Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I value feedback on the recommendations I make, but quite often I hear about things I've not recommended at all, as if I had. We'll look at why.

I read your newsletter every week. One of the applications you mentioned was TweakVI. I downloaded the free version and tried it for a while. In all such situations, if I like the software, I try to patronize the developer by purchasing some commercial version of the product.

The commercial version was a disaster.

You never endorsed the application and I don't expect you to be the Better Business Bureau. I just wanted you to be aware of a potential issue. If you don't hear any more stories like this, then I guess you can dismiss my problem as a fluke. However, I suspect other people are in the same boat.

I truly sympathize with your plight. Regardless of how good a product may or may not be, it's going to fail to meet someone's needs or expectations eventually. Apparently, that was the case here, and it sounds like it wasn't handled well by the company producing TweakVI either.

But there's another problem here as well that is worth understanding.

I've never recommended TweakVI. In fact, until I received your email, I'd never even heard of it.

I do recommend something called TweakUI. Note that's UI, not VI.

And further, it's a free download, directly from Microsoft, and there is no commercial version.

In other words, the recommendation I suspect you saw was for something completely different.

TweakVI does exist, and while I've looked at their web page, I've not installed or played with it at all. You could argue that they've chosen a confusing name for their product - that TweakVI is too close to TweakUI and that could lead to confusion. In fact, some might even be concerned that this was done purposely to capitalize on that confusion.

"Please don't misconstrue an advertisement as a recommendation."

And yet, when you look at the product's intent - two tweak Vista settings - the name "TweakVI" makes a certain amount of sense.

Another possibility is that TweakVI was advertised on my site, and you somehow took that as a recommendation on my part. That wouldn't be an accurate assumption. Please realize that ads are ads, and in fact I don't directly control what shows up in the "ads by Google" box. I can only block specific advertisers if I see a need, and even then, only a certain number of them.

Please don't misconstrue an advertisement as a recommendation. I take actual recommendations very seriously and don't give them out lightly. (And remember, comments are enabled; you can always leave your thoughts directly on my formal recommendations.)

Ads, as I said, are just that: ads. Nothing more, nothing less.

So what's the real take-away here?

Computers are picky and exacting, and a picky and exacting mindset is a good thing to have when dealing with them, or indeed, with many aspects of life in general.

  • Be careful to notice small differences. Notice that while TweakUI and TweakVI differ in only one character, they are two dramatically different things that are totally unrelated to each other. Even virus writers capitalize on how frequently we fail to notice small differences. That's how we've come to have lsass.exe which is a critical system component, and 1sass.exe which is malware. They look similar, but they are very, very different.

  • Know the difference between an ad and content. I try to make it fairly clear where my ads are, and they are easily identified by the "Ads by Google", "Sponsored Ad", "Ask Leo! about advertising here" or other identifying phrase. Other sites are not nearly so above-board about it and actually try to fool you into thinking ads are content when they are not. Learn to recognize ads. They can be helpful, and they can be a pain, but what's important is that whether or not you choose to follow up on an ad is a conscious decision you make knowing full well that it's an ad.

I try to be one of the good guys and be honest and above board about things like this. But not everyone is.

The bottom line, regardless of what you see or do on the web is the age old advice: caveat emptor - let the buyer beware.

Article C3491 - September 4, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Ken B
September 4, 2008 9:49 AM

Funny you should mention the ad-vs-endorsement. The ad that appeared for me on this page was for a program called "PC SpeedScan Pro", which according to SiteAdvisor, may be a "rogue" program. (Unfortunately, the "bad guys" have learned how to advertise using the same methods as the "good guys", and Google isn't immune to their tactics.)

September 4, 2008 11:23 AM

for the benefit of those who might want to do a lot of experimenting and tweaking:
the past 3 months i have been home and reading or skimming some 200-400 articles a day on technology (computers and smartphones mostly) and i have also tried a number of things suggested in those articles. what i have learned is that while some things can be really useful (like this website), most of them add little or nothing to efficiency. and a few could even be dangerous. while i wont tell people to stop trying those out, i think people should weigh the benefits against the effort and risk.

for me what distinguishes Leo's recommendations from others, and that includes even the reputed and trusted websites, is that Leo has USED them himself (he does say he may recommend on reputation but i cant recall any). most others tend to test and recommend at best. the good ones may have methodical testing basis but an expert recommending after having USED something personally gives a much better insight, in my opinion.

David Thompson
September 9, 2008 8:21 AM

I've used TweakVI on my Vista box (I also have used the MS program TweakUI on my XP boxes for years -- not the 'V' versus 'U' difference in the name). I found the TweakVI for Vista a bit frustrating, it wasn't always clear how to engage a setting, as they say "some settings will take effect only on reboot". Well, they don't tell you which settings those are, so if you don't see your change (or don't know how to recognize the change you made, yes that's possible, too), you find yourself wondering "I gotta reboot... again?". But I was learning it enough that I wanted to buy it. I wanted to try some of the other features reserved just commercial use. But they don't accept buyers who use a yahoo email address. Well, I use Yahoo premium mail and I pay for my account, so I was royally pissed at being locked out of a purchase. I've seen bias against yahoo email accounts before, but I don't think I've ever had a *purchasing* problem before. When all they do is a send a license key via email anyways, I don't know why they care what email address I use. They never responded to my pleas for an exception or requests for explanation, so I looked around for Vista tweaker replacements. There are plenty. WinBubble seems pretty good and is free. TweakVI never got any money from me, and I've uninstalled it from about 6 other friends machines. For me, there is nothing unique to TweakVI that WinBubble doesn't do as well or better.

Don Davis
September 10, 2008 7:20 AM

Leo, I enjoy your site because we share many similar opinions and your knowledge is a wonderful resource helping me understand these toys I have acquired. However after 35 years as a police officer I wish to point out that many people will ignore or misconstrue entire paragraphs. Thanks for the great advice that I recomend whenever the oportunity arrises. D.D.

A. Orcan
September 11, 2008 1:03 AM

There are oodles of software that claim to do so many things, it is sometimes hard to decide. I have been involved in computers for 35 years and have 4 PC's at home and 2 at work. As I have children, it is rare not to have to correct or repair something every week. I usually don't have to use any software to solve problems unless it is much more practical to use a utility. I have some favorite ones, but I usually don't recommend any of these to people because of the fact that wrong use of such powerful utilities may require a complete reinstall or loss of files, license info and consequent damages just to name some possibiliities.
I think even the best software is a potential danger if the user is not aware of the consequences of a seemingly innoccent and minor tweak option to be used. It is common for user to select "optimize my PC", "delete duplicate files", "turn off auto-play" and realize afterwards that many programs will not work as "optimized" settings effect critical system parameters, duplicate files deleted at wrong folders were necessary for some programs and after cancelling auto-play, flash disks may not be seen unless explorer is exited and re-entered, large capacity flash disks may not be recognized due to third party add-ons, external drives and some devices may not work properly, etc.
My point is, every product may have useful features and better ones have the option to revert back to former settings, but one has to know absolutely have at least some level of knowledge or check the web and learn to find out more before using programs that may even cause blue screens of death.

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