Umpires are the lymphatic system of the baseball diamond

When I go to a baseball game, I try to remember to watch the umpires. They move around in a counter-intuitive way: They don’t run toward the ball. They don’t run toward the runner. Even when the ball is far away, the umpire runs from what appears to be one irrelevant position on the field…


Where did WIN32_LEAN_AND_MEAN come from?

Commenter asdf wonders where WIN32_LEAN_AND_MEAN came from. The WIN32_LEAN_AND_MEAN symbol was introduced in the Windows 95 time frame as a way to exclude a bunch of Windows header files when you include windows.h. You can take a look at your windows.h file to see which ones they are. The symbol was added as part of the…


How does Raymond get rid of his excess pennies?

Commenter Boris mentions that he uses NJ Transit to get rid of his excess pennies. But what do you do if your area isn’t served by NJ Transit? I use the self-checkout line at the grocery store. The machine has a slot for accepting coins, and you can drop pennies in there until your arm…


Caches are nice, but they confuse memory leak detection tools

Knowledge Base article 139071 has the technically correct but easily misinterpreted title FIX: OLE Automation BSTR caching will cause memory leak sources in Windows 2000. The title is misleading because it makes you think that Oh, this is a fix for a memory leak in OLE Automation, but that’s not what it is. The BSTR…


I want to take all your chocolate milk

My older niece visited me at work one day, and I got her a carton of chocolate milk, which she very much enjoyed. Some days later, she told me, “I want to go to your work.” “Why?” I asked. “I want to take all your chocolate milk.” Missing from the story is that upon returning…


When you want to copy a file into a folder, make sure you have a folder

This story is inspired by an actual customer problem. The program LitWare.exe is used for TPS management, and when you want to create a new TPS report, you have to pick a cover sheet. The program shows you the cover sheets that have been defined, which it loads from the C:\TPS Cover Sheets directory. The…


The magic of chocolate milk

While enjoying a meal with my nieces (at the time, ages 3 and 5), I diluted my chocolate milk to cut the sweetness. The nieces then demanded that I dilute their chocolate milk as well, because as far as they could determine, it was a magical way to create more chocolate milk.


How do I get the command line of another process?

Win32 doesn’t expose a process’s command line to other processes. From Win32’s point of view, the command line is just a conveniently initialized parameter to the process’s startup code, some data copied from the launching process to the new process and forgotten. We’ll get back to the Win32 point of view a little later. If…


When computer programmers dabble in making change

My colleague who dabbled in economics when deciding how many lunch vouchers to buy had a number of other money-related quirks. One of the ones that I remember is that when paying for a purchase, my colleague would double the balance and give the cashier that much money. For example, if the total was $5.20,…


Can I talk to that William fellow? He was so helpful

Today we’re going to take a little trip in the wayback machine with the help of my colleague Seth Manheim, who was there when this happened. Set the date to November 22, 1989, twenty years ago and one day. Bill Gates is being taken on a guided tour of the product support department’s new office…