The Old New Thing

What possible use are those extra bits in kernel handles? Part 3: New object types

Last time, we saw how those extra bits can be used to multiplex HANDLE with other values. That was a specific case of a more general scenario: Expanding the handle namespace to include things that aren't handles. (You can also view today's example as a generalization of the sentinel value problem, where we need to generate an arbitrary ...
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The stroke-count-based sort isn’t random, although it looks that way if you only see it in translation

During the NBC coverage of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, the announcers more than once said that the teams will not be entering in the normal order, but rather in a random order based on the number of strokes in the team's name as translated into Chinese. This is an odd use of the word random. You might say that at the Athens...

What possible use are those extra bits in kernel handles? Part 2: Overcoming limited expressiveness

Last time, we saw how those extra bits can be used to develop safe sentinel values. That is a special case of a more general problem: How do you pack 33 bits of information into a 32-bit value? Whereas last time, we weren't forced into the use of a sentinel value because we could develop a (cumbersome) helper class and switch people ...
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What does each country claim for its own?, greatest hits

A little while back, I invited readers to describe what students are taught (or end up believing) are the greatest contributions of their country. Many people strayed from the "what students are taught" part of the exercise, but I didn't mind too much as long as you were funny. Here are some of my favorites: Representing Greece is Pi, ...

What possible use are those extra bits in kernel handles? Part 1: Sentinels

Kernel handles are always a multiple of four; the bottom two bits are available for applications to use. But why would an application need those bits anyway? The short answer is extending the handle namespace. The long answer will take a few days to play out. (This series was written in response to Igor Levicki being unable to imagine "...
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DHS: The Television Series – the next chapter

Okay, so first there was the story about the planned DHS television series. And then there was the follow-up reporting that the whole thing was an investment scam and there was no such show after all. Following through on the story, it looks like the ringleader behind the scam has been sentenced to one year in prison and an accomplice to ...

Microspeak: Pencils down

I'm particularly fascinated by Microspeak terms which nobody actually knows the meaning of. You can defend jargon by saying that it's a shorthand way of talking in order to improve communication, but if nobody actually knows what it means, the in order to improve communication part is completely turned on its head. The Microspeak that ...

Wedding + two-year-old flower girl = wildcard

I was in San Francisco this weekend for a wedding. The flower girl was the bride's two-year-old niece, and when you add a two-year-old to the wedding party, you never know what's going to happen, because two-year-olds don't understand the world the same way adults do. During the unity candle ceremony, the two-year-old pushed her way to the...

Why was the RAM drive removed from Windows 95?

Commenter Travis Owens asks, "Why was the RAM drive removed from Windows 95?" As with many of these types of accusatory questions, this comes with a false hidden assumption, in this case, that the RAM drive was in Windows 95 to begin with. Remember that Windows 95 introduced a new driver model, so any RAM drive would have had to...

Keeping a visit a surprise after people have already guessed that you’re coming

Last year, a friend of mine who lives out of state—let's call her Lisa—wanted to pay her family in Seattle a surprise visit, and I was enlisted as an accomplice. (Specifically, my rôle was to pick her up from the airport and take her home.) Everything was going smoothly until she made the mistake of telling one of another out...

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