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Enso Gives Keyboard Commands to Windows Users 234

Posted by Zonk
from the as-humane-as-cold-unfeeling-software-can-be dept.
illuminatedwax writes "The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg's latest column is a writeup on a new software system called Enso. Enso is from a small software startup called Humanized, led by Aza Raskin. The software allows Windows users to do common tasks, like launching programs, spellchecking, or Googling for search terms, but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks from within any program in Windows by use of the keyboard. From the article: 'There are two initial Enso products, which can be downloaded at humanized.com. One, called Enso Launcher, allows you to launch programs and switch among windows via typed commands. The other, called Enso Words, allows you to do spell-checking, even when the program you're using doesn't include that capability, and to look up the meaning of words. Both products also include a simple calculator and the ability to launch Google searches.' Humanized says that users will be able to program their own commands for Enso in future versions."
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Enso Gives Keyboard Commands to Windows Users

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  • Ads? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xENoLocO (773565) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:45PM (#17754666) Homepage
    Aren't I paying a subscription so I *don't* have to look at ads? Perhaps I'm missing something in this "article"...
    • You mean you can't already do all that in windows now? Linux and Macs have long had right click contextual mouse buttons ("open hihlighed text in google", check spelling is default for all text windows across all apps, there's open-with contexts. Macs have the Expose and command-tab application switchers from the keyboard. Linux have virtual desktops from the mouse, etc...)

      Are you saying that this sort of thing is not currently in widows or wont' be in vista. I'm having a hard time believing people work
      • The difference is that this system is designed to be efficient for touch-typists, something which contextual menus aren't. If you type the name of the desired command, you don't have to click n times (with n depending of the current desktop status) to open a specific window. I think of it as a command line for the GUI.

        If you're curious about the possibilities, read about Archy [wikipedia.org], the inspiring project for Enso.
      • Re:Wait a second (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:18PM (#17757450) Homepage Journal
        I can't understand why people pay for stuff like this. Okay, a system-wide spellchecker is cool, but a hotkey launcher? I'm a mouse hater myself (not in the Disney sense... er, ok, maybe that applies too).

        Google desktop + web search == [Ctrl, Ctrl].

        A great deal of what needs doing can be done with standard key combos plus a few links ("shortcut" files) in a folder that's in your %PATH% environment variable. Then it's [Windows key + R] to get a Run prompt, and e.g. "ff" for FireFox, "ie" for that other browser, "vlc," "mmjb," "notepad2," "pskill iexplore.exe," etc.

        Most Windows keyboards have a context menu key on them now anyway -- usually to the left of the RH [Ctrl] key -- so context-specific commands don't require a mouse either. A registry entry can add a command to any file type, complete with a shortcut key.

        Really, I rarely have to find my wireless mouse between the couch cushions, and I don't have any special software installed. Their app integration sounds cool and all, but just using a series of standard key combos [Ctrl + C], [Ctrl, Ctrl], [Ctrl + V], [Enter] is so simple that I haven't been motivated to find a better approach.

  • by elcid73 (599126) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:46PM (#17754702) Homepage
    My thoughts:

    Ive been beta testing it for a handful of days. Ive never heard of quicksilver, and all that (PC user) so Im not sure what to make of the comparison- but Ill say the following things:

    The quasimodal activation is what they wanted to emphasis, but it takes some getting used to. The caps lock key is the key in question quasi-modal means you have to hold it down while typing (like shift) long commands which requires some interesting hand movements. Further- for long commands like open with internet explorer (since its not a default browser on my system) then you have tab to complete the command like other CLIs but since youre already holding the caps key down, its really strange IMO . They do have a mode lock, but they discourage use.

    -I sent some feedback during the beta about the memory usage 23-35MB at any given time seems a bit high for a launcher, but a)its beta , b) YMMV and c)You may not care about that.

    -Actual usage is great. I like the learn where you can make shortcuts that dont clutter up your file system, it has a real-time list of applications/docs/etc that gets filtered out as you type your command and you can tab-complete or just arrow down if you want.

    -Spellcheck, which is a much touted initial proof of concept feature of Enso, seems odd when you only want to spell check single word the spell check interface takes a second to load up (on both of my admittedly older & slower machines) and takes up the whole screen with a giant text box which seems like overkill. You can use the define command I think and get a did you mean prompt which is nice.

    -Getting quick access to commonly worded applications (like internet explorer) requires a shortcut (I used ie obviously) but you cant combine that with the open with command. open ie opens up IE, but the open with ie gives me an is not a command error message.

    Also Id like to say the best part of this interface is the subtle messaging/feedback system they have. Feedback is large and unmistakable and clear, yet still manage to stay out of your way.

    My final thought is that the WSJ article misses the point of spellcheck. Although I agree that its a bit clumsy at times, its point is to break apart the notion of a different spellcheck with a different dictionary for every single application on your system. You have to learn the shortcut key for each one and build/add/ignore dictionaries for all as well.

    Enso (thankfully) seeks to a put a single spellcheck interface that is universal in all applications.
    • by dangrover (782060) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:59PM (#17754988) Homepage
      The quasimodal activation is what they wanted to emphasis
      Hunchbacks rejoice! :: ducks ::
    • its point is to break apart the notion of a different spellcheck with a different dictionary for every single application on your system.

      Meaning the OS should provide the spell-checking functionality to application developers? Done: http://developer.apple.com/documentation/Cocoa/Con ceptual/SpellCheck/SpellCheck.html [apple.com]

      I don't see anything else here that Linux/OSX hotkeys or the command line doesn't do.
      • by elcid73 (599126)
        Apart from the fact that I excluded Mac in the first couple sentences, I think the other aspect is tight integration and a fluid user experience. Although the analogy is poor, I view these statements as similar as saying "Well, I can listen to mp3s on my Zune... I don't see anything with iTunes/iPod that MS can't already do..." ...when it's about looking at the entire user experience system. That said I'm very intersted in checking out Quicksilver and all the other apps that are similar.
        • I think the other aspect is tight integration and a fluid user experience.

          Umm, I'm not sure what you mean by this. In what way is the OS X, ubiquitous spell checking service not a fluid user experience? It just underlines misspelled words in red and right clicking gives you options for replacing those words. For other functions, clicking a key combo I defined looks up any highlighted word in 11 online dictionaries and thesaurus, regardless of the program I'm using it in. What, exactly, do you think could

          • by elcid73 (599126)
            Well an application *and* spellchecker integrated into the same application. that's what I was referring to. ...and again- from what I understand of Jef Raskin's "Humane Interface" and the work at the Raskin Inst. that Enso isn't going to be limited to just an application launcher and spellchecker. .......and again again, I'm not saying that other applications *aren't* fluid/smooth user experiences, just that this is what Enso is trying to do. As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm not sold 100% yet on this so I'm
            • Well an application *and* spellchecker integrated into the same application.

              I still don't understand. OS X's spellchecker is integrated into every application. How is the fact that words I screw up being underlined in red in my web browser, e-mail client, IM client, etc and giving me alternate, correct spelling to replace it not integrated? Have you used OS X's spellchecker?

              You can tell I'm not sold on it because I didn't use the spellchecker to proof this post because it gets in the way too much (as I

              • by elcid73 (599126)
                -Well then don't friggin' use it! Good grief- I don't know what else to say to you... other than: "hey! there doesn't only have to be *one* form of every piece of software in the world!"

                -I already said in my first post that use windows and wasn't familiar with the QS/Mac side of things.

                -For the third or fourth time (to you alone) Enso isn't a spellchecker. It takes common things like app launching, spellchecking, thesaurus,and.. I'm thinking of things off the top of my head now: copy paste, print preview
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  Well then don't friggin' use it! Good grief- I don't know what else to say to you... other than: "hey! there doesn't only have to be *one* form of every piece of software in the world!"

                  You originally wrote, "I think the other aspect is tight integration and a fluid user experience." in regard to how it compared to OS X's ability to do the same. I think what, I and a lot of other users are trying to figure out is if this will let us replicate some of the functionality we have on OS X on Windows or if it i

                  • by elcid73 (599126)

                    You're right- not having used QS/OSX doesn't cause this to be a bit more difficult.... my responses are based on the general consensus I get reading these posts here that everyone seems to think that the three or four combinations of (take your pick):

                    • OSS app launcher
                    • and shortcuts
                    • batch files
                    • google toolbars
                    • hidden folders with shortcuts used in conjuction with the Windows key
                    • ... or just plain 'ol CLI of preference)

                    ...seem to mean that all of these things can't come together more easily. That remind

                    • by elcid73 (599126)
                      dangit- "...*does* cause this..."
                    • So...based purely on what I'm reading alone, OSX and the built in services and QS et all appear to do a better job and achieve all the integration and consistent UI objectives and extensibility that I think we can expect of Enso. I have no idea, but since I'm on Windows and I'm still not satisfied with it, I wouldn't think that you would be even if it was in 100% perfect condition. So (again) I would say stick with what tools work best for you. Enso probably isn't your cup of tea.

                      Sticking with OS X's bui

              • by elcid73 (599126)
                ...and I'm sorry for blowing up the first bullet there....and I meant "application launcher *and* spellchecker" in the previous post.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573)
      I use a program for doing long macros called SuperKeys [vellosoft.com]. I have some pretty lengthy sequences for really routine tasks that I do 100s of time daily. This one program has nearly eliminated my carpal tunnel issues I had begun to develop because of the repetitive nature of some of the data entry I do daily.

      Basically you can set whatever "modal" key you want (I tend to use % or *) and then have a string after that (such as %sqx) and it immediately begins to perform the macro. Works great for what I need.

      The o
    • Am I not understanding something? Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt seem to have everything this new program has, including auto-completion and any amount of programmability.

      Use the free, open source AutoHotkey [autohotkey.com] to make keyboard shortcuts to run programs and enter text. AutoHotkey is actively developed. Often the AutoHotKey developer, Chris Mallett, releases 3 versions a month to incorporate user's suggestions. (Windows only)

      Use AutoIt to simulate keyboard entries and mouse clicks and when you need complicated decision-making. Download AutoIt with the SciTE auto-completion IDE [autoitscript.com]. The SciTE editor makes writing and testing AutoIt programs and compiling the finished results very easy.

      Both of these programs are very sophisticated, apparently the best available, come with compilers, and are FREE. Both are completely programmable.

      For example, I've written an AutoHotKey program that uses a shortcut to toggle between Windows shortcut keys and WordStar/Brief control-key editing commands. I like to avoid taking the time to touch the mouse.

      AutoIt is great for automating installations of software. You can compile all the installation files into the AutoIt file, and have AutoIt set permissions and copy files during the installation.

      Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt allow programming your own GUIs.

      Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt need an addition: A GUI method of defining keyboard shortcuts, for unskilled users.

      --
      U.S. government violence in Iraq encourages other violence.
      • How to find the definition of "proclivity", as mentioned by Walt Mossberg in the linked article: Google define: proclivity [google.com].
      • by elcid73 (599126)
        No you're not missing anything. Use whatever tools work best for you. Enso is simply another tool. Another take on existing ideas. An attempt to create a "system" that's focused on the user experience and doesn't have to use two different pieces of software. Enso is also a starting point. Archy, The Humane Interface and Jef Raksin's ideas are the basis of Enso, and they are farther reaching than an application launcher and spellchecker.

        But you're not missing anything. Just like there are all kinds of
      • by blincoln (592401)
        AutoIt is great for automating installations of software. You can compile all the installation files into the AutoIt file, and have AutoIt set permissions and copy files during the installation.

        What software are you installing that either:

        - Doesn't consist of an MSI / InstallShield package which supports unattended installs by default.
        or
        - Doesn't require anything more than copying files around?

        Scripting out keypresses and mouse clicks sounds like a good way to end up with a buggy installer.
    • by MoogMan (442253)
      Pfft, they should have used <Esc>: as the modal command operator ;-)

      <Esc>:q! - Windows is Shutting down.
  • > "but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks from within any program in Windows"

    Countdown to "adoption" in Vista: 10, 9, 8, 7...
    • by nuzak (959558)
      You may as well just stop there. Vista is already out. I still download WinMover and PSHotLaunch because Windows doesn't come with anything like them, and I'm not counting on them ever being "adopted" in any release of their OS.

    • by cnettel (836611)
      Gates has been talking about how part of the next Windows UI/UX would include a universal "command bar" (from the description something like this, but add a bit of Bob/Clippy "helpfulness" to it). If and when it appears, it won't exactly be like this product was the first time anyone ever came up with something similar.
  • So what it can do that csh cant?
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Type in comamnds in an application? but does it work in DOS 6.22?
  • by Hobbs0 (1055434)
    Wasn't this sort of stuff available in Linux years ago?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by romi (80701)
      It's just you.
    • by smbarbour (893880)
      Available in DOS before that too!

      Most used key combination that I use when working in Windows: Windows, r, c, m, d, enter. Then I can use a myriad of typed commands such as "net stop spooler", "net start spooler" (often used one after the other. The spoolers seem to freeze up a lot at our company.), "ping", "netstat", and one of my personal favorites, "netsh" (Which even allows you to reconfigure the network adapters of REMOTE computers)
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:51PM (#17754812) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this almost a step backwards? I mean, if you ask me, command line was always simpler and faster for me, but too many people were confused by "all that weird stuff you have to type."

    So in came the GUIs and icons.

    Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?

    • by jbreckman (917963)

      It is good user interface design to make things very simple for novice users. Hence GUIs, icons, etc. etc. Users like to be able to sit down on some new bit of software and instantly be able to do most of what that program does.

      However, good user interface design also entails giving power users the ability to do the same common tasks either from the keyboard or from some other shortcut, making them even more productive.

      No one is talking about replacing GUIs and icons. They are providing power users m

    • by FallLine (12211) *

      Isn't this almost a step backwards? I mean, if you ask me, command line was always simpler and faster for me, but too many people were confused by "all that weird stuff you have to type."

      So in came the GUIs and icons.

      Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?

      No. GUIs were necessary for the average person to be able to get their tasks done quickly. It's rather annoying if you're brand new to a program and you have to look up in a manual the keystrokes necessary to

      • by SQLGuru (980662)
        I thought launching was covered.

        Windows+R iexpore enter
        Windows+R winword enter
        Windows+R mailto: enter
        Windows+R cmd enter
        Windows+R calc enter
        Windows+R http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] enter

        Why would I need a 25MB memory resident program to handle that?

        Layne
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        I don't believe that people can't learn to use the keyboard if the GUI isn't there. I remember learning wordPerfect 5.1 back in highschool, and everything could be done via the keyboard. There was a strip of paper that sat above the keyboard outlining which combination of shift, ctrl, alt, and F# key did which action. Every student I know had most of that memorized. I'm not just talking about the computer geeks either. This is just the way the software worked, and people learned to use it. I guess it
        • by FallLine (12211) *

          I don't believe that people can't learn to use the keyboard if the GUI isn't there. I remember learning wordPerfect 5.1 back in highschool, and everything could be done via the keyboard. There was a strip of paper that sat above the keyboard outlining which combination of shift, ctrl, alt, and F# key did which action. Every student I know had most of that memorized. I'm not just talking about the computer geeks either. This is just the way the software worked, and people learned to use it. I guess it would

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TeknoHog (164938)

      Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?

      It's a little like "Those who don't understand unix are condemned to reinvent it poorly", or whatever the exact phrasing was.

    • by dubbreak (623656)
      The problem is that a simpler method for non-advanced users was introduced (to make entry easier) but the options for advance users were lost.

      When you are dealing with HCI, you want to have a balance between ease of use for new users and quick effective use for advance users. Just having a GUI with a point and click is great for new users, but it slows advanced users down.

      An annecdote: I was using a "intuitive" label designing tool. The main goal of the software was that a new user could design a label
    • by elcid73 (599126)
      Well IMO, this represent a step towards better marriage of CLI and GUI. The typical convention is "either or" but this put the CLI into the GUI.... it's not all the way there yet, and sure there's tons of ways to do the stuff that Enso already does, but still.

      And as I've said elsewhere, the bigger idea is to bring all the common commands you do in an interface under Enso/Archy/Humane Interface so that you don't have to relearn them in every application you install.

    • I guess it's a GUI command line, you get the best of both worlds. The thing I didn't like about command line is that it's typo-sensitive and conventional GUI did away with the need to type long commands. I can't speak for this program, but Quicksilver is fairly typo-insensitive, it can usually figure out what you wanted.
  • QuickKeys (Score:3, Informative)

    by non (130182) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:54PM (#17754878) Homepage Journal
    QuickKeys for the macintosh essentially did all of this and more 15 years ago. nothing new here, move along.
  • by J.R. Random (801334) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:57PM (#17754926)

    From the article: You lose the normal use of the Caps Lock key.

    That is easily the best feature of the entire program.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Overzeetop (214511)
      And eliminate the programs application to most Architectural shops. Oddly enough, practically all architectural drawings (save residential plans from hacks) are done in all caps.
      • by guaigean (867316)
        And many of them have font options to auto-capitalize all text. Then you can type normally, or in lower case, and get the desired result, as well as use something like this. I don't have any idea what this software specifically is good for, but perhaps this would solve your loss of Caps-Lock.
        • The only problem with the all-caps, is that some specialty abbreviations are more readable in mixed form.

          Hadn't thought about it, but my 4yo also uses caps lock to type stuff. I get her into notepad, set the fontsize to about 40, and let her go to town typing stuff (her name, the alphabet, simple words). Not really a big deal anymore, as I've recently "retired" my wife's laptop and have installed edubuntu on it for my daughter. She (the 4yo) isn't caught in the MS business machine world yet, so Linux works
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pestilence669 (823950)
      Hey man. I use my caps-lock key daily. How on Earth will I be able to type important emails from now on?
      • by MrNougat (927651)
        There's probably a GUI interface that'll let you click a checkbox on|off to control caps lock state.
  • by overshoot (39700)
    PC Tools for Windows is finally back.

    About time -- here it's taken something like fifteen years to get back the damage done when Symantec bought it out and plowed it under (presumably in favor of the Norton Desktop.)
  • by nuzak (959558) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:58PM (#17754974) Journal
    Apparently, it requires upwards of two dozen megs of memory for a "humane" hotkey launcher. And you get to pay $25-40 for it.

    Google Desktop Search is free, it pops up with a double-tap of ctrl (and doesn't require you to hold down keys), it autocompletes, with executables first, and it's taking about 5 megs.

  • At first I thought this was going to be a CanonCAT / command line nostalgia mashup, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    OK - was a little scared when the presentation sharted with "computers are too hard" and realized none of these guys were programming when computers were much harder, but let's see how it goes.

    I'm still not sure if they're on to something per se, or if they're on the front steps of a finally useful voice recognition system.

    But I'm installing it ASAP...

    • by wootest (694923)

      OK - was a little scared when the presentation sharted with "computers are too hard" and realized none of these guys were programming when computers were much harder

      If you're a programmer, chances are you don't think 'computers' are 'too hard' at all. However, not everyone's a programmer. Additionally, just because computers used to be much harder, it doesn't mean they're sufficiently easy to use now.

      For what it's worth, I do think they're on to something. A ubiquitous command line with easily understan

  • 1.) Create a directory somewhere on your computer and create shortcuts there to programs you use the most.

    2.) Add that directory to your "Path" Environment Variable under System Properties > Advanced.

    3.) Rename the shortcuts you created to simple words, ie Firefox = fire, Thunderbird = mail, Winamp = amp.

    That's it. To start these programs, [WIN] + r, then type the program you want.

    I use it all the time and works great.

    You can run more advanced commands by editing shortcut properties adding parameters to the commands and such.
    • by TheGuano (851573)
      I do this as well. All of my shortcuts are two- or TLA to save time, and I try to keep my desktop clear of permanent icons.

      ff = firefox
      ps = photoshop

      Another benefit is that accessories and applets already in your Windows directory automatically work too:
      calc, cmd, regedt32, dfrg.msc, etc...
    • by palad1 (571416)
      *removes Slashdotter hat*
      Thank you very much mister.

      *puts Slashdotter hat back on and starts rambling on about quicksilver rip-off*
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Or, using OS X, you can skip steps 1, 2, and 3 and just hit cmd-space, type the first few letters, and hit enter. It works for programs and files.

      • For me, using Spotlight to do this is very inefficient. Quicksilver is usually several times faster. The difference is that Spotlight searches indexes that look inside files and that's unnecessary, it only needs to search the file name.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Draknor (745036)
      If you are going to go to that trouble, take it the next step & put those icons in your Start Menu somewhere, and assign short cut keys for them. Even fewer keystrokes to launch -- first thing I do on any new/rebuilt XP computer is assign the Notepad icon to CTRL+SHIFT+N & Calculator to CTRL+SHIFT+C.

      Second thing I do is replace Notepad with Crimson Editor :-)

      Third thing is replace Calc with Powertoy Calculator :-)

      The caveat to this method is a limited number of letters that make sense for a given a
    • A similar method (Score:4, Informative)

      by mako1138 (837520) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:43PM (#17756856)
      What I do is co-opt the "favorites" menu for shortcuts.

      1) Put shortcuts into the favorites menu.
      2) If any two share the same first letter, rename.

      Access with separate keystrokes
      [WIN] (brings up start menu)
      a (goes into favs menu)
      [first letter] (runs shortcut)

      So to get to Firefox, I type [WIN] a f, for Cygwin it's [WIN] a c, etc.

      This method works best if you don't use IE, obviously. You can keep the "Links" folder from showing up in the start menu by making it hidden.
    • The problem is that it's not an auto-learning system, you have to make each of those shortcuts manually. With software like Quicksilver, I don't have to make any shortcuts, I just start entering letters and it will search my apps, my documents, my address book, my Firefox bookmarks, my FTP bookmarks, all my music, et. all and shows you the ones that those letters best fit. Quicksilver is a lot more forgiving with typos too, you can see your results before you execute them, and back out of them in case you
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by endrue (927487)
      Has no-one here heard of SlickRun [bayden.com]?

      - Andrew
    • 1.) Create a directory somewhere on your computer and create shortcuts there to programs you use the most ... You can run more advanced commands by editing shortcut properties adding parameters to the commands and such.

      Fair enough, and possibly funny given that you have to go out of your way to make for the lack of a meaningful path in Windows.

      Shortcuts "can" work, but I'd suggest something along the lines of:

      $ mkdir ~/bin/
      $ find /c/Programs -type f -iname '*.exe' -exec ln -s {} \;

      That'll take care of all y
  • I used to have this DOS program that allowed me to do the same... hmmm what was it called... 4DOS? someone help me...
  • by leighklotz (192300) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:06PM (#17755118) Homepage
    The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg's latest column apparently missed a writeup on a existing software system called Emacs [gnu.org]. Emacs is software written by Humans. The software allows Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Amiga, ITS, TOPS-20, Solaris, HP-UX, Multics, DOS, and Apple ][ users to do common tasks, like launching programs, spellchecking (M-$), or Googling (W3M) for search terms, but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks by use of the keyboard. From the article: 'There are many implementations of Emacs products, which can be downloaded anywhere. One, called Emacs, allows you edit text, Java, C++, C#, Lisp, Perl, XML, HTML, Relax NG, ADA, and other obscure languages, to launch programs and switch among windows via typed commands, do spell-checking, and to look up the meaning of words. Most versuins of Emacs also include a simple calculator and the ability to launch Google searches.' Humans are already able to write their own commands for Emacs using the ELisp extension language, not only in current versions, but in all versions all the way back to the pre-GNU ITS version (which itself then used TECO as the extension language.
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:18PM (#17755348) Homepage
    Maybe this software does something "more", but keyboard shortcuts are already built into Windows. I use it to launch Cygwin Rxvt terminal windows all the time. You just put it in your Start Menu and then right-click, Properties, and enter something in "Shortcut key". It works no matter what program I'm using.. I use Ctrl-Shift-F10 to launch Rxvt, and I have yet to see a situation where some program stops shortcut key from working. Similarly I launch Calculator with Ctrl-Shift-F12, etc.
    • by drawfour (791912)
      Similarly, I use Ctrl-Alt-S to launch my screen saver... But I think the point here is you don't have to remember that Cygwin Rxvt is Ctrl-Shift-10, and Calc is Ctrl-Shift-F12, and IE is Ctrl-Shift-F6 and so on. If you know the name of the app, you just type "launch [appname]". That's probably easier than remembering which keyboard combination maps to which application.

      Of course, most people probably have a small suite of applications they actually run all the time, and probably only 5-10 shortcuts wou
    • I do use that method, but it's a bit slow to set up and it is not auto-learning.
  • Um, has anyone ever heard of Windows+R? It's called the run menu, and if you don't need a big bloated app it works great. For those who would prefer to do less legwork, and let the machine handle it, here are 2 free alternatives:

    This http://www.autohotkey.com/ [autohotkey.com] is autohotkey. Universal windows auto-complete(no more typing your name or your address, or any words you tend to misspell), ridiculous hotkey action, it's all scripting, so you can make your scripts into exes and use them on any windows compute
  • ...hotkey systems for the PC since the very first PCs shipped. In fact, I remember writing TSRs to do this for DOS myself many years ago. There are countless such products now in existence. Why has this one been singled out for a story on Slashdot?
  • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:22PM (#17755434) Homepage Journal

    Except you don't get to type with your left pinky finger cause it's holding down the caps lock. And it can't do things like "move this file to here." And it's $25 instead of free.

  • in the Litestep hotkeys module I actually use the windows key for something useful now.
  • Start Menu Shortcuts (Score:3, Informative)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:39PM (#17755752) Homepage
    I've got all of the programs I frequently use assigned to keyboard shortcuts already, through the Windows start menu.

    Ctrl-Alt-C brings up Calculator
    Ctrl-Alt-N brings up Notepad

    All you need is a shortcut to that application (or file, or website) somewhere in your Start Menu. From that shortcut's Properties, you can assign any key combination you like in the "Shortcut" textbox.

    And while the unified spellcheck is a nice feature, I use Microsoft Office for nearly everything I do... so, I already have that. It shares the dictionary across applications.
  • ... but the implementation is not very good (yet).

    It basically attempts to implement something like QuickSilver [blacktree.com] but comes out being much more like the much simpler Katapult [kde-apps.org]. It's curious then why they aren't copying stuff like the activation keys, etc. QuickSilver and Katapult share the same basic keystrokes and they're pretty comfortable too.

    I like the idea of the spell-check feature. I was always curious why this isn't the default behavior for text boxes in Windows as it is in Linux/KDE (where it's au

  • Aza Raskin (Score:3, Informative)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:42PM (#17755828)

    Aza Raskin, the owner of the company, is the son of Macintosh co-creator and User Interface Il Duce Jeff Raskin [wikipedia.org].

  • Colibri (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jsdcnet (724314)
    If you're looking for a QuickSilver-esque app for Windows, there's a good candidate called Colibri. I've been using it for months and I am totally addicted to it. Small, fast, useful, free (beer). The developer is also very accessible via his forum. http://colibri.leetspeak.org/ [leetspeak.org]
  • by wernst (536414) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:02PM (#17756130) Homepage
    I covered this for Computer Power User magazine a few months back: Launchy, over at http://www.launchy.net/ [launchy.net].

    This free, Open Source software has many sterling qualities, including:

    - extremely fast
    - looks great by default, and is skinnable too
    - takes less than 7mb of RAM while running, and no discernible CPU cycles
    - uses Alt+Space to activate/deactivate, so you can keep your CAPS LOCK key and your left pinky too
    - autocompletes text as if by magic
    - opens applications, files, and websites
    - opens bookmarks
    - has calculator built-in
    - doesn't cost $25 (or whatever)

    Hey look, I'm still using my Apple II once in a while, and respect the Raskins as much as the next guy, but that's no reason to use an inferior, more expensive product.
  • Complaint: Why is anything written by Mossberg, Dvorak, Cringely, etc put on slashdot almost instantly? I mean, these guys are lightweights and hardly "stuff that matters".

    Speaking of Mossberg, the only hope the WSJ had of attracting any new subscribers for their technical content was to offer Mossberg early retirement and give the column to Katie Boheret.

    What happened to Katie? Haven't seen her byline in some time.

  • The install for this thng requires 25MB of disk space. For a little program that supposedly just launches apps from the keyboard. It has to be doing something they're not telling you.

    They admit that it has remote update [humanized.com], so it has a built-in security vulnerability. Vista won't let it run for that reason.

    What did they do, load it up with adware?

  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:55PM (#17757046) Journal
    Terminate and Stay Resident programs are going to revolutionize the computing experience!!
  • I just installed launchy from http://www.launchy.net/ [launchy.net] today. It's open source, about 3Mb, you press ALT+Space (or whatever you choose) and up pops a dialog. Type the name of a shortcut on your start menu and it runs it. Got a calculator, a way to google something or look it up in wikipedia or whatever, a calculator, skin support, plugin support.

    It seems to work well enough so far, I'm not so much recommending it (although I think you should check it out before you bother to RTFA above) as pointing out anoth
  • What I can't understand is why they chose to make people hold the caps lock key while typing commands. I'm familiar with Jef Raskin's belief in the superiority of non-modal interfaces, but I think that forcing people to make hand-crippling motions over and over is worse than entering "command mode" for a few seconds before you press enter. A foot pedal I could get behind, or possibly thumb-activated buttons, but people need their pinky fingers for typing. A palm-activated press-bar would even be okay (with
  • I use something that does pretty much all that stuff, except it's free. It's called CleverKeys, and you can download it at dictionary.com.
  • these guys have a business plan or is this a sign that we've officially arrived back in 1999 via some wormhole? not only is this not a new idea [wikipedia.org], there is already excellent software [blacktree.com] that does this [launchy.net], and for free.
  • ... the one thing you can't do is write useful scripts with this, i.e. The Main Reason Why We Use Command-Line Interfaces In The First Place?
  • Hey, it's a slightly-more-verbose and earlier-in-life version of Quicksilver [google.com] for Windows!

    Interesting choice of launcher key; I wonder if it's changeable. I have Quicksilver set up to watch for double-taps of Apple. I also wonder if it requires you to always type the verb first - I'm so used to just doing appleapple S P return to launch System Preferences (for instance).

    The question is, how's it stack up to the other QS-ish Windows launchers? Colibri [leetspeak.org], SlickRun [bayden.com], and probably others... It's got nice visual des

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