Extend Your Windows 7 Trial

If you have gotten yourself a Windows 7 trial of any edition and it is about to expire, but you need more time to use it for whatever reason, there is a cmd command that allows you to extend the trial by resetting the remaining number of days to the one it was in the beginning. This can only be done three times and will be disabled afterwards. To see how many days of your trial are left, right-click Computer and select Properties:

To extend the time to use the trial open a command prompt by running cmd via Run... and enter following:

slmgr -rearm

The command is only working if the value of SkipRearm in the Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform Windows Registry key is set to 0.

Skip the Web Search Prompt for Unknown File Extensions (Windows)

If you open a file with an extension that is unknown to Windows, it will react with the following prompt:

I cannot remember to have used the web search a single time, that is why I disabled it long ago. One can accomplish that with a simple registry entry. Open your Windows Registry by entering regedit into a Run... prompt and browse the following key in the left frame:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
Now you will have to create a value if it is not already present for some reason. Go to the right frame, right-click it and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it NoInternetOpenWith and set its value to 1.

Close the registry. Now, upon opening a file with an unknown extension, Windows will skip the web search prompt and head straightforward to the list of software available.

Get the disk health status with SMART monitor tools on Debian and Ubuntu Linux

Every modern disk has a internal monitoring function called SMART that keeps track on errors in that disk. There is a software package called smartmontools on Linux which can be used to query the SMART status of the disk to monitor if the disk might fail in near future.

Installation

apt-get install smartmontools

Usage

First we need to know the internal device name of the harddisks. For the first SATA disk, this is normally /dev/sda, the second is /dev/sdb etc. If you are unsure about the device names of your computer, then you can get them with:

fdisk -l

The command lists the partitions e.g. /dev/sda1. To get the device name, use the partition name without the number, e.g. the device of partition/dev/sda1 is /dev/sda.

To get a summary of the healt status of the disk, run:

smartctl --health /dev/sda

replaceĀ /dev/sda with the device name of the harddisk that you want to query.

The output will look similar to this:

~# smartctl --health /dev/sda
smartctl version 5.38 [x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

To get the full detailed output of all parameters, use this command:

smartctl --all /dev/sda

 

Backup Your Windows Registry

Before you make any changes in your Windows Registry where you're not completely sure of what you are doing, it might be a good idea to make a backup of your current registry settings. You can either do that by creating a System Restore Point or do a backup of only the registry itself. To do the latter, enter it by typing regedit into a Run... prompt. Right-click on Computer on the left frame (the root directory of the keys) and select Export:

Choose a directory where to save the backup and hit Save. The file that is created that way is a *.reg file and can be merged (in this case it replaces the whole registry) on double-click.
This way you create a backup of the whole registry. It is a good idea to have a full working registry backed up, but you can also back-up smaller parts by exporting sub-keys of Computer.

Disable Automatic Window Arrangement (Aero Snap, Windows 7)

The window arrangement feature in Windows 7 (the one that maximises windows to full- or half-screen when you drag them to the screen's border) might appeal to many users, I however find it rather annoying than helpful.

Therefore I will show an option here that enables you to turn window arrangement off. Open the Windows Registry by entering regedit into a Run... prompt. On the left frame, browse the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop key and left-click it once. On the right frame, look for the WindowArrangementActive value - double-click it and change it from 1 to 0.

You may have to reboot your system, but afterwards window arrangement should be disabled.

Middle-click Options on Panel Icons in Windows 7

The mouse-wheel gives you great options to handle program-tabs in the system panel as a third mouse button. If middle-click on a program tab, a new instance of the same program is opened right next to the existing:

If you hover above a program tab and middle-click on the preview thumbnail instead, the same instance of the program will be closed:

This gives you great flexibility when it comes to handling system panel tabs.

Visualize your HDD space usage on Windows with Disk Space Fan

Of course you can view your disk space usage with the tools and statistics that Windows itself gives you, but if you want a closer and more detailed look at it, then try out Disk Space Fan. Disk Space Fan is a free-ware utility that shows not only how much space you have used on your disk but also what kind of software you have on it, and on top of it, it presents the information in a nice fan-shaped diagram:

You can also go deeper into the categories to gain an even more detailed view. Download Disk Space Fan on http://www.diskspacefan.com/download.html

Disable Windows Explorer Search Query Saving (Windows 7)

This is usually useful if you are not the only one using the computer you are working on and want to hide the keywords you searched for on the Windows Explorer. The way to do it is to open the Local Group Policy Editor by entering gpedit.msc into a Run... prompt, browse this key on the left frame: User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Explorer and left-click it once to see its values on the right frame. Look for Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box.

Double-click and enable it. The recent search queries will now no longer be displayed in your search bars.

Problem Steps Recorder in Windows 7

It can be really hard to solve computer problems if the only thing you've got is a description and nothing else. This is why Windows 7 integrated a Problem Steps Recorder which, if activated, records every action the user of the computer takes with a screenshot and a brief description of the action. Open it by typing psr into a Run... prompt:

The record is saved as a zipped mhtml file, usually only readable by Internet Explorer but also in Firefox if you install the proper add-on (it is called UnMHT, find it here). It displays all the descriptions of the steps taken along with the screenshots made and is also not too large in size, making it easy to share it with someone who might help out with a problem.

Use of Shell, Registry, Keyboard and Voice in VBScript (Windows)

Look here to learn how to create Visual Basic Scripts.

Using Visual Basic Script you can also access elementary Windows services, some them being really useful to irritate your friends. If at any point of the script there is an error stating that the double-quotes used in it are invalid characters, just delete the copied ones and type them again manually.
With the use of a shell, you can make VBScripts run programs and other executables. To do so you have to specify following line in the beginning of the script:

Set objShell = wscript.CreateObject("wScript.Shell")

Afterwards you can run commands with

objShell.run program

where you replace program with the program you want to run.
To add an executable to the autostart list via registry, you use the following script:

objShell.Regwrite "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\some_name.exe","C:\the\files\path.vbs

Replace the name with any name, it really can be any name, and the path of the file with the correct path. The script will then be executed on every start-up (be careful if you use this in combination with more dangerous scripts).
To make the script itself type as if it was the keyboard, use this script (a shell must be set for this as in the first script shown here):

objShell.sendkeys"key_goes_here"

Replace key_goes_here with the keys the script is supposed to hit. Some of them are embraced by curly brackets, as for example "{CAPSLOCK}", "{NUMLOCK}", "{SCROLLOCK}" and "{bs}" (backspace). Most however go without, as do all letter keys and enter ("~"). Combining all the locks with a loop usually gives a great script!
To make Windows' integrated voice say some words defined by you, use the following script:

Set objVoice = CreateObject("SAPI.SpVoice")
objVoice.Speak "blabla"

Replace blabla with some serious things your computer has to say to you.