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Bug of the moment 2008-03-21

You would expect to be able to have a reasonable assumption that files and settings on your computer should stay put: how you leave something, is how you will find it when you return.

I opened the My Projects shortcut on my desktop, and was rather surprised at the address of the window that appeared: \\SPIRE\Daniel\MYDOCU~1\MYPROJ~1\:

My My Downloads shortcut was affected the same way; as you can see, Spire is the name of the computer on whose desktop the icons are sitting:

I don’t know where the UNC paths came from: why Windows decided to rewrite two shortcuts’ targets to now reference the local machine as if it were a remote computer. It’s also curious that Windows applications, when given a truncated 8.3 path, do not get it automatically converted back into the full-length path. I would have expected Explorer to hand back the correct, fully-expanded path for me for the address bar of the windows after opening them, but I guess that for compatibility porpoises, this is impossible.

Restoring the correct paths led to another intriguing discovery. On the Macintosh’s old spatial Finder, every folder has a stored position and size. Any time you open that folder’s window, it comes back at the last set position and size. Unlike Windows, this – along with its view state and scroll position – is a permanent setting and is never lost from disuse.

I have a shortcut to my downloads folder on both my Quick Launch toolbar and the desktop (for no reason that I can remember). When the path of the desktop’s shortcut changed, opening the shortcut opened the My Downloads window at a different size and position to normal. I figured this was due to Windows using the precise path as the key during metadata lookup. However, when I restored the correct path to the shortcut, the window still opened at a different size and position to when I use the Quick Launch shortcut to the same folder.

By dragging the Quick Launch’s My Downloads shortcut onto the desktop and replacing the old one there, the desktop’s My Downloads shortcut now opens the window at the right size and position.

If I use the Run dialog box to open the folder, again, the window opens at a different location. That is, the key by which the size and position is looked up, or the method and location by which the size and position is memorised, revolves around the method used to open the window to begin with. I am not quite sure how this makes sense.

Posted 21st March 2008 – Comments and questions?