Get Firefox!

I use the FireFox browser, maintained by the Mozilla Foundation.

I don’t use it because it’s any faster than the beleaguered Internet Explorer (IE), nor do I use it for its touted security features. I use it because the tabbed browsing experience is VERY appealing to me. That and the plethora of extensions available for this browser makes it a superior browsing platform. I’ll mention the various extensions that I find useful in future postings, but for those of you that fear using Firefox because you know that there are some websites that just won’t work without Internet Explorer I want to mention the “IE View” extension.

This extension adds an entry to your context menu (right-click on your web page to see your current context menu) that allows you to “View this page in IE”. If you find your web page is complaining that you are not using IE or perhaps is not acting the way you think it should, then clicking this context menu item quickly quickly launches IE using the current URL.

The vast majority of web sites work fine under Firefox. Customizing your web browsing experience so that your browser has installed only those features that you use certainly makes for a leaner browser. For myself, I’ve added enough extensions that it now takes about the same amount of time to launch Firefox as it does to launch IE. But the Firefox browser is orders of magnitude more useful to me and the way I like to surf.

Active Words

I’m currently test driving ActiveWords and have to say that I’m impressed so far. The premise initially sounded a little shaky but as I keep working I find more and more uses for it.

I like the fact that I now have an easily configurable word corrector that is active in every application. So I only need to maintain the one set of words. I’m talking about capitalizing proper nouns, correcting dyslexic typing, removing double caps at the beginning of words.

I can also assign short forms to things like “adr” which will expand into my street address or “mp” which will expand into my general email address.

You can even go so far as to create entire macros that will pull windows to the fore and then perform actions against them. A great time saver if you have some repetitive tasks. For me – I don’t like all my apps starting up at once when I (infrequently) reboot the machine. Often if I reboot it’s because I’m troubleshooting or focused on doing something specific. So I have a macro called “Start” that will sequentially initiate (and manipulate) all the applications that I like to have running when I’m ready to have them run.

DirecTV TIVO 30 second skip gone?

*Update 11/21/2005* OK, I don’t know what is different today but trying to apply the TIVO 30 second skip hack works just fine now. I must have attempted to apply it a half dozen times on Saturday and now, *presto*, it works like a charm. I guess it was a false alarm.

I still mean what I say below about making the ads more enticing…
*End Update*

Hey, has anybody else noticed that the 30 second skip is no longer working for DirecTV’s TIVO? I use it all the time to jump past the less imaginative commercials. Now I find that it just suddenly stopped working. As near as I can figure, it seems like it disappeared sometime between November 17 and November 19. 🙁

I don’t see anything about this on the DirecTV site but I’ve sent them an email to ask them to confirm that this is so.

I’m not sure why we have to have this constant battle between advertisers and viewers. Surely it’s obvious that the reason folks don’t watch most TV commercials is that they are dreck.
The existence of TV programs dedicated to airing amusing or well done ads proves that folks are willing to watch them if they are entertaining.

The solution lies not in forcing folks to watch terrible ads, but rather to produce ads that folks are willing to watch. I personally will rewind and watch an ad if it looks like it was interesting or clever. And I will quickly skip past one that is not. It ain’t rocket science to figure out the solution here.

And given the ability of TIVO (and I’m sure other DVR / PVR solutions) to discern what exactly it is that you are viewing (this was highlighted in the Janet Jackson boob debacle) it certainly is not a stretch to believe that advertisers can find out what kinds of ads we are willing to watch and tailor their content to meet our tastes…

Dual Monitors

A while ago I decided to add a second monitor to my system. It was MUCH easier than I thought. I couldn’t use the video adapter built into my motherboard for this, but I *could* pick up a card that had two outputs (in this case a digital and an analog) and then direct each output to a separate monitor. Extending the desktop in XP is trivial.

Then I decided I wanted one of the monitors to read like a sheet of paper. But it wasn’t one of your “new fandangled” ones that can sense its orientation so I picked up a wonderful piece of software called Pivot Pro that allows me to rotate my screen(s) as I see fit. I have has no real issues with it except that PowerPoint presentations insist on displaying on my secondary monitor (the rotated one) and for some reason they insist on ignoring my Pivot Pro settings.

I suspect there is a way to force PowerPoint to behave, but honestly, it’s not that big a deal for me.

Here’s what it looks like:
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