3.31.2009

Increase Productivity with Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are one of the easiest ways to increase your productivity, and many can be used across applications. Below are a few of the shortcuts I use daily; although they may seem basic to some, it amazes me how many people don't know these shortcuts. See Wikipedia's Table of Keyboard Shortcuts for even more.

Shortcut Function Windows Mac
Show Desktop (min. all windows) Win()+ D F11
Select all text Ctrl + A Cmd + A
Copy selection Ctrl + C Cmd + C
Paste selection Ctrl + V Cmd + V
Undo Ctrl + Z Cmd + Z
Redo (undo the undo) Ctrl + Y Cmd + Y
Close file or window Ctrl + W Cmd + W

Shortcuts keys should be held down simultaneously. The Control (Ctrl), Windows () and Command (Cmd) keys are located on the bottom row of most keyboards.

3.26.2009

Quickest Way to Tweet a Link

During my early explorations of Twitter, I inquired as to the quickest way to tweet a link; I often found myself wanting to share, but had yet to find an efficient method of doing so. To my dismay, however, I received no responses (so much for crowd-sourcing). So, I began researching methods of tweeting links; I found that tweeting a link was easy, but the tricky part was shortening the URL before tweeting it.

While there is a plethora of ways to shorten a URL, I found existing methods to be inadequate: most required navigating to a new page/opening a separate application; text needed to be copied then pasted; or, a link was not shortened until after it was tweeted, thus making character counts inaccurate. So what’s a geek to do? Program a tool to her specifications, of course!

Introducing ReplacURLr

  • What: A Firefox add-on that replaces the URL in your location bar with a shortened URL of either the current page (via the toolbar button) or an in-page link (via the right-click context menu). The short URL is also automatically copied to the clipboard.
  • Why: To shorten a link without annoying confirmation/options dialogs or having to navigate to a different page. The short URL is input directly into the location bar so that the link can then be tweeted (via TwitterBar), without out any copying & pasting.
  • Who: Any Firefox user wanting a quick method for shortening URLs, particularly those using TwitterBar.
  • Where: ReplacURLr is currently available for download at the Mozilla Add-on Directory.
  • When: Now!

In summary, the quickest way to tweet link is to shorten it with ReplacURLr and then tweet it with TwitterBar – two clicks, it can’t get any easier.

If you give ReplacURLr a try, I would appreciate any and all constructive feedback (if you’re just mean, I will send my flying monkeys after you – consider yourself warned). Happy tweeting!

Links:
ReplacURLr
TwitterBar

3.24.2009

Beyond Boolean

Sure, you know how to use basic Boolean search operators, such as AND and OR, to limit your search to (hopefully) more relevant results; but, do you know how to limit your search to a specific website (i.e. without using the sites’ own search box…assuming there is one), to text located in the page title or URL, or even to a specific file type? To get better search results, try using advanced search operators. Below are a few of my favorites; check out The ultimate guide to advanced searching within Yahoo, Google and MSN for more.

  • site:

    Limits results to website(s) specified, e.g. the query site:lifehacker.com OR site:howtogeek.com shortcut will return pages from Lifehacker or How-to Geek containing the term “shortcut”.

  • filetype:

    Returns files of specified type, e.g. adding filetype:pdf to your search query will return only PDF documents containing your search terms.

  • intitle:

    Searches only webpage titles (not article/blog post titles, unless included in the webpage title…which it should be if the author knows any SEO).

Do you use any advanced search operators?

3.23.2009

All I Want for Easter is Google Apps at Work (Thing 29)

Google is so integrated into my personal life that if there were ever a Dark Angel-style apocalypse and Google went under, my life would probably collapse along with it…or rather, I would simply swear a lot, accept my loss, and begrudgingly move on with life (kinda like when I killed both my laptop hard drive and both external backup hard drive at once, yeah, that was a bad day). The point is, I am very dependent on Google tools; they increase my productivity immensely and make life easier to organize. I could write an entire blog just on Google, but no one needs to witness that lovefest. So when I came to Thing 29, I expected to be able to do a quick been-there-done-that post, but to my surprise, there was one unfamiliar face in the list of tools to explore: SearchWiki.

So that’s what those icons do…

Turns out that I had in fact heard about SearchWiki and had long ago noticed the icons next to my search results, but I had mistakenly though SearchWiki was a Digg-type social ranking of websites. I had not realized that rearranging and removing results only affected my own searches, and even then only the specific query that I reorganized (e.g. if I remove a website from one search, it will still show up in others). Now that I know what SearchWiki really does, I think it could be a very useful tool.

There are times when I need to collect web pages for a project, but have no need to reference those pages after the project is complete; and, I don’t want to bookmark said pages, only to have to clean out my bookmarks later. For example, when I want to buy new hardware, I often compare different brands and models, and then compare stores for the best price on my chosen item. After I make a purchase, however, I have no need to know which store had the best price on said item at the time I bought it. Likewise, when looking for a code snippet plugin, I end up with a list of resources, but often forget to note which ones were the best. Using SearchWiki will allow me to make a temporary ranking of useful sites, without having to clutter my bookmarks or notebooks (digital or otherwise).

Sites Revisited


From the other list of tools to explore, I choose to take another look at Google Sites; I had test-driven Sites when they first premiered, but quickly decided they were too simple and nothing special, having originally been simply a drag & drop creator of static web pages. Pleasantly, Sites has immensely improved since my original passing glance. Rather than just another WYSIWYG webpage editor, Sites enables users to embed videos, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slide shows, and calendars from their Google account. It is also possible to add Google Gadgets, essentially making it possible to have a public iGoogle page (although, I would go with Netvibes for public personalized startpages). And, if all else fails and you need more control than WYSIWYG can offer, you can edit the HTML of your site for optimum customization. Additionally, attachment/file hosting and sharing options also give Sites wiki-like collaboration, making it a good solution for groups, perhaps even more so than Google Groups. While I would not use Google Sites for the front-end presence of any company or organization, I think that the easy yet feature-rich Google Sites is an great solution for sharing information, especially for those already taking advantage of other Google services.

3.17.2009

The Other Drag & Drop


Right-click & Drag

Right-click & Drag



Today’s tip is brought to you by the letter S:

Try right-clicking on a file or folder and then dragging it to a new location. When you drop the file (i.e. release the mouse button), a small context menu appears; by default there are three choices: Copy here, Move here, and Create Shortcut here. Sure beats the limited left-click and drag, which by default only moves a file.

Bonus: Check out TeraCopy for faster file transfers, plus error recovery and the ability to pause large file transfers.


3.14.2009

Diiging Delicious

Creating the Ultimate Bookmarking System

So you want to send your friend that awesomely cool website you bookmarked last week, seems simple…but is it? First you have to find the bookmark. Did you put in the Awesome folder or the Cool folder? Did you even put it in a folder? What was the site called - did the website have a memorable title that will allow you to recognize it again? You search all your folders only to find that you bookmarked it on a different computer! Okay, so fire up that other computer and find the bookmark; now you have to send it. Open your email, open the bookmark, copy & paste, write a note, and send. An hour later your friend finally has that website, when in that time you could have been discovering so many more cool websites to share. What’s a geek to do? Social bookmarking!

Social bookmarking allows you to store, organize, find, and share bookmarks via an online account, accessible from any computer. There are various social-bookmarking, each with their own niche. Digg is good for finding popular news stories of the day, and StumbleUpon is great for wasting time the oddest,most random, fun websites you would never have found otherwise. However, for collecting webpages and sharing them with people you actually know, Delicious and Diigo are the way to go.

Diigo or Delicious?

Delicious Website

Delicious Bookmarking

When I first started social bookmarking, I used Delicious (or Del.icio.us as it was). I loved being able to access my bookmarks from any computer, to sort them by tags, to search within my bookmarks, and to even share bookmarks with friends who also had Delicious accounts. Although Delicious was a huge improvement on my browser’s bookmarking system, it still had a few shortcomings. In particular, I could only share bookmarks with other Delicious users, and even then only individuals, not groups. The commenting system was also rather limited in that I could add a note to a bookmark I was sharing, but could not respond to bookmarks shared with me. Then I discovered Diigo – it’s Delicious on steroids.

Like Delicious, Diigo enables users to bookmark webpages to an online account and then tag, sort, and share them with other users. However, Diigo also enables users to share bookmarks with non-Diigo users via email, Twitter, Facebook, or a blog; users can also create groups of people to share sites with, as well as share lists of links. The most poignant feature of Diigo is the ability to highlight text on a page, add notes, and then share these annotations along with the webpage – now people will actually know why I shared a page with them, and I will be able to remember why I bookmarked it in the first place!

Eat Your (Delicious) Cake Too!

Annotating with Diigo

Highlighting & Commenting with Diigo

Diigo has so many features that it warrants an article all to itself, so much so that David Pierce makes a compelling argument for Diigo’s superiority over Delicious, in his article 7 Reasons Diigo Tastes Better than Delicious. However, there is one feature Delicious has that I wish Diigo had: the ability to add a shortcut to a bookmark for quick access. For example, since I’ve bookmarked my Vis.ualize.us account on Delicious and added the tag “shortcut:pics”, rather than having to type the whole URL (seriously, I can never remember where to place the dots), I just need to type “pics” and my browser knows where to go. Rather than giving this up or trying to bookmark to multiple services, I utilize Diigo’s “Save Elsewhere” feature, in order to simultaneously save bookmarks to both my Diigo and Delicious accounts, tags and privacy settings included!

To enable this feature for yourself, log into Diigo and then go to the Save Elsewhere page (Dashboard > My Diigo Tools > Save Elsewhere), input your Delicious account information, and click ‘Save’. Thereafter, any bookmark you save to Diigo will also be saved to your Delicious account, so you can continue to use Delicious’ “shortcut:” tag to access bookmarks via a keyword, as well as use the “for:” tag to share bookmarks with friends who use Delicious (of course, you could always badger them into getting a Diigo account too, if you know what’s good for them). Now go forth and bookmark, and remember to share!

Links: