Holy cow, I wrote a book!
The One Show,
presenter Michael Mosley
tests a theory
Professor Richard Wiseman
that part of being lucky is simply being more aware of incidental
information in your surroundings,
information seemingly unrelated to the task at hand
but which may ultimately help you achieve your goal.
(Professor Wiseman has
many interesting videos on YouTube.
I particularly like
the colour-changing card trick.
I noticed only one of the changes myself.
What I found fascinating was that he made no effort to hide the sound of
the backdrop changing, because he knew nobody would notice.)
We've seen manifestations of this phenomenon earlier,
learning about what is ordinary so you can recognize things that
are out of the ordinary,
ignore the answer that's right in front of them
even after it's pointed out to them.
After five years,
the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes are turned over
to the state,
which attempts to contact the owners,
but if the owners cannot be located after three years,
they are put up for auction.
this antique watch with a Swedish dedication:
"Till min kära syster Nanny fr. Elin — Mors klocka"
"To my dear sister Nanny, from Elin — Mom's watch".
It's sad that something with such obvious sentimental value
is being sold off.
Or, if you are more of the nerdy type,
you could bid on
Star Trek comic books graphic novels
Michael Jordan rookie trading card.
We've seen a few instances where people have used a global setting
to solve a local problem.
use the LockWindowUpdate function
to prevent a window from redrawing,
toggle a global setting to see what its value is,
change the system time zone as part of an internal calculation.
To this, I'll add as an example a program which
figures that if you don't want the program's feature,
you don't want that feature in any competing products either.
The first service pack of Windows XP introduced
the Set Program Access and Defaults control panel.
Among other things,
media players can register here to
allow users to choose them as the default media player,
to enable access to the media player,
or to remove access.
The guidelines for the use of this control panel recommend
that in response to the Remove access command,
media players should remove their user interface entry points
(such as shortcuts on the Start menu and notification icons),
disable their autoplay feature,
and generally act as if they weren't there.
One media player decided that if the user instructed it to remove
its access points and disable its autoplay,
it would dutifully remove its user interface entry points,
and it would also go into the configuration manager and disable
media insertion detection on the CD drive.
"If you don't want me to autoplay your CDs, then fine,
and I'll make sure nobody else can autoplay your CDs either."
They also disabled autorun, a related but separate feature.
This program addresses a local problem
(disable autoplay for Program X)
by applying a global solution (disable all media insertion detection).
Whether media insertion detection is enabled or disabled,
and which programs should be notified when it occurs,
is the decision of the computer user.
Programs should not be altering hardware configuration
unless the user specifically requested it.
The correct thing for Program X to do is to remove its
leaving intact the behavior of other programs.
It turns out that Program X was not disabling
media insertion detection out of spite.
The people responsible for Program X simply followed
the description literally
without understanding the big picture.
"The documentation says that we should disable our autoplay feature.
Well, I guess if we disable media insertion detection,
that'll disable our autoplay feature."
I wonder if their uninstaller reformats the hard drive.
Moral of the story:
Don't use global state to manage a local problem.
When my colleagues discovered that
Seattle bar Spitfire is opening a bar on the main Microsoft campus,
a quick game of Name that bar sprung up.
Bishop has his suggestions.)
Here are some names we came up with:
Though I suspect they'll just call it Spitfire.
Although alcohol is
available at many company-sponsored social events,
there is no pressure to drink an alcoholic beverage,
and people don't even notice one way or the other.
(Just like nobody notices that you had the vegetarian appetizers
and avoided the meat ones.)
To change the directory Windows uses for user profiles
(by default, the \Users directory),
the ProfilesDirectory setting
in your unattend file.
This setting is available
only via the unattend file.
There is no GUI interface for this,
nor can it be changed after Windows has been installed.
In January 2008,
held a contest titled
Dance your PhD,
wherein contestants were invited to
express their PhD thesis
in five minutes through the medium of dance.
It was such a hit that it came back for a sequel:
The 2009 Dance Your Ph.D. contest.
Only a Game
interviews John Bohannon
You can also watch the winning dance,
The role of vitamin D in beta cell function
along with the
Some time ago,
decided to take something that I wrote and condense it to make it funnier:
Don't embed pictures. ...
This isn't Highlights magazine.
Those ellipses are deceptive, because they hide a change of topic!
As a result, the two unrelated sentences appeared to be connected
to each other.
The comment about
was not a response to "Don't embed pictures."
It was a response to a different part of that message.
Here's the complete message, or an approximation thereof:
Don't embed pictures. Send a link to your pictures.
And when you ask us to look at the pictures which demonstrate
the change in in behavior you're talking about,
you have to tell us what change we're looking for.
This isn't Highlights magazine.
In the original message, the person included two screen shots.
The question was something along the lines of,
"The first screen shot shows the feature behaving correctly,
and the second screen shot shows it behaving incorrectly.
Can somebody explain why it isn't working?"
The problem was that the two screen shots were practically identical.
It wasn't obvious what the difference was between them.
Now sure, to the person asking the question, the difference was as plain as
the nose on your face,
but to somebody who hasn't spent the last 48 hours of their life
staring at this specific screen, the difference is a bit harder
to pick out.
One of the regular features of the children's magazine Highlights
is a Can you spot the difference? puzzle
in which two nearly identical pictures are presented to the reader,
who is invited to find the difference between them.
When you're sending screenshots please describe what part of the
screenshot the reader should be focusing on.
Or even better, circle it.
Windows comes with
a super-advanced bitmap editing tool to help you with that.
Sometimes, the person asking the question doesn't even include
the Before part of the puzzle.
All that is provided is the After picture, with the question,
"Can somebody explain why this changed?"
Creating devious puzzles and
challenging other people to solve them
can be fun,
but there is a time and place for puzzles.
Asking somebody for help is not one of those times.
Thanks to short file names and hard links,
a single file can go by multiple names.
(And for the purpose of today's discussion,
I'm treating the full path as the name instead of just the part
after the last backslash.
Don't make me bring back the nitpicker's corner.)
C:\PROGRA~1 and C:\Program Files
are two possible names for the same directory
thanks to short names.
[Typo fixed 7:15am.]
If you've created hard links, then you can give a single file
two entirely unrelated names, and those names need not even be in the
On the other hand, you can't have two files with the same name.
What would that even mean?
Which one would you get if you issue an Open call?
How would you open the other one?
Heck, even before we get to this point:
How do you even create two files with the same name?
If you call CreateFile to create the "second" file,
it'll just open the existing one!
That's why I am baffled by
I've seen a few cases where people write their own version of
GetLongPathName (usually because they need to support NT4)
Are there situations where that approach would return an incorrect path?
Is it safe in practice because FindFirstFile("foo.bar")
always will return the exact match first before returning "foo.barbaz"?
This question assumes that it's possible to have two files in a directory
with the same name:
One is the file "foo.bar";
the other is the file that goes by the long name "foo.barbaz" and the
short name "foo.bar".
I'm not sure what the sequence of events would be that could result
in two files with the same name.
Here's one scenario:
Except that's not what'll happen.
When you perform step 2,
the attempt to create the file "foo.bar" merely overwrites the
existing file which has "foo.bar" as one of its names.
Result: A single file with long name "foo.barbaz" and short name "foo.bar".
Another scenario might go like this:
Except that's not what happens either.
At the second step, the file system generates a short name like
"foo~1.bar" specifically to avoid the name collision.
You can run these experiments yourself from the command line to confirm.
The "dir /x" command will come in handy.
Last year, the Washington Post covered
the fates of The Thing,
that Christmas impulse gift
that stores place in enticing locations in the store
to convince you that you simply gotta have it.
twirling apple peeler,
portable chocolate fountain
fancy party, no doubt).
After a few years, some of them
show up by the garbage-bagful at the Opportunity Shop thrift store.
"We get three or four fondue sets a month...
Sometimes we get stuff and I don't even know what the stuff is."
In my earlier discussion on
the variety of symbols that describe the target Windows version,
I pointed out that the NTDDI symbols attempt to cut through
the mess and consolidate everything into a single symbol.
But why the name NTDDI?
One of my colleagues contacted me privately with the story.
When setting out to
change the operating system version number,
my colleague was shocked to find so many different version number
mechanisms were scattered throughout the various Windows header files.
It so happened that the DDK people were already in the process of
cleaning up the version number mess and were using NTDDI
as their version number system.
Seeing no reason to invent a new different system for user mode,
my colleague proposed using the DDK system in the SDK and asked
if anybody had any better ideas.
Nobody came up with any better ideas,
no compelling reason why we should have two different
version number systems, so the NTDDI name stuck.
And it stands for NT Device Driver Interface.