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Computer - Windows 2000/XP

Always remember: computer and its internals can only work at one thing at one time, no matter how powerful it is!  Even the latest quad core processor, can only run one process at one core (it has 4 cores, and can do 4 process at a time, but only 1 process per core).  Any other task for the core will wait in a queue!  For the quad cores, we can process 4 process at a time, but if we have 5 process, the last process will have to wait until one of the core is freed up.

Multitasking is done by slicing time between each application for the processor to do.  Modern computer's internals (hardware) can work when the processor is busy doing others, for example, the hard disk is still reading and the ram is buffering data when the processor is sending data to the Display adaptors.  In account to this, we can try to 'force' the computer to divide the task to multiple hardwares.

Increasing performance on a computer with multiple slow hard disk and reasonably low RAM (like 512).  This performance benefits cannot be benchmarked but you can feel it!  Don't use this way if your hard drive is not DMA enabled, since your computer speed will suffer!

First open the task manager to determine whether your processors are idle enough.  Then use your computer as usual.  On the performance tab, if you see on the CPU Usage History chart the green line is averaging on the first 1 box, and its lagging, then we can almost certain that the problem lies on low RAM or overly busy hard disk.

You can try to separate swap files across multiple disks (not drives) to increase your computer's performance.  Eg, if you have 512 mb of ram and 2 hard drives (C and D), you can try to put 512 MB virtual memory on C and 512 MB on D.  Windows will use swap files on different hard disk the disk is busy.  It works like RAID and you can feel the increase in performance almost immediately. 

If you have fast processor, you can try this trick.  Compress the files or executables using Windows's file compression.  Windows is capable of compressing and decompressing files on the fly, so you won't need to do anything but marking it as compressed.

Hard disk speed only improves a little compared to processor's speed in the last 10 years.  So we can almost sure, if you use only single hard disk, the bottle neck on your computer is on your hard disk.  The compression will enable the computer to open the file faster.  Its quicker to open 10 MB compressed file compared to 15 MB uncompressed file.  In this case, when we have external USB drive with average read write speed of 25 MB/s (that surely a very quick one), the read/write speed will be 0.4 s and 0.6 s.

Now assume the processor can uncompress the file in 0.05 s before processing, you will save 0.15 s in opening the file!

For an android, that feels like forever (Mr. Data, Star Trek: First Contact)

And when writing the file, you will save another 0.15 s!  In total, its 0.3 s.  If you are trying to open a few hundreds megabytes of applications, which is now quite often application in that size, its a real saving!

This way saves your hard drives space and speeds your computers!

If you can, try to put unfrequently used applications in external drive or flash drive or even secondary/slave, then compress it!!  It will free up your main hard disk from seeking and writing (remember hard disk can only read or write at a time, not concurrently).  In plain people's thinking is like reading from drive D, loading it to main memory, writing the virtual memory in drive C (don't worry Windows is smart enough not to swap the program's memory on drive D since its busy!).  This saves a lot of computer's internal's time.  The computer will queue shorter on for the hardware to finish the task.  And you will feel the benefits immediately!

Saving sharp JPEG File

Most of experienced photo editor must know that there are some kind of sub format in JPEG file, one is the standard (4:2:2) and the other one is optional (4:4:4).  I will not discuss the technical babble here about how do JPEG compress.  Based on my observation, the optional format provides sharper images at same file size at the expense of more artefacts! 

The sharpness of optional format is visible without magnification (at 100%) on my screen (1280 x 800 resolution).  These are the crops from lantern image when used as wallpaper (the exact thing I see on my screen).  On the left one I use standard format, while on the right one I use the optional format.

To your surprise, the standard sub format uses 707 KB while the optional format uses 674 KB, which is slightly smaller.  The conclusion is when you need to produce sharper JPEG, use the optional format, however for other things, use standard format to avoid artefacts for smoother gradients. 

Good editing software will allow you to choose what sub format to use.

Corel Photo Paint, and many more OLE supporting software, you name it

Adding copyright text to an image using Windows OLE feature.  It is the easiest way to do it.

First, create a copyright text using its native image format, e.g. *.CPT for Corel Photo Paint.  You get write the copyright symbol from charmap (Accessories\System). 

Then set the background of copyright text to transparent.  Save the file on accessible location.

When you want to put your copyright mark, you can open the image where you wanted to put the copyright in, then just drag the copyright file, and drop the file to the image (inside Photo Paint's window). 

And you got the copyright mark done.