With their smaller display it’s important to get as much information on screen as possible when using a Netbook. Therefore a lot of the toolbars and status bars can get a little in the way.
You can, of course, use F11 to view full screen in Firefox but this isn’t always the most convenient option. What if you still had everything to hand but could reduce some of the screen real-estate not used for browsing?
All of the add-ons below can be downloaded as a special collection from Firefox.
This replaces the separate Stop and Reload icons with a single icon – after all you can’t do both, so the use of this will change depending on the current page state. If loading, it will be a stop button, otherwise it will be a reload button. Simple.
This will hide the status bar at the bottom of Firefox when not needed. About the only thing of use regularly is displaying the page load status, but that’s covered by the next add-on.
Sadly, this add-on is no longer available.
Fission combines address bar and progress bar. In a nutshell the page load progress is shown by a coloured bar in the background of the address bar.
As the name suggests, this hides the main menu bar at the top. Pressing the ALT bar re-displays it.
This replaces the various main menu bar options with toolbar alternatives.
This replace the standard menu bar with a tiny menu popup.
Rearrange or remove menu items from the main context menu (right-click menu) and main menubar (File, Edit, View, etc).
With the smaller screen resolution of Netbooks it’s often the case that program windows aren’t always visible on screen, in particular with the top bar hidden off screen so you can’t move it back in view, or it may be a window without a “dragable area”.
Linux has a great function that allows you to move windows with the mouse when pressing the ALT key. Well, now, you can have this on Windows too thanks to AltDrag, a small, free application.
Not much else to say – it works a treat and gets the thumbs up from me.
Having said that I would recommend a rebuild of your PC every year, it’s a bit galling that it’s nearly 2 years since I’ve done it myself. In fact that’s as long as I’ve had my Mesh PC, and I’ve never got around to it.
The reasons, though, are simple – I was afraid to. When I’ve self-built machines the past I knew exactly how they worked, where the software and drivers were, etc. But with someone else’s build, it’s not quite the same.
Anyway, I went for it yesterday. Mesh provide a recovery partition – but that turns out not work (it was looking for a non-existent drive). They also provide a CD, but looking at this showed none of the installed software that the Mesh came with (Microsoft Works and a suite of media software). Obviously if I rebuilt with this I’d lose them all. Heading to the Mesh website gave me my answer – they expect you to reinstall Windows, but replacing the original build, which leaves software installations and document intact. This wasn’t my preferred choice so I “bit the bullet” and reformatted my drive and reinstalled Windows. So far, all is working well. The base drivers and software are now in place and I’ve configured it how I like it (to a certain level) – then I’ll make an image of the drive, followed by installing all the other software and drivers and making final changes.
I took the opportunity to try out the Beta version of TeraCopy – a fast file copier which works alongside the standard Windows copying facility. It really is excellent and really improved copying speeds. This is a good opportunity to check whether my day-to-day backup system is working. But, just in case it isn’t, I used Teracopy to copy all the essential files to an external HD.
As standard, Windows will poll USB devices once every 1ms. However, this can cause the issue of laptops unable to enter the C3 processor power-saving state. By increasing the USB polling interval from 1ms to 5ms the processor can enter a C3 power-saving state during its inactivity.
There are also suggestions that decreasing the polling rate will also save energy generally. I’m not sure.
But, anyway, until I hear that all of this is some kind of urban myth, I’m willing to give it a try.
Here’s a couple of scripts (save them with .reg extensions and run them as required) that I rattled off to activate the “idle” (5ms) and also to return to “normal” (1ms)…
Activate Idle Polling Interval…
Deactivate Idle Polling Interval…
Or download them from here.
On my main PC and at work I use the excellent John’s Background Switcher to randomise my wallpaper and, in the case, of work display different ones across my multi-monitor setup. It works well and, due to the amount of time I’m usually on them, changes regularly throughout the day.
For my Netbook, however, it’s different. Due to its short bursts of use, changing regularly isn’t so important and, at the same time, I need a program that’s compact and uses as few resources as possible.
Step forward Craig’s Random Wallpaper Changer. This has no options, no GUI interface. Nothing. You simply drop it into the folder that your wallpapers are stored in and then create a shortcut to it in your Startup folder. It will then randomise your desktop background on startup. And that’s it. It then finishes and uses no more resources.
It’s a superb idea and I highly recommend it.