It took two of us to keep up with one Bob

One of my friends (let’s call him “Bob“) retired from Microsoft many years ago. Bob is an amazing programmer whose skills I remain in awe of. I remember visiting his office one evening with a mutual friend (“Fred”) to catch up on things. When we turned up, he showed us a problem that he was…


A fork is an easy-to-find nonstandard USB device

Remember the Ten Immutable Laws of Security. Today, we’re going to talk about number three: If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer any more. There was a bug which floated past my field of vision many months ago that went something like this: “I found a critical…


It’s not surprising at all that people search for Yahoo

Earlier this year, one columnist was baffled as to why “Yahoo” was the most searched-for term on Google. I wasn’t baffled at all. Back in 2001, Alexa published the top ten most searched-for terms on their service, and four of the top ten were URLs: yahoo.com, hotmail.com, aol.com, and ebay.com. A lot of people simply…


Sometimes you need to recalibrate your progress reports

One of my former managers told me this story from a project he worked on many years ago. This project was broken up into multiple groups, and there was a weekly meeting where representatives from each group got together to discuss how the project was going. One of the groups was responsible for generating the…


Placebo setting: QoS bandwidth reservation

A placebo setting that has been getting a lot of play in recent years is that of QoS bandwidth reservation. The setting in question sets a maximum amount of bandwidth that can be reserved for QoS. I guess one thing people forgot to notice is the word “maximum”. It doesn’t set the amount of reserved…


The quiet dream of placebo settings

Back in the Windows 95 days, people swore that increasing the value of MaxBPs in the system.ini file fixed application errors. People usually made up some pseudo-scientific explanation for why this fixed crashes. These explanations were complete rot. These breakpoints had nothing to do with Windows applications. They were used by 32-bit device drivers to communicate…


What is the process by which the cursor gets set?

Commenter LittleHelper asked, “Why is the cursor associated with the class and not the window?” This question makes the implicit assumption that the cursor is associated with the class. While there is a cursor associated with each window class, it is the window that decides what cursor to use. The cursor-setting process is described in…


It takes only one program to foul an upgrade

“Worst software ever.” That was Aaron Zupancic‘s cousin’s reaction to the fact that Windows XP was incompatible with one program originally designed for Windows 98. Then again, commenter Aargh! says “The bad code should be fixed, period. If it can’t be fixed, it breaks, too bad.” Perhaps Aargh! can send a message to Aaron’s cousin saying, “Too…