Friday, April 02, 2004

The quickest way to a faster computer

is to add more memory. Proof:

I run some rather large jobs on this computer, which, you'll remember, had 256 MB of DDR SDRAM. Running those jobs made the response of everything else rather slow. That is, if I wanted to switch between evolution, firefox, and the xterm showing my job, I'd frequently have to wait 15-30 seconds for the windows to repaint themselves.

Upstairs, on the Windows XP machine that the family uses, but which is otherwise identical to this one, we had similar slowdown issues.

Finally, with the swiftness of thought for which I am known, I decided "hey, let's get more memory!!!" (Light bulb.) Doing a Google(TM) search on "Dell Dimension 2350 memory". Someplace up at the top of the adds was They were having a sale, which supposedly ended on March 31. (It's apparently still on.) $97 for 512 MB, free 2nd day FedEx shipping. I took them up on it on Wednesday (the 31st).

Today the memory came. The Dimension has two memory slots, but as ordered our machines came with one 256MB card. I pulled the 256MB from this machine and installed the 512MB card. Closed up the box, turned on the computer. The BIOS said that there was a change in the amount of memory on the computer, and then booted. Fedora noticed the change right way. I started up one of my big jobs. Response is amazingly fast. I can Alt-Tab through all my open windows (about 6 at the moment) in five seconds or less. No noticable delay in painting the screen.

I took the 256MB module and put it in the machine upstairs, so it has 512MB as well. It booted up faster, but not as fast as I'd like. So I ran Ad-Aware, a piece of free software which does search and destroys spyware. Found a bunch. Also deleted a bunch of non-essential things that had found their way into the Startup folder.

Finally, I installed the Windows version of Mozilla Firefox. Child #1 is now happily using it, once we figured out how to find the old Netscape bookmarks. Child was also happy to find an extension, Deepest Sender, which helps blogging on Live Journal.

Now, this memory may go up in smoke any time, I suppose. But Kingston's fairly reliable, and it's been 3 hours or more. I think we had a good day, computer-wise.