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Unexplained behavior can often seem mysterious and even magical, until the real, more mundane reasons are understood. And so it is with Windows.

A colleague at work got this from the Net. Please check it out and please, please, please try to explain. They're weird. Here it is:

Microsoft's Crazy Facts

MAGIC #1

Nobody can create a FOLDER anywhere on the computer which can be named as "CON". This is something pretty cool...and unbelievable. .. At Microsoft the whole Team, couldn't answer why this happened! TRY IT NOW, IT WILL NOT CREATE "CON" FOLDER

MAGIC #2

This is something pretty cool and neat...and unbelievable. .. At Microsoft the whole Team, including Bill Gates, couldn't answer why this happened! Try it out yourself...

Open Microsoft Word and type"

=rand (200, 99)

And then press ENTER

MAGIC #3

For those of you using Windows, do the following:

1. Open an empty notepad file
2. Type "Bush hid the facts" (without the quotes)
3. Save it as whatever you want.
4. Close it, and re-open it.

Is it just a really weird bug?

I know I'm straying just slightly off center here dealing with what is, essentially, just a forwarded urban legend email. But the neat thing about all three of these "magics" is that parts are true, parts are false, and all have completely rational reasons.

First, let's throw out the falsehood: plenty of people at Microsoft can tell you exactly what's going on in each of these cases. Even perhaps Bill himself, though he'd never actually get dragged into something silly like this.

#1: you can't create a folder called CON.

True.

In fact, I think you'd have to jump through some hoops to get a file named CON as well. There may be ways to force one or the other, but in general, you can't create a file called CON.

"CON" is a reserved name that dates back to the days of MS-DOS and is short for "CONsole". The idea is that any program could write to the screen or read from the keyboard simply by opening and acting on a file by the name of CON. Try this sometime in a Windows Command Prompt:

COPY readme.txt CON
"None of these are 'magic' at all. They're simply intended behaviors or explainable bugs."

For our example "readme.txt" is any convenient text file you have laying about. That will cause the file to be "copied to the console" - i.e., displayed on the screen.

Other possibly reserved filenames include things like COM1, COM2, and so on for your serial or modem ports, and LPT1, LPT2 and so on for printer ports.

#2: =rand(200,99) in Microsoft Word outputs a bunch of stuff.

True.

The rand() function is in Word specifically to automatically generate text. In some versions it produces the string "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" (every character in the standard English alphabet). Apparently, it may generate other text in other versions.

It's intentional, as documented here in Microsoft's knowledgebase.

The first number, by the way, is the number of paragraphs of automatic text to generate, and the second is the number of lines in each paragraph.

For even more fun, try the =lorem() function; same idea, different text.

#3: "Bush hid the facts" in notepad returns Chinese or other characters.

True. (Depending on your version of Notepad.)

I hadn't actually heard of this one, but sure enough - a quick search gave me the answer right away.

It's a bug in some versions of notepad that is nothing more than misinterpreting an ANSI text file as Unicode. While "Bush hid the facts" is popular among conspiracy theorists and internet meme generators, there are several different word patterns that can generate the same problem.

As I said, it's a known bug in Notepad. It appears to have been fixed in recent versions and updates of both XP and Vista.

It's also documented more fully here on Wikipedia.

None of these are "magic" at all. They're simply intended behaviors or explainable bugs.

Nothing to see here. Move along. (And don't forward the conspiracy email any further.)

Article C3433 - July 3, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

21 Comments
John Hileman
July 3, 2008 4:18 PM

Leo,

Your link to Wikipedia is incorrect. You might have intended http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notepad

peter
July 4, 2008 5:12 AM

you are right leo , i see these "Microsoft's Crazy Facts" in too much forms and the most thing make me laugh this part "Bill Gates, couldn't answer why this happened" ,> this is one of the programming rules.

and thank you leo to clarify some of these what people thinks it's magic ..
http://www.fosdir.com/links

Leo
July 5, 2008 10:43 AM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

The notepad link's been fixed. It's actually a link to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_hid_the_facts

Leo


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Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

iD8DBQFIb7KYCMEe9B/8oqERAh8sAJ9j+LB1Rkhl5ePH5BPijGTbGVRcvACgi5Oi
h355QVelB/KgUQ3tHpFZLPk=
=XPRW
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Frankie
July 7, 2008 7:58 AM

"The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" does NOT contain every character in the standard English alphabet. It should be "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" which contains the "s".

Deyaa Addeen Fahmy Shedeed
July 8, 2008 8:40 AM

Creat a new folder then rename it so right click choose Insert Unicode Control Character then Left-to-right mark name it CON , I think that is ok.
thanks.

Ebrahim Alashiri
July 8, 2008 11:32 PM

What about the function you mentioned Leo =lorem() function, i tried it but nothing happed

Terry Hollett
July 9, 2008 5:46 AM

You can make con. Use at your own discretion:

Try this:

click on Start then Run and type cmd
hit enter

then try the following command

md \\.\c:\con

so it should look like this at the command prompt:

c:\> md \\.\c:\con

to remove:

c:\> rd \\.\c:\con

note: You don't type c:\> - thats just the command prompt
and there is a space between > and md (or rd) and a space between md and \\

http://www.geocities.com/terryhollett2003/

Tim Glover
July 9, 2008 10:55 AM

=lorem() only works with Word 2007, not 2003

Eug999
July 27, 2008 10:26 AM

i made a folder named Con tryin the command prompt ... now i cant delete it... any1 can help me??

Paul
September 24, 2008 10:35 PM

"Con" also refers to control Pannel. it's a reserved word. hence can't use it.
(in a notepad try name a file with "Con", you'll get to see it)

Samudrala Prasad
February 23, 2009 5:36 PM

Hello All,

there is a reason why CON cannot be used for creating a folder of file in windows of command prompt.

Reason is while developing DOS, those programmers made a logic programming. they selected a word for describing a command which creates a file, called " copy con ".

they wrote programming as it cannot be used by any other command.

As DOS is the base for all the operating systems we have today, it cannot be changed. If they try to change them they have to modify all the operating systems in world; which is not possible.

So Bill Gates described it as a BUG in Microsoft Products.

Razee Marikar
April 3, 2009 12:20 PM

There are also other filenames which cannot be used, like NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, ... COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, ... LPT9. These files are reserved to be used as devices. CON is the console device. NUL is the null device (accepts anything like a black hole, but doesn't save anything). COM1 through 9 stand for the communication ports (the serial ports). LPT1 through 9 stand for printer ports (or parallel ports). Like copy con file.txt, you can also do copy file.txt con .

aruN
February 22, 2010 12:24 AM

but guys,,,,, I can create the foldr named con

Orkhan Ahmadov
April 22, 2010 8:42 AM

There's the answer why anyone can create folder named "con":
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_can't_you_create_a_folder_named_CON_in_Windows_or_MS-DOS

Looks like exactly what I said in the article you just commented on. Your point?
Leo
23-Apr-2010

Alex
June 28, 2011 9:22 AM

Thanks for the urban legends - I loved the lorem function and rand. Sadly "Bush" did nothing - which kinds seems right.

More legends Leo please!

sirpaul2
June 28, 2011 12:20 PM

"Bush hid the facts" is a bug but it can be triggered by almost any sentence that follows a particular pattern:
1) First word with an even number of letters (2 or more)
2) All other words with odd number of letters (3 or more).
(Does not seem to work if the last letter of each word is the same.)
Has something to do with the encoding of 'Unicode'.
Notepad before Win2000 didn't support Unicode, so the 'magic' doesn't work on Win95-ME (unless you've replaced Notepad with a later one).
Also, if you save it as Unicode instead of ANSI (Win2000 on), there is no 'magic'. WYSIWYG!

Steve Pratt
June 29, 2011 12:26 PM

Leo is trying so hard to deny these things, it makes me wonder if Leo isn't in on the conspiracy :-)

dave
July 1, 2011 12:46 PM

I'm disappointed with you for the first time ever. The 3 magic things you mentioned are bogus. I tried all three and all went like normal. No surprises, or hints of something unusual except for the fact that you messed up. Tsk, tsk, ha, ha.

Sorry to disappoint. All three were absolutely true (caveat the explanations above, of course) in many versions of Windows.
Leo
01-Jul-2011

Muhammad Arif Shahid
August 27, 2011 12:13 AM

Not only "CON" but you also can't create folder named "PRN" and "NUL".

Muhammad Yousaf
February 13, 2012 10:14 AM

we can create a folder named "CON"

We can do this by following method
STEP1: goto command prompt
STEP2: type in prompt e:\> \"mkdir \\.\e:\con\"
STEP3: verify by typing \"dir \\.\e:\con\"
STEP4: delete the file or folder \"rmdir \\.\e:\con\"

Hossam Struggler
May 26, 2012 12:56 PM

You can create a folder named con easily just follow steps :
1.create new folder
2.right click and choose insert unicode .
3.choose LRM
4.Create new folder named con

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