Saturday, 20 June 2009

Launching Multiple Files - The Easy Version

One thing that prevents me from Doing Stuff I Should Be Doing is the hassle in getting started. One of my current projects involves me opening two web pages, an application, a text file, and a directory. While the agony of opening all these things would not discourage a man of stouter will, I am not that man.

I'd heard something vague about batch files, but not how to make them. I assumed it involved watching twelve seasons of Star Trek, installing Linux, and conducting furious online flame wars about the competing virtues of World of Warcraft characters.

Fortunately it turned out to be a three-step process:

1. Put shortcuts to -- (a) your browser and (b) the files, folders, and apps you want -- in a new folder.
2. Make a text file with a line for each item: "start filename", or for the sites: "start firefox"
3. Save it as Filename.bat in the same folder as the files.

As long as the shortcuts are named without spaces in them, it will actually open all the stuff. If you make a shortcut to it, you can set a custom icon for the shortcut.
I put mine in the Quick Launch bar:

Here's the link to the Lifehacker post that demystified it for me.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

OneNote is awesome

OneNote is a notepad with the full force of Microsoft applied to it. (This sounds like it's a bloated piece of crap that's been compromised beyond belief, doesn't work with anything else, and exists only to keep a megacorporation in the yacht-buying business.) For once, Microsoft have taken everything they have ever done right and put it in one place.

I opened the app. It took less than one second.
I made a new note. One click.
I clicked somewhere and started typing. Anywhere I clicked, I could type.
I dragged a PDF file onto my page. Not only could I do that, it asked me if I wanted (a) a link (b) the file contents, or (c) a visual snapshot of the file.
I chose the snapshot, and dragged it anywhere I wanted.
I right-clicked the snapshot and made the text inside it searchable as actual text.
Then I took a screenshot from a website, pasted it into OneNote, then made the text inside the image searchable.
Then I dragged some web elements over. Then I lassoed half of them and cut-and-pasted them somewhere else.
Then I drew an arrow on the screen, dragged the arrow somewhere else, then copied and rotated it.
Then I got a highlighter and drew green all over the important words.
Then I threw away the PDF because I no longer cared for it.

By this time I'd made a goddamn mess, so I resized some stuff. Then I printed the whole thing to PDF.


The great thing about OneNote is that it is that rarest of things: a digital simulacrum that isn't actually worse than its physical counterpart. It was designed to be part of the Tablet Edition of Windows, so there's a real sense that you interact with it, rather than meekly submit to its foibles (Word? formatting? arrggh).
I've been looking for a digital notebook for a long time. I started with a folder full of text documents, then moved up to TextPad, a barebones outliner. Up until today I was using TreeDBnotes, which allows images and styled text. But now I'm a OneNote man.

(By the way, here's my effort. Put up on the fridge.)