Recently spotted… May 28, 2007

I found out today that delicious has a limit on its ‘notes’ field – which is rather disappointing – especially as i’ve been increasingly use it to store longer thoughts and discussion on the articles / sites i’ve been bookmarking. I’m going to try out ma.gnolia, and see if that’s any better for more indepth bookmarking. Lord knows how i’ll migrate my delicious bookmarks across though. No doubt someone’s done it already.

Update: dur! there’s a big ass ‘import bookmarks from delicious’ link. i’m liking ma.gnolia already.

A Cost Effective Device For Translating American Sign Language Into Text and Speech – a grant awarded to a team looking into developing a glove which allows the wearer to sign in ASL, and it be translated into english text and speech. i’m interested to know what my ex thinks about this, being a sign language interpreter. there’s no substitute for an interpreter – there are too many nuances in the language, and (i’m coming from a BSL perspective, ASL maybe different), signs are often reused and their meaning depends on the context. Also, BSL is a OSV language (Object Subject Verb), where as English is a Subject Verb Object language. That being said, its a great step towards helping the deaf community communicate with non-signers, which can only be a good thing.

Infinite Loop – we’re all the same really

We were at Matt and Emma’s playing Wii last night. Its started me wanting one (it was actually the first time i’ve played on a Wii, although give me a day or so, and the excitement will probably subside, I can’t see Gears of War or Halo3 on a Wii). However, if a few of these games were released, it might change my mind.

de-construct cards

amy's leaving do

we have a tradition at de-construct of creating someone a card when its their birthday, along with a big ass cake (or several), the same for leaving parties. we’ve been doing it since year 1 (birthdays, no-one left that early!), and we’ve built up quite an archive of cards. this is the first time they’re being collated together and put online. alex has posted his, fred is in germany today, but no doubt will get it done soon too. keep watching this space:

finger ninja

I generally dislike using the mouse when i’m working. my hands are on the keyboard, so why should i have to go over to the mouse to do something like scrolling, selecting a menu item, entering a url, launching an application, etc. as a result (and its something i remember doing since i was at secondary school, about 16yrs upwards) i tend to use a substantially large number of keyboard shortcuts to work.

Apart from drawing a marquee, most of my photoshop work is done using the keyboard. Index Color an image for GIFs: Alt-I-M-I, turn it back into normal colour mode, Alt-I-M-R. Image resize, Alt-I-I. Most of these rely on the fact that Windows allows you to access all of the menus via hitting the alt key, and then (usually) the first letter of the menu option, and chain them together, ie. Alt-I-M-I is Alt (go to menu), Image menu, Mode menu, Index colour. Equally in other applications, and tbh, apps which i use far more often than Photoshop, ie. my developer IDE, email, firefox etc, also have massive numbers of combinations which help me work faster. The problem is – there is no consistancy. For instance, to indent a block of text in Homesite (yes, i still use homesite for clientside development), Ctrl-Shift-> or Ctrl-Shift-< work fine. In ZDE (Zend’s Development Environment) a tab or shift-tab does the job. Switching between the two often means i’m deleting code instead of indenting it because the shortcuts have different meanins (tab in Homesite just replaces the currently selected text with a tab).

I recently purchased a macbook, mostly just to play around on at home – i try to do as little work from home as possible, so its mostly for blogging, spodding, rss’ing, etc. My biggest issue with Macs (and this has been the case for as long as i’ve used them) is the distinct lack of (or higher complexity where they exist) of keyboard shortcuts, and the apparant oddness of their choosing. Apple-Shift-D is send mail in Apple Mail. Maybe the most common task, and its a three letter combo, no simple Apple-Enter, or Apple-S. Accessing the menus at the top of the screen is also more complicated. You first have to enable it in a control panel somewhere, and then hit something like Ctrl-F2 to first access the menu, use the initial letter of the menu to go to it (or cursor left/right) then press down, then select the item you want. Its not a shortcut, that makes it faster with the mouse. It seems to be an accessibility feature, rather than a ‘shortcut’. Secondly, there are four modifier keys on my keyboard. Whilst in Windows we do most things with Ctrl (and rarely Alt if you’re a shortcut junkie like me), on Mac, the modifier key really changes a great deal. The Apple (or Command) key seems to do most things like Ctrl on Windows (Ctrl-C is copy, Apple-C is copy), but in old-school apps like Terminal, Ctrl (which does exist on Macs too) is actually Ctrl, so you have to move your thumb left two places to ctrl-d out of something.

To be fair, once you start to learn the shortcuts on a Mac, you do find there are a good few, and as the apps are generally more intuitive, things level out. With add-on tools like Quicksilver, all apps are just a ctrl-space away. But now i’m a hybrid user of both windows and osx, when i switch back to work during the day, my muscle memory – which i’ve had in training for the past 10 years or so in windows – is taking a beating. I’m all thumbs and fingers switching between both machines.

Still – that being said, i am enjoying the mac for its strong interface, and very very strong competent apps. The two finger scrolling is just killer (and i very much miss that when using my windows laptop now – although today found out you can scroll most browser windows using space or shift-space), but i just don’t think i’ll ever be as fast on my mac as i will on windows. time will tell.

disclaimer: i may well have got some of these shortcuts wrong, i rely so much on muscle memory for them, which in part is the problem.