Computers are still too hard to use.

UK survey reveals that one in seven computer users needs help turning the computer on and off.


Why do some people call the taskbar the "tray"?

Short answer: Because they’re wrong. Long answer: The official name for the thingie at the bottom of the screen is the “taskbar”. The taskbar contains a variety of elements, such as the “Start Button”, a collection of “taskbar buttons”, the clock, and the “Taskbar Notification Area”. One of the most common errors is to refer…


Scrollbars part 9 – Maintaining the metaphor

When a document is displayed with scrollbars, the metaphor is that the window is a viewport onto the entire document, only a portion of which is visible at the moment. The default behavior of a resize, however, is to maintain the origin at the upper left corner of the client area, which breaks the metaphor…


It’s a lot easier to write a column if you don’t care about accuracy

Now that Longhorn Rumor Season seems to have kicked up, I’m reminded of Windows 95 Rumor Season. The great thing about writing a rumors column is that you don’t have to be right! Even if you’re wrong, you can just say, “Well, Microsoft changed it before they shipped,” and nobody can say you were wrong….


An insight into the Windows 95 startup sound

Doo, dudududingggggg…. ding…. ding… ding… In an interview with Joel Selvin at the San Francisco Chronicle, Brian Eno explains. Q: How did you come to compose “The Microsoft Sound”? A: The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I’d been working on my own music for a while and…


Where is my program running from?

Another common question: “How do I find out where my program is? I want to be able to access support files in that same directory.” Answer: GetModuleFileName(NULL, …).


Case mapping on Unicode is hard

Occasionally, I’m asked, “I have to identify strings that are identical, case-insensitively.  How do I do it?” The answer is, “Well, it depends. Whose case-mapping rules do you want to use?” Sometimes the reply is, “I want this to be language-independent.” Now you have a real problem. Every locale has its own case-mapping rules. Many…