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  • Blog Post: Insecure vs. Unsecured

    A high school classmate of mine recently posted on Facebook: Message just popped up up my screen from Microsoft, I guess. "This site has insecure content." Really? Is the content not feeling good about itself, or, perchance, did they mean "unsecured?" What the ever-lovin' ****? I...
  • Blog Post: What does “size_is” mean in an IDL file?

    My boss (who has spent a really long time working on RPC) and I got into a discussion the other day about the “size_is” IDL attribute (yeah, that’s what Microsoft developers chat about when they’re bored). For context, there are two related attributes which are applied to an...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Office team deploys botnet for security research

    Even though it’s posted on April 1st, this is actually *not* an April Fools prank. It turns out that the Office team runs a “botnet” internally that’s dedicated to file fuzzing.  Basically they have a tool that’s run on a bunch of machines that runs file fuzzing jobs in their spare time.  This...
  • Blog Post: Looking for new skillz (turning the blog around)…

    Just for giggles, I went looking at the various job listings within Microsoft and outside Microsoft (no, I’m not going anywhere, I was just curious).  While looking, I realized that I had absolutely no marketable skills :).  Nobody seems to be hiring an OS developer these days. To repeat and...
  • Blog Post: I can make it arbitrarily fast if I don’t actually have to make it work.

    Digging way back into my pre-Microsoft days, I was recently reminded of a story that I believe was told to me by Mary Shaw back when I took her Computer Optimization class at Carnegie-Mellon… During the class, Mary told an anecdote about a developer “Sue” who found a bug in another developer’s “Joe”...
  • Blog Post: Fixing an accessibility bug with the trackbar common control

    The trackbar common control is a strange beast. The trackbar can be oriented either horizontally or vertically. On LTR language machines, when the trackbar is horizontal, it works much as you’d expect it to: The minimum value of the trackbar is on the left, the maximum value is on the right (it’s...
  • Blog Post: When you do UX work, sometimes you have to worry about the strangest things…

    I recently got a bug reported to me about the visuals in the sound control panel applet not being aligned properly (this is from the UI for a new Windows 7 feature): The problem as reported was that the microphone was aligned incorrectly w.r.t. the down arrow. – the microphone was too far to the right...
  • Blog Post: Fixing a customer problem: “No Audio Device is Installed” when launching sndvol on Windows Vista

    Yesterday someone forwarded me an email from one of our DirectShow MVPs – he was having problems playing audio on his Windows Vista machine.   Fortunately David (the MVP) had done most of the diagnostic work – the symptoms he saw were that he was receiving a “No Audio Device is Installed” error...
  • Blog Post: I get spam :)

    I just received this spam message the other day: From: Microsoft [mailto:customerservice@microsoft.com] Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2008 11:13 PM To: Larry Osterman Subject: Security Update for OS Microsoft Windows Dear Microsoft Customer, Please notice that Microsoft company has recently issued a Security...
  • Blog Post: THIS is what a Windows PC should look like…

    We had a neighborhood picnic on Saturday at our neighbors house.  While we were chatting in the kitchen, I noticed their new computer. They had an HP TouchSmart computer , and I have to say that I was blown away by it.  I really liked the industrial design and the touch interface is really...
  • Blog Post: Oh Wow, Dr. Horrible is AWESOME!

    Someone just pointed me to http://www.drhorrible.com , which is Joss Whedon’s newest epic. The first two acts are up on the web (the final act will go up on Saturday). They are spectacularly cool, especially to a musical nut.  I knew that Neil Patrick Harris had great musical chops (after all, he...
  • Blog Post: Wow - We hired Crispin Cowan!!!

    Michael Howard just announced that we've hired Crispin Cowan ! This is incredibly awesome, I have a huge amount of respect for Crispin , he's one of the most respected researchers out there. Among other things, Crispin's the author and designer of AppArmor , which adds sandboxing capabilities to Linux...
  • Blog Post: Playing Librarian...

    Those of you who know me (and my family) from beyond my blog know that among my our many passions, one of the biggest is books. And we've got a lot of them. A couple of years ago, Valorie got me a Flic barcode scanner and a copy of the program Book Collector . I've been using it steadily since then adding...
  • Blog Post: Every Domain Name tells a story, I wonder what this one's was.

    And I'd love to know the story behind this site: http://www.modestapparelchristianclothinglydiaofpurpledressescustomsewing.com/choosing_your_fabric.htm . I ran across it while shopping online the other day. The root page of the domain ( http://www.modestapparelchristianclothinglydiaofpurpledressescustomsewing...
  • Blog Post: Hanselminutes

    A couple of weeks ago, Scott Hanselman stopped by my office, and we chatted for almost an hour for his Hanselminutes podcast. On Monday, he posted the interview - it's mostly me rambling on about security and other stuff, but my ego requires that I mention it :)
  • Blog Post: So Amazon brought out this "Kindle" thingy... But I have one question for them...

    Amazon just brought out a new eBook reader called " Kindle ". It looks pretty cool, but I have one question: "Where can I go to try one of these out before I fork over $399 for one of them?" I have a real problem with buying a new technology item (especially one where the form factor is as critical as...
  • Blog Post: Think Geek Responds

    Valorie just received the following email from Think Geek ( in response to our previous issue with them ): From: Caroline Offutt [mailto:<email address at thinkgeek.com>] Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2007 7:05 PM To: <valorie's email address> Cc: Rob Patak Subject: Issues with ThinkGeek order...
  • Blog Post: How to lose customers without really trying...

    Not surprisingly, Valorie and I both do some of our holiday season shopping at ThinkGeek. But no longer. Valorie recently placed a substantial order with them, but Instead of processing her order, they sent the following email: From: ThinkGeek Customer Service [mailto:custserv@thinkgeek.com] Sent...
  • Blog Post: Got Tetris?

    I just wanted to take a quick break from threat modeling to point to a video that Valorie passed on to me that's nothing short of remarkable (from the blog of one of my favorite magazines, Mental Floss ): Advanced Tetris Gameplay : The magic happens about 3 minutes into the video, when the game speed...
  • Blog Post: Actually, the Internet IS a series of tubes...

    Alaska's Senior Senator Ted Stevens was widely disparaged for a speech he gave back in June of 2006 when he compared the Internet as a " series of tubes "[1]. The backlash against the comment was quite remarkable, IMHO. People seemed to believe that this was an example of how stupid senators could be...
  • Blog Post: The C abstract machine

    I mentioned yesterday that the C/C++ language was defined to operate on an abstract machine. At the time I didn't know of an online reference to the C or C++ language standard, but a little birdie pointed me to this , which is a draft of the C language specification. In section 5.1.2.3, you find: The...
  • Blog Post: Where did the second parties go?

    We were chatting at lunch the other day about 3rd parties building solutions on the audio engine. One of the people in my group asked "Why do we call them 3rd parties?" It's one of those "things that make you go hmm". There's general consensus in the business world that the people/companies who build...
  • Blog Post: A snapshot of a developers morning...

    Wednesday evening, I went to a local computer store and bought a new 250G SATA drive for my dev machine. Yesterday morning, I tried to install it. I was a little bit apprehensive - my dev machine already has 2 IDE hard disks in it, and although the motherboard has two SATA connectors on it, I was quite...
  • Blog Post: FPO

    I was chatting with one of the perf guys last week and he mentioned something that surprised me greatly. Apparently he's having perf issues that appear to be associated with a 3rd party driver. Unfortunately, he's having problems figuring out what's going wrong because the vendor wrote the driver used...
  • Blog Post: Why does the Media Center volume control change the master volume, not the per-application volume?

    This morning, Steve Robinson asked : Also, why does the volume control on Media centre effect the speakers, and not the per-app volume? The answer? It's all about the 10' experience. The Media Center team and the WEX Sound team went around and around about this issue during the Vista development cycle...
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