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Streets and Trips takes too long to start
Ken in Regina
My desktop is a pretty good system. Even so, it takes forever for either Microsoft Streets and Trips or DeLorme Street Atlas to load.

...ken...
taoyue
Ken, I don't know what you consider a "pretty good system", and what you consider "forever." On a reasonably modern desktop (one worth about US $250 these days), Streets & Trips should not take longer than 10 seconds to start up. Not super-snappy, but reasonable considering it's got to load the map index on startup. My accounting program takes longer to start up than Streets & Trips.

If it's taking much longer than that, you probably need either (1) to get rid of craplets running in the background (2) more memory. Most people buy too much CPU and not enough memory.
Ken in Regina
Hi Tao,

I'm running XP/SP2 on a 2.6GHz Intel P4 processor on an Intel mainboard, 2GB of RAM and a 7200rpm SATA hard drive. I keep the hard drive defragged regularly and I regularly run a registry cleaner, malware cleanup and clean out garbage files (at least once or twice a week). I've been a computer professional for over thirty years. I've been personally playing with, and professionally supporting, personal computers since the late 70's. I build my own computers and make an effort to build balanced systems. Then I take the trouble to maintain their performance. Shucks, I even do regular backups.

I'm not sure what you mean by "craplets". I don't think I have many, but if you describe I could answer better. For what it's worth, I use Startup Manager to keep the startup stuff to the necessary minimum.

It takes Quicken, with a database going back to 1988, less time to load than either Streets & Trips 2008 or Street Atlas 2008. It takes them both a good solid twenty seconds or more before the map screen displays.

You know that the Streets & Trips programmers expect it to take awhile to load when they take the trouble to have a "Startup Status:" box that lists all the things it's doing as it's starting up. They usually only do that if it's going to take so long to start that if they didn't report that something was going on the user would think it was hung and start phoning tech support.

...ken...
taoyue
Given your configuration, I am really surprised it takes twenty seconds. My configuration is about even with yours -- 3 GB of RAM, 2 x 2GHz Athlon64 processor, 7200 rpm IDE hard drive. Streets & Trips goes to fully working map display from a cold start in 7 seconds. I might've been lucky that it was 7 seconds instead of 8 or 9 (maybe the drive arm just happened to be in the right place), but it wasn't anywhere close to 20 seconds. The extra gig of RAM is unlikely to be the deciding factor (also tried on 2 GB machine), nor the dual-core processor (Streets & Trips not super processor-intensive).

Craplets are a term coined by Walt Mossberg a year or two ago to describe the preloaded junk on most PCs. See http://ptech.allthingsd.com/20070412/new-pc-junk-programs/ I'm also including stuff that you may have installed yourself, plus invisible stuff like iTunes helper or the Adobe Reader helper. I see even experienced computer users (some with, yes, 20-30 years of experience, just like you), who run with a dozen tray icons. In contrast, I run with two (plus the OS icons). None of them takes up much resources by itself, but added together they could take quite a bite out of your system.

Other than craplets, the other thing that comes to mind is that you could set your on-access virus scanner to exclude the Streets & Trips directory. You can still scan for viruses periodically, but there's not too much to be gained from scanning an already-installed program every time you start it up -- the on-access scanner is mostly to catch programs that you just downloaded.

I am running Windows Server 2008 (basically Vista without the eye candy), so it's got better prefetching than XP. (Yes, Vista should be faster than XP when you strip out the junk, there've been a lot of beneficial changes under the hood.) No change when I run on a Vista machine, and I recall Streets & Trips was pretty snappy when I ran it on XP too.

I wouldn't give the splash screen too much weight, it's more historical than actual. It was probably vital back in 1998 when S&T had to run on 500 MHz Celerons and fit in 256 MB of RAM. These days it's just legacy. For that matter, Photoshop used to be a super-heavyweight application that brought computers to their knees. It's still pretty heavy, but it now starts up quickly enough that the splash screen is probably dispensable.
Ken in Regina
Hi Tao,

Thanks for the explanation of crapware. I build my own machines and install the OS from the OEM distribution so there's none of that stuff to deal with on my desktop. On my laptop I waited the hour it took for it all to install and then spent the next three hours stripping it all off. A pox on vendors who load up all that junk!!

I have a few more icons in the toolbar than you but I'm very careful what is allowed there and any of the invisible startup stuff. I check after any software install to see what it's trying to hide and if it's optional it gets removed. If it's not optional and it's annoying enough the software gets uninstalled and the registry cleaned up afterwards.

I dumped RealAudio years ago and replaced the Adobe Reader a few months ago and I stay away from similar stuff like the plague. Anything that looks like them after installation or starts behaving like them gets removed ASAP.

I hear you about lots of computer professionals being as bad or worse than regular users. I have a number of very good friends who are total bozos when it comes to their own PCs. But they were mostly mainframe and mini/server types who never actually paid much attention to the operating environment beyond what they needed to understand to crank code. To them the PC is still just a fancy workstation, sort of like a toaster. I have lots more trouble bailing them out of disasters because they think they know what they are doing. Unfortunately they are only half right. They know enough to dig themselves into holes way deeper than the average user would, and they only half listen as you try to help them climb out ... trying to second-guess you all the way and frequently digging the hole deeper even as I'm trying to help them get out of it.

I'm running AVG Free for virus checking. It's pretty light compared to some of the others but I'll try turning it off and loading S&T to see if it's having any effect.
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EDIT: Okay, it's the anti-virus. AVG Free used to have a really light touch but that seems to have changed with the latest version. I made an exception for the S&T program files directory. I noticed two things different with this setting. 1) S&T loaded in seven seconds flat. 2) There was hardly any action on the hard drive at all -- very different from the usual banging and thrashing that goes on when it loads. Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately you just made a whole bunch of work for me. Now I need to go and add a bunch of my most frequently used stuff to the exception list. Oh well ... that's the price we pay for impatience.
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...ken...
taoyue
I am in total agreement. Boy, if everyone used computers like we did (and Marvin, I'm sure!), then there'd be no poorly written software in the world. They'd die a quick death as soon as they tried to leave the developer's computer. Except for Adobe Reader (which I use due to certain image compression bugs in Foxit), I also stay away from the software that you list.

If you were running Vista with UAC turned on (or if you're running XP as a low-rights user, which is a big headache), I would suggest simply excluding all of C:\Program Files from the on-demand virus scanner. If you're not admin on your machine, and if you're careful not to approve random privileged file operations, then you can more-or-less count on C:\Program Files being clean. As with the S&T directory, scan it once every week or two, but no need to scan it on-access.

I'm glad we figured out what was slowing things down. Marvin, any thoughts about giving this tip more prominence? I'm of two minds about it -- I don't want novice users to get the wrong idea, and turn off too much virus protection. On the other hand, 20 seconds vs 7 may not seem like much, but the difference could be bigger on a laptop with a slow hard drive.
Marvin Hlavac
Quote:
Originally Posted by taoyue

Marvin, any thoughts about giving this tip more prominence?
Thanks for suggesting that, Tao. I copied the relevant portion of the original discussion to this new thread, and I've linked this thread from Tips & Tricks for Streets & Trips.
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