The Old New Thing

Whose idea was it to make Ctrl+Backspace delete the previous word?

James Manning mentioned in a footnote to a blog entry on PowerShell and WMI that he considers the Ctrl+Backspace shortcut key a Windows-ism. Where did this shortcut key come from? From a fan of the Brief editor. A few people in the early days of the Internet Explorer group used the Brief editor, which uses Ctrl+Backspace as the shortcut ...

Microspeak: Actionable

The word actionable has as its primary meaning "providing grounds for legal action", but in the world of management, it is the secondary meaning "capable of being acted upon" that is more common. Something that is actionable provides a specific demand for action. Although I'm not necessarily a big fan of the word itself, I definitely ...

The three tiers of a mixing room of a movie studio

Kai Jones describes what you see in the mixing room of a movie studio. It's very simple but very telling. I won't give away the punch line; go read it yourself. (It's the paragraph that begins, "We also went into the sound building.") (Via Anita Rowland...

Why does ICE16 complain about product names longer than 63 characters?

If you merge in the Internal Consistency Evaluators into your MSI package, you may run into error ICE16, complaining that the product name is longer than 63 characters. Why is this so bad? Well, it isn't really, at least not any more. The original Windows 95 version of the Add/Remove Programs control panel did limit product names to 63...

Which windows appear in the Alt+Tab list?

Commenter Phil Quirk wants to know what the rules are for determining which windows appear in the Alt+Tab list. It's actually pretty simple although hardly anything you'd be able to guess on your own. Note: The details of this algorithm are an implementation detail. It can change at any time, so don't rely on it. In fact, it already changed ...
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The dangers of taking a service droid off script

In the discussion last year regarding retail companies allegedly not collecting personal information as aggressively, a few people mentioned tactics for confusing salesdroids. For a while, I would intentionally confuse salesdroids by using my passport as identification. But far more frustrating is when I manage to confuse salesdroids ...

The early days of the Microsoft cafeterias

A tour of Redmond campus cafeterias back in the old days took much less time than it would require nowadays. Back then, the cafeterias were tiny affairs, the size of maybe three offices not counting the prep area, with a seating capacity of maybe a dozen tables. Each cafeteria had a theme, so going to lunch back in the day was not "Let's go ...

The perils of translating words blindly without verifying them in context

My fancy new office phone has an option to change the language of its user interface, so naturally I chose Swedish. Once I did that, I saw some obvious translation errors. The first example above is just sloppiness, but the second one illustrates how a simple LocalizeString("some text") algorithm doesn't work. As Lance Fisher's teacher put...

Another celebrity knitter: Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman joins the roster of celebrity knitters with her book Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun. (She also gets to add to the pile of books whose titles are of the form Catchy title: Long boring subtitle...

The most important choice in writing is not what you say, it’s what you don’t say

"The most important choice in writing is not what you say. It's what you don't say." Eric Gunnerson gave me that advice when I was writing my book. It's sort of the writing version of "You don't know what you do until you know what you don't do." That's why I'll write Of course, you probably wonder this magical comes from. It comes ...