If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

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Kilmatead
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If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by Kilmatead » 2011 Oct 14, 12:13

Eventually, as the adage goes, given enough time all men will hang themselves - and all women (contrary to the Edith Piaf romantics) will become the authors of their own regrets.  'Tis the way of things, I fear.

In this case, the Time in question is the Modification Dates of Folder Timestamps.

So what is this silly utility anyway?

Basically it's rather simple: I got fed up with the somewhat unpredictable, unreliable, and unethical rules by which Windows decides to (not) update the Modification Dates of Folders (the average human would think it should be by when the contents were last modified, but Windows seems to think otherwise).  So, I decided to write a utility to update folder modification dates based on their (and their subfolders') actual contents and apply those dates throughout the folder structure as necessary, correcting any inaccurate ones.

(To enter the GUI mode, just run the executable as-is - you only need command-line options during automation.  Click the "<Base Folder>" label to select specific folders to scan, or set up a toolbar-button user command using "$F" as the parameter).

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Download Link: Modifiche (Updated: 11-Sep-14, Version 2.0.1.7)
(RAR includes 32 and 64-bit EXE's, and Source Code)

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What is it not?

Now, obviously what people would really like is a type of thing like FolderSize that runs in the background watching for changes and updates in real-time... well, that's a little beyond me, so this is the next best thing [Update].  One could set up a task in windows to run this (in low priority) periodically in the background and that would kind of come close - but I don't really know how someone might want to use it.  If nothing else, it's amusing to run a scan on a whole drive to see just how many "inaccurate" Modification dates there are.  It's designed to be used on anything from single folders to whole drives, so experiment.  Simply scanning will not do anything other than display a list of suggested changes, so it's harmless.  Just don't hit that other button... :wink:

Why is there one option that looks at me funny when the rest are so serious?

Yeah, well, you see there was this film once that really dug itself into the cultural lexicon...

Essentially the best po-faced translations of "There is no Dana, There is only Zuul" would be "Discard Non-verifiable Timestamps" or "Use only Absolute Content" - but when we live in a world where everything we eat is always labelled "Calcium caseinate, Sodium stearol lactylate, and Soy lecithin" (see Can you name the ingredients of a Twinkie?), sometimes you just have to go with your heart when naming options.

Look at it this way: sometimes you add a file to a folder and then delete it later... at the time, you know what the recent modification date on that folder then means... but a few weeks later when your girlfriend has complained about you hiding the condoms again, and your pride in your organisational skills has waned a bit, that date becomes somewhat meaningless as it no longer applies to any real object within it.  So, you ask yourself "How could I reset everything to what they really contain?"  When you just run an ordinary scan, dates are only considered on a "greater-than" basis - i.e., newest dates are always retained, even if none of the contents match them.  Using the Zuul option will analyse all contents and set the dates in the tree only according to what the folders really contain (backdating the parent folders, of course), which means some times may be reset to being "older" than whatever their most recent date is now.  Make sense?  No?  Then perhaps Zuul isn't your kind of Demon. :wink:  (It should be noted that this type of scan takes longer and uses up more resources, as there's more stuff to worry about.)

Just what is "Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil" anyway?

If you start fiddling with the checkboxes in the TreeView, you can (obviously) disable the changes of those things you uncheck before applying them - but if anything further up the parent (towards the root - is that "up" or "down"?  I can never remember) is checked, it will still be updated with the new times - to make it accurate you'd have to exclude it, re-scan again, etc.  Even though there are checkboxes on everything, it's not really meant for people to mess with too much.  They are there as more as secateurs for selectively eliminating whole branches (if desired for some reason) rather than pruning single leaves.

If you want to exclude certain subfolders or even specific files themselves from being considered in a scan (and thus eliminating their timestamps from inclusion), right-click on them in the treeview and add them to the exclusions file.  (This may also be done manually, by creating a file named "Exclusions.txt" in the programme's home folder, and adding whatever objects you want to it, each on its own line.  Note: all Exclusion and Log files are always written in Unicode UTF8 - that silly ANSI stuff is just so 1980's.)

Why did you add food colouring to the recipe?

You'll notice certain treeview elements actually change and update out of order during the scan (and they change colour too) - don't ask what the colours mean - it's all debug stuff so I could track the date-checking visually.  Look at it this way, it brightens up an otherwise dull autumnal day, doesn't it?  This can be disabled, if you happen to like dull autumnal days just the way they are.

Should I eat everything on my plate like mummy always says?

Sometimes "outdated" folders will still show up as trigger elements, even though they have been deprecated by subsequent folder recursion date checking - these aren't "real" trigger objects (even though they once were), so the display on the linked-folder itself will actually be correct.  If you don't understand a word of that - don't worry, you'll find that the dates should be adjusted correctly, it's just that these redundant objects remain in the display, yet serve no immediate purpose to the end result.

Would you feed this to your neighbour's cat?

I know what you're thinking... "Do I trust this guy not to accidentally banjax all my folder dates?"  First of all, don't do anything silly like running it on your C drive wholly unbidden.  Try it on a small subfolder in your music collection first and check that the preview shows what you think it should - then try larger structures later if you want.  It's capable of processing thousands of folder-groups in one go, so take baby steps.  Trust isn't built in a day, though it's so easily destroyed that I have done extensive testing to make sure this thing does what it says on the tin.  Hence the reason the GUI is set up as a "Preview" and even a SafeMode is included for checking automated command-line tasks before you commit them, if you should so choose.

My tummy hurts, do I still have to go to school today?

I have noticed that some things like Firefox and Thunderbird profile folders actually seem to use their folder-dates to check the necessity of updating their installed extensions - so messing with these is not recommended.  As they are generally stuffed in hidden folders anyway, one should always be careful before ticking options with wild abandon, no matter how much you may subscribe to having libertine philosophies.

Is English really your first language?

The name is supposed to mean "Modified" in Italian - but I don't know if that's true or not (not knowing Italian) - I just liked the sound of it.  So when you pronounce the name, say it with that kind of Godfather accent thing, like you're sprinkling mozzarella cheese over a salad or something, and always remember that in the face of relativistic physics, all cultural stereotypes are true in one form or another. :D
Last edited by Kilmatead on 2017 Jul 19, 09:56, edited 10 times in total.

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fgagnon
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Post by fgagnon » 2011 Oct 14, 21:33

m-m good!  ;)

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Post by pj » 2011 Oct 15, 00:49

Google account required to download? Really?
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Post by Kilmatead » 2011 Oct 15, 08:47

pj wrote:Google account required to download? Really?
I wouldn't have thought so... it's simply hosted on Google-Docs, I thought that when Sharing was set to "Anyone on the Web" that meant anybody can grab stuff with or without an account.  I don't have any permanent means of hosting anywhere else, except as a temporary thing like megaupload or whatever, but those get deleted after awhile.

I grew up in an age when we still had to copy other people's programmes out of a magazine and type them in manually, so count your blessings.  As this is only 1600 lines long, you can do that too if you like, but I don't recommend it. :wink:
Last edited by Kilmatead on 2017 Mar 15, 20:12, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by pj » 2011 Oct 15, 14:49

Thanks K.

Quite a script. Thanks for sharing the source.

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Post by Kilmatead » 2011 Nov 26, 12:48

Just a small update to version 1.7.0.5 (original link modified) for my only confirmed regular user (in Canada :thumbup:).  Doesn't add anything special, just streamlines some awkward GUI aspects of usability and adds a command-line option that I desperately wanted to call /Anal, but decided taste was the better part of valour and settled on /Scan instead, which is a rather sad substitute - I must be getting conservative in my old age.  :shrug:

At least Canadians care about having accurate folder timestamps. :moon:  (Well, one Canadian does anyway - there could be more hiding somewhere in the aether.)

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Post by DougalScott » 2012 Mar 15, 10:42

You user base has just doubled, that will be quite handy. I often sort by mod date to see where I was working last, and annoying that sometimes the folder dates didn't update. I guess something to do with applications using windows api calls, or directly working with the file system.

Sad that once again political correctness triumphs. Correcting that switch will be another great use for reshacker.

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Post by Kilmatead » 2012 Mar 15, 19:30

Considering that before I wrote this thing there were (as far as I could find) no other programmes offering the same thing, I shouldn't be surprised at the basic lack of user interest in it - obviously throughout the history of filesystems under Windows people just didn't care about the accuracy of folder timestamps, so it never became much of an issue. :shrug:

That said, I think it's more a matter that users seem to just take them for granted and assume that they're correct.  When I was writing it, I kept using my media-drive as a test-cauldron (after all, who cares if their Thelonious Monk albums are actually stored in time-accurate folders?) and I was shocked to discover that out of (for example) a structure of 10,000 folders, well over 75% of them were simply incorrect.  That number easily increases to over 95% if you want the folder modification date to reflect the last-known timestamp of its contents with any sense of accuracy.

So, either people simply don't care about folder timestamps (which, in a community of "power users" would seem a bit odd), or they simply don't know how completely back-asswards all these timestamps really are.  Again, one would work from a premise that somewhere back in the mists of time someone noticed that these dates (as managed by Windows) are useless - representative of vapour.  So why didn't some nerd pop up and say to Microsoft, "Hey, dudes, you know there's like this massive bug in how folders are timestamped?"  But  apparently nobody paid any attention and assumed he was just crying wolf.

Like I said in the original post, there were a few powerscript things I saw on the Web which purported to do the same thing, but they never offered "previews" of changes, nor any real options, and so didn't seem very practical.  One of my goals was to provide a clear display preview that would allow people to just do a scan without committing themselves to any permanent changes - just so they might see just how screwed up their folders really are.  But either people didn't bother experimenting with this utility (and so never discovered the inaccuracies hiding in plain sight), or, as suggested above, they looked at it and simply didn't care that up to 90% of the folder timestamps they look at are simply wrong.

Now, to be fair, many of these inaccuracies are not mind-blowingly huge - sometimes it's anywhere from a few seconds to a few weeks depending on content-type - if anything the dates more represent an attitude of "Well, it must be the last time I kind of messed with something in this folder"... at least that's the impression people would have (as they probably never looked closer into the issue).  From that point of view, I can understand the apathy - like I said, who cares about Thelonious Monk? :wink:  But (again) if you expect your folders to represent their contents, what you see in the timestamps virtually never represents what you assume it should.

But, weirdly, no one seems to think that's very important.  :?

I don't care if people use my utility or not (it's more just entertainment value to me), but I am curious as to how so many people simply don't care about how wildly inaccurate the timestamps they look at every day really are.

It's a mystery. :shrug:

I thank you for your interest, though!  Two users (three, if you include me) are better than none! :D

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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by Kilmatead » 2014 Sep 11, 13:04

A massive update to 2.0.1.7 - as the changelog from the last version is roughly 270 lines long, I won't repeat it here (it's in the source-code if you really want to read it), but suffice to say that after pecking away at this thing in the wee dark hours of the night for the last 3 years, this utility is everything an anorak could ever want in a folder-timestamp regulator thingy. :D (Links, screenshots, etc, in the original post above have been updated,)

For those who don't understand why someone would spend an unhealthy amount of time on something so inconsequentially silly, I have only two things to say:

Richard Dreyfuss and Mashed Potatoes.

If you don't know what that means, then, well... I can't help you. May your demented passions manifest themselves in more productive endeavours. :D

(Incidentally, we're celebrating the late [and severely lacking in options] entry from Nirsoft on this same subject. He just did it out of boredom - I did it out of madness; the results speak for themselves. :wink:)

Enjoy.

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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by pj » 2014 Sep 12, 16:55

Ah, but Nir copyrighted his, that must mean it's better, right? :lol:

Just keep the shrubs OUTSIDE, OK, then we'll not leave with the kids...
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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by Kilmatead » 2014 Sep 12, 18:24

pj wrote:Nir copyrighted his, that must mean it's better, right?
His is faster in its limited way, I'll give it that - but that's its only advantage (from my perspective, speed is not relevant)... and is seriously outweighed by the total lack of true anorak options. For example, my treatment of reparse-points borders on the existentially sublime (or the unhealthily obsessive! :wink:), while his is non-existent.

This is about the philosophy of understanding the true quantum state of one's filesystem, it's not about organising one's amateur backup solutions. There are, I submit, an infinite number of OCD symptoms which just cry out to be fêted openly - and this is but merely one of them. :D
pj wrote:Just keep the shrubs OUTSIDE...
Interestingly enough, I've spent years battling away doing just that very thing...

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Nature is an insidious beast, claiming what it wants...

Eventually, it beats us all...

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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by pj » 2014 Sep 15, 16:00

I'd say you're losing the battle ...

Kilmatead
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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by Kilmatead » 2014 Sep 15, 16:49

Actually I'm not - the ruins had a 300-year head-start before they ever saw my ilk and aroused my ire, so that's sort of an ongoing war with many nuanced sorties and parleyed amnesties. The house, on the other hand, is supposed to look like that - in full bloom there's roses threaded through the Virginia-Creeper, irises and lilies disguising the base, with no end of smaller threads whose names are only in Latin as they have no common-seed.

So on the whole, I consider it a balanced anarchy, as all Victorian man-vs-nature endeavours are wont to be. In the overall picture I am indeed losing, for there's only so much one man can do against the constant tide and vitriolic hatred nature as a whole shows to those she despises (for whom would seek to control her, the Goddess disguises her myriad schemes as joyful punishments and painful graces), but every now and then the light shines through, and the soul reposes the vengeance of the lonely gardener...

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Did I mention that the Modifiche script is over 10,000 lines long? One wonders how we find the time for these frivolous follies. :D I'd warrant that a great many people have absolutely no idea how complex even a simple-seeming GUI can be. They just take them all for granted. Thankfully, philosophy teaches us that the visible world is all just illusion, so not too many braincells are lost to the entropy that is human vanity. :wink:

Maybe in the end the Catholics had it right all along, and the pursuit of enlightenment really is just an indulgence... much like this very thread... :twisted:

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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by pj » 2014 Sep 15, 21:36

The Emerald Isle, or at least your portion of it, is truly well named!

Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing those :D

Continue to enjoy your indulgences - however nicotine, caffeine or alcohol driven they may be :bigsmile:

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Re: If Thou Stabbeth at Time, Doth it Bleed? (Revisited)

Post by Tuxman » 2014 Sep 16, 10:10

At least the Nirsoft one is available through WSCC. People are lazy.

What is a Modifish anyway?
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