Music in the Air, music everywhere

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A friend recently turned me on to one cool application that let’s me listen to synchronized music from all my networked devices at the same time.

This is likely one of the coolest software enhancements I’ve made to my home listening experience in a long time. Continue reading “Music in the Air, music everywhere”

Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, proposals, reports, reviews, email…you get the picture. Often times I end up creating new documents that share similar format or content, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into newer ones. But I’m lazy, and always looking for easier ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learning how to save time and keystrokes by using text expansion software. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basically, what you do is create a database of commonly typed words, phrases or layouts and assign unique key triggers to each snippet of text. For example, I usually sign my email thusly:


Brad Grier

———-
Brad Grier Consulting
Lifestyle Technology & Community Media

Lots of characters and formatting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email signature was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The software did the rest.

Another example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be emailing me to say that most common email programs have a place for a signature, and it’s automated whenever you compose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s another.

Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you use common CSS or HTML snippets. It’s a simple matter to add this code to the database, and call it with a few keystrokes. This Lorem Ipsum layout text block, for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc mattis arcu sed quam tincidunt et lobortis nunc volutpat. Phasellus lacinia nulla quis lectus molestie in commodo mauris blandit. Nullam in vestibulum velit. Donec libero est, volutpat non accumsan ac, rutrum vitae odio. Curabitur pretium mauris non nisi vestibulum tincidunt. Aenean tristique quam sapien, vel dapibus ligula. Maecenas commodo faucibus pulvinar. Donec eleifend ante eget purus luctus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feugiat dui. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adipiscing ipsum id massa luctus vel suscipit metus elementum. Morbi venenatis mauris eget metus tincidunt luctus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam pharetra luctus vel ut tortor.

That was generated by me typing ‘.lorem’ and hitting the Tab key. Much easier than pasting it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snippets directory.

As well, text replacement software can easily automagically enter other dynamic data such as the current date (.d) [ Thursday, October 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Software
On windows, I’d recommend the free Texter program, created by LifeHacker editor Adam Pash. And lookie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use TextExpander Touch. Same features, with a few extra bells and whistles such as application integration.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s computer :smileyhappy: But TextExpander Touch has a counterpart (called TextExpander, of course) that runs on OSX and others consider it the ‘benchmark’ for Mac text expansion and scripting tools.

texter.jpgSaving time?
One other thing, Texter actually tracks the keystrokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report showing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy printable chart of all your replacement macros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replacement application? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or perhaps a favourite replacement macro you use often.



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.


Aftermath of a Windows 7 install

Well I’ve done it again. My desktop was running Windows 7 Release Candidate (7100) and on March 1st, was set to turn into an uber-annoyance machine unless I installed a full retail version of Win7. So I took the plunge… …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


Upgrading from Windows 7 RC to Retail – easily!

Well, being the cutting edge kinda guy that I am, I had the Windows 7 release candidate (RC) on my system from the first day it was released. Of course, that means that I was enjoying all the Windows 7 goodness on my system, with the knowledge that I’d eventually have to upgrade to the full retail version some time in the future.

That day hath cometh!

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’d put off installing the retail version until the last possible moment. And Microsoft forced my hand. As of tomorrow, March 1st, the RC of Windows 7 will start shutting down every two hours. Damn inconvenient, but hey, we’ve had the RC to play with for the last 4 months or so, we can’t really complain.

So tonight I’ve taken the plunge and installed the full retail version on my system. Not without minor challenges, but it’s done. I’m writing this on a full retail Win 7 install.

Which means that, yes, I will be documenting my upgrade process in the very near future! From WinXP to Win7 RC to Win7 Retail, the whole enchilada.  But not tonight.

Tonight I relish the last 2 weeks of Olympics, of Canadian Pride (what a weird concept) and of Pilsner, ‘eh!

Did the Monkey steal the crown?

Last year I delcared Songbird, the multi-platform media player and organizer the Best Music Player Ever. Now, there’s a challenger for the title, at least in the Windows / PC arena; MediaMonkey. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


3 windows applications improve your desktop’s appearance

Lately I’ve been trying to keep my windows desktop icon and clutter free. In my case, this has meant that I’ve been saving less to my desktop (my default save-to location) and more to working directories. And, since a cluttered desktop reflects a cluttered mind, I like to think of this as a bit of personal mental-floss. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


How to add a network activity monitor to Windows 7

I like Windows 7. But there’s one thing that I noticed missing right off the top, a network activity monitor in the Taskbar.

Sure, you could ad a gadget/widget thingie to the desktop, but when you’re working on something, odds are you’re at full-screen resoulution and the monitor is behind whatever y ou’re working on.

Well, thanks to this cool little site (and the pointer from Download Squad) Windows 7 now has a working taskbar-mounted network activity monitor, complete with animated blinking screen. To quote the developer:

This utility is a standalone executable. Run the program, you’ll see a new system tray icon.

Now you can monitor your network traffic in Windows 7 using XP-like ‘two monitors’ icon in the System Tray.

To customize program settings right click the mouse on the System Tray icon.

Pretty straightforward, and functional. And light weight! The Network Activity Indicator for Windows 7 weighs in at a tiny 57kb download.

You can download it here

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