Speed up Android with these six tips

android tablets

I’ve talked before about how to disable animation in Cyanogenmod 10.x, but I’ve done a few other things to conserve some scarce system resources on my gigahertz-ish, half-gig Nook Color. If you’re running Cyanogenmod on a phone that’s a couple of years old, these tricks can help you too. Here are some tricks to speed up Android.

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Trolling the web for nothing in particular

Yes, Brian, baseball will soon return. I hate the things Major League Baseball does (Bob Costas once likened choosing sides between the players and the owners to choosing sides between Iran and Iraq), but we’ve chosen to stay together for the kids. I’m sure everyone who cares (and some who don’t) can guess what I think of Bud Selig, but I’ll tell you anyway, soon enough.


Linux for the rest of us. I find the bloatware in current Linux distributions somewhat annoying. It’s nice to have tons and tons of free software right off the bat, but how much of that software is actually useful to the majority of people? Windows users complain about lack of software for Linux, to which Linux zealots usually retort “I have 9 gigs worth of software installed on my PC and didn’t have to pay a dime for any of it, and it’s all legal!”

It’s not really the quantity of software that Windows users are complaining about; it’s type and quality. Give a Windows user a fast and stable Web browser, an instant messaging client, a mail client/PIM, a fully-featured graphical newsreader, a word processor and a spreadsheet that can cleanly handle Word and Excel files, and a fully functional personal finance program, and that’s all they need to be happy. Most of that exists for Linux, or is in development. Fine. Linux is neck-and-neck with the Mac in the race to be #2 on the desktop. Fine.

To anyone who’s read Optimizing Windows, my biggest gripe with Linux ought to be obvious. I spent a good deal of time editing Windows INF files by hand trying to figure out how to get Windows 95 to install in 17 megabytes’ worth of disk space. I presented this, that, and another tweak to minimize Windows’ RAM and CPU usage so that it could be tolerable on a low-end Pentium or 486. Linux fans rightly point to Linux’s modest requirements. They’re very proud of those 2-meg 386SXs running Linux 1.0. But they’re in an arms race to see who can create the GUI with the most eye candy (and highest CPU/memory requirements). Wanna bring a former 550-MHz powerhouse to its knees? Run the Enlightenment window manager on it.

That’s easy enough to fix. Just install IceWM and make it your default window manager, then your 120 MHz Pentium feels OK again. But what of the minimum disk space requirements? Most current distros are difficult to install in less than 500 megs. That sounds awfully Microsoftian to me. True, you can rip a lot of it out, which you can’t always do with MS. But do you know what you can safely get rid of?

That’s what makes the likes of VectorLinux and Peanut Linux attractive. I’ve got a stack of 170-meg drives. I’ve got a 1-gig drive sitting in my 486 because I couldn’t make Red Hat 6.2 small enough to fit on one of the small drives. Five hundred megs for something whose primary job is to route packets is ridiculous. Vector or Peanut will fit. These won’t take forever to download either, because Vector’s less than 70 megs and Peanut’s about 60. I know a company that thinks that’s a reasonable size for a Web browser.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be experimenting with these distros sooner rather than later. I’d love to liberate that gig drive, for instance.

US vs. UK English. I’m trying to write my new Shopper UK article in UK English because I feel bad about the number of edits my UK editors are having to make. Here’s what I can tell, so far, about the differences:

Extra letters. color=colour, favorite=favourite, program=programme, ton=tonne

Sparing use of the last letter of the alphabet. optimize=optimise

Pluralization, er, pluralisation: In US English, a group of people is refered to in the singular, unless that group is in disagreement. In explaining how old software can be better than new software, I drew a musical analogy: Just like Joy Division is better than ‘N Sync, old DOS games are better and certainly more original than many of the newer Windows games. That’s proper US English. Proper British English, from what I can tell, is “Just like Joy Division are better…” In the States, saying that implies that the members are in disagreement as to whether they’re better than ‘N Sync (the three surviving members would not disagree about that; they’d utter a number of profanities and then say, “Of course we were better than ‘N Sync!”).

But I can’t, and won’t try to, mimic the sentence structure of a British writer. I can’t pinpoint the differences, but when I read something written in English, I can almost always tell when the writer is from the British Isles. (Other English-speaking countries like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, throw me–but I haven’t read much stuff from there. Canadian writers sound like U.S. writers but you’ll find hints of cultural differences.) You can’t escape what you are, and if I try to sound like anything but a Missourian, it’ll come across as insincere and fake. We definitely don’t want that.

Impressions of Netscape 6

I’ll be back in a bit. With preliminary impressions of Netscape 6. My notes on it are at work, but I’ll give you the overall. I’m thinking C+. It worked OK for me and it was fast. There were things about it that annoyed me though. I very badly want to use a non-Microsoft product, because I detest Microsoft, but IE has a couple of features that save me a lot of keystrokes and I have to think of that.

Assuming it manages to install, chances are there’ll be things about it you like. The things that bother me most are features that Netscape used to have but now don’t. But for basic browsing it’s much better than its predecessors.

I’ll get the rest of the details up here within a few hours.

My notes on Netscape 6. This is pretty rough, but I don’t have time to pretty it up.

Speed: Good. Very comparable to IE in most regards and sometimes faster, though still not as fast when rendering nested tables. On a P2/350 it’s hard to tell a difference. Program loads very slowly however (20+ seconds on that P2/350).

Stability: So-so if you can manage to get it installed. Installation problems galore; seemed stable under NT4 once I got it running. Under heavy use it didn’t crash on me once. However, numerous attempts to get Java plug-in working failed. I never did get it to install on a Mac G3 running OS 8.6.

Features: Stop animations feature is gone and sorely missed. Makes me mouse more than IE does. IE-like backspace is there; ctrl-enter is not and autocomplete is Netscape 4-like rather than IE like, forcing more keystrokes. I wish they’d focus more on usability, speed and stability and less on eye candy. Text enlargement doesn’t trigger window scrollbar or margin resizing when needed, so if you enlarge the text, you’ll lose the edge of the screen.

The ctrl-l-accessible Open Location box doesn’t use any autocomplete at all.

What’s Related moves from the navigation bar to the sidebar, where it’s tempting to turn off to save screen space.

Built-in search tool turns the sidebar back on if you turned it off. Annoying–don’t throw out your bookmarks to Google and Altavista yet.

No longer any fast, easy way to toggle images on/off

No longer forces you to install everything under the sun, which is very nice. Good to be able to get just a browser if you want.

Memory usage: disappointing. Used anywhere from 18-28 megs during initial testing. It’d be so nice to nuke the #$%& eye candy and get that memory usage down.

The verdict: I’m pretty happy with how the Gecko rendering engine turned out. But as soon as K-Meleon comes of age, chances are I’ll switch to that because it’s so much leaner and meaner. (Mozilla’s plagued by the same eye candy garbage, and until we all have 2-GHz processors and a gig of RAM and 15K RPM hard drives on our desktops, I’m mostly interested in having something that works fast. That means giving up some inessential whiz-bang stuff.)

And if you missed it… I posted an update late yesterday. It was too important to wait until this morning.


From: “bill cavanaugh” <billcav@nospam.yahoo.com>