Friday, August 06, 2010

SOFTWARE: Things I Didn't Know

Lately, I've been finding little things that make me wanna slap my forehead and exclaim, 'Dohhhh!' The kind of things that make my computing life JUST a little bit easier.

For example, I HATE that the backspace key in Firefox takes me back to the previous contents, rather than up a page in the scroll. Over at Tweaking with Vishal, I found the solution was a simple edit to the about:config menu. Changing "browser.backspace_action" to 1 solves my problem neatly. By the way, Vishal's site is a daily visit. Frequent free software (Which DOES occasionally time out, GRRRRR) and many, many helpful hints to everyday annoyances.

My file manager of choice these days is xplorer² after having given up on ever seeing a updated version of either PowerDesk or ExplorerPlus. Months after switching, Avanquest DID come out with a PowerDesk 8. But too little, too late. I've retrained my fingers for xplorer². I have the pro version on Popeye and the free, lite version on Nuklon and Ollie. But I continue to tweak Popeye's version, while worrying how I will get the settings from Popeye to Quincy (Popeye's eventual replacement). And I wanted the ones on Nuklon and Ollie to look as much like Popeye's version as possible. I wrote down settings and specialized macros and basically moved them one by one to Nuklon. Surely, there was a better way to handle it for Ollie. Yep. There's now a Actions menu option to export settings. Serves as a good backup. Read all about it at here. It's a bit quirky, but this is a program that will run as happily in Win2K as it will in Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. It's being regularly updated too. Hear that Avanquest?

If you have e-books, you MUST have Calibre, the e-book management system. That's not a suggestion, it's an imperative. Now, one of the things that is great about Calibre is that you can save the covers of files you get by whatever means. Many e-books come with covers, but some don't. So you have to go mining such places as the without parallel, absolutely, essential site, Fantastic Fiction. There, you can get series, pseudonyms and cover information to your heart's delight. You can download covers from other editions and replace the cover of the book you have. I've been doing that and accumulating a BookCovers folder where I download the covers. It's an unmanageable mess of files with random names, like N3423D23.jpg. So, when the file open dialog comes up in Calibre, I must click on the View Icon and check Details. Then I have to resize the dialog to show DateModified. Then I have to click IT twice, once to sort in ascending order and once more to reverse it. THEN, the mysterious file I want is now on top. Double-click to select and OK it and you're done. I'm waaaaaaaay too lazy for that. I went spelunking for a solution. And here it is.

When the file open dialog starts, go through the normal routine. View ... Details .... Resize .... DateModified .... DateModified again. BUT, this time, while holding down the CONTROL key, click on the X (for exit) button in the top right of the dialog box. It will close. Than do a file open action again. Here's the magic. It STILL won't be details view. BUT, the files WILL BE sorted in reverse DateModified order!! The file you want is right there at the top!! Five clicking actions reduced to just one. Is this not a great tip, or what?

Now, one more thing. Previously, I had a bunch of covers called _SS_MYS.jpg, _SS_SPORTS.jpg, _SS_SF.jpg, etc. I get a lot of short stories and they, by definition, don't have covers. So I designed a bunch of these generic covers to make it look better in the cover browser. In the old default alpha order, they naturally came up at the front because of the leading underscores. But the trick above sent them to the back of the pack. Once more, xplorer² to the rescue. I used the Attributes capability to change the date modified value on all the files to Feb 2/2222 (I should live so long to regret picking that date [G]). Now, they resume their position atop the book covers list and the one I want is the first one after them. Bliss.

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