2009 mid-year link clearance

Time for the semi-annual link clearance.

And, as always, the obligatory plug for my column in TechNet Magazine:

Comments (19)
  1. John says:

    First link reminds me of Vista and Windows 7; all features are on the disk, but you can only unlock what you pay for.

    My favorite episode of How It’s Made is when they tour a bacon factory.

  2. Mark Jonson says:

    I thought it was illegal to burn polystyrene?

  3. James Schend says:

    I used that YouTube feature to link to this joke about Michael Jackson:


    For some reason, it didn’t seem to work on some people’s computer. Or maybe sending the link via Live Messenger caused a problem somehow.

  4. Gabe says:

    I suppose if anybody is going to believe in the Laffer curve, it would be the standup economist, right?

  5. Alan says:

    I like How It’s Made, but I can’t stand the narration. Each episode is one giant run-on sentence:

    "To make X, they start by… then they… then they… then they… then they… and that’s how X is made."

    It’s like a third grader wrote it.

  6. Leo Davidson says:

    Thanks for "Forcing Handles Closed" — now I have a good page to point people out when I’m trying to explain that *routinely* using such tools is a really, really dumb thing to do.

  7. Miral says:

    On the topic of the Forgotten Hotkey: another advantage of it is that Alt-Esc can rescue you from the invisible dialog problem.  Sometimes an app can bring up a dialog (often a messagebox) *behind* its own window.  These dialogs don’t show up in the Alt-Tab list and if you Alt-Tab to the app you get the app window (which just beeps at you if you try to do anything, because there’s a dialog up).  But using Alt-Esc you can actually get to it and make the application responsive again.

  8. Brian Tkatch says:

    Raymond, thanx for the Alt-Esc note. I used to know that, but i forgot about it because alt-tab usually works so well. Thanx!

    @Miral. You too. I’ve had that issue before. I’ll have not remember that tip.

  9. Anonymous Coward says:

    I knew about Alt-Esc as well, but I use it for just the opposite purpose. Sometimes an application spawns a window, but it takes a few moments before the window has fully finished loading and is ready for use. I just want to get on with my life and press Alt-Esc, picking it up again when I’ve got time.

    @Forcing Handles Closed: I agree. But there are a few situations where you know what went wrong (for example, a thread opened a file and then died), and there is no other choice, or at least no other choice that wouldn’t suck more. Perhaps a good way to fix this would be to add something to the kernel that allows you to tell it: ‘Please make this handle point somewhere private for this process.’

    Has your TechNet column got a newsfeed (Atom or RSS)? If so, I would like to know where it is because I can’t find it and your articles where very interesting.

    Oh, and I loved the ten laws of economics, absolutely hilarious.

  10. Worf says:

    So what’s the proper way to delete a folder or file when  it’s explorer.exe holding the file open? And all obvious means of holding it open are closed (e.g., closing windows or moving to another directory?)

  11. Leo Davidson says:

    Worf: Either make Explorer.exe exit or use a "delete on reboot" tool (i.e. something that calls MoveFileEx to set a PendingFileRenameOperation for the next reboot) and reboot.

    The first is obviously easier. On Vista at least, you can make Explorer exit cleanly by opening the Start menu, holding Ctrl + Shift, right-clicking part of the empty area on the right and selecting "Exit Explorer". (A trick Raymond taught us not too long ago. Handy for writing shell extensions!)

    Once the file is deleted (e.g. using a command prompt) you can launch a new Explorer.exe via a command prompt or task manager.

  12. ChrisR says:

    @Worf: In addition to what Leo said for Vista, to exit explorer cleanly on XP you can bring up the shut down window, then hit Esc while holding down Ctrl+Alt+Shift.

    @Markus:  I use TaskManagerEx to find which process is using a file, and to close random handles when I’m feeling stupid.  I’m sure there are other tools as well.


  13. Markus says:

    IMHO, the basic problem is: how do I find out *which* program holds the lock?

    I suppose there is a way, and i am the only one who doesn’t know it. Something like a "bring program to front that owns the lock to this file" would be nice.

  14. BC says:

    ALT-ESC – learn something new every day!!  Much Thanks!!

  15. Aaargh! says:

    > IMHO, the basic problem is: how do I find out *which* program holds the lock?

    One of the reasons Windows is not ready for the desktop yet, it misses basic functionality like ‘lsof’. The number of times I’ve missed that tool on Win32 is uncountable. Process Explorer XP can be used to do this but it’s not nearly as convenient as lsof.

  16. *I* own my harddrive says:

    Win9x could remove folders which was opened by programs. So every win32 program needs to handle this kind of situation anyway. NTs behaviour is stupid and user unfriendly. Wince doesn’t even have the concept of "current directory", the problem is almost nonexistent on that platform. Why can’t NT be the same?

  17. > how do I find out *which* program holds the lock?

    Write a file system filter driver that keeps track of these things, then query it (like Process Monitor.)

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