a) make a .desktop file in ~/.local/share/applications for old school programs to show up.
b) Middle click on the dock to launch a second copy of an application.
c) Alt+` to switch between windows of the same application like on OSX.
Now, I still would like to know why everything is so slow. Maybe I should try switching back to Unity 2D, despite having nvidia graphics.
Also, why does my username on the top bar say [Invalid UTF-8]?