on Sunday, 8 April 2007
Do you find yourself going the same routine of traversing the Start menu of Windows daily? Go to Start, go to All Programs, go to some company name that provided you with the tool, and finally the launcher for the tool or application you want to execute. I found that pretty tedious and plain sucks.

Which is why I use the Windows XP Start menu pin-up, recent documents, the quick launch taskbar, and the desktop alot. I also use RK Launcher, a little docking program where you add shortcuts to it. But these shortcuts had shortcomings too. I have to manually set up all the shortcuts, for each computer that I use regularly.

Now I don't have to anymore. Check out Launchy, an application launcher for Windows. It automatically indexes your Start menu by default and all you need to do is hit ALT-Space to bring up its window, type in some combination of characters that match the application you want, and it'll find the application you want. Useful no? Especially so for a "keyboarder" like me. It's pretty too, with its own site for user-submitted skins. And it doesn't just indexes your Start menu. By default it supports the Firefox keywords I mentioned in my previous post! It also has it's own quick search for several useful sites plus a simple built-in calculator. Hate the daily digging down into your personal directory of files that's over 5 levels deep? Well, Launchy can browse directly to the directory you want; all you need to do is type out c: and use the tab key for auto-completion. That's not all! You can have Launchy index whatever directory you want, for whatever file extension you want. No more having to locate that one particular ebook or mp3 or movie that you have among thousands of similar files. And finally, you can even install Launchy on your pendrive and have it work (once you rebuild the index, which is fast) on any computer!

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Firefox Tips

on Thursday, 5 April 2007
Are you a Firefox user? If not, you might want to give it a try. Are you comfortable and content with using your mouse for everything? If yes, then I think you can stop reading. For those of you, like me, who prefer to use keyboard shortcuts as much as possible, read on. We use shortcuts for two reasons I think, either we just want to do things quicker or we are just lazy to take our hands off the keyboard and move it to the mouse to move cursor.

For starters, here are two very useful shortcuts:
  • CTRL-L - this focuses on the location bar, or the URL address bar.
  • CTRL-K - this goes to the little search bar on the top right.
Not using these yet? You should, it's faster than mousing over and selecting it and then going back to the keyboard to type.

That's it? That's the tip? Of course not. Next up is... bookmarks. We all know what browser bookmarks are. But did you notice a little field labeled "Keyword" when you add a new bookmark or open up the properties of a bookmark? (see image on the right)

Take a wild guess what it's for. And no, it's not for tagging the bookmark. If you create a bookmark like the one shown (or add a short keyword to a bookmark you already have), do the following and be pleasantly surprised:

Press CTRL-L, type gm, hit ENTER

Tada! Gmail login screen! (Replace "gm" with whatever keyword you decided on). Sheer convenience. Obviously you shouldn't add keywords to all your shortcuts, just add them to sites that you visit daily.

One last tip is about something called a "Quick Search". Give it a try first, press CTRL-L again and this time type "google (something)". Replace "(something)" with whatever you want. Hit enter for search results. You might think this is useless given you already have a search bar. But, if you have several search engines added to your search bar, you need to mouse over and manually selected it rather than just CTRL-K-ing to go up there.

Another thing is, it's not limited to search engines. You can add whatever quick search you want. See the image on the right for the dictionary quick search. A quick CTRL-L and "dict (word)" and I get an explanation on the "(word)". Where do I add that bookmark? Anywhere actually. But if you open up your Bookmarks Manager (under Bookmarks -> Organise bookmarks...) you'll notice a convenient "Quick Searches" folder.

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