The Old New Thing

Being lucky may be a matter of observing things you weren’t planning to observe

On BBC's The One Show, presenter Michael Mosley tests a theory of Professor Richard Wiseman that part of being lucky is simply being more aware of incidental information in your surroundings, information seemingly unrelated to the task at hand but which may ultimately help you achieve your goal. (Professor Wiseman has many interesting ...

The Washington 2008 unclaimed property auction

After five years, the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes are turned over to the state, which attempts to contact the owners, but if the owners cannot be located after three years, they are put up for auction. Things like this antique watch with a Swedish dedication: "Till min kära syster Nanny fr. Elin — Mors klocka" = "To ...

Don’t use global state to manage a local problem

We've seen a few instances where people have used a global setting to solve a local problem. For example, people who use the LockWindowUpdate function to prevent a window from redrawing, toggle a global setting to see what its value is, or who change the system time zone as part of an internal calculation. To this, I'll add as an example a ...
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A bar on Microsoft main campus? What should we call it?

When my colleagues discovered that Seattle bar Spitfire is opening a bar on the main Microsoft campus, a quick game of Name that bar sprung up. (Todd Bishop has his suggestions.) Here are some names we came up with: Though I suspect they'll just call it Spitfire. Sidebar: Although alcohol is available at many company-sponsored ...

How do I change the directory Windows uses for user profiles?

To change the directory Windows uses for user profiles (by default, the \Users directory), set the ProfilesDirectory setting in your unattend file. This setting is available only via the unattend file. There is no GUI interface for this, nor can it be changed after Windows has been installed. Sorry...

The role of vitamin D in beta cell function: The dance

In January 2008, John Bohannon held a contest titled Dance your PhD, wherein contestants were invited to express their PhD thesis in five minutes through the medium of dance. It was such a hit that it came back for a sequel: The 2009 Dance Your Ph.D. contest. Only a Game interviews John Bohannon [mp3]. You can also watch the winning ...

Email tip: If you want people to look at a screen shot, you have to tell them what they’re looking at

Some time ago, Ry Jones decided to take something that I wrote and condense it to make it funnier: Don't embed pictures. ... This isn't Highlights magazine. Those ellipses are deceptive, because they hide a change of topic! As a result, the two unrelated sentences appeared to be connected to each other. The comment about Highlights ...

A file can go by multiple names, but two files can’t have the same name

Thanks to short file names and hard links, a single file can go by multiple names. (And for the purpose of today's discussion, I'm treating the full path as the name instead of just the part after the last backslash. Don't make me bring back the nitpicker's corner.) For example, C:\PROGRA~1 and C:\Program Files are two possible names for the ...

Thrift stores drowning in Christmas impulse gifts from yesteryear

Last year, the Washington Post covered the fates of The Thing, that Christmas impulse gift that stores place in enticing locations in the store to convince you that you simply gotta have it. The twirling apple peeler, the liquor carousel, the portable chocolate fountain (for your fancy party, no doubt). After a few years, some of them ...

Why are the generic version numbers called NTDDI?

In my earlier discussion on the variety of symbols that describe the target Windows version, I pointed out that the NTDDI symbols attempt to cut through the mess and consolidate everything into a single symbol. But why the name NTDDI? One of my colleagues contacted me privately with the story. When setting out to change the operating system...

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