Basic Application Programs For The General PCs

New PC/Notebook comes bloated with unnecessary programs at start-up. This will take up memory space and slow down the computer booting-up. Also with less memory available, computing will become slower with the OS having to swap the idle program to the hard disk to free more memory space to execute current process.

Those programs that run at Windows start-up do not have to be necessarily removed, just unable them to execute during start-up. This can be done easily with freeware programs such as Ccleaner and Tweaknow, just to mention a few, there are many others that can do the job. Only when the need arises, the programs that has been disabled at start-up, can then be executed to perform its functions.

Once the programs has been disabled, it is practically just the OS system running after booting-up Windows Then there’s the question, ”What are the basic application programs that are needed to be installed for general use?” Here’s a list of what I think that are the basic necessities that need to be installed on a new PC or PC that has been reformatted and had Windows cleanly installed on it for general use. They are not in particular order except for the first one below.

AntiVirus and Firewall

It goes without saying that these are a must have application programs. Formerly they are a separate entity, and some still are, but the trend now is to bunch them together plus some other functions and called them Internet Security Suite. It is named Internet Security maybe it is because nowadays viruses and other form of malware mainly come from the Internet and not anymore from the floppy disk which is practically now non-existent. What we have now in place of the floppy disk is the thumb drive which is still a potential source for viruses especially the autorun.inf virus. For home users, Comodo Firewall + AntiVirus provides the solutions in one suite. There are two sets of installer to choose from. One set for the 32-bit and another for the 64-bit Windows.

Office Suite

This is actually made-up of a few application programs bunched together to make a suite. The programs included are word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database and a few others depending on the type of the suite. It is not necessary to install all of the programs included, just choose what is required. Microsoft Office do offer a suite consisting of only three programs, that is the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation.

KOffice is a freeware office suite but OpenOffice is more popular and that there are other derivatives of OpenOffice as in Go-oo and OxygenOffice.

Compressing and Decompressing Program

To make uploading and downloading of file faster, it has to be shorten and hence compressed, therefore the need for compressing and decompressing program. There are many freeware programs with the letters ‘zip’ attached to it, but my favourite is 7-Zip. Not only that it can compress and decompress into and from many formats including rar (for rar file format, it only decompress), but, it is also a File Manager. Nowadays, using Windows with its GUI, a file manager may not mean very much, but in the days of DOS, it really helps a lot.

PDF Reader and Printer

Books, booklets and manuals that are found on the Internet are most likely in PDF format. So the need to have a PDF reader is a must. As for PDF printer, it will come in handy if one needs to print file in PDF format from any Windows application or when printing from a browser. My choice for PDF reader and printer are FoxitReader and doPDF respectively. Both are freeware.


It may have been included with Windows but you may prefer other browsers as in the freeware Mozilla Firefox or Opera. There are also freeware browsers that are based on the core Internet Explorer engine. They are Maxthon and Avant browsers which expand the features and functions of Internet Explorer. So, what works with IE should works with them also.

Sometimes, instead of printing the web pages to PDF files, I save the web pages in MHTML file format with the extension .mht. It’s an archive for web page by Microsoft. When I did, I’d be running Opera and not Firefox. Running Opera (or IE) enables me to save web pages in the MHTML format. Images are not saved in a separate folder but instead in the same file with the extension .mht. Everything is contained in a single file. It’s neater this way and makes maintenance easier. Just a note of caution, if you are opening this file type that you had received from someone else, do scan it prior to opening it with the browser. This is just to make sure and be safe that the file is not infected.

Paint Program

Paint or to be precise Bitmap Editing Programs are programs that enable the editing of digital photographs or graphics. These are programs that will allow you to retouch, resize or change the format of a file from one form to another. There are many other functions found in any one particular editing program, but to use all of it, really depends on your creativity. Photoshop is a popular choice for this but it is a commercial software. The alternative is to use GIMP, a popular freeware version, or Paint.NET which is much simpler but not as powerful as GIMP.

Media Player

My choice of media player is VLC media player. Not only that it can play almost anything without the need to install additional codec, but also it sounds better to my ears.

Chat Program

Text, Voice and Video, all-in-one chat programs are now the norm. Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, they all have it but I think Skype is the more popular one right now.

Utility Program

All your activities on the PC are being recorded by the Windows. Over time the Windows had made a mess out of it slowing down the PC. To keep the PC shipshape you need a utility program that will clean out the mess created. The registry file had become bloated slowing down the PC boot time. It needs to be compacted to shorten the boot time. Your browsing history has many things to tell, hence it needs to be cleared. Temporary files that are being left behind taking much disk space had to be removed and so on.

There are many freeware programs in this category to choose from. Ccleaner and Tweaknow are among them. I have yet to find a good freeware program that will compact the 64-bit Windows registry safely and efficiently. But if you are using 32-bit Windows, it should be no problem, Tweaknow practically covered them all.

Thats about all that are needed basically. For photo viewer, I think Windows Photo Viewer will suffice, at least for me. Then again its your preference. You may check on this web site for more information on the best freeware there are available. It can be found here:

That’s all. Have a smooth and safe computing.


There’s one more area that I had missed to cover since Windows support for it is very minimal. It is the CD/DVD burner. Once again there are many freeware to choose from, each one of them has different features but for basic functions they are quite the same. You can check out InfraRecorder or StarBurn which are both freeware. My preference is InfraRecorder, Nero had became too bloated for me.

Troubleshooting PCs

This writing is not about outright fault, which is fairly easy to solve but about a system that is functioning but have a certain abnormality or intermittent fault.

If there are abnormalities in running a program or the system is running strangely unlike the usual as you know it, then something is not right. You could reinstall the offending program or if it is the system on the whole then the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to do a complete clean reinstall of the system. Yes, the OS and the application programs that are installed.

No doubt, it is good to know the problem that beset the system. But, unless you are paid to find it, it is best to do a clean install. This way you save a lot of time and if there is malware involved, it is surely gone unless it’s in the bios or somewhere in the hard disk. To get rid of those two previously mentioned annoyances, you have to reflash the bios and do a low level format of the hard disk respectively. You seldom need to do this. These are last resort if after a clean install fails to get rid of the problem.

If a system occasionally freeze or display that BOD, it is most likely hardware related. Dust collected over time on the motherboard could cause timing error, the contacts on the slots, cards and memory sticks get corroded or not enough cooling on the system especially the power supply unit.

A vacuum cleaner will suffice in sucking the dust off the motherboard but here in the tropic, the dust stuck and it is unlike what you see in a movie where they just blow off the dust. I had washed the motherboard a few times before. First I wet it, then sprayed bleach over it and after half an hour put it under tap and had water sprayed on it by closing the tap opening with my thumb. It was then left standing on it’s side a couple of days to dry. If you decide to try this, then it is at your own peril, I am just telling what I did.

Contacts get corroded over time and need to be cleaned. Usually I use alcohol but at times I do polish it with metal polisher and finish it with alcohol. It’s extreme but the shining contacts will remove any doubt about its performance.

Heat is another source to suspect. If a system is not properly cooled, after a period of operation it will become unstable. The airflow in the PC casing could be bad, the fan maybe reaching its end of life or the PC itself is situated in a place where the air circulation is bad. Blowing warm air will not cool the system sufficiently and the surrounding air will only get hotter. First to suffer will probably be the power supply because it is the hottest and had a mediocre cooling system compared to the one the CPU had. I had replaced a system in slim casing to a slightly wider casing (wider grille on the power supply). The PC is placed under the table in a small room. Although the room is air-conditioned there is not much cool air circulating underneath the table. It is sucking back it’s own hot air and the power supply had small exhaust grille. On another occasion, I had replaced a PC power supply twice in a short period of time. After the second replacement, I asked the owner what did he do with it. He said that he played game in a closed room. I told him to get it ventilated and had not heard from him since.

Besides this, you have programs that will test and check the hardware and the memory. I hardly use it anymore except for testing and checking the memory sometimes. The initial bios test is good enough and now some motherboards do include memory test option in their bios which is a good thing.

Congratulations to Lotus Racing

Congrats to Lotus Racing on finishing the 2010 season opening race in Bahrain on their return debut in F1. Not one but two cars for that matters.  It may means nothing to some, but the fact that they built the team and cars in under six months is quite an achievement by itself. For both cars to finish the race is another. It shows that the cars are reliable.

The next target of course is to make the cars faster and more competitive. At the present stage of the car, I believe much can be shed. So midfield should be no problem for next target.

Once again kudos Lotus Racing and keep the heads thinking and level headed. Take criticism as ammunition to excel and shoot for the stars or shall I say top podium.

Simple Studio Lighting

Simple Studio Lighting

When I was younger, I had to go to the photo studio to have a head and shoulder photograph taken for passport or whatever. Usually three lights were used, they were the main, fill and background lights.

In the early nineties, after I knew photography, I decided to shoot my own self portrait, head and shoulder photograph. I wanted a soft lighting that will cast no hard shadow, no reflection on the glasses and no shadow on the background. With the knowledge that I had, I figured out how to achieve this. I had in hands two umbrellas which I had ordered from an umbrella maker. The material was a very light yellow satin cloth provided by me. I only chose the frame that had a nice parabolic shape from the maker. The reflective side was on the inner side of the umbrella.

In the set-up for the shooting, I made use of only one umbrella held high on a stand, angled downward and slightly to the right of the camera. No reflector. One of the walls in the living room was used as background. The stool where I sat was about one metre away from the wall. The camera was set on the tripod with 135mm lens.  It was cheap, bright, sharp and have a good contrast. Light source was from a flashgun bounced off the inside of the umbrella. The strength of the light was measured at the point where my face was assumed. I had someone stood in place for me so that I can set the focusing and framing. At other times when I was alone, I propped up an empty frame around the location of my face, which I later removed before triggering.

I shot a number of frames and from it chose the one that I like best. A luxury that you don’t get with the studio shot.

The light source.

The chosen frame was then printed 4-up on a 3R paper.

Back then I had a personal web page from my ISP. I had put up my photograph together with the explanation. One of the comments that I remembered till now was from someone who probably knew photography saying, “Nice Technique.”

I used this technique for a couple of years as my makeshift mobile studio taking head and shoulder photographs for an organisation as a service to its members.

Update 9 Jan 2011:

I had inserted two photographs of the setup. Slightly tight because the space is tight. The photo of the light source shows a camera mount flash and not that of a flashgun that had the camera mount on it. I still have the flashgun but this flash unit is quite strong too. I can still get F4 and F5.6 at ASA 100. Furthermore, it sits nicely on the wireless receiver. Ah, the luxury of today, no more cable to concern with. Absolute freedom. To trigger any slave unit, the light sensor triggering unit is still good though. Less of a hassle because it doesn’t consume batteries, very green, only that it needs to be on the striking distance of the main light to be effective. For wireless triggering of slave unit, the transmitter and receiver set claims a distance of 100 metres. A 100 metres headstart that is, for someone to grab the slave set and run away. Anyway, it is still useful though, just bear in mind the safety of the unit and to take appropriate measure.

Kuala Lumpur – Kulaijaya, Johor Day 17


Thursday, 11 March, 2010

12:00 am

Could not sleep all the while. At times I stood at the coach door to  have a smoke. Met an English guy who came up to have a smoke too. He was heading to Singapore to catch a flight home back in England on Thursday night. He had spent two months in Thailand and a month in Malaysia. I could sense some dismay in him at the thought of going back to normal life. He said there was still snow. Yeah, the weather seems to be ABnormal nowadays. From what I knew, it seldoms snow in London, I had been there once in December.

5:35 am

Train arrived at Kulaijaya (old name was Kulai) station as scheduled. No taxi, so I just hanged around, logged on the net.

7:00 am

Left train station to have breakfast of Roti Canai or in Singapore they called it Roti Prata. It is a kind of pancake made of wheat flour. It is cooked plain or with an egg or onion or both. You eat it with curry (fish or meat) or Dalcha. In Malaysia there is another gravy called the Sambal Tumis. You cut it into small pieces and dip it in the curry or have the curry poured over it entirely, sort like soaking it. It’s a preference to one’s desire. After the breakfast, I walked to Kulai bus terminal and took a taxi home.

8:35 am

Arrived safely back home.

This trip was made possible by the cheap flight that I had to book two months in advance by AirAsia. My intention for this trip was to shoot some photographs that include some scene from up country and if possible get to the summit of Mount Lawu. On summary, I’m glad that I had made it to the summit, some photographs in Solo and lots in Jogjakarta.

As for the up country…well, there’s always be another time.

Will update the trip blog with some pics later.

Jogjakarta – Kuala Lumpur Day 16

Gate B, KL Central

Wednesday, 10 March, 2010

12:00 am

6 more hours to go, I should be checking-out and head for the airport. In looking back, the tiredness and aching after the climb to the summit of Mount Lawu, had limited my tour this time. I had not ventured up country. Maybe next time.

Transferred the photographs into the notebook. Reviewed them, later logged-on the Internet  and updated this blog. I would not be sleeping, I dared not. I did not want to miss the flight at nine in the morning.

5;00 am

Had shower. Some potato chips and hot coffee.

6:10 am

Left for the Adi Sucipto airport by taxi. Arrived at the airport about 50 minutes later, hanged around for a while at the entrance.

7:00 am

Stood in the line at the check-in counter. When done the door leading to immigration clearance had not opened yet. I looked around for a coffee shop, ordered a cuppa, sat down and logged-on the to the Internet.

8:00 am

Cleared the immigration and proceeded to the holding area. Just like Adi Sumarmo airport in Solo, Adi Sucipto is a small airport and unlike Adi Sumarmo, it is a single storey building complex. The flight was delayed about half an hour and  to kill time I did some typing.

1:05 pm Malaysia local time

Arrived at KL LCCT. Bought a bus ticket for RM 8 for a ride to KL Central which is essentially a train terminal plus station for the local rapid transit. After I bought the train ticket to Kulai on the Senandong Malam train to Singapore, I left the luggage bag at the locker and roamed around. There was quite a number of free access points here. Found a corner with power point, I sat down on the floor and in no time, got connected to the Internet.

4:00 pm

Had chicken steak at the food court. Still had not sleep since last night except some head noddings while on the bus. Found a corner behind gate A and rest.

9:30 pm

Retrieved my luggage and waited at gate B for the train.

10:20 pm

Train left for Singapore. Had dinner of what said to be Nasi Lemak (it didn’t taste like one) because it is easier to sleep with a filled stomach. Later on had a sleep that lasted just a while. The rest of the journey, I was practically alert. The air-condition was too cold for my comfort.

Jogjakarta Day 15

Tuesday, 9 March, 2010

Water-logged Jalan Parangtritis

2:00 am

Woke up. Could not get back to sleep again. Had some bread and hot coffee. Transferred the photographs into the notebook and charged the batteries. Looking around the room to see what else needed to be packed, none, except for the pants and t-shirt to be worn tomorrow and those that I’m wearing. Nothing else to do, I laid down and rest.

9:00 am

I just looked at the sandwich breakfast, not touching it. Weather was good, I hesitated to go out and look for a bike to be rented for the day. I had intended to go to Prambanan and if possible Borobudur and Parangtritis beach to shoot some photographs with better preparations. I had

Slow shutter while on a becak

been to those places late last year but the eagerness to go this time around was not strong and it was already late morning and I had only the late afternoon. Made a hot coffee and ate some cheese biscuits, logged on to the Internet. Later on slept again.

4:00 pm

It was raining quite heavily with thunders and lightnings, glad that I had not rent the bike. The rain had caused Jalan Parangtritis near the road leading to the hotel where I stayed to be a little bit water-logged. Had late lunch and then off to Malioboro again to finish the excess cash in hand.

7:00 pm

Another slow shutter while on a becak

Left for hotel. Drizzling slightly. Took some photographs along the way while on the seat of the becak. Some experimenting. Nice reflections on the wet road. Nothing would be in sharp focus though. Back at the hotel room, I put aside the things that I had bought, grabbed the tripod and immediately went out for some night photographs along Jalan Parangtritis.

9:30 pm

Repacking the luggage bag then went over to Indomaret to have it weighed. 14 kilos, just nice. Back at the hotel room, switched on the notebook, wrote this blog and charging the batteries.

Jogjakarta Day 14


Sunset in Jogja

Sunset in Jogja

Monday, 8 March, 2010

Haven’t had a blink yet, just could not sleep. As usual, my time to sleep was when the sun had risen.

7:00 am


1:00 pm

Went out to buy Rp 60,000 worth of connection time for the prepaid Internet access. Enough for six hours of surfing. I set-up the notebook outside the hotel room. Each room had two chairs and a table. The weather was fine, bright and sunny, good lighting for video chat.

Indomaret at Malioboro not the one near hotel

5:00 pm

Left for Malioboro on foot. Took some silhouette photographs with the twilight sky as backdrop. Stopped at a stall for a cuppa. Started to rain, a slightly heavy drizzle. A while later when the drizzle had almost stopped, I carried on with my journey. At Malioboro, I wasted no time in getting the items that I had in mind, then to McDonald for a burger, coffee and some surfing.

9:00 pm

Left for hotel. Soon I’d be leaving for home, probably no more shopping, I began to pack the items that would go into the luggage bag that would be checked-in at the airport. Later, went to

Ornamental Lamp Post

Indomaret, it’s somewhat akin to Eleven-7  😉  , to have the luggage bag weighed. About 13 kilos, 15 kilos was my limit, 2 more kilos could be added. The rest would go into the sack as carry-in.

11:00 pm

Trying to go out tomorrow for a full day touring, on a bike if I could get one, sleep early.

Jogjakarta Day 13


Sign At the Entrance of an Alley

Sunday, 7 March, 2010

12:00 am

Went to the Internet cafe, looking at Telkomsel site for Internet logging-on solution. The FAQ did help a little bit. Downloaded the pdf howto on setting-up for the log-in to Telkomsel Network.

3:00 am

Returned back to hotel room.

6:00 am

Bike on Seat and Lap

Armed with the knowledge gathered, set-up the notebook outside the hotel room and tried to log on to the Internet. No deal. Called the helpdesk for assistance, and was told to register again with the text GPRS followed by a space and the 16-digit ID number printed on the bigger card that came together attached with the prepaid SIM card…Again, no deal.

7:00 am

Finished half of the sandwich, slept.

12:00 pm

Bought lunch. Didn’t felt like going out, trying to solve the internet access. Later in the day, I tried to rent a bike. Not knowing that it was Sunday, the shop was closed for business on Sundays.

4:00 pm

Rest Time

Time to go to the Internet cafe again. I tried a different Internet cafe although I had one more 6-hour coupon to log-on at the previous Internet cafe. I wanted to download Huawei connection software client for the 3G modem that I had. The Vodafone Connect Lite program that came with the modem just froze and proceed no further. I assumed it was because my prepaid card service provider was not it’s partner in Indonesia. Lucky for me, I found the solution.

6:00 pm

Back at the hotel room. I removed the Vodafone Connect Lite software from the modem and replaced it with Huawei Mobile Partner. The logging-on was successful on first attempt straightaway with the default dialing code and settings. After choosing the type of package on the Telkomsel site, I was able to surf.

10:00 pm

I finished the whole 3-hour log-on time in just one session. Went out to buy dinner and after that laid down and rest.

Jogjakarta Day 12

What’s That On My Nose

Saturday, 6 March, 2010

12:00 am

Awoke. I realised that I had not tried logging-on the Internet using the prepaid card. I set up the notebook outside the room for the cool tropical night air. Unsuccessful, I decided to write-up yesterday’s events.

6:30 am

Rest time.

12:00 pm

Artist Retouching A Wall Poster

Went out to buy lunch. Preparing to go Malioboro again on foot, this time a little bit earlier.

3:00 pm

Set out for Malioboro via Jalan Bridjen Katamso and turned left to North Alun-Alun, shooting photographs along the way. From Alun-Alun I then headed north to Jalan Malioboro. Bought a luggage bag, had coffee, a few more t-shirts and went right to the north end of Jalan Malioboro.

Immediately right after the sun had set, started shooting and slowly moved along down south. Had a burger and coffee at McDonald. When done, sat by the roadside listening to the music of the busker group.

Roadside Mechanic

9:20 pm

Left for hotel.

11:00 pm

Out to buy dinner.