Sunday, July 8, 2007

I'm Back, Did Anyone Miss Me?

Wow, I can't believe it's been seven months since I posted my first blog entry. I meant to either abandon the blog if it didn't get Google to scan my website, or post every week or two to try and get my message out.

The blog worked, just like my friend Doc (Dave Dockery) told me it would. I posted my first enty on my birthday last year, and Google was pointing people to my site the next day --- they hadn't done so in the two months the site had been up and running prior to that.

Enough reminiscing, let's talk about Windows Vista. Or, to be more precise, let's talk mean about Windows Vista. It's not completely terrible, but I don't see what all the fuss was/is about. It does a few new cute visual tricks, but it's slower than Christmas; it needs twice the resources Windows XP needed to run half as fast. If ever there was a time to reconsider trying Linux, this is it.

Here's my recommendation: if your Windows XP machine is working well, or could be after you go to my website and run all the cleanup utilities collected there, keep it. Add as much memory as the motherboard will take, maybe even buy a bigger, faster hard drive if you can find one on sale, and stick with the tried and true Windows version you already know how to use. If you absolutley have to buy a new computer, ask Compaq or HP to sell you one with Windows XP Home Edition on it. Again, buy as much RAM as you can afford.

That's the same recommendation I made in 2000 when Windows Millenium Edition came out, and again when the first version of Windows XP came out the next year: if your old hardware is working, stick with the old version of Windows till they fix the bugs in it. And even then, don't consider 'upgrading' your old hardware to the newer operating system --- buy a new computer with the operating system already installed on it. I guarantee you'll be disappointed with any computer you upgrade to a new Windows version without upgrading all the hardware at the same time.

And to the people who followed my advice that long ago, or would have if I'd been blogging then, I say this: if you STILL have that Windows 98 machine running, doing everything you need it to do, keep it. Hopefully by now you've maxed out the RAM and tweaked all the settings so it pretty much flies. Go to and download all the hardware updates, all the critical updates, and those of the suggested/recommended/optional updates that don't add .Net or foreign language. Then turn off Automatic Updates; Microsoft won't be posting anything new for Win 98, so don't waste your time going looking.

If all you're doing is surfing the Web, checking your email, and playing mp3's, a 500 mHz Win '98 machine with 256 MB of RAM will do that as fast as a 3 gHz XP machine with 2 GB of RAM; both machines described will be waiting on your DSL or cable modem to catch up --- there's no benefit in having more capability than your Internet connection can handle.

Whether you're running Win 98, ME, or XP, go to my website and download/install everything on my Download page. There are links there to AVG, Spybot Search & Destroy, Winpatrol, EasyCleaner, and all of the Steve Gibson free utilities. If you're still running Win 95 or 98, I have the last version of the ZoneAlarm firewall that supported them. And just in case there's any Win 95 users out there who don't already have it, I've posted Internet Explorer version 5.5, Service Pack 2 --- Microsoft doesn't list it any more, so I'll leave it on my site till they ask me to remove it.

Can't say when I'll post here again, but it will probably be soon. I was writing a column for the Tampa Bay Computer Society newsletter, "Bits & Bytes", but they've kinda gone dark, so my free advice emails have just been piling up --- might as well post them here as keep them a secret.

Please write for free email advice on any computer-related subject. If it's a Windows Vista question, first I'll lambast you for abandoning your principles and moving to Vista too soon, then I'll try and find an answer and get back to you with it.

Write me at

Check out my website at

See what you can do to safeguard your computer and all your sensitive data at my Download page: www.ComputerRepairShop.bix/download.html.