I sure didn’t see much that I liked yesterday. What kind of stuff did I used to write here? Oh yeah. Stuff like this.
How to slow down Windows. Yes, sometimes you want to do this, like when an old game runs too fast. You can do this with a simple free utility called Turbo . You tell it you want to run your computer at, say, 50% speed, so it works by creating a single high-priority process that uses half your CPU time. Tell it you want quarter-speed, and it chews up 75 percent of your CPU time. It works a little better on NT than on 9x, because NT’s timing is more precise, but it definitely slows the system down.
There are programs that just slow down one particular process, but most of those are shareware programs costing $25 or more. Turbo slows down the entire system, but its brute-force approach mostly works and you can’t beat the price.
An invaluable network utility for laptops. If you have a laptop and you connect to multiple networks (say a LAN at home and at the office, or if you’re like me and have more than one office), you need Netswitcher ( www.netswitcher.com ). It’s an $8 shareware utility. Definitely worth the money. And the author stands behind it. I had a problem getting the program to run under one particular circumstance, so I e-mailed tech support. The author responded and asked if he could call me. So we talked on the phone for a few minutes while we determined the problem, then he compiled a special build to work around our problem. Amazing, especially in this day and age when most companies won’t even pick up the phone. You might not get quite that level of support, but you probably won’t need it either because the program’s solid.
Check this one out. You’ll be glad you did.
And that’s more than I can say for most of what I read yesterday. Let’s get to that.
SCSI vs. IDE (THG) http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/01q1/010129/index.html
I had high hopes for this one, as SCSI-vs.-IDE is an even more incendiary issue than Windows-vs.-Linux or Macintosh-vs.-the-world, and unlike those, this debate should be fairly easy to settle. Unfortunately the review relied solely on benchmarks, and from raw benchmarks, you’ll come to the conclusion that there’s never any reason to buy SCSI drives when in reality the older IBM SCSI drive in the roundup will outperform the IDE drive for many everyday tasks even though it benchmarks poorly.
I’ve never met anyone who used a modern SCSI drive in a multitasking environment and then went back to IDE. Never ever. There’s more to this issue than sheer benchmarks.
Upgrading a Mac CPU (Byte) http://www.byte.com/feature/BYT20010124S0001
How the mighty have fallen. This piece would have never seen the light of day in the old print magazine.
First of all, Newer Technology has been in serious trouble for months. Newer dissolved before Christmas, and all of its engineering staff was hired by competitor Sonnet earlier this month. This is evidently news to the author, who says Newer “seems to have” ceased operations in December but their online store is still operational. No it isn’t. And Newer’s demise caused a huge splash in the Mac community when it happened.
Second of all, replacing a Mac CPU doesn’t always make sense. Upgrading a G3 probably does, but you’ve still got an old memory bus, old memory, and an old hard drive tied to a new CPU. You pay a fraction of the cost of a new computer, but you get a fraction of the performance too.
Plus, upgrading CPUs in some Macs is an absolute nightmare. I spent one of the worst weeks of my life trying to get a Sonnet G3 upgrade working in a Power Mac 7500. The only thing consistent about it was its lack of stability. Sometimes it booted and ran at the old speed. Sometimes it ran at G3 speed. Sometimes it was somewhere in between (presumably the L2 cache wasn’t getting enabled). It never ran very long. Sonnet technical support verified with me after checking a few things that the upgrade would never work right in that particular model. The local Mac dealer gave us a refund and vowed after our experience that he would never sell another CPU upgrade again. The author mentions it’s hard to buy these things at locally owned dealers, but never says why.
Some wisdom in choosing your upgrade would have been nice. You’d better at least double your CPU power, or you won’t notice much difference. Some wisdom about what to upgrade would be nice too. How many people just blindly throw money at CPU upgrades when they’d be better served by a faster disk or more memory?
At least the advice on working inside the Mac once he popped the hood was solid.
Abit KT7 review (Ars Technica) http://arstechnica.com/reviews/01q1/abitkt7r/abitkt7r-1.html
This review seems a bit late, as the KT7 has been on the market a long time and the hot chipset of today is the KT133A, not the KT133 featured on the Abit KT7. The reviewer caught a number of caveats with the board, which someone building a system around this board will be very happy to know. Benchmarking is incomplete, due to their inability to run Content Creation on it. So benchmarks are limited to Sandra and Quake 3, which are of limited use.
Benchmarking against the Asus CUSL2 board isn’t very useful; it would be nice to see scores against a one or two competing Socket A boards for comparison.
But the graphs start properly at 0 and the reviewer discloses his testbed, which is good. You can’t take those things for granted. He also discussed stability, which is a rare thing.
Really, this review wasn’t enraging, unlike most of the stuff I read yesterday (some of which was so bad it’s not worth even talking about). It just left me wondering what the point was, since the product’s remaining shelf life can probably be measured in weeks.