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Bug of the moment 2006-03-18

For one reason or another, Windows XP’s Explorer seems to be less stable than its Windows 2000 predecessor, and every so often, my taskbar and desktop icons all disappear. I am sure Microsoft could think up a suitably feeble excuse as to why they don’t instantly re-appear, as, of course, they don’t. Using Task Manager to restart explorer.exe of course won’t work because I use a second Explorer instance for folder views (an optional feature), and the taskbar side of the program only activates if the process is starting afresh.

So, I get to have some fun with the graphical interface while finishing off what I was doing with any open folder windows. During this period, windows all minimise to icons that sit above where the taskbar used to be, which is a little odd; the half of Explorer still running doesn’t realise that the taskbar is now gone! But what is weirder is if I click the restore button for an Explorer icon:

For some reason, it opens my Favorites menu! The same trick occurs if I double-click the Outlook Express icon, or click the icon first and then click Restore:

Here, I am getting the View menu. With Outlook Express you can move the cursor left and right along the icon to peruse the entire menu bar! The reason must stem from the fact that iconised windows are nothing more than the actual windows in question reduced to 0×0 pixels, instead of a window placeholder for a hidden window. (They don’t draw as 0×0 of course but the smallest size that Windows allows.) Thus, being real windows, they can mistakenly collect mouse events when minimised, which are treated as being inside the menu bar.

When you do finally restart Explorer, of course, the icons don’t actually go anywhere, but just sit there making a mockery of the system:

I was asked to install SAS, an in-house database, onto a computer in the office yesterday. While the computer was starting up, I was told of a Sun Java update, which I thought I may as well install. During the process, the following error appeared:

What has a Java update got to do with Microsoft Office 2000? I have no idea what it was on about but, but seeing as it had already gone and broken it all, it gave me little choice but to continue.

At least it then decided that it was being stupid, and decided to offer me a way out:

What I really wanted to know was, why? As far as I was aware, Office 2000 was fully installed, so what was the problem? I had tried to install Office 2003 and that had failed to install, but I had cancelled that so as far as I am aware, there are no pending Office installations. But seeing as I did not want to screw up Office, I cancelled the Java update, and went to install SAS:


Posted 18th March 2006 – Comments and questions?