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Review of Stardock's TweakVista 191

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the needs-all-the-help-it-can-get dept.
mikemuch writes "The new TweakVista utility from Stardock surfaces some of Vista's more obscure settings, giving access to diagnostics and making suggestions for services that you should be running. ExtremeTech's review of TweakVista generally likes the software, and though it's called version 0.9, it is for sale — $19.95 — and feels feature-complete. More suggestions on system optimization, however, would be helpful. From the review: 'According to TweakVista, on July 1st, the "Windows Shell Services DLL service took 651ms longer to shut down than usual." That's nice. Other than this stark presentation, there's no digestible information as to why the shell services DLL took over half a second longer to shut down. And there's no hint as to what to do about it.'"
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Review of Stardock's TweakVista

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2007 @01:42PM (#19803017)
    Chapter 1:

    Stick with XP.

    The End.
    • Chapter 2 how to get a vista refund and get XP for the same price or less.
      • From the story: "The new TweakVista utility from Stardock surfaces some of Vista's more obscure settings, giving access to diagnostics and making suggestions for services that you should be running."

        Chapter 3: The old story. How to get a Windows operating system to work the way you want, with 3rd party tools and lots of time.

        Oh well, I suppose a life working on Windows is better than playing canasta or knitting booties for your dog.

        This video [apple.com] explains a bit about the User Account Control in Windows
  • by catbutt (469582) on Monday July 09, 2007 @01:48PM (#19803099)
    just feel like burning some karma to say that
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You should because it's incorrect. You cannot "surface" something in the sense of bringing to light. There's only one definition for "to surface" with a direct object:

      To provide with a surface or apply a surface to: surface a table with walnut; surface a road with asphalt.

      The definition of the intransitive form, which doesn't take a direct object, is what the submitter is really trying to say:

      1. To rise to the surface.
      2. To emerge after concealment.
      3. To work or dig a mine at or near the surface of the gr
    • by Hatta (162192)
      WTF does it even mean? Does this software add a new layer of asphalt to Vista?
  • taskmanager? (Score:3, Informative)

    by pedramnavid (1069694) on Monday July 09, 2007 @01:52PM (#19803161)
    Ctrl-Shift-Esc is an even better shortcut for taskmanager. Does that still work with Vista?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fr4nk (1077037)
      Yes it does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dachannien (617929)
      Nice tip! I'll have to remember that one. I usually just pound the left side of my keyboard in frustration until the task manager pops up.

  • Skins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bombula (670389)
    I've only briefly used Vista, but it feels exactly like any other XP skin I've ever encountered. None of the long standing problems with the Windows GUI were fixed, including my personal pet peeve: tearing and flickering 2D graphics. I just don't understand how Windows still fails to address the problem of syncing refresh rates when Mac had it sorted more than a decade ago.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The tearing and flickering 2D graphics are often a driver issue.

      On all my XP installs, I had that issue prior to installing the nVidia drivers, but not ater. I do get a little flicker with Intel graphics, but I get the same thing on *nix systems as well...
    • by cerelib (903469)
      What exactly are the 2D graphics problems you see in XP? I have never noticed any major problems. Are they caused by windows redrawing themselves? If so, then the new compositing window manager in Vista they have should fix this. Have you tried Vista with it turned on?
    • by beckerist (985855)
      Because the software was stolen more than 10 years ago?
    • My peeve is that the nVidia drivers can't do full screen command prompts. Well I got it to work once but then the driver hung or something and I had to reboot.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday July 09, 2007 @01:55PM (#19803185) Homepage Journal

    Other than this stark presentation, there's no digestible information as to why the shell services DLL took over half a second longer to shut down. And there's no hint as to what to do about it.
    It's called debugging. You recognize a symptom, identify the problem, fix the problem. The software solves step 1; It recognizes when your computer is running slower than usual. Then it helps you with step 2; It gives you an idea of where to look to fix it.

    Without the software, you'd still be wondering why your computer took a half-second longer to shut down, not why a particular process took longer. With the software, you can focus on the process, paying less attention to the computer as a whole.

    The software doesn't fix your computer, it's a diagnostic aid.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ant P. (974313)
      If they hadn't been running this software, would they have cared about that 651ms delay in the first place?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Short Circuit (52384)
        It would have irritated me. When I shut down a computer, I'm ready to go. I don't like sitting around waiting for longer-than-usual shutdowns.
    • Debugging aside, the real note of interest to people that are not familar with Vista is that this performance information is already in the OS and the Error Reporting/System Performance tools already in Vista report this exact same information as the poster gave as an example, so this is NOT a feature of TweakVista.

  • Performance Center. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Monday July 09, 2007 @01:55PM (#19803195) Journal
    The "took longer to shut down" messages are from Windows itself. They're exactly what you get from the Performance Center. It's actually very useful when you're trying to find out which applications are making your startup or shutdown times go slow. It's something that Vista has done right, actually.
    • Except that I've found it usually complains about essential Windows services or programs I use all the time and can't live without. Not very helpful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dachannien (617929)
      Better than slapping "defectivebydesign" on it, considering that Defective by Design refers to the inclusion of DRM in a product intentionally, rather than just writing software that accidentally sucks.
  • Amazing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misleb (129952) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:08PM (#19803355)
    It is amazing what developers can sell in the Windows world. $20 for a pretty interface to features that are already in the OS? WTF? Have I just been spoiled by using Linux for 11 years, or what?

    Not that things are much better on the Mac (which I use mostly now on the desktop). I downloaded this program, RDC Menu, to launch multiple instance of Windows Remote Desktop Client. There's the standard "trial" and "paid" versions. The author wanted money just to enable the "bookmarks" feature so you could save your connection profiles and select them from a list in the statusbar. I said screw that and I just wrote my own damn program to do it. Took me all of a few hours to get it working the way I wanted. Only functional difference between the two programs is that RDC Menu is more polished (graphics, icons, language translations, etc).

    Don't get me wrong, I think programmers should get paid for their work if they want and they're certainly free to charge whatever they want, but how much are we paying of "polish?" Doesn't it seem strange that a simple GUI front end for standard OS features is like 1/5th the cost of the entire OS itself (depending on the version you buy) which probably has 1,000 times the man-hours behind it?

    I dunno, when you look at the trivial utilities that people pay $20 or more for, it makes Microsoft products seem pretty damn cheap! That is, if you compare lines of code...

    -matthew

     
    • Re:Amazing... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MontyApollo (849862) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:15PM (#19803477)
      They have to charge $20 since not many people (relatively speaking) will purchase it. If they knew 50 million people were going to purchase, then they could charge a lot less.
      • by misleb (129952)

        They have to charge $20 since not many people (relatively speaking) will purchase it. If they knew 50 million people were going to purchase, then they could charge a lot less.

        That's just it, they don't "have to" charge anything. Some of the utilities that people sell are downright trivial when you really get down to it. Like they took some example out of a "how to program" book and slapped a pretty interface on it.

        It is wierd, you can get a full web brower completely free but to bookmark a few Remote Desk

        • If they are a company trying to make money, then they have to charge.

          There will always be somebody willing to pay for certain conveniences, and it's just supply and demand. Taking an example out of a "how to program" book and making a lot of money off it is a great business plan if it works. The cost might be more in support and marketing than actual programming.

        • by bjourne (1034822)
          That's just it, they don't "have to" charge anything. Some of the utilities that people sell are downright trivial when you really get down to it. Like they took some example out of a "how to program" book and slapped a pretty interface on it.

          You are grossly underestimating the cost of packaging and retailing software. You don't "slap a pretty interface on it," you have to spend lots of time making the interface decent, work correctly in multiple OS:es and also pay translators to translate your program.
      • No, if they knew 50 million people were going to purchase, that is, the demand was totally inelastic, they would charge far more. They simply solved for the maximum of the function: PeopleWhoWillBuyAtPrice ( X ) * X

        • Correct, maximizing profits is the core of all business.

          I was just trying to make the point that with high volume you can have lower margins than you do with low volume, and if your volume is low you probably need a higher margin to make money.

      • by Colin Smith (2679)
        I suspect that if they charged less, fewer people would buy it.
         
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 75th Trombone (581309) *
        The real reason they charge $20 for all their programs is so people will look at the $50 price on their full Object Desktop suite for a year, and say "Hey, I get about twelve dozen more programs for just over twice as much; that's a good deal!"

        The people they con into buying the one program for $20 are just easier money than they're used to; they still want those people to upgrade to the full suite.

        I was a subscriber for a long time. It's not a bad little suite, but every program has its quirks, and I final
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Some people don't have a "few hours" to get things working. Moreover, the only reason it took you a "few hours" is because of the thousands of hours you have learning how computers work and how to write software for them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It didn't take him a few hours to get it working, it took him a few hours to write another program that does the same thing. That means that, polish aside, the program that the developer was trying to charge for was probably not worth the asking price, yet people buy it anyway because it looks good. The point being, people pay bucks for stuff with animation, not stuff that does stuff, and that is f'ed up.
        • >>It didn't take him a few hours to get it working, it took him a few hours to write another program that does the same thing. That means that, polish aside, the program that the developer was trying to charge for was probably not worth the asking price

          A commercial product requires "polish" and testing and support and marketing and accounting and etc... You have to recover enough money to pay all the staff and expenses. If you have a small market, you have to charge more.

          >>The point being, peopl
    • How much would you charge someone else for a few hours of programming? How much did that RDC Menu program cost?

      Sure, if you're doing it for funzies, coding it up yourself makes sense. If you just want something to get the job done, and you've got actual productive work you can be doing, it makes more sense to spend the $24.95. Honestly though, in the case of RDC Menu, I'd rather just use rdesktop from the command line.
      • by misleb (129952)

        How much would you charge someone else for a few hours of programming? How much did that RDC Menu program cost?

        If you want to look at it that way, I didn't get a good deal. I could have easily charged in excess of $200 for the time working on my alternative. Paying $19 would have been a much better deal. But I guess I'm just not one to think of my time as money. I did it out of principle. I also wanted a real project so I could practice programming in Objective-C and RubyObjC.

        Sure, if you're doing it for

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plague3106 (71849)
      Took me all of a few hours to get it working the way I wanted. Only functional difference between the two programs is that RDC Menu is more polished (graphics, icons, language translations, etc).

      So how much do you normally get paid an hour? Unless its $10 or less, you've spent more money writing it yourself than if you just paid $20.
      • by misleb (129952)

        So how much do you normally get paid an hour? Unless its $10 or less, you've spent more money writing it yourself than if you just paid $20.


        On the other hand, I can download Firefox for free, for example, where I would probably charge millions of dollars to write it myself. I'm just saying that the software market is fucked up. That's all.

        -matthew
      • by edwdig (47888)
        So how much do you normally get paid an hour? Unless its $10 or less, you've spent more money writing it yourself than if you just paid $20.

        You're assuming that he's paid hourly and had the option of working additional hours if he chose to. Unless both of those conditions are true, your attempt to value his time is meaningless.

        You're also assuming that he got no enjoyment and/or educational value out of doing the coding, which also throws of the valuation.
    • Check out CoRD (http://macupdate.com/info.php/id/22770/cord)
      • by misleb (129952)
        Hmm, i just tried it and it doesn't seem to display correctly. There's a lot of noise on the screen and desktop icon text is all messed up. I am running the Leopard preview though, so that could have something to do with it.

        -matthew
    • Re:Amazing... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Senjutsu (614542) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:42PM (#19803825)

      The author wanted money just to enable the "bookmarks" feature so you could save your connection profiles and select them from a list in the statusbar. I said screw that and I just wrote my own damn program to do it. Took me all of a few hours to get it working the way I wanted. Only functional difference between the two programs is that RDC Menu is more polished (graphics, icons, language translations, etc).
      I don't know about you, but I bill at $89/hour for software development. At "a few hours to get it working the way I wanted", it would be a far more rational for me to just throw the guy a $20 and use my time more productively.

      I'd also say that the idea that "polish" isn't worth paying for, and is something optional and unnecessary is one of the biggest problems remaining problems with the FOSS software development community.
    • People are funny. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brunes69 (86786)

      The author wanted money just to enable the "bookmarks" feature so you could save your connection profiles and select them from a list in the statusbar. I said screw that and I just wrote my own damn program to do it. Took me all of a few hours to get it working the way I wanted. Only functional difference between the two programs is that RDC Menu is more polished (graphics, icons, language translations, etc)....

      I dunno, when you look at the trivial utilities that people pay $20 or more for, it makes Mic

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by misleb (129952)

        Depends on your priorities in life I guess, but IMO two hours of my time is worth much more to me than $20.

        Another thing that amazes me is how many people put a price on their time as a general rule. It is as if they can't do something in life without consciously or unconsciously keeping a running tab of how much it is all going to cost someone in the end. Sad, really.

        Amazes me sometimes that someone will spend hours of time to save $20,

        Did it ever occur to you that saving money had nothing to do with it

        • In fairness, your original most did not say that you did it for fun, and the gest of your post was about the value of software. If someone spends 50-60 hours a week programming at work, they may look at somethings in a cost per hour perspective if it would not be an enjoyable project for them.

          I also think if you are working 50-60 hours a week and have a wife and kids, you are pretty selective in what you do in your free time that doesn't involve the wife and kids since you have so little of it.

          I don't put a
        • This is Slashdot! You'd think more people would UNDERSTAND the spirit of open source!

          Sigh. I was thinking the same thing as I read the replies to you. You'd think no one here has ever written a program for fun or used F/OSS software. Maybe because it involves Windows, people have the idea that you must pay for every trivial, half-assed utility that comes along.

          • by misleb (129952)

            Sigh. I was thinking the same thing as I read the replies to you. You'd think no one here has ever written a program for fun or used F/OSS software. Maybe because it involves Windows, people have the idea that you must pay for every trivial, half-assed utility that comes along.

            Oh, it isn't just Windows. It is like that on the Mac also to a significant degree. I think it is just a matter of culture and expectation. You buy/use a lot of commercial software as a Mac or Windows... so you, in turn, expect that

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Macthorpe (960048)
      5 hours of coding, to me, is at the very least $60 worth of chargeable time.

      Which is cheaper now?
      • by misleb (129952)
        Oh my God. If I read another "which is more valuable, several hours of your time or $20?" reply, I'm going to puke. What a completely uninsightful and thoughtless response to what I wrote. The actual dollar amounts are irrelevant.

        • by radarjd (931774)

          What a completely uninsightful and thoughtless response to what I wrote. The actual dollar amounts are irrelevant.

          The GP's post seemed thoughtful to me. How are actual dollar amounts irrelevant? -- you asked "how much are we paying for polish" and "Doesn't it seem strange that a simple GUI front end for standard OS features is like 1/5th the cost of the entire OS itself". The GP simply replied that it was worth it to him.

          Sometimes time is worth more than money, sometimes not. For most people, the opportunity cost of writing the interface themselves is greater $20. For you, it's not. Both are cool with me...

          • by misleb (129952)

            Sometimes time is worth more than money, sometimes not. For most people, the opportunity cost of writing the interface themselves is greater $20. For you, it's not. Both are cool with me...

            Wow. I've either been completely misunderstood here or society/capitalism has really done a number of you people.

            All I was really saying is that the process of assigning value to software is completely arbitrary. I don't really want to go into a debate on economics, but suffice it to say that I think it is interesting t

            • But you still miss the point (and I'd argue that you've switched yours).

              Triviality has nothing to do with it. It took time to make, hours according to you. So someone charging $20 is not outrageous IMO.

              Yes, the price is "arbitrary", as are almost ALL prices. Set the price, watch the market react, adjust accordingly, repeat. How else can anyone possibly come up with a price?

              If the author sells one copy, they have lost money (as per your experience). If they sell 5, then they've broken even IF they

              • by misleb (129952)

                But you still miss the point (and I'd argue that you've switched yours).

                Triviality has nothing to do with it. It took time to make, hours according to you. So someone charging $20 is not outrageous IMO.

                Not outrageous. Just interesting. Intersting to see the differences in general culture between a (mostly) proprietary platform and an (mostly) open source platform.

                Yes, the price is "arbitrary", as are almost ALL prices. Set the price, watch the market react, adjust accordingly, repeat. How else can anyone

                • With material goods it is usually based on some base cost to produce each individual unit. But software isn't about goods, it is about intellectual property.

                  Plus the cost of the raw materials, the cost of the factory, administration/marketing/sales/executives/investor profit margin, storage space, transportation, distributor's storage/administration/marketing/sales/profit, retailor's storage/administration/marketing/sales/profit, yada-yada-yada.

                  When you pay $1.97 at Wal-mart, you just bought a materia

        • by Macthorpe (960048)
          Your entire post was full of cost analysis, and you're complaining that I mentioned the cost?

          I apparently missed the point of what you wrote, so I don't think I really care to read it again and find the hidden point you were trying to get across.
          • by misleb (129952)

            I apparently missed the point of what you wrote, so I don't think I really care to read it again and find the hidden point you were trying to get across.


            The "hidden" point was that the cost of software apparently has absolutely nothing to do with how much work goes into producing it or how much it does. You can get large applications like Firefox for free and trivial utilities and front-ends for $20.
      • 5 hours of coding, to me, is at the very least $60 worth of chargeable time.

        So you throw a $20 price tag on it, and once you sell 3 copies everything else is just gravy?
        • by Macthorpe (960048)
          Well, if a substantial number people buy it for £20, then yes, and it's worth that much.

          Ignoring the fact of course that you didn't really address the point I was making and instead said exactly the opposite.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by legirons (809082)
      "Not that things are much better on the Mac"

      Indeed. Imagine having to download third-party software [slashdotdash.net] just to disable the startup noise...

      (And if anyone knows how to stop iPhoto popping up whenever it thinks you've attached a camera, I'd like to hear how...)
    • Do you buy bread at the store? If so, why? You can just as easily put all the ingredients together, knead the dough, and bake it yourself. After a couple of hours of work, you have many more loaves of bread at a fraction of the cost the store charges them for.

      You pay for the bread at the store for convenience, and the fact that you know that every loaf you buy will be consistently tasty and made to some standard of quality.
      • by misleb (129952)

        Do you buy bread at the store? If so, why? You can just as easily put all the ingredients together, knead the dough, and bake it yourself. After a couple of hours of work, you have many more loaves of bread at a fraction of the cost the store charges them for.

        I dunno, I wouldn't be surprised if making my own bread was actually more expensive due to the small scale.

        You pay for the bread at the store for convenience, and the fact that you know that every loaf you buy will be consistently tasty and made to s

      • Actually I do know SOME people who make their own bread, but they just mix up the ingredients real quick and throw them into a bread maker machine and then in a little bit, they've got bread. But yeah, it's cheaper and quicker to just buy it made. I guess that one's just personal preference..
    • Don't get me wrong, I think programmers should get paid for their work if they want and they're certainly free to charge whatever they want, but how much are we paying of "polish?"

      Well, in the case of iPhone, "polish" is about $400. iPhones feature set is comparable to a $200 device (more or less), but peopla are paying $600 for it in droves due to the polish. "Polish" is why people pay to use photoshop rather than using GIMP for free. It's why people pay to use MS Office 2k7 rather than use OO.o for fre

  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:20PM (#19803543)
    'According to TweakVista, on July 1st, the "Windows Shell Services DLL service took 651ms longer to shut down than usual." That's nice. Other than this stark presentation, there's no digestible information as to why the shell services DLL took over half a second longer to shut down. And there's no hint as to what to do about it.'

    Seriously, if you're complaining about 651ms when you're using Vista... You need to get out of the house more. ;)
  • slashdotforsale (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nuzak (959558) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:20PM (#19803555) Journal
    How the fuck was this even remotely newsworthy? Shall I just take every announcement on nonags and pipe it here?
    • Articles such as this serve to provide a regular oppurtunity to bag on Vista, which is a popular pasttime on Slashdot.
      • by nschubach (922175)
        Oh, and here I was going to "bag" on Stardock for claiming that their products don't have DRM (GalCiv for example), but if it's distributed using Stardock, it's DRM laden. (IE: you can't run the game unless you connect to them to "activate" it.)
        • Bagging on DRM is even more popular than bagging on Vista, just wait a few minutes. I will probably even be modded down because the word "bag" might somehow belittle the importance of defying the evil of DRM. Baggin on Vista is a pasttime; bagging on DRM is every Slashdotter's duty.
        • by Kalriath (849904)
          Yeah, I never liked that myself, either. The ONLY saving grace there is that the download is pre-activated if you got it via SDC, which activates during the download. But even then, that's a pretty slight concession.
  • Startup (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mazin07 (999269) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:38PM (#19803765) Homepage
    As one of the screenshots clearly shows, the guy's computer is infested with Norton AntiVirus and iTunes. Don't worry, I have a utility that can remove programs like those, and it only costs $19.95.
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by dalmiroy2k (768278) on Monday July 09, 2007 @02:41PM (#19803809)
    You can do manually whatever this GUI does and for free:

    http://www.speedyvista.com/ [speedyvista.com]

  • Sucks. Thought it would be a great little app, but was worthless, most of the tweaks where diasabling services and it did not really tell me what it was doing. Will stick to manual configurations.
  • Free version (Score:4, Informative)

    by Island Dog (1023019) on Monday July 09, 2007 @03:26PM (#19804495) Homepage
    I would like to make an addition that wasn't included in the review. There will be a free version available, and the $20 is for the premium version with additional features. It will also be included for people with subscriptions to Object Desktop by Stardock.

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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