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Lowell Heddings

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

As a command line junkie, I end up doing almost everything from a command prompt. The problem is that Windows Vista doesn’t have a built-in command to launch an application in administrator mode.

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If you use UltraEdit as your text editor and edit a lot of Linux/Unix files, you’ve no doubt encountered the “File is probably not DOS format” message every single time you open a file. So irritating…

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If you’ve got a directory with dozens of zipped or rar’d files, you can run a single command to unzip them all in one step, thanks to the power of the bash shell.

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You’ve got a production database server, and you can’t enable query logging… so how do you see the queries being executed against the database?

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So you’ve got a bunch of .OGM video files and they won’t play in Windows Vista… relax, you just need to install the right codecs in order to play them from within Windows Media Player.

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If you’ve ever wondered how best to kill a few hours, I have the answer. (Yes, I realize this is completely off-topic)

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Google has just released a new experimental search that lets you navigate through search results using the same shortcut keys as Gmail and Google Reader. The problem is that Firefox’s default search box doesn’t default to it.

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Microsoft’s SQL Server has a tool called Profiler that you can use to monitor every SQL query that hits the database. This is extremely useful for programmers as well as database administrators to troubleshoot the exact queries generated by an application.

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Every Geek uses Gmail… it’s pretty much required. And now you can set Gmail as the default client in Ubuntu without any extra software. (Windows requires the Gmail notifier be installed)

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Automatic Updates is a great feature. Your computer stays protected from threats without worrying about it… but if it’s 3am and I’m trying to play a video game, the last thing I want is for the automatic updates to pop up and remind me every 5 minutes that I need to reboot, interrupting my game… Drives me crazy!

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If you’ve tried to use the built-in “Extract Here” functionality in Ubuntu’s File Roller to extract either a single or a multi-part zip or rar file and ended up with a “Password required” error, then you might just assume the files are password protected when in fact they are not.

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If you encounter this error message as often as I do, you will thank your various gods for this extension, which allows you to hide the warning message on a per site basis, for both Firefox as well as Thunderbird.

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Did you know that you can run more than one Firefox profile at once? This can be extremely useful if you want to test out extensions more easily, create a web development profile, run a slimmed down profile just for Gmail, or if you just want to have a clean profile.

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The System Restore feature in Windows Vista is very important to keep enabled, what with all the problems Vista users are having with compatibility. Even so, the disk usage can get out of hand if you install a large amount of software.

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Ubuntu has an option for adding a Trash Can icon to the desktop, which might be a comfort for those of you migrating from Windows.

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Many utilities need to be run as administrator in order to function properly, especially older utilities that haven’t been updated to support Windows 7 or Vista yet.

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I prefer a clean desktop with no icons cluttering it up, but by default Ubuntu adds icons to the desktop for every single removable drive that you attach to your system.

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If you’ve been wondering why your XP desktop icons have a background color, you’ll be glad to know you can flip a checkbox and have them go back to a normal transparent background.

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Ubuntu includes a very limited shortcut key configuration utility which doesn’t allow you to assign hotkeys to your own applications or scripts. To get around this limitation, we can use the built-in gconf-editor utility to assign them ourselves.

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Restarting Firefox is always difficult for those of us with dozens of tabs open, because you don’t want to lose all the open tabs, but you might not want to bookmark them all either.

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It drives me crazy when applications install themselves into the system tray without giving me a choice during setup. QuickTime has no good reason to be in the system tray, but it’s there anyway after you install iTunes.

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I’ve previously written about mounting an ISO image in Windows Vista using Virtual CloneDrive, but I thought I’d go a step further and explain how you can mount more than one ISO at a time.

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If Outlook 2007’s new Instant Search just isn’t… instant… there’s a patch from Microsoft that might fix this problem for you.

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The How-To Geek doesn’t allow just anybody to leave any comment they feel like. Because this site is dedicated towards helping people, only helpful, constructive, on-topic or interesting comments will be approved.

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If you have an external hard drive that is always plugged into your computer, you can enable write caching to speed up performance significantly when writing to the disk.

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