Giving Libre Office another look

With the end-of-life of Office 2003 rapidly approaching, I’m having to look at alternatives. Even after five years, I find the Office ribbon demeaning and productivity-killing, so Microsoft’s newer products are out. With Libre Office, the price is right ($0), so I’m giving it a long look.

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How to clear your print queue from the command line or a batch file

Here’s an old, old, but still useful tip that works on all NT-based versions of Windows (including XP and 7). Longtime reader Jim couldn’t find it here anymore, and I can’t either, so I’ll repost it for posterity. This is how to clear your print queue from the command line.

Open a command prompt, and issue these three commands:

net stop spooler
del /q c:\windows\system32\spool\printers\*
net start spooler

If you keep your printers folder open, you’ll see your stuck print jobs disappear, like magic.

If you’ve moved your print spooler to a ramdisk, like I recommend, substitute that directory for c:\windows\system32\spool\printers in the second line.

When you have a print job that’s stuck and keeping you from using your printer, this trick will get rid of it more reliably than any other method. It’s also much less infuriating than right-clicking on a hung print job and then waiting 15 minutes for it to finally disappear. If you find yourself doing this a lot, you might want to save it as a batch file and keep it someplace handy.

I’ve collected most of my scripting resources in a single post about scripting Windows sysadmin tasks.

Firefox 19 is a big security improvement

Mozilla quietly released Firefox 19 this week. Its biggest selling point is a built-in PDF viewer (like Google Chrome does), which makes me more comfortable than having Acrobat Reader installed–Mozilla is generally faster at fixing security holes than Adobe. Besides that, the built-in reader is fast. No waiting for Acrobat to launch. Short documents like IRS form 1040 display very quickly, though it wasn’t so crazy about me throwing the 237-page NIST 800-53 (if you’d like some light reading) at it. I closed the tab and revisited it, and it loaded the second time.

So this is an update you want. You may be wise to wait a day or two for it to stabilize (Firefox 18 was rapidly updated to 18.0.1 and 18.0.2 after its release), but being able to ditch Acrobat Reader (or leave it installed but only use it when absolutely necessary) definitely is appealing. Update it this weekend, maybe.

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Yes, ramdisks still make sense, especially with memory so cheap

A former classmate and industry colleague dropped me a line a few weeks ago. He pointed out that memory is dirt cheap, and he bought 16 GB of RAM, just because it cost him around $100 to do, and was wondering what to do with it. A ramdisk, perhaps?

My search logs prove that ramdisks are the best-kept secret in the industry (virtually nobody knows or cares about them), but they’re still the best way to increase the longevity or life expectancy of an SSD and an outstanding way to pep up performance. A ramdisk is 80 times faster than a hard drive, 60 times faster than a RAID array, and 10-20 times faster than an SSD.
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The Samsung SSD 830: A user review

I didn’t need much convincing to purchase a Samsung 830 SSD; I was in the market for a bigger SSD, and my short list consisted of Samsung and Intel drives. So when I found a good price on a 128 GB Samsung 830, I bought two.

The laptops I put the drives in aren’t able to fully take advantage of what the 830 brings to the table, but it’s still a worthwhile upgrade. I thought that two months ago when I installed them, and two months of living with them hasn’t changed my mind. Read more

And speaking of SSDs, here’s how Oracle performs on an SSD

Andy Black is a former colleague and an Oracle DBA. Several times in the last few years, I ran into problems where I wished he wasn’t a former colleague, because my team got into some jams that I was pretty sure he could have fixed. (And let’s not even mention the time I got blackmailed into building an Oracle server.)

Last year, Andy did a thorough investigation of Oracle performance on SSDs, and observed very favorable results. Read more

Easier deep Firefox SQL optimization

Last year I examined ways to optimize Firefox’s SQLite databases. I’ve since found I like it better when I just put the Firefox profile in a ramdisk, but that may not be an option in all cases.

If you don’t want to go the latter route and would like to avoid the command line jockeying, give Speedyfox a look. And even if you’ve put Firefox in a ramdisk, this program can be useful. You won’t notice any speedup inside a ramdisk, but SQL optimization saves storage space, which is always at a premium inside ramdisks. Read more

Move the print spool directory to your ramdisk

You can improve the speed of printing slightly and, depending on the nature of your print jobs, dramatically reduce disk writes if you move the print spool directory to your ramdisk. It’s a little performance tweak you might have never heard of, but it’s helpful.

This trick works best with a ramdisk product that loads a disk image at startup, such as Dataram Ramdisk.

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How to move your temporary files to a ramdisk

Moving the rest of your temporary files to a ramdisk provides a number of performance benefits. Program installations proceed noticeably faster, and fewer files written to your system disk means less fragmentation, less maintenance for an SSD, and, most likely, longer SSD life.

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