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Windows window management

My first real dive into any real windows programming was last week. There was much to learn: winapi, managed c++, wpf, and visual studio. Despite all the learning hurdles, I finally have a somewhat-working first-feature of a window management tool I'm working on - the first feature is being able to find an open window and jump to it.

For fun, it uses WPF's easy gradients and easy transparency. WPF's coolest feature is it's item templating, where you can easily represent a data object (say, a window structure) in the UI. The behavior of the tool right now is similar in behavior of my firefox tabsearch extension, where it shows only items matching input words (each word is treated as a regex, etc).

If you are curious, download winmgr.exe. When you run it, nothing happens - it registers the hotkey 'alt+space'. Press alt+space and then start typing the name of the window you want to switch to. Press enter to select the first window in the list.

I worked around VS Express' limitation around resource editing (it's not allowed) by telling VS to compile my UI files (XAML) with a custom ruby script that turned each into string-escaped #define (eg; #define FOO_XAML "<.....").

Sysprep may cause early balding.

I was happily moving along doing windows automation tonight, when suddenly sysprep broke. I'm sure I killed it by accident, or something. Googling around for the error found this knowledgebase article explaining that there is no way to recover and, quote, "When you experience this error, you must re-create the image. You cannot correct the problem with the image."

Fuck that.

If you read the docs on using sysprep/wsim/windows aik/whatever, they all point you at building a 'reference computer' which entails lots of manual work modifying settings and installing things. Sysprep can make useless all of your precious work? Sweet!

I'm just glad most of the things I've done to this system were automated so I can just reinstall and rerun the scripts.

Windows Vista

I have a confession: I actually like Vista. It has some nice new features.

Vista beats the pants off of XP. Both my work laptop and a recently-purchased workstation at home run Vista (business and home premium, respectively) and I've never looked back. I can't tell you if it's slower, or if it eats more memory, because I haven't thought about it (because it's not a problem).

I didn't like it at first. They moved everything. Normal control panel operations were totally moved around, icons changed, start->run went away. It took me atleast a week to stop looking for folders like "My Computer" or "My Documents" which had been renamed simply "Computer" and "Documents".

The two best things so far are search related: the start menu search box and the search box in the control panel are both awesome. Forget futzing around with %PATH%, the start menu search box will just search for things in the start menu as you type (and perhaps other areas); certainly a nice touch.

The control panel search is awesome, and actually helped me stop asking "Where the F is network configuration?"-type questions. I type 'disable uac' and get this result - so useful.

Aero is meh, but it's not displeasing. The task switcher showing a thumbnail of the actual window is kind of neat and slightly helpful, too. I installed virtuawin to give me multiple desktops and everything's been peachy.