ten mov.es

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how to do technology in ten moves. (or less.) A Loose Wire production

How to Search Specific Sites With Speed Launch

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Microsoft’s Speed Launch is a basic, but useful, launcher program which allows you to quickly access files, folders, websites etc from a small popup text box. Think Launchy or ActiveWords but with the more novice user in mind. These kinds of tools are especially useful for those people who don’t like leaving the keyboard when they’re working, but like drag and drop over fiddly macros and strings to get things automated.

And it does actually offer some features that even advanced users might find useful: in particular, the ability to be able to search specific websites, search engines or even your webmail straight from the popup toolbar. But it’s not as easy to set up as you might hope, and the explanational video has way too much music and not enough explanation to tide you through.

Here, therefore, is how to add a website relatively easily in ten simple moves:

Install Speed Launch if you haven’t done so already.

Open  a browser and the search engine/website/webmail program you want to search.

Enter a search term. (It doesn’t matter what it is at this point.)

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Drag the URL of the results page onto the Speed Launch target icon:

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A window like this should appear:

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Give the search a name, followed by a period:

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Click on the Add button.

Another dialog box will pop up, asking you “what type of information will people supply for use with this function”:

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Enter the type of information you’re accessing (in this case news search term):

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Then find the text of the search you just made in the lower URL (in this case pakistan), and highlight it:

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Click Finish. The dialog box should disappear.

Now time to test your new shortcut.

Hit the Windows key and C (Win + c) to bring up the Speed Launch dialog.

Type in the name of your new search. Speed Launch will auto suggest, and you don’t need the period. A dialog will pop up:

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Enter the term and hit Launch:

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Tips:

You can’t edit an existing short cut but you can add to it. So, for example, if you wanted to search multiple sites with one search, just follow the same instructions, but when you’re prompted whether you want to merge or replace a shortcut, choose merge.

I’m not sure this is the quickest way of doing this kind of thing, but I certainly think it’s got potential. I like the drop and drag nature of it; it’s great for adding files and folders, as well as websites, on the fly. The interface could definitely be improved, but the authors make clear they’re not experts in their field, and just feel they’ve come up with something useful that others might like. Would more Microsoft software be developed like this.

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How to Combine RSS Feeds

Here’s a simple way to mix more than one RSS feed without knowing anything about mashups and Pipes.

At RSS Mixer enter the URL of the site you want to grab a feed from (if it’s only got one feed, you probably don’t need to enter the RSS feed URL, just the site):

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Add more feeds by clicking on the black + button:

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Once you’re done, click on the Mix it button.

Click on the orange feed button to grab the mixed feed:

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If you sign up (free and painless) you can do other things, such as go back and edit the mix, add new ones, etc.

If you download the Firefox extension you can add feeds from the page you’re browsing to an existing mix or a new one.

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Click on the button and you’ll be taken to a page, giving you the option of starting a new mix, or adding to an existing one:

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Alternatively, look through the lists of feeds other people have added, select one you like and click on the Add to a mix button:

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How to Give Visitors Your Location

However good your directions may be, there’s nothing like a map to show people where you are. But it’s fiddly, and usually they’ve already left home by the time they realise they don’t actually know where you live.

Here’s a great and simple way to include a map of your location with your directions and address, in the form of a simple link which can be emailed, sent by instant message or SMS. The resulting page looks good online and in a phone browser.

Go to Schmap.me and type in the name you want to have as your address — www.schmap.me/loosewire, for example:

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If it’s available the box will turn green.

Enter the address on the next page and the Google Map on the left of the address will immediately jump to that location:

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There’s a room for notes, where you can include driving directions:

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(There are more fields available if you want them.)

The resulting page will look like this:

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It also looks good on a phone:

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Include the link at the bottom of your email signatures or in your contact address book. It’s easy enough to then send it to friends by email, SMS or instant message.

Update: Be wary of what you put up there: the information is not visible to search engines, but the page could be stumbled upon(since there’s no password). So, in the words of the company, best not use it for sensitive information.

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How to Build a Custom Search Engine

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Custom Search is a great way to build a search engine that searches only the sites you want. This is useful if you find you’re trawling those sites—blogs, government sites, news sites, etc—on a regular basis and would rather search them all in one go.

Setting it up is pretty easy.

Go to Google’s Custom Search Engine page.

Click on the blue button:

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Enter a name, and a brief description:

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Enter some keywords relevant to your beat and the language you’re working in:

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Select the first option in the next list (Only sites I select) – unless you want to include the web in your search, with the sites you select in the next window given priority:

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Start typing in (or pasting) the names of the websites you want to include. Include http:// s ; it won’t work without.

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Select the free edition and click the terms of service. And then click Next:

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Try a few test queries to see if you need to tweak. If you do, hit the browser’s back key and tweak:

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When you’re happy, click Finish. (You can always add more sites later.)

You’ll then be sent to a page listing your search engine, and any others you choose to add. If you need to tweak, click on the control panel link; the homepage link will take you to the search box of the relevant engine.

Here’s a couple of custom search engines I’ve built as examples:

Tip(s)

It’s worth bookmarking this page, or even adding it to your iGoogle page if you have one.

  • Some websites don’t submit themselves to Google well. For mission critical searches, compare the results of your engine with those of the site’s own search. Sometimes Google does a better job, but sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Custom search works best a tool to use alongside RSS feeds. RSS is great for monitoring new stuff; custom search is great for looking up background or hunting other less time-sensitive stuff: names, projects, companies etc
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Open Firefox Tabs in the Background

Click on a link on websites like Google Reader and Firefox will open the link in a new tab, but switch to it immediately. This isn’t always what you want to happen. To force Firefox to load it in the background, do this:

Type about:config in the browser bar:

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(You’ll probably be presented with a warning screen. Click OK.)

Copy the following text and paste it into the filter bar:

browser.tabs.loadDivertedInBackground

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Then, in the line itself, right click on the value and select Toggle:

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This should change the value to True.

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That’s it.

Source: Firefox Tip: Force links to open in the background

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