No, I can't turn off the auto check box for notification. Sorry.
I made the home page the Forum list like it used to be.
I added a link to the right side for the recent activity. I called it something like Most Recent, Newest First. That'll always show newer stuff first. I also think it'll show a funny icon and NEW when something is new to you.
I'll try to add Recent Topics back, but I think it was for every forum everywhere.