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It was driving me mad
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.

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.
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The 2007 Getting Organized Experiment (GOE) Freeware Programming Challenge

This page lists the freeware programs created during our 2007 Getting Organized Experiment Programming Challenge. The programs are inspired by our Getting Organized Experiment series where we explore systems and tools for becoming more organized and maximizing our productivity. Coders are instructed simply to creae a small free utility that, loosely defined, relates in some way to heling people work more efficiently.

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Getting Organized 2007 Programming Challenge - RESULTS NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

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In order to help encourage some coders who hang out at DC to write some new freeware productivity software, we had a little coding challenge in November as part of our "Getting Organized Experiment."

The results are now online for anyone to download and use for free.

The challenge was:
  • Write a computer program (or web service) which helps people be more productive with their time.
  • Highest honors go to creativity and uniqueness.
  • This must be program that was not released before Nov. 1st, 2007

We received almost a dozen fun entries, including some really interesting and useful ones.  Check them out and please send a thanks to the authors if you like what they've done.

Some cool stuff here including the programs: AnotherOneDone, Evaluweight, HowLong2It, TimerAssist, and more.

<i>And please remember as always, if you would like to see more things like this, it's important that you show the authors you appreciate their work.  Send them a thank you, send them some donation credits (just click the gold coin next to their name), etc.  Sometimes just a pat on the back is all that's needed to make one feel good about their work.</i>

Click here to read more about the new free programs and download them now..

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