June 22, 2006
Simple program for inserting special characters
Every once in a while, I want to insert a special character or accented letter. Like when I'm writing an e-mail to my friend Renée, or blogging about French towns called Jumièges, or practicing my Español. I usually have to find some special menu or look up ASCII character code to put in the correct character I need. ¡Cómo frustra! (How frustrating!)
But today I stumbled upon a piece of freeware called MoreKeys that makes this simple. MoreKeys, by Braser Soft, is a very simple program for inserting characters into text by selecting the character from a small hovering window. You can easily switch between several language sets and a simple symbol set.
There are other programs that do something similar, like the Open Source Quick Key, but I like MoreKeys' simplicity. (I actually discovered MoreKeys under a list of related programs on the Quick Key site.)
There was one thing about the program I found unintuitive, though. The top row of symbols (- o ? *) are actually menu keys (minimize, options, help, and choose language, respectively).
And there's something a bit odd about the web site. If you go to the home page from the MoreKeys page, you can't get back to the MoreKeys page. It isn't listed under their programs or on the site map. Makes me wonder if they've abandoned the program (no longer supporting it) and the MoreKeys page lives on as a kind of disembodied entity. So I guess it's a case of freeloader beware!
Category "PhD Process"
May 30, 2006
My Livestrong just died...
My HP Livestrong notebook computer just died. I was waking it up from hibernation last night and suddenly everything went dark, even the power/charging light, and it failed to reboot. It did indeed live strong, but it died quickly, quietly, and without warning. And so young! Not even a year old!
I just took it in for resuscitation. If it needs to go to HP for special surgery, that could take from one to three weeks. Fortunately, I have a mirror backup of the hard drive that I made on Thursday, so only Friday's work is lost. I hope my Livestrong didn't decide to take its own life like the heroic laptop I read about in the Onion recently.
Regardless, I won't let this little set-back slow me down. I certainly have access to several computers, at home and on campus. I probably won't be typing away in the coffee house any time soon, but I'll make do. I'll keep you posted.
Category "Cool web stuff"
April 5, 2006
Caffeine for your PC
I hate it when I'm working on something and my screen saver kicks in at an inopportune moment -- when I'm giving a presentation, installing software, staring at a blank page with nothing but "Chapter 4" written at the top and waiting for the writing muse to visit.
I'm also too lazy to go in and shut it off during those times. And I don't want to shut the screen saver off forever. But now I've got a great solution: caffeine for my computer!
Zhorn Software provides several nice freeware applications for Windows, including caffeine.exe. When I launch caffeine, it simulates a key press every minute to keep my PC awake. The icon on the task bar allows me to toggle caffeine on or off (indicated by a full or empty pot of coffee).
Category "Cool web stuff"
February 22, 2006
Creating icons and favicons in Photoshop
I'm a very visual person. I think more with pictures than with words. That's why I'm always looking for ways to put more graphics into my life and onto my desktop. When I'm searching for files and folders on my PC, I'm slowed down by having all the icons look the same and having to read the file/folder name. I've started converting those little manila folder icons into ones that represent the contents of the folder. Now I've found a tool that makes this conversion much easier.
I just stumbled upon this post: Favicon - How To Create A Favicon.ico | PhotoshopSupport.com. I've mentioned favicons before, but what was most useful about this article was the mention of a free Photoshop plugin that will convert anything you create or open in Photoshop into an icon file (.ico). It even works in the cheap version of Photoshop that I use, Photoshop Elements.
Category "Cool web stuff"
January 9, 2006
I've been doing lots of traveling lately and haven't posted in a while. I hope to post some pictures by the end of the week, and also comment a bit on my writing progress, but in the meantime, a quick mention of a useful bundle from Google.
The Official Google Blog had an item last Friday announcing a convenient bundling of PC software they're calling Google Pack. It contains a lot of basic software all in one place, all bundled in an updater that will periodically scan for updates.
Most of the software is Google's own products: Google Earth, Talk, and Desktop; but also Firefox, Ad-Aware, Adobe Reader, and the like. I had most of these installed already, but there were a few that I didn't. Google Pack lets you select only the pieces you want to download. But a nice feature is that Google Updater (which is part of the Pack) recognizes the existing software on my machine and includes it in it's check for updates.
That's all for now, but here's wishing you a healthy and happy start to your new year!
September 7, 2005
Time for a little Fall clean-up of your XP OS?
A few of my friends and family members have been experiencing computer problems lately. I've talked about my own computer frustrations and what I've found to be helpful.