I held off upgrading to Service Pack 2 all this while because I didn't need it. Sure, there are many security enhancements, including a Windows firewall, but I was already running a firewall behind a router. So the need was not apparent... until yesterday. That's when I learnt of the new Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions, which Microsoft was making available free of charge. There are strings attached, of course. You still need to get a registration key that's tied to the specific machine on which you're installing the software. Their free offer expires in a year's time, so if you switch machines after that and wish to continue using the software, you'll have to buy a license.
So I downloaded the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and ran the installer. Guess what? It needs Windows XP Service Pack 2. Now I have no idea what in SP2 this development environment requires, but that's what the installer said.
So I fired up Windows Update and selected the SP2 update. It took 2 tries to download and install. The first time, it got to within 1MB of finishing the 80MB download before timing out. Then after churning for an hour or so, the SP2 update finished installing. Rebooted, and the first thing I noticed was that the system was dead slow. Just crawling.
So I went on the web and did a search. (Google "sp2 slow". There's quite a bit of dirt out there.) Came across Microsoft KB 898583. This knowledge base article mostly talks about removing spyware, viruses, and unnecessary files from the computer, so it wasn't of much help. I already knew there weren't any spyware or viruses on this computer. However, I did see an updated display driver so I downloaded and installed that. Didn't help.
Did more searching on the web and came across this thread on the Dell forums, in which a bunch of people with Inspiron 1150s experienced terrible slowness after installing XP SP2. Hmm... I wonder what model this laptop computer is. Why, it appears to be an Inspiron 1150!
So I rolled back the processor driver, as someone in the forum suggested, and performance returned to normal. I also found out later that Dell has released a patch for this problem, but I think I can pass on that for now.
Okay, now that everything's in working order, let's not mess with the system again.
Oh, what the heck. I was living dangerously already, so let's try some TCP-IP Connection Speed Tweaks. Well, I tried the first and second suggestions. Only the first one, which patches TCPIP.SYS, actually seemed to do anything. It made the LJ friends page come up quicker in K-Meleon. (And we know how important that is. :) ) Of course, patching system files is also a dangerous way to tweak system settings, so if you want to try that, proceed with caution, preferably on a non-critical system first.
Also, I finally collected enough Hot Pockets UPC symbols, so I sent in an order for the cheesy Hot Pockets t-shirt.