Jump to page content

Bug of the moment 2008-07-06

I am not a shortcut

There are several really annoying things about having a roaming profile profile-with-folder-redirection on a Windows domain, one of the least well thought through things I have ever seen from Microsoft.

The Recycle Bin does nothing. Once a file is gone, it’s gone. (There’s Volume Shadow Copy, if you want to wait ten minutes for the Previous Versions tab to unfreeze and show anything, assuming the file was last saved before the most recent checkpoint.) Worse, Microsoft’s delete confirmation dialog is painfully unintelligent: unlike Apple’s, it either prompts for every deletion, or none, regardless of whether the item is going to go into the Recycle Bin or be deleted immediately. Mac OS only prompts you when the deletion will be instantaneous and fatal, trusting the user to have enough intelligence to know what the Trash is there for.

Your standard profile folders don’t exist at the command line. Windows has junction points now, so why isn’t C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\Desktop a shortcut or, better, junction point for the folder on the server that contains my real desktop? A shortcut is actually no use as cmd.exe cannot do network paths anyway. For that matter, cmd.exe cannot cd into shortcuts to directories, nor are shorcuts valid in paths in graphical applications, unlike both Linux and Mac OS. For certain irritating software like Famatech Radmin that refuses to implement the Shell Namespace Extensions (not even locally) you have to manually type in the network share path to the users folder on the server and then navigate to your desktop that way. The more I spend time around Windows, the more I realise how much sense the UNIX model makes, in this case, the ability to make a folder path point anywhere and to anything.

And my favourite: Horrible icon badges on all my files. Here’s a folder on my computer with a shortcut in:

Here is another. This time, one of the items has a wobbly badge on it that Microsoft failed to extend up to Tiles size:

Why has only one folder got the wobbly badge? Who knows – typically erratic behaviour. I couldn’t prove my point using the above folders for this precise reason: sometimes, the wobbly badge won’t draw when it should, although I’d really prefer it not draw anywhere at all. So here is a third folder:

Now, tell me which file is a shortcut and which is not? Hint: the tooltip should help you. Yes, Microsoft’s short-sighted design makes it impossible to tell which files are shorcuts. It also means that when I have a folder full of icons I’ve designed, I can’t examine them properly due to them all having wobbly badges covering my design over. For this reason, all my icons live in C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel\Icons to ensure that Offline Files won’t sticker them all. (It also means that they won’t be backed up…)

There are also visual bugs with the wobbly badges when used in thumbnails mode:

View complete screenshot

All in all, I would almost kill to get these horrible badges off all my files. They’re an eyesore, they’re faulty, they’re erratic and they interfere with using Explorer. If this were a Macintosh, I would simply open System or System Resources and paint out the contents of the icon so that it draws nothing, but I cannot for the life of me find the DLL responsible so that I can fix it, not that it would help as Windows would only come along later and put back the original copy.

I just noticed that the shortcut badge is also not redrawn for Tiles mode but using Tweak UI it’s possible to select a new shortcut badge or redraw them entirely. I wish the same was true for the Offline Files badge.


Like anything, the answer is easy to find if you know the precise terminology to use. Windows doesn’t have icon badges, it has icon overlays; according to Remove ICON Overlay for Offline Files, the offending Registry key is “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers\Offline Files”.

On Telcontar.net, I’ve always used the <meta name="keywords" ...> tag to specify synonyms for key terms on the page to help people find my pages even if they used different terminology. For example, on the 32-bit Windows cursor images page, my meta keywords list includes “cursor shadow, pointer shadow, drop shadow, mouse shadow, mouse cursor…” because of the variety of ways to describe the drop shadow displayed under the mouse cursor. Sadly, it seems that Web page metadata is now ignored by search engines due to people abusing it to rack up hits. Any good thing will be ruined by abuse.

Posted 6th July 2008 – Comments and questions?