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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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A Firefox ramdisk profile in Windows

I’ve been using Dataram’s excellent free ramdisk program for several months now and highly recommend it. On some machines, I install Firefox to the ramdisk and move the profile there. But the biggest benefit comes from putting the profile (not just the browser cache) in the ramdisk. Storing the profile in a high-speed, near-zero-latency ramdisk solves virtually every Firefox performance issue. Here’s how to set up a Firefox ramdisk profile in Windows.Read More »A Firefox ramdisk profile in Windows

Living with a past-its-prime computer

I’m playing catch-up a bit. This weekend, Lifehacker ran a guide about living with a computer that’s past its prime.

I’ve made a career of that. One of my desktop PCs at work (arguably the more important one) is old enough that I ought to be preparing to send it off to second grade. And for a few years I administered a server farm that was in a similar state. They finally started upgrading the hardware as I was walking out the door. (I might have stayed longer if they’d done that sooner.) And at home, I ran with out-of-date computer equipment for about a decade, just this summer buying something current. Buying something current is very nice, but not always practical.

So of course I’ll comment on a few of Lifehacker’s points.

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Libre Office grows up some more

Libre Office 3.5 is out. I need to look at it. My big beef with Open Office all along was that it made current hardware, whatever it was, feel like Office 97 running on a 486. Or perhaps a Pentium-75.

They’re saying all the right things now. Lots of new eyes looking at the code, reviewing the code, dropping obsolete code, streamlining it and making general improvements. Netscape 4.5 was a bloated mess too, but once the Mozilla team got some fresh eyes looking at it, the situation improved. Eventually they had to break the browser out into what became Firefox, but they had the freedom to do that.

And in the meantime, I suppose if it’s too slow, you could throw hardware at the problem. 8 GB of RAM costs $40 or less right now. Carve out a ramdisk of 1-2 GB and install Libre Office in that, and it’ll load pretty fast. It’ll eliminate any I/O-bound bottlenecks.

Chasing the ramdisk and slipstreaming rabbits

I’ve been messing around with slipstreaming and with ramdisks, but since I’m not completely certain the slipstream process works consistently, I’m not publishing it today. I’m very excited about the possibilities that ramdisks have, but I got the ramdisk to fail on me twice last night. In light of that, I’m not going to come out and say what a great thing this particular ramdisk product is when I have doubts about its ability to stand up to heavy use.

In my Amiga days, I did most of my everyday computing using a ramdisk as my main storage medium. The operating system used it heavily, and all my downloads went there. I did all my creation and extraction of Zip files there. I even had the machine configured to reboot off one. The initial cold boot had to come off a hard drive, but the machine was capable of warm booting from its ramdisk. I took advantage of that, and when I had to reboot, the machine was back in literally seconds. Booting Windows 7 from a ramdisk is a non-starter on several levels, but if a ramdisk can’t do everything else an SSD can do and do it faster, I don’t think it’s worth having.

So I have high standards and high expectations.

When I find something that works well, I’ll share it.

A bargain SSD for the masses

I spotted a bargain SSD: The Kingston SSDNow V+100 96 GB  is available at Amazon for $130. (It’s available other places for about the same price, but with Amazon’s free shipping, it’s probably cheaper there.) It uses a Toshiba controller that (by some accounts) lacks NCQ, but other than that, it’s a modern controller, and it has a good track record, having been the controller Apple used in its Macbook Air.
Read More »A bargain SSD for the masses