This is my site for links to Genuine Free Stuff as well as some useful advice. I use most of these programs regularly. It's good gear. It's all worth having.

** April 2014. Major revamp and update for relevance happening, especially now that support for Windows XP has ended, and now that we all are addicted to our Android phones. A lot of old stuff is going.

This post in particular started this whole website...

I have been building and using computers since about the Ice Age, from DOS 3 through to Windows 7.
I have been mucking about with mobile phones for quite some time, using Symbian S60 and then Android.

Press F8 at boot to start in safe mode - Windows XP and 7
To see the details of you computer, download, install and run 'Speccy' - shows Operating System, Firewall, Anti-virus and hardware.
If you think you have a virus, start here 'Free Online Virus Scan'. Try any or all, and be patient.

October 12, 2010, the fact checker for the internet.

This one's a beauty. This website will let you check just about anything you can think of.

Here's the link -

File that one away for future reference.

Cheers. Si.
Checked for links and relevance, April 2014 - still an absolute cracker of a site. What a lot of work !

September 29, 2010

How To choose a new phone - for mobile phone handset reviews.

Here's my latest tip if you are looking for a new mobile phone.
A lot of my friends ask me... How do I choose a new mobile phone. I direct them here to read.

GSMArena - I always come here for in depth phone reviews when buying a new phone.

Here's the page for the HTC Desire specs, and there's a link under the picture of the phone for the full review.

This is the best site that I have found for phone reviews.
How do I choose a new phone ? Read the reviews first on

Connected. Cheers. Si.
Checked for links and relevance, April 2014.

September 14, 2010

Turn Windows Updates ON, repeat ON.

Here's today's very important piece of advice. Turn Windows Updates ON, not off, ON.
** April 2014 - still relevant except that Windows Updates is now built in to the Control Center of Windows

Now that's a little obvious for a topic for a blog post, but I have just debugged yet another friend's computer. They could barely use it because all their software was out of date and they had weird pop-ups etc.

They were still using Internet Explorer version 6. They couldn't even view some websites because of this.
They now have IE 8.06 as well as Firefox and Google Chrome to play with as web browsers.
Their original one year anti-virus had lapsed. They now have free Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus which is up to date.
But worst of all, they had turned off Windows Updates because they were 'annoying'. Sigh. My father does this too (hi Dad.)
They now have Windows Updates turned ON and they have all the latest Windows Security Updates, Windows Malicious Software Removal Tools, Windows updates for Word, Excel etc, and all the other good and useful things that come with those updates.

Check yours now !
Click on Start-Control Panel-Security Center and make sure that Automatic Updates are ON.

Grab all the updates. Reboot. Grab all the updates. Reboot.
Make another cup of tea and do it again.

Cheers. Si.
Checked for links and relevance, April 2014. Still very relevant for Windows XP and Windows 7

September 12, 2010 - to publish your blog posts to Facebook, Twitter etc

Here's my latest thing I have just joined up to use. ''

Here's the link -
It's pretty easy to use. One or two clicks, and add a link to your blog.

Try it out. It's a good way to publish your blogs to other outlets.
Cheers. Si.

September 7, 2010

How To make your own mobile phone themes with Ownskin

Here's a good website if you want to personalize your phone. Ownskin.
Use their online program to make an entire theme for your phone.
You can use your business images, pics of the dog, racing cars etc.
You can alter the color of all the text, battery and signal bars, etc.


Here's what it looks like.

I have used this to make a few Star Wars and Matrix themes to stick on my old Nokia 5500.
The end result is a .sis file that I transfer to my Nokia using Nokia PC Suite.

Here's another theme. Note the icons, signal strength bars and panel colors.

It's easy enough and good fun.

Cheers. Si.
Links checked April 2014

August 8, 2010

How to change your right click context menu using TweakUI for Windows XP

Here's a very useful post for you. Change your right click context menu using TweakUI.
Here's my right click menu.

Here's the link for Microsoft Windows XP Downloads

Here's what you can do with one of these tools called TweakUI.

"This PowerToy gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more.
Version 2.10 requires Windows XP Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2003. "

I use this to change my right click context menu.
A lot of software will automatically install itself in your right click context menu.
Use TweakUI to have only what you want in there.

First up, download TweakUI from that above link and install.

Then run TweakUI.
Start-All Programs-PowerToys-TweakUI

Here's the menus. Select 'templates'.

Click the ones you don't want and delete any rubbish added in by new software.
Create new ones for whatever you use regularly.
Have a good play with this toy. It's very useful.

Keeping it clean. Cheers. Si.
Checked April 2014 for link and relevance. Still valid for Windows XP

August 7, 2010

How to write a simple Batch Job to rename large groups of files. Windows XP and Windows 7.

Here's my nifty trick. This will probably be the most useful post on this site.
Seriously, I am letting you in on trade secrets here, so listen up.
This is a clever trick. No messin'. You gonna love this one, kiddies.

Say you have a whole lot of, oh, JPGs, you know, full of propriety knowledge.
Or maybe some 'flv' or 'mp3' videos you treasure. You wanna keep them safe.
You wanna hide these files from anyone else messing with you computer.

Cut and paste them all to some secret folder, say in a sub-folder of Windows or a game like Half Life 2. Anywhere really.

Write yourself two batch jobs...
One to rename them to hide them and one to rename them to expose them.

Here's how.
Right click in that same folder and make two text files. They must be in that same folder.

Call them something not too obvious, not like mine. Maybe 'rn g to b.txt'. (rename good to bad)
Type in each exactly what I have typed. You can copy and post this below if you like.

in one text file
rename *.mp4 *.ttl

in the other text file
rename *.ttl *.mp4

Then rename those as the file extension '.bat' which is a Windows Batch Job.
If you need to change these batch jobs, right click on them and edit with Notepad.

You old crusty jugglers who started off hacking your computer with DOS will know those commands.
The 'rename' command renames whatever you want.
The * means all. So this batch job will rename all files of file extension 'mp4' to the random 'ttl'.

This tiny one line batch job will rename every file with extension mp4 to same file name but with extension ttl - a random picked extension, which makes the files unrecognizable and hence unsearchable.

Here's the pic - batch job has run.

Running the other batch job renames them as mp4 videos.

You can rename a hundred JPG files with a one line batch job and keep them safe from a search from curious hackers or mates or mothers or girlfriends ...

Do you realize the significance of this ?!

Incidentally you can also rename all those file names (not extensions) in one go, especially if they have naughty names.
Type CTRL-A or just drag and highlight them all.

Then right click on just one file and rename that one.

All the others will then be renamed to 'same name(1)' and 'same name(2)' etc as shown.


It would be wise to rename these secret naughty files as 'systemfile' or 'windowsdata' or something similarly arcane.
Also see yesterday's lesson on how to hide your personal files.
Your secret files are all safe now. Who's your daddy ?!

Your secrets are safe with me. Cheers. Si.
Checked for relevance April 2014. Still the best trick out there.

August 6, 2010

How to hide your personal files, pictures, JPGs, WORD documents etc. Windows XP and Windows 7.

Here's one of my secrets. This is how I hide my files if needed.

One way is to simply mark them as 'hidden'.
First, put that file or folder in a place where you won't lose it. Cut and paste it into some secret place.
First make sure that you have elected 'do not show hidden files and folders'.
Go to 'My Documents", select Tools>Folder Options >View>Do not show hidden files and folders

then ... Folder Options >View>do not show hidden files and folders

Then, right click on that file or folder and select Properties, and mark Attributes as hidden.

See ? Gone. Not deleted, just 'hidden'.

until you show all hidden files here at ...
Tools>Folder Options >View>Show hidden files and folders

Hidden to the average user, but not to some hacker.
That's lesson one.

Another way is to rename that file.
Say I have my stupidly stored my passwords in a text file called 'passwords.txt'

Incidentally text files are very useful as they will not store fonts or formats, just plain text.

To rename it completely I right click on the file and select 'rename' and change it to 'systemfile.ggg". You will see a pop up message about changing attributes, but click OK.

Click OK

The result is an unrecognizable, unreadable and unsearchable file.

Firstly, "password" has gone, so anyone doing a search of your computer will not find this keyword. 'systemfile' is a wonderful general file name to call something you want to hide.

Secondly, this is now an unrecognizable 'file extension', so will also not show up on any searches.
See for info on file extensions.

To read you file, rename it back to a legitimate file extension of 'systemfile.txt'

Clever boys and girls. Go practice that one.

You can rename a large group of similar files using a very simple batch job, but that's tomorrow's lesson.

Helping you hide your secrets. Cheers. Si.
Checked and relevant. Apil 2014