talking about the Windows version here you can find exactly the same software in most major Linux distributions (not Puppy).
       Works fine in Windows8. What more can I say? I've given it a reasonable hammering. For letters, articles and other smaller items its fine. If you try to import larger formatted files from docx it'll screw it up. But it does that in XP as well.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow auto-update.
Download - here

    D e s k t o p    P u b l i s h e r
Description - A page layout program.
Recommended - Serif PagePlus
Comment - This is a new aquisition for me. Its a desktop publishing program which works well and has everything required to produce professional results. You need to register with the publisher to enable the program after installation but the email address I used for that remains spam-free.
    Update: Getting a little spam now - three emails a month from Serif.
    Update02: Getting a little more spam now - ten emails a month from Serif.
    Update03: Put in an auto-delete for anything from Serif.
Works fine in Windows 8 but you have to set it to run in Win7 compatibility mode.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow auto-update.
Download - here

    F o n t    M a n a g e r
Description - A program to help you choose and manage fonts.
Recommended - The Font Thing
Comment - Over a career of many years of technical writing I've acquired fonts like a dog acquires fleas. There are 1000 installed on my main computer. Some sort of manager was badly needed.
    The Font Thing displays fonts by type (serif, sans, mono, deco etc) and displays samples which help you to choose the right font for the job. You can look at folders full of uninstalled fonts and install the fonts you want. You can look at the list of installed fonts and remove fonts no longer required. First class.
    Works in Windows7 though you do get an error message when it starts. Then it works perfectly.
    update: If your version of Win7 allows, set FontThing to run as WinXPv3 compatible.
Usage - Use as required.
Download - here

    F o n t s
Description - Source of free fonts.
Recommended - Urban Fonts
Comment - This is not a program, its a website. Its a good source of interesting free fonts, some of which are well known. Unfortunately I am not allowed to link directly to the site, but the address is shown below.
Usage - Use as required.
Download - at www.urbanfonts.com
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t e l e p h o n e
These are the programs your telecoms company is fighting to convince you not to use. The technology is called Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Simply put, its the transmission of a conversation without the use of a telephone. Since 'landline' telephones have always been a major ripoff money spinner the telecoms companies are fighting a desperate rearguard action to keep them in use.

Free VOIP programs do the same job as a landline telephone plus much more:
   o   voice phone
   o   video phone
   o   instant messaging
   o   sms messaging to mobile phones
   o   chatlines
   o   conference calls
   o   voicemail
   o   contact list
   o   call logfile
   o   free calls to another VOIP anywhere in the world
   o   cheap calls to landline phones
   o   cheap(ish) calls to mobile phones
   o   hifi sound quality when calling VOIP to VOIP
   o   hands-free calls

When I first started using VOIP programs I found I could call a friend a mile away for a quarter of the price my telco was charging and the sound quality was a revelation. That's on a call routed via the USA (I live in the United Kingdom).

They are so good there have been rumours that the telcos (who also supply broadband connections) are going to interrupt or delay internet packets generated by VOIP programs. I've seen no evidence of this yet.

To use a VOIP program you'll need to add a microphone and loudspeakers to your computer, although you may find a headset is easier to use. A webcam is optional. If you want to call landlines and mobiles you'll need to create a prepay account with the VOIP program company and load in a few pounds.

    V O I P
Description - Does everything listed above.
Recommended - Skype
Comment - USE WITH CARE
   In December 2010 Skype started a regime of hidden and compulsory updates. I didn't spot this until May of 2011 when I started Skype and it immediately started downloading code. The only way I could stop it was by killing the download process in task manager. This is the sort of behaviour I expect from a program taken over by a piece of malware, hence the panic. So for five months Skype had been downloading and modifying code on my computer without my knowledge. When I complained about it on the Skype forum my access to the forum was cut off after three posts.
   In October 2011 Skype was bought out by Microsoft.
   The hidden updates have ended as far as I can tell. On my PCs I use a very old copy of Skype on which updates are turned off and which was still supported last time I tried it. All my Skype calls are now made under Android which seems to work as well as Skype ever did.
   There's still nothing to touch it if you have friends in other countries.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update. Skype is available for Android and Windows smartphones.
Download - here
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e m a i l
Backgrounder - email comes in two flavours:
   o   web-based,
   o   internet-based.

Web-based email requires starting an account with Hotmail, Yahoo, Google etc. and logging on to a page on the Web to access your mail. I have used this form of email but never been keen on it for obvious security reasons. Your emails are retained on the internet server of the email company. If files aren't on your own computer they are at the mercy of someone else's security. A recent occasion when my Yahoo account was hacked caused me to shut it down for good. Not recommended.

Failing that you need to start an account with an internet service provider. Your broadband subscription will almost certainly include an email service but that can bring its own complications. If you change broadband supplier your email address and account go down the tubes.

The best option is to have an independant email account. Buying a website and address gives you this automatically, as well as being an email/website address of your choice.

    e M a i l
Description - Creates, collects and displays email messages from a pop3/smtp mail service.
Recommended - Thunderbird
Comment - I've been using this for a while now and its an adequate pop3 mail client. Its not as smooth as Outlook 2007 but its free and much safer than leaving your mail on the internet.
    Update1:    I've now had one of my pop3 email accounts hacked. Don't use weak passwords on Facebook! Most of all don't use the same password for anything else.
    Update2:    My impression of Thunderbird is now much improved, I now think its better than Outlook 2007. It handles multiple accounts well and with the 'Silvermel' add-on it looks very good.
    Update3:    Thunderbird now has a Calendar/Task add-on called Lightning. Recommended. Make sure T-Bird is updated to at least v3.1 before installing Lightning.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here
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a r t    &    g r a p h i c s
Art and Graphics programs are fairly closely associated with Office programs. There are two main kinds of pictures on a modern computer.
   o   Bit-mapped (rastor) pictures - where every pixel (dot) of a picture is described.
   o   Vector based pictures - where pictures are described by lines and fills.

Each requires its own type of program to display and edit it. However vector graphics is now really the preserve of the professional, so I'll confine myself to bit maps.

I like to keep three kinds of bitmap picture editor on my computer:
   o   A powerful editor which can do pretty much anything,
   o   A fast 'viewer' type of program with very limited editing facilities,
   o   Something beween the two, which I end up using most of the time.

    P o w e r f u l    P i c t u r e    E d i t o r
Description - Capable of running complex filters and multiple layers.
Recommended - Gimp
Comment - Let me quote from the Gimp website:
"GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc."
   Nothing I would disagree with there. To get a better idea of what it can do look at http://www.gimp.org/about/introduction.html
   Although I'm talking about the Windows version here you can find exactly the same software in most major Linux distributions (not Puppy).
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow auto-update.
Download - here

    M e d i u m    P i c t u r e    E d i t o r
Description - A picture editor which can do most things most of the time.
Recommended - Paint.NET 3.5
Comment - I'm very impressed with this. The gamma control in particular. The one thing it doesn't have is a screen grab facility.
       Works well on Win8. Unfortunately lack of a screengrab was critical for me.
Usage - Use as required. Don't auto-update.
Download - here.

    P i c t u r e    V i e w e r
Description - Fast and lightweight picture and slideshow viewer.
Recommended - Irfanview
Comment - This is probably my longest-serving program. It was originally recommended by Jerry Pournelle in the early days of his trail-blazing blog "Chaos Manor". It is one of the few programs I know which has grown more powerful over the years without losing its focus and starting to bloat and slow down.
   Simple to use and deceptively sophisticated.
Usage - Double click on a picture to expand or contract it to full-screen. Roll the mouse wheel to index through all the other pictures in the folder. Use as required. Does not auto-update.
Download - here
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m e d i a p l a y e r s    &    c o d e c s
Media player conjours forth visions of a program which plays sound recordings and videos. My idea of 'media' also includes; photos, comics, newspapers, magazines, novels and anything else which might reasonably be included. I would like one player to play them all. Failing that a graphical archive of all my media which calls relevant players transparently and updates automatically.

Well its a nice thought.

    V i d e o    P l a y e r    &    C o d e c s
Description - Plays video files.
Recommended - K-Lite Mega Pack (Media Player Classic)
Comment - This downloads a package of updated codecs and Media Player Classic. It has the ability to replace a couple of other players - let it! The Codecs are updated regularly on the website so return visits are recommended. I use it only to play video. Although it is a perfectly capable audio player it doesn't have a database.
    Release 5.8 had a tendency to crash explorer.exe, the WindowsXP shell program. This is now fixed - in release 5.8.2 or later. As ever change=trouble, however there is genuine development work happening in these codecs, they get better with each release.
    update 2014: We're now up to release 10 and going strong, with only a few glitches along the way. Modern codecs can compress high definition video to a remarkable extent.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    A u d i o    P l a y e r
Description - Plays sound files.
Recommended - MS Windows Media Player 11
Comment - Yeah, I know. But MS had to get something right and this has the best graphical database/archive for audio files I've yet seen. I use it only for audio because its control of video images is not good.
Usage - Set it up carefully and strangle its accesss to the internet as much as you can. Block it with a firewall. Use as required. Don't let it auto-update. It is, just about, worth the aggravation.
Download - here
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t e x t    r e a d e r s
What I'm referring to here is the sort of program which presents a page of text on the screen. It sounds like it ought to be easy, but unfortunately it isn't.

Text readers are really another sort of media player (likewise picture viewers).

The problem here is there are several different formats and no universal player. Not that I can find anyway. There are seven main formats and two dead DRM formats which were quite popular. I've listed the players by the three letter filename suffix:
   o   .cbr, .cbz
   o   .epub
   o   .mobi
   o   .pdf
   o   .doc
   o   .rtf
   o   .htm (aka .html)
   o   .txt
& unfortunately:
   o   .lit

If you can't see the suffix on your computer look at the processes section on this website where I describe how to turn it on.

    . e p u b ,    . m o b i    P l a y e r
Description - Plays most e-book files.
Recommended - Calibre
Comment - Calibre can read a number of eBook formats and convert some. It can read non-DRMed .lit books. However my favourite format at present is the mobi format 'cos this can be copied to an Android phone and read there. Needless to say Calibre can read .mobi too. Calibre also manages a database/archive of your books and is thus partway to being my dream reader.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    . c b r ,    . c b z    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .cbr & .cbz files.
Recommended - CBR Reader
Comment - Not text but a picture reader. In my defence .pdfs can be the same thing. This format is used for comics and manga. I'm not really pleased with this player its zoom facility is very unsophisticated, but it does the job.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    . p d f    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .pdf text files.
Recommended - Foxit Reader
Comment - Invented by Adobe as a 'universal' format, it has never been as common as the Microsoft .doc format. Adobe's own reader (Acrobat) has long since suffered from the bloat and the format itself has become over-complicated for its purpose. However its still common enough that you will need a player for it. Most magazines are in .pdf format. Foxit is light and fast. It does have a small nag message.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    . d o c    &    . r t f    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .doc & .rtf text files.
Recommended - OOo Writer
Comment - Any number of programs can read these files. If you've installed Open Office the 'Write' word processor will let you read both formats. Word processors don't make the best readers, they forget where you were and have far too much clutter. They do the job though.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    . h t m    &    . h t m l    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .htm & .html text files.
Recommended - Firefox
Comment - .htm and .html are the same thing. Primarily they are used for the pages of websites but many books are encoded in this format. Use your web browser to read them. Again its not ideal but it gets the job done.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    . t x t    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .txt text files.
Recommended - Notepad
Comment - Notepad is part of windows and as long as you're using WindowsXP or later, the old file size limits of 54KBytes don't apply. What the new limits are Microsoft is very coy about. I did some practical tests and couldn't find a limit. You can also use OOo Write to read .txt files.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - not required

    . l i t    P l a y e r
Description - Plays .lit text files.
Recommended - Microsoft Reader (RIP) - see Calibre above
Comment - Now defunct. Microsoft dropped the format like a hot potato in 2012 leaving their DRM-based files unreadable.
This was my favourite reader. The advantage of this format was that Microsoft did a version of the player which ran on a windows smartphone using the same file format. So you could read your novels on your smartphone. Surprisingly enough it worked well on the small screen and very well on a desktop computer. Its loss is one of the main reasons my current phone is Android-based.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update. It works without 'activation'.
Download - here
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b r o w s e r s
One of the main problems designed into MS Windows has always been that the program which provides the user shell (the menus and mouse/keyboard interactions) is Windows Explorer. Along with some extra parts this program is also used to browse the web as Internet Explorer and browse files on the computer as Windows Explorer. I've always been under the impression that Microsoft only did this so they could claim the browser was part of the operating system. There is, of course, no reason why it has to be.

Unfortunately it does mean that any problem with the web or file browsers tends also to crash the user interface and thus the whole computer. So its better to use any browser other than MS Internet Explorer. If possible, browsing files with a program other than Windows Explorer is recommended.

Whether Microsoft ever fixed this with Vista or later I neither know nor care.

    W e b    B r o w s e r
Description - Displays website pages from the internet.
Recommended - Firefox
Comment - Of the available web browsers I chose Firefox fairly early while I was having trouble keeping WindowsXP going. I have had no reason to change.
        There are two add-ons which make Firefox into a killer app (nearly): Adblock Plus and Flashblock. They remove advertising and the jittery jumpers caused by Flash. My only complaint with the developers of Firefox is that they should hold their new versions until matching releases of Adblock Plus and Flashblock are ready.
Usage - It does need to be carefully set up. Refer to the Processes section on this site. Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    F i l e    B r o w s e r
Description - Displays the folders, files and programs on your computer.
Recommended - UltraExplorer
Comment - Perhaps a bit over-complex but you can't deny its all there.
Usage - Use as required. Does not auto-update.
Download - here
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f i l e    s h a r i n g
Despite misleading pronouncements by the music/movie distribution bandits and the government, it is still legal to share your files if you want to. I do this myself. Look on my personal website and on deviantArt.com

What isn't legal is to share files copyrighted by someone else.

If you are tempted to download someone else's copyrighted files remember this: files cannot be downloaded to your computer without knowledge of your router/modem's ISP address. It doesn't matter whether you use proxies, spoofing or rely on peer-to-peer anonymity, your router/modem's ISP is on the internet and can be tracked.

Note also that if you use WiFi without encryption other people can log onto your ISP and download files, some of which may be illegal. There is no way in which data trackers can tell where these downloads originated after your router/modem. The powers that be may try to blame you for these downloads.
Many people turn off WiFi encryption because it slows the network down too much - up to 75% depending on the type of encryption you use. If you should turn off your WiFi encryption make sure you have disabled file and printer sharing on your firewall.

Addendum:
April 2010 - The impressive british government has now passed a law which makes a person renting bandwidth from an ISP liable if someone else hacks into it and downloads software which is copyrighted by the media distribution bandits. It bypasses the legal system to make the ISP companies into a private police force/court system who must examine their customer's activities on the internet and enforce punishments. What a wonderful country...

    e D 2 k / K A D    C l i e n t
Description - Share files on this system.
Recommended - eMule
Comment - I've been using this for a while now and it works well.
Usage - For eMule to work well you need to open ports in your firewall for it. Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here

    B i t - T o r r e n t    C l i e n t
Description - Share files on this system.
Recommended - µTorrent
Comment - I've been using this for a while now and it works well.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here
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g e o g r a p h y
I'm a bit out of my remit here but Google Earth is an impressive piece of kit.

    M a p p i n g    P r o g r a m
Description - shows 3d mapping and photos of the whole planet.
Recommended - Google Earth
Comment - It takes a powerful computer with a good graphics card and good broadband connection to run it well.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow it to auto-update.
Download - here
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d e v e l o p m e n t
This is a selection of programs for writers of website code. In particular if you write raw code using JavaScript and HMTL of one flavour or another you may find these suggestions useful.

I use the following collection of programs for specifically for coding:
   o   editor
   o   monospaced font
   o   syntax checker
   o   ftp client

Although most of the other programs on my computer are pressed into service at one time or another when I'm building a website.

    E d i t o r
Description - A multi-featured code editor.
Recommended - PSPad
Comment - Until quite recently I used an editor which had syntax highlighting and not much else. Just a couple of months ago I found PSPad. I was very impressed, I switched immediately and this site has been written with it. The features which impressed me most include:
   o   project orientation
   o   syntax highlighting
   o   syntax checking
   o   hidden character display
   o   ftp client
   o   a well arranged toolbar

This program has probably halved the amount of time it would have taken to produce this site.
Usage - Use as required. Do not allow auto-update.
Download - here

    M o n o s p a c e    f o n t
Description - A code-oriented font.
Recommended - DejaVu mono
Comment - What's a code oriented font? Its one where you can easily tell the difference between the characters:
                  0 and O
and
                  1, l, I and ¦

If you're using MS Windows this text is in Tahoma, a proportional font. Its not bad, though its difficult to work out which is which in the 0 - O combination. Anyway I prefer a monospaced font for coding. DejaVu mono at 8 points is a good fit on a 24" 1080p monitor. It takes the load off working out what's on the screen and leaves you free to write.
Usage - Use as required.
Download - here

    S y n t a x    c h e c k er
Description - A program to check code validity.
Recommended - PSPad
Comment - I never used these things. I figured that if it worked the code must be OK. My first run was a humbling experience, 150 warnings in 1200 lines of HTML. None of them were show-stoppers but it surprised me how fault-tolerant modern browsers are. Some of the errors were linked of course and some were trivial but the majority were genuine mistakes.

I was in the process of looking for a good, free syntax checker when I came across PSPad which has an excellent one built right in.
Usage - Use as required.
Download - here

    F T P    c l i e n t
Description - A file transfer protocol client program.
Recommended - FileZilla
Comment - Not too much to say about FileZilla. It does connects and transfers as well as it is possible to do them and also has a small database for your connection data. URLs, passwords etc. I've been using it for years and had no reason to get out of the habit.
Usage - Use as required. Don't allow it to auto update.
Download - here
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Last update: 12th June 2014
Site & Contents Copyright © 2001-2014 Gerry Parnham BSc - All Rights Reserved



t h i s    p a g e
security & maintenance
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art & graphics
media player & codecs
text readers
browsers
file sharing
geography
development
u p d a t e s
I update this site on a regular basis, so what's here reflects my current kit.

If you find a broken link or a piece of freeware that no longer performs as I describe, please let me know. I'll sort it out. Mail me by clicking on the 'contact me' link at top left of this page.
p r o c e d u r e s
Microsoft have never had the faintest idea of how to design and explain a user interface, you only have to look at an Apple computer to see that.

I've always complained about how badly WindowsXP is set up when first installed and Windows7 is no better. The icons are jammed together, the taskbar is locked in place and too small to use properly. Though with Windows7 you can at least change the colour. This is caused by the fact that Microsoft is populated by engineers who designed Windows to be an engineers toy, then tried to make it easy to use by giving it big letters.

The best way to make Windows7 easy to use is to run it on a large, high definition screen and then follow my setup instructions in the 'procedures' page of this website.
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