Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

Interesting day at work yesterday. Some genius decided it’d be great to send a 281-K attachment to everyone in their address book (only 5,000 people). That meant no e-mail came in or out that afternoon while our poor VMS-based mail server tried valiantly to plow through 140 gigs’ worth of data. (I’ll be building that person a new PC. I knew I was keeping that 10 MHz 286 motherboard for a reason…)

But in the meantime, I pulled off the turnaround of the month. One of the users I support has an old NEC Versa laptop. It was a dog the day they got it, and it’s still yapping away today. Actually I probably shouldn’t insult the canine species by comparing them to this thing. It’s a Pentium-133 with MMX (the slowest MMX CPU Intel ever made), with a woefully underpowered 16 MB of RAM and a hard drive that’s been going soft for as long as I can remember.

At any rate, even after I tweaked it out, the thing still took the better part of two minutes to boot, and it took a good 30-45 seconds to launch Word 97. Memory usage was obnoxiously high–nearly 40 megs without any applications running. In short, the thing was unusable.

So I took the entire contents of the hard drive and shoved them into a directory called OLD, just in case I needed them. I copied the Win95 directory of the OSR2.1 CD into C:WindowsOptionsCabs. I hacked out MSN, IE, the Exchange client, and the other online services as described in my book (the freebie sample chapter describes the process), then I installed it, leaving out networking and basically leaving out everything but the bare essentials like Calc, WordPad (questionable, but I kept it anyway), Defrag, and Notepad. No networking. No Internet. When all was said and done, the system booted in 19 seconds. No kidding. I couldn’t believe it myself. And memory usage was right about 16 megs.

I did the Vcache trick and got memory usage down to 10. Excellent. I downloaded the laptop’s video drivers with another PC and installed them, which got me into 800x600x256. Then I installed Word. Word loaded in about 10 seconds. Astounding. I rebooted, and surprisingly enough, the machine still booted in 21 seconds, even after installing slow, fat, instrusive Word 97.

I installed Norton AntiVirus, assuming that’d kill performance once and for all, but we can’t have corporate PCs running around without it. NAV more than doubled boot time and memory usage (ugh), but it was still booting in under a minute, and Word was still loading in under 15 seconds. Can’t complain about that.

I did a few more filesystem tweaks and I defragged, which cut a little off the boot time and Word’s load time. This woefully underpowered laptop is about ready to turn some heads. The trick is to know exactly what you want, and ask it for exactly what you want. It’ll reward you.

And Windows, once liberated from the Evil Internet Exploiter Empire and the rest of Microsoft’s plans for world domination, can do things no one would have imagined.

And a big thank-you to my readers. Occasionally, editthispage/userland.com has a glitch that tabulates its Top 100 sites incorrectly. Well, yesterday such a glitch occurred, a bunch of other candidates’ votes were lost entirely, and I cracked the Top 100, at position #99, with 52,259 hits. (The usual holder of that spot has around 68,000 hits.) That’s since Oct. 21, which isn’t bad at all.

With 400-500 reads per day on average, I should be a legitimate Top 100 site within about six weeks.

That’s the first cumulative statistic I’ve seen in a number of months, since the last big glitch put me in the Top 100 when I wasn’t. And at the time I wasn’t tracking so I didn’t have a good count. (I track now.)

Argh. Yesterday Roger Clemens broke Walter Johnson’s 74-year-old record for the most career strikeouts by an American League pitcher. He did it against my Royals, which bothers me some, but what really bothers me is seeing a record held by one of the classiest guys to ever play the game by a jerk like Clemens.

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