Firefox memory high? It might be Adblock Plus

Last week, a great deal of discussion about ad blocking and its effect on memory usage took place. This makes a lot of sense, and explains why my memory usage has always been really high.

I’m not sure there’s a lot you can do about it. One of these days I’m going to get around to standing up a pfsense box, which, among other things, can serve as a web cache and block ads for an entire network. My family has enough machines to justify that, and, given that security is what I do for a living, it’s something I need to be experimenting with anyway.

The deal with Android memory usage

Continuing this discussion of Android, the next question that came up was what the deal is with Android memory usage. I wondered the same thing at first, so that seems like a good topic to explain.

Prior to 2005, operating systems tended to use a set amount of memory, then what was left over was for programs. So a freshly booted system would have 2/3 of its memory left free, if not more. If you read my book and my blog way back at the turn of the century, you might have a lot more.

Fire up an Android, though, and you might only have 1/4 of the memory left, or less. Much of this is by design. Read more

How to disable wallpaper when you’re not running Cyanogenmod

Unfortunately I can’t run Cyanogenmod on all of my Android devices (more on that tomorrow), but if you want to save some memory and CPU cycles and, depending on your device’s display, perhaps even increase your battery life by a few dozen minutes, there’s an option.

The Cyanogenmod No Wallpaper feature is available as a small app in the Play store. Simply download it, then tap and hold your home screen and you can select No Wallpaper.

Besides the benefit of decreased memory usage and increased battery life, I found the minimalist look quickly grew on me.

Avast 8 is out and already well-regarded

Avast 8 is out, and the initial reviews are positive.

If you use Avast, either as your primary or as your secondary AV, updating it is a good idea. One critical improvement is that virus database updates happen more frequently now. There’s no such thing as too frequently when it comes to database updates.

Making gradual improvements, starting with whatever bugs you the most

A long project can be paralyzing at times, making it hard to figure out where to start. A trick that I learned in model railroading is to just work on whatever small percentage of the project that bothers you the most. Then, when that’s done, cycle back, create another subproject that fixes whatever bugs you the most now, and keep making incremental improvements like that until you get where you want.

I’ve used the same trick on home improvement projects, and I applied it to this web site over the course of the last few weeks, doing a series of incremental improvements. It led places I didn’t expect it.
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Four simple steps to optimize WordPress

A couple of years ago, I stood up a WordPress server. I made no effort to tune it, let alone turbocharge it, which is a decision I later came to regret. If your site gets more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it. If you want to get more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it because Apache and MySQL’s default settings are by no means one-size-fits-all. And you can never have too much speed. There are two reasons for that: Google favors fast sites over slow sites, and Amazon found that a one-second delay in page load drops traffic by 7 percent.

There’s a lot of advice out there on tuning WordPress, some of which seems to be good, and some of it not so good.

Here are four things that I know work. I run Apache and MySQL under Linux; these tools may run under Windows or OS X too.
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Getting Firefox out of the doldrums

John C. Dvorak asks what’s wrong with Firefox, and suggests forking as a possible solution.

It sounds to me like one or more plugins he’s running is causing problems. I run Firefox on Vista (unfortunately), with as few plugins as possible, and I don’t have the issues he describes. Memory usage does spiral out of control if I go long enough between restarting the browser, but restarting the browser once a week keeps it tolerable.
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Remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7

If you want a way to remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7, or other recent versions of Windows, it just got easier.

What’s a ghost device driver? When you change or remove hardware from a Windows system, Windows keeps the old device driver lingering. You don’t see it in Device Manager, but the time Windows spends chasing ghosts increases boot time, in addition to consuming some memory, registry space, and disk space.

It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, but if you want your system to run as quickly and smoothly as possible, you don’t want it wasting time managing hardware you’ll never use again. (Don’t worry–if you change your mind and plug the hardware back in, Windows will reload the driver.) Read more