The Old New Thing

Invalidating the null window redux

The people who work on the next generation of the window manager, known as the Desktop Window Manager (DWM), told me that their original plan was to get rid of the compatibility hack that says that invalidating the null window invalidates the entire desktop, but by an amazing coincidence, two days after I posted that article, they received a...

More tales of dead computers: My home desktop

Yes, I said that my next dead computer story would be the AlphaServer, but late-breaking news has forced me to shuffle the order a bit. My home computer has been circling the drain for several months. (The Northbridge fan would buzz and sometimes spin really slowly.) When the motherboard finally stopped powering on, I knew its time was up. ...

Quick and dirty Hallowe'en costume for physics geeks

When I was considering with some friends what I could be for Hallowe'en this year, one of the ideas that emerged in a fit of brainstorming was "Schrödinger's cat". To dress up as Schrödinger's cat, or more accurately, the Schrödinger cat thought experiment, you just need a cardboard box and a heavy marker. Use the marker to ...

Psychic debugging: Why doesn't my program show up when I call ShellExecute?

This question came in from a customer (paraphrased): If I run my program from the command prompt, it works great, but if I run it from my launcher via ShellExecuteEx, it never appears. See how good your psychic powers are at solving this problem before I give you the second question that gives away the answer. Any luck? Here's a ...
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Wired Magazine's report on that bizarro Ferarri crash

Say what you want about blogs, there's still room in the world for engaging journalism, such as Randall Sullivan's report on that bizarro Ferarri crash that started out as a spectacular event but turned out merely to be the entry into a much more complex and intriguing world. (via BoingBoing.) (Recent development: Eriksson turns down a ...

How do I shut down a workstation via Remote Desktop?

When you are connected to a workstation via Remote Desktop, the "Turn Off Computer" option changes to "Disconnect". But what if you really want to turn off the computer, hibernate it, or put it on stand-by? Note: These tips work on Windows XP, but there is no guarantee that they will work in future versions of Windows. One way to do ...

No good deed goes unpunished, part 2

Sometimes you're better off keeping your fool mouth shut. When I reply to a question on an internal discussion list, often with a clarifying question rather than an answer, it will occasionally happen that the person I replied to will send a response directly to me rather than including the discussion list. This is bad for a few reasons. ...

Dead Sea Scrolls lectures available online (or in person if you can get there)

As I noted last year, the Dead Sea Scrolls are in Seattle, and in conjunction with the exhibition is a series of eleven lectures at Town Hall. Tonight's lecture is The Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus & The Da Vinci Code. These lectures are rebroadcast on The Seattle Channel, and it appears that the city also makes the video available via ...

Don't require your users to have a degree in philosophy

Help text is not the place to put logic puzzles. In Windows Vista, when you go to the System control panel, you are shown a number that describes your computer's rating. But are higher numbers better or worse? If I had a choice, would it be better to have a 1 rating or a 5 rating? In earlier betas of Windows Vista, you ...

Answering phones at KUOW for their Fall 2006 pledge drive

I spent Saturday evening as a volunteer answering the phone for one of our local public radio stations, KUOW. This was the first time I had worked a pledge drive, and it was a fun experience. I was there sort of as an honorary member of a group of friends who get together every week for drinks; they decided to volunteer for the pledge drive ...