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Archived posts with tag: Tips

Useful Windows Shortcuts: Win+B

Lifehacker recently pointed to a very useful new Windows 7 shortcut that vertically maximizes windows — really useful on laptops with 800 pixels or less of vertical real estate.

In that spirit, here’s another useful “shortcut”: Win+B gives focus to the “show hidden icons” button on the system tray.
Win+B gives focus to the "Show Hidden Icons" button on the Taskbar

This works on Windows XP and Vista as well, but is especially useful on Windows 7 because 7 corrals tray icons into their own box, where they’re not easily visible.
Then, pressing Enter will reveal the hidden icons

After pressing Win+B, press Enter to reveal the hidden icons and press the cursor keys to cycle through them (caveat, the highlight effect is really quite subtle on the RC and easy to miss).

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9 June 2009 10:02 am

Installing Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope on a Sony Vaio

Installing Linux on laptops still isn’t as easy as it should be. I installed Ubuntu 9.04 (”Jaunty”) on a Sony Vaio today, only to find that

  • WiFi — on an Atheros AR242x controller — was working, but very slowly. I got no more than 23-80kB/sec on a 12Mb/sec connection, and frequently got as little as 1 kB/sec.
  • Video effects weren’t supported on the Intel GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (they were supported on Vista and Windows 7) because of a known bug.

I fixed the wifi by using the Windows driver for the Atheros AR242x with ndiswrapper as described here. (Although the page says Jaunty doesn’t have this problem, it did.)

The video effects were fixed by following this thread from UbuntuForums.

Looks like the year of Linux on the desktop/laptop is still a few years off.


8 June 2009 4:41 pm

Google UK as a Search Provider in Firefox and IE

The default Google search built into Firefox (at least in British builds) goes off to google.com and is then redirected to google.co.uk. Problem is, sometimes the redirection stops working and it stays with google.com — usually clearing cookies solves this problem. This means you lose the benefits of country-specific search. Installing this Google UK Search Provider will make sure that searches from the Firefox search bar go to Google UK every time. Also works with IE 8 (and any browser that supports OpenSearchDescription files).

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5 June 2009 11:57 pm

Get your blog iPhone-ready

Apple’s releasing a new phone today (if you didn’t know that, you’re lucky). Beside curing all manner of ills, the phone has a great web browser that should get people really interested in using the web while on the move.

Now, the thing is lots of other phones have decent browsers — many phones run Opera, for example, or at least the Opera Mini. And with reasonable data plans becoming increasingly common, it definitely makes sense to get your site ready for mobile browsing.

I used a media="handheld" stylesheet declaration on this site, but that wasn’t very well supported. So here’s a better solution that requires very little work, if you run Wordpress:

  1. Get the Wordpress Mobile Edition plugin and install it. This will create a wp-mobile.php file in your Wordpress plugins folder, and a wp-mobile folder in your Wordpress themes folder.
  2. Open wp-mobile.php in a text editor and search for the word 'iPhone'.
  3. If you don’t find it (I’m sure it’ll be added as soon as the user-agent string is confirmed) add this text exactly as shown (without double quotes) somewhere in the middle of the list of browser user-agents:  " ,'iPhone' " (search for the text 'small_browsers' to find this list). When you’re done, save the file.
  4. Optional — you can also tweak your site’s mobile appearance by going into the wp-mobile folder (under your Wordpress themes folder) and editing the files there (mainly index.php). Some knowledge of PHP is required, but you can avoid the PHP and modify only the HTML inside the file.
  5. Test your mobile site using the Opera Mini applet, iPhoney (if you’re on a Mac) or even a real iPhone ;-) . Emulators for most other phone browsers are also available.

The other advantage of a mobile-ready version of your blog is that mobile versions tend to very accessible and compact. Most accessible browsers already support disabling stylesheets, images, etc, but they still have to load other text, such as blogrolls, sidebars, etc. You could use the wp-mobile theme along with a theme switcher that would allow users to switch to a compact, accessible version if they wish.

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29 June 2007 11:29 pm

Move Google Toolbar Custom Search Buttons across PCs

If you’ve created a lot of your own Google Toolbar custom search buttons and want to move them to another PC, simply copy over all the *.xml files in the following folder from the old PC to your new one: %userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Custom Buttons. You must close all IE windows and re-open one again for the buttons to show up.

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28 September 2006 5:51 pm

Get Custom Overlays in Google Maps

Google Earth has had overlays for a long time — they make it easy to annotate maps with all sort of information, from vacation photos to public transport pickup points. Now, overlays work with Google Maps too. You can type in a URL of a KML/KMZ file into Google Maps and it will show you the overlaid map — here’s an example showing Metrolink stations in Manchester. This just made Google Maps much more useful.

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14 June 2006 10:48 am

Good Monospace Fonts for Programming

A day after I ran into the beautiful Anonymous font, I noticed that the Microsoft Download Center now has Consolas available for use on non-Vista systems. Consolas (which ships with Vista along with a bunch of other fonts) looks great on ClearType-enabled LCD screens even at small sizes and is highly recommended.

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3 May 2006 3:54 pm

Don’t Use Registry Cleaners

Using Registry Cleaners are a Bad Idea (via S Anand). I agree — if your registry has enough flotsam in it to impair your system’s performance and you don’t know enough to hand-edit the registry, you’re probably better off restoring from backups (you do have backups, right?) than trusting random registry cleaners that promise a sparkly-fresh computer for $29.

If you’re concerned about easily restoring your system, you’d be better off with Windows System Restore or spending money buying Norton Ghost and backing up images of your system.

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28 April 2006 8:52 am

Your Mouse Moves Differently in OSX

Every time I use OSX my arm hurts from all the mousing I have to do — and that’s not because I don’t know the Mac keyboard shortcuts. The culprit is OSX’s mouse cursor acceleration logic, and here’s how you can fix it to be more Windows-friendly.

1 Comment

14 March 2006 8:52 am

Project Aardvark == Remote Desktop

Is Project Aardvark a remote desktop service that works through firewalls using an HTTP-based reflector, like GoToMyPC and MyWebexPC, given some of the hints the Aardvark team has been dropping? Given the team’s working with a lot of GPL code, maybe they’re extending VNC?

Incidentally, I find myself using MyWebexPC a lot these days and it’s quite good (and the basic version’s free for upto 5 PCs) … if you find yourself working on several machines, you might want to give it a try.

Update: Hadn’t noticed this: Michael Still has discovered what Aardvark is: SidePilot, a service that allows ‘people to help their friends, relatives, and customers fix their computer problems by temporarily controlling their computers via the Internet’.

1 Comment

24 June 2005 10:25 am

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