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Friday, 21 October 2011

Sometimes You Already Know the Answer

Funny how I sometimes manage to install really useful stuff on my PC and then forget all about it.

Months ago I downloaded Dropbox onto my PCs at home and work, and on my Nexus S. I got them going, but couldn't think of anything much I needed to transfer or share just then, and time did the rest. Dropbox became just an icon on my desktop.

A few months ago I was reflecting on how annoying it was that I had to remember to take my portable disc drive home every Friday so that I could run SuperMemo at home over the weekend. A penny faintly dropped in the background: what if I put the SuperMemo files into Dropbox? Then I wouldn't need the portable drive at all. Five minutes later I was set up; the hardest bit was remembering the Dropbox password.

Another example. I have AutoHotkey running on my PC. A really useful program, though a complete b*gg*r to configure, thanks to its highly cryptic scripting language. I used it to set up keyboard shortcuts in Firefox, Explorer, et al. so that, for instance, typing Ctrl + Alt + F in Explorer will convert it to Folders view. It can also correct typing errors on the fly (in any program), which is useful if you make consistent mistakes. For instance, I very often type my first name as 'CHarles'. AutoHotkey corrects that. (In fact it did it just now; I had to edit the 'h' manually.) I was very enthusiastic about AutoHotkey for a few weeks, but once I'd put in all the obvious shortcuts, it went out of my mind.

Last month it stopped working, after I'd rearranged some folders. (I noticed when I signed an e-mail wrongly.) Easy enough to get it going again, but having been drawn to my attention again, I thought of some more useful shortcuts I could add to it. So now, instead of entering my full e-mail address, I can just type 'c@' and AutoHotkey fills in the rest (as indeed it just did). Other user names I frequently use are also now shortcutted, and when I'm writing JavaScript programs, I can type 'jq' instead of 'jQuery', which saves more time than you might think.

I did these new shortcuts at work, then realised it would be nice to have them at home as well. If only there was some way of sharing the two AutoHotKey config files. Oh, wait...

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