If you want a private browsing session where there is no record taken of the pages you visited and the keywords you entered anywhere (search queries, passwords etc.), Firefox offers the right option for you. The Private Browsing feature saves your current windows and tabs and opens up a new empty window that does not save any histories or inputs. After ending the session, it restores your previously closed windows and tabs. To access it on Firefox 7, browse the Firefox menu and click Start Private Browsing:
If you are still using Firefox 3.6, go to Tools instead and choose the appropriate option there:
But apart from this option, to truly erase your footsteps you need to take another step. One could still simply enter
into a command line and see what sites you were on. To prevent this, open a command line yourself by entering cmd into a Run... prompt and enter
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
apt-get install smartmontools
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:
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
replace /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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.