All the tips/hints/fixes/other information posted here are at your own risk. Some of the steps here could result in damage to your computer. For example, using a Windows registry editor like RegEdit could result in unintended serious changes that may be difficult or impossible to reverse. Backups are always encouraged.

14 October 2007

Getting Rid of iTunesHelper.exe and ipodservice.exe

It seems a little difficult to disable these, because iTunes just brings them right back. If you have an iPod, you probably should keep them, but if not, they're just (slightly) slowing you down.

How to get rid of them:
  1. Make sure iTunes isn't running
  2. In services, disable and stop the ipodservice
  3. Delete the following: %programfiles%\ipod, %programfiles%\itunes\ituneshelper.exe, %programfiles\itunes\ituneshelper.resources
  4. Make sure your shortcuts point directly to itunes.exe; shortcuts that launch iTunes through its install ID may try to restore these missing parts.
Thanks SeeMoreDigital.

Also, I recommend Quicktime Alternative for quicktime ability without the bloat. It works great with iTunes too.

12 October 2007

Working Around a Slow Laptop Hard Drive

As the owner of a Lenovo x41 tablet with a frustratingly slow 4200 rpm hard drive, the computing experience can be disappointing. Here are some tips, including maybe one or two that aren't obvious, to effectively workaround a slow laptop hard drive like mine. [Note: the links below are to how-to's for each step.]

  1. Max out your RAM-- this makes the biggest difference, and if you do so it is safer to...
  2. Disable the paging file-- this is a big disk operation that may not even be necessary for you
  3. Store frequently created files on a separate partition of your hard drive: Temp files [Control Panel-System-Advanced-Environment Variables], Mozilla Cache, Temporary Internet Files, Java Cache [Java Control Panel], Downloads folder, print spool folder-- this helps to keep your main partition defragmented, which is even better for...
  4. Smart Defragging by Layout.ini
  5. Remove software that does background I/O activity or monitoring (resident antivirus, antispyware, network scanning), if you can get away with it. (See this post for a security solution.)
  6. Disable the Indexing Service (this could probably go first!) [in services.msc]
  7. Disable Last Access timestamping of files
  8. Take advantage of your PC Card slot by getting the Delkin Cardbus UDMA CompactFlash adapter (Manufacturer Page / Amazon Product Page) and a UDMA CF card. My laptop's hard drive has a transfer rate of about 14 MB/sec, but a CF card in UDMA mode can sustain 40-45 MB/sec and far shorter access times.

More on using a UDMA CF card:

The 40 MB/sec transfer rate is impressive, but some aspects of the technology make it seem slow for frequent read/write operations. Storing a paging file or cache on it, for two examples, might not work very well. However, I have found the following do work well when put on a UDMA CF card:
  • Microsoft Outlook .OST file
  • Desktop Search Index (e.g. Copernic)
  • Firefox (not the profile(s), though)
  • Adobe Reader
    [You need a direct download so that you can specify the installation directory.]
  • Pidgin with GTK runtime (again, profile should probably be kept on your hard drive)
  • Other frequently used applications would probably also work well
This is just my casual observation, but indexes seem to perform well from a fast flash drive, but caches do not necessarily. Applications will start quickly from flash, since the reading is fast.

07 October 2007

How I Fixed My Wireless

I have a Lenovo laptop with a Intel 2915abg wireless adapter, and I started getting several dropped connections. Troubleshooting a situation like this is difficult, because there are many places things can go awry. I tried several things before it started working well, but here's a full checklist if you want to go whole-hog to fix your wireless:

First of all, if you use a wireless utility like Intel PRO/Set or ThinkVantage Access Connections, make sure Wireless Zero Configuration is disabled in Run-services.msc -- it conflicts.

1) If multiple devices on your network drop their connections, there might be interference. Change the wireless channel and enable interference robustness (an Apple Airport feature, but it might be on other routers).

Ok, here's the intense regimen in case you suspect it's your PC that's whack:

2) Reset Winsock (Instructions) including restarts
3) Fully uninstall your wireless software (utility & driver) as well as antivirus, 3rd party firewall, other programs that may monitor your network and do the necessary restarts
4) Reinstall your stuff from step 3 (updated versions, if available)
5) Turn off power management (more info for Intel wireless) for your wireless adapter and instead decrease the transmit power (in advanced settings in Access Connections or hit the Configure button in Wireless properties if you use Windows XP to manage your networks) for power savings. I find a 25% (5 mW) transmission power to work very well (this is set in individual wireless network profiles in my setup, but you may have to just specify instead a global setting in the device properties. Your wireless utility might override device properties, so check out that area first).
6) If you have problems and you are using a particular encryption method, look for an update; e.g.: WPA2

Unless you have a special need for it, I recommend avoiding Microsoft TCP/IP Version 6. I can't prove it, but I don't think networking drivers for XP are quite ready for it. Maybe if you use Windows XP to handle all networking, it'll be ok, but stay away if you're still using XP-only 3rd party networking software or drivers.