User Experience Engineering

Monday, July 24, 2006


Shorter HOMEPATH for Windows: %~%

How annoying is it that your home directory under Windows contains spaces, capitalization, and long words?

C:\Documents and Settings\monte>

Cygwin fans, myself included, have long made an alternate directory structure to mimic Unix. Windows sees my such directory as


Through my Cygwin configuration, bash.exe resolves the tilde character as the current user's home directory.

echo ~ /home/monte

If you've spent any time in *nix or Cygwin, you know how handy this shortcut can be.

Still, most Windows applications default to the Windows %HOMEPATH% directory, or worse, the "My Documents" and other pre-made directories below %HOMEPATH%.

C:\> echo %HOMEPATH% C:\Documents and Settings\monte

So, when you try to save or open a file, you have to go hunting for it in your real directory structure, or conform to Windows. Or, you could set the default directory for each application, and hope the settings are not in your next update or BSOD.

I got tired and finally tried something twisted:

My Computer : Properties : Advanced : Environment Variables User Variables for %USERNAME% [ New ] Variable Name:~ Variable Value:C:\home\monte OK : OK : OK Start:Run cmd echo %~% C:\home\monte Run %~% Explorer window opens to home path. Almost Any Application : File : Save As %~% ENTER key Explorer in dialog box switches to home path.

Okay, so typing "%~%" is three times longer than "~". It's still one third the length of "%HOMEPATH%", and one fifteenth the length of "C:\Documents and Settings\monte\My Documents".

And for Windows, that is progress.

My Norton Antivirus program runs out in a month. I used to get a new disk on the day after Thanksgiving each year at Staples. They had deep discounts as a sale and sometimes it ended up free.

When we got the new Dell computer it had a year on it so I am in a different pattern. Any suggestions on doing it online? The computer had an offer that says it is from Norton. I have not checked the price. I have never given our credit card number on the internet yet. I can also go to Norton and open it for re-subscribing.
I don't know the details of your license agreement. My laptop is a Dell, so I'll answer as if yours has the same software and licensing. Mine's got a suite called Norton Internet Security, which includes antivirus, antispyware, firewall, etc. Making online purchases is very secure, as long as: a) you are dealing with a reputable company and b) the page where you enter your credit card info uses http s, not http. So, in the address bar in your browser, you should see something like The "s" is for secure.

In mine, I can access renewal this way:
1. Right-click Norton Internet Security icon and open
2. Help & Support menu : Renewal Center
A box comes up that gives my expiration date of 3/22/2007
Options are:
* Start my product subscription renewal
* Update with a subscription key
* Synchronize with the server
Select the first one.
3. This will take you down a path to a form called "subscription renewal" where you can buy an upgrade at this URL: 4. You can enter your product version and select the upgrade that you want. Your version information, as in most Windows programs, is available under Help : About
5. When you purchase your upgrade, you will receive a subscription key, a string of text. Paste it into the subscription key box in the renewal. You may also receive a download. Run the installer.

I hope that helps.
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