Are you the sneaky, private type that doesn't want anyone to see what you're actually doing on your computer all day? Are you surfing for material that may not be appropriate for your kids to see? Or even your wife? Maybe you're at work and your boss keeps seeing you visit LittleWhiteDog.Com everyday and you're worried about getting in a tad bit of trouble. Even if you are not doing anything wrong, and you are just looking at confidential material that you don't want anyone else to view, Don't Panic!, by Panicware is the answer to all of your troubles. This software can be useful to just about anyone that needs a bit of privacy on their machine.
In a nutshell, this program offers a quick one-touch security system that will instantly hide all actively running programs from your desktop, and replace them with whatever you choose. Don't Panic is completely configurable from the icon that rests in your systray to a command line interface that allows you to launch your web browser to a specific URL the instant you need it. I lifted this quote right from the Panicware website to demonstrate how they promote the product:
Instantly hide or close any or all applications with a mouse click, mouse movement or keystroke. Immediately clear cache, cookies, browser history, recently viewed documents and other personal history lists, leaving no telltale footprints behind!
Let's Get To It
I'm not going to cover the install portion of Don't Panic!, because I feel that we all can click "next" about 3 or 4 times on our own. There is nothing special to it, so I won't waste precious time. After you download and install this handy little application, there is quite a configuration process which I will cover in great detail because this is the beauty of the whole thing! Yes you can just take the defaults if you wish, but you'll be missing out on all of the options that you have access to.
After it is installed, you will see a Don't Panic! icon on your desktop. Launch that puppy and you can start configuring your paranoia. On the first screen, you will see some of the benefits that you will get out of this program. You will see that it can
The next screen just asks whether you want to launch Don't Panic! at startup or not, so you can make your selection as you wish.
- Instantly hide, close or minimize windows on your desktop.
- Clear your Internet History, URL history and your recently viewed documents.
- Stop those damn pop-up windows!
The following screen you will come across is the "Activation Mode" screen. You get two options, "Standard Panic Mode" and "I Shouldn't Have a Job Beacuse I'm Wasting Company Money Surfing For Porn" panic mode. Actually, the latter mode is called "Ultra Panic Mode". The difference here is the "standard" mode will just hide your running applications and the "ultra" mode will actually close your apps and you will have to re-launch them manually. You should be just fine using the standard mode unless you are really, really, really paranoid or you are doing something really wrong!
Pay attention to this next portion beacuse this is the part that will save your ass! These are the panic hotkeys and you will learn to love them. This is what you press when your boss pops his bald head around the corner and asks "Dave, did you run that report I asked you about this morning?". "It's almost done" you mutter as you were right in the middle of ACTUALLY learning something on that great information superhighway that has become so commonly known as the web. Oh...Sorry, I was getting carried away. Anyway, the default hotkey is "Ctrl + Space". I left it as such, because if my left hand isn't on my 44oz coffee mug, it's usually resting right in the general area of those keys.
The Ass Saver
As I mentioned before, you can select any application to be launched when you press your Panic keys. This is where Don't Panic! becomes so versatile that anyone can use it. The next screen allows you to choose which application, if any, you want to be launched when you press that life-saving Ctrl + Space hotkey. If you are a CAD operator, you can have it launch AutoCAD or CadKey. If you are a computer tech, you can have it launch something that your boss won't understand anyways like the registry....and that's exactly what I did. :-) If you would like your Hotkey to only hide your running apps, then just hit "next". But if you want it to launch an app that you should be doing anyways instead of goofing off, hit that big ol' "Select Application" button right in the middle of the screen.
Don't Panic! will then scan your start menu and provide a list of all apps that were found. If you don't want to use one of these, then you can manually browse for any executable on your system. I chose Regedit.exe
Now that you have your hotkeys all setup, and the app that you want launched, now it's time to get into the advanced options. In the next couple of screens you can customize the "personal history" setting and the "Screen Edge" panic option. In the history option window, you can choose to delete cookies, empty the recycle bin, and plenty more. The screen edge panic option is absolutely the best!!! In addition to the hotkeys, you can just move your mouse to any desired edge of your display and you are instantly in panic mode! When Don't Panic! is first launched, the side of the window that is the "panic" side will blink for about 3 seconds and after that, only you will know it's real purpose. Think about it...one swift movement of the mouse and all of your bad doings are hidden.
One last option to mention. You can stop those damn pop-up screens while using Internet Explorer that can make you sooo mad during a nice pleasant web surfing session. Just check the little box and you're all set and ready to roll!
So Does It Work?
It works perfectly. You wouldn't believe how quickly your apps vanish and the chosen application launches with just a quick snap of your hand. They are hidden...not minimized...hidden. Here's the before and after:
And by the way, this is not my machine these screen caps were taken from, so don't send me a million E-mails raggin on me for using AOL. I don't. These caps were taken on my wifes machine. And for the record, I do not recommend or condone the use of AOL on any machine.
When she saw I was messing around with her PC again she asked "What's this Don't Panic stuff you put on my machine?". After I told her what it was and how simple it was to use, she said "Coool..Can I use this at work?". I have demonstrated Don't Panic! to several people now, and every single one of them was blown away. So I know it is not just me that thinks this is the best stuff since sliced bread.
You may have noticed in the above before and after pics that the Don't Panic! icon sits in your systray and can be seen by anyone. This is not a good thing, but Panicware has taken care of that for you. If you right-click on that same icon and go to "preferences", you can access all of the options that are avilable during the setup process, including using a blank systray icon!
I truly believe Don't Panic! is one of the the most handy utilities I have seen on the market today. If you think you may be intersted in this product, it's only U.S. $9.95 and can be found here. I have been informed that PanicWare does not offer CD's of this software so if you would like to obtain a copy, you will have to download it. Don't worry modem users, it's only 500k so it won't take you a year to get it. I should mention that during my testing of this product, I found it did not hide my Photoshop "brush and tools" windows. It hid the main window, but the programs' inner windows were left untouched. In my book, this isn't much of a drawback since every other application I tried, it worked flawlessly. To sum it all up, Don't Panic! is a "must have" product if you are concerned about your privacy while working on the computer.
Last minute addition: I just received word from the lovely folks at Panicware that the Photoshop issue has been fixed in the latest build.
Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.
Published on: 2004-02-22 (6717 reads)[ Go Back ]