Still working out the finer details of how this Hallowe’en thing works

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation on the subject of Hallowe’en which I had with my niece some time ago. Let’s call her “Cathy”. (This is a different Cathy from last time.) “Cathy, what do you do on Hallowe’en?” “You get all dressed up and people give you candy.” “What do you say when people…


What is the format for FirstInstallDateTime on Windows 95?

Public Service Announcement: Daylight Saving Time ends in most parts of the United States this weekend. Windows 98/98/Me recorded the date and time at which Setup was run in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion as a binary value named FirstInstallDateTime. What is the format of this data? Take the binary value and treat it as a 32-bit…


What this batch file needs is more escape characters

(Employing the snowclone “What this X needs is more Y.”) Each time you add a parsing pass to the batch processor, you have to add another layer of escaping. This is just a special case of the more general rule of thumb: any problem in quoting can be solved by adding another layer of escaping….


Warning: Not much useful content inside

Remember, this Web site is for entertainment purposes only. Sometimes it takes people a little while before they realize this: I apologize for posting the link to the “Old New Thing” blog. […] I have read a few articles in the “Old New Thing” blog and so far I have not seen much that is…


Why does the Photo Gallery show all my photos with a colored tinge?

When you view your pictures with the Photo Gallery program which comes with Windows Vista, and which is also available for download from, you might see a colored tinge. Where is the tinge coming from, and how do you get rid of it? Ironically, what you’re actually seeing is the absence of a tinge,…


If aluminum pull tab redemption is a rumor, what happens to all the tabs?

Everybody should know by now that it is not true that pull tabs from aluminum cans can be redeemed for time on a dialysis machine. Of course, not everybody actually knows this, and then the next question is, well, what happens to all those pull tabs collected by misinformed people? The Snopes article explains that…


Freudian typo: The accidental emoticon

Some time ago, I ran across the following Freudian typo in a mail thread discussing plans for the project after Milestone 3, commonly abbreviated M3. I’d like to talk with you about your plans for this area after <3. On the US-English keyboard layout, the M and comma keys are adjacent, and a shifted comma is…


Why won’t my computer go to sleep? Where is the energy going?

The powercfg utility has been around for a while, but in Windows 7, it gained a little bit more awesome. powercfg /energy will analyze your computer’s power consumption and report on things like devices that prevent the computer from sleeping, devices which won’t suspend, and processes which are increasing your battery drain. Another neat flag is…


Yes, there’s a new desktop window manager, but no, I don’t know any more about it than you do

Sean W. requests, via the suggestion box, “an in-depth discussion of the use of the shell’s new Desktop Window Manager (Dwm*) functions in Win32.” The desktop window manager is not actually part of the shell. It operates at the window manager level. (Notice that DWM is active even when Explorer isn’t running.) You probably should…


If you have to cast, you can’t afford it

A customer reported a crash inside a function we’ll call XyzConnect: DWORD XyzConnect( __in DWORD ConnectionType, __in PCWSTR Server, __in PCWSTR Target, __out void **Handle); … // HACK – Create a dummy structure to pass to the XyzConnect // function to avoid AV within the function. int dummy = 0; if ( NO_ERROR != (…