2014


o s
nearlyFreeSoftware for Win8
nearlyFreeSoftware for Win7
nearlyFreeSoftware for WinXP
help for Vista

a n d r o i d
introduction
free programs
procedures

h o m ep 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.
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top


P R O C E D U R E S


g r i p e s,w h i n e s&c a v e a t s
Most of the other OS Procedure leads on this site are a potted history of Microsoft's painful efforts at providing a consumer GUI. Its not relevant to this section, thank the lord.

When they started look at what was to become Android, Google obviously took a good look round at what was available and what was required for a consumer computer and set about packaging it into a touch-screen telephone. They designed a highly customisable GUI which in its basic form even the totaly non-computer literate can just pick up and use. If you consider yourself a 'power user' you can add complications to your heart's content. My only criticism is of the 'wobbly wallpapers' which are installed as standard and are a distraction from working the device.

Google kept tight control of third-party apps and using Linux as a base have produced a reasonably secure system with various protections on it (which can be disabled at the user's risk).

So if you don't turn off the protections you can't really break it.

Its so simple you don't have to read the manual.

Do you need an Android procedures section in this website?

No, not really.

f o o l p r o o f ?
No, not that either. It is possible to bugger it up. A good friend of mine on the aquisition of his Android phone, immediately installed a high-contrast photo as the desktop and then couldn't read the words under the icons.
back to the top


a n d r o i ds e t u p
A n d r o i d ' sG U I
You can have a maximum of seven pages and can change which one is displayed by swiping your finger horizontally. One of the pages is designated your 'home' page.

On my screen there are sixteen anchor points on the home page, each of which can display the icon of an 'app'. Each anchor point can also hold a folder which, when expanded, can display further icons. Multiple anchor points may be used to dipslay 'widgets'.

Below this are seven white points which indicate which page is being displayed.

Below that is a row of five 'static' anchor points. These icons do not change when the displayed page changes.

At the top of the page is a status diplay for your computer. Swiping downwards from the top displays the computer's control pages.

At the lower left is a white tab. Touching it displays a side menu which can scroll vertically.

Fonts, colours, background pictures may all be changed at will.

m yh o m ep a g e
Its difficult to see how this interface could be improved on with such a small screen. It is mind-numbingly flexible. I decided what I wanted on my home screen was my 'first thing in the morning' routine. Here's how I set it up:
Weather - widget on top 8 anchor points (I'm British!)
Diary - widget on left four anchor points
Lists - folder on top left anchor (oneNote, myShopi, Lidl)
Rain Radar - internet shortcut top right anchor (Meteox)
News - folder on bottom left (Slashdot, Gizmag, Circa, Japan Daily, BBC, FT)
Funnies - folder on bottom right anchor (Dilbert, xkcd, whatIf)

The bottom five 'static' icons are:
oSkype
oGoogle voice search
oContacts
oPhone
oApps

Side Menu:
oMaps
oEmail
oGmail
oMessaging
oTwitter
oFacebook

And all that is just one page of seven...

s e th o m eb a c k g r o u n d
You can set the background to your phone/tablet to anything you want. Just bear in mind that you need to be able to read the titles printed under each icon and the background will be covered by icons and widgets anyway. I made up 1280x1280 pixel picture of very dark blue at the top fading to medium blue at the bottom that gives me a reasonable home page background.

store your picture in the wallpaper folder on your device ->
tap-hold on unused desktop ->
tap 'set wallpaper' ->
tap 'home screen' ->
tap 'wallpapers' ->
scroll left 'til you get to your wallpaper ->
tap 'set wallpaper'

It's that easy, and so is everything else under Android.

m o v i n gt h i n g s
You can put anything anywhere...

tap-hold on an icon or widget ->
after a second it will jerk and the background will reduce ->
drag the icon or widget to wherever you want it ->

I'm not going to do any more of these.

C o n c l u s i o n
I could witter on for hours about setting up but the essence of the matter is to get everything to where you can find it easily.
back to the top


m a i n t e n a n c e&s e c u r i t y
As I may have mentioned once or twice before; maintenance and security are inseparable. If a computer is well maintained, its less vulnerable and malware is a major cause of slow computers.

As I explained in the Android apps page of this site, there isn't a lot or maintenance to do with Android:
oSet up backups
oRun your updates (Android app updates work!)
oClean the screen

M a k eb a c k u p s
Everyone should have backups.

How you do it is up to you but in my opinion the only way to back up a hard drive is with another hard drive.

With the Android system on my phone I used my existing Dropbox account to save the contents and setup. Its a case of entering your Dropbox account detail in the 'Accounts' section of the phone and then telling the phone to sync.

A hidden file is created in Dropbox which holds your backup info.

C l e a n i n ga nA n d r o i dc o m p u t e r
Wipe the glass with a lightly dampened lint-free cloth.

R u ny o u ru p d a t e s
When the update prompt appears in the status bar, run it.

I've yet to have a problem with updates under Android.

C o n c l u s i o n
Android needs little in the way of maintenance and file safety as opposed to security is built-in for the most part. Modern Android devices are fast, easy to use and not expensive (if you're careful). As a personal computer there is little to match it.

However bear in mind that most of what is stored on an Android phone/tablet/pc is available to snoopers over one or other of its many radio systems and there's no credible way to prevent governments, businesses and various other nosey parkers from poking around on it. You just have to regard information on your device as public information and use the device as such.

back to the top


f i r e f o xc o n f i g u r a t i o n
Firefox is currently the most popular internet browser in Europe - and with good reason. Its quick and elegant and it doesn't crash. Most of all - it doesn't crash the operating system.

An Android version of Firefox has recently become available which brings a number of its advantages with it from Windowsland:
o Advertising suppression, with the addition of an add-on
o Access to your cloud-stored favourite link list.

A d d - o n s
Add-ons provide extra functionality to Firefox. However the more stuff you add the slower Firefox will go. But I find the idea of removing advertising irresistable. I really do hate pictures flickering away in my peripheral vision while I'm trying to read something. In addition most malware gets onto computers through website advertising.

Adblock Plus - gets rid of unwanted advertising - recommended:

open firefox ->
tap 'menu icon' ->
tap tools ->
tap add-ons ->
tap 'browse add-ons' ->
Type "Adblock plus" into the search box and tap '-> icon' ->
tap "Adblock plus" ->
tap add to firefox ->
tap install ->

Once you've got it installed:

open firefox ->
tap 'menu icon' ->
tap tools ->
tap add-ons ->
tap "Adblock plus" ->
make sure "Allow some advertising" is unticked

Sync - synchronises with your favourite links list from your PC(s):

This isn't really an add-on, its part of Firefox. You do need to have set up a Firefox Sync account under Windows before starting this.

open firefox ->
tap 'menu icon' ->
tap 'settings ->
tap 'sync ->
enter your Firefox sync account information ->

back to the top

Last update: 15th July 2014

Site & Contents Copyright 2001-2014 Gerry Parnham BSc - All Rights Reserved



t h i sp a g e
gripes, whines & caveats
android setup
maintenance & security
firefox config
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 or Android computer to see that.

I've always complained about how badly Windows GUIs are set up when first installed but Windows 8 is far worse. The desktop and its taskbar have vanished, to be replaced with an overfull blue launcher screen of jammed together icons. All the setup procedures are hidden and working the thing with a mouse is unbelievably clumsy.

This is caused by the fact that Microsoft tried to copy a (good) GUI for a 4 inch screen directly onto a large screen. It looks really pretty, until you actually want to do something with it. Not only are the icons arranged without rhyme nor reason, having found and used what you were looking for, if you need it again you still won't be able to find it (trust me).

The best way to make Windows 8 easy to use is to replace that launcher.
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top