Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #22

Header graphic courtesy Write From Karen

Thirteen Techie Things I Love

On My Computer:

1. CTRL+drag

You highlight something, hold down the CTRL button, and drag it with the mouse. Et voila! It stays in the old spot, but also appears in the new spot! Copy without the paste!

2. The expanded "recent documents" list in Office 2007

I used to only be able to see the four most recent files. Then it was nine. Now it's twenty.

3. Pinning files in Office 2007

You know how, in the old versions of Office, most recent documents were listed at the top, and old documents fell off the bottom of the list? If you had to open a bunch of files looking for something, and then wanted to go back to an earlier file, it wasn't handy anymore. Well. In Office 2007, if you want a Word document or Excel spreadsheet to stay put because you use it all the time, you pin it. Each file has an image of a sideways pushpin next to it. Click it, it turns green and is upright. That doc never falls off the list. It's awesome!

4. Word count at bottom of Word

I don't think this was there before. It might have been, and if so, I didn't notice it. I just remember there being page count, and I created a macro to quickly pull up the word count box. Now there's not only word count (very handy) in the bottom toolbar, if you highlight a section of text, it shows how many words in that, too, like 524/34,000.

5. Windows Vista's new ALT+TAB interface

You could always cycle between programs by holding down ALT and pressing TAB until you got to the program you wanted. In later versions a window would pop up showing the type of document and the name. Now, it shows a live image of that screen. So if a web page is loading slowly, or you're not sure if you have any new mail in your inbox, you can do ALT+TAB and check without having to actually switch to the program. Going along with that, you can point to the open item in the toolbar and it will show the same image. I always have a lot of stuff open (right now I have 12 things open in different applications) so I'm constantly using this.

In TiVo/NFL Sunday Ticket:

6. 30-second jump-back

The best feature by far. Didn't understand the line that garble-mouthed character said? Jump back. Wanna watch the big tackle again? Jump back. Oooh, a new Mac/PC commercial! Jump back twice.

7. Recording two things at once

I don't know how I did it before. We had two VCRs, but the cheap one in the bedroom I hated to use. It's a must-have for a two-team NFL family. Speaking of which...

8. Football Fan Gadgetry

On our non-TiVo receiver, you can press a button to see the scores of all the games without switching away from yours or waiting for the ticker to pass through the one you're curious about. You can choose a game that might be six channels away and just flick to it. You can also pull up live stats!

In the Camry:

9. Mileage Meter

There's a meter in the dash that shows the current mileage. It's a real eye-opener. The car averages 33 to 39 mpg overall. But you can get a really good idea of how it breaks down by checking the current meter. Going uphill, it gets 10 or less. Going downhill, of course, it's not using gas and is charging the battery. On the highway, it's one thing to know you're using much more gas going 70 than going 55, and quite another to see the needle drop 20 mpgs.

10. Automatic Rearview Mirror

Instead of having to flip the mirror when you have bright lights behind you, the mirror adjusts automatically. I think there's a gel or something in it, and it turns blue. You have better visibility behind you than a traditional angled mirror, and don't have to keep flipping back and forth, and never get blinded. From the mirror, anyway. Can't do anything about those idiots in the oncoming lane.

11. In-steering-wheel Controls

I like being able to control the radio or make a phone call by pressing a couple of buttons with my thumb.


12. Alphasmart Neo

I've talked about this before, of course, but I still love it to pieces. It has a better thesaurus than Word, quick access to word count, easy management of files, and excellent maneuverability within the document. Plus it's light, fast on-and-off, and never goes on the fritz (knock wood!).

13. Instant Alert

My kids' school district just contracted for this. You put your information into their system, and if there's a weather delay or cancellation, an emergency in one of the schools, or even a notice about athletics or after-school activities, they can put out a district-wide (or customized) alert to the entire district. You can get the alert via e-mail, on your PDA, cell phone (text or call), regular phone, or pager. No more listening to the radio (forever if you miss your county) or watching the crawl on TV or looking it up on the Internet.

Funny story about this. I had to drop by the school today, and the secretary was talking to someone who was obviously irate that they hadn't gotten an alert for this morning's two-hour delay. Thing is, the paperwork was mailed to the parents on Monday. We just got it Tuesday. It says right in the paperwork that a test message will go out to everyone on December 19, and after that, it will be live. Duh.

Maybe someday I'll do a Thursday Thirteen about all the ways people are stupid.

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