Ezine 125 – Recommendations from Readers

Ezine 125 – Recommendations from Readers

Readers’ tips and recommendations carry extra power because they have been tested in the real world.  From time to time it is my pleasure to feature utilities sent in by ordinary readers with no connection to their highlighted products.

Recommendations from Readers

Website Trust

One topic that has been on my mind lately is trust.  We all want to know which websites are reputable and which will infect us with Spyware, viruses and other scams.  I am also on the other side of the fence, I want to persuade people that my Computer Performance site will help them, and my ezines are a source of useful tips. 

In my opinion, it is a tragedy that a few rogue sites have made some readers hyper-sensitive to the good guys.  Thus building readers’ confidence is one of my ongoing projects.  IE7’s phishing filter is not designed to detect such dodgy sites, therefore if you have doubts about any site, including mine, I suggest that you look at MacAfee Site Advisor, and I also for a general feeling about a site check their url at Quantcast.com and Alexa.com

Guy’s Trusting Nature

Perhaps it would help you to understand my thinking if I highlighted two results from a recent personality test.  I come out average for most factors, for example, Introvert — Extrovert 50th percentile (in the middle).  However, for Dependent — Independent, my result was 99th percentile independent, and for Distrusting — Trusting 94th percentile for trusting.

To give you but one example of my trusting nature, when people write-in saying they have lost their ebook because their disk crashed, I no longer waste my time checking their name in my sales ledger, I just email them the ebook and get on with my life.  Occasionally, I make a random check, but every time that person is genuine.

As a by-product of trusting my readers, I have learned that hard disks are more fragile than I thought.  I even checked my own disks, and to my horror, I found bad sectors.  As I was replacing my disk I wondered: could it be that disks are more delicate than manufacturers acknowledge.  Perhaps their test figures are not based on real-life conditions.  Maybe they need my old friend Psycho on their testing team.  For example, Psycho would leave his laptop on his car roof then drive off at speed – I bet that’s not in the testing program!  Back to more mundane matters, yesterday we had a power-cut in our region, I wonder how many disks that caused to crash?

Drobo – A RAID type disk system

Before I finish this trusting theme, I just want to say a word about Paul DeBrino, I trust him, but in a different way.  What I have learnt from Paul is that his every recommendation is worthwhile, even if there are some that I cannot use, I know that each tip will help at least some of my readers.  Talking of protecting disks, Paul recommends a neat RAID system from Drobo.com at $499, however, I cannot buy it because they only ship to America.  If you do visit drobo.com, look out for their Video which explains how their disk array concept works.

Winmerge – Kindly recommended by Jim McGuffin

What I appreciate about WinMerge is that it not only differences files, but also it merges them.  Moreover, it’s an Open Source tool suitable for all Win32 platforms.  One of WinMerge’s main tasks is determining what has changed between versions; it then allows you to combine the changes into one version.

Epsilon Squared – Kindly recommended by Chris Kurylak

When it comes to streamlining the rollout of applications and upgrades, Epsilon Squared is a time-saver. They have two products:
a) InstallWatch: This utility records all changes to your PC during installation of both software and hardware.
b) InstallRite: Provides ‘application cloning’, which is more flexible than ‘disk cloning’.  That said InstallRite works well with Ghost, and also includes all the features of InstallWatch.

WVHA (Windows Vista Hardware Assessment) Version 2 was released last week

You may remember that Windows Vista Hardware Assessment wizard was another tip from Paul DeBrino.  The good news for those who have registered with connect.microsoft.com is that Version 2 is now available.  The bad news is that at Microsoft’s main site they still only advertise Version 1.  Normally under these circumstances, I would make WVHA available from my site.  However, for once I red the blurb (it was in bold and red).  The gist of Microsoft’s statement was: ‘You must not make WVHA 2 available to anyone else’.  Well Microsoft has been good to me over the years so I will respect their wishes.  I suppose that the lesson is if you are interested in WVHA, and other Microsoft products such as Longhorn, then register at connect.microsoft.com.

Overview of WVHA Version 2

The strength of WVHA is its ability to automatically find and analyze all the XP machines on your network.  The WVHA wizard shows you a summary of how many of your computers are ready for Vista Premium.  It also counts how many are merely Vista Capable (no Aero), and how many cannot run any version of Vista.

With WVHA you get a professional package which employs WMI scripts to interrogate the machines, and Office macros to present the data attractively.  What I particularly like is the Spreadsheet reports featuring a worksheet for each aspect of the assessment.  If you prefer, you can examine a stylish report in Word format, which collates the data on the hardware assessment.  As an aside, WVHA V 2.0 Upgrades version 1.0 and keeps the existing database, I always think that such courtesy is a sign of a good program.

Registry Cleaners – Best of Both Worlds

If you remember, in the last ezine I was not enthusiastic about Registry Cleaners.  In fact I was paranoid that these utilities would remove settings that I may need.  Another reason I avoid Registry cleaners is that if there is a problem, I want to research the root cause myself not rely on an automatic clean up.

Paul DeBrino has patiently explained how we can have the best of both worlds.  Firstly, install a Registry Cleaner for its expertise in exploring and researching the registry.  Secondly, insist on switching it to manual, because by using this technique you can benefit from the utility’s ability to find problems, but you can take control of the decision on whether or not to delete a particular registry setting. 

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Guy’s free registry ebook

You may remember my tale of the marketing Professor who said that the second mailshot always outperformed the first.  Well the rules for snail mail don’t apply to the internet.

1st Ezine resulted in 495 Downloads
2nd Ezine resulted in 247 Downloads

My theory is that nowadays people ‘use’ an email tip instantly, or ignore it for ever.  I base this theory on research into how people read my ezines.  I estimate that 4 years ago 50% people looked at my email during the 1st day, followed by 30% on the second day.  The other 20% anytime up to a week later.

Now in 2007, 90% of people read my ezine on day one, (or not at all).  In case you think I am spying on you, I am not.  What I do is I count how many people click on the links in the ezine, then I assume that the pattern would be the same for people reading the ezines. Thus if 180/200 clicks occur on day one, that extrapolates to 90% of all emails that were read, were read on the first day.

I am grateful to those readers who write in giving their reasons for wanting the ezine in plain text.  Even though I prefer to receive ezines in html, ‘reader power’ has caused me to change the default for this ezine to plain text.  Nevertheless, those readers who prefer html, can alter their preference with a link at the bottom of the ezine.

Will and Guy Humor

Trivia: Most people think that midsummer’s day coincides with the summer solstice, where as in fact Midsummer’s day is June the 24th and not the 21st.  Warming to the flaming June idea, this week Will and Guy have theFlaming Go!

Lots of useful utilities

E 200 Stuxnet  • Metro UI  •Review of Real-time Bandwidth Monitor  • Windows 8 Remote Desktop

E 199 Apps  •E 197 iPad   • E 188 Toast  •E 183 Utilities  •E 182 Ripper  •E 178 LoJack

E 165 Nifty Utilities   • E 125 Nifty Tools  • E 106 Tips  • E 99 Tips  • Virtualization Manager  • Ezines