Saturday, September 09, 2006


I see lots of myths about a software product near and dear to me all of the time.  People come up with plausible sounding things - and turn them into rules of thumb (ROT) or misguided "explanations" of how Oracle works.

I got to see one about a different software product today.  The point/counter point came out fast and furious.  I've been following reddit, digg, and techmeme for a short while now - couple of weeks.  The are "social sites" where the links that appear come about via popularity (voting of a sort, below I'll tell you which one I really like and why).  Today there were two articles that caught my attention.

The first was a supposed technical article "why windows takes so long to start up".  If you read it - and you are not a windows expert - it certainly sounds plausible.  I might even "praise" the author as being really smart and a good person for sharing this information.  The author tells us about a prefetch feature, supposedly what it does and supposedly how it works.  They proceed to give information about how to turn off part of it - so as to speed up the reboot of windows (in theory).

The second was a thoroughly pained article "One more time: do not clean out your Prefetch folder!".  I really related with Ed Bott on this one.  I could feel his pain.  I loved the air quotes:

Yet another Web site posted yet another “tip” today recommending that you clean out your Prefetch folder to improve performance of Windows. Arrrggghhh!

I think if you replace Windows with Oracle and "prefetch folder" with something like "ratios", "cache hits" whatever - you would find a sentence I wrote that looks a lot like that.

The real reason I liked (and believed) his article was this:

In all the many sites that offer this bogus tip, I have yet to see a single piece of actual performance testing.

Amen.  He then goes onto point out the technical inaccuracies made in the various articles - things that sound plausible, sound reasonable - but just are not true.

It happens all of the time - myths abound because anyone with a keyboard can publish on sites all over the place (sites that do not have technical editors - you would be surprised that many of the "technical" sites out there do not have staff that can actually evaluate the material they publish...)

I tried out Ed's approach (timing things) and lo and behold - that tuning "tip" doesn't really hold water.  It is too bad the article didn't put in the most common cause (in my experience) of slow "time from power on till I can actually do work".  Startup programs.  I watch startup programs like a hawk - it is the rare program that I let "startup" with windows - just the basics.  I took my wife's laptop from taking on the order of 5-plus minutes from power off to "when you can type again" to about 1 minute just by shutting off the huge number of startup programs. (by the way - see "ccleaner" for an easy way to monitor these startup programs and other stuff) 

So, these myths happen all over the place - sigh.

As for reddit, digg, techmeme and the like... I like best of all......  Reddit.  By far.  Look at the interface - lean, mean and clean.  If you follow digg at all (that is a really slow loading page there - really slow. "pretty" but "pretty slow"), they have a bad way of editing material that "offends" them from time to time (bad idea).  Techmeme - very different from either digg or reddit - but not as useful as either of them (might be a 'critical mass' problem, I just don't follow their links as often). 

I find I read more from reddit (and enjoy the experience much more) than I do from digg or techmeme.

What about you - what sites like digg/reddit/techmeme do you use that you find truly useful and pleasant to use?



Anonymous Matt said....

I have been following those and agree reddit is the best of the three. I also just started to follow Rojo (, I'm still undecided if I like it or not...

Sat Sep 09, 08:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Andrew said....

Here is a compilation of all the common XP Myths with sources (some to Ed Bott)

Sun Sep 10, 03:23:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

Reddit is very, very, very interesting - I've followed a lot of the top links today and all of them were high-quality and interesting. Didn't know that such a gem existed, thanks for the news.

I'll make it my 5th home tab on firefox ..

Sun Sep 10, 04:15:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said.... - all you need

Mon Sep 11, 05:15:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said.... - all you need

Interesting, but the interface is a tad lacking. (an aggregator of aggregators...).

also, I like the extras brought by each site - popurls makes them all "look the same".

Mon Sep 11, 07:28:00 AM EDT  

Blogger fatih said....

try also the

they are an aggregator-aggregator.

Mon Sep 11, 09:56:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Rich Janson said....

I watch startup programs like a hawk - it is the rare program that I let "startup" with windows - just the basics.


So many times, I've been asked to help someone with their slow PC, only to arrive and find the systray taking up about half of their taskbar with all of the things that come from startup.

Along with keeping the startup folder clean, you can run Start->Run->msconfig to remove a good deal of startup items that force themselves on you.

Mon Sep 11, 05:18:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Q said....

damn, I read your myths blog and clicked on your link "why windows takes so long to start up" and deleted my prefetch folder. when I finished, I continued reading and saw the link to "one more time, do not clean out your prefetch folder". reminds me of the mash episode where they're reading the instructions on how to diffuse the bomb and they read, "cut the red wire" and so they cut it, and continue reading on and it says "but not before you cut the yellow wire"...guess I gotta read your entire post before I act on them...

Wed Sep 27, 05:06:00 PM EDT  


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