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Rules 1

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Updated: 01.12.2016

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I will continue this "tour" through my computing-related discoveries with my favorite and carefully selected general computing rules, or whatever you want to call them. I mostly call them rules. For the most part, they are discovered by me (and tested), but few of them were listed on various sites/pages with similar topics. So I got a general idea there, and have just modified them a bit (at least partially), added/removed/modified few sentences and similar. Please also note that this is just a beginning of "rules" part of my homesite, i.e. consider it as "just for the taste" page, meaning that when I will have some more free time (and will), I will make this "hints" page much bigger and more complete. Various performance "hacks" as well as other rules and tricks will be of course included in it, like how to "trick" some program to thnk that some other program is installed (CrystalPlayer Free requireing WhenU.com spyware to be present), how to install some "setups" as "non-setups" etc.), countless configuration tricks and so forth. Further, maintaining a "clean" registry and hard-disk was (read on to see why the word "was") and mostly still is the most crucial part for me personally. This includes to regularly delete orphaned/invalid registry keys and values, then to delete various temporary-file leftovers, and Internet Explorer's cache and its History (including the locked "index.dat" files), to delete old and/or invalid shortcut files, and old log and other such files etc. Although for removing orphaned registry entries in particular, it was explained to me by a member with nick "DriverGuru" on Ars OpenForum that registry querying (and writing) is not a linear process, therefore any orphaned entries don't degrade the performance of any registry operation, i.e. removing the old and/or orphaned registry key/value/data doesn't affect system operations' speed. But it's still my personal opinion anyway that such registry stuff makes registry hive-files (and their respective backups) unnecessarily bigger, so I do it just for the sake of doing it. Well, there might be one particular computing-related rule that beats all the others. It's a simple rule that says something like this: "Don't fix it, if it is not broken", and I urge you to remember it, for the sake of your nerves and for the sake of your computer. Further, I must first say that I am still somehow "obsessed" with commandline programs, batch-processing (in other words with automation of common tasks), registry hacks, file hacks (9x's System.ini alike), monitoring software, various computing principles of objects, caches, stacks, buffers, mapped files, pipelines (for instance in processor's architecture, i.e. to start processing a new instruction while the previous is still in the pipe) and so on and on, while this enthusiasm of mine now lasts for almost eight full years. I am also passionately interested in basic scripting with Vbscript etc., scripting/programming with HTML/CSS and JavaScript, but I also know the basics of "real" programming, for instance I like to code in Python scripting language, and also, I like to play with its ancestor ABC language. But I especially like to customize my main operating system (which is Windows XP/Pro SP2 at the moment), therefore making it as "lean" and "mean", that means without all the eye-candy, unnecessary stuff running/installed etc., and as fast-performing as it can be made. And finally, I am devoted to compact and straight-forward software, compare to bloated "all-in-1" programs; for details, see the page "principles1.html". By the way, I call this type of programs mentioned in the above paragraph "non-setups", which are usually only a single .exe or a .zip archive containing the executable, configuration-files and some times also data-files. Obviously because they don't require any "standard" installation, i.e. I simply backup/compress the whole structure of all the mentioned programs' files/directories into a .zip file on my computer (optionally I also burn them on a CD), and all I need to do on the next Windows installation is to copy/extract them back to the desired location; so there is no installation procedure, no wizards etc. and that's pretty much all about it. But rather see the about.html and other pages for more details on my biography, interests and obsessions.

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DO NOT DO THIS 9x (95/98/98SE/ME):

Do not type "debug f 0:0 Lffff 0" (without the "quote" characters) in "pure" MS-DOS environment, because doing so may hang your computer, and certainly do not try to go into a "/nul/nul" directory (of course, also without quotes), because you will just have to restart the computer (I got this one from somewhere on the web); although I don't know why anyone would do such a thing, but since I had it written already I just included it too.


If the taskbar is misbehaving nad just do not work properly, if FreeCell solitaire doesn't work (supposedly caused by the Microsoft's IntelliPoint mouse driver software), i.e. the name in top bar is corrupted, mouse cursor is stucked in "hour-glass", then if it's showing no cards and no free cells and when the cards are moved around only bits of cards would come up on the screen; then simply kill the "Internat.exe" process (of course, if it is running), this usually helps. As far as I remember, I got that hint from "somewhere", deep inside my Windows 98SE, if I am not wrong, particularly from Dr.Watson debugger's help files.

DO NOT DO THIS NT (NT4/2k/XP/2003):

Do not forget to check out that particular NT-service's information (description, manufacturer etc.) before disabling any of them. Luckily Windows doesn't allow to mess with the so-called Boot/System drivers and services that are crucial for operating system to run at all; you can see these with LoadOrd.exe program from Sysinternals, however, you cannot change their state. But if you will decide to configure the startup-type of a particular service (and change it to anything else but "default"), you should also know that service settings are global; meaning that all the changes apply to all the users of computer and not just to currently logged-on user, i.e. most probably you. While for an easy method of creating multiple configurations, check out the Windows XP help. You may want to use Microsoft Help and Support Center; find and execute "HelpCtr.exe" executable-file located somewhere under the %SYSTEMROOT%\PCHEALTH\HELPCTR\Binaries\ directory or find its shortcut in StartMenu.

BSOD ERRORS NT (NT4/2k/XP/2003):

Does your computer restart without any reason? Well, the computer's restarts might just be a common BSOD, which in turn can be caused by anything really (i.e. the BSOD itself), and that the first thing you should do is the following: go to Control Panel, open the "System" applet, and navigate to the "Advanced" tab. Then under the "Startup and Recovery" section click "Settings" button, and finally in the window that opens-up check you current setting (it's a check-box) for "Automatically restart" under the "System failure" section. If the respective check-box is CHECKED, then you need to UN-CHECK it. This way you will be sure on the next occurance that the reason for these restarts is actually a BSOD and not something else, for instance a too high temperature etc. However, there is also a slight chance that you'll at least get some clue on what's causing it (of course, if it's indeed the BSOD) by the "stop error-code" displayed on the BSOD's blue-screen (under "Technical Information"), and if you are lucky enough, you may even get a file-name of the driver that's causing it.



The first general rule in this section is to rather disable any screen saver or at least use the "blank screen" screen saver. I recommend this because many "fancy" screen savers just unneccesarily consume the CPU (up to 80 or 90% of CPU), when you are not using you computer. And well, computer could and should certanily make a better use of these CPU cycles; ehm, for instance it could run DC projects etc. But if you just *must* use one, then at least use the "blank screen" screen saver which doesn't consume so much CPU time as others do.


For best performance (Philips, LCD in particular, but also for other monitors), ensure that your display settings are set at 1024x768, 60Hz (for 14"/15" inches) or 1280x1024, 60Hz (for 17"/18" inches), though note that some other article states, that: "nowadays monitors should operate at 85 MHz", and another one, that: "At least 85 Hz vertical refresh rate is recommended for classic displays".


Rather use full executable names in batch-files/scripts, since the files with identical names but different extension (i.e. "file.bat" and "file.exe"), located under the same location (this is especially true for cases when executable and batch are both on your "path") can be mistakenly "thought" to be the same file from the OS's point of view. For example, if the executable is on your "path" (the PATH env. variable), then omitting the extension in a script might for instance call a batch-file that's also on your "path", instead of the respective executable (call a file with .bat instead of a file with .exe extension)


If you don't modify anything crucial in Windows Control Panel's applets, various programs' configuration dialogs etc., rather than on OK click on CANCEL button. Because clicking on OK would write data without any reason in most cases to registry, or to hard-disk for instance in case of various .ini, .cfg and other configuration files or in case of PageDefrag programs (pagedfrg.exe, is a program's UI); a "system defragmenter" from Sysinternals which creates a file called pgdfgsvc.exe (an actual defragmenter) into the \System32 directory and is run on boots. And so if the file is already there (and you only checked the state with software's UI), then if OK button is pressed instead of CANCEL, the pgdfgsvc.exe file is unneccesarily over-writen. And there are many cases like this.


I recommend to use a single-colour graphic for a desktop wallpaper instead of a heavy-coloured picture; it's simply because the picture takes up additional system memory (similar to the registry, Cookies etc., that are stored in memory); the memory that could be used for other things. As I've read somewhere, this is also important in case of "Remote Desktop" connections; particularly if one of the machines has low amount of RAM installed.


Before copying the whole drives (for instance my RAM-drive volume) and/or before copying entire programs' directories, exit most applications (if not all) that use/lock files under these paths; for instance "Perflib_Perfdata_e10.dat" files under TEMP, Firefox's "parent.lock" file etc. This is meant just to avoid those damn "copy errors" in case if some program locks the file that is to be copied. You see, the thing is that that these errors are especially annoying in case of batch-processing, since they stop the whole procedure; of course, only if one forgots to add that special swithc/paramenter into the command-line.


Before restarting the computer, or shutting it down, rather close all the programs that are still running at that time, but especially the huge and "heavy" ones. Because it is true, that an operating system closes all the running processes by itself, however, in my opinion if something goes wrong at that time (if for example one particular process would be freezing or some process would manage to lock the system etc.), it could put a heavy stress on hard-disk (file operations), and that is certainly not good. And regarding the way of turning computer off, I also got used to first log-off and then reboot (or shut-down), rather than doing this directly from the still running OS.


I recommend everyone to rather not to use the Hibernation "power saving" mode. You see, it's that the computer will take the same amount of disk space as you have memory installed, therefore on Hibernation it will write the contents of RAM to a hard drive, and that stresses a hard-disk too much compare to the normal shut-down procedure (i.e. there is no such writing (in such a big "chunk") involved with normal shut-downs/boot-ups), and above all unnecessarily. Personally I prefer "sleep" or "stand-by" (or sometimes called "suspend"), which are in my opinion much better options; mostly it's because it just doesn't seem to work in my case (on my computer and its particlar setup/configuration), i.e. on resuming, which is usually the next day, everything first looks normal; namely that "indicator" goes to the last step, but then it just stops, and a manual reset is required. Anyway, you can easily disable it by going into Control Panel (the "Performance and Maintenance" if you are in category view), then open Power Options Properties applet, go to Hibernate tab, and uncheck the checkbox by "Enable hibernation".


Two basic rules on managing the system. If you want to get into the so-called "safe-mode" - press the F8 key during OS's boot-up process (and press it many times probably), in my case this is in pre-before-login screen. The safe-mode is a special state of your computer's operating system (usually used for troubleshooting purposes), when only the crucial drivers are loaded on boot-up. Then further, if you want to get into the computer's BIOS configuration settings - then click on the DEL key (Delete), as I remember a bit earlier than in previous case. Probably the best is to press it, somehow during basic-boot computer's RAM-checking and IDE drives-detection.


My first software-related useful advice is that if you "screw" some application's installation, before un-installing and reinstalling it, first try to delete some of its respective registry keys/subkeys/entires and restart the application. This mostly helps, if only non-essential settings (GUI layout like window/column/tab positio) were somehow "corrupted" during program's usage. Usually they reside under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\software\ or under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\software\ registry path, though note that if you delete also key/entry mostly named "Registration" (or similar), the programs will unregister. You will just need to enter name/serial/code again, not a big deal at all.



One another personal recommendation of mine is to close the file that the application has open before closing the program itself; I am not talking about the cases when you for instance edit some .txt or .doc file (because in such case the program prompts you if you want to save it), but about cases when you for example watch a movie clip (i.e. .avi, .mpeg, or wmv. files) in your multimedia player etc.


Then I also recommend that programs that are located on and run from for instance "D:\" partition have their logs-paths set and their basic data (config files, etc.) also located on "D:\" drive (), and similarly that programs that perform their job on some specific drive are also located on that drive (i.e. their executable is located on that drive); this is the case with "Buzzsaw" application which on my computer defragments only D: partion.


My personal preference is to rather not to use "local" letters/characters (for instance Slovenian C, , ones) in e-mail messages in general. But this especially applies to e-mail message's "Subject" field, since some e-mail clients simply don't like them at all, and so they replace them with odd-looking characters. Of course, various other odd things may occur too as a result of this. Also, in my opinion you aviod server-side problems with processing this text too.


For most people who use a PC, the email client of choice is Outlook Express. But unfortunately, this is another area of Windows that doesn't receive much attention by way of maintenance. You should know that continuously storing old and useless email just serves to bloat directories on your hard drive and causes Outlook Express to take longer to launch and display an email message when you click on "New", and it is quite similar in Mozilla Thunderbird. The simplest way to clean up your mail directories is to go into each one and sort by date. The oldest items are the easiest to get rid of as they have usually passed the point of being useful. Once you've finished this sort, click on Tools -- Options and select the Maintenance tab. Click on "Clean Up Now" and choose the Compact option to free up any wasted space. Once Compact has been completed, you will find that your mail directories open much more quickly in future.


I think that it is a better to launch programs from "shell-dialogs" (well it's not actually "shell-related", I just call them that), for example, my experience is, that it is better to execute DivX player with "Open-With" prompt popup-window, than with "Double-Clicking", or "Drag-&-Drop". It is that I experienced errors, when I was using "Double-Clicking", or "Drag-&-Drop", to play some clip (after some other clip already being loaded), but on the other hand, there was no error, when I used "Open-With" option/method.

Similarly do not use drag/drop technique to open files, for instance in your video-player programs etc., because this technique uses and calls functions from ole32.dll library (OLE stands for "Object Linking and Embedding"), and therefore in my opinion it just puts an additional stress on the system. Well, it is true though that other methods simply just calls other libraries, for example if you want to open some file in a programs with use of common "Open" dialogs etc., then this particular programs (or OS itself, not sure) calls the shell32.dll library, that contains related C functions, but anyway, drag/drop technique is well-known to cause problems.

Also I get used to exit programs with common control's "Menu -- File -- Exit" command (or in some program's cases, to right-click on some specific area and similarly choose the "Exit" command), rather than "directly", with that "X" button on the top-right corner of program's main window (it resides just by the full-screen and minimize buttons), because it seems to me that you get "deeper" into the programs in this manner, I know this sounds crazy though. But one of examples of this is for example in my shell, I see that only moving through menus (without applying any new setting etc.) already writes changes into the respective plugin's configuration files (or in some program's cases in registry) etc. I know that some computing-scientist would say that I am completely wrong about all this, and yes, I probably am.



I rather use Wordpad's .doc files in a way so that its size never exceeds 250 kB, since if the files are bigger than that, there is an annoying delay on opening, while also you need to stress-scroll (as I call it) throught the document.


Rather name your files like "somefile-1.ini", "somefile-2.ini"; "somefile-3.ini" etc. than "somefile.1ini", "somefile.2ini", "somefile.3ini" because each time you'll (accidentally) click on one of such files, Windows will try to register that additional extension in the registry.


I personally don't like empty directories, and so I am trying to avoid having them scattered around my hard-disk. So for that purpose of filling them up (of couse not all of them, just my favorite ones), I do this, i.e. I fill them up with 1x1 pixel .gifs or yet better, with the NaDa program: http://www.bernardbelanger.com/computing/NaDa from Bernardbelanger website: http://www.bernardbelanger.com. Well, NaDa is in fact not a program at all, since it's only an 1,00 kB in-size file called "NaDa_0.5". I mean, it doesn't allocate any memory, nor does it consume any CPU cycles, it's just sitting there and doing nothing at all. Oh, and folks at the Phoenity website: http://phoenity.com http://phoenity.com actually released the "phoenity for NaDa"; a 67 bytes in-size file with .png extension called "phoenity_nada.png".


Regarding deleting many folders one after another: rather move them to some special location (i.e. for instance a sub-folder of some other folder) and then delete them all together, since as far as I see things, it's much more stressful for a hard-disk to do many small sequential writes compare to one big write in one single sequence, because this way the hard-disk's head needs to move/seek much less than in the above example. And this is especially true when we are talking about deleting folders during more days or a week. In other words, if it's possible try to delete more files at once so that the hard-disk performs only one sequential write (or well, a few o them), similarly delete more bookmark-entries at once from your browser's "bookmarks.html" file (of course, if you use such browser that uses them)


As mentioned above, it's all very similar in case od deleting entries from the Firefox's "bookmarks.html" file, i.e. deleting a bunch of them once is better than deleting (marking whole groups of sectors as "deleted", without having to actually delete each and every sector individually) one entry after another. Then also somehow related, although I wrote above under "" that one single write is generally better than a bunch of small sequential writes, there is one exception; I am thinking about cases when you for instance delete one word/sentence/line from a 500 kB file compare to deleting one word/sentence/line from a 10 kB file, i.e. in the second case this would again theoretically put less stress on a PC's hard-disk compare to first case.


Rather do not create many separate .txt or .doc files with only few lines of actual text (less than 4 kB), because on a commonly FAT32 formatted disks, the cluster size is 4 kB (4096 bytes), so each of these files would take one whole cluster, even if the actual data-size is much smaller. Rather write all your text, notes etc. in few more or less big files. Btw., this is called "cluster waste", and it's calculated by a Partition Magic program.

Then also do not use more than two dots in file-names because some of the anti-worm programs might identify them as false positives, but it is also my opinion that this might just confuse the OS. And another somehow similar thing would be, try to not name to many files (but especially directories), to have identical names; or at least as less as possible. It's because Windows must store additonal info to differentiate one file/directory from another, and my guess is that this might lead to confusion of the operating system on some certain occasions (file-management confusion in particular, i.e. its handling of the file-system), however, hard-disk surely can and need to distinguish them one from another (if I remember correctly, this is achieved by tagging them with unique IDs), but I am speculating that you "help" the OS and hard-disk, if there are less directories/files named alike. Because imagine, what's more time consuming: querying two different IDs (for example for the two directories named Windows), or querying ten or twenty IDs??


In order to easier defragment my hard-disk (see an example below), I got used to use some special directory, which I use as non-default "download location" (i.e. changed from the default one) for most of my Internet-enabled programs (i.e. web-browsers, my p2p client etc.), and further as a choosen location for log-files or/and for other output files. It's pretty similar in case of downloaded media-files, various documents, pictures etc., but let's talk only about programs in this particular example (installers and non-setups), so when I download some file or files to this directory, I always first copy the installation executable into another "special purpose directory", that I use only for the installation procedure (or just extract the "non-setup" one), then as second I copy this very same file into another directory (on another partition), that I use as a container of all my installation files, and as third I move this very same file into yet another directory (on the same partition), which contains all the files to be burned on removable media (i.e. CD or DVD ROM), and similarly my media files into my media directory etc.

The whole point is that, if you look closely in the order of copy/move operations, you will notice see that to rationalize the stress put on hard-disk, I choose copying as the first two parts of this "process/task" of organising newly downloaded files, and moving as the last one. But note, this wouldn't count at all (regarding rationalizing the stress), if the last action would be moving files onto another partition and not on the same one. You see, it is because copying always takes time and includes reading the file-contents and copying into some other location. While moving is quite similar, except that the source files are deleted afterwards - the big difference is between moving files to some location on the same partition and moving files to another partition (or in fact another hard-disk), I mean moving to another partition is quite the same as if one would copy them instead of moving, while moving to the same partition is MUCH FASTER, i.e. there is no "copying process" visible (no progress bar etc.), it takes like a second or less to move the file of any size around the same partition. Once more, copying the file around the same partition is something completely different. Let us say that it's equivalent to copying or moving file to another partition (in time spent for the operation of course), so what I am talking about is try to switch numbers 2. and 3. of the steps of this "organising newly downloaded files" procedure, what you will find out?? That there would be one more copying procedure, and beside additional and totally unnecessary stress on hard-disk, it would also take more time, like for instance 2-3 minutes for a huge media-file.

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