Memory Garbage in Visual Studio .NET

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Take a long, close look at the hexadecimal equivalents of the characters in SAMTXT Notice that SAMTXT is a very short file (20 bytes), but that 128 bytes are displayed Any time you enter the D command, DEBUG will display 128 bytes of the area of memory you're looking at (That area may contain a file-as it does here-or it may not You're perfectly free to examine memory whether you've loaded a file into it or not) How, then, do you know where your file ends This is an interesting problem that presents us with some interesting challenges DEBUG doesn't tell you where a file ends-one of its few serious shortcomings, in my view You have to know going in-and the best way to do that, for short files especially, is to use the DOS DIR command and write down its length value for the file DOS knows how large a file is, down to the byte, and DIR will tell you for any file you list DIR will tell you that the SAMTXT file is 19 bytes long (Try it!) You can then count bytes in the hex dump until you find the last character, which in SAM's case is the final 0AH value of the last line feed character Anything after that final 0AH value is garbage in memory and not part of the file! So, it matters where the end of the file is Some very old DOS text editors appended a single invisible byte at the end of every text file they wrote to disk This byte, 1AH, was intended as a marker to show you very clearly where the end of the file was Some of these text editors are still kicking around, and it's possible that you have one (To see if you do, type in a simple sentence like "Where will it all end " and save to disk Go in with debug and see if there is a 1AH byte immediately after the end of the sentence) The 1AH marker is a holdover from even more ancient times, from the CP/M operating system, which was simpler than DOS and remembered only the number of disk storage blocks a file occupied The precise byte where the file's data ended within the final block was unknown to CP/M, so the text editors of the time used a 1AH byte to mark the tail end of the file There's a file on your CD-ROM, OLDSAMTXT, which was created with such a text editor and has the final 1AH marker (Note the time stamp on OLDSAMTXT!) OLDSAM is otherwise identical to SAMTXT Note that when you do a DOS DIR command on the directory containing the two files, that OLDSAMTXT
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is 20 bytes long-the 1AH marker byte is considered part of the file and counted with all the rest of the data Most of the time, memory garbage is not entirely random, but instead may be part of the code or data left over from the last program to be loaded and executed in that area of memory You can safely ignore memory garbage, but should know what it is and why it appears in your hex dumps You might occasionally see recognizable data strings from other programs in memory garbage and wonder how they got into your current program Note well: They didn't get into your current program They were just there, and now show through beyond the end of the file you last loaded under DEBUG Knowing where legitimate information ends and where garbage begins is always important and not generally as clear-cut as it is here
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