After Apple recently announced a delay to OS X 10.5 Leopard I had to delay my iMac upgrade until the Autumn. This led me to thinking about how to speed up Tiger to get the most out of my ageing G5. This is what I came up with:
1. Repair Disk Permissions Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Select your Macintosh HD and select Verify Disk Permissions. If needed you can then Repair Disk Permissions.
2. Clear out login items Its good to check that unwanted programs are not starting up when you login to your Mac. This can be done from System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items.
3. Clear out unwanted applications Go through your applications folder and see if you can save yourself some disk space by removing any applications you no longer use.
4. Clear out unused system preferences Check in your system preferences if there are any unused system preferences tabs that can be removed. If you do find something you don't use you can either disable it within its menu or remove it from '~/Library/PreferencePanes'. You may have to reboot or do a force empty trash (see #38).
5. Clear Desktop Its been reported numerous times that having a clear desktop can increase the speed of your Mac. So either put your junk in folders or delete it!
6. Empty Trash (if it wont empty see #38) I'm always amazed when I'm looking on someone's Mac and they haven't ever emptied the trash! Check what's in there then save yourself some space and empty it.
7. Turn off Universal Access (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Universal Access and turn off anything you're not using.
8. Turn off Bluetooth (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Bluetooth.
9. Turn off speech recognition (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Speech Recognition.
10. Turn off internet sharing (if not used) Navigate to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet
11. Check there is plenty of disk space on the boot drive. Your Mac uses some of your hard drive space as virtual memory when there is not enough actual memory available. Its good to always keep 10% of your hard drive free for such activity.
12. Remove Unwanted Language Packs OS X contains hundreds of languages that you most likely wont use. Monolingual is a free program that can root out these languages and remove them saving you some extra disk space.
*Edit: Warning people have experienced problems with Monolingual so becareful what you remove. Only a reinstall will put the languages back so decide weather you really need the extra space by removing them.
13. Remove any desktop changing programs Until recently I had a nice program that would put a different babe on my desktop each month. It looked great but once I started looking in activity monitor it was taking up lots of memory and processor time.
14. Check dock for unwanted apps. Your dock should only contain your most used applications so take a look through to see if there is anything you can remove or uninstall.
15. Choose suitable applications for files Be sensible when choosing what applications open by default - think do you really need Photoshop to open just to view an image when preview will work fine? Right click on a file then select Get Info.
16. Check Software Build If you have an Intel Mac then check the build of the software is universal - it might be that the application is still running through Rosetta and that a universal update is available.
17. Remove dock animation Navigate to System Preferences > Dock then un-tick Animate Opening Applications.
18. Avoid animated desktops Navigate to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver then un-tick Change picture.
19. Remove unused widgets. Each widget takes some memory and processor power even when you're not using the dashboard so only enable the ones you use. Alternatively you can disable the dashboard - see #23.
20. Check to see how much processing power and memory each widget uses. Some widgets are more intensive than others, if there is one that is particularly demanding see if there is one with similar functionality on the Apple website. To do this run Activity Monitor - Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
As you can see the widgets I have running are all using an acceptable amount of Real Memory.
Tinkertool Tinkertool is a utility that gives you access to additional settings within OS X.
21. Remove animation effects. The animation effects are the eye candy that make OS X look nice but they are not really needed, you can turn them off from the Finder pane within Tinkertool.
22. Disable Dock shadow. From the Dock pane un-tick Enable Dock shadow.
23. Disable Dashboard. If you don't use the Dashboard you can deactivate it from the General pane.
24. Skip checksum verifications when opening DMG files. This will speed up the loading of disk images when opening. This can be found in the Applications pane.
25. Remove or deactivate unwanted login items from the Login Items pane. You might already have done this in #2.
26. Reduce delay time for display of loading pages in Safari. This should speed up your web browsing experience, found within the Safari Pane.
OnyX OynX is similar to Tinkertool however has many more options and preferences.You may have already done some of these in previous tips. Parameters
27. Un-tick Graphic Effects (Finder tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #21.
28. Un-tick Animate 'Opening applications' and 'When alert in background' (Dock tab).
29. Disable Dashboard (Dashboard and Expose tab). You may already have done this with Tinkertool #23.
30. Set Safari speed of web page display to fast (Safari Tab). You may already have done this in #26. Maintenance
31. Repair Disk Permissions. You may already have done this in #1.
32. Run Maintenance Scripts.
33. Reset Spotlight Index (it may take over a day to rebuild the index afterwards).
34. Run complete system optimization. Cleaning
35. Clear Internet Settings.
36. Clear User and Font Caches.
37. Clear unused logs.
38. Force Empty Trash Automation
39. Check settings - The default settings should be fine here. Click Execute.
You can do some of the following by resetting Safari - click Safari > Reset Safari. *Edit: Resetting Safari does not clear Favicons.
40. Clear Cache. To speed up page loading Safari saves a copy of every page in its cache however if the cache gets too large it can actually slow down page loading so its best to empty it occasionally. To do so click Safari > Empty Cache.
41. Clear History. Safari can remember every single site you have visited which can have a negative effect on its performance. You can empty it be selecting History > Clear History.
42. Clear AutoFill. AutoFill is the data is saved in forms such as your username and password on websites. As with the cache and history the AutoFill can mount up over time. To empty select Safari > Preferences then select the AutoFill tab. From here you can go through the three AutoFill sections and clear out data that you no longer want stored.
43. Clear Favicons. Favicons are the little icons you see to the left of the URL in the address bar. These can be cleared by emptying user folder/Library/Safari/Icons.
44. If you use Firefox then you can get specially optimized versions of the browser based on your processor architecture - either G4, G5 or intel.
45. Extensions Firefox has some great extensions but they can slow down the browser so take a serious look to see weather you really need that extra toolbar!
46. Smart Playlists These can slow down the operation of iTunes as they reload the contents of the list every time the program loads. If you have a a smart play list that does not change very often then you can either deactivate live updating (by clicking file > edit smart play list) or copy of the contents of the smart play list in to a regular play list.
47. HP Printer drivers can often cause problems and use a lot of processor power so check in the activity monitor for HP Communicator, if it seems to be constantly running at 80% - 100% then try uninstalling it. I had problems on my Mac Mini for my HP PSC 1110 all in one with the HP software on OS X 10.3 maxing out the CPU after printing. I had to remove the software and just use the basic drivers rather than the full suite.
48. Check Classic is not running if not being used. Classic can be disabled from within System Preference.
49. Run Software Update. The latest updates sometimes provide speed increases as well as fix bugs and vulnerabilities.
51. Add More RAM. There is only so much you can do with software, the cheapest way to give you're Mac a speed boost is to upgrade the memory.
52. Reboot your Mac. After doing all this optimization it might be an idea to reboot your Mac. If your like me and use sleep mode for the majority of the time then a reboot once in a while often helps too!
Update: Interested in seeing how many hits this article has got and how to do it for your blog then read here?
Tax planning for small businesses is never an easy ride and can be a minefield for business owners, especially entrepreneurs who are still finding their feet.
While the use of a good accountant can make life easier, having some tax-saving ideas up your sleeve will help keep the business’s finances looking healthy and allow the money to be better spent elsewhere.
We’ve put together 15 ideas to help you identify where and how those all important tax savings can be made.
1. Use your allowances
Basic tax reliefs and allowances can make you substantial savings, so don’t overlook them. By making the most of tax-free allowances on basic income, dividend income, capital gains and savings income, you may receive over £28,000 a year free of tax.
2. Capital gains allowance
Capital gains are the profit made from the sale of certain investments, and for 2019 - 2020 you can enjoy up to £12,000 tax-free. Be sure to use the full allowance within the tax year as you won’t be able to carry it over to the next. If you joint own assets with your spouse or civil partner, the capital gains tax-free allowance is doubled to £24,000.
3. Contribute to a pension
Pension contributions are tax deductible and are a way to make savings. Paying directly into a pension or making company contributions to an employee’s pension will reduce the amount of corporation tax you need to pay.
4. Know your VAT
Business owners often lose out by misunderstanding VAT or paying more than they necessarily should. After registering for VAT, small businesses can make savings by signing up to the flat rate VAT scheme, under which you’ll only pay VAT as a flat rate percentage of your sales.
5. Transfer assets
Avoid capital gains tax by transferring assets to your spouse or civil partner. A partner on a lower income may also pay a lower level of income tax, so if this is the case it may well be worth transferring savings and investments to them.
6. Extract profit
If you are a business owner or operate through a limited company, extracting money via a small salary up to your personal allowance and topping this up with dividends is the most tax-efficient.
7. Make the most of Entrepreneurs' Relief
Tax savings can be made by using Entrepreneurs' Relief when selling shares or part of your business. Business owners get a reduced capital gains tax rate of 10 per cent on qualifying business assets.
8. Don’t forget your expenses
Keeping hold of all of your business receipts and claiming expenses can help make tax savings, as long as the items have been bought for business use. Business owners can also make use of the annual investment allowance, which allows you to deduct the full value of an item bought for business use from your profits before tax.
9. Make another employee a partner
If you operate a sole trader or limited company business, making another key employee a partner will make you both substantial National Insurance savings, whilst also giving them a role in the business.
10. Employ your spouse
Tax savings can also be made by employing your partner. Bringing them into the business means you can make use of their personal tax allowances too, thus doubling your potential tax-free income and spreading out the income you extract from the business.
11. Employee benefits
Treating your staff to bonuses can also help small businesses make tax savings. Make sure they are paid before the end of the tax year.
12. Use an accountant
Finding the time to successfully look after the books whilst trying to grow your business can be difficult. While the business will benefit from you dedicating some time to bookkeeping, taking on the services of an accountant will certainly help. While you may worry about the cost, you might otherwise fail to claim everything you are entitled to.
13. Know your industry
Keep a finger on the pulse with your trade body or association, as many industries have special tax dispensations, such as uniform allowances.
14. Work from home
If you run your small business from home, there are generous tax savings to be made. HMRC allow a specific home charge per week of £4, but you can also claim tax relief on other bills as well.
15. Plan ahead
Most importantly, tax planning should be done well ahead of the business and fiscal year end so that you can make the most of all tax reliefs available to you. Assessing your profits in advance will give you time to take any further action while you can, such as investing more in pension contributions or buying more machinery to reduce your taxable profits.
I've had SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional (here) running for about a month now, it's a good step forward from version 9. As usual it's fixed lots of annoyances but created more.
SuSE Linux 9.1 comes in two flavours, the Personal edition (RRP ?24:95) and the Professional edition (RRP ?64:99). The Professional edition also comes as an update (RRP ?42:95) and a student version (RRP ?42:95).
The Personal edition comes on one CD and is aimed at the first time user for Linux. It has a limited number of packages compared to the Professional and normally contains one program for a certain task, for instance Konqueror (here) is the only web browser included. The Professional edition on the other hand comes with a much wider range of packages including server and development tools.
As of last week the Personal edition can be downloaded for free as an ISO image directly from SuSE (here) this is an unexpected first for SuSE but a welcomed one. SuSE 9.1 Professional can be downloaded for free as usual through an FTP install. There is also a live CD version of the Personal edition which can be downloaded for free from FTP.
As soon as the SuSE 9.1 DVD boots you get the nice graphical installer of YaST (Yet Another Set-up Tool). The first screen you get once it has loaded is to select you're language, after that SuSE automatically detects settings for you but allows you to change them if you wish. It's a good idea to keep an eye on what YaST is doing especially for partitioning and package selection.
YaST handily allows you to resize Fat32 and NTFS partitions, while it's been reported that there has been a bug with this and the 2.6 Kernel I risked it anyway, luckily there were no problems. Once you have confirmed all you're settings the installer goes on to copy all the packages to your hard drive, this for me took about 30 minutes.
Once done the installer reboots and leads you on to a number of steps including user accounts, network configuration, on-line updating and device configuration. Most were pretty self explanatory or could be left and changed at a later date.
Once finished you automatically login to your account and the KDE (here) desktop is loaded. I prefer not having to login to a machine especially when it's a home machine and you're the only person using it.
In my view the installation process it about as easy as you can make it compared with any other OS including Windows. It's not the quickest or shortest installer compared to some Linux distributions but it does cover the most options in the simplest way.
I have read in quite a few reviews of SuSE 9.1 that they think the post-installation is too complex especially with the network and devices but SuSE does attempt to configure everything itself and only if the user knows what they are doing do they need to edit these settings.
Look and feel
As usual SuSE have done well in making the desktop as nice as possible especially in KDE. It doesn't look as slick or smart as Fedora (here) but is friendly and makes the desktop feel welcoming which I prefer. A nice mountain picture is put as default on the desktop with some interesting squares giving the picture more of a design.
The menu has been categorised into different sections just as most distributions do, the menu looked better on higher resolutions as it tended to spread itself across the screen too much on the lower ones.
SuSE also has a nice theme for OpenOffice (here) which makes it fit in nicely with KDE. It doesn't look so good in Gnome (here) however SuSE isn't normally the first choice for Gnome users. I will point out that significant changes have been made with Gnomes look and feel but some things still look misplaced such as the YaST icons.
I also noticed that when you double click on the title bar of a window it maximises or minimises it rather than hiding or showing the window below similar to what you get in Windows. I personally prefer this as I quite often change between OS's depending on what I'm doing.
The desktop has an icon called my computer, inside are shortcuts to CD drives, floppy drives and Windows partitions, yet there are no links to the home directory or root directory. Unfortunately you can not write to this folder so any configuring cant be made. SuSE could go as far to put links to YaST and KDE control panel in here.
YaST does the majority of the day to day configuration that you're going to be needing. Settings from RPM installations to tweaking devices are covered here. It does a fairly good job of most things but it's not as fast as Mandrakes (here) control centre.
Most of my hardware worked straight away but not all. I was hoping that my Netgear USB wireless adapter would have been set-up for me, unfortunately not. It was however nice how when you plugged in a USB hard drive or memory stick it would automatically mount it and add it to My Computer.
My BT848 TV card was detected as usual but YaST fails to configure it properly, for one it doesn't include support for Pal-I, used in the UK and second I couldn't get any sound from the card. It's not surprising how old the card is but it's not much good watching a black and white picture with no sound.
SuSE's on-line update provides the latest patches and certain other downloads which aren't available for licensing issues on the CD however they tend to be security related rather then program updates.
The Professional edition comes with a full range of programs and a few nice new ones. Two must have programs ? Firefox (here) and Thunderbird (here) have now been included which I personally found good.
The audio manager Juk has also been included with this release of SuSE, it's quite nice but it would be good if it supported video and mp3 streams.
SuSE 9.1 also includes the database application Rekall and the text processor and spreadsheet applications Textmaker and Planmaker.
The media players Xine (here) and Kaffeine are also included but don't come with any codecs so are practically useless. Not to include DVD support is fair enough because of licensing issues but the majority of other codecs (Xvid etc) are available often for free distribution. Even if they could not be distributed for legal reasons they could be offered though YaST's on-line update similar to the way the Nvidia drivers or Microsoft's fonts are distributed.
I had considerable problems installing Xine for reasons I couldn't work out, in the end I settled for Mplayer thanks to some RPMs found on here. This is by far the best site for SuSE RPMs on a range of programs.
There are a couple of programs I would want to see added to future releases of SuSE Linux, one would be AMSN (here) simply because it is the best MSN messenger clone available and the other would be Mplayer as a Xine alternative.
XMMS is included as the default audio player but it seems to have issues when minimising as the components do not minimise with it. Whether this is a XMMS or SuSE bug I couldn't be sure.
SuSE 9.1 is an improvement but as I said in my opening line it's a step forward on one front yet a step back on another.
The biggest improvements are definitely in the GUI and the surrounding images that support the overall look of SuSE 9.1. It's package selection is also becoming better and more refined, new packages are being added and the range of commercial programs available is much better then the majority of distributions.
Overall I liked SuSE 9.1, I personally prefer it over Mandrake and Fedora for ease of use and features however hardware support is still lacking in some areas and stability isn't perfect.
Pentium 4 ? 2gig
120gig Hard drive
ATI Radeon 9600
Last Edited 27/06/04
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So what are the main changed seen in the updated site? Well quite a few, the first thing you will notice is the front page as i have decided to scrap the into image page as it really wasn't needed. As soon as the front page as loaded you will notice changes to the left and side, the new articles section has been added which shows you the most recent 3 articles.
There is a handy link below for the older articles. Below this you can see the 3 most recent column posts and another handy link to the columns section. Further down the page still is the site news section which i have taken the bulky blue away from and now store things in a sql database instead of a text file. Other changes include updates to the navigation at the top of the page, updates to the admin section and updates to the way we store the columns.
Instead of each columner having their own table in the database all the columns are now stored in 1 table in the database. This make it possible to show the 3 most recent posts on the front page. We have also decided to scrap the site intro as no one has voluntered to keep it updated as rob as become a bit too inactive. If anyone wants to take this position then email me.
So why make these changes? Well as ImAFish is constantly changing and new features are being added, we felt that these changes would be useful and relatively easy to do. The changes shouldn't cause any problems to any of the other features on the site including the forum, email and the auction. If anyone would like to submit articles to the site we would be more then welcome to put them up for you. Pwhite
I started writing this as a blog post however as it continued in length it started to sound more like an article so here goes.... For doing IT support at work we had to learn Windows Vista and while we haven't had much interest yet it is inevitable that something will go wrong for us to fix. The majority of other reviews I've read online have not been particularly positive with many people commenting on the DRM restrictions and lack of anything ground breaking.
I wanted to see for myself and of course share it with the wonderful ImAFish fans. To save reinstalling I opted to use Virtual PC 2007, it made sense as it meant I could do XP and Vista support from one computer though it made it hard to see the performance differences. My rig is an Athlon 64 3000+ with 2GB Memory, I gave Virtual PC 1gig of memory and used Vista Business Upgrade. Installation seemed to take forever and wasn't helped by the fact I had to install XP first then install Vista. Three hours later and a couple of restarts I had a Vista desktop. At this point Vista was painfully slow to do anything , I managed to slowly install the Virtual PC additions and reboot the system. This vastly improved things however I tweaked the performance settings a bit more to give maximum performance. At this point i'm sure your all gagging for a screen shot so here we go Windows Vista... (click to enlarge)
As you can see from removing all of the high performance settings you get what looks like Windows 2000! This unfortunately made me lose the "wow" factor so I enabled "Use visual styles on windows and buttons" from the performance options.
This made Vista look like....
You probably recognise this from many of the other Vista screen shots. It's hard not to like the new theme, even without Aero its a lot more polished, smart and has an almost calming effect on what you do. Also in the screen shot is the new start menu, finally they have discarded those annoying nested menus that required pin-point mouse accuracy to follow. Start menu items now simply display below the folder title, more like files in Explorer view. Once you start doing anything you will notice lots of confirmation windows popping up, these tend to be incredibly annoying, I got 3 pop-up boxes just when trying to install Flash Player in IE7.
Fortunately these can be turned off in Control Panel > User Accounts > Turn User Account Control on or off. It will ask you to reboot but its well worth it. You will also need to turn off alerts in the Windows Security Centre to stop Vista from constantly reminding you that account control is disabled.
I tried a couple of common applications, Firefox and SmartFTP both worked fine and didn't look too misplaced within Vista, in fact IE7 looks more out of place with its annoying interface. The majority of Vista can be customised like XP and as you can see from my first screen shot its not hard to pull away the glossy interface though as I said before it is nice.
Most of your favourite tools will be in the same place such as msconfig and the command prompt though incidentally these are now run from the start search box. This can also be used for launching applications, if I was to type in 'Internet' it would launch Internet Explorer, or if I type in 'ass' it launched Remote Assistance. Search has been deeply improved, instead of it taking three minutes to search your hard drive its takes three seconds. Microsoft have redesigned control panel again but give you the option to go back to the classic view.
The majority of items within control panel are unchanged, though there are a few new additions such as the option to upgrade your copy of Vista online. The networking section has the most changes and is now branded under the Network and Sharing Center (even though I set my language to English they still cant spell centre right). At first this is a little confusing however it ends up being a nice way of organising various connections. The system tray now only shows one network icon for all your connections making it easier to forget if you keep a VPN connected by accident. The network map is also a nice tool as it shows other Vista computers and how they are connected. Useful stats such as IP address and computer name are also displayed.
Here you can see many more of the tools common in XP have not changed greatly for Vista. I could fill another four pages with Vista comments but its not really worth it, on the surface Vista is not hugely different. It's stable, has working applications and looks nice. If I brought a new PC having Vista would not put me off however I wouldn't upgrade my current desktop. Vista might be a lot different deep down but on the surface its not and for the price of