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.

April 20, 2014

How To clean up old files, old programs and remove browsing history with CCleaner

Here's my latest piece of advice on keeping your computer clean. CCleaner.

CCleaner (was Crap Cleaner) is a useful program.
Here's the link to their home page of Piriform CCleaner

Here's the link to download it CCleaner at FileHippo.

I use it to clean and remove browsing history and temporary files.
It has a one button approach. Nice and easy.
It cleans out temporary files and cookies if you want, from Internet Explorer and Windows.

CCleaner will also clean up files and history from Opera, Google Chrome and Firefox.

It has a registry cleaner, so don't go paying for one.

It also has a program removal tool.
This is very handy for removing those pesky tool bars that every piece of software wants to install.

Use this to clean out all your rubbish before you backup your computer now !

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

April 18, 2014

Free online antivirus scanners. April 2014. Windows XP and Windows 7

This is a useful collection of free external online virus scans.
File this lot away for when you have to debug a computer that's full of viruses.

First up, download and install CCleaner and run it so that you are not doing scans on thousands of junk files. Here's the link - CCleaner  or

Here are the links for the virus scanners. You may need them all.

BitDefender QuickScan

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner

Microsoft Security Scanner

TrendMicro HouseCall Free online virus scan

Also make sure that Windows Updates are up to date

Now go read my post on setting up a computer with free security programs.

Cheers. Si.
Checked April 2014 for link and relevance. Still very valid for Windows XP and Windows 7

April 17, 2014

Defragment your hard drive now. April 2014. Windows XP and Windows 7

If you are reading this, then you probably don't know what "defrag" means.
Read at Ask Leo about "defragging", then get to work.

Over time as your load up new programs and delete others, your files will become sprawling and bloated. You computer will start storing large file over many areas, not just in the one spot.

De-fragmenting a hard drive puts all these files in the one spot and makes it much quicker to load and find files. It's good basic maintenance.

Start at "My Computer."

Right click on the C Drive to open up this box.

Click on Properties of the C Drive.
You can start by using the Disc Cleanup utility, or use CCleaner.

Read that bit again ! Clean up first before you defrag'.

At least you will not be de-fragmenting all your junk files.
Then click on that Tools tab to open up this box.

Then click on Defragment. It opens up like this.

Then click that Analyze button to see this...

Here's my report. I don't need to Defragment my C Drive.
But you can see the blue line of files, red lines of fragmented files, and the white spots of empty space. If you see a lot of red lines, it's time to Defrag.

** As you can imagine, it will take a LONG time to defrag all those files. Do it before you go to bed and let it run for the night.
Check it now and then. Once every few months.
Cheers. Si.
Checked April 2014 for link and relevance. Still valid for Windows XP and Windows 7

April 16, 2014

Best free finance Android apps for HTC, Sony and Samsung phones. Currency Exchange Rates and Gold Price.

Here's my finance apps I've just loaded onto my HTC, Sony and Samsung phones.
Currency Exchange, Gold Prices, Google Finance.

I like to keep an eye on currency exchange rates and the price of gold.
I have a few shares in a gold miner called Silver Lake Resources, you see.

I tried quite a few Currency Exchange apps and settled on this one as the clearest, simplest and easiest to read.
Same with the Gold Price app. I tried five or six, but settled on this one as just what I want.

Here's the link - Exchange Rates

I have set my home currency to Aussie Dollars of course (AUD) and also locked in the USD, IDR, Euro and gold price XAU.

I also use the XE Currenct exchange app.

Here's the link to Gold Price Live if it interest you. Might be good when the party gets boring and you need a conversation starter.

I also use Kitco Gold Prices

I'm also a big fan of Google Finance for my share prices.

Not rich yet. Cheers. Si.

April 15, 2014

Back up your Computer NOW. Windows XP and Windows 7. April 2014

Do you back up your information ?
You should. You must. If you lose all your files you will be very cross.

Let's start with the basics. USB sticks.
These things ...

Look at that - 4 Gigabyte of storage and they are CHEAP. Nowadays the minimum size is about 16 Gigabyte - that's huge. You can put so much on these things.

Go buy two or three and rotate them when you back up. Put them in a clear bag with a scrap of paper stating what's on the stick and a date - "all Word and Excel, April 2014"
I keep a 4 Gb stick for all 'My Pictures'. I have 5500 pictures, which takes up 1.5 Gb.

Plug one into a USB port. (USB stands for Universal Serial Bus).
Go to 'My Computer'.
Rename your stick so you know what it is when you plug it in.

Here I have called mine "backup usb".

Go to 'My Documents'.
Right click on your folders with your important files, and SEND them to the USB stick.

That's it. Easy. Your hard work backed up.

Back up all your Word and Excel documents.
Back up 'My Pictures'.
Back up 'My Music' on a separate big stick.

Here's mine. I do this once a month, maybe once a week if I am busy writing stuff.

Why ?
Hard Drives can crash. The bearings can fail. A fire. A theft.
USB sticks can also fail and die, so I have four and just keep taking turns with them.
You can carry all your work with you.

Backup online - Google Drive and Microsoft Office Live.
You can back up your documents to free online storage sites such as Google Drive and Office Live. These are very easy to use. Drag and Drop or Copy and Paste.

Google Drive is Google's free online document storage and editing centre. Free.

Office Live is Microsoft's free cloud storage.
Office Live is a plug in to Word, Excel etc. which will help you store and share your documents online. Free, of course.

I have my resume and a few other important things stored there in case my house gets burgled or burns down, and also to have them accessible from any computer online.


 Backup online - Google Calender.
Seriously - Google Calendar can be your primary back up facility.
It's free. It syncs to all your Android phones and any computer anywhere. It's all in how you use it.

Create entries that repeat monthly.
Put all your info regarding ...
- your life
- your dog's vet needs and injection schedule
- all your phone bill and contract info
- all your electricity and gas bills and so on
I can put huge amounts of text info in these entries.
I started off with just one three monthly entry for gas, and one two monthly entry for electricity but it was too messy. Lump all similar things in the one monthly entry.

Now you will always have that info handy on any one month. I have...

- one entry for all my subscriptions - magazines, ambulance...
- one entry for all my dogs info - when born, died, adopted, injections...
- one entry for all my house bills - gas, electricity, water, rates...
- one entry for all my medical info - Medibank rates, glasses, injections, dentist ...
- one entry for all my car info - rego, insurance, date purchased and make ...
- one entry for all my mobile phone plans and rates and when my plans started...
- one entry for all my all the info regarding my jobs, date started, locker, holidays,
- one entry for all my major purchases as dumb as that may seem - just date, cost and what it was.
- one entry for all Resume so it is always on hand.

It's all in how you use it.


 Cloud Storage - Dropbox, OneNote, Simplenote  (and Evernote)  - Android phones, Windows XP and Windows 7.

* These days I use 'Dropbox' as my primary backup - it's just so easy and it's free up to a generous limit. I have now actually paid for an annual subscription for 1 TB of data storage.
The beauty of these applications is that they sync to my Android phones and my desktop computer.

Here's the links. 'Dropbox' on the Google Market and 'Dropbox' home page for your computer.

I have installed 'Dropbox' on my Android phone and on my computer. I have 'Dropbox' sync my photos to the cloud so that they appear on my computer as well pretty much instantly. I never have to worry about losing my photos again.

* I use Microsoft's 'OneNote' to keep all my text files and reminders. This is free, and syncs to my Android phone and my Windows computer desktop. It's a wonderful app.

Here's the links. 'OneNote' on the Google Market.

There is also a PC version to download to your computer.

* I have also just started using 'Simplenote' for Android and PC and I love it.
'Simplenote'  is a free cloud sync note-taking app. Yes, free, thanks to the staff at Automaticc.

I have many plain text files that I want to be able to see and write and edit in a simple interface and 'Simplenote' offers this beautifully.


( As of June 2016 I no longer use or promote 'Evernote' due to their restriction of a two device limit, as well as the program becoming bloated and laggy. I have moved all my notes to  'OneNote' and 'Simplenote' . I have used 'Evernote' to keep my text files. This was free up to a limit and syncs to my Android phone and my Windows computer desktop.)

Another great way to back up your stuff is to put it all in a blog like this.
I make a quick and easy Google Blog for every holiday, and send in posts by email to publish them  when I'm sitting near free WiFi by the pool of cafe. Then all my photos and diary are backed up and I can view them anywhere.

Read this post in Blogger Help about email posting - it's easy to do.

This Blog, GFSL is pretty good evidence of using Google in yet another way for me to back up my stuff. I have all my collected ideas here, my links, my apps for my phones.

All my dog pictures are here...

Making a Google Blog is a very easy thing to do, and a lot of fun too.
See my post on how to do it...


External Hard drives.
I have an external hard drive for my main backup.
You can walk into any Tech Shop and they will have something you can just plug into a USB port and start.
Make sure you have your computer shop format and partition the drive.

I bought a Welland 3.5" External Hard Disc Drive (HDD) enclosure. $45 Australian.
This is just the storage box for the Hard Drive.

Inside that I put a Western Digital 500Gb Hard Drive. $105 Australian.
That's a lot of space, 500Gb. You can do many backups on that.

So for $150 AUD, I have all my entire computer backed up.

This is an update slipped in on 7Oct2009. I have just noticed these WD My Passport external drives that just plug into your USB port. This is definitely the way to go. I can buy these for $80.

Here's what to do.
Buy that stuff and plug it into a USB port, just like that USB stick above.
Rename that new drive.
I called mine the "BackupDrive" and made it the Q drive (Get Smart, Agent Q).

(Don't forget that you have to FORMAT and PARTITION that disc drive.
Quite frankly, seek help from the company you buy it off. It's pretty easy but you do have to know what you are doing, um, and I forgot to take screen shots when I did mine.)

Then I went to My Documents and SENT all my Excel and Word documents to the Q Drive, just like I did for the USB stick.

Then I went to Start - Accessories - System Tools - Backup.

And away we go.


Choose what you want now.

Find that Q drive.
Give your back up a meaningful name.

In this case, I had a floppy disc ready to create a boot disc, but you can skip that.


Now go walk the dog, have a beer, it's gonna take a long time.

This is the end result. Windows backups.

All safe and secure on that external drive.

If you need to RESTORE, it's much the same process.

If you want to know how much space you have left,
go to My Computer and right click on the Q Drive.
My full backup takes up 60Gb.

Click on Properties.

Good, plenty of space left.
When it fills up, I will delete the older backups.

I'll think of yet another way, someday soon....


Oh, I've gone to all this effort because this is IMPORTANT.
Good luck, and back it up now. Si.
All checked for links and relevance. April 2014. Now more important then ever !

April 13, 2014

How to save website text only, using a Text Document. Windows XP and Windows 7. April 2014

Here's my latest hint - and a very useful and simple tip it is too.
I often want to save only the text on a web page, but it is full of fonts, links and images.
I create a Text Document on my desktop or in some convenient folder.

Here I have right clicked on my desktop to bring up my context menu.
(Incidentally, you can alter your right click context menu using TweakUI.)

I will use a page of my site as an example.
Here I have typed 'CTRL A' to highlight 'all text' on the web page.
Then I right click on part of that highlighted text and Copy.

I then go to my Text Document and Paste and Save.

Easy peasy - all the text without formatting, fonts or images.
You will find this a very helpful tip, so don't forget it.

Cheers. Si.
Checked for Windows XP and Windows 7 relevance.

April 12, 2014

How to make a PDF - Windows XP and Windows 7. April 2014

I had to create a PDF the other day for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten how.
Now we all have Adobe Acrobat for reading PDFs, but do you know how to make one ?

I had some info in a Word document, and I wanted to present it to a manager and protect it from being changed, so I went and fired up CutePDF.

Here's the link to CutePDF

Also try PDFCreator

Also take a look at FileHippo's list on PDF creators.

Note that you also have to download and install a Ghostscript interpreter.
"GNU Ghostscript is an open-source interpreter for the PostScript language and the PDF file format. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License. You may obtain the source code for GPL Ghostscript 8.15 here."

I just downloaded CutePDF and installed it, and CutePDF went and found that Ghostscript program anyway, and installed it as well.

Here's what it does.
I have opened up my Word document and clocked on PRINT.
I then change my printer to 'CutePDF'.

Here's the next pop-up.
Choose what to call it and where to store it.

Here's the results. My PDF.

This can now be opened with Adobe Reader.
Now it is secure information and can't be tampered with .

Easy enough.
File that one away. It's a useful little program. Free too.

** Note that you can choose multiple images and 'print' them all into one PDF. I use this a fair bit.
** Always send your resume and cover letter for that new job as a PDF, never as a Word Document.

Cheers. Si.
Checked links and relevance to Windows XP and 7. April 2014