Thomas Sampson

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Creating a new Windows Service

Sometimes it’s enough to add a program or script to the startup folder or scheduled a boot-time task, however if you need to setup a fully fledged Windows Service, the freeware NSSM (Non-Sucking Service Manager) tool can be used to quickly and easily install or remove Windows Services from the command line.

Creating a new Windows Service
The following command will pop-up a nice UI for you to select which program/script you want to run and allow you to tweak additional settings such as Automatic/Manual startup etc:

nssm install "YourNewServiceName"

Removing a Windows Service
The following command permanently un-registers and removes a Windows Service by name:

nssm remove "YourServiceName"

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Creating Empty Files of Arbitrary Size

Today I required the ability to create an empty (zero filled) file of arbitrary size in order to entirely fill a memory stick. This was actually to ensure a full memory stick was handled correctly by the upcoming PSP Minis title BounceBack.

On Windows this process was incredibly easy and could be carried out using the command line utility fsutil.

fsutil file createnew myfile.bin 1024

On Linux/Unix the same can be achieved using dd.

dd if=/dev/zero of=myfile.bin bs=1024 count=1

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Quickly getting a file’s full path

Often it is usefull to quickly get access to a files full path on the hard disk. One slow way to do this is view the file properties copy the path of the files parent folder, then append to this the name of the file. Today I came accross Copy Path To Clipboard which adds a neat option to the files right click context menu to quickly copy the files full path to the clipboard. You can aldo hold Ctrl when using, to replace mapped network drive letters with the full network location.

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Taking control of the message loop!


Today I found a neat way to access and work with the windows message loop via a class member function using a small hack/workaround. Unless you are working with a command line application you will probably have need to call RegisterClassEx() (a win api function) at some point early on in your program, to register a window with the operating system. In doing so you fill out a WNDCLASSEX structure describing your window, and also setting the message processing callback function (the part we are interested in).

The scenario

As mentioned previously, when setting up our WNDCLASSEX structure we usually pass a non-member function into the structure as a callback mechanism for system/window events (usually names something like MsgProc). This non member function gets invoked when messages are sent to our application from the OS and we can handle them appropriately.

In a lot of situations (especially when developing games applications) we have some kind of manager class responsible for initialising the window, perhaps a graphics api etc, and it would be nice for this manager class to be able to handle the message loop it’s self using a class member function. This is handy as it allows events in the message loop to directly affect the state and behaviour of the manager class.

The problem is that when registering your window, the WNDCLASSEX structure will not take a class member function as a parameter (due to it needing a handle to the class instance at runtime). I have seen and used many hacks to allow a class to handle this job (involving function pointers / static class methods etc etc) but none have been as efficient as the one which follows…

  • Give the WNDCLASSEX structure a non-member function to act as a …”middle man” message loop
  • When calling CreateWindow() pass in a pointer to the class instance (usually “this“)
  • Inside the non member message loop extract this pointer and redirect the call


Here is an example of redirecting the message loop to the WndProc() method of a Manager instance…

Window Setup
//Setup the window class
WNDCLASSEX wc = {sizeof(WNDCLASSEX), CS_CLASSDC, MainWndProc, 0L, 0L, GetModuleHandle(NULL), NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL,"demo", NULL};

//Register window class with OS

// "this" is used to let the window know of our manager class instance
CreateWindow("demo", "demo", MODE_WINDOWED, 100, 100, 640, 480, GetDesktopWindow(), NULL, wc.hInstance, this);
Non-member Message Loop
	static Manager* app = 0;

	switch( msg )
		case WM_CREATE:
			// Get the pointer to the manager instance we passed
			// into CreateWindow
			app = (sys::Core*)cs->lpCreateParams;
			return 0;

	if( app )
		return app->MsgProc(msg, wParam, lParam); //Re-call the message loop on our manager instance
		return DefWindowProc(hwnd, msg, wParam, lParam);
Manager::MsgProc (Member Message Loop)
																				   LPARAM lParam)
	switch (msg)

	//Handle the message here inside the Manager member function


Launch an “explorer” window in ubuntu

Thanks to my friend Dave I today learnt the command in ubuntu that would be the equivalent to

explorer.exe “E:/”

And that is…

nautilus “/media/cdrom0”

The reason for wanting to do this was i wanted to make an application launcher on the tool bar link to a location, some to network paths ( smb:// ) and some to local mount points.

As with the structure of the windows command, nautilus is a window manager as is explorer.exe on windows. Nautilus is the official file manager for the GNOME desktop and any valid path can be passed as a parameter in terminal.


Windows Aero InterfaceAfter experiencing a very slow response time from my laptop today I checked out the task manager to see if anythign obvious was stalling my system. After ordering my memory usage the process “dwm.exe” was close to the top, consuming about 40mb of memory. At first I was worried that this was some mallicious program running in the background, especially after my attempts to kill the process, resulted in it re-creating it’s self straight back into task manager. However during the kill / re-creation of the process I noticed that the whole windows explorer interface moved around and looked very strange, then returned to normal after a few seconds. After some research I found that this process is simply responsible for the Aero Glass interface within Windows Vista and keeps all the transparency and interface running smoothly (in theory).

This file is NOT a security threat!!

It does however seem to use a lot of memory, and I assume (although I haven’t tried) that the process is non existent when running Vista in classic mode.