2009 year-end link clearance

Time for the semi-annual link clearance.

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

Comments (42)
  1. Voo says:

    "Technically the decade doesn’t end until next year, but try convincing anybody to care."

    Isn’t a "decade" just a periode of ten years, so it all depends what you set as the starting point?

    If you start with year 0 instead of 1 (and who’d ever start counting from 1?) it works perfectly fine.

  2. RobO says:

    I know it’s a sinkhole of an argument to get into but I would say that today ends the tenth year that began with Jan 1 2000.

    Or am I the only one that thinks years are 0 based?

  3. John says:

    This begs the question: do you also whine when people use the phrase "begs the question" incorrectly?  Are you willing to acknowledge that "irregardless" is a perfectly cromulent word?

  4. John says:

    RobO: The problem is that there never was a year 0 – we went from 1 BC to 1 AD.

  5. RobO says:


    Yes, now I remember hearing that before somewhere. And, that makes sense. But, I guess raymond was right in that I wasn’t convinced last time I heard it. Maybe this time it’ll stick.

    I was thinking in terms of my daughter not being 1 until the end of her first year. So, I guess voo had a more valid comment.

  6. Voo says:

    @John: ISO 8601 ;)

    It all depends on which system you use.  

  7. Adam V says:

    Setting up automatic payments is easy.  Stopping them is hard.

    Not for my recent car payments – I went through the carmaker’s credit branch, and in September they made some changes to their website… which dropped my 4+ year old automatic monthly payment.

    I didn’t notice until they called in November to say "hi, we haven’t gotten your money, we’re dinging your credit… oh, you were doing it through our site? yeah, we made some changes two months ago and wiped out all the existing automatic payments. Still, your fault. Now where’s our money?"

  8. Marquess says:

    “Are you willing to acknowledge that "irregardless" is a perfectly cromulent word?”

    Of course. It embiggens every sentence.

  9. Gabe says:

    John: My clock goes from 1:00 to 12:00, so does that mean the day doesn’t start until 1:00? Of course not! So whatever rationale you use to explain how 12:00 is really time 0, you can easily adapt it to explain how 1 BC is really year 0.

    Alternatively, you can reason that since you still accept 00:00 as the start of the day even though leap seconds sometimes make days not exactly 24-hour periods for the sake of easy rounding, you can also accept that the first decade/century/millenium was just a year shorter than the current one to enable easy rounding.

  10. george byrkit says:

    Gabe: your clock goes from 12:00 to 1:00, NOT 1:00 to 12:00…

    And ‘popular misconception’ does NOT create a fact.  People celebrated the end of the 19th century at the end of the year 1900.  So it would seem that ‘popular misconception’ ended the second millennium a year early, NOT ending the first millennium early.  Millennia, Centuries and decades all start/end with the same alignment.

    Yes a ‘decade’ is a span of 10 years, and can start and end whenever.  HOWEVER, ‘the’ decade must align with century etc, and will not end until the end of 2010.  I’m with Raymond on this, 100%…

    [Hey, don’t drag me into this. I haven’t stated a position in the subject. I merely added the parenthetical as a pre-emptive nitpick, but it looks like that didn’t stop anybody. -Raymond]
  11. John says:

    Gabe:  All I’m saying is that there is a valid technical reason why a few people whine about it every 10 years, not that I agree with them.  I think it makes much more (common) sense to consider decades as starting and ending in years evenly divisible by 10.  Can’t we all just agree that the first decade had an off-by-one error?

  12. Jim says:

    I have to say, Ray, how would you remember all the stuff you put on for us? You must be a working very hard individual. I might encounter some interesting things to read but I never remember to share. Please keep up the good work and Happy New Year!

  13. Via the Erik Novales link: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/12/24/45779.aspx#45801

    Now, I don’t use Outlook, but I think it’s safe to say that as of tomorrow, it still won’t care that your graphics card can push 1.21 jigaflops.

  14. Moi says:

    So, if for some odd historical quirk, we started at year 3 when going into AD, would we say recent decades started in 1993, 2003, etc?  No, that’s absurd.  The idea of a decade is based on the nature of the numbering system (in our case, base 10) and not one when it started way back in the mists of history.  When a unit carries over into the tens place, we have a new decade.  Period.  That’s it.  If you want to talk about an arbitrary period of ten years, then that’s something else.

  15. Michael Kohne says:

    My preference is a slider with ‘off’ at the bottom. I grant you that it doesn’t hold the dim state when turned off, but I find it’s the easiest thing to use…

  16. george byrkit says:

    Sorry, Raymond, I must have misunderstood your parenthetical remark.  It seemed to suggest an opinion of when ‘the’ decade ends that matches my education.  I, too, have been accused of having the social skills of a thermonuclear weapon…

    The fundamental concept is that there was no year ‘0’ in the ‘modern era’ (AD).  So 1000 years passed at the end of year 1000.  Simple…

    I can remember (when I was less than 10), when the year 1960 ended and the ‘end of the 50’s’ was celebrated on TV.  I asked about it at that time, as it seemed confusing, and was informed by my elders that that is how it worked.  Some research (no internet at that time) seemed to confirm their statements.  As it was Walter Cronkite that was presenting the show, I was somewhat inclined to believe him, unlike modern ‘journalists’.

    Hey, I got to celebrate the current millennium TWICE!  Once when the masses celebrated, and once, a year later, when it actually occurred.

  17. CGomez says:

    Not accusing Raymond of taking any position (not arguing with the blog just adding a comment), but I think that it is perfectly fine to say the decade is ending.

    It’s just far more convenient if you want to break things into ten year periods that we can talk about.

    For example, it’s easy to talk about the best baseball player of the 80s when you just look at the stats from the 80s (yes there is a little complication for the winter sports that roll over, but I’d argue they finished up with their 2009 championships).

    It’s easy to look at how the stock market did in the 80s.

    I don’t want to mess around saying "Well the 80s are 1981-1990.  No they aren’t they don’t have the 8 in the tens place.

    A new decade is starting tomorrow.  But then a new decade starts every year.  So does a new century and millenium.

    Certainly, 2001 was the start of THE third millenium (by the common calendar I am using for the example) because there was no year zero.  And certainly THE 202nd decade of the calendar doesn’t start untill 2011.

    But for purposes of common conversation about ten year periods, especially those in the 20th and 21st centuries, it’s just easier to use the tens digit.

  18. Random832 says:

    The difference is that phrases like "20th century" and "21st century" are common (and those do properly refer to 1901-2000, 2001-2100), whereas nobody says "199th decade" for 1981-1990.

  19. Leo Davidson says:

    Years aren’t a consistent length and nobody has a problem with that, so nobody should really have a problem with the first decade/century/millennium being short a year either.

  20. Mike Dunn says:

    The Difference Engine is really quite impressive in person. It was supposed to have gone back to its owner in April, but it turned out to be too heavy for his floor to support, so the machine has stayed at the museum longer than originally planned.

  21. Yuhong Bao says:

    “Nathan Myhrvold, who paid for  its construction.”

    Which formerly was at MS, and now owns Intellectual Ventures, a patent firm.

    [I’m starting to think Yuhong Bao is an AI experiment which posts comments which are factually correct but aren’t relevant or even funny. You forgot to mention that the word “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins. -Raymond]
  22. Nathaniel says:

    Here’s some discussion on the whole decade business: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/12/31/a-little-decadence/

    (spoiler: Jan 1, 2010 is the beginning of the new decade, after all, you wouldn’t say someone born in 1990 was born in the 80’s would you?)

  23. Timothy Byrd says:

    My light switches are about as complicated. (They are Miros – I’ve mentioned them in a comment before.)

    If off, tap up once to fade to preset.

    If not off, tap up for full brightness.

    Hold up or down to change brightness *and* preset.

    Tap down once to turn off.

    The trouble is that, for the 99% of the population, either they press and hold to turn them on – which changes my preset – or when the lights don’t come on instantly, they hold the button to *make* them come on – which changes my preset. And then they will press and hold to turn them off which sets the preset to off, which trains the next person to use the switch that press-and-hold is the only way it works.

    If I could just figure out a way to lock in the preset…

    — T

    [After I wrote this article, I moved to a new office building. The light switch consists of a horizontal slider and an on/off toggle button. Nobody has had any trouble figuring it out. -Raymond]
  24. someone says:

    Why does Windows 7 have an undocumented List View control in Explorer? All the dozens of apps that customized Explorer views now break and we can’t make our app compatible (no documentation on MSDN?). Please document the API.

    [You need to have a talk with the people who say “Apps which rely on undocumented behavior deserve to be broken” and “Backward compatibility is a boat anchor which is preventing Windows from moving forward.” -Raymond]
  25. anon says:

    W.r.t to the "Windows Audio goes haywire" article, can you please name at least one audio device manufacturer that supplies custom effects or reuses system effects?

  26. Prettier says:

    Regarding prettified filenames, I remember Windows 98 had this in folder options: "Allow all uppercase filenames". I searched frantically for the DontPrettyPath option to work on Windows Me but it didn’t work. Because the Windows Me team typed all filenames in CAPS (EXPLORER.EXE and NOTEPAD.EXE).

  27. Neil says:

    My version of GO.COM contained three NOP instructions, because the CP/M applications I once used had a feature that if you jumped to address 0x0103 then they would attempt to recover their state. (For instance, the BASIC interpreter would return to the Ready prompt.) Failing that you could simply press ^F to invoke the BIOS debugger and j(ump) directly to 103. (This was useful when you had disabled ^C.)

  28. violet says:

    The “Carnivore?… Keep being Awesome!” pic never fails to get me, either, and I’m vegan. :-p

  29. Nick Weiss says:

    I wonder about the French-Javanese arrow. "Javanese" was something like double-Dutch or pig Latin, a slang used in brothels and girls schools in the late 19th Century.

  30. John Elliott says:

    @Neil: You may be misremembering, because CP/M doesn’t have any concept of a 3-byte program. The smallest non-zero program would be 128 bytes long.

  31. Nick says:

    For what it’s worth, the Mythbusters Rubens tube link has been removed, but you can still get to the "official" one at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynqzeIYA7Iw

  32. someone says:

    What undocumented features? I am talking about list view item states, window styles and extended list view styles. Since the control used by Explorer is now different, I can’t customize its behavior any more.

    [The fact that the Explorer view was once a list view control is not part of the Explorer API. Explorer is free to change to any other type of view control at any time. -Raymond]
  33. Worf says:

    @John Elliott: COM files are raw program images, they are plopped at 0x100 and jumped there.

    @anon: My first guess would be Creative Labs… whose cards really just throw in a bunch of DSP stuff to do fancy effects. But looking at my Vista machine with generic Realtek audio, its drivers provide "Environment", "Voice Cancellation", "Pitch Shift", and "Equalizer" effects. Plus there are the two Microsoft ones, "Virtual Surround" and "Loudness Equalization".

    I’m guessing Analog Devices has their own bunch as well.

  34. someone says:

    Yeah and only shell developers (let alone users) aren’t free now to customize Explorer. AND MS does not even listen to users screaming in their Windows 7 forums.

    [Engineering is about trade-offs. If you make something infinitely customizable, you also make it impossible to change in the future. You decided to do something unsupported and hey look it’s not supported any more. -Raymond]
  35. someone says:

    But what does MS gain by making the new control private? Why inhibit customization? Not being bothered about Explorer customizability = evil. Give us back the level of shell customizability of NT 5.x.

    [It retains the ability to make changes without being tied down to a particular implementation. Like what just happened in Windows 7. -Raymond]
  36. Yuhong Bao says:

    "Because the Windows Me team typed all filenames in CAPS (EXPLORER.EXE and NOTEPAD.EXE)."

    Nope, that is the nature of all 8.3 filenames, they are always in all caps, and don’t forget that Windows Me is still installed using DOS where there is no LFN support.

    "Regarding prettified filenames, I remember Windows 98 had this in folder options: "Allow all uppercase filenames". I searched frantically for the DontPrettyPath option to work on Windows Me but it didn’t work. "

    Probably because WinMe Explorer is based more on the Win2000 Explorer which also don’t have that option, while Win98 Explorer comes from the IE 4 Shell Update that do have that option.

  37. Mike Dimmick says:

    Ah, finally I can find the Dilbert cartoon I wanted to reference when you were talking about making change:


  38. Teo says:

    Please forward my deepest thanks to the people responsible for bringing back the drag and drop to the consoles.

  39. Boris says:

    The no year zero reason is a red herring. I hate it when people try to explain it that way. Non-programmers don’t start counting at zero anyway. Zero is just a point in time. Anything on either side of it is non-zero, so on a 24 hour clock one second from zero is already 0:00:01, which is the first second of the day. The reason English-speakers don’t get that year 2000 is in the 19th century, is that years are numbered in the cardinal, while centuries, millennia, and days are numbered in the ordinal. This is why nobody has a problem with December 31st being the last day of December, rather than December somehow ending as soon as "day 31" is reached. I suspect that in languages where this inconsistency does not exist (Russian comes to mind) this kind of misconception should not happen.

    Now this does create a problem with BCE because the year numbers (and centuries and millenia) are counted backward in time, while months and days are still counted forward, so it is not at all clear when the first century BCE ends (or should that be begins?). The system is contradictory and actually makes the hypothetical year zero illogical. If there were a year zero, which century would it belong to? Neither or both? This is different from, say, the temperature scale where the negative numbers get less negative as it gets warmer.

  40. back time says:

    Some people think time itself didn’t exist enough far back in "time". How do you count decades then?

  41. 640k says:

    WMI Explorer: 1 click, 1 crash.

  42. 640k says:

    people have been using this type of control for decades."

    Yes, the current decade and some days of the last one.

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