Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Peanut butter

We have been using PBwiki for the family gift wiki. (If you don't know about the gift wiki, you really need to talk to me or someone in the know.) When you log on next to find out what to buy me for Christmas, you may notice that you are redirected and the name is now PBworks. Your password will still work, but you might want to go ahead and update your bookmark to

They are making change because they want to appeal to a more corporate market. Evidently, Peanut Butter Works is more professional sounding than Peanut Butter Wiki. Or something.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What a Wonderful World

Today is my father's birthday. He would have been 96 years old. This song was played at his funeral -- I think Jenny put it together. Every time I hear the song now, I remember him.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Type and find it

One of the really powerful things about Firefox is the many community members who write extensions that add lots of functionality and gee-whiz features to the browser. Not everything is in the add-ons, however. The generic browser itself has some pretty neat feature if you spend a little time customizing it.

One feature is not completely obvious from the options menu. (For PC's start with Tools / Options. For Linux and Mac, start with Edit / Preferences.) Navigate to the Advanced section and look under the General tab. You will see some Accessibility options. One of these is for "Search for text when I start typing." It comes unchecked as its default, so go ahead and check it. Close the options/preferences window.

Now you are ready to try it. Start typing the word options. You will see Firefox start to highlight its first occurrence on the page. Press the F3 key and Firefox will jump to the next occurrence. Try it several times, then use shift-F3 to go back the other way. Also note that Firefox has opened up a small window in the bottom left of your browser screen. The word you are searching for appears there. You will also see icons to help you go forward or backward, as well as to highlight all instances of the word (or words) you are searching. This same menu can be pulled up using the Edit / Find menu. Similarly, you can cycle through your searches using the ctrl-G and shift-ctrl-g key combinations. Firefox is rarely content with giving you only a single way of doing something.

Not only can you use the F3 and other keys to cycle through a page to look for your term, but when you navigate to another page you can do the same thing without re-entering your search.

You can use find features in other browsers, but I don't know any among the standard ones that offer as much power and as many options as in Firefox. If you haven't been using Firefox, try it and find out why it has the reputation for being so much faster, more secure, and more powerful than IE/Internet Explorer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Doodle it

Sometimes it is tough scheduling events for a large family, or for lots of friends. Coordinating everyone's schedule usually involves a lot of back-and-forth until you finally find a time slot that works for everyone. Here is where Doodle can help you.

Doodle does two things for you. First, it allows you to easily poll everyone and find out their opinion on something -- for example, do you prefer potato chips or tortilla chips with your Duke Dip? Second, you can create a schedule of options for when you want to do something, such as take a vacation, have a picnic, come paint my bedroom.

Once you create the poll (which is all menu driven and very easy to do), you just give a URL to everyone who you want to participate. They click it, put in their response, and away you go. You have to have an account to create a poll, but not to just vote.

It takes longer to explain it than to just do it, so I created a couple of samples for you. Normally, I would e-mail the link to you, but for the sample below you can just click and go.

  1. Where do you want to vacation next?
  2. When are you free to take a vacation?

There are various options in creating a poll. For example, I didn't select specific times of day to ask when you wanted to vacation, since I am really just interested in the days. I configured mine so everyone can see the results, but you could mask this from the participants if you wanted, for example, to let everyone vote without being influenced by others. You can also elect to be notified when someone votes if you use a news reader (RSS type feed).

Go ahead and start Doodling now. It is a good step toward becoming more organized.