The Old New Thing

Why is a drive letter permitted in front of UNC paths (sometimes)?

A little-known quirk is that the file system accepts and ignores a drive letter in front of a UNC path. For example, if you have a directory called \\server\share\directory, you can say dir P:\\server\share\directory and the directory will be listed to the screen. The leading P: is ignored. Why is that? Rewind to 1984 and the upcoming ...

What’s the difference between HWND_TOP and HWND_TOPMOST?

The special values HWND_TOP and HWND_TOPMOST have similar names but do completely different things when passed as the hWndInsertAfter parameter to the DeferWindowPos function (or its moral equivalents such as SetWindowPos). As a backgrounder, you should start off by reading the MSDN discussion, which is perfectly accurate as far as it goes. ...

Mini-conversations at the stoplight during the bicycle commute

When the weather gets cold and wet and the sun sets hours before the evening commute even begins, the people you meet at the stoplight are the serious bicycle commuters, the fair-weather cyclists having long since packed up their gear, not to be dusted off until springtime. But regardless of the season, the conversations at the stoplights ...

What does the word “supported” mean?

Is the /3GB switch supported on Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition? It depends on what you mean by "supported". Unfortunately, the word has multiple meanings, and the intended meaning is not always obvious from context. One definition of "supported" is "The software makes a good-faith attempt to implement the functionality." For the ...

I didn’t see Stephen Hawking in Seattle yesterday

I didn't see the Stephen Hawking lecture in Seattle yesterday, but then again, nobody did. I did see him when he came to town back in 1993 and again in 1996. I think it was during the 1996 appearance, after his presentation on imaginary time was complete and the floor opened to questions, the first person to the microphone asked, "Hello, Dr...

Force-feeding the dogfood

Windows 95 contained some new networking features, and since I was one of those crazy people who sampled every flavor of dogfood in the store, I actually tried out all of them. One of the features, a network protocol, I thought was interesting enough that I decided to help them out by forcing everybody else on the team to dogfood it. ...

Another Schadenfreude-filled look back at the dot-com zaniness

I can never remember how I'm supposed to spell CNET. Is it "c|net", "c-net", "CNET"? Well whatever their name is, they published an article titled Top 10 dot-com flops for all your "I can't believe this actually happened" needs. My former colleague Todd Berkebile (now at Turbine) captured the spirit of the era when he remarked at lunch, "...

Sampling every flavor of dogfood in the store

During the development of Windows 95, everybody was, of course, self-hosted and upgraded the operating system on a regular basis as new builds came out. I took it upon myself never to install the operating system twice the same way. Each time I ran setup, I would give different answers to the questions. Maybe this time, I'll leave out ...

In real life, nobody upgrades their server

When you install Windows on a machine that already has a copy of Windows, you get the option of performing a "clean" install (installing the operating system from scratch, ignoring the existing one) or an "upgrade" install (upgrading the existing operating system to the new one). And in real life, it turns out, surveys show that nobody ...

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