What do the letters W and L stand for in WPARAM and LPARAM?

Once upon a time, Windows was 16-bit. Each message could carry with it two pieces of data, called WPARAM and LPARAM. The first one was a 16-bit value (“word”), so it was called W. The second one was a 32-bit value (“long”), so it was called L. You used the W parameter to pass things…


A shortcut to the Run dialog

Here’s a little script that opens the Run dialog. You can save it as “Run.js” and double-click it. (new ActiveXObject(“Shell.Application”)).FileRun(); The advantage of this approach over various others people have come up with is that this one is actually documented. (And therefore is less likely to break in the next version of the operating system.)


Why isn’t Fast User Switching enabled on domains?

Windows XP added a new feature called Fast User Switching which lets you switch between users without having to log off. But this feature is disabled if your computer is joined to a domain. Why? There were several reasons, none of them individually insurmountable, but they added up to quite a lot of work for…


What’s the deal with the System Volume Information folder?

In the root of every drive is a folder called “System Volume Information”. If your drive is NTFS, the permissions on the folder are set so not even administrators can get in there. What’s the big secret? The folder contains information that casual interference could cause problems with proper system functioning. Here are some of…


How can I tell if I have the 64-bit edition of Windows?

Answer: Your wallet is empty. Seriously, there is no way you bought an Itanium by mistake. They are expensive machines: The entry-level workstation available from HP (who co-developed the Itanium with Intel) goes for over $3000 and the entry-level server is over $13,000. And in addition to paying for the computer itself, you probably had…


Make sure the buttons match the question

When your program displays a dialog box with buttons, please make the buttons match the text. Consider this dialog, which appears after you install patches from Windows Update: It asks a yes/no question, but the options are “OK” and “Cancel”. Either the buttons should be changed to “Yes” and “No”, or the text of the…


Another favorite from the Grauniad

The world: a primer Great Britain Small American dependency located approximately 5,000 miles outside Galveston, Texas.


More stories of bad hardware

My favorite bad CD-ROM drive from Windows 95 was one where the manufacturer cut a corner to save probably twenty-five cents. The specification for CD-ROM controllers indicates that each can host up to four CD-ROM drives. When you talk to the card, you specify which drive you wish to communicate with. The manufacturer of a…