How to boost Windows Vista speed

How to boost Windows Vista speed

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Windows 7 with its commendable performance improvements may be on the horizon. But for now, most of us have to live with Windows Vista, which can make even the fastest computer seem slow.

But you don't have to put up with Vista's sluggishness without a fight. In fact, most of what ails Vista when it comes to performance can be remedied by adjusting some settings and eliminating some features.

And the good news: The whole process need not take more than half an hour. Afterwards, you'll be rewarded a computer that feels a lot faster.
Turn off window animation
Turn off window animation
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Vista went overboard with window animation -- the almost slow -- motion visual effect that occurs when you minimise or maximise an application. Whether you think the animation is cool or not, it's indisputable that it slows you down -- or at least it seems to.

Luckily, turning off window animation is possible, and doing so will not affect other types of interface animation that you may enjoy in Vista. Open the Windows Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, Performance Information and Tools, Advanced Tools from the task pane at the left, and then click "Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows". A user account control dialog box will prompt you, and you should click Continue. The Performance Options dialog box will open.

On the Visual Effects tab of the Performance Options dialog box, you have four choices: "Let Windows choose what's best for my computer", "Adjust for best appearance", "Adjust for best performance", and "Custom". "Custom" is followed by a list of individual check boxes that allow you to determine exactly which visual effects you would like to turn on or off.

To start, click "Custom", and then remove the check mark next to the "Animate windows when minimising and maximising". De-activating that option will make your applications and other windows snap into and out of view immediately rather than gradually. Changing this setting alone may be enough to make Vista feel snappier for you, and you could stop there and see how you like the change.
Go to 'Adjust for best performance'
Go to 'Adjust for best performance'
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If you're working on an underpowered or a really old machine and want to configure Vista's interface so that it uses a minimum of system resources, simply select the "Adjust for best performance" option. Doing so will remove virtually all of Vista's interface enhancements, but it will reduce the load on your computer.

If you want to get rid of all of Vista's fancy - but resource zapping - visual niceties, you can revisit the Performance Options dialog box and turn off a few more of the effects.
Turn off UAC (User account control)
Turn off UAC (User account control)
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User account control (UAC) is supposed to keep you safe from malicious software. But the penalty is that at every turn, you're prompted to provide Windows permission to carry out some action -- from deleting files to installing applications -- that you specifically requested.

It's an annoyance. You probably lived fine without UAC for many years. Plus you also likely run antivirus or anti-spyware software that keeps a lookout for possible harm. Then why not just turn UAC off?

It's easy enough to do. Open the Control Panel, and click User Accounts and Family Safety. Then click User Accounts. From the resulting User Accounts screen, click "Turn User Account Control on or off". On the next screen, remove the check mark from the box labelled "Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer". Click OK. You'll have to restart your computer, but once you do, those annoying UAC prompts will be gone
Optimise indexing feature
Optimise indexing feature
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Whether you like Vista's new indexing feature or not, you can optimise the way it works or disable it altogether. Open the Vista Control Panel, and click System and Maintenance, followed by Indexing

In the resulting Indexing Options dialog box, you can control which drives and folders get indexed by clicking the Modify button. Click Advanced to specify which file types are indexed.

Limiting the drives, folders, and file types that are indexed will reduce the amount of time that Vista spends indexing, and it will therefore reduce the overhead required by the indexing feature and consequently speed up your computer.

Making the few interface and operational tweaks here typically allows Vista to perform on a par with Windows XP. And for now, while the world waits for the even snappier Windows 7, that's probably good enough.


World's 10 worst passwords

MELBOURNE: '123456' is the most common password used by people on the Internet.

Obscenities, names of fast cars and even ncc1701 -- the ship number for Star Trek's Starship Enterprise, have made it to the list of top 500 worst passwords of all time.

Compiled by, the list features passwords most commonly used by Internet users.

And topping the list of the most common password is 123456, followed by "password" in second place.

Other popular password choices were first names, repeated letters and numbers, pop-culture references.

Even batman, bond007 and cocacola made it to the list, reports the Courier Mail.

The website said that almost one out of nine people use at least one of the passwords mentioned on the list, and one out of every 50 people use one from the top 20.

In fact, a study commissioned by digital communications agency @www found that an average adult had as many as 15 passwords to remember.

But 61 per cent of people used the same passwords for as many different accounts as possible in order to make life easier.

$6 bn govt projects for IT cos

NEW DELHI: The country’s information technology industry is turning its gaze inwards, as a dearth of new contracts in its core western markets e
xposes the soft underbelly of a sector long viewed as a habitual growth monster.

While there is a slump in demand from cash-strapped global customers for new technology services, the home market is increasingly looking good for these IT players, with contract sizes matching the ones available overseas.

And there seem to be quite a few big deals up for grabs, many of them from the government departments taking their baby-steps in embracing any form of technology.

The government departments have plans to spend $6 billion in 30 so-called “mission mode projects”, and there’s promise of more to come, as the federal and state governments embrace e-governance and look to digitise everything from land records to tax filing. There are scores of the government projects that relate to the filing of income-tax, central excise, transport services, computerising municipalities and the police force and developing e-district and e-courts.

Companies such as TCS, HCL and Wipro have won significant government business in recent months, and industry officials speak of the government contracts on offer ranging from as small as Rs 100 crore to multiples of Rs 1,000 crore.

Infosys has recently bid for a railway project related to creating a Locomotive Management System and ERP implementation, a project to create a billing system for BSNL and another contract from the defence forces.

Yet, a lot of the government business appears good only on paper, and is often hamstrung by a tardy pace of decision making. “In the government projects, there’s a start date but no end date,” said Tanmoy Chakrabarty, VP & head of government industry solutions unit of TCS, the largest software services company by revenues.

Nasscom’s vice-president Rajdeep Sahrawat illustrates the time taken by the government to approve projects by citing the example of the Passport Seva project to digitise passport records, which took the ministry of external affairs almost three years to conclude. TCS eventually won the Rs 1,000-crore project.

”The domestic market is growing at 20%, thanks mainly to the large government contracts. But three years is the typical time frame for project approvals,” said Sahrawat of Nasscom.

Others like HR Binod, services VP & head of the India Business Unit at Infosys Technologies, noted that it normally took at least 12-18 months for the government contracts to be awarded compared with about 1-2 months for private sector contracts.

Many others complain about the T1, L1 rule for the government projects, which stipulate contracts only go to companies that offer the best technology solutions at the lowest price. This means that the lowest bidder gets the work.

Further, in most the government contracts, separate teams look at the technical aspects and the pricing aspects of a contract, which delays decision making.

“People on technical committee are not on price committee. And for larger contracts (say over Rs 1,000 crore) approvals can take much longer,” added Binod of Infosys Technologies. But the government officials defend the decision-making process, arguing that many of these state-awarded contracts had complexities not normally associated with other contracts.

“It involves complexities. Some projects require even legal changes. Then there is an extensive vendor selection process,” said R Chadrasekhar, special secretary at the department of information technology, adding that in a few cases, an extensive selection process for vendors was required to ensure the smooth implementation of projects.

But for now, the sector has little choice to but to take it on the chin, as it braces for slower growth of less than 15% during the next few quarters.

Industry body Nasscom has already pegged the growth at under 17%, down from about 21-24% just a few quarters ago, making the prospect of business from any new quarter particularly alluring.

“It takes longer to get the government business, but from a relative perspective India has been unaffected by the slowdown. PSUs (public sector undertakings) and the government spends are on track, deal sizes are on the upswing,” said Kiran Bhagwanani, senior VP, India & Middle East at HCL Technologies, which recently won a seven-year, Rs 393-crore project from the National Insurance Company to roll out a new IT application across the company’s operations.

How to turn your iPod into iPhone

I try to keep a stiff upper lip about not having an iPhone. Just couldn't afford it -- not with the $75 a month or so AT&T charges for service on top of the $199 upfront cost for the device.

/photo.cms?msid=4291408 I could, however, afford the $229 iPod Touch -- and got it as a gift, as it happened. It has most of the same goodies: a Web browser, email, YouTube. And it stores way more music than the iPhone. Plus, the other day I used it to call China.

Yup, a call around the world -- on a device that doesn't have a phone. A handful of applications on Apple Inc's iTunes store will let you do this, as long as you're in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

My iPhone complex hasn't disappeared, but at least now I have a device that looks just like it, has no monthly service fees, and lets me make free or cheap phone calls.

The best part of these applications -- which require the second-generation iPod Touch that came out last year -- is that they are free to download, and calls to other people using the same app won't cost you anything.

Two of the services I've tried, Truphone and Fring, will also let you make free calls to Google Talk users and type instant messages to friends online. Both automatically queue up a list of buddies from different services you might have, including Gmail chat, AIM and MSN Messenger, once you log in.

But it's Truphone's pay feature that puts it ahead of the others. TruPhone charges you to make calls to landlines or regular cell phones, but generally at better rates than most wireless carriers. And it's upfront about what you pay.

Your balance -- which you can add to with a credit card, either on the device or on your computer browser -- pops up with the dial screen. Calls in the US are all 5 cents per minute (2 cents if you sign up to pay a $4 monthly fee).

Rates outside the US vary wildly but you can check in the application before you dial. To call cell phones in China, for instance, is only 5 cents per minute, while France is 25 cents. Antarctica? A whopping $2.25.

You can make regular calls with Fring using a Skype account, but that's another layer to deal with.

Digg's Rose and Adelson Talk About Diggbar, New Features

AUSTIN, Texas -- Social news-sharing site Digg is one of the web's top crowdsourcing success stories. By letting its users vote up content that interests them, thereby deciding what belongs on the front page and what doesn't, Digg has rewritten the rules of news gathering and information sharing on the web. The site has also earned a reputation as an excellent resource for breaking news -- whatever story, blog post, video or photo is currently burning up the web, chances are you saw it on Digg first.

SXSW_2009But much has changed since the site first launched at the end of 2004. Though the Digg army continues to grow -- there are 4 million registered Digg users -- other, more immediate methods of sharing news have emerged. Twitter is faster for sharing links, and messages are short and sweet, making the flood of updates easier to scan. Also, more and more users are turning to Facebook to spread links, photos and videos to their friends.

So how does Digg plan to stay relevant? We got the chance to ask founder Kevin Rose and CEO Jay Adelson this week here at South by Southwest Interactive. We talked to Digg's head honchos the morning after their Bigg Digg Shindigg, the massive event at Stubb's that was one of the hottest parties at SXSWi.

Jay and Kevin talked about the new technology they're rolling out, like a new Digg toolbar, integration with Facebook Connect and OpenID, an updated search tool and more customization features. First of all, what should we expect from Digg in 2009?

Jay Adelson: We're concentrating on things that are involved in engaging the user on and off the site, like Diggbar, Facebook Connect and other identity integrations for other platforms. That also involves scaling the site to handle that next wave of growth. We're going to do a total overhaul of your ability to search on the site and we're rethinking how we do customized pages for users, with customized feeds and so forth. That's already a Herculean list, but a lot of stuff is going on.

The first one, the Diggbar, is a pretty major deal for us and how people consume the site. Yeah, tell us about the Diggbar.

Kevin Rose: It's not out yet, but it's coming soon. Basically, it's a small, framed bar, it's not software you install.

It turns Digg into a short URL provider, so now all of our links will be, for example When you go to one of these shortened URLs, it draws a really thin bar across the top.

You get the full destination site underneath it, but you also get this thin bar at the top that allows you to Digg it, to see the hot comments on that story, to see related content to the article you're viewing beneath it. There's also a "random" button that gives you Stumble Upon-type functionality that takes you to random sites around the web.

If you want to create a Diggbar, just go into your browser's address bar. Leave the full URL in there for the site you're currently browsing, and just type "" in front of that and hit Enter. We take that entire URL, process it, turn it into a short URL, then bring you back to the page with the Diggbar and the full original site beneath it.

You get redirected to the short URL, so you can grab it and copy it. We also have icons on the Diggbar to post to Facebook and Twitter. It's just a great way to spread our content to the most popular microblogging services.

Digg founder Kevin Rose.
Photo: Jim Merithew/ It's great for publishers, too.

Adelson: Oh sure. It keeps you on their site. And it will actually take you deeper into their site because the bar shows you related stories from that site as opposed to having to go back to Digg and do a search there.

Rose: Yeah if you click on "Related Stories" in the bar, rather than bringing you back to Digg, we just slide down a little tray and show you other content from that source.

Diggbar If there's no other content on Digg from that site, does it just pull in related Digg headlines from other sites?

Adelson: That's the idea, exactly. It's actually smart enough to know whether or not there's enough in the system.

Rose: It also provides analytic information, so you can see how many times the link has been visited. Maybe it has 4,000 Diggs, but how many times has this article actually been viewed? Probably about twenty.

Rose: (Laughs) Actually, you'd really be surprised. I've seen stories that had 3,000 or 4,000 Diggs that have been viewed 75,000 or 100,000 times. That's insane, so we thought it would be great to expose that.

Plus, when you create the short URL in the Diggbar, you want to be able to send it around to your friends and see how many times your friends viewed it. You can see what impact you had by spreading the link around Twitter. How do you handle the friend tracking? Is it just Digg friends, or if the user is logged in through Facebook Connect, will it track the activity of their Facebook friends as well?

Rose: Initially it will be just Digg, but when we launch Facebook Connect a few weeks later, we'll be able to show you that activity as well.

Adelson: Yes, Facebook Connect is coming soon. And what about OpenID?

Adelson: Coming soon as well. One of the decisions we made pretty early on in the Facebook Connect adoption was to put a lot of work into our sign-on engine being applicable to a number of different identity systems. So, if we want to add another system down the road, it will be phenomenally less difficult than if we had to start from scratch.

It also means we can exponentially increase our registration base overnight, and make the barrier to entry to Digging from a remote site really low. If you're already logged in through Facebook Connect somewhere and you want to Digg a story, you don't have to leave that page. We're overhauling the Digg buttons as well to make it so you don't have to leave the page. What's the audience overlap between Facebook and Digg?

Adelson: There are 4 million registered Digg users and about 35 million monthly visitors. Compare that to Facebook, which has over 100 million registered users. But Digg has mostly early adopters, about 58% male, they tend to be well-educated with a higher income. I think that Facebook is 100% mainstream, so it skews the web's entire demographic. We're more focused and narrow. When will Diggbar launch?

Adelson: When it's ready. We're testing everything internally right now and as soon as we feel like it's locked down, we'll put it out.

We really want to get out of the formality of product launches. If you worry about hitting a certain date, you can miss the point of making it a quality release. Take your time.

Digg's Jay Adelson.
Photo: Jim Merithew/ You mentioned changes to your site search. Can you tell us more about that?

Rose: It's going to be awesome. I feel like I'm going to finally be able to say that we have a real site search tool.

Right now, it's easy to search by headline keyword or by source, like to choose "" and do a search. But if you're looking for a certain topic or something more general that's not source specific, that's where it breaks down today. That stuff is what we're overhauling. One of the things I've always been most fascinated by on your site is the Labs stuff like the data visualizations you did with Stamen Design. Do you still have a relationship with them?

Adelson: We do. It's definitely evolved a lot. With Stamen, it's always been more than just a design relationship. We literally stood in front of white boards and came up with these ideas with these guys. Now there's a lot less time for that.

I want to tell you there will be more this year, but maybe only one or two. We want to expand the Labs section. We're talking about releasing things that aren't as polished, some more experimental projects.

Rose: And more things we can incorporate on the main Digg site. I want to do it more like how Gmail Labs works, where you can just enable or disable features and it effects your entire product. We want to do that as well, so people can turn things on and off and change their view of the Digg front page. Kevin, tell us about WeFollow, your new Twitter directory.

Rose: I just wanted to see what would happen if you let people organize themselves in a directory based on Twitter "@" replies. So, you just Twitter @wefollow and add three hash tags you want to be listed under, and you're automatically categorized under those tags on the website. Each tag is sorted by most followers.

It's no business. It's just me coming up with an idea.

Adelson: It kind of gives you some insight into how Digg began, actually. It was pretty much Kevin playing around with an idea on weekends.

Kevin: Yeah, I literally built it in a week. It's taken off, too. It's been up a day and we've added close to 10,000 users to the directory already. Google added themselves to the directory, which is awesome. What are your own tags?

Rose: Mine are #tech, #digg and #tea. Kevin, how much time do you spend on Digg during the day? Is it the first site you hit every morning?

Rose: Yeah, it's my home page. It's a problem, because I get sucked into it like everybody else does. I try not to spend too much time -- I glance at the top 10 list and I'll look at some of the recently submitted stories. After that, I have to close it and go do actual work, because otherwise I'd sit there watching cats do crazy shit all day long. It's like working in a candy store. The diversity of links on front page has really improved over the last couple of months. Why is that? Is it organic, or is it something that's engineered?

Adelson: It's both. What we needed to do is make sure it's fair. We haven't changed the fact that every Digg user has an equal opportunity to make it to the front page, but we have thrown some more components into the algorithm to help increase diversity. So, it is harder for somebody who has a really strong following of the same group of Diggers to get something on the home page.

We also have to balance out that filtering, because some of those guys who make it to the front page a lot are the absolute best content discovery guys out there. There's a reason why they've done so well -- it's because they're awesome at it. You want to give them the same opportunity.

We've also thrown a bunch of knobs and sliders on the system now so we don't have to do a new code push every time it needs adjusting. So it's the kind of thing that's constantly changing day to day?

Adelson: Yeah. For example, the dupe detection algorithm we use is going to be significantly improved in the coming months. That's going to have a huge impact on Digg counts, how hot stories are submitted, and giving credit to whoever submitted it first. When that update happens, we'll have to tweak everything again, because one change has all sorts of ramifications. Do you spend time studying other social news sites like Reddit, Stumble Upon or Slashdot?

Rose: No, that stuff doesn't really interest me that much. I'd rather look at the new ways information is spreading around on the web. I'm much more interested in looking at Twitter, or how URL shortening services are becoming a big deal. That's the stuff I want to make sure we're on top of.

I don't think I've ever seen a competitor to Digg to date that I've ever been worried about per se, because all of them just offer something along the same lines of what we do. I think if there's ever going to be any serious competition, it's going to be from a completely different direction that we're not expecting.

There's enough humans out there to go around. I don't feel like those other sites are taking anything away from us. In fact, we all need to become larger. There are 4 million registered users on Digg. I want to see a world where we have 50 or 100 million users.

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