SITE UPDATES & EDITORIALS

Email: Koroush@TweakGuides.com



This page contains non-news related material, such as site admin updates, my opinions and thoughts, tips & tweaks, etc. These aren't posted on the front page to keep it as objective and news-orientated as possible. See The rationale behind the Site Updates & Editorials page for details.





LATEST UPDATES



Nostalgia Redux

14 September 2019


Normally, I'm not a particularly sentimental kind of guy. I have plenty of fond memories of course, but I don't like to drag them out often, because living in the past is not necessarily all that healthy. I think that at some point however, as you get older, your brain decides that you must spend a certain portion of the day thinking about the past, whether you want to or not. For me, the latest flashback was again to a range of PC games that for better or worse, define a period of my life in the early to mid-2000s.


Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

How many of these do you remember playing, and did you plow countless hours into them, like I did? If I had to pick my top three in terms of the sheer quantity of gaming enjoyment they gave me, it would be Morrowind, Crysis and Fallout 3. I spent literally hundreds of hours of play time between the three of these games. By the way, if you're wondering why Crysis is on that list, given it's not an open-world game and it doesn't take that long to complete, the answer is this: the Crysis Demo. When the free Crysis Demo came out in October 2007, I played it day and night, not just because I had to write the Crysis Tweak Guide, but also because it was such a beautiful, interactive sandbox full of features that were well ahead of their time.


The good news is that whenever I get nostalgic, I have several things that quickly satisfy my nostalgia. The photos above demonstrate the first of these: I still have my original copies of these games in their boxes, although I haven't got any special display area for them, they're all packed away in large cardboard moving boxes and stashed in a closet. Most recently I pulled them out last month when I wrote the TweakGuides Nostalgia article, and that's when these photos were also taken (spot the obvious mistake in the picture on the left).


The second thing to soothe my nostalgic aches is that I'm such a cautiously organised nerd, I made a point of keeping backup copies of the save games, .ini files, and miscellaneous other custom files for the games I loved the most.


As you can see from the example above, among the archived backups of files for games like Morrowind, Oblivion, Mafia and even GTA IV, I've neatly backed up several Fallout 3 save games, as well as the .ini file that held my customised control layout. I did this because at the time I realised that if something went wrong, I'd go insane if I lost, say, over 115 hours of Fallout 3 gameplay - as shown at the end of the Save 72 - Koroush, Point Lookout 115.15.14.fos file above - and had to start all over again. Why I never got rid of these once I finished the game, I don't know, but if push comes to shove and I want to relive those days, I can reinstall the relevant game and pick up where I left off. It's not going to happen of course, but for some reason, the fact that I could if I wanted to is comfort enough.


The third piece of the cure to my nostalgic urges comes in the form of numerous gameplay videos I regularly uploaded to my YouTube channel over the past 13 years, starting with this Oblivion Video back in 2006:




It's not particularly exciting; it predates YouTube HD so it's in glorious pixellated 480p, it's got a noticeably low framerate because Oblivion was a system crusher at max settings back then, plus I had the recording overhead of FRAPS, which was brutal. And as an added bonus, it was recorded on a 4:3 1280x1024 display, so it's not even widescreen. But it does the job of taking me back to those early days of Oblivion, when it seemed like the most amazing and beautiful game in the world, with the promise of so much more adventure to come.


Most of my gaming videos are fairly ordinary at best. Some went on to garner millions of views each, but I honestly never uploaded them to excite people or make money; the channel was never monetised because I didn't want to deal with the copyright headaches. Aside from wanting to demonstrate ordinary gameplay, as opposed to editing together the best bits which can make a game seem deceptively cool to potential buyers, I uploaded these videos because I had a feeling that one day I would want to look back and see a genuinely representative and raw sample of my gameplay. And I was right. Just watching some of these videos gives me my nostalgia fix, quelling any urge I have to spend lots of time reinstalling the relevant game and getting it to work properly.


The truth is that our memories are often much better than the reality of how things actually were - it's part of the well-known "The older I get, the better I was" syndrome. Deep down, I know that if I reinstalled vanilla Oblivion right now and started playing it, it would probably ruin my gilded memories of what the game was like, because in the harsh light of 2019, I would notice the obvious object and texture pop-in as I moved around, I'd notice the awful textures, the clunky animations, and so on. But in a blurry YouTube video, it kinda looks OK if I don't look too closely.


If you're more of a modern-day gamer - and you have my condolences, because it's a scientifically established fact that today's games are rubbish (I kid, I kid) - I would recommend recording videos of your own gameplay and saving them somewhere, whether YouTube or offline. I guarantee that in a decade or two, you'll be wanting to relive these days, and maybe, like me, you too can bore a whole new generation of younger people with stories about how great the good ol' days were.


Another game-related oddity that happens to me, although not all that often, is that I'll be watching a movie, hear a song, or be in a particular place, and it will suddenly trigger a memory of a certain aspect, room, or scene from a game. And there are a few occasions where I've even had a dream in which I'm wandering around some part of a game world, as though it was an actual physical location I've visited. For example, it's been almost 20 years since I played Unreal Tournament '99, but I still have a clear picture of the map Deck 16, as well as hearing the music from that level playing in my head, and it jumps up into my conscious thoughts from time to time. The only possible reason I can think of is that I was new to PC gaming, especially online gaming, when I played UT, it was an intensely competitive map that required a huge amount of focus, and I played it alot. So it's been etched into my poor brain, probably taking up space that could have been more productively used to store some knowledge of actual value.


Makes me wonder just what will happen in the future. Almost everyone games today, and with Virtual Reality technology becoming more and more advanced, will there come a time when, perhaps, people will meet, interact, play and even holiday, with each other in virtual spaces for the vast majority of their time? Throw in life-like Artificial Intelligence and the concept becomes even more interesting and frightening.


Whoa! How did I go from a nostalgic look at gaming to musing about a dystopian vision of the future as a cross between The Matrix and Blade Runner? Who knows. I've had my nostalgia break (again), it's time to get back to the here and now :)


Update: If you want to give me feedback on anything on the site, including these Site Updates, email me using the link at the top of this page. But if you don't feel like emailing me, you can also post a tweet tagging me (@GhaziKoroush), and I'll see it. I've never really liked Twitter, but I've come to grudgingly accept that it's not going to go away, so I may as well use it to interact with people I find interesting (as well as posting silly stuff to amuse myself).



Linux Experiment Update

12 September 2019


Just a quick update on the Linux Experiment: I'm still messing around in Linux, but in essence I've pretty much written most of the article already in my head, so I should be able to wrap it up and get it out by next weekend. I've taken hundreds of screenshots as well, both to remind me of the key issues I need to write about, as well as to illustrate certain aspects of Linux Mint Cinnamon to readers. Don't worry though, I don't want it to be a lengthy article; it will likely be around three pages. As I've said before, this is not my attempt at a Linux Tweak Guide, or some sort of in-depth objective review of every aspect of Linux Mint. It's simply my personal journey into using Linux and the types of things I've observed while using it. I've definitely learned a lot, so if, like me, you've never really used Linux before, the article may be informative for you too.



iPhones, iSheep, and iDontCare

11 September 2019


The big tech news today is the release of the new iPhone 11 models. This is also the first time I've had an appropriate place on this site to voice my opinions on the latest iPhone, as well as iPhones in general, and voice it I shall! So let's wade right in...


I don't know about you, but I find it an absolute chore to get through news coverage of new tech these days. Each and every outlet has its biases, but worse still, in the rush to get the scoop, they put out poorly researched articles and videos that are light on facts. I always go to source if I can; that means manufacturer spec sheets, official press releases, and so forth. In the case of new iPhones, I use Apple's own iPhone Compare feature to do a careful comparison of specifications. Enter the model(s) of iPhone you wish to compare in the drop-down boxes. To start with, the images are to scale, giving you a good indication of how much bigger or smaller the new iPhones are compared to your current iPhone model. Next, as you slowly scroll down the spec list, you can see precisely what's changed in each area of capability. In the case of the new iPhone 11 Pro vs. last year's iPhone XS equivalent for example, the main changes are:


  • The processor has been upgraded (no independent benchmarks yet)
  • The camera's capabilities have been significantly boosted, albeit at the cost of making the external camera bump look like something Sam Fisher of the Splinter Cell series would wear
  • The 11 Pro's battery life is up to 4 hours greater than the XS
  • The OLED display is now brighter (800 nits vs. 625 nits) and has even greater contrast (2m:1 vs 1m:1)
  • The 11 Pro's built-in WiFi has been upgraded to the ax standard, but is missing 5G support
  • The new iPhone 11 Pro has greater water and dust resistance
  • The new iPhone 11 Pro weighs slightly more, as well as being a bit wider, taller, and thicker than the XS, and has a slightly different 'textured matt glass' finish
  • Dolby Atmos support has been added
  • The 11 Pro now comes with the 18W Fast Charge cable

  • Similarly, comparing the iPhone 11 to the iPhone 11 Pro reveals the key differences being the display (LCD vs OLED), slightly less battery time improvement (1 hour vs. 4 hours), lesser water resistance (2m vs. 4m), and the lack of a Fast Charge cable. To do a comparison between any brand of phone, you can use the GSMArena Phone Compare feature instead.


    Having picked up the key facts for yourself, you can then read or view media reports to flesh out the specs, noting details such as Face ID being around 30% faster, and seeing demonstrations of new features such as Audio Zoom, Night Mode, and improved spatial awareness for AirDrop.


    If the new iPhones bore you, you're not alone. The "iDontCare" factor is well and truly in effect, as new phones (not just new iPhones) in recent years provide minimal improvements of any significant benefit to most people, at an increasingly higher cost. We're well past the stage where truly exciting, innovative, new features are being added to phones. There's little incentive to drop a bundle just to get superfluous fluff like Dolby Atmos support, or an improved camera, or a slightly brighter display. For some people though, it's upgrade time.


    Last year, after using a progressively slower iPhone 6 since 2014, I felt an upgrade was necessary. By doing a detailed comparison of the specs for the just-released iPhone XS on its launch day a year ago, I quickly determined that it wasn't that much of an improvement over the iPhone X, while the XR was too big and too de-specced to justify its price. I looked around for the inevitable discounts that the outgoing iPhone X would receive in light of the newer XS' launch, and I found the best deal - on eBay of all places!. There was a time when buying an iPhone from eBay was as sensible as buying a Rolex watch from a guy on the street corner. But in this case, a fairly reputable bricks-and-mortar Australian phone chain was having a massive online sell-off of the iPhone X with a mild discount, and importantly, eBay was promoting a 20% off discount code at the same time. The result: I netted a new phone that was a substantial upgrade over my old one, at around 30% less than regular retail price. It came factory sealed, was Australian stock, and a quick check of the Apple serial number database, combined with online research, showed that my phone was covered by a valid warranty, and had been manufactured just 3 weeks before my purchase date.


    But wait, don't all techies know that iPhones are overpriced garbage?


    I agree that iPhone prices are becoming extremely high, but let's take a moment to look at a tear-down of these devices. Modern phones are marvels of electronic miniaturisation, intricately weaving batteries, cables, energy-efficient processors and numerous sensors, cameras, and transmitters into a tiny, silent, passively-cooled package that can rival the power of some desktop PCs. Some even have colour-accurate OLED displays that match or beat many 4K TVs, and are far more burn-in and sunlight resistant than OLED TVs. My iPhone X cost Apple an estimated $400US in components alone to build, and that doesn't include the substantial research and development costs, distribution, retail, warranty and support costs. I don't weep for Apple, I'm sure they're still making tons of money, but grabbing one of these phones at around 70% of their retail price through various discounts actually makes them almost a bargain. Remember, some of us hold onto our phones for years, and iPhones in particular are typically supported for many years by Apple through free software upgrades - iOS 13, due out shortly, supports as far back as the iPhone 6s of 2015.


    Cue the "iSheep" jokes. Yes, there are people who are iSheep, in that they are Apple fans who slavishly buy anything and everything Apple makes with no critical thought whatsoever. They barely use its features, the iDevice being mainly a fashion accessory. But if you know me, you know what I think of "fans" of anything, whether Apple, Google, AMD, Intel, Nvidia, etc. So no, I'm not a fan of Apple. Logically however, I prefer Apple products. I've invested a fair bit into the Apple ecosystem over the years since I first bought an iPad 2 in 2011. Furthermore, I use my mobile device primarily for communication, browsing, and multimedia consumption. The iPhone does this superbly; for me, it truly does "just work". So what about tweaking? I'll be blunt: most people miss the point of tweaking. For me, it's always been about getting the most out of the hardware while maximising stability and ease of use. Using technology isn't supposed to be a test of manhood, or to see how complex you can make things for yourself. I got into tweaking so that when I use my PC, it just works, day-in, day-out, no fuss, no muss. Contrary to popular belief, I don't actually enjoy spending hours dicking around with drivers, patches, shell commands, .ini files, etc. It's just that on a PC, that's often what's necessary to get things running smoothly. But you don't earn your tech nerd credentials by automatically gravitating towards the most complex, tedious and high-maintenance software or device.


    I'm very satisfied with my iPhone X, I use it caseless and it looks and feels excellent in terms of fit and finish, still not a scratch on it. Software-wise, there's an app for anything I want to do, and everything runs smoothly and flawlessly. I've researched all of its features and use most of them to my advantage. If you prefer an Android device instead, that's fine too. But if you have an iPhone, or are thinking of getting one, don't listen to any ridicule from people who think that complexity of use automatically equals expertise, or that dozens of confusing and/or superfluous settings and options are better than fewer, well-chosen and more intuitive choices. Your mobile device is not a badge of honour or a toy, it's meant to serve your needs in a reliable and trouble-free manner. Oh, and use this period of malaise in phone features to grab yourself an older model at a substantial discount!



    A Small Improvement to Windows 10

    11 September 2019


    I may have missed this being reported elsewhere, or I may be imagining things, but when I clicked the Update & Security item under Settings today in Windows 10 version 1903, it launched into its usual check for updates, but then something different happened:


    Basically, instead of automatically commencing the download and installation of all of these security updates, Windows Update paused itself, and is sitting there waiting for me to confirm the downloads by clicking the 'Download' button, as shown above. Again, I'm fairly sure this is new behaviour. I read recently (via Ed Bott) that Microsoft had added a 'Download and install now' prompt for optional updates, but had yet to see it myself. However, this option to ostensibly choose whether to download and install non-optional security updates is a welcome move by Microsoft, if it's deliberate. Note that on my system, I currently have a 0 day delay for "quality updates" under Advanced options in Windows Update, so the Download button isn't showing because I've chosen to pause or delay security updates.


    Anyway, the upshot of it is that after all of the stuff-ups, it just may be possible that MS recognizes the need not to ram updates down Windows 10 users' throats, and this small step can help prevent people from having buggy updates installed on their system. Ultimately though, even with the risk of bugs, I tend to err towards installing security updates as soon as possible these days. It only takes one zero-day security exploit to get through your defences and you risk data loss or identity theft for example.



    The Case of the Americanized Spelling

    10 September 2019


    I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed in the original books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and later, the very faithful Granada TV adaptation starring Jeremy Brett. Therefore, I can't help but wonder what someone as keenly observant and logical as Holmes would make of the fact that for years, I've been largely using American spellings of English words on this site, despite being educated, and living, in Australia. The answer is surprisingly simple: it's a legacy of the time when the site had become extremely popular, and most of the traffic was from the US and countries where people are used to seeing American English. I would almost daily receive multiple emails correcting my "spelling mistakes", like armour, favourite, recognise, defence, etc. - some of them quite condescending. So rather than deal with the aggravation of explaining this over and over again, I just went with the flow and decided to Americanize everything.


    Why am I relating this anecdote to you now? Because as part of tidying up and updating the site, I've become acutely aware that I'm not spelling things correctly, the way I was taught. So just a heads-up that as of now, all new text on this site will be in Australian/British English. If you see something that looks like a spelling mistake or typo, feel free to report it to me of course, but first please check to make sure it isn't due to this change.


    Oh, and since I managed to slip Sherlock Holmes into the conversation, I strongly encourage you to read the original stories - all of the books are available for free (e.g. on itunes) because they've fallen into the public domain; and the Jeremy Brett TV Series, spanning 1984 to 1994, is well worth buying on DVD or Blu-ray if you can't stream it in your country. The language isn't dated, the stories are still extremely interesting, and they celebrate the sort of logical analysis of facts and evidence-based decision making that is sorely lacking in today's world.



    Site Layout Change on Linux

    8 September 2019


    While testing Linux Mint, I hadn't even thought to check out my own site until today. Turns out the default fallback font of Helvetica looks a bit too heavy on Linux in my opinion, so I've added the web safe Linux font of Nimbus Sans L to the site's CSS font family. Once you force refresh or clear your browser cache, the new font should look like the screenshot on the right below in Linux, the previous shown for comparison on the left:


    Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

    Looks a bit better to me, but if you have any objections, please let me know.



    ABZU Free

    6 September 2019


    Just a quick heads-up in case you haven't seen this already, the critically acclaimed 2016 adventure game ABZU is available for free as of now, in case you want something interesting to play around with on your PC this weekend.



    On a Lighter Note...

    6 September 2019


    Since this is pretty much my blog page now, I'll relate something cool that happened to me in the early hours of this morning. I don't normally use Twitter. I made an account over ten years ago, I posted some serious stuff a few times, it was pointless, I left Twitter, my account eventually got hacked and I deleted it. But I created a new personal account a few months ago, and I now use it mainly to post silly stuff, my way of venting in relative anonimity. My hilarious tweets go unliked and unnoticed, and that's fine with me. Today was a bit different though. Someone liked one of my tweets! Yes, just one person, but it was a special individual:


    Cheers, Ricky! Proving once again that it's not how popular you are that's important, it's the kind of people who do like what you do that makes all the difference! That's why I've always said that I'd rather have a handful of intelligent people who genuinely like coming here, and why it gives me great satisfaction to read an articulate email from even one long-time reader, than all the accolades that thousands of mindless, fickle, "fans", who inevitably follow whatever is in fashion this week, could give me :)


    Update: Given I've decided to write regularly on this page, much like a blog, I've added a Site Updates link to the main menu on the front page, just beneath the logo. This is partly because I won't announce every update I make here on the front page, only those of relative significance to most readers. So if you find the general updates and thoughts on this page interesting, you can check more easily via the new link.



    Lessons Learned From the Cortana Bug

    5 September 2019


    Seeing Microsoft's wording on the KB4512941 Update page today, finally acknowledging the Cortana/SearchUI.exe bug, reminded me of precisely why I'm doing the Linux Experiment. To save you a trip, here's what MS now says about the Cortana high CPU usage bug under Known Issues:

    Microsoft is getting reports that a small number of users may not receive results when using Windows Desktop Search and may see high CPU usage from SearchUI.exe. This issue only occurs on devices that have disabled searching the web using Windows Desktop Search.

    Let's analyse this paragraph, and break down the sheer amount of nonsense that lies behind it. Firstly, the language used deliberately plays down the issue; "a small number of users" I would suggest is a blatant lie. The feedback I've seen around the web and received myself indicates it affected quite a number of people. And why wouldn't it? It basically stems from people using utilities like the popular free O&OShutup10 to disable intrusive features that Microsoft has forced onto users, often without any easy way, or no way at all, of disabling them. In this instance, it's the Web Search feature that MS added to Windows Search, a feature whereby any search term you enter into the Search box, along with other data such as your location, will automatically be sent to Microsoft's Bing servers, and one which is enabled by default as of Windows 10 Version 1803. Understandly, sensible computer users may not want their local search results beamed across the web and stored on Microsoft's servers.


    Futhermore, it's suspiciously taken almost an entire week after the release of the Update for MS to acknowledge it and list it as a known issue, despite the fact that this bug was clearly identified and reported by multiple insiders on Microsoft's Feedback Hub during testing well before the update was released:



    But the absurdity of the situation doesn't stop there. This entire issue was likely exacerbated by people using third party utilities in an attempt to disable the constant stream of opaque, encrypted, private data from their systems. Data that Microsoft refers to purely as being telemetry, or diagnostic data. Yet, when it comes time for this so-called diagnostic data to prove its worth, it's worthless. That is, Microsoft did not identify this issue from its telemetry and act swiftly. It does not cite any hard facts from the telemetry, MS simply says "reports that a small number of users may...", as though they just heard of this via a few isolated voices on a handful of websites.


    Let me expand on this point. Here's Microsoft's description of their telemetry, noting that:

    This data is transmitted to Microsoft and stored with one or more unique identifiers... basic diagnostic data is information about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly... Microsoft uses Basic data to: comprehend the immense number of hardware, system, and software combinations customers use, analyze issues based on specific hardware, system, and software combinations and identify where problems or issues occur with a specific or limited set of devices, determine whether an app or process experiences a performance issue.

    So even at its most basic level (i.e., the level of data leakage you can't disable on your Windows 10 system), surely having a core process like searchUI.exe continuously use anywhere from 25-50% CPU or more for lengthy periods would be deemed unusual, flagged, and quantified by this telemetry. Even a couple of days after the Update was released, and even if it affected, say 3% of all systems, it should have been automatically identified, flagged, listed as a Known Issue, and given simple workarounds are available, a workaround given while a proper fix was being prepared. That's if Microsoft's telemetry was as they say it is, and MS is to be considered the highly competent giant tech company it likes to present itself as.


    Nope. Even though the enthusiast community had already identified this issue during insider testing and let MS know; even though the enthusiast community once again identified it within hours of the Update's release; even though an average user like me could see something was wrong straight away, when I noticed my CPU Usage Gadget pinning at least one core to 100% continuously for no reason, and a quick check showing it to be Cortana under Task Manager - and we implented a perfectly functional workaround within minutes to resolve it, it took Microsoft, with all of its telemetry, five days to acknowledge in a vague manner. And the best advice they can give is that it will be fixed by "mid-September". They can't release a fix or workaround any sooner because, no doubt, they'll have to test it extensively. Like they did with the original update.


    This is why the Linux Experiment is important. I don't have any particular love for Linux. In using it a short while now, I can see more clearly that it does have sometimes very annoying drawbacks that go beyond aesthetics or millions of distros with cutesy non-descriptive names. I'll detail these soon in the article. The point is that I simply do not trust Microsoft, because either they are being deliberately deceptive, or they are incompetent. This latest episode, while hardly the end of the world in terms of the harm it can cause, highlights this very clearly. And I for one want to have a viable alternative to Windows 10 ready to go if/when MS gets much worse in their deceptiveness and/or incompetence.



    General Update

    3 September 2019


    As I said earlier, I'm willing to make this page into sort of a blog, but I still want updates here to be of some relevance to readers. I don't normally post about firmware updates on the front page unless they're security-related, but I can on this page, so today I note that Samsung has released a firmware update for my 970 Evo SSD, in case you have one too. The 970 Evo Plus also has a firmware update available, but I believe that one was released in May. Not sure what changes the firmware provides because (a) Samsung, the largest consumer electronics manufacturer in the world, feels it necessary to put daily download limits on their software like it was 1998; and (b) although I could grab a copy elsewhere - which I generally recommend against when it comes to firmware and drivers (at the very least get SHA1 hashes to compare) - I would be silly to install it given I've just configured my drive for a dual boot with Linux. As it happens, a new BIOS update for my motherboard also came out a couple of days ago, and again, it would be plain silly to alter critical aspects like my motherboard BIOS with something as delicate as a Linux dual boot in play. So there's no hurry to grab these and install them.


    Incidentally, both the drive and the motherboard, as well as the rest of the system, have been running absolutely perfectly, thanks for asking! No issues or quirks to report. Snappy performance is a given, but I'm very happy in particular with just how quiet the system is on a daily basis. After 9 months of use, it's already starting to feel like it will be around for years, like my old one was. I've been asked in emails about my thoughts regarding the most recent developments with AMD's Ryzen 3000 series, and I'll say here what I reply to people who ask: I stand by, and still believe 100%, what I said in Hardware Confusion 2019, and in the Site Update when Ryzen 3000 came out. Let's just leave it at that. I don't want to upset AMD fans, and I think the more astute among them may also be realizing by now just how silly it is to be a "fan" of any company, or believe that any of these companies are acting with your best interests at heart.


    Signing off for a while as I try to make time here and there to get on with the Linux Experiment. Before I go, I'll assume that since you're reading this page right now, you're interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff here, so I'll give you an honest FYI - and this is not intended as a nag, or rattling the can, or an attempt to guilt trip anybody - site support has been underwhelming, to say the least. Aside from minimal feedback via email, since going ad-free at the end of July, only 8 generous individuals have donated, and all of them around the week of 14-20 August, when the site was revamped and the call for donations made more noticeable. That's 8 out of anywhere from 7,000-10,000 unique visitors a day, and a supposedly notable increase in traffic to the site in the past month (I don't have Google Analytics anymore so I use third party estimates like Alexa now). I don't think it's because everyone is stingy, maybe it's just that we're all used to our content being free, we don't give it a second thought. This is why most "content creators" focus their efforts on YouTube and Twitch for example, because you can make a fortune posting a 5 minute video filled with nothing but marketing fluff and opinions or gameplay; as long as it's clickbaity enough to get the average person to watch even a portion of it, you get paid. Anyway, as I promised, I'm not going to beg for cash or flash "please donate" notices everywhere. It's tiring and degrading for me and it's annoying for readers. At the end of the day, it has to be considered that most visitors simply don't value what I'm putting out these days, which is fine; tempora mutantur. I'll give it another month or two, especially once The Linux Experiment is out, and reassess.



    Monitoring Your CPU

    2 September 2019


    With the latest Windows 10 patch causing Cortana to eat up CPU cycles on some systems (mainly those which have used O&O Shutup to reduce MS data harvesting), I want to give a quick reminder that it's a good idea to have a visual indicator of your CPU's overall load level somewhere on the desktop. Even moderate loads on modern CPUs don't necessarily result in noticeable noise or performance degradation. I've used a CPU Gadget, like the one shown on the far left below courtesy of the free 8GadgetPack, for over ten years, and it's great for spotting unusual CPU loads which indicate unnecessary background programs, malware, faulty scripts or other software bugs, etc. If you don't want to install a Gadget, then monitoring software like the recently updated CoreTemp can be configured to launch at startup, automatically minimized, showing only the relevant data in the Notification Area - in the middle screenshot below I've configured CoreTemp to show highest temp on any core (in red) and Total CPU Load (in white) next to the WiFi icon. Lastly, the minimalist option is simply to launch the built-in Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC), and either minimize it as is, and its icon in the Notification Area will dynamically indicate the current level of CPU load; or go to the Performance tab, double-click on the small CPU graph on the left, giving you a Gadget-like small performance summary you can position wherever you like as shown on the far right below. This last option provides the added bonus of showing network and drive activity, both of which, again, may be silently elevated by errant programs or intrusions. Note that this small panel can be made even smaller if you wish by manually resizing it, and you can double-click on any graph to return Task Manager to full size.





    The Rationale Behind the Site Updates & Editorials Page


    One of the more desperately needed pieces of housekeeping I've wanted to do for some time is to separate the bulk of my increasingly frequent Site Update posts from the actual news on the front page. I fully understand that many people visit the front page of TweakGuides daily simply to see the latest software or drivers updates, or general tech news. You probably don't want to come here and find the front page covered in a wall of text, often consisting of my opinions and other personal observations.


    This is actually incredibly important, because no matter whether you tend to agree with my musings or hate them, news should be served up as objectively as possible, without much in the way of "opinions". Unfortunately, the Internet is now flooded with people who think they are "entitled to voice an opinion", no matter how incorrect or banal it may be. I tend to side with Harlan Ellison, who famously said: You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." In the past I've similarly alluded to uninformed opinions as weeds on the landscape of the Internet: of no productive value, constantly growing and very hard to get rid of once they spread. That, incidentally, is why I value getting informed, individual feedback from you via email, as opposed to the mostly toxic forums or comments sections on other websites, where people with entrenched (and frequently totally uninformed) opinions form tribes and wage war on each other.


    At the same time, I recognize that it's impossible to make any news I provide 100% unbiased or objective; everything, from what I choose to post as news and what I exclude, to how I interpret it when I summarize it for a news post, to even tiny things like the order in which it is presented on the page, carries some implicit bias on my part. We all have biases, whether we're aware of them or not. The least I can do is minimize your exposure to mine, and I believe I can finally do that.



    Site Updates From Previous Months:


    August 2019



    To view the latest news go to the Front Page

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