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.

August 19, 2015

Google Maps. Here maps. Offline maps for Android phones.

Here's a bit of news on Google maps, and here's my favorite offline map app.

The Google Maps update of 17 August 2015 has finally introduced a 'tap to go full screen' mode.
This is the one feature that has been really missing for a long time. Google Maps is once again useful and usable.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.maps&hl=en

I had written off Google Maps for a long time and gone to Nokia's Here map app which has a lovely interface, and still does.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.here.app.maps&hl=en
Here maps also boasts extremely useful OFFLINE maps that can be saved to an SD card. This feature is still unequaled on any other map app.

So, for those of you who had given up on Google ever producing a decent interface for Google Maps, give it another try. The interface is quite good now with most of your screen available to see your map.

Here's a screenshot from my Huawei Mate 7.
Google Maps with that intrusive 'Search bar' and 'Around here bar' blocking your screen.


One tap on the screen and those bars are now gone and you have a full screen map. It's much better.


If you want offline maps saved to your phone when you are going overseas, definitely go for Nokia's Here map app.

Here's a screenshot from my Huawei Mate 7. 
Nokia's Here map app. This is showing an offline map of Australia saved to my SD card - not a real time data download like Google Maps uses.


'Use app offline' when traveling overseas, or just all the time, to save your precious data.


It's very important that you go straight into the settings and select 'Storage Memory' as 'sdcard1'.
The app will then always store downloaded maps here, and you can take your maps to your new phone by also taking your SD card.


Buy a 32 GB SD card and download the world ! You will always have it offline.


For those of you who are familiar with you phone's file systems and want to rig up multiple back up phones for travel, you can copy and paste the Here maps data to a new SD card.

Fire up you computer and first plug in your phone that DOES have the Here maps app and all the downloaded maps on an SD card. Make sure you use a good USB cable that is a data cable, not just a recharge cable.
Next plug in your travel/back up phone that DOES NOT yet have Here maps installed. If it does, uninstall it for now.

Copy and past the "com.here.app.maps" folder. 
When I plug my phone in,the address is...
G:\Android\data\com.here.app.maps

You must do this BEFORE you install Here maps on your new phone, otherwise the copy and paste will be blocked. You will be trying to overwrite a protected file created by the new installation of the the Here maps app.
If you strike this problem, just uninstall Here maps, copy and paste the file, then re-install.

This process is easier and quicker than downloading the offline maps via the Here map app to yet another phone. It will take quite a while to transfer those files, so be patient and go and make a cuppa.


Other offline maps.
You'll notice that I don't mention any of the OSM maps (Open Source Maps). I have tried them and don't like them much because search results for most streets show no result due to the open source nature of the maps.
Read here...
https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Main_Page
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenStreetMap

OSM maps on Google Play
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.osmand&hl=en

There are other similar apps that use the OSM.
In my opinion, Here maps beats them all by a long way as Nokia has been polishing their maps for many many years. It's also hard to beat the ease of use of Here maps and it's downloading of maps for offline use. I was very pleased when Nokia made it free on the Google market.

Cheers. Si.
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