June, 2009

  • The Old New Thing

    Why isn't there a separate British English version of Windows?


    My friend ::Wendy:: asks why there is an American English version of Windows but not a British English version.

    I am not the expert on this subject (Michael Kaplan might be a bit closer), but I can speculate on the reasons for this. This is all conjecture, so who knows how accurate it is. (Actually, most of what I write is conjecture; I just don't bother calling it out each time it happens.)

    Let's look at it this way: You have the time and money to translate the American English version of Windows into 20 other languages. Do you spend one of those slots to translate it into a language that is mutually intelligible with American English? If you have to choose between a language which is already mutually intelligible with one you already covered or a language without which an entire audience would be unable to use Windows, which are you going to pick? In concrete terms: Which is more important, that people who prefer British English don't have to suffer through the indignity of reading American English, or that people in Thailand be able to use Windows at all?

    Okay, maybe if you're one of those indignitized (indignitised?) British English speakers, then you don't mind that an entire country of over 60 million people lose access to Windows so you can see your words spelled correctly. (But then again, you'd still have to take a back seat to Indian English, since they outnumber you by a huge margin.)

    Mind you, the English language isn't the only one with this problem. There are dozens of variations on the Spanish language, but Windows chooses just one of them as its "Spanish language edition" and people who prefer some other variation will just have to suffer through a translation into a nearby (but not perfect) dialect.

    Who knows, maybe a group of Anglophiles will be inspired to form a committee to standardise terminology in order to develop a LIP for British English.

    My premise destroyed: Then again, Windows is available in both European Portuguese and its upstart offspring Brazilian Portuguese, which as far as I'm aware are for the most part mutually inteliligible. So who knows what the criteria are.

    Bonus: Aha, it looks like Michael blogged about this after all.

  • The Old New Thing

    I'm sorry, Brian George, but we got cut off and I couldn't call you back


    Yesterday, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I receive a telephone call at work. There is that characteristic pause after connecting which tells me that I have probably just been called by a telemarketer.


    Hello, I'm Brian George from Liquid Capital Management. Our company founder, Brian Kim, has been working closely with Microsoft employees to help them with financial matters. Are you familiar with hedge funds?

    I hear another voice in the background. This is almost certainly a boiler room operation.

    "There appears to be another voice on the line, do you hear it? Oh wait, it's gone. Could you repeat the name of your company?"

    It's Liquid Capital. Are you the Chief Financial Officer?

    "Liquid Capital Corporation?"

    No, Liquid Capital Management. Are you familiar with hedge funds?

    "And your company's founder's name, is that spelled with a Y or an I?"

    With an I. Are you familiar with hedge funds?

    "I'm sorry, if you could just answer a few questions so I can log this call properly. You are Brian George from Liquid Capital Management. I assume your name is spelled with an I as well?"


    "Excellent. And where is your company based?"

    We're in New York City.

    "Okay, and what is your phone number, in case we get disconnected?"

    646-237-4400. Are you familiar with hedge funds?

    "Okay, thank you for your patience. Now, what was it you would like to talk about?"


    Apparently, Mr. George became impatient with my call logging procedure and hung up. I try calling him back, but an automated voice tells me, "We're sorry. The party you have dialed is not accepting calls at this time."

    He was calling after business hours in New York, so maybe it was some sort of emergency. Gosh, I hope he wasn't calling about anything important.

  • The Old New Thing

    Bonus chatter about that virus that is responsible for the top six Explorer crashes


    Last year, I wrote about a virus that is responsible for the top six Explorer crashes, by a wide margin.

    I learned later how the authors of this XYZ Virus operate, and it happens to answer a question posted by commenter SteveL as to why these virus writers are so incompetent that they crash so much.

    First, the virus authors infect your computer and crash your system every so often on purpose. Meanwhile, they also set up a legitimate-looking Web site which sells anti-virus software that claims to remove this virus. You send them your money, they send you the software.

    The kicker is that the removal software doesn't work. Your computer is still infected with the XYZ virus. But they don't care. They already got your money.

  • The Old New Thing

    Cool guys don't look at explosions


    Thanks to NPR's Monkey See blog for finding this:

  • The Old New Thing

    Why can't I rotate the display with ChangeDisplaySettingsEx?


    If you have one of those cool swively LCD displays (or if you decided to build your own), you naturally want to tell your video card to display rotated output, so you can take advantage of the portrait orientation. And naturally you would think that calling the ChangeDisplaySettingsEx and using the dmDisplayOrientation field of the DEVMODE structure would do the trick.

    And then you would find that it doesn't work.

    Yet the annoying utility program (which gets shoveled onto your computer when you install the driver) can rotate the video output. How come they can do it, but ChangeDisplaySettingsEx can't?

    Because the video card vendor decided to do it in a nonstandard way so that you're forced to use their annoying utility program.

    I'm told that one of the requirements of the Windows Vista Display Driver Model is that video drivers which support rotation must do so via the standard rotation interface. No "secret backdoor hidden rotation functionality" allowed. So at least things are getting better.

    Of course, this doesn't help if you have a video card that doesn't have WDDM drivers. To the rescue come the clever people at EnTech, who developed the iRotate utility which knows the secret backdoor way to convince these annoying video cards to do their rotation.

  • The Old New Thing

    Last tube standing: The Cardboard Tube Fighting League


    Dodge, parry, thrust. Welcome to the Cardboard Tube Fighting League. (I happened to be in Gasworks Park for a totally unrelated reason and managed to catch the final battle of the Seattle branch's 2008 Tournament.)

  • The Old New Thing

    What does the "Zw" prefix mean?


    If you spend time in kernel mode, you're accustomed to seeing functions with two-letter (or occasionally, three-letter) prefixes that indicate which component they belong to.

    Ex Executive ExAllocatePool
    Hal Hardware abstraction layer HalGetBusData
    Io I/O manager IoAllocateIrp
    Ke Kernel KeBugCheck
    Ks Kernel streaming KsAcquireControl
    Mm Memory manager MmGetPhysicalAddress
    Ob Object manager ObReferenceObjectByHandle
    Po Power management PoSetSystemState
    Se Security SeAccessCheck
    Tdi Transport driver interface TdiProviderReady
    Zw ???? ZwCancelTimer

    What does the "Zw" mean?

    Answer: Nothing.

    The people who chose the letters wanted to pick something that was unlikely to collide with anything. Perhaps they had a prior bad experience with having chosen a prefix, only to find that somebody ahead of them claimed it already?

  • The Old New Thing

    Spam trackback attack returns, it's not a matter of whether but how much


    Like microsoft.com, the question isn't whether blogs.msdn.com site is under attack but rather how bad the attack is right now.

    There are a number of regular culprits, like codedstyle.com, anith.com, simplynetdev.com, but those sites tend to focus on the most recent few articles. A new category of trackback spammer is here: The I'm going to scrape your entire site and create a trackback for every article trackback spammer.

    Site From To Count Rate (pings/hr)
    paidsurveyshub.info 5/28/2009 04:27 PM 5/28/2009 04:41 PM 27 111
    www.newillinoismesotheliomalawyers.co.cc 5/28/2009 05:18 PM 5/28/2009 05:18 PM 1
    codedstyle.com 5/29/2009 07:25 AM 5/29/2009 07:26 AM 5 240
    asp-net-hosting.simplynetdev.com 5/29/2009 07:34 AM 5/29/2009 07:36 AM 2 30
    www.anith.com 5/29/2009 08:24 AM 5/29/2009 08:24 AM 1
    paidsurveyshub.info 5/29/2009 09:07 AM 5/29/2009 10:26 AM 73 55
    microsoft-sharepoint.simplynetdev.com 5/29/2009 10:39 AM 5/29/2009 10:39 AM 2
    paidsurveyshub.info 5/29/2009 12:09 PM 5/30/2009 04:33 AM 584 36
    outdoorceilingfansite.info 5/30/2009 11:49 PM 5/31/2009 12:09 AM 206 615
    woodtvstand.info 5/31/2009 02:47 PM 5/31/2009 06:01 PM 507 157
    patiochairsite.info 5/31/2009 08:47 PM 5/31/2009 09:18 PM 24 45
    hammockstandsite.info 5/31/2009 10:20 PM 5/31/2009 10:44 PM 28 68
    indoorgrillsrecipes.info 6/01/2009 12:46 AM 6/01/2009 01:00 AM 20 81
    portablegreenhousesite.info 6/01/2009 03:05 AM 6/01/2009 04:35 AM 102 67
    uniformstores.info 6/01/2009 05:41 AM 6/01/2009 07:00 AM 68 51
    asp-net-hosting.simplynetdev.com 6/01/2009 07:13 AM 6/01/2009 07:13 AM 1
    codedstyle.com 6/01/2009 07:40 AM 6/01/2009 07:40 AM 2
    woodtvstand.info 6/01/2009 10:27 AM 6/01/2009 11:48 AM 397 294
    patiochairsite.info 6/01/2009 11:46 AM 6/01/2009 12:02 PM 10 38
    hammockstandsite.info 6/01/2009 12:07 PM 6/01/2009 12:15 PM 21 158
    indoorgrillsrecipes.info 6/01/2009 12:17 PM 6/01/2009 12:36 PM 51 161
    portablegreenhousesite.info 6/01/2009 12:36 PM 6/01/2009 01:03 PM 67 149
    uniformstores.info 6/01/2009 01:04 PM 6/01/2009 01:38 PM 80 141
    paidsurveyshub.info 6/01/2009 10:47 PM 6/02/2009 01:20 AM 16 6

    I'm pretty sure this will continue for at least the next week. I think I'm going to have to write a script that auto-deletes all these bogus trackbacks.

  • The Old New Thing

    Who you calling boring?


    A notice was sent out by the real estate department with the provocative subject line Campus notification — Building 7: Marking Boring Locations.

    What? Were the people in the real estate department saying that the people who work in Building 7 need to get some new hobbies? Or maybe they were just going to put up markers like you see in historic districts, but the markers are going to say something like On this spot in 1998, absolutely nothing interesting happened.

    But no, that's not what the message was about. It was announcing that, in preparation for an expansion of the parking garage, there will be markers placed in the courtyard indicating where drilling will be taking place. The message was merely informational, so people won't wonder What are these people doing wandering around the courtyard with surveying equipment and making X's on the patio with spraypaint?

  • The Old New Thing

    Whew, I'm not doing *that* again!


    When I met Sara Ford at the 2008 PDC, I got to talk to her author-a-author. I asked her how the book-writing experience was.

    "I'm never doing that again!" she replied.

    Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel about it, too. Steve Makofsky agrees. (Though, to be fair, what Sara was not going to do was write a book in three months, as opposed to swearing off writing books entirely.)

    By the way, my book is now available in Chinese. I don't get any royalties when people buy a translated copy, so buy it or not, I don't care. Actually, I make barely any money from the book at all. During one six-month period, I sold a net of two copies in the United States. Enough to maybe buy a cup of tea. Seeing as most of the book content is available for free on this Web site, I'm not entirely convinced that giving away your book for free increases sales. (Or maybe the conclusion is that my book's sales would have been even worse if it weren't available here online. Perhaps it would have sold only one copy.)

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