Firefox browser alternatives for Windows

Firefox is a browser designed for a large variety of systems and even meant to run on really old ones. This brings along the conflict of improved performance on newer systems and backwards compatibility.

Since Mozilla itself considers the latter more important, other third party developers are providing forks of Firefox that concentrate on effectiveness on newer, including 64 bit, systems.


Waterfox is project based on Firefox and made specifically for 64 bit systems with Windows installed. Its main goal is to improve speed and performance on capable systems. The major plugins such as Flash, Java and Silverlight are all available as 64 bit versions while all add-ons and themes working with Firefox are also compatible with Waterfox. Waterfox uses the same profiles as Firefox - meaning you don't have to re-enter passwords and such, but also cannot open both programs at once.

Download Waterfox on the official project homepage:

Pale Moon

The Pale Moon project is maintained by a single person and is also designed to boost speed on newer Windows systems, cutting some minor functionality of Firefox away and being available as 64 bit version. It does not pick up Firefox' profiles automatically but does a tool to do so, which is provided on the homepage however. From my personal tests Pale Moon consumes only half of the RAM Fire- and Waterfox needed.

You can inform yourself about and download Palemoon on its homepage:

Watch videos in terminal on Linux Ubuntu/Mint

Watching videos in a terminal is not exactly a useful thing since everything can only be displayed in colored ASCII code - meaning, you will have quite a low resolution. However it is still a funny thing you should have done once if you're already on a Linux system.

All you basically need is a video and the newest version of mplayer - I'll use mplayer2 here since I had some issues with the official repository version. To download mplayer2, add the appropriate repository, refresh your sources and install afterwards:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ripps818/coreavc


sudo apt-get update


sudo apt-get install mplayer

If the last command does not work for you, replace mplayer with mplayer2 and try again. Afterwards, enter

mplayer -vo caca /home/christian/soi.mp4

to play the video (replace the video path i used with yours). To cancel the video, simply press q.

Using extra modules in Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell gives you the option to implement extra modules which can be used from within your scripts after invoking them with the appropriate command. For demonstrative purposes I will use the WASP module (Windows Automation Snapin for PowerShell) here. You can download it from:

After downloading, unpack the file and drag the contained WASP folder over to the PowerShell modules directory (C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Modules). To use it in your script, place the invocation before any of the module's commands. The invocation is

Import-Module WASP

Replace WASP with the name of the module you want to use. In the following script you can now use the commands associated with the module, e.g. select-window for the module I used.

Hidden menu in Windows 8

Operating systems are full of hidden features which are left to us users to explore, which is best done by right-clicking everything you see (or not see, in this case).

Windows 8 provides us with a rather hidden menu which had better been more visible, since it actually is quite useful. To get to it, point your mouse to the bottom left corner (where the Metro switcher pops up) and right-click.

The menu gives you quick access to many functions you might use frequently such as opening a new explorer window, the Task Manager, Control Panel, the Run prompt and even a direct link for an elevated Command prompt (and with it, the option for an elevated PowerShell). The menu also works from the Metro UI.

Windows 8 shortcuts

When you use Windows 8 on a desktop computer you better learn the most important keyboard shortcuts first, since you will have extreme long mouse-ways to cover (I will certainly not use my TV as computer screen anymore with Windows 8).

Windows-key = Switches between Metro menu and desktop if it is running

Windows-key + C = Opens the Charms menu (slim menu on the right)
Windows-key + K = Opens Devices charm
Windows-key + H = Opens Share charm
Windows-key + I = Opens Settings charm (Windows + I, up, enter, up, enter provides a rather quick way to shut down)

Windows-key + F = Opens file search
Windows-key + W = Opens settings search
Windows-key + Q = Opens the app search (nice replacement for start menu search)

“No space left on device” error on empty drives

It may occur that when you try to copy files from your hard disk to an external device such as an external HDD or a USB key, you get an error stating that there was no free space left on your device although you just erased everything from it to make some. This is most likely due to limitations of the file system your drive uses - newer drives might already use the NTFS file system while older will still use FAT32 or even FAT16.

The thing is that FAT32 formatted drives only support files up to a maximum size of 4GB - for example if you try to put an image file of 6 GB onto an external, FAT32 formatted hard drive of 320 GB with 100 GB of those still free and not in use, the copying will fail. To change this, you have to format the target drive to the NTFS file system.

Formatting will erase all data on a drive, so backup everything you have on it beforehand. Afterwards, right-click the drive in your file browser and choose Format....

On the appearing window, there will likely be an FAT file system on the File System drop-down menu (if it already says NTFS there, this guide won't solve your problems). Before you change anything, double-check that you picked the right drive. Then change the file system to NTFS and click Start.

Add language packs on Windows 8

Before Windows 8, language packs other than the one your Windows shipped with were reserved for users of the more expensive versions. This however will change in future as one can read on the msdn blog and see on the Windows 8 consumer preview.

Up to now the number of language packs is limited to a few languages but according to the large number of listed languages in the menu, there are much more to follow in the final release.

To add a language pack, open the Charms menu by pointing to the top or bottom right corner of the screen and click on Settings. Afterwards open the Control Panel from the menu and select Add a language from the Clock, Language, and Region menu. There, click on Add a language in the menu bar:

From the next screen, choose one of the many language tiles listed alphabetically and click on add (as mentioned before, not all of them are already installable). If the language pack for the language you chose is available you can double click the new entry in the menu to open its Options window. Click on Download and install language pack to get started.

After the installation, log out and in again to use the installed language. You can always switch between languages in the same menu.

Restore quick launch bar in Windows 7/8

The quick launch bar might have been the way most Windows XP users accessed all their data, be it folders they often needed or programs - everything could be put in there. This bar however was abandoned in further Windows versions but can be restored by very simple means.

To do so, right-click on some free space on the task bar and unlock it by removing the check next to Lock the taskbar. Then right-click again and choose Toolbars > New toolbar.... Use the Folder line and enter following:

%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Click Select Folder to confirm. A toolbar named Quick Launch will have appeared in your task bar. Right-click it and uncheck the options Show Text and Show title, this will give you back the original layout. Move it to the position you want to have it and lock the taskbar again afterwards.

How to create a picture password on Windows 8

Apart from the traditional text string password, Windows 8 offers a new form of securing your user account which is by including touch and/or gestures into the procedure. Spoken directly, you are now able to select a picture where you perform three mouse or touch gestures on (circles, line or dots) that will unlock your account if repeated correctly.

To create such a password open the Charms menu by pointing your mouse to the top or bottom right corner and select Settings. Afterwards click on Control Panel. Then navigate to User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change Your Windows Password > Make Changes to my account in PC settings > Create a picture password. On the next screen, browse for a picture you want to use as background for the picture password. When you are asked to, perform three gestures on the picture you chose - you can do circles, dots and lines, where circles that are too small will be recognized as dots and any other form will be transformed into one of those three depending on where start and end-points are and how the lines were drawn.

The gestures you have drawn will shortly blink up afterwards, so you now if it is what you actually wanted to draw. After you have drawn three forms, you have to confirm by drawing them again. You can orient yourself on the forms of the picture but should not do so too closely, since it will be really easy to guess afterwards. In the following picture for example, one should not use the bubbles as line reference but look for other forms or links to use - make it easy rememberable for you but hard to guess for others.

If you forget what you drew or the system, for any reason, simply does not accept what you drew (which usually does not happen that easily) - there is still the option to switch back to the regular text string password on log-in screen.

Pin folders to taskbar on Windows 7/8

By default, if you try pinning folders to the taskbar on Windows 7 or the current version of Windows 8 the folder will be put into the context menu of the taskbar's explorer icon.

To prevent this and stick a folder directly to the taskbar, you need to create a shortcut of the folder you want to pin (right-click and Create shortcut). Afterwards right-click the shortcut and select Properties. On the Target line you will see the path of the object that the shortcut is pointing to - put explorer in front of that path and separate them with a space character (e.g. explorer "C:\New_Folder"). Now click OK and drag the shortcut to the taskbar.