The Old New Thing

Don't require your users to have a degree in philosophy, episode 2

Earlier, we learned that help text is not the place to put logic puzzles. Neither are dialog boxes. I ran across a configuration dialog box that had the item Turn off Feature X This is a negative-sense checkbox, which turns your dialog box into a logic puzzle. Checkboxes should be phrased positively. Use Feature X (The only ...

Out there gathering map data, one intersection at a time

The New Yorker reported some time ago on how Navteq gathers map data. This story reminded me that, at least as of a few years ago, Navteq listed the driveway of a colleague of mine as a through road. Drivers came up to his driveway, realized that they've been hoodwinked, and spun their wheels in the gravel in frustration on their way out. ...

The only thing you can do with display names is display them

There are many functions that return strings called "display names". And the only thing you can do with display names is display them. Don't assume that the string actually means anything, because it doesn't. Theoretically, a function like SHGetFileInfo could be implemented as ... if (uFlags & SHGFI_DISPLAYNAME) { StringCchCopy(psfi...
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What is a SM_SLOWMACHINE?

Jason Doucette asks how slow a machine has to be to be considered a GetSystemMetrics(SM_SLOWMACHINE). The answer: Pretty darned slow by today's standards. When the metric was introduced in Windows 95, the definition of a "slow machine" was as follows (roughly): If the CPU was an 80386, then the machine was considered slow. If the ...

Raymond's highly scientific predictions for the 2007 NCAA men's basketball tournament

Every year, when it comes time to fill out my NCAA bracket, I choose an arbitrary criterion. You'd think this would take less work, but it actually takes more. My original plan was to rank teams based on how much they pay their head coaches, but it turns out that the salaries (and bonuses and perks) of the head coaches of school basketball ...

This American Life: What I Learned From Television, Seattle edition

Ira Glass paid another visit to Seattle (here's an appearance on local public radio station KUOW), this time for a live taping of an episode of his radio show This American Life titled "What I Learned From Television." He also took the opportunity to introduce another auditoriumful of people to the same-named television program premiering ...

Don't be so fast to discount those oddball time zones

This weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in most parts of the United States, the first year under the new transition rules in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Pay extra attention to your clocks this weekend. If you have a device that automatically adjusts for Daylight Saving Time, and it hasn't been updated for the new ...

Just what the world has been wishing for: Surströmming ice cream

Every culture has its strange food that is used to scare away the foreigners. In Sweden, it's surströmming. (Surströmming is even classified as hazardous material by some airlines.) And, you know, when you dig into your plate of surströmming, I bet the first thing that goes through your mind is, "Wow, this would go great with...

The GETDISPINFO notifications tell you what information they want

The XXN_GETDISPINFO notifications used by the common controls are used when the control asks its parent to generate information that had been marked as delay-rendered, either explicitly via values such as LPSTR_TEXTCALLBACK or implicitly by being an owner-data control, for example. In fact the control is really just the middle man between the...
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The wisdom of seventh graders: John Locke and influential persons

My friend the seventh grade teacher was leading the class in a discussion of the most influential persons in history, and after two days of the students collectively deciding whom they would put on the list, my friend revealed the list compiled by the author Michael H. Hart. The students felt bad that their collaborative list didn't match the...