On the "Days without a pony" web page

Reader Mark Eichin was curious about the “Days with a pony” web page. Here’s what it would look (suitably redacted) if it were still operating: December 23, 2005: Still no pony From: Raymond Chen To: Xxxx Xxxxxx Subject: Laptop order Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 09:47:19 -0800 I want a pony and a train set…


Why do up-down controls have the arrows backwards?

When you create an up-down control (some people call a “spinner” control) in its default configuration, the up-arrow decrements the value and the down-arrow increments it. Most people expect the up-arrow to increment and the down-arrow to decrement. Why is it backwards? The up-down control is a victim of Windows’ reversed y-axis. Mathematically, the (0, 0)…


The office disco party

One of the long-standing traditions at Microsoft is to play a prank on someone’s office while they’re away on vacation. You can imagine what most of these pranks are like, filling someone’s office with packing peanuts or other materials, or relocating their office to an unlikely part of the building (the bathroom, the cafeteria), or…


"Pro forma" was so 1990’s

“Non-GAAP” is the new “pro forma”. Remember the exciting dot-com boom days? Everybody was reporting “pro forma” results. Pro forma in the 1990’s turned into a euphemism for “We just made this stuff up”. But after the dot-com bust and a series of accounting scandals, the phrase pro forma turned into a bad word on…


Why does Windows setup lay down a new boot sector?

Why does Windows setup lay down a new boot sector? Because the alternative is worse. You would expect that after installing an operating system, the operating system should boot. If your boot sector is damaged, say because this is a brand new hard drive with no boot sector, or because it was infected with a…


Music to slip into a playlist to see if anybody is listening

When I was visiting my brother earlier this year, I found this CD in my sister-in-law’s collection. Oy vey’s mir! There’s just something fundamentally wacked out about the whole idea. (Maybe that’s why I liked it. Here’s what other people think.)


Beware the Image File Execution Options key

Beware the Image File Execution Options key (more). Its power can be used for evil as well as for good. Its intended use is to force a program to run under a debugger regardless of how it is launched (and secondarily to alter how the system treats the program). It’s handy if you need to…


When hyperthreading is enabled, all the processors are virtual

A common problem when answering technical questions is that people sometimes ask a question that can’t or shouldn’t be answered because it is based upon a misunderstanding. What’s particularly frustrating is when they insist that you answer their question as posed, even when you try to explain to them that their question is itself flawed….


The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to Seattle

Coming to the Pacific Science Center in September 2006 the Dead Sea Scrolls, “considered by many experts to be the most significant archaeological find of the twentieth century”. Tickets went on sale yesterday. Volunteer opportunities also available.


A note to headhunters: Check your links

If you’re going to try to recruit me, you might want to check that the links in your email actually work. Just sayin’. I’m going to mock you regardless, but you should at least make me have to work for it.