Windows Vista The Pocket Guide & why you should stay away from this e-book

A few days ago, we were approached by Rich Robinson and asked to review his e-book called ‘Windows Vista The Pocket Guide’. Since I saw other people mentioning this e-book on their sites and as we did post here book reviews in the past, I gave it a try. Despite some positive opinions that I have read about this book, I have to be honest and make a sincere statement by saying that it is far from being what other people have advertised it to be. After carefully reading it, I truly recommend everybody to stay away from it. The arguments that I will present in this article will prove that the above mentioned e-book is filled with poor tutorials, useless tips and bad or questionable advice.

Bad or questionable advice

    • ReadyBoost and Superfetch – On page 64, Rich advises his readers to ‘Use ReadyBoost to Speed up Programs’ and then on page 70 he recommends them to ‘Disable Superfetch to Save Memory’. However, by disabling Superfetch you will never be able to use Readyboost. That’s because ReadyBoost relies on the smart memory management done by Windows SuperFetch to speed up the start up time of your applications. I sincerely recommend the author to read a great article published by Tom’s Hardware, called Windows Vista’s SuperFetch and ReadyBoost Analyzed : Cache Me If You Can!. He would then realize how these two features work and what is the benefit of using them: The results are impressive: Using both features, Windows Vista shows off how it can effectively reduce application launch times to provide a better performance experience with your everyday software. At only 512 MB RAM, application launch times decrease from 9 seconds (OpenOffice Writer 2.1) and 10 seconds (Outlook 2007) to 2-4 seconds only.
    • Disable User Account Control – the author recommends disabling UAC (User Account Control) as a SECURITY tip even if UAC is a very important security feature of Windows Vista. I know UAC can be confusing or annoying to new users and this is why one would like to disable it. However, the author should have never listed this tutorial as a security tip and he should have mentioned that, by doing this, users will lower the security of their systems.
  • Move Search Index to a Different Physical Drive – according to Rich, another tip for improving performance is to move the search index to another physical drive. My objection to this is that moving the search index to another physical drive means that Windows Vista will start re-indexing everything, which results in lowering the performance until the process is finished. Secondly, if the other physical drive is not as fast as the main one, this will translate into lower indexing & search performance. The only scenario when this actually works is when you move the search index to a newer and faster physical drive. Which, in reality, is a rare case. And that’s simply because users and system vendors will install the operating system on the fastest physical drive, not the slowest one. However, the author fails to mention all these important details.

Useless tips

The Security section of the book has plenty of useless tips such as how to disable the Internet Access or the Run dialogue. I mean, why would you need a tutorial for disabling the Internet access? You just unplug the network cable and you are done. You don’t need to hack your Windows Vista PC to do this.
Disabling the Run dialogue is again useless, I think. If the reason for doing this is to prevent someone from running commands on your PC, then you should somehow delete or disable the Command Prompt too. Otherwise people will still be able to run any commands they wish, as long as they have the appropriate level of permissions.

The list of useless tips doesn’t stop here. I read the whole Security section and I have found only 4 out of 14 tips which can prove to be helpful.

Other useless tips can be found in other sections as well. For example, in the Increasing Performance section, Rich recommends you to Disable “Last Accessed” File Attribute, which is already disabled by default in Windows Vista. So, no real tip there.

Poor tutorials

Most of the tutorials are poorly done and they do not guide you through a complete list of steps. Also, none of the tutorials have screenshots. To support my statement, let’s take an example from the chapter dedicated to the Backup and Restore Center:

Rich Robinson explains you how to launch the Backup and Restore Center and then he says: To backup your files, click Backup Files and follow the directions given to you. Select the directories and the files that you want to backup and find a suitable place to store these files. I recommend an external hard drive or a DVD.
That’s it, nothing else.

When showing you how to restore your files he says: Launch the Backup and Restore center and click Restore Files. Locate the medium your files are stored on and follow the instructions to get your previously backed up files back.

As you can see, he doesn’t offer any real guidance whatsoever. Also, there is not even a single mention made regarding the features and limitations of this tool that depend on the version of Windows Vista you use.

There are many other examples such as this one, but I prefer to stop here and sum up my conclusions.

Conclusion

Windows Vista – The Pocket Guide by Rich Robinson is an e-book you should stay away from. It is clearly written by a person who does not understand how Windows Vista works and who is not familiar with all its features. Reading this e-book is not the best way to spend your time. If you are a beginner, you are very likely not to learn anything useful about Windows Vista and you might also end up breaking or lowering the performance of your system. And if you are a power user who knows this operating system very well, you might have some fun reading most of the nonsense written by Rich Robinson.

Still, if you are curious about reading this e-book, in order to download it, you will be forced to register on the forum created by Rich or to subscribe to his RSS feed. And this is clearly a worthless effort.

11 Replies to “Windows Vista The Pocket Guide & why you should stay away from this e-book

  1. Worrying
    It is worrying when so called help advice can infact ruin a perfectly good operating system, which then requires a re-install of the factory settings. I have downloaded another ebook off Mintywhite.com, although not had a chance to read it yet i do think this will provide much more better advice than the rubbish from Rich Robinson

    1. Nothing personal
      I have nothing against him. I don’t even know the guy.
      The book is far from fantastic for all the reasons written above. And i’m sure there is no way Rich would be able to prove me wrong.

      This book needs some serious revising before being tagged as “fantastic”. For now, it is “fantastically” poor.

  2. ebook
    This ebook is a waste of print..

    Far from fantastic…in fact it should be removed from the market as many consider a book (ebook or print) to have valid info & that the author is a expert..

    Its obvious this person is no expert as some of the info would not be coming.

    I too would recommend against even bothering with this ebook.

  3. Be Kind
    “Disable User Account Control – the author recommends disabling UAC (User Account Control) as a SECURITY tip ” – Only recommended if you feel CONFIDENT with security. Wanna know what kind of security you get without UAC? The same as XP.

    “My objection to this is that moving the search index to another physical drive means that Windows Vista will start re-indexing everything” He mentions that. Moving the Index to a non-system partition is a good idea.

    “I mean, why would you need a tutorial for disabling the Internet access? You just unplug the network cable and you are done.” He said that too.

    “Disabling the Run dialogue is again useless, I think. If the reason for doing this is to prevent someone from running commands on your PC, then you should somehow delete or disable the Command Prompt too.” Run dialogue does not come close the functionality as the command prompt. Do your homework.

    “Also, none of the tutorials have screenshots.” – Presumably for download size? His site has lots of screenshots.

    “Also, there is not even a single mention made regarding the features and limitations of this tool that depend on the version of Windows Vista you use.” ALL versions of Vista allow backup and restore of personal files, which he is talking about in this guide.

    Rich’s book may not be perfect and he admits that by saying he will update it, but I had to comment because this is NO way to treat someone who devotes so much time to help people out. He doesn’t have adverts all over his site like this one and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t make a cent from his work. I think he’s a good guy and I want to stick up for him.

    1. Missing the point
      Let’s take all your arguments one by one:

      1. Disable User Account Control – Rich says in his book: ‘if you feel confident with taking control of security, you probably don’t need the UAC altogether’.
      I’m sorry but this is a very misleading statement. No matter how confident you are with taking control of security, UAC provides enormous benefits.
      Without it you lose the most important security mechanism introduced in Windows Vista. I strongly believe that Rich should had specified that disabling it means exposing yourself to a lot more security threats.

      2. Moving the search index to another physical drive – First of all, moving the index to another physical drive does not mean moving it to just any other partition. The definition of a physical drive (according to Webopedia.com) is the following: “the actual tangible unit of hardware of a disk or tape drive”. This is different than a partition. A partition can be either a logical drive (a part of a physical disk drive that has been partitioned and allocated as an independent unit, and functions as a separate drive altogether) or an physical drive which has not been split into more than one partition.
      When Rich recommends moving the search index to a different physical drive (title of chapter 6.7), it means he recommends people to move it to another hard disk. And, in this case, he should have mentioned that this translates in an increase of overall performance only if the other physical drive is faster than the main one used by the Operating System.
      If you read chapter 6.7 you will see that Rich doesn’t know the difference between physical drives and logical drives. This proves once again that he is not very familiar with all the technical terms he is using in his book.

      3. Disabling Internet Access – indeed, he recognized this can be done by unplugging the network cable. This is like saying “yeah… i know this tip is useless, but let’s write it anyway to add more pages to the book”.

      4. Disabling the Run dialogue – Indeed, the Command Prompt has a lot more functionality than the Run Dialog. Which means that, if you disable it to prevent people from running specific commands, you have failed because they can use the Command Prompt and they can do a lot more with it.
      I really do not see your point here.

      5. None of the tutorials have screenshots – Download Size? I really don’t think you have a point here. Everybody has fast internet connections today. Downloading a book of 10MB instead of 1 MB is nothing in terms of downloading time.

      6. Backup and Restore Center limitations – Chapter 3.1 is entitled “The Backup and Restore Center”. If you read this title, you would expect that the author will speak about the tool, it’s features, limitations, how to use it, etc. If you read it, you will not learn anything useful from it, you won’t have a clear picture about what this tool does, how to use it, etc. It is just poorly done, it misses all the important information.

      7. Rich says he will update the book – I’m sorry but he never mentioned this. Not to me, other bloggers and not even to his readers on his site.

      Initially, he was very aggressive at promoting his book. Now, after this review and after other people criticized his book, he is completely silent.
      I truly believe that, if he is a good guy that wants to help people, he should accept objective criticism, he should learn for it and he should revise his book ASAP.
      I have no problem sending him feedback for his next revision. My guess is he doesn’t care about it and he is not really willing to improve his attitude or his Windows Vista skills.

  4. Being nice or not…
    If he was a very nice guy, he would have admitted his obvious errors and first removed his book from the web and written an apology or write an additional PDF correcting the misleading statments.

    Ciprian however has my respect for keeping beeing so respectful all across the review and the comments, cheers!

  5. Wrong about Disabling UAC…
    To Steve Holt…

    I’m sorry but this is a very misleading statement. No matter how confident you are with taking control of security, UAC provides enormous benefits.
    Sorry to say but there are no benefits to keep it running.
    Let me see.
    Mine has been off for over a yr now.
    I don’t get spyware/malware/or trojans on my system.
    Using UAC is a crock of nonsense from MSN.
    I have a top notch firewall-antivirus-and Antimalware programs.
    UAC is useless and serves no purpose other then to annoy me.

    I do agree with your other statements.

  6. To UAC or Not to UAC?
    I myself like fastfreddie1959 have UAC disbaled. But for the average user I would never reccomend disabling it. I have 3 family members that without UAC would be calling me all the time to solve trivial problems because they click yes and ok to everything. They love deleting stuff too.

    People love to think they know more than they really do. They are the last ones to admit it when something goes wrong. I wont use UAC. But I’ll never tell other people to disable it.

  7. Whatever…..
    “I have a top notch firewall-antivirus-and Antimalware programs.”
    Oh really? Let me guess… AVG, ZoneAlarm, SuperAntiSpyware, maybe Spybot if you have any sense.
    AVG = trash (trust me, in my line of work, yeah, it’s trash to a point of almost uselessness, that’s all i will say about it)
    ZA = trash (I have seen it cause more problems than it is worth, and it is not needed on vista)
    AntiSpyware, unfortuantely, one solution does not fit all, in other words, not all of them can clean or catch everything that others do. They all catch and clean things differently, and they are not all the same, you can’t rely on only one. NOD32, KAV (although causes slowness), (Avira, Havnt used it but trust test results I have seen).

    “UAC is useless and serves no purpose other then to annoy me.”
    Shows your ignornace. End of line.

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