Holy cow, I wrote a book!
On occasion, you might notice that every window on the desktop
flickers and repaints itself.
One of the causes for this is a simple null handle bug.
The InvalidateRect function is one you're
probably well-familiar with.
It is used to indicate to the window manager that the pixels
of a particular window are no longer current and should be
(You can optionally pass a rectangle that specifies a subset
of the window's client area that you wish to mark invalid.)
This is typically done when the state of the data underlying
the window has changed and you want the window to repaint with
the new data.
If however you end up passing NULL as the window
handle to the InvalidateRect function,
this is treated as a special case for compatibility with
early versions of Windows: It invalidates
all the windows on the desktop
and repaints them.
Consequently, if you, say, try to invalidate a window
but get your error checking or timing wrong and end up
passing NULL by mistake,
the result will be that the entire screen flickers.
Even more strangely, passing NULL as the
first parameter ValidateRect
has the same behavior of invalidating
all the windows.
(Yes, it's the "Validate" function, yet it invalidates.)
This wacko behavior exists for the same compatibility reason.
Yet another example of how programs rely on bugs or undocumented
behavior, in this case, the peculiar way a NULL parameter
was treated by very early versions of Windows due to lax
Changing nearly anything in the window manager
raises a strong probability that there will be many programs
that were relying on the old behavior, perhaps entirely by accident,
and breaking those programs means an angry phone call from a
major corporation because their factory control software stopped