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.
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.
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.
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.