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Technology Untangled: Use caution with PC speed-up software

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technology-bourIt seems like just about everyone feels like their PC is running slowly, or it is slowing down compared to when it was new. It doesn’t really matter how fast your newest PC is, the desire for faster and smoother operation is a common thread of complaint. Software vendors are well aware of this.

Several PC optimization TV advertisements caught my attention recently. These were not low-cost late-night commercials. These commercials aired during prime time on several of the news and politics channels. The two products were DoubleMySpeed.com and PCMatic.com. The ads for these “one click fixes” are attractive. However, based on my recent experiences, caution is advised.

There are many reasons why your computer slows down after you buy it, and optimization programs include a wide set of tools to address these issues. Disk defragmentation, registry cleaning, device driver updates, junk file removal, virus and malware removal, removal of unnecessary startup applications, security tweaks… the list goes on and on. The problem is that these blanket fixes throw so many changes at your computer all at once that they are likely to do as much harm as good. And since so many changes are made during an optimization run, it becomes difficult to identify what one or two “fixes” should perhaps be undone or avoided altogether.

Here is the account of some of my recent frustration with PCMatic. I hope you can learn something from my troubles.

Last winter, one of my computers was badly locking up. It was late at night, so running it to a computer repair place was not possible. Out of desperation, I downloaded PCMatic so I could perhaps get things fixed up enough to get some work done. I had little to lose, either the download would help or I would be taking the machine in the next morning. I clicked the “auto fix” button and hoped for the best. The process took over an hour. When the computer rebooted, it was functioning somewhat better. I never did learn what the specific problem was, I was just glad that things were now functional; however, several new and very annoying problems surfaced due to the “fix.”

First, the video display defaulted to a basic mode with a very poor resolution. It turns out that PCMatic incorrectly updated the driver for the video card. It took quite a while to identify this problem and reload my original driver software. Second, the program identified my GoToMyPC remote access program as malicious software and completely removed it. That program had to be reinstalled from scratch. I found this out days later when tech support finally answered my angry e-mail, as there is no support for immediate help with problems.

An important lesson was that you could, in fact, fine-tune the optimization process instead of clicking “auto fix.” When I more recently ran PCMatic, I knew to turn off the driver update feature and to advise it not to remove GoToMyPC, but if you have to start plucking around in the options and sub-option screens, it defeats the “automatic” allure of programs like PCMatic.

Because of the commercial, I remembered that the software license I bought was for one year and good for up to five computers all for $49.95. I thought I would again try PCMatic on several slowing but not disabled computers with the hope of speeding them up a bit. The results were very negative. Both computers became noticeably slower, with extremely long reboot time – 20 minutes or more! An odd problem appeared when powering down my monitor at night to save power. In the morning it would not come back on, insisting that no video signal was coming from the computer. The only solution was to reboot the computer (long reboot) and never power down the monitor again.

The next lesson was about restore points. Windows keeps snapshots of previous settings that worked so you can restore your computer to an earlier date. To learn more, type “Restore Wizard” at the Windows “help” screen. I went to undo the damage that PCMatic had caused, only to learn it had erased all but my most recent restore point! It did this automatically in order to save me hard drive space, as data for multiple restore points can use a fair amount of hard drive. You can deselect this action in the options and sub-option menus of PCMatic, if you know to do it in advance. PCMatic does have its own “undo” feature, but it does not undo all the damage nearly as well as Restore Wizard. So be sure to specifically make and save a new restore point before invoking optimization software (or any new software for that matter).

I do not recommend using an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink optimization program like PCMatic. Next time I have a need, I will take my computer to a shop, or perhaps even try the tune-up services offered at places like Office Depot, though, for all I know, they may be using a similar type of program on site. At least if something goes wrong there, you have someone else to complain to and blame.•

Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD, and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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