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If any of the toys, gadgets and tools below take your fancy, you can help support 3-Lib by clicking through these mini adverts. Thanks:

Sky Soldier

Stealth Hovercraft

Your own UFO!

Indestructible Dirt Crusher

The incredibly small Utilikey

USB memory in your watch!

AntiGravity picture frame!

Scrolling LED badge

Mini solid state, multi-function Digital Video Recorder

Remote control B29 bomber

Ferrari driving experience!

Real turbo-fan powered remote control Intruder jet!

->> Monitor

Don't Panic!

You may be new to the net, new to computers or new to shareware, but don't give up. It's just that you're at the start of a learning curve that we've all ascended and have come out the other end smiling. Have a browse through some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below and see if they help you at all. If they don't, feel free to email me directly and I'll add your question (and the answer!) to this page as well.


Arrow

Help! What is 'shareware'?

There's nothing to be scared of. Forget rumours from the 1980s about viruses and hackers, shareware is simply a different way to distribute computer programs (software). Rather than making you walk into a shop and buy a big cardboard box off-the-shelf (or even worse, do it remotely by mail order, where you can't even examine the box), the shareware world makes software available freely. Right now, right here, on the Web.

There are basically two sorts of programs covered by the generic term 'shareware': the first is Freeware, which is totally free for use for as long as you please, and the second is Shareware itself, which is free to download and try out, the idea being that if you like the program you do the honest thing and send a small amount of money to the author.

Arrow Help! How do I download shareware?

In most cases, the link to download a program will be obvious. For example, the link below downloads my Series 5 Piano program:

Piano v2.7 is downloadable here as piano27.zip (32k).

Right-clicking

Most browsers allow downloading of programs by using the right mouse button to bring up a mini-menu. There will then be an option to "Save target as" (or similar wording).

Try this option now and tell it where on your desktop machine you want to store the downloaded program.

Arrow Help! What do I do with the downloaded ZIP file?

ZIP files are used because they're highly compressed and form a very convenient way of distributing complex programs in single-file form.

Ideally your PC has been set up already with a program to understand ZIP files, in which case you can just double-click on the file in your File manager or Explorer program. The 'unzipping' program will then spring to life and show you the ZIP file's contents.

WinZIP

If for any reason your computer gives an error message (or doesn't do something sensible) when you double-click on the ZIP file, it means that you need to upgrade it by installing one of the many suitable unzipping programs. I recommend 'WinZIP', which you'll find on just about every magazine cover CD in the world.

Once you've got to the stage where you're looking at the contents of the ZIP file inside WinZIP, you'll notice that there's usually a text file called README.TXT (or similar). This is usually the installation instructions for that particular application. Double-click on this to bring it up on screen and read it. If the program sounds like something you want to try out, select all the entries in WinZIP and click on 'Extract' to unzip them to a suitable folder on your hard disk.

Arrow Help! I've unzipped a Psion or Symbian program into a folder. What do I do next?

You did read the README.TXT file, didn't you? Hopefully the author will have explained what to do within!

If you have PsiWin 2.1 or later and the application is a modern .SIS (the file extension used for EPOC Install) file, just double-click on it and you'll be fully installed in seconds. If there's no .SIS file in sight, you'll need to copy the files across to your Psion the old-fashioned way. A few notes about transferring files using PsiWin:

  • Make sure you're copying the files into the right directories(!)
  • PsiWin 1.x users should hold the Control key down throughout drag and drop operations, to force copying (not 'converting', which will corrupt the files).
  • PsiWin 2.x users can achieve a similar effect by doing the drag and drop operation with the right mouse button instead. This will bring up a mini-menu from which "Copy" can be selected.

(There's a lot more about shareware installation on my special Training CD-ROM, by the way, and of course the 3-Lib/Palmtop CD series itself contains thousands of up-to-date shareware programs to help save your phone bill)


Above all, don't be put off by all these instructions, the installing process only takes a few seconds once you know what you're doing. And familiarisation with program files and their locations can be a very good skill to own. Just as with a car you'd make a point of learning how to drive, where to put the petrol, oil, brake fluid, how to change a wheel etc, think the same way about your PC and palmtop computer. A little knowledge and confidence gained now will stand you in good stead when a 'wheel comes off' in the future!

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