Got a window and you don’t know what it is? Try Process Explorer! (SysInternals ROCKS)

I have to hand it to the "SysInternals" folks at Microsoft – they sure come up with some great stuff.  I just used this one:

I had a spurious windows with no title bar and no chrome (border,minimize,maximize & close box), just a text input box – very suspicious, especially since there have been malware threats that masquerade as IME (see

So, I ran this tool, dragged it’s "target" (next to the binoculars) onto the suspect window, and it instantly identified it as a child window of that bug-ridden annoyance known as "Adobe Reader".  I right-clicked on the entry, picked "end process" and poof! window is gone.  VERY nice indeed.


The stock Windows "Resource Monitor" tool (buried in “task manager”, with a link on the "performance" tab to launch it) is a little more refined and gives you similar information, but lacks features like the "target" which you can drag-and-drop on any window to identify it.  Process Explorer also has some other niche tools which you might find handy from time to time.

They have a handy package called the sysinternals “suite” which contains most of the tools (including Process Monitor) all in one 13MB download.

Other utilities worth of note in the package include BgInfo (great for servers), Desktops, and Diskmon.  MoveFile is also handy if you have a pesky file which won’t delete – you can tell it to delete at the next reboot and usually that does the trick.  There is also a windows version of “whois” which unix geeks are probably familiar with.  This lets you quickly see who owns an Internet domain name.  ZoomIt is a nice tool for augmenting presentations, letting you zoom in and draw annotations (you see this used a lot in Microsoft tutorial videos).


HP Desktop Power button

Generally speaking, I”m a big HP booster.  I really like their servers, and have been using them in datacenters for years.  They usually have really good, well-designed products, and they are reliable.  Give me an HP over a Dell or whatever any day of the week.

Have you seen the new HP desktop computers though?  Here’s what they look like:

This is the Microtower 3000.  Looks nice, has decent specs, so what could be wrong with it?  Look closely at the picture.  Where is the power button?  Can’t find it?  Now that’s odd, isn’t it.  Usually the power button is front and center.  Where is it on this design marvel?  Why, it’s on TOP of the box, upper right in the picture, and as the bezel on top slants back, you can’t see it.

What’s wrong with that you ask?  Have you ever seen anybody put something (a book, a scanner, an external hard drive, etc) on top of a computer?  Of course, you see that all the time.  Well, with this clever design, you put something on top of the computer, or worse still have it sitting there for a while as you are working, and then you nudge it … <poof> the computer gets turned off in the middle of your work because you inadvertantly pushed the power button.

Now, this takes a special kind of brain damage to design a case like this, and have it go through testing, and approvals, and manufacturing.  I am astounded that nobody in the whole arduous process said “um, isn’t that a bad spot for the power button?”.  It’s probably the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome.  Whatever the reason, I’m sorely disappointed in HP for this horrible blunder.