Tag Archives: tweak

Cacheman 7 for Windows Vista

I’ve been a fan of Cacheman from the very beginning. It’s an essential install for me on every copy of Microsoft Windows I own. Until recently, Windows Vista was unsupported – but they’ve just announced / released Cacheman 7 [download] today! It’s also forward-compatible with Windows 7:

Cacheman is an application designed to improve the performance of your computer by optimizing several caches, managing RAM and fine tuning a number of system settings. Auto-Optimization makes it suitable for novice and intermediate users yet it is also powerful and versatile enough for computer experts. Backups of settings ensure that all user modifications can be reversed with a single click. Cacheman runs on Windows XP/Vista/7.

Trust me – if you use Windows, you want this.

Do you Need to Tweak Firefox for Speed?

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Firefox 3 download day has come and gone. It broke records… and servers. It took a little getting used to when I downloaded it. There were things I loved, and things I hated about it. I didn’t really like the Awesome bar. The good news is that I received a few recommendations for things to do to improve my FF 3 experience. According to Buruc, all I have to do is:

I found a more convenient way to get rid of the “awesome bar”. Go to the Mozilla add-ons website, and get the ” Old bar 1.2 ” add-on. Install it, restart Firefox, and that should do it. This way you could turn the feature on and off as you please.

You know what I’m talking about with Firefox 3 and that “awesome” bar. When you type in an address, and you suddenly have this long list of URLs under the address bar. To me, that seems too clunky. I just don’t like it.

Maverick also emailed me with some other recommendations. Go to the address bar, and type in about:config. When you look at this page, you’ll be overwhelmed, I guarantee. Pretty much everything you can configure in Firefox can be controlled via this page. Don’t touch anything before you backup, and don’t touch anything until someone has given you a good recommendation that has been tested. Before you dive into doing this, you might want to read through PC Tips Box. Here are the values that Maverick suggests you change, in order to speed up Firefox. If these particular values don’t exists, you can add them yourself by right-clicking anywhere in the config page and choosing “new”.

  • Find network.http.pipelining. Set this value to True.
  • Next, go to network.http.pipelining.firstrequest and set that to True, as well.
  • Go to network.http.pipelining.maxrequests and change that to 8.
  • Now we’ll get to network.http.proxy.pipelining and again set it to True.
  • Find nglayout.initialpaint.delay and change it to a 0.
  • Go to content.notify.interval and set this to 0.
  • Locate content.switch.threshold and change this to True.
  • And finally, change content.interrupt.parsing to True as well.

If you know of any other good tips for tweaking browsers of any kind to make them work better, be sure to email them to me. Make sure they’re ones that have been tried and tested. I won’t pass along anything that could hurt anyone’s experience.

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Speed up Mac OS X for Free

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One of the reasons why I fell in love with the PC back in the day, was because I could tweak it. I loved playing with configuration. I love to mess around and discover speed tweaks that are turned off by default. I was talking with Jeff the other day, and he mentioned that he would be using Safari on his Mac, if only he could enable a single window mode (which is NOT a visible configuration option). I am completely with him there. The only reason I don’t use Firefox as my default browser is due to a GUI that just isn’t “there” yet for me, as well as a few speed issues.

So as I’m talking to Jeff, I mentioned Secrets, which is a database of hidden settings for Mac OS X. When installed, it will scan your system and look at everything you use. It will then recommend what you need to enable in order to make your experience a better one. Think of it as a “TweakUI” that continues to grow as more of these tweaks are added to the central database. All these different things are pulled in from across the Internet and added on a regular basis.

That’s the great thing about OS X. You can tweak certain things. All the tweaks that are surfaced inside the Secrets preference pane are usually only able to be toggled on the command line. This application surfaces them all into a GUI. It’s free, and it’s easy. This is definitely one of the best freeware apps for Mac OS X I’ve come across. Here are just a few of the tweaks you can apply:

  • Grab File type for screen captures
  • Every App Scroll bar type
  • Safari Use circular progress indicator
  • Dock Dock Appearance, minimize effect and pinning
  • Xcode Organization name
  • Safari Enable debug menu
  • Dashboardlauncher Drag widgets out of dashboard
  • Finder Show stripes in list views
  • GlobalPreferences Login window desktop picture
  • Finder Show hidden files
  • iTunes Arrows link to library instead of store
  • Terminal Make focus follow mouse
  • Frontrowlauncher Enable high definition movie trailers
  • Safari Show Link URL in Tool Tip

As always, do your homework. Make sure you know what it is you’re toggling, and that you make a good backup prior to making any changes.

What other tweaks and tips do you have? If they’re really good ones, I’ll definitely pass them along to the rest of the world.


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Fix Windows Vista's Fonts!

I’ve been labeled a nitipicker for seeing skipped details that few others seem to see on the surface of an application’s user interface. Guilty as charged! Download this simple registry patch, but please read this entire post before applying it?

I’m not happy that Microsoft has added yet another shell font to the mix with Windows Vista: Segoe UI. On its own, Segoe UI is an awesome font – but when it’s slapped up against Tahoma, MS Sans Serif, Microsoft Sans Serif, and/or Arial – it’s no longer a clean user experience. In fact, Vista is downright messy when it comes to shell fonts – with some aliased faces reaching back to the days of Windows 3.11!

These blatant font oversights were shoved onto the backburner for the sake of (a) 100% backwards compatibility and (b) time. However, that didn’t stop me from diving into REGEDIT and setting things straight. The good news? I believe I’ve figured out how to make everything inside of Windows Vista stick to Segoe UI. It’s a subtle, yet radical, transformation.

There are benefits and drawbacks that come with my font tweaks. The biggest benefit is that most (if not all) of your application fonts will finally be in the same font family. The drawbacks happen to be a matter of perspective.

Text in size-restricted config dialogs may appear tight or truncated, but you will never see Arial, Times New Roman, Microsoft Sans Serif, MS Serif, MS Sans Serif, or Tahoma font faces ever again. I can’t imagine this being a tremendous problem for most people – myself included.

I’ve killed most of the aliased fonts that will ship in Windows Vista – there’s virtually no other (or easier) way to do it other than through this registry patch. Software installers finally conform to a single Segoe UI typeset, Google Earth finally looks clean, and .NET apps finally don’t look any different than other apps on the system – and Web sites that call on Arial (like Google.com) look amazing after this tweak, too. I posted a few before and after screen shots to Flickr.

If you bother to look at the .REG file I’ve compiled, you’ll see that the tweaks are relatively straighforward. I’m essentially redirecting font rendering from fonts I don’t want (Arial, Tahoma, MS Sans Serif, etc.) to a font that I do want (Segoe UI). The essential key is in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows NT CurrentVersion FontSubstitutes.

I’m releasing this tweak in the hope that others will help me refine it. You should set a System Restore point if you’re feeling gunshy. I’ve applied them safely to my own system, and have bug squished and cross-checked compatibility with both Robert McLaws and Brandon LeBlanc. They were both quite helpful and suffered through countless reboots with me. If you find any other tweaks that should be added to the .REG file, let me know and I’ll incorporate them ASAP.

For further optimization, you might also set your icon font to 8pt (it’s 9pt by default). Right-click the desktop, choose Personalize, click the first “Windows Color and Appearance” option, click the “Open classic appearance properties for more color options” link near the bottom, then click the Advanced button on the “Appearance Settings” dialog, select the “Icon” item, then flip the Size field to “8.” Windows Vista: transparently convoluted!

While my font patch is harmless, I’m not responsible for anything that might happen to your system (or life) if you decide to apply it. I’m sure incompatibilities will spring up, but that’s when I’ll really need your troubleshooting assistance.

I’ll certainly be sharing this information with a few key Microsofties, though I do not expect them to officially incorporate my patch into future builds of Windows. If you don’t even care about the fonts on your screen, then why did you bother to read this far – and what have you got to lose by applying my patch? I simply couldn’t recommend running Windows Vista without it.

Moreover, to all the people who slapped me around for complaining about Vista’s font mayhem: at least I did something about it instead of rolling over and pretending we were past the point of no return. Feh. If only I could fix other visual hiccups – like Vista’s Task Manager, which has 16-color icons and doesn’t ToolTip truncated fields. Maybe SpeedUpMyPC will fix it eventually?

World's Best WordPress Plugin

I’ve been pimping my WordPress – hardcore. From spilling a little SpotMilk over my admin interface, to getting an admin toolbar for when I’m looking at my own blog. I’ve been looking high and low for fun and functional extensions for WP, but I think I’ve found the mother of all plugins tonight. It’s called Edit N Place – and if you have WordPress installed, you must install this plugin immediately. Its name is exactly what it does – enables you to edit your post’s title, categories, and/or body inline! No need to load up the admin page to tweak a word or two anymore! Yes, it’s accessible with a little sprinkle of AJAXy goodness. I sent Matt an instant message the moment I had it running. He didn’t even know about it, so it’s a fair bet most of you WordPressers don’t, either. It’s so simple to configure to your liking, even a caveman could do it.