Can free software meet my needs? – The Platforms

Can free software meet my needs?

Many of us are familiar with free software and applications, but can they really help us achieve personal or business needs?

The simple answer is YES, most definitely, free software can solve many problems and address many needs, but there are some gotchas to watch out for.

This series of Tips and Tools

In this series about free applications and software we will uncover the myriad of sources, many of which you may not even be aware of, we will consider the traps and gotchas that sourcing free software can throw up from the complexity of selecting the right software through to the security practices, required to protect you from malware and other risks.

The Platforms

Lets first consider at a high level the diverse platforms available on which to run free software. It is not until you understand all the platforms available, that you can realise the full potential and scale of free software available. We will cover these platforms in more detail in future posts, but this tip can tell you where to start looking; (in no particular order)

  • SmartPhone Application Stores Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and other providers
  • Desktop applications for your Windows, Linus or MAC
  • Programming language specific software like multi-platform Java applications
  • New Desktop application stores such as the Windows Store
  • Hidden browser features, eg type “timer for 5 minutes” in a Chrome browser address bar
  • Browser Applications and Plugins such as in FireFox and Chrome
  • Online applications and feature sites like or the more accessible
  • Locally hosted WebSite application software
    see Internet Hosted
  • Internet hosted Website Application software like, Installatron or Fantastico scripts
  • Features and plugins for Website Application software such as WordPress can be customised to special needs
  • Cloud provisioned Website applications like
  • Software Virtualisation platforms such as Docker
  • Portable applications platforms like for Windows.

Almost all the above platforms are available to us all, with only a little “guided setup” effort. We will address each of these platforms in later posts, along with some not listed here because they need special attention, needless to say, we predict they will “blow your mind”.

A lot more to follow

Here on People, Systems and Things we will keep you informed about any opportunities to operate or organise your personal and business life along with key tips, so please subscribe for future tips. Alternativly if you need answers now, contact us for obligation free advice.

Using a Browser for work. Tips and Tricks

Many powerful applications, websites and services including Office 365 are available online and in the Internet browser. As a result we are using the browser more and more to do our job. Here is a collection of tips that can improve your productivity. Please feel free to contribute more.

Use the Browser Zoom

On Windows PCs and common browsers holding the Ctrl key and rolling the Mouse Button allows you to zoom in and out on many screens. Adjust it to the size you need at the time. Make it easy to share the screen with someone sitting next to you, or get a big wide view to see the full page.

Back and Next

Learn when using the Back and Forward Button (next and Previous) in your browser to return o the last page or return. In some cases this will not work, but once you learn where you can use this returning to you last place and can be very useful.

Follow links the smart way

Webpages usually have a lot of links on them and clicking them can take you to a new page but sometimes it is not easy to return, or you would like keep the first page open. Learn how to open a link in a new page or Tab as a way to keep the first page open Right-Click a link in Windows as an example.

Use your Browsers Pin Tab, Group tabs and default tabs features

This can make you workday start quickly by preparing the tabs you need as soon as you open the browser. I use Pin Tab and reopen last tabs features to prepare my browser for everyday tasks in FireFox.

Create Browser users

In Chrome you can create different users of chrome, and these can have their own default tabs, saved login credentials and pined tabs. Create a Shortcut to access each user for different functions. You can even use productivity techniques to ensure you are not distracted by emails and messages while you focus on specific tasks.

Close Tabs and Browsers to save memory

Using a Plugin such as OneTab in Firefox and Chrome lets you quickly close all open tabs (excluding pinned ones), but OneTab saves all the open tabs into a list of links, so they can quickly be reopened. Do not fear loosing a valuable lead in you effort to reduce the demand on your computers resources. Having many tabs open can be confusing and distracting but also may use a lot of your computers resources and closing them help the computer run faster.



Kill the caps lock

How often is the Caps lock key a problem for you?

  • You are typing away only tO FIND you need to delete and retype a word or a whole sentence?
  • Or you try twice to login with a password to discover the caps lock key was on, or worse you lock yourself out because of too many attempts?
  • Do people complain your are SHOUTING too much in social media?

Now tell us when do you use the caps lock key for a serious purpose?

I thought so, most likely never!

Perhaps it made sense when;

  • Pressing two type writer keys at once was hard work
  • We did not have heading styles to nicely format headings so used all caps
  • Auto capitalisation on a new sentence was not available
  • You are a professional touch typist who never makes a mistake

I killed the caps lock key

For me I see no advantage having a caps lock key and the disadvantages occurred half a dozen times every day. Sometimes fixing the problem was frustrating and time consuming. So what did I do?,

I killed the caps lock key on my computer. I used SharpKeys to remap the caps lock key to the more benign shift key and have not looked back.

A feature on your computer, a utility or some registry hacks can be found to remap keys on any computer. Just search for a solution to suit you computer and operating system and I think you will be pleased. But don’t go overboard, because too much re-mapping will cause new problems and every now and then you will need to use another keyboard or computer.

Please let us know where else caps lock gives you grief or other key remappings that people could use.


Browser Productivity, what I learned from old fashioned phones

Is a Web Browser now one of the places you spend a lot of time be it for work or play? If not I expect your use of browsers in one form or another will increase as more is moving to the Cloud (the internet) every day.

We at People, Systems and Things do spend a lot of time in the browser building solutions for our clients, researching opportunities and a myriad of cloud platforms. As a result we have faced a suit of problems and productivity issues that as solutions providers we have applied our skills to solving. We love to share, so we are starting a series of turbo powered browser tips that will help you be browser smart.

In some cases we will highlight features of a particular browser however with a little searching most of these can be applied to any browser, sometimes with the addition of a plugin, Extension or app.

So what did I learn from old fashioned phones?

When I started my working life, there was no internet, but even once it was available (I was an early adopter) the phone on the desk or in the warehouse was a key to almost all business operations. When work demanded it, learning how to use the phone to transfer a call, put it on hold, use the speaker phone was critical to your productivity. Given this you may be surprised that  when I asked fellow workers how to do something with the phone they often had no idea.  I came to realise that most people know little about the most important and fundamental tools they use everyday. Many of us  learn a minimum and leave it there. The problem with this is those key tools are a big part of your day, the time and effort expended using the phone was a large component of what people do all day and yet most people have no more than a basic understanding of them.

This discovery has informed me in my whole career, I actively review the tools I use regularly and endeavour to learn what I can about them, use “make it stick” practices to remember what I learn and use this knowledge to improve both my productivity and professional reputation.

Today the browser is also near the centre of many of our day to day activities, the phone also remains near the centre, but in now also a mobile computer, which incidentally has a browser in it. As Molly Meldrum used to say on Countdown (Australian Reference) “do yourself a favour” and spend a little time on your key tools.

Subscribe to our website at or Follow us in facebook to guarantee you follow our productivity enhancing tips, and this series about Browser Productivity.



Running out of GMail Space? Want a quick solution?

I was an early adopter of gmail from Google, and I can’t speak too highly of it. There are great tools and features and the advertising that is associated with it’s free service, is reasonable and not intrusive, so much so, if it is relevant to me I do have a look at what advertisers offer. You can even tell google what adds are inappropriate.

I use a single In-box to service a range of email addresses as well which means I was until recently approaching my free 15Gb storage limit. I will post on tips and tricks with GMail in future posts but what follows is a quick and easy way to recover space from your GMail account.

To see how much space you are using select the settings cog at the top right,


At the bottom of most settings tabs you can see your usage


Perhaps you can leave it if you have less than 90% used, but sooner or later you may have to act.  Select manage and you can look in more detail. Mouse over the pie chart for a indication of what is using your space (not only email contributes to this limit)


If you do need to remove some emails to increase the available space, Return to your in-box and follow these easy instructions.

Choose your Primary or other tab such as promotions, if you have this feature. Then select the first example of a reoccurring email you know is filling up your in-box, you may want to unsubscribe at this point if you don’t care for them. Now follow these quick steps to eliminate them.

Open one of the repetitive emails, then select more and Filter Messages like these;


The filter dialogue will appear, something like this;


It will sometimes look different and you can use the other options to refine your filter further.

Now select the Search button


A list of emails that match will appear. Notice how they show the most recent first, after a page or two you will be looking at quite old emails and their potential value diminishes.

Now select the check box at the top left of the list of emails and it will check all items in the list you can see;


If you have more than the displayed number of emails, that meet your filter settings the following will appear;


Scan through the list of emails to confirm you are happy to delete them. You may want to click the Next to check ones that are not yet displayed.


and again;


Notice how it may have being lying. If you are confident you can delete all matching emails, click on Select all Conversations that match this search.


and you will see


Now click on the trash can


Then Click OK to confirm the batch action

All the emails will be placed in the Trash. Messages that have been in Trash more than 30 days will be automatically deleted.

Do this for a few more of your space wasting emails and you will recover a lot of space.

Of Course, if you want to, you can buy more space and you may need to, if you use Google Drive or Photos a lot.

Computer Literacy and coaching for the Cyberphobic

Subtitle: Cyberphobia and the digital anthropologist

No one was born with a detailed understanding of modern technology

Modern technology is slowly bending to the way we humans think and touch, just think about touch screens and vision processing systems and the impact they have had in the last decade on the way we use computers. But this is just not enough for many people.

Do you sometimes fear using a computer?

Having supported 1,000’s of people in my lifetime, I have learned that a fear of computers is a real thing for many people and it can be as debilitating as being illiterate  (Anthony Muscio – PSaT Founder).

Just like illiteracy Cyberphobia  can result in a range of secondary responses by the sufferer including avoidance of computer related activity, going to extraordinary lengths to hide what you feel is your ignorance and sometimes even becoming a Luddite – Showing disapproval, saying you do not like new technology and trying  to avoid using it when in the rest of your life you are open minded and adventurous.

Once again, similar to illiteracy, Cyberphobia may simply be you have not had a chance to learn, or the right example and teachers in your life.

Where can I go for help?

We recommend you seek out confidential support from and experienced professional for counselling. Wait, there is no such thing is there? Not as far as we can tell. You could go to some community courses but it can be difficult in groups for some people, and are you to able to commit the time? Many community courses are great introductions and can be very compassionate but they never really go far enough for otherwise high functioning busy individuals. Upper management, including executives and even celebrities or high profile individuals may find individual counselling more practical and provide a safer environment to overcome their fears. see below to learn how People, Systems and things is here to help.

Digital anthropologists rather than digital natives

Much is made of the Digital natives –

Digital native – a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and so familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.

but even among this cohort cyberphobia can be found, and we argue they are the last people to seek counselling from. Digital natives think everything is obvious,  they do not even remember when they leant what they know, nor have they suffered the indignity imposed on them by the earlier technology, the seed of many older peoples Cyberphobia. Many Digital natives learned but have not taught.

We think the sufferer of Cyberphobia requires the services of a Digital anthropologist with a lived experience. Digital anthropologists have seen or studied  the evolution of the digital world and also understand the metaphors required to transition to the digital world. A digital anthropologist with a lived experienced has also personally experienced the change you need to go through to overcome your fears, they have met sufferers, supported them and seen the fears overcome.

Our first name is “People”

People, Systems and things knows every individual is unique, we understand the everyday experience of cyberphobia and we plan to help by providing confidential one one one support and coaching sessions. If you are quick you can participate in our service before it is launched at scale and at reduced prices. This is a bespoke, tailored service by an experienced teacher/trainer  and can be undertaken online or on-site (outside Sydney, Australia will be considered in the right circumstances). e-Mail [email protected] or if even that is a challenge call us, see Contact Us.

Have you thought about the cloud?

Internet-based software, services and applications along with virtual servers, applications and data storage are transforming the choices for individuals and business.

Benefits include

  • Fast and effective acquisition of resources
  • Ability to scale quickly even de-scale
  • Substantial reduction in upgrade and maintenance costs
  • Ability to benefit from the leading edge
  • Reduced capital investment
  • Ability to obtain what you need rather than put up with what you have
  • Applications development and hosting
  • Virtual hardware and networking

People, Systems and Thing is experienced in many public, private and cloud technology from the consumer offering to enterprise and do it yourself solutions. We can be your guide in this journey to help you clarify your requirements, satisfy your needs and expand your scope of opportunities.

Why People, Systems and Things?

We have a new and Innovative approach to help business move to the cloud which engages your business in the process, facilitates innovation in business practices and delivers higher quality in a more timely manner. Think these are big claims?, then come to us to find out why we can make these claims.

Enterprise social vs Email

Most internet users today are familiar with email and it continues to play an important role however many of us are aware of some of its limitations.

Watch the following video to really grasp the issue.

The answer is to use other means of communication for a lot of our collaboration and communications. Enterprise social is a great example of tools fit for purpose and Yammer is a great example (Now part of the Office 365 stable), such tools fit into the category

Email is a great “universal address”, allows you register for sites and other services and is good for a whole lot more, but the time has come for the “internet crowd” to get a little more informed.

People, Systems and Things can help individuals get the most from social enterprise solutions as well as build a culture of “The Conversation” in your organisation.

What three words describe where you are?

Peoples, Systems and Things have enthusiastically embraced the great services available at or for short.

What3Words describes where you are, by naming every 3m by 3m square on earth using just three English words (other languages available).  For example we can tell you of a nice shady spot to sit in summer in Randwick is at weds.tamed.actual and you can place it on a map by sharing go on, follow the link and have a look.

In fact this simple and very useful tool, is far more powerful than you may think at first, and we are actively exploring the possibilities. So stay tuned on this “channel” or subscribe to our WebSite to stay informed. In the mean time explore its features further including our description here.

We are collaborating with a number of people and groups interested in various location technologies and evangelising the value of What3Words.

Content continues to be added to the Sustainable Systems Method Site

We are yet to launch the Sustainable Systems Method and its website but feel free to visit the site. Please subscribe or contact us if you wish to learn more. We will be looking for small to medium enterprises soon to become founding partners. We want to identify friendly organisations who are committed to sustainable environmental social, human and natural systems. Such partners will receive free services in return for feedback and contributions.

from concept to realisation