Jump to page content

Bug of the moment 2007-03-11

While looking up MSConfig on Google, I encountered a similar tool on Mike Lin’s site. More interestingly, on his Other Software page, I found his “half-baked” program Taskbar Commander.

Being “half-baked”, I didn’t expect it to work properly anyway, but I was still surprised by what I found. You are presented with a dialog box showing all running programs:

From here, you can re-arrange your taskbar buttons. The changes to the taskbar are live, but the taskbar is not redrawn until the program exits or the taskbar is otherwise modified (by opening or closing a window in another application). This leads to all sorts of interesting effects, such as a button changing from one program to another when clicked. The most amusing effect is being able to clone programs:

Normally, bugs in half-baked applications do not count, but how is Mike managing to rearrange taskbar buttons? Does Explorer have an API for this? Perhaps something along the lines of, Explorer::MoveTaskbarButtonButShhhDontTellTheUser (WhichButton thisButton, WhichWay that_a_way)?

If anyone knows how this works, it would make an awesome prank application. April the 1st is not that far away now…

(This functionality is built into Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, but for those still using Windows 95 through to Vista, Taskbar Shuffle provides drag rearrange for both the taskbar buttons and system tray taskbar notification area icons, as well as being able to close windows by middle-clicking their taskbar buttons. Taskbar Shuffle is free.)

The following, however, appears to be a genuine design flaw. My favourite media player is Media Player Classic, a full-featured, configurable player that simulates the svelte UI of Windows Media Player 6. It’s something of a warts-and-all love, though, since there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as a reliable media player. The renowned VideoLAN Client mostly stares at me blank.

I frequently need to generate video captures, and decided to simplify this by binding a new shortcut key, “s”, to Save Image. (I’ve only just realised that I can unbind the irritating full-screen-on-what-we-think-was-a-double-click feature.)

However, I don’t think Media Player Classic and I are staring at the same keyboard:

As far as I know, I don’t have a beamed semiquaver key on my 105-key British keyboard. Nor do I have a Volvo key. I am not sure I even have a “clear” key since, after all, that is a (particularly useless) Macintosh key that sits in place of num lock.

For that matter, I don’t have a “Jisho” key, which sounds like some new brand of household cleaner. Maybe if I had a Jisho™ key, one press and all the dust would vanish from the monitor, and all the hair, crumbs and fingernail clippings would jump out of the keyboard and dive into the bin. But not the Recycle Bin; this is not the Soylent factory.

But no, it seems that the program iterates every possible virtual key code (from 1 to 255?) and asks Windows what key it might represent. Regardless of whether it makes sense for it to be a key, on my keyboard or in fact any keyboard. Windows, of course, is happy to keep making up names as it goes along.

For the record: if you select 0x0b as a key and switch the binding type from virtual key code to ASCII code, then you can indeed trigger that command with ctrl-K:

Posted 11th March 2007 – Comments and questions?