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Author Topic: The Gizmo Effect!  (Read 7240 times)
mouser
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« on: April 12, 2007, 03:02:09 PM »

You may have heard of the slashdot effect (or the digg effect), where traffic increases dramatically after being mentioned on one of the top sites on the web.  Well, DonationCoder has experienced the tsunami of visitors associated with being on the digg homepage, but we've never experienced anything quite like what i will now hereafter call "The Gizmo Effect".

Ian "Gizmo" Richards runs the website techsupportalert.com and puts out a newsletter of the same name.  He's probably best know for his "List of the 46 best-ever free utility programs" which is one of the best top freeware lists you can find, but he has a lot of other guides and he puts out an excellent newsletter each month [There is a free version of his newsletter and a premium version which is $10/year].  I've talked to gizmo in the past and he happens to be one of those nice, generous, and genuine people on the internet that can sometimes seem increasingly rare).

This month gizmo wrote a really generous piece on one of the programs I've written on DonationCoder.com called ProcessTamer (read about what he wrote here or here):

Quote
6.1 A Free Utility That Stops Programs From Hogging Your PC

It was driving me mad. My laptop would sporadically run at 100% CPU utilization and lock up. It defied all attempts at analysis as the PC was seized and I couldn't do anything. Only a hard reboot was possible, but on rebooting the problem was gone.

Eventually I solved it with a superb little utility called Process Tamer, written by "Mouser" over at Donation Coder. Process Tamer is a monitor that watches the CPU utilization of all running processes. Once the usage of a single process gets above a certain level (by default 70%) Process Tamer reduces the usage by lowering the process priority.

It's a simple idea and Process Tamer implements it immaculately. With Process Tamer installed, the next time the problem occurred on my laptop it didn't totally lock up but rather just ran very slowly. This allowed me to do a quick diagnosis. The problem turned out to be simple but non-obvious. Two programs, Diskeeper and X1, had been accidentally scheduled to start at the same time and were getting into an embrace of death. It was unexpected, as these two normally peacefully co-exist. Simply re-scheduling the programs to start at different times solved the problem.

I couldn't have solved the problem as easily without Process Tamer. However Process Tamer has much broader application than just this kind of problem.

It's a great tool for preventing any one program from hogging your processor. Every user has experienced the situation where their PC has been slowed down to the point of being unusable, by a background program such as a desktop search program, that starts and takes all the resources. Process Tamer will stop that from ever happening again.

For the same reason it can also help speed up your Windows Startup. Make sure though, that you enable Process Tamer to start automatically with Windows. By default it does not, but it's easily changed from within the program's options.

Yet another use for Process Tamer is intra-server load balancing. It's near ideal for this task.
If you actually want a program to able to use all available resources, such as a digital editing program, you can set the program to be excluded from Process Tamer's watchful eye.

I was so impressed with Process Tamer that I've permanently installed it on my laptop. It takes only around 6MB of memory space and its own CPU usage is so low I could barely measure it.

Process Tamer is available for free from the Donation Coder site. They use a novel licensing system: you have to register to get a free license key which allows you to download any number of programs on the site. This key lasts six months after which you must return to the site to download another free license key. After a year you are given a permanent license. Alternatively, you can make a once-up donation of any size and get a permanent key straight away. It's a clever and ethical way to encourage users to recognize the work done by freeware authors and I support it fully. I donated generously and I hope you do too.
Donationware, Windows 2K, XP, 2.23MB

http://www.donationcoder....user/proctamer/index.html

We sometimes have a hard time explaining how we do things here with respect to our license keys and how we try to ask for donations but don't require them (see my long article here), and it can be frustrating/confusing for people at times; Gizmo's wrote a really nice statement saying how he supported our approach and encouraged others too as well.

As I told Gizmo, we're just a small site trying to figure out how to survive in this vast internet ocean filled with big sharks and startup companies with venture capital millionaires and big advertising budgets, and sometimes it sure can feel like an uphill swim (hey and the sharks seem to have lasers beam weapons also!), and when someone respected writes something approving about what we are trying to do, it means the world to us.

What I didn't expect however was what happened after gizmo's newsletter went out.  Sure our traffic increased, but something much more dramatic happened.  When we made it to the digg front page, the traffic increased, but it was shallow traffic -- people visiting and left.  After the tech support alert newsletter, we had several hundred more people actually sign up at our forum, and we had the largest # of donators in one day that we have ever had on the site in by far.

Also, when people donate i always send then a welcome email and ask how they discovered us; most people who donate never reply to that email (not sure why), but gizmo's readers mostly did, and proudly.  I think that tells you something about the kinds of people who sign up to newsletters in general, and the tech support alert newsletter in particular.

The gizmo effect has resulted in a great influx of new supporting members on our site, and hopefully some new active forum members who will participate in discussions -- which is the life blood of our site, and what makes this whole thing fun.



For what it's worth, it seems to me that from past experience with our software being mentioned on big sites, blogs, newsletters, etc., that being mentioned on a big popular site can really increase traffic for a short period, but there are a lot of people out there who are willing to support what seems like a good cause, if someone they respect and trust let's them know that it's worth supporting.  Or perhaps it's more a matter of being careful/cautious in this age of scams, that people simply want someone they trust to let them know that participating/contributing to a project is safe.

It seems to me that the group of people who sign up to email newsletters (and i'm one of them!) also represents a small subset of users who are more interested in being part of a kind of team or family, who appreciate the value of having someone they trust evaluating stuff and giving at least an initial seal of approval or disapproval about stuff that's out there.  And they are also people who are willing to get involved and support deserving projects as a group.

Not to put too much pressure on people like gizmo, but i do think that newsletter writers have a really important role to play in bringing attention to small sites and developers that would otherwise not get any attention or support.  I hope gizmo keeps looking for small sites and projects that his users might want to check out and support.  If more people are willing to support small projects with small donations, this approach can be more viable for the little guys who just can't compete with the advertising budgets and pr connections that the other companies have.  More power to gizmo and those like him.

ps. do you know of more newsletters for software lovers, please post about them!

-Jesse (mouser)
« Last Edit: April 21, 2007, 03:34:39 AM by mouser » Logged
lanux128
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 08:55:28 PM »

yes, agreed.. i find myself quoting snippets from Gizmo's newsletter several times in the past few days.. it's a fantastic opportunity for DC.com that sometimes people do look at the quality of the software instead of judging based on its licensing policy..
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 03:38:44 AM »

That is really good and encouraging news.

Hello to all our new users smiley

I hope you find a home here.

Ampa
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Lashiec
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007, 06:33:43 AM »

Tech Support Alert is an excellent newsletter. I've been out of touch with it for some months (reading all the email that I receive is sometimes overwhelming), but it always provided something interesting to read. Plus, Gizmo is a nice guy, patient and very helpful. I suppose most of the readers of his newsletter are quite passionate about it, as their frequent contributions appears regularly in the issues, so that would explain this effect. It's nice to see "old" media still have so much life left on it, and that objective people is appreciated by many people, unlike "new" media which is more and more biased every passing day.

Maybe you could say that Tech Support Alert readers and DonationCoder users have a lot in common smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2007, 08:27:09 AM »

Congratulations on the influx of new donating members.
It's nice to think that so many more people are going to be pleased and satisfied by what they find here!
Welcome to one and all...you've made a good choice!
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Chris
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007, 10:21:34 AM »

My poor little site also suffered the Gizmo effect, this is what it looks like:
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2007, 01:37:47 PM »

Quote
My poor little site also suffered the Gizmo effect, this is what it looks like:
Fame!
 Cool
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Chris
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2007, 05:43:25 PM »

...
I've talked to gizmo in the past and he happens to be one of those nice, generous, and genuine people on the internet that can sometimes seem increasingly rare)
....

Yes, he is generous: When I wrote this post, Gizmo extended my premium newsletter with another year!

---

ps. do you know of more newsletters for software lovers, please post about them!

Yes, I do: Please allow me to recommend The Office Letter, "Tips, tricks, tools, and techniques for Microsoft Office", to all users of Office 2002, 20003 or 2007. There is both a free and a $ premium weekly version. 

The free Standard edition is sent via e-mail in text format weekly. It includes:

  • time-saving tips and tricks
  • Office features in depth
  • update and upgrade notices
  • impartial product reviews
 

The current and the latest previous issue are both also available online.


Each week I get the Premium edition, and it has helped me a lot. It contains all the content of the Standard issue, plus these Premium extras:

  • additional tips and tricks
  • access to all current and past issues (sample index)
  • search by keyword or subject
  • delivered in HTML format
  • no advertising
 

A subscription is just $15 per year (50 weekly issues). That's only 30ΒΆ a week.



The Office Letter recommends some books at Amazon
« Last Edit: April 13, 2007, 05:44:59 PM by Curt » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2007, 12:12:02 AM »

evidence:
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lanux128
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2007, 08:50:24 PM »

evidence:
this is fantastic news, generated by good old word-of-mouth publicity.. smiley
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Curt
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2007, 01:03:17 AM »



Quote
Special Drawing: Office 2007 Professional


On Friday, April 27, 2007, one lucky Office Letter Premium Edition subscriber will win a copy of Office Professional 2007. Office Pro includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook (with Business Contact Manager), Access, Publisher, and Accounting Express. We're giving away a full retail version of the software, not an upgrade -- a $499 value.

Because of distribution limitations, the drawing is open to U.S. subscribers only. Also, unlike previous drawings, you must enter the drawing by sending an e-mail to drawing@officeletter.com and include your:

full name
e-mail address (where we send The Office Letter)
your complete mailing address (where we will send the software if you're the winner)

You must be a current Premium Edition subscriber on 4/27/07 to be eligible, and you are eligible even if you've won a previous Premium Edition drawing.

If it's time to renew your subscription to the Premium Edition, please visit

   http://www.officeletter.com/renew.html

Our thanks to Microsoft for their generous donation of this prize.

Full disclosure: The Office Letter receives no compensation for the mention or distribution of this software.

quote: "... the drawing is open to U.S. subscribers only"  Sad   ...  ...  Angry

quote: "... be a current Premium Edition subscriber on 4/27/07 to be eligible"

http://www.officeletter.com/sub/subscribe.html
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Sooze
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2007, 07:39:24 PM »

Hi! I am one of Gizmo's "Tech Support" newsletter's biggest fans! I've been a premium subscriber for a few years now and can vouch for the fact that it's money well spent. I've entered the link below to another newsletter I subscribe to that also has a free and premium edition available. It is an excellent and informative newsletter for newbies to Windows and always has interesting and fun information for advanced users. I have a lifetime subscription to this newsletter and highly recommend it to all new computer owners. Check it out - I'll be happy to send them a link to this site so they can see for themselves how neat this is. Wouldn't it be great if they also ran a feature article about DC? smiley
http://thundercloud.net/infoave/
Enjoy!
Sooze
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2007, 05:19:53 PM »

I'm happy to put in another resounding plug for both Gizmo and Donation Coder.  I've been a faithful reader of TSA newsletter for some time, and I can vouch for Ian's reviews and recommendations - he's usually dead on, and it's clear he works very hard to thoroughly evaluate his victims, whether the verdict is yea or nay.  I discovered DC (and Process Tamer) independently and will also add my thanks and kudos for a very sweet little app.  I tend to 'multitask' to the extent Windows will suffer with its poor balancing skills.  I have a lot of apps running simultaneously, and one of the best features of Process Tamer (IMHO) is its ability to bump the priority of the window I happen to be working with at the moment, while it keeps all the boys in the background behaving nicely - and turn on a dime for the next focus of my attention.  And prioritize from launch....and on.  I come from a mainframe environment, and tend to think of (and use) Process Tamer as a workload balancer.  For the same reasons of personal history, I abhor the lack of user control that Windows imposes, and detest its "trust me" approach to task management.  Using Process Tamer and Mark Russinovich's Process Explorer, I get to call a few more of the shots in my own machine (imagine that!).  I have also fallen on long hard times, and am virtually penniless, living by the loving support of my family.  For me, 'free' is not just better, it's mandatory.  I've discovered along the way that free software is often superior to vended, since a) it doesn't try to be everything for everyone and b) its underlying ethos is pride, not profit.  I have built a relatively safe, clean, robust and useful system on the strength of many of Ian's free recommendations and several timely additions from Donation Coder (and Process Tamer is one of your finest).  If I ever have any money again, I will subscribe to both and add generous donations over and above to thank you all for sustaining me through my poverty.  I have also passed along to my family (and installed) many of those same recommendations.  Keep up the excellent work: "free" is not just for the frugal, it's also for the economically disabled, and a service to humanity.  Thank you.
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Curt
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2007, 05:37:24 PM »

Welcome at DC, Sarkand   Thmbsup

- and may you prosper!  Wink

---

If you need free RAM, don't overlook the brand new trimall by f0dder

Here you go smiley  "trimall.exe" automatically trims all processes, has no GUI or status indication or whatever (thus the small size). It still won't trim system processes, and on a multiuser system it will probably only trim other people's processes if you have an administrative user account.
Direct link: http://www.donationcoder....topic=2794.0;attach=17116
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2007, 05:15:37 AM »

Hi all
I'm one of the 'Gizmo effect' newbies to  smiley  I find his newsletter informative and useful and i recently subscribed to his premium edotion, after all he was providing me with an invaluable resource to freeware (and in the premium edition some shareware) that really gets the job done and it appears to be free from boosting software for commercial reasons, it just has to work and preferably work well.

And then every so often he gives us a site like this, which while I've only been here 2 or so  days now i have found to be helpful, useful and fun, what more can ya ask for  smiley
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2007, 08:02:56 AM »

Quote
and he happens to be one of those nice, generous, and genuine people on the internet that can sometimes seem increasingly rare).

I can attest to that....I had no way of paying for the Premium sub as I don't have a credit card because I am on a Disability Pension, and Debit Cards in South Africa are useless on the net and.....

He kindly gave me a sub.! His letter has been of great value as it points to loads of freebies...

 Thmbsup kudos to Gizmo

?
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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2007, 11:42:53 AM »

I've been a supporter of both Gizmo and DC for a while.  Both continue the spirit that I remember happily of the original Computer Clubs in which members helped each other, with usually a lead person of both marked technical competence and integrity.  My thanks to both of you.  It's splendid.

Jim Mitchell
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Jim Mitchell
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« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2007, 11:58:32 AM »

I too have arrived by way of Gizmo's Newsletter!  I want to thank Mouser for his work on Process Tamer - it has made a noticeable difference on my antique: HP Pavilion 8756C/512MB SDRAM/XP Home/Creative Dxr3 hardware decoder board with player/Sony DRU-835A DVD burner/Creative DVD-RW burner/D-Link DU 520 USB 2.0 Card. Grin
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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2007, 08:48:46 PM »

Congrats Mouser, and Welcome to all. Sarkand, your post moved me.
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2007, 07:55:31 PM »

I am a member also for over a year.

Lynn
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