So I’ve had a look, installing it into a VirtualBox environment…
The focus of this article is on one difference, the Windows Experience Index, mine is shown in the screenshot in the top right.
Win8 Control Panel
Well yes and no. Apart from the much talked about “start” button (not) re-instatement, the control panel throws out some differences for sure (see screenshots)…
Win8.1 Control Panel
….. notably the Windows Experience Index (or Performance Indicator) (or Assessment), a Microsoft gauge of the “goodness” of your machine.
Well in Win 8.1, it’s gone! See highlight…
Or Has It?
WinSat Usage -not all shown!
Actually, it’s still there under the command line… All you need to do is add a switch (I chose ‘formal’ as it does the lot).
The actual file that does the work is called winsat.exe and it’s in the System32 folder. Give it a ? switch from the command prompt and all it’s inner options and usages are revealed! (see left)
So fire up your command line and run:
…then watch the process stream past.
There no nice GUI web report, of course. The results are still there, tucked away (as they always were) as a set of XML files in the Windows directory. Go to:
Win8.1 System Assessment Files (cmd process finished in background)
..to find them. The screenshot right shows the files I’ve just created and you’ll see that the process has just finished in the Command Line window and that it took 2min 49.59 secs to run all the tests.
WinSat Win8.1 CPU Results
Running all assessments has produced 7 files.
The screenshot here on the left shows the end of the CPU one.
The time it took is plainly visible along with the plainly poor CPU assessment (well it is in a virtual environment after all!!)
Windows Performance Index is not dead and buried in the new Windows 8.1 – it’s only been buried.
In an astonishing move, HM Government has now enacted a law that allows any government (because it’s now part of case law) to sentence someone for breaking a law that didn’t exist at the time they “committed” an “offence“.
Worst of all, our dear labour Party let HM Gov do it!
So what was “allowed” (as they thinly described it) is now “not allowed”. Legality curiously disappears in this “allowing” farrago, yet some things were and are illegal yet hardly anyone was sent to the clink. Just a few token stooges.
So much for our privileged elite.
Not so good if you’re struggling in this artificially enforced time of economic restraint, wholly created by a roulette-based banking and investment class that shares the revolving door world with our politicians.
Now set in case law, the precedent has now been set for any law to be so applied. You can now be penalised for something that was legal when you did it, but isn’t legal now. That’s what it means. Forget (for the moment) the injustice done to thousands of poor folks, fooled and misled into being stripped of their benefits.
The bigger picture is far worse and will have far reaching consequences.
This is really the ghastliest abomination from a whole series of actions where the freedom of the individual has been sequentially stripped over the past decade or so. No wonder they’re all smiling. On top of this they’ve now gagged the press with whom they previously had such a nice cosy relationship. They’ve made it so that if someone wins a libel case, they still have to pay all legal expenses!
Of course, terrorism (or the perception of terrorism through the western filter screen) is at the route of it. The silent majority have let leaders do and say anything for so long that they’ve become accustomed to being scared and placid for so long that they can’t tell right from wrong anymore. But consider this:
It’s always been illegal to trade with certain proscribed countries, organisations or individuals, (call them COI) at a given moment. But it wasn’t always so. At another moment, the list is different.
The precedent now makes it illegal for anyone to have traded with certain proscribed COI in the past even though they weren’t on the proscribed list years ago! This is the bonkers conclusion to this daft legislation. You can dream up any amount of scenarios. All bonkers but now, apparently, all legal.
My Web Host Penalised Me Yet Helped Speed Up My Site
shared web hosting
This site used to be hosted on Site5, in Texas. I had a shared web host account, about the cheapest there is on Site5 though by no means the cheapest around (I’ve had experience of really cheap hosts….). It worked alright, site management was good. Then, I got hit by spammers. Twice. Big time.
Each time, this slowed the site down, made life hell for other shared accounts, especially when I introduced WordPress plugins to counter this.
Naturally, Site5 advised me to stop the hits or they’d pull my account (they’d already temporarily disabled it). They advised me to cut the plugins, using GoDaddy’s plugin testing tool, WordPress Plugin Performance Profiler (P3). So I did this, and after some trial and error, got the running processes down. Of course, I lost a bit of neat functionality.
Apart from internal WordPress testing, it pays to test your site as if you are someone else somewhere else. Pingdom have a set of tools that does just this, testing from various global locations and I can recommend it.
I used an iterative approach, testing various combinations of plugins and systems to end up as being in the top 8% sites for speed in the world! Not bad for free is all I can say! You’ll see in the screenshot above, that 92% of websites are slower than mine…. So is it really free? Here goes…..
WordPress (which this site uses) is built by the Automattic team and naturally have expanded over time. I’ve used their plugins for many years, Akismet from the off, which is a comment spam blocking system. Latterly, they came out with Jetpack, where they say,
Supercharge your WordPress site with powerful features previously only available to WordPress.com users.
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com.
P3 Selected Output
This is all well and good, except when I tested it using the P3 plugin profiler, Jetpack was the biggest drag on everything! The worst part of it, was that actually, I was only using a small part of its features and it was still the biggest suck on performance.
I didn’t use Carousel for photos since I had an old solution, NextGen Gallery, that I’m loathe to change.
The comments system mucked up all other comment plugins, grabbing all for itself (a bit like Microsoft here!)
I used the stats, and that was about all, yet they were very slow and not that informative, actually.
Nearly all the other stuff I looked at, tried and ditched for similar reasons.
So much for the awesome cloud power. On top of this, you’re now supposed to pay for parts of Automattic’s offerings, like Akismet, the comment spam blocker while a major offering of theirs was actually slowing my site right up!
What Did I do?
Well not initially, actually, though the heavy-handed Site5 approach got my ire a bit I must admit. I did do loads of tests with a host of caching, anti-spam and page load improvement plugins first…
I now use Vidahost in the UK. The site is faster to manage (along with my others) since the servers are in the UK with me, and it’s cheaper, providing almost the same functionality and tools as Site 5. I took the opportunity to clean out a few dead files in the process, but essentially, all was moved, database and files. The lot. Just twiddled config.php and the .htaccess file a bit.
I did worry that my American visitors, who are actually in the majority, would suffer slower speed and thus I’d get hit in Google rankings, but hey, wait for later…!
I got it all working and as part of the whole “thinking” process since the very first warnings from Site 5, I’d been looking for better things.
Looking at Things Closely
I like Related Posts. Related Posts plugins do just that. I love the idea of pulling out meta-data relevant stuff from a website. Site 5 had said, as have others on the web, that this sort of plugin makes big hits on a site. Some of them really do! I use YARPP, with a limited subset of features enabled which cuts down processing.
I also like Andrew Ozz’s Shutter Reloaded which shows images nicely. I also like his post editor, TinyMCE Advanced, it being the best of many I’ve tested over the years.
I like NextGEN Gallery having used it since before WordPress got all image fancy. I haven’t got time to fiddle with thousands of photos now…
I’d like some statistics within WordPress.
I’m not that interested, any-more (though I was) in Social Networking sharing features. Truth be told, if someone wants to share, they will.
I’ve read a lot on image improvements. I’ve always shrunk images manually before uploading using the excellent IrfanView application. But during this enforced research, other things like sprites and delayed image loading popped into the equation.
So I like certain plugins or functionality. I try and use the one that works best for me. Too many plugins make a big hit on the server and thus website loading.
A way round this is caching. e.g. If a post is created and has related posts clagged on the bottom using YARPP, then the post is cached and YARRP is only running once. How and where the caching is done is the crux of the issue…
Site 5 suggested W3 Total Cache as a better alternative to Wp Super Cache, which I’ve used for years. Naturally, I’ve tested this and my conclusion was that it could be fast, and it was fast for a while, but over time on each of my sites I got issues around lock-ups and the huge and complex caching system around files, databases and sprites. This list is long.
I’ve also tested various database query caching plugins likewise over the years. W3 Total Cache incorporates this method too, but ultimately, it made too much work for not a lot of difference IMHO, since I’m lazy.
However, it did point me to one thing! CloudFlare.
Ah. The power of the cloud is back!
Not only that – it works!
You re-direct your DNS at your domain registrar (joker.com in my case) to CloudFlare’s DNS servers, set up the site malware protection level you want – then after a few hours your whole site is cached and protected. Best of all, it’s free for a little site like this!
In fact, using CloudFlare speeded everything up even before I got caching going again…
Further Plugin Work
Now, I went back to Wp Super Cache from Doncha and it all works fine. Site speed good. I then ditched Jetpack after testing it again. It really does interfere with all comment plugins, and I really like this comment one as do people who comment here:
U Extended Comment
It works great and does everything I want. So Jetpack, it’s bye bye. Take all your fancy commenting system, your stats, your social media and fancy image handling.
But What About Comment Spam?
Stop Spammer Results2
Stop Spammer Results1
I’ve found the best solution is a plugin called Stop Spammer Registrations Plugin. It needed a bit of fine tuning and a re-activation of Akismet to whip out a few wisps of spammer, but it works and seems to trap and report more spammers than ever Akismet did alone. Akismet, by itself, does the commenting bit in tandem with the plugin, rather well.
Unfortunately, during testing, a few unwanted visitors managed to register on the website. They can’t do real harm since I use the lowest role level at registration time. So I re-enabled SABRE and since then, no more unwanted visitors. I’ve tested SABRE as a visitor and the settings I’ve chosen are just about right – I’ve had issues with it previously when it blocked registration! But reducing the feature set and re-uploading a clean plugin fixes that.
CloudFlare and the CDN Issue
I toyed around getting a CDN to host images. But they (can) cost and anyway, I’ve gone off Amazon and others because of their anti-Wikileaks actions plus they don’t pay UK tax…
Delayed Image Loading
However, in the course of my reading, I found that images can be loaded just as the page comes into view, which speeds up page loading, and as a consequence the perceived nippiness of a site. The plugin BJ Lazy Load does this for me and works brilliantly. Check this last post about Australia which has a lot of medium sized images to see them pop into view!
Well, Jetpack is gone. I won’t be using it unless some serious improvements are made, it being the prime reason for the server load that brought me to this position in the first place. As soon as I disabled it (and simultaneously blocked all comments to the site, which isn’t the best thing, this being a blog after all), all server loads went away.
I now use SlimStat and it works very well. I’ve tried many over time, including Google’s analysis tools, my webhost’s stats tools, Wassup and more, but for now, this is it.
My site works pretty fast and is pretty protected from the bad guys. I actually still use more plugins than what is usually recommended – 50 is a huge lot according to web gurus and sages. Currently there are 31 in active operation with 8 inactivated. I love trying new ones, it’s like that, that’s just the way it is.
The delayed image loading is particularly apparent on a post with a lot of images, say this recent one. The post loads fast and you see the first images load, and as you scroll down you’ll see other images appear with a slight delay.
All the other stuff is incremental improvement, with the biggest, by far, being the free CloudFlare service which I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s a no-brainer, go and do it?
My Full List?
These are the plugins currently running that help my site work. Many are for security, which demonstrates the state of play versus the bad internet guys full well.
These are a few of the odd things that set Australia apart from the mother country (i.e. the UK!) Similar, yet different, eh?
The Spider Mailbox
Most suburban houses follow the USA mailbox style, with some sort of box on the edge of the property. But watch out for spiders when fetching the post!
Yet funnel web spiders, some of which can kill you in hours, aren’t the only strange, odd, things.
Merry Christmas in Rye, Victoria
Because just across the road, Santa awaits… inflated to gigantic proportions in an expensive house, built on sand dunes, made in the style of a 19th century colonial house, filled with all the gadgetry and labour-saving devices of the modern world.
A walk in the country can provide a host of oddities, from the deadly to the silly.
These are a few I came across. Places include Melbourne, Port Douglas in tropical Queensland and various sites across the Mornington Peninsular. I’m fascinated by the signs that are put up for public information. A real clue into everything, I think.
Japanese Bomb Sculpture – note the guy mowing the grass in the background. That was a noisy machine I can tell you!
Japanese Bomb Sign – little girl was the only casualty of WW2 on the East Australian mainland. (This contrasts sharply with the tens of thousands killed NOT on the mainland)
Crocodiles and Stinger Signs Next to Each Other! Just off the Captain Cook Highway.
Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery – contrasts to the large sculptures…
Tourism is Big – this is the Puffing Billy train in the Dandenongs
Big, forward control lorries are common in Australia even in urban areas. They hammer along everywhere, apparently in all lanes.
Graffiti All Over Melbourne – despite the sun and wealth, many of man’s creations are amended with random ink. Cops go on trains in fives.
Even Cats Get Banned from a Vineyard
Man-made Floating Island – this is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. The breaking surf is The Coral Sea
View from a Yacht – Queensland and it’s hills round Port Douglas. You just point and click, there are views everywhere.
More Views – from near Cpt Cook Hwy. Banana fields just out of sight.
Fascination with Olden Days – signs all over, this is Daintree
Daintree River Crocodile Sign – no paddling and keep your eyes open – they’ve had crocs in excess of 5m long here.
Humourous Daintree Crocodile Signs on the WC Publics
My own image of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas
Cape Tribulation – here the tropical jungle hits the Great Barrier Reef via the mangrove swamps and beach. It’s where Cook’s ship “Endeavour” was dragged ashore to be fixed after crashing into a coral reef (now named after the ship).
Cassowary v Range Rover; not so fair.
Dangerous Pedestrians! They can injure and kill people when provoked.
Views! Along Captain Cook Highway. Australia is full of views. Loads. All over the place.
Tropical Rain Forest, Hot. This is Mossman Gorge, Queensland.
Garbage Recycling, Queensland Style. In Packers Creek, upstream from Port Douglas, they just dump their boats and leave them to the crocodiles when they’re finished with them.
Sign Overload, some graphically scary – Stingers are not nice
View at Port Douglas, Queensland
Melbourne Memorial to a war on the opposite side of the world – beautiful quotes from Wilfred Own in there.
Random Public Art – McClelland Gallery, Frankston.
Odd Signs with Humour
Serious Melbourne Tram System
Ancient “cold” Tropical Rainforest in the South (Dandenongs)
Odd Signs and characteristic Oz Humour
Blue-ringed octopus in a pool at Cape Schanck – there is no known anti-venom!!! It is there in a crack. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus
Sudden Waves don’t reach the odd sign.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake Red-bellied black snake taken walking down to Cape Schanck
Australia is a strange, deadly place, filled with amazing natural resources.
The quirky humour of the people is to be treasured.
They try to be uppity with their restaurants, vineyards, big boys toys and gadgets, yet underneath, the wild west existence is evident all around.
It’s all in the nature of the place.
We are a mixture of the land we live in and the land we came from.
A performance piece for Dionysian Heights. Part Two: Death
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana
This is a revision of the earlier video with something that I consider more appropriate both to us at the time, the feel of the piece, and how I feel right now. The music is the same and I’ve edited lots of WW2 video archive material to fit, where possible, to the sounds.
Recorded circa 1980-81
The music was created by Crawling Chaos as accompaniment to a performance piece by Zyclon B Zombies called Dionysian Heights, a morbid and gory on-stage blood fest with real offal and copious quantities of ketchup.
All music copyright Crawling Chaos
All video and images are in the public domain, free of copyright or under creative commons’ licences. They’re all available here on the wayback machine. These are what I used:
n.b. My dad missed The Battle of Leyte Gulf (some of the footage here) though he was at D-Day and then was part of the British Task Force 57 at Okinawa on his ship, HMS Slinger. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Pacific_Fleet
This piece is dedicated to my dad and folks like him
Over the last couple of days the strangest thought has plagued me. Two simple ugly words have kept emerging, only for me to lock them out and ridicule them as bizarre. Simon’s dead. Just to write it down feels like … Continue reading →
If you ever needed confirmation that the UK is not run by a shadowy cabal of sinister plotters but a bunch of chinless fucking idiots then the upcoming Digital Economy Bill is a good place to start. As well as … Continue reading →