Well, personally, I find help pages pretty mystic as a rule -  so here's a  mystic page with mystic lines to help you groove around this site:


New Visitors

Internet Browsers



Navigation Bars





New Windows




*** Tip of the week month Year***

press the F11 key on the top of your keyboard and look ...!! If you start to miss the little graphs telling you how long the "world wide wait" is going to be, just F11 again to restore. But don't the graphics look better? OK I can hear the nerds all chortling "didn't you know that?". No I didn't - until a friend of mine's 14 year old son kindly pointed it out.
I bet he can program the video too.

1. For anyone new to this site

  • Switch to full screen, then you won't lose bits off the edges of the pages
  • If you're having to scroll around to read this page, change your screen resolution from 640x480 to 800x600 (... or get one step ahead of the game and use 1024x768). You can get detailed instructions from my family website
  • Start off with the biographies, they're not very long (if you don't follow the links) and everything else will then fall into place. Or you can follow the links which will pretty much take you all around the site.
  • The purpose-built Biography Page is great because with a split screen you can read bio and library pages at the same time. But when pictures land on "half a screen" you can lose the descriptive text. Sorry, I haven't figured a workable solution to this yet. If it gets annoying just flick to the "main menu" and read the bio from there.
  • Next time around use the main menu for quick reference

2. Are you getting it?

  • 3 months ago I thought that "Java" was a type of tea! Now I know that it is a fantastic means of livening up web pages. None of which matters tuppence to you provided that you have the latest internet browsers installed.
  • To test your setup click the blue "Help Page" icon at the top of this page. You should see scrolling nonsensical cartoons of me. Also the "links" (there are 2 below) should burst into life when you simply pass your mouse cursor over them. If they  do, fine. If nothing happens you need to run the Microsoft or Netscape free upgrades ...
    • Internet Explorer upgrade: click here for the MS downloads site. Open the "product name" box, scroll to Internet Explorer 5.5 and just keep going. Run the downloaded "exe" file and you're away
    • Netscape upgrade: click here for the Netscape download site, then follow the instructions
  • You will now get all of the Java goodies from this, and an awful lot of other sites
  • If your browser doesn't support frames - how did you get here? Your ISP page, and most other "big" sites on the web - they've all got 'em! See the instructions above, the two major current browsers will do the trick

3. Netscape

  • .. a company I have a lot of sympathy for in that they were, no doubt, abused by King Microsoft in the same way that Virgin Airways was abused by British Airways. Virgin, however, succeeded by offering the consumer a better product at a cheaper price, something that Netscape, I don't think, has achieved
  • I have always made a point of checking the presentation of my website in both Netscape and Internet Explorer, and found no problems while I used the prehistoric (but excellent for beginners) AOLpress authoring software. However AOLpress has now given up the ghost having been left in the dust by Frontpage 2000 and Dreamweaver. On using these "new" products I find that the only way to retain "Netscape compatibility" would be to not use a lot of new innovations and use complicated inferior methods for simple things like sound-bites (which are trouble enough as they stand)
  • As an example, if you use Internet Explorer this page will scroll majestically over a static, perfectly positioned background picture. With Netscape that feature doesn't work
  • This is not just my opinion, checkout any of the "Dummies" books whose authors, I believe, show little bias toward Microsoft in other matters - they all seem to consider Netscape a lost cause
  • My apologies to any Netscape users who have persevered this far (past, to them, the tatty fonts and layouts). I did try but ....

4. The Buttons (try 'em out)

  • ... takes you back to the Home page, where you came into this site
  • ... "i" for information. Brings you to this "help" page. Pretty mystic huh ...
  • ... takes you back to the top of the page you're on
  • ... take you to the last or next of a sequence of pages if you're in one - which you're not now !
  • ... will replay a "sound-bite" from when the page opened 
  • ... "thumbnails menu" - see pictures below for details
  • ... "TOC" or Table of Contents, only appears once, in the site data page, and takes you to a permanently updated (by magic) TOC page. To be honest I'm not sure what use this page is supposed to be but it doesn't involve any work on my part so why not?

5. Navigation Bars

come courtesy of Microsoft Front Page 2000, the current editing program for this site, which automatically generates and updates links to other pages with no work at all on my part. I have used them at the top of page "sequences" (eg library, giglists) so as not to make redundant the sequence buttons (see above) which live at the at the bottom of the page.
Warning - under MS terminology "up" means the first page of the sequence ?!

Here is a "live" example - which cannot be of a sequence because this page isn't in one

Main Menu ] Thailand ] Noframes menu ] [ Help ]

And the menu bars from the "new-style" pages which are taking over the site


Try 'em out, you can use your browser "back" button to quickly return here

6. Search Engines
 (are located at the bottom of the Internet Links  and main menu pages)

  • What-U-Seek: searches either this site or the web, and does both reasonably well; although I am trying to concoct a "home made" one to do the "site" job better. For the minute "one-word" searches work best
  • Add Me & AAA Europe: I am required to put these on my site by the 2 companies in return for enhanced positioning of this site in their search engines. They're Ok, but I personally prefer, and use, Copernic
  • OneLook Dictionaries: really excellent, enter a word and it'll find you 200 matches out of everything from the Oxford to the Noddy dictionary
  • Multimap: enter a UK postal code and it'll draw you a map. It can find addresses too, but codes are quicker. Can also search the globe if you know the map references. The Universe, I think they're still working on it. I did find a map of the moon in a children's dictionary (see above)

7. Thumbnails

Computer lingo for little "thumbnail-size" pictures that expand to full size when you click 'em. I am sorry about the disgusting image on the right, but it's a life size picture of my thumb, to illustrate the point. If you would now like to click it you'll find that it expands to something completely different, just to show that you can cheat the system!  As to where the thumbnail description came from, that's simple - computer nerds. Just be thankful they weren't looking at their feet at the time.
All thumbnails on this site expand to something or other.

8. Pictures

  • ... are best, in my opinion, viewed as "collections", sets of between 2 and 10 pics which happily scroll from one to the next without you having to do anything at all. For an example, click the help title at the top of this page and a silly collection will emerge.
  • However, the pics can also be viewed as "thumbnails" (see above), this option being available from the pictures menu. If you change your mind in midstream the following buttons are there to help ...
    • ... when viewing a collection, this will take you to the thumbnails of that collection so that you can view the pics individually
    • ... the original version of the above button, which is a scaled-down version of the photo in the "thumbnails" paragraph (above). It was pointed out to me that it bore a stronger resemblance to another part of the male human anatomy so I stuck a "T" on to avoid confusion ...
    • when viewing thumbnails this will open up the "collection" of pictures you are looking at
  • All will become clear when you get to the "pictures menu"
  • Please bear in mind that pictures, on all websites, take a while to download. The current maximum speed that an ordinary phone line can handle (on a good day) is 56K (56 thousand) whereas a current "entry level" (500 quid) computer will process at 500mhz (500 million), quite a large disparity. BT have a little catching up to do. You can, for extra bucks, get an ISDN line which will still only double the speed. You are effectively renting 2 lines instead of one and paying twice as much per minute for the calls. Or  you can order the new BT "Openworld" system which is promised to increase the download time by 100-fold. However,
    • BT told me in June that it wasn't available in this area (Birmingham) until September and they would contact me again ... I've heard nothing!
    • it costs 40 per month flat rate
    • it costs 150 installation charge
    • it is at present untried and untested
    • to evaluate BT's expertise in Internet matters, visit their website, and good luck.
    • bear in mind that it is probably only in the UK that local calls cost anything, to add to the long list of UK rip-offs which includes petrol, cars, alcohol, tobacco, food, clothing, interest rates etc etc etc ... and all of the organisations involved claim they are doing you a favour

    For a website author, the only solution to the "time" problem is to lower the resolution, and hence the quality, of the pictures. I have done my best and the maximum time for a 10 picture collection is one minute, much faster the second time when your computer has memorised the details.

9. Sound

* If the download time for pictures is a problem, sound is a nightmare. To see what I mean click the little piano below and listen to the "latest news" page intro.

  • ... this tiny piece of music (4 seconds) has the following effect:
  • an extra 54 seconds download time on a 56K modem
  • nearly 2 minutes extra on a 28K modem

* If the little piano doesn't work, try the following:

  1. Install a sound card on your computer, or ...
  2. Look at the speakers, one should have a coloured light on it. Click the "on-off" switch next to it, or ...
  3. Look in the bottom right hand corner of your "desktop" screen. If the little speaker icon has a red line through it, double click it and then untick the box labelled "mute"

* Anyway, that is why this "music" website has very little music on it. I would love to put in a lot more but, believe me, you wouldn't be prepared to wait and "clickitis" would set in.

* Click here for details of sounds on this website

10. New Windows

A lot of thumbnails, quite a few page views, and all Internet links should open up to "new windows" which are clearly visible if you are following my above advice and viewing full screen. Simply click the cross in the top right-hand corner to exit when you've finished with 'em or you'll finish up with a desktop full of open web pages, which will slow things right down.

When using Netscape, these windows automatically open to full-page (on my machine anyway) which is a pain because it makes you unsure of where you are when the "back" button doesn't work

11. Broadband

It took me a long time to get around to installing Broadband (or ADSL) on my home computer - because of the enormous range of prices and packages out there. The thing to remember is that you get what you pay for - and the cheapest products offer reduced speed or time-limited access. Also, to install ADSL I found a good helpline essential - OK,  I only used it for 5 minutes - but I'd have been lost without it being there to explain what the hardware manuals should have - and didn't. Mind you, I also used up old computers as internet terminals on a wireless network - so I now get 3 lightning fast connections, all of which can run at the same time. Any terminal can run alone providing that the "hub" or router is switched on. The cost of networking was about a seventry quid for the router,  and a further 18 for each network "card" for the individual machines. But understand, the 3 comps are on 3 floors - and we can run a laptop in the garden in summer.

To summarise, a broadband connection costs a fixed monthly amount for permanent, fast, internet access - you don't have to "log on" every time you use it - and a huge bill is not running up in the background should you forget to switch it off. What do you need to get it? - a BT phone line (even if you're not using BT as ISP (internet service provider). If you don't have a BT line, you'll probably have an NTL cable service, which is even better - although you then have no choice as to ISP, it's go t to be NTL. All things considered, with free installation BT is probably the cheapest at the moment - it's up to you whether you decide they will provide the best service. I know what I think - and I don't use BT.

My conclusion - broadband is thoroughly excellent - you can be finished your visit by the time that it normally takes to "log on".

12. General

If you find your computer downloading or generally running slowly, defragment the drives. You should find the windows tool to do this under "start/accessories/system tools/defragment"
If, however, you are afraid to tackle technical tasks like this - go to your nearest bookstore and buy one of the "Dummies Guides". There are hundreds of them, covering topics from gardening to high finance, and they all share the opening assumption that you know nothing at all about the book subject matter and are quickly bored by tedious collections of words. They are probably the most expensive books on the shelf - but by far the best.
The guides to "Windows 98" or "PCs (in general)" are a good place to start.
The icon to your right will link you to the Dummies website. Please believe me when I say that I am not being paid for this plug. My only motive is to pass on what has been an enormous source of help to me in understanding and using computers

1mbb website by Tim James