Keyboard shortcuts

A coworker sent me a link to this article on the Onion. I've been that guy. It's so true, though. You menu clickers are frittering away precious seconds of your life. I posted about one of my favorites a few weeks ago. If I learn a few more shortcuts I'll be ready to tackle one of my life goals: Go through a normal productive day at work without touching my mouse. It's good to have dreams, eh?

Happy keyboarding.

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney likes his office to operate in secret, starting from his second week as Vice President. Now this:

For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the office in charge of overseeing classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested that the oversight office be shut down, according to documents released today by a Democratic congressman.

The oversight office, a unit of the National Archives, appealed the issue to the Justice Department, which has not yet ruled on the matter.

-- New York Times (June 22, 2007)

Well, at least we know that the Justice Department will be absolutely impartial and apolitical.

Prius mileage

Toyota Prius monitor showing 54.2 MPG

For the first 10,000 miles my fuel economy on the Prius was around 39 mpg. Since then it's gone up steadily until it hit about 45 mpg. I reset the counter and paid a bit more attention to how I was driving for 2 tanks of gas and this is where it ended up. 54 mpg is pretty good, considering the fact that it was mostly on the highway and the EPA rating for this car is 51 mpg on the highway (60 in the city, 55 combined).

With gas at this price, the investment in a hybrid is paying for itself more quickly than I expected.

Nations that don't use the metric system

That's Burma, Liberia, and the US.

(via Digg)

Slaughterhouse-five

I started reading Slaughterhouse-five on Friday night and finished it on Sunday afternoon. It's about a man that comes unstuck in time and experiences his life in a random order. Part of the story follows him through the allied fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, where he was held as a prisoner of war by the Germans in World War II. After the war, the main character is up late one night when this happens:

He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

I thought that was one of the more poignant passages of the book.

Adrian Journal 2.0

This week we launched the redesign of AdrianJournal.com. The site is now powered by Drupal and features a modern look, online classifieds, more interactive features and larger photos (click on the thumbnails). It's much easier to update than the old PostNuke version was, and the pages load faster, too. While b2evolution is still my blogging tool of choice, Drupal is a very nice, flexible web app for making online community sites.

Fake company names

I needed to come up with a list of fake company names for a demo site at work. I started making up company names, but then I realized that there are plenty of company names in popular works of fiction. I found a few lists online and compiled my favorites into this list of 123 fake company names. Feel free to use it if you need something similar. And if you're really bored, look through my list and see how many you can identify.

GMaps feature request

Google, I'm going to give you an idea. I won't even charge you the normal consulting fee you pay when you ask me for ideas. This one's on the house. I like how I can get directions from one point to another and I like how I can search an area of the map or a zip code for businesses, but sometimes I want to use those two together. Sometimes I want to see all the places to eat that are on the way from point A to point B. I don't want to wander very far from my route. Businesses that are just off of the highway are ideal. My route might take me through several zip codes, so the normal business search doesn't narrow the results down enough. I think Mapquest used to try to show hotels that were along a route. Anyway, Google, I'm giving you permission to use this idea for free.

Camino and Firefox tip

I was already planning on posting this tip, but it's also relevant to Dave's question. He's right, Firefox's method for searching within a page is very nice. You type cmd+F (or ctrl+F on Windows) and a little bar appears at the bottom of the page. In Camino, as in most browsers, the search window appears on top of the page, sometimes getting in the way.

But instead of using cmd+F, try tapping the / key. They just start typing your search term. It will be found as you type. If the highlighted word is not what you want, push cmd+G to find the next instance. Even more useful: Tap the ' (single quote key) and you can find as you type, only this way your search is limited to links on the page. As soon as the link you want is highlighted, just press enter and you follow the link. Both of these tips work on Firefox and Camino.

This provides another way to keep my hands on the keyboard, which I can operate more quickly and comfortably than a mouse. It would be even better if I could use cmd+Enter to open the link in a new tab. That works in Firefox but not Camino.

Update: This bug was first reported for Camino in 2002. Holy crap, can it be that hard to fix?

Powell: Close Guantanamo

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Meet the Press today. Here's this retired four-star general's view of the detention center in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba:

If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo. Not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I'd close it. And I would not let any of those people go, I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system. The concern was, well then they'll have access to lawyers, then they'll have access to writs of habeas corpus. So what? Let them. Isn't that what our system is all about?

You can add Powell's name to the long list of people calling for Gitmo to be closed. That list also includes Tony Blair, the UN, the European Parliment and Amnesty International. This American Life did an episode about Habeas Corpus where they interview some of the detainees who have been released.

Powell goes on:

I would also do it because every morning, I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere, is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds. And so essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open and creating things like the military commission. We don't need it, and it's causing us far more damage than any good we get for it.

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