Archive | November 2007

Freeware Review: Defragmenting Applications

So this will be the first of a series of software reviews. I’m going to start with freeware because really, what’s better than free? Besides, I use almost nothing but freeware so I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the subject. Hope you’ll agree…

I recently reformatted my computer and reinstalled a clean Windows XP. Once I installed all of the essentials I realized I hadn’t installed a defragmenting program, and that my friends is unacceptable. Why? Read on.


First though… what is fragmentation?
Well, sometimes when you install a program or create a data file, the file ends up chopped up into chunks and stored in multiple locations on the disk. This is called fragmentation.

What makes this happen?

When you first install your operating system and programs on your hard disk, they are written to the disk, for the most part, in one contiguous block without any gaps. The exceptions are certain system files that must be stored in specific locations. Over time, as you create and then delete documents or uninstall programs, once-filled locations are left empty and you end up with files dotted all over the disk.

Now, when Windows is writing a file to the disk, it looks for a suitable piece of free space in which to store it. What happens, then, when you copy a 40MB database or audio file to the disk and the biggest slice of free space is only 30MB? Or say you modify an existing file, appending a whole bunch of data so the file now takes up more space on the disk. To accommodate the files, Windows writes the first part of the file in one section of the disk and then scouts around for other places to store the rest of the file. The end result is that a single file may be stored in several chunks scattered about the disk.

And, according to Wikipedia, defragmentation is a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems. It does this by physically reorganizing the contents of the disk to store the pieces of each file close together and contiguously. It also attempts to create larger regions of free space using compaction to impede the return of fragmentation. Some defragmenters also try to keep smaller files within a single directory together, as they are often accessed in sequence. According to a survey, 42% of PC users fail to defrag their system regularly, adversely affecting system performance.

So hopefully after this post you’ll not be part of that 42% because you’ll have freeware ways to defrag your system.

I recently ran across an article called The Great Defrag Shootout which helped open my eyes to some free and payware defragmenting applications.

I’m going to jump right to the winner of that set of articles, or at least the freeware winner.
The winner was JkDefrag, or rather, it’s GUI version. But it wasn’t just JKDefrag that Mr. Edwards found did the trick. It was a suite of free defragmenting utilities that include JKDefrag 3.26, NTREGOPT, PageDefrag, JKDefrag GUI, and Contig.

I’ll have to say that after year’s of first using Windows built in defragmenter, and then converting to Diskeeper Professional edition, this suite of freeware applications is not only the best bang for your buck (especially since you spend nothing) but it’s the best combination of utilities to help keep your computer running at optimal condition.

If you’d like to read more about the contenders of The Great Defrag Shootout and see how your defragmenter of choice ended up have a gander at Donn Edwards Insights and Rants blog.

As per my recommendation… I’ve been a faithful pay-for-defragmenter (;P) user for year’s but I have jumped ship to the one-way boat to freeware land, and this suite of applications together, I’ve found, have kept my computer at tip-top shape and defragged computers who hadn’t been defragged in over a year. I recommend downloading and trying this suite out. The best thing about JKDefrag is that you can set it to run while your screensaver is running, that way whenever your computer is idle it will defrag your computer.

You can download all of the applications in one easy to use setup program here. Be aware though that there is a new version of JKDefrag. Version 3.28, which Mr. Edwards has addressed here (but I haven’t upgraded yet so you’re on your own there).

Remember, you should definitely defrag your computer, why you ask? Read here.


Reinstall Windows and Outfit it with 100% Freeware

Description: I recently clean installed Windows XP on my laptop, and this meant that I had to re-install all the essential software that I use. It also presented an opportunity to write a posting about how you can outfit your computer with all the essential (and non-essential) software you need using strictly 100% freeware and/or open source titles.This posting could have been titled any of the following:

  • How to never use a paid program again (aside from Windows).
  • 53 essential freeware programs that can take care of the majority of your computing needs.

I am writing this from the perspective of myself clean-installing Windows and re-installing all the software I find to be essential afterwards. Read More >>

Many of these apps I have never tried, but there is at least one that he left out… Firefox! I couldn’t live without it.

Check the Awesomeness!

First your phone went wireless, then your laptop, now finally, your camera!

Never scrounge around for a USB cable again! Eye-fi is a magical orange SD memory card that will not only store 2GB worth of pictures, it’ll upload them to your computer, and to Flickr, Facebook, Picasa (or 14 others) wirelessly, invisibly, automatically!

This little guy looks like a normal 2GB memory card and works with nearly any camera that takes SD memory. There are no antennas, no protrusions, no subscription fees, and no cables.

Here’s how it works: You set up the card once with the included USB card reader (tell it which wireless network it should use, and type in the password if you have one), choose the photo sharing service of your choice (you have plenty of options), then slip the card in your camera.

From then on, you never have to touch anything. Just take photos. Whenever your cameras near the wireless network you selected and idle, Eye-fi will upload all your photos (JPEGs only) to your online photo sharing service. Next time your computer’s online, they’ll download there, too!

Yes, it is practically magic.

It’s amazing for anyone who loves photography, but also great for computer unsavvy parents and grandparents. Set up their photo sharing account, slip an Eye-fi in their camera, and your mom’s finally your Flickr friend!

Wow. All this for only $99. What will you ever do with all those cables now?

How to Close an Open Society: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps

Ten quick steps to facism:

  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
  2. Create a gulag
  3. Develop a thug caste
  4. Set up an internal surveillance system
  5. Harass citizens’ groups
  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Control the press
  9. Dissent equals treason
  10. Suspend the rule of law

Thank goodness we live in America, where none of this could ever happen.