Short cut Keys are a way of Life!

April 28, 2005

There is little in the computing world that I enjoy better than shortcut keys. The mouse is to be avoided at all times. It slows you down, makes you weak. Like a frail old woman, with large bulbous fingers. Shortcut keys are one reason I like the Mac system so much. It’s full of standardized shortcuts that make me pen italian sonnets to show my love for them.

Note: I’ll use “apple” for the command key (the one with the apple on it)
and “ctrl” for the control key, because I’m lazy.

Obvious:
apple + c — copy
apple + x — cuts
apple + v — pastes
apple + z — undo (if available)

In the Finder (Desktop):
apple + tab — can switch between open applications very easily.
apple + h — hides an application
apple + q — quits an application
apple + w — closes windows
apple + delete — deletes item
shift + apple + delete — empties trash
shift + apple + n — makes a new folder
shift + apple + a — opens up to the “applications” folder

In Firefox:
apple + t — opens new tab
apple + n — opens new window
apple + w — closes current tab / window
ctrl + tab — switches between tabs
apple + l — highlights URL so you can go to a new location
apple + r — reloads page
/ — search on page — very helpful. try it now. do it.

General Text:
apple + left / right arrow — move to far right / left of line
apple + shift + left / right arrow — select all to the left / right

This is barely scratching the surface, but it’s a good start.
Here’s a link to apples shortcut site: ClickMe

What’s your favorite shortcut?

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Explore the Census!

April 27, 2005

This is a very cool site that one of my RSS feeds just alerted me of. Basically, they have put much of the 200 census into an interactive map form that you can zoom in and change what your looking at all really easily. Just select “Census 2000 maps” and pick what you want to look at and you are ready to go. I liked the “Foreign-Born Place of Birth” option a lot. You can pick out patterns in communities which is actually pretty interesting.

Plus you can zoom in to a very specific area, which is very nice (you can even see street names!).

Here is an image of the Foreign-Born Koreans living in Hawaii in 2000. Each red dot represents 10 individuals. The green circular areas are supposed to be military establishments. So you can see there is a definite pattern to be seen.
(I did this to show that you can get to Hawaii / Alaska, but you have to zoom out from the first map, and then zoom back towards the ocean until you find it.)

Another cool map I looked at was the number of individuals using public transportation in the greater Kansas City area. It really is a testament to the horribly crappy public transportation system we have there. It sucks.

But this site is very cool. and informational too!
here’s the link directly to the Census 2000 section:
http://www.socialexplorer.com/maps/Census2000Maps.asp

What maps did you find? make a slideshow of them!


RSS is the future Today!

April 25, 2005

Perhaps not entirely, but its a good start. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” (at least it does now) and is a great way to read sites that update often. Using a RSS aggregator such as NetNewsWire Lite, one can compile dozens of sites into one common interface which allows you to read new information really fast, and get a lot of new information at one time.

Say you’ve got a bunch of blogs you read everyday, plus you’ve got to get your news fix from yahoo or google news or whatever. Why go to each individual site when you can get all that reading done in one swoop?? Plus with all the free time you save, you can subscribe to more blogs and more news and stuff your head even more in the same amount of time!

Set up NetNewsWire Lite:
First download and install it to you applications folder. Then Drag it to your dock. Start it up, and you’ll have a bunch of feeds that you probably aren’t too interested in, but thats ok, because they show you how it works. Click on the NetNewsWire Lite drop down menu and click on “Preferences” Click on the “Browsing” tab and check the “Open links in background” option. Click the “Downloading” tab and change the Refresh rate to “Every 30 Minutes” Close out of the Preferences window

The hardest part of setting up the aggregator is actually finding the feeds to the sites you want. There’s got to be an easy way, I just don’t know it. For xanga sites, you can use the afore mentioned rss helper since xanga can’t do it on there own. Just type the username into the box and it will find the URL for the feed. Copy the URL and go back to NetNewsWire Lite. Click on the “Subscribe” button at the top and the link should appear. Hit ok, and you’ve got some feeds to read! For news sites, you can usually find a link somewhere on the page. Like at news.yahoo.com there’s a section on the left call “News via RSS” . Click on the yellow box, copy the URL and subscribe to it in the RSS aggregator of your choice.

You can delete the feeds you don’t like by selecting them and hitting the “delete” key. You can even group your feeds into different folders by clicking “File” and then “New Group”. Then drag similar feeds to that folder. Pretty nice.

What’s cool is that you can let your unread feeds build up and then read them all at once. As long as NetNewsWire Lite is running it will check every 30 minutes for new feeds, and it keeps a running total on the dock icon, which is very cool.

Shortcut keys:
hitting the spacebar will move through each new feed entry. It will also page-down for longer blog entries. This is the easiest way I’ve found to navigate through your feeds. Command + k will mark all in the particular fee as “read”. Sometimes necessary because the technology isn’t perfect.


Macs do it Better

April 24, 2005

Ok, so I really like the Mac. The GUI is clean and very functional, the Unix underneath is powerful and secure, and the hardware developed by Apple is top notch and can’t be touched.

So here’s a list of my most beloved applications that make my Mac experience all the more enjoyable. Hopefully I will be elaborating on each of these programs in some detail later on.

Adium X — Nice Instant Messenger Client. Very configurable, clean, and cool. 2.0 will be even cooler. Talk on aol and msn and yahoo with one program? I don’t believe it!

NetNewsWire Lite — RSS feed client. Read all of your wicked cool xanga blogs at one time. Lite version is free, and has all the features I could ever want.

SubEthaEdit — Allows multiple people to edit a single text document from different computers in different locations, in real time! This would be awesome at a business with a bunch of macs on the network. Also is just a really functional text editor in general, especially for working with html / ruby / perl / etc.

QuickSilver — This is a great way to get around your mac with no mouse needed. I use it to open up programs really quickly, but you could also use it to… browse your iTunes library, open bookmarks, search google / IMDB / any other searchable site, etc etc . If you start using it, you won’t stop.

Firefox — Not mac specific, but the best browser hands down. Safari is nice for some things, but Firefox is just better. Plus open source is always a good thing. So are lots and lots of actually useful plugins.
(And if you are using Internet Explorer on the Mac, don’t tell anyone because they will make fun of you. And so will I. )

GmailStatus — If you are still using crap hotmail or crap yahoo stop. Find someone, and get yourself a gmail account. Set it up and import your contacts, and never touch hotmail / yahoo again. Really, gmail is that much better. I’ll ‘blog’ about that later. Then get yourself the GmailStatus program. This is a simple app that will gracefully notify you of new messages. I believe there are other programs that do this that might be newer, but I like the way this one looks, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Sidenote — Just started using this, but I think it might be really useful. Creates a little note taking box that will hide when you don’t need it. But you can create multiple notes within one window, save them, edit them, send them to other programs. Really, think this could be something special. I’ll try it out some more and check back…

Voodoo Pad — Not Freeware like the above ones, but still an interesting program. It allows you to make a personal wiki on your computer as a way to organize ideas and link them to other ideas. It’s pretty useful, I should use it more often since I paid for it. But they do have a fully functional free version that limits the number of pages you can create.

Toast — Certainly not free, but still the best CD / DVD burning program that I’ve found / tried for the mac.

I also use the built in programs like iTunes, iPhoto, etc. But enough people talk about them, I shouldn’t have to. But I might later.