Software which makes my life easier

Mon 03 November 2008 by Peter Ward

Firefox 3.0

  1. The super-duper cool address bar - search within URLs and titles. I think that it's sorted by a 'popularity', based on if you've bookmarked it, and how many times you've visited the page.
  2. Save tabs. If you've got a window with multiple tabs open, you can save them so that you get them opened when you next start Firefox. This feature was originally just a crash recovery feature, and I started using it by killing Firefox, and then asking it to restore my tabs, but now it's a proper feature. It's so much easier to save the tabs, shutdown my computer and go to bed, wake up the next morning, and open Firefox ready to continue reading whatever blog/technical manual/story/whatever I was reading last night.
  3. All the plugins. Everything from Ubiquity to TabRenamizer (yes, I am paranoid).

Xournal

Take a look. Annotation support may come along sometime for Evince, but until then, I've been using this to annotate PDFs. Just it's PDF support and highlighter make it a worthwhile application.

OpenOffice.org

Sure, it's not perfect: there's a heap of stuff which it icky to use, and there are plenty of features which I never use.

But the main features which I use are generally a lot better than Microsoft Office. Formatting is actually nice to use - it uses hierarchial styles, so to change all your body text to Comic Sans MS means only changing the "Default" or "Text Body" style, depending on how much of your text you want to change.

I've already blogged about the Presenter Screen, and it's a great step forward.

Workspaces

I generally have at least 2 windows open at a time, and generally they correspond to two different tasks. For example, I might have Pidgin and OpenOffice.org both open - I'm chatting with a friend in one window, and typing an assignment in the other.

These tasks have nothing to do with each other, so why should they be grouped together by my computer? Workspaces (called Workspaces in Linux, Spaces in Mac OS X Leopard, and Virtual Desktops in Windows) let you put windows into seperate areas.

Less than 90x20 pixels of screen space on my computer to show me a representation of my workspaces is a wonderful trade-off for the ability to organise my windows in a logical and sensible way.

Wrapup

So, there's a few applications which makes my life easier - feel free to mention any which you use regularly in the comments.

I might expand on some of the smaller little 'bits and pieces' of my desktop later in another blog post, but for now here's two - iGoogle and Mail Notification.

I've got 2 HSC exams tomorrow: Physics and SDD, and then Chemistry on Thursday. It's still a little scary to think that in 3 days it'll all be over!


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