The Old New Thing

It rather involved being on the other side of this airtight hatchway: Consequences of enabling the kernel debugger

In the category of dubious security vulnerability, I submit for consideration the following report: A machine with the kernel debugger enabled is vulnerable to a denial of service attack from an unprivileged user. The unprivileged user need only deference a null pointer. Once this occurs, the computer becomes completely unusable to all users...

On nearly getting pickpocketed in both Lisbon and Madrid

My trip to Lisbon introduced me to another tourist phenomenon: pickpockets. It was around 10:30 in the morning, and I got on the train to head into town, planning to climb the steps through the Alfama district to visit the castle which looms over the city. The morning rush was over, and the Metro car was nearly empty. Just before the doors ...

Why can programs empty the clipboard when they start up?

Via the Suggestion Box, Johan Almén asks, "What was the rationale behind the decision to let Excel empty the clipboard when launched?" Why can an application empty the clipboard? Because it's there. After all, the point of the clipboard is to hold information temporarily. Programs are permitted to empty the clipboard, add data to the...

Words you've had wrong your entire life

As a child, my mother would always call out "banzai" when she wanted me to raise my arms above my head so she could put on or take off a pullover shirt. I assumed that banzai was the word for "stick your hands in the air!" It wasn't until well into my adult life that my mother explained to me that, no, banzai does not mean "stick your hands ...

The many ways of converting a string from one language to another

A customer asked, "I'm looking for a way to convert English characters to another language. For example, if the target language is Arabic and the string is the word Hello, I want it to convert to H(Arabic)e(Arabic)l(Arabic)l(Arabic)o(Arabic)." The question is still vague, even with the assistance of the example, since it's not clear what "H(...

On the Portuguese custom of the couvert, and other restaurant customs

In restaurants in the United States, the custom is that anything brought to the table that you didn't order is complimentary. For example, after you place your order, the waiter returns to your table with a basket of bread. The bread is provided at no extra charge. These complimentary items are usually small, like some bread or a one-bite ...

What are these strange =C: environment variables?

You won't see them when you execute a SET command, but if you write a program that manually enumerates all the environment variables and prints them out, and if you launch it from a command prompt, then you'll see weird variables with names like =C: and whose values correspond to directories on that drive. What are these things? These ...

Eating where the teenagers are: Pão Pão, Queijo Queijo

In Belém, directly to the east of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a block of small shops, the most famous one of which being the Pastéis de Belém which sells the, um, Pastel de Belém, the Belém version of the unofficial dessert of Portugal. (This photo of a group of people eating was taken in front ...

How the shell converts an icon location into an icon

A customer had trouble getting an icon to display for a registered file type. In my resource file, I specify the icon like this: And when I register my file type, I set it like this: However, when I view an .xyz file, my awesome icon doesn't appear. On the other hand, if I change the 101 to a 0, then it works. Why? Isn't the number ...

Microspeak: The statistic known as BIS

I learned this term from a chart presented at a team meeting. It contained a column labelled BIS. When asked what those letters meant, the team manager explained that it's an abbreviation for butts in seats. Everybody in the room instantly understood. It is the number of actual human beings sitting at desks doing work. When doing project ...

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