No, You Really DO Have a Meeting in Building 7

An end of an era is at hand: I decided to sight see at the newly built – and partially complete – main Microsoft campus in Redmond today and quickly deduced that the new buildings are going to follow the “tradition” of main campus and being identified by number, starting [again] with Building 1. Which of course leads to the obvious breaking of tradition:

Building 7 is now a real building.

Unless there’s a pool up on that rooftop, it suddenly feels like we’re living in an episode of Sliders or something.

For context, see this post from 2006: You Have a Meeting in Building 7.

Side node: I’m still honored that when you search for Microsoft Building 7, this 17-year-old link is still in the top 10-20 results.

Seriously: honored.


Registry Preview, now available in PowerToys!

Way, way back in the middle of 2005, I was working on a project, and I found myself having to review/edit a variety of Windows Registry files – aka REG files – so I could target different environments while targeting different build versions. While in the middle of the test pass, I was looking at Notepad and wondering if there wasn’t a better way to look at the Registry settings, like a visual representation of what the Keys and Values would look like, one merged into the Registry itself. Something that looked like the Windows Photo Viewer, where you could open up a REG file and view the Keys in a tree and Values below it.

Of course, this workflow resulted in the creation of a new application. I ended up coding something that was a simple .NET 2 WinForms app that used build in controls and a very basic parser to read the files, but it made life easier, while I was on this project. And once the project ended – or I changed projects – I put this on a shelf and moved onto the next thing.

Spoiler alert: Registry Preview is now available in PowerToys v0.69.0! You can download Microsoft PowerToys from the Microsoft Store or directly from GitHub.
Continue reading Registry Preview, now available in PowerToys!

SCOTUS Explained

I know a lot of people are questioning the recent rulings on US law as of late, specifically striking down a law that was supposed to reduce concealed guns in New York state and then reversing the Row vs Wade decision that prevented states from prohibiting abortion at the local level (and thereby setting the stage for prohibition at the federal level.)

I’m here to offer a simple explanation as to what the SCOTUS (and likely most MAGAers) are thinking.

Obviously, we won’t have to worry about unterminated pregnancies: by giving more people more guns, the GOP is vastly lowering the odds of children getting through their school years with their lives intact.

Almost makes you question why the GOP can call themselves pro-life when they are such active so supportive of killing kids so many years after birth.

SharpKeys is now in the Microsoft Store!

Minor update, but one I’m thrilled to share: you can now download and install SharpKeys from the Microsoft Store!

I’ll still make offer the MSI and EXE’s directly from GitHub, this website, or winget, but by having the app in the Microsoft Store will also mean that updates will get pushed directly to your PC, which I kinda dig.

Still a free app to download and use – you can find it here: Microsoft Store.

SharpKeys 3.9.4

SharpKeys is a Registry hack that is used to make certain keys on a keyboard act like other keys. For example, if you accidentally hit Caps Lock often, you could use this utility to map Caps Lock to a Shift key or even turn it off completely. This official release includes support for up to 104 mappings, an extensive list of available keys, and a “Type Key” option to help when managing mappings. As it relies on internal support within Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or Windows 11 you must be running one of these OS’s for this Registry hack to work.

Release of version 3.9.4, brings two changes: finally got around to removing the last entry for AltGr (which is a triple-byte scancode and cannot be remapped by this tech) and fixed a bug where the UI would throw an exception when returning from a minimized state, both thanks to GitHub feedback.

As always, I encourage anyone interested in working on the code to visit http://www.github.com/randyrants/sharpkeys for more project updates.

Download SharpKeys 3.9.4: Microsoft Store | MSI | ZIP | requires .NET Framework 4.0

“‘Universal Control’ is magic!”

[Benzinga] “Universal control allows a user to use a single pointing device to manage multiple Apple devices such as a notebook, a desktop computer, and an iPad.”

Glad to see Apple’s OS family getting something that has been available to Windows for close to a decade using The Garage’s Mouse without Borders and over two decades ago with the cross-platform app called Synergy.

Of course, every time I see this type of reaction – “Steve Jobs said, ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.'” – it makes me throw up ever so slightly. I mean the main reason why this is so “WOW!” to Apple users is because they slap on blinders and presume that there’s nothing they need, that Apple hasn’t already thought of, and if it’s not coming from Apple, it must be crap. Or more simply, they choose not to look around to see what else is going on.

Had the same feeling when Jobs got a standing ovation for bringing Copy/Paste to iOS, something that Android had at launch (or close to it,) yet “APPLE REINVESTED COPY/PASTE FOR PHONE” was all the rage.

When you bring a 20-year old feature – like Copy/Paste – to a three year old platform, it’s called fixing a bug.

Please act accordingly.

In a Word? Shut the Fuck Up

[MSN] “Former televangelist Pat Robertson came out of retirement to comment on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin is being “compelled by God” to bring about the “End of Times,” prophesied in the Bible.”

While it’s hardly my place to tell a preacher to shut the fuck up, I still gotta say it: Hey Pat? Shut the fuck up.

Yes, the prophesies of the end times tell of an attack on Israel from the east – one where Israel is saved without loss of life or machine – but if memory serves, this even happens after Israel is lifted up from being a piece of desert land: after it has become a super fertile land, capable of producing more food than they can consume, making them the envy of most of the world. …did I miss a memo or am I just unable to read the same books you have?

Since you’ve already swung and missed on two other times, when other prophecies would end the world, what’s your rationale here? Third times is the charm?

Please get out of the limelight and go back to counting the millions that your 700 Club has sent you over the decades. We’ve enough people taking attention away from world problems by either praising Russia’s actions, blaming Russia’s actions on POTUS #46’s actions, inactions, or general hairstyle, and continue to infight within the government itself. The last thing we need is a snake oil salesman coming out of retirement with the sole purpose of cashing in on world-sized tragedies.

The only bright spot in this is that Howard Stern will have fresh material from you to work with this week.

What’s worse is that Pat’s theory – that some external omnipotent being is causing Putin to act this way – may be the most accurate or realistic theory to date: not much else makes sense yet.

FIX: Widgets and Chat Won’t Open on Windows 11

On a recent clean install of Windows 11 on a brand-new machine, I ran into an issue with two core parts of the Windows 11 experience:

  1. Widgets did not open when I clicked on the button: the icon would animate and then restore itself
  2. Chat [from the Taskbar] would sometimes open with a “We ran into an issue” or just ignore the click entirely

There was never an error message or anything in the Event Log calling out the issue – it just didn’t work. Most of the reports online were calling out issues from the pre-release versions but most of it didn’t apply to the released builds of Windows. Additionally, I’ve been running on Windows 11 for a long, long time and have never seen this issue before (and we’re talking ~300 clean installs over a period of 18 months) which left me perplexed. Given how I planned to use this machine, I shrugged and turned off the Widgets and Chat buttons on the taskbar and continued the rest of my installs.

Shortly after I put the PC into its new home, I remoted into the box and said “ah, lemme try Widgets now” and lo! I get an error message:

You need Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime

Oh ko! An error string that is searchable? I can work with that. What’s odd is that I know I had WebView2 installed at some point already because it had like nine instances running while Edge was off. I don’t think I disabled it in anyway, so that tells me some other new install must have knocked it off the box.

That said, I found an install point for the WebView2 Runtime here: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/webview2/ – after installing the x64 runtime, Widgets and Chat both began to work without issue.

Leaving this as a note to myself as much as sharing it with others.

Hey, Shithead, You’re Right!

[MSN] “Senator Joe Manchin privately told his Senate colleagues that he believes Americans will abuse government benefits […] that parents will use child tax credit money to buy drugs and that workers will abuse the paid family leave program in the legislation to get out of work and go on hunting trips”

Hey, Shithead, you’re right! Parents often by drugs with money – be it earned or tax credit – to buy Advil and Tylenol and whatever other drugs they need to have a healthy family. Given the costs involved with health care, what did you think they would do? Steal them off the shelf at Walmart?

Personally, I love the explicit call out of a “hunting trip” – Freudian slip, perhaps, making me think old Joe has plans when the Senate is expected to be in session.

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” …or is it?

It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve heard something that made me want to run to my blog. Normally I tap out a quick 280 characters of “WTF is this now?” and move on.

Not so much today. Today, I’ve got a stone in my shoe. And what’s more is that this is actually a quasi-work-related post which is something I usually stay away from. I mean I do post about product news or tips to help stuff, but very early on, I vowed not get into the internals of a company and I made that decision long before Zuck’s first day at college, way before there was a media that was social. Call it self-preservation if you want to, because that’s how I see it.

So, what has set me off today? I saw that Team Xbox members started to get new badges for their profiles, celebrating the 20 year anniversary of Xbox. I said, “Sweet!” and went on with my day.

…until I saw one person tweeting out to a team member and giving her grief about having employee-only badges, that “I deserve a badge too!” and the usual self-entitled bullshit that is rampant in the world today. To be clear, I didn’t get a badge today as I haven’t been in Xbox for a while now and Team Xbox doesn’t need my help in discussing topics on Twitter, so why this post?

I think… I’m not sure because it’s only happened a few times in my life, but… I think this… attitude offended me in some popcorn-stuck-in-the-back-of-my-teeth way.

Continue reading “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” …or is it?

SharpKeys 3.9.3

SharpKeys is a Registry hack that is used to make certain keys on a keyboard act like other keys. For example, if you accidentally hit Caps Lock often, you could use this utility to map Caps Lock to a Shift key or even turn it off completely. This official release includes support for up to 104 mappings, an extensive list of available keys, and a “Type Key” option to help when managing mappings. As it relies on internal support within Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or Windows 11 you must be running one of these OS’s for this Registry hack to work.

With the release of version 3.9.3, I’ve embarrassed to say that this is “now with more support for high contrast” but that’s pretty much what it’s for. Didn’t realize that through the different builds of Windows and Visual Studio that I was using custom colors rather than their “use the same color button uses” which gives you automatic support for HC. Also added a couple of new labels for buttons on a Japanese keyboard, thanks to GitHub feedback.

As always, I encourage anyone interested in working on the code to visit http://www.github.com/randyrants/sharpkeys for more project updates.

Download SharpKeys 3.9.3: MSI | ZIP | requires .NET Framework 4.0

SharpKeys Works with Windows 11

PSA: SharpKeys works on Windows 11 with the current 3.9 version – no updates are required for the new OS.

Works as well as it did on Windows 10. And 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT 4, and NT 3.51 before it!

Additional PSA: if you are looking to modify combo keys (“How do I change Ctrl+Z?”) or hardware keys that Windows cannot recognize (00_100) or “new” keys that are triple-byte enabled (“How do I remap E0_205B?”) please give Windows PowerToys a look. Their remapper is active, meaning there’s a service running that maps keys for you while SharpKeys is simply exposing the key remapping that is built into Windows itself.

Life Is Not A John Hughes Movie

I have a Word doc on my PC, somewhere in the deep deep storage, that I think I originally entitled “My advice to my unborn son.” I think I was originally inspired to start the doc because of a tradition my Dad started before I was born: he used to write a letter to himself every year about how things were for the family and after we took down the house’s Christmas decorations he would pack it along side the lights and ornaments. The next year, when we would start the annual decorating, he would open up the letter and read it, to see how far we’d come or slid back, since one never knew how things would turn out year over year. Then he’d throw it out. Never understood that part of it, but hey – it was his thing.

I realized pretty quickly after he was born that I had my son at an older age than a “traditional” father does, so I was thinking that writing a letter to my son’s future self could be… handy? amusing? interesting? OK, likely as boring as fuck, but if it’s the last chance I have to explain some of the choices I made for him or where the world was at the time of his youth, I didn’t want by pass that by not writing something down, so I cracked open Word and had a go at it. What’s in it? Frankly, I don’t remember because it’s been a while since I’ve added to it, but as I was taking him to summer camp today, one bit of advice came back to me like a ton of bricks and if this is the only advance that he – or any young kid – can learn from the body of my experience on this spin rock in space, it’s this one simple thing:

Life is not a John Hughes movie.

Continue reading Life Is Not A John Hughes Movie


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