The Old New Thing

Management-speak: Norming around mechanisms

This is the entire text of an actual piece of email I received from a high-level manager in response to some feedback I sent. Thanks. There is a lot of norming around any of these mechanisms as well as a certain amount of ability to hold ones ground in these interactions in addition to the admin of the rule being good enough as discussed...

'Tis the season for top ten lists, and manipulation of top ten lists

A few years ago, Marketplace radio reported on the sub-industry of top ten lists, specifically the lists intended to be used as gift guides. Marketing companies drool over these lists, since placement on them can mean a tremendous boost in sales, and they're anxious to do whatever it takes to get on the list. For example, The Da Vinci Code ...

Consequences of the scheduling algorithm: Low priority threads can take 100% CPU

I see variations on this question occasionally. "Why is my low priority thread consuming 100% CPU?" Setting a thread to low priority doesn't mean that it won't consume lots of CPU. It just means that it doesn't get to run as long as there is a higher-priority thread ready to run. But if there is a CPU looking for something to do, and there is...
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How do I mark a shortcut file as requiring elevation?

Specifying whether elevation is required is typically something that is the responsibility of the program. This is done by adding a requestedExecutionLevel element to your manifest. (Bart De Smet shows you how. Calvin Hsia does the same for your Visual FoxPro programs.) But if the program you're running doesn't have such a manifest—...
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Book review: Advanced Windows Debugging (Mario Hewardt and Daniel Pravat)

Ever so often, somebody sends me a book, and most of the time I glance through it and say, "Eh." But not this time. Advanced Windows Debugging will make you the envy of your friends (if your friends are computer nerds). Even the section with the "Oh come on every moron knows this already" title Basic Debugger Tasks has stuff that I didn't ...
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Not every first-chance exception is a security vulnerability

In the category of dubious vulnerability, I submit the following (paraphrased) report: If I call the FormatMessage function, I can cause a buffer overflow exception if I provide an insertion that is more than 2000 characters long. The FormatMessage function in Windows NT, 2000 and XP used the dynamically expanding buffer ...
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Wall Street bonus season's trickle-down

Marketplace covers the businesses who are indirect beneficiaries of the Wall Street bonus season. Ted Fisher, who sells custom-tailored clothing, sees 35 to 40% of his business come in during the three months of bonus season. I suspect business near Redmond are similarly affected by Microsoft review season, though perhaps not as much now as...

Unwittingly enveloped in the Santarchy

Last Saturday, my friends and I were heading for a subway station in Brooklyn and found ourselves behind a man and a woman both dressed in Santa Claus outfits. They were kind enough to wave us onto the train with a "hurry, hurry!", and we made it on board just as the subway doors closed. And then we discovered that we were on a subway train ...

The compatibility constraints of your side effects: Beeping

Why does the Welcome screen beep if you hit the space bar after the computer has finished starting up? For compatibility with a side effect of the Windows XP Welcome screen. A beta tester asked us why we removed the beeps that were generated if you started typing at the Welcome screen after the computer finished starting up. Well, we ...
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