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?