Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Playing With A Fox

Simply Put, Firefox Just Kicks *Hiney*

Back in the days when I was young, and we were enthusiastically impressed with something, we didn’t use the expressions “wicked”, or “awesome”, or “dope”.. or whatever it is the kids are using today. We said that something “rocks!” And when that something was tops in its class, we said it “kicks *gluteus maximus*!”

Today I want to use those superlatives and tell you about a boring old Web browser — something we use everyday. To do other things. Namely, surfing the Internet looking for interesting videos (or.. reading our e-mail). The program I want to talk about is one I have been using for years – maybe you have too – and most readers will recognize the name. So what has me so “jazzed”? I recently discovered that Mozilla’s Firefox browser has something called “Persona’s”, and I think they’re a “real kick in the head”  (I think they are fun).


That screenshot shows you what my Firefox looks like. Today. With a couple of clicks, I have applied the Persona titled “Tiger Eyes”. Persona’s (as Mozilla is calling them) are not a real new concept: in tech, they are sometimes referred to as “skins”, or “themes”. And in fact, you acquire, manage, and apply Persona’s in the Themes tab of the Add ons settings.
Click on Tools > Add ons, and then Themes. Your saved Persona’s/Themes are listed on the left, and a preview is shown on the right. To browse for new ones, click the “Get more Themes” link (bottom).

Add ons

This will take you to the Persona’s Gallery, where there are 1829 pages of Persona’s to choose from. When you are in the Gallery, you can hover your cursor over a Persona “thumbnail”, and it will be temporarily applied to your Firefox so you can easily see how the Theme effects your menus, tabs, etc.
Yes. 1829 pages. And I found at least one “keeper” on every page..!


Today I am ready to conquer the world — and thus the tiger Persona. But this week I also used these Persona’s/Themes…



Semper Fi

And I want you, Dear Reader, to know that in spite of what impression my high-contrast, more masculine, preferences may have given you, I assure you that there are persona’s for kids…

Ice Age

and scads of frilly, “pretty”, pastel, flowers-and-butterflies girly stuff for the ladies…

pink leopard spots

These links will take you to the Gallery, pre-sorted into categories… which might reduce your number of choices down to the high hundreds… I am sure you’ll find one that fits your mood.

Persona Categories:

So check it out. Customize your Firefox and make it more “you” by applying a Persona today. Have some fun. Doing so is free, and it’s easy.

Related: To see my other articles on the features of Firefox, click here.

Unrelated: Do you like free software? Own a loptop? See my current software license giveaway: Software Licence Giveaway

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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March 15, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Make XP Look Like Vista or Mac OS X

Free Downloads Transform Your Desktop

In one of my prior articles (see, A Brief Pause/fun with XP Themes) I wrote about using Windows Themes to customize the look and feel of your Desktop, and make it more “you”. I also told you about “wallpaper” and “skins“, which much more radically alter the GUI (“goo-ey”, aka Graphical User Interface), allowing deeper changes.

There is, literally, a whole world of Desktop wallpapers, XP skins, and pre-configured Themes available for you to explore. Do you love kittens? Unicorns? NASCAR? I’m sure there’s a theme/skin for you.
(A couple of quick resources: The official Microsoft XP “Desktop enhancements” webpage, and Witt’sWallpapers.)

It’s a fact — though Microsoft did soften, and modernize the “Windows look” with XP (rounded edges, and a picture background), it looks quite dated to us today.. a bit stodgy and boring. (And to some observers, it kinda says, “we’re too *thrifty* to buy new equipment.”)

Today’s free downloads: By downloading and installing a skin, you can change the face your computer presents to the world, without changing the essential code of the underlying operating system.

So, if you would like the Vista Desktop, Menus, Sidebar widgets and general look and feel, but XP loyalty/Vista hate, program compatibility, etc. means sticking with XP — download the Vista Transformation Pack.

Or, you can really “trip people out” (to use a little California lingo) and put an Apple Mac face on your XP machine with RK Launcher. RK Launcher* gives you a customizable “Dock” to replace the Windows Taskbar.

Kind of hard to believe that both those screenshots are XP machines.. right?

Today’s free link: Gmail users hit by ViddyHo phishing chat attack
The unsolicited instant messages urge Gmail users to “check out this video” by clicking on a link via the TinyURL service. The link, however, directs users to a website called ViddyHo – which asks surfers to enter their Gmail usernames and passwords.

* My thanks to Deb Shindler for mentioning this program.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 25, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, tweaks, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fun and games with Windows XP– Themes*

A “heads up” to my loyal readers — as you are aware, today starts a long Holiday weekend to celebrate the founding of the first nation governed not by Monarchy, but By the People. In the spirit of long weekends, I will not be writing new Tech for Everyone posts (after this one) for a few days but I will repost some of the older, more popular past articles which you may have missed. I will be available for tech help and support at Aplus Computer Aid, however.

Tip of the day: Give XP a “makeover”. One of the “coolest” things about Windows Vista®, in my opinion, is it does not look like boring old XP. Instead of the blue desktop, which dates back to Windows 95, Vista has a rather nice nature photo. The “edges” around windows are ‘modernized’ in Vista and have a smoother “feel”, and so on and so forth. The Vista GUI looks a lot like what Apple users have been used to seeing in OS X.

If you, too, are bored and tired with XP’s utilitarian ‘look’ and are not ready (for whatever reason) to dive into a brand-new operating system, you can “tweak” the look of XP in a myriad of ways and make it a much more modern and pleasant-to-look-at computer. There are pre-built ‘packages’ — called “skins” — that you can download. Windows X offers a “Vista Transformation” utility that fairly mimics the Vista shell (look to Today’s free link) on XP machines. And there are display settings, and “themes” that you can simply change from their defaults, which is what I’m going to describe today.

Today we’re going to explore the Display Properties options — get started by right-clicking on any vacant area of your desktop and selecting Properties. This is the same place we used to create our custom screensaver slideshow in an earlier post.
By default, Display Properties opens to the Theme tab. Use the drop-down arrow in the Themes window, and you will see that we’re basically faced with two choices: the getting old XP Theme, and the even older Windows Classic theme. Don’t be discouraged by this. This is where you would make the changes if you had downloaded a “skin” from the Internet. We will be using the other tabs.

Kill the hill. XP by default shows us a desktop that is either a solid color (blue) or a rolling hill, but XP comes with other (better) choices. Click on the Desktop tab. Now explore the possibilities, using the up-down scroll arrows, of the names listed in the Background box — the previews are displayed on the little PC when you single-click on a name.
You may already see the pictures in your My Pictures folder listed here as well. This is because you can use just about any digital image as your desktop, and the “stretch” option helps the image fit the screen. If this little bundle of possible backgrounds doesn’t satisfy, and you have a specific image in mind, use a graphics manipulation tool (like Photoshop) to resize the image to your screen resolution (Found on the Settings tab. My laptop’s resolution is 1024 x 768 pixels at {the standard} 96dpi, for example) and Save it. Now use the …Browse button to find and open it, and viola!

More tweaks: Now let’s explore the Appearance tab, which allows us to modify to some degree the look of the windows we interact with. Again, we really have the two choices of old and older, and again, a “skin” is the way to make drastic changes, but by clicking the Advanced button there is quite a bit we can adjust, as shown below.


You can ‘tweak’ colors and sizes, and in some cases, behaviors. For more color options, click on the down-arrow on Color1, and a small palette will open: for even more color options, click Other.

By experimenting with these options and ‘tweaks’, you can customize the look of XP and make your computer much more personal. Also, Microsoft has a free “PowerToy” called “TweakUI” which can further open up options for adjustments to XP; to read more about/get it, click here, and scroll to the “today’s free link:” area.

For those of you who want the Vista “look”…

Today’s free link: Windows X offers a tool that makes changes to XP which makes it look and operate quite a bit like Vista. Before you use this utility I strongly advise that you have a full system backup, as I demonstrated in yesterday’s post, just “in case” it proves incompatible with a device driver or Windows Update. Also, I must reiterate my disclaimer in regards to this particular reco’ — I have not done this, as I have been running Vista since early betas, and so I cannot attest to its reliability. If you’re brave, and have a full back up, download the Vista Transformation Pack.

Enjoy your holiday!

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 4, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, software, tech, tweaks, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment