In the Forums...
Posted: June 18, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Developing a New Tweak (cont.)
If you find any files like this, go ahead and open them up in notepad (or another text editor, but NOT a word processor) and start fiddling a bit. Another effective way of getting tweaks (particularly out of games with some kind of command console) is to open up the exe file in wordpad (you won't be saving anything so it doesn't matter that it's a word processor) and scan the gibberish for readable words that might give you hints as to undocumented settings. If all else fails, you can search the registry for the program's key entries and attempt to edit settings from within there.
If the tweak idea you have is a general system tweak (some undocumented feature you found out about or whatnot) and you don't know exactly where to find the setting, there are a few very useful things you can do to facilitate your search. The first would be to run sysedit (Win9x only) and browse through your text-based system files (system.ini, autoexec.bat, etc.) looking for the setting. The next thing to do would be to make sure nothing was overlooked in the Control Panel. If that doesn't help, the last place I would search would be the registry.
Because the setting that you are looking for (or maybe you aren't looking for anything in particular) isn't likely to have its own key by an easy to remember name, it is likely that you, as a daring experimenter, will have to go though the registry key-by-key. This is a long and tedious process, and you don't want to have to ever do it more than once, so as you are searching for a particular setting, be on the lookout for anything else of interest. If you find something, record the location of the key do you can go ahead and go back to the setting later. To help in facilitating your search, if you find a large number of very similar entries that aren't helping you out, it is unlikely that any of them will help you out and you should probably skip over them.
Testing a New Tweak
If the new tweak is a usability tweak, it is a simple process of enabling it and rebooting your computer. If the new tweak substantially helps you work more effectively on your computer, leave it on. If there is no perceptible change, or if you find it is nearly useless, change it back. However, if it is a performance tweak, things can be a bit more complicated.
There are three different types of performance tweaks. The first is the common-sense tweak. This is a tweak that likely has a very small performance impact by itself (some of the TweakUI setting suggestions fall into this category) but can make an impact if coupled with other such tweaks. Because it would be nearly impossible to test these tweaks separately (any differences in benchmarks would be so insignificant that they could be attributed with the slightly fluxuating frequency of the bus clock), they generally have to be taken by logic. If the setting disables a usability tweak or removes some kind of silly, unnecessary feature (system sounds), it likely falls into this category.