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Keywords: Windows XP, house-keeping, technical support
Title: Degunking Windows
Authors: Joli Ballew and Jeff Duntemann
Publisher: Paraglyph Press
Verdict: OK for the non-technical reader, not much new for the more experienced
The great Verity Stob wrote a piece about 'cruft', which is the inevitable state of decay that ensues as soon as you start using Windows. You know the drill: things start to slow down, the desktop gets cluttered, the registry bloats, weird files start to infest the hard drive. In the end the system either grinds to a halt or you have to spend time and energy on some serious house-keeping. A drastic level of cruft merits a complete re-install, with all the pain that entails.
If you know enough about your machine then this is manageable but annoying, for those naive users who don't know one end of a DLL from another and who think that a registry is a place for births, weddings and funerals then all of this is a nightmare without escape. Let's face it, Windows cruft probably keeps half the high-street PC repair shops in business. 'Degunking Windows' promises to help the user navigate through the process of keeping things clean and simple (OK, as clean and as simple as Windows XP allows?).
The book is written in a humorous, cutesy style that you either love or hate (guess which camp we're in? Yep - the humour is the kind that leaves us brimming with violent and uncontrolled hatred). There are plenty of check-lists, side-bars, tips and so on, as well as the core text. The book is clearly targeted at the inexperienced, so there are step-by-step guides to running regedit and so on. If you know your way around things already then you can rip through the text very quickly. There's not much in the way of in-depth technical detail, which makes the book useless as a real tech-support resource.
Mostly the book focuses on common-sense activities for keeping things clean: deleting unwanted files, defragging disks, getting rid on unwanted programs, reducing spam etc. Where external tools are used then these tend to be shareware or open-source, so that's a bonus. While there is some mention of previous versions of Windows, the book is firmly based around Windows XP.
The bottom-line is that this is the sort of book you can recommend to non-technical users but one that's unlikely to be of much use if you've already got some techie nous.