When I first got on the internet back in the 90′s, after going through AOL chat rooms and picking up viruses on porn sites from one end of the net to the other, it was all about freeware. I would download any and every little program that did the slightest thing for me. Whether it was a beta version of some game, a third-party equalizer for my media player, or a dancing girl on my desktop, I just had to have it.
Well, my computer became crammed with crap and eventually it came to a screeching halt as programs conflicted and viruses and bots ran rapid. And that’s when I first learned to reformat a computer. After a reformat (or two, ok three), I generally stayed away from freeware all together.
Anyways, that was the old west days of the internet and I was naive and some of the freeware was pretty crappy. But things have changed, and with today’s open-source technologies freeware is rivaling many of the proprietary options. It is of incredible quality and to not take advantage of it these days is really missing out. Now with the web 2.0 frontier and its reviews, ratings and other social/consumer driven content the freeware market is a much safer place to shop for your software solutions.
So, I’ve found myself delving back into the freeware market and have found some great programs that do great things for me. One of these is VirtuaWin, which allows you to have multiple desktops and easily switch between them. I found VirtuaWin very useful, especially as a designer where often you’ll have a workflow involving multiple programs, folders, files and other assets all open simultaneously, creating a very cluttered desktop and clumsy workflow. With VirtuaWin you can break your workflow into sections, having each dedicated to its own VirtuaWin desktop, streamlining your process. It’s really a great program.
But lately, when using InDesign, I’ve noticed a problem and I think VirtuaWin is the culprit. I started having serious screen refresh issues after I had switched back to the Virtuwin desktop that InDesign was on. Only the outline of the window and the tools would refresh, but the artboard would not unless I clicked on something or scrolled the mouse. Basically, everything on the screen was one refresh behind. For instance, when moving an image the image didn’t move, but only a phantom box moves in it’s place. The image couldn’t be seen in the new spot until clicking on something else; everything was visually one move behind. Below is a screen shot illustrating the difference in performance with and without VirtuaWin.
Taking a look at the Task Manager, I see InDesign has the CPU maxing out at 50 when normally performing such a task might use 15, as such InDesign eventually locks up and I am forced to do a restart. After disabling VirtuaWin, the problems went away. I’ve tested this on two different computers, multiple times, all with the same results, but if you think I’m over looking something please let me know.
Now, I do want to make it clear, I’m not dogging VirtuaWin. I like it, I think it’s a great product, it’s very useful and I want it to work. But it not working with InDesign is a show killer for me. I guess you could say I’m needing something a little more refreshing!
Is anyone else using a VirtuaWin/InDesign setup? Have you encountered or solved this problem? Any similar freeware or workflow solutions to offer?