Thursday, October 21, 2004

Keystroke Shortcut Nerds Unite!

I don't know how many other people are in the same situation, but my workstation at work (and by workstation, I mean cubicle desk, keyboard tray, etc.) is a lot more comfortable using the keyboard than it is the mouse. Lately, I have been feeling the pain of early or mild carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist. This is particularly bad timing, because I am going through a lot of downtown at work waiting for other people to finish things. In my downtime, I have been trying to learn more about technologies I don't know so much about: COM, .NET, C#, ASP.NET, RSS to name a few. Since I am not made of money and company isn't going to buy books that may or may not be applicable to my next project, I have been reading technical documents on the web like a mad man. When every move and click of the mouse hurts early in day and becomes excruciating in the afternoon, you start to realize there are some improvements that could be made to make web browsing more friendly to keyboard only users. Here are some of the changes I would like to see:

  • HTML expanded so that links on pages can have shortcut keys - Let's face it, navigating links with Tab and Shift+Tab sucks. This could be a tough one. There are two big issues:

    1. Finding shortcut keys that won't collide with browser and OS shortcuts - My solution would be to use Like ALT+Windows KEY+letters and/or CTRL+Windows+letters. The drawbacks are that this puts more burden on web developers, and the windows key isn't always present. For Mac Users, it is never present, but hey, if you are Mac user, you always use the mouse anyway. And my response to the windows key not always being present is "GET WITH THE TIMES". Implementing this wouldn't be taking away functionality that the "windows-keyless" crowd has now, it would just be providing more functionality to those of us how have purchased a new keyboard since the Windows 95 era.
    2. Providing feedback to the user notifying her of the shortcut keys for each link - From a formatting/aestethic point of view, I don't think this is something that should be displayed all the time next to each link in parenthesis or something. Maybe pressing ALT+windows or CTRL+windows could pop up tooltips for each of the links that were visible in the client area. Maybe even the browser could determine the shortcut key so HTML designers wouldn't have the burden.

  • Extended right click menu accessibility via keystrokes - I would like to have a shortcut key to access right click menus of icons in my system tray and quick start menu.
  • Launching items from my quick start menu via keystrokes

I am sure there are probably others, but my wrist hurts so I am stopping here. If any of these features are available and I am just ignorant about them, feel free to lambaste/enlighten me.

This post was created with no use of the mouse whatsoever.


At 5:56 PM, Blogger gus away from the metroplaza said...

Well, being constantly surrounded by a multitude of dorks that continue the "vi vs. emacs" debate (give it up, they both suck), I've been astounded by the keystrokes that many of my co-workers have been able to come up with. So here's one for you --Re: Launching items from you quick start menu via keystrokes:

Ctrl+Esc, Esc, Tab, arrow to desired quick start icon, Enter

Ctrl+Esc could also be replaced by the windows key, but on my laptop the windows key is in the worst fcuking position available, so I rarely use it.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Jim B said...

Let me emphasize, this rant was brought on by my medical condition. But I do appreciate the tip.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger gus away from the metroplaza said...

I'm actually a fan of keyboard shortcuts too, I wouldn't expect that you're one of those people that continues to have the "my antiquated software program is better than yours" guys. Another note, my favorite keyboard shortcut is Alt+Enter on a selected item for the properties info.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Jim B said...

I would have to say my favorite shortcut is F7 when you have Visual Studio .NET set to Visual C++ 6.0 keyboard mapping, but that just goes to show what a fucking nerd I am. I had poster's remorse for my reponse to the "Where Has my Drinking Tolerance Gone?" post. While it seemed funny at the time, I thought linking to a low-budget porn site in reference to your sister might not have been cool, even though you are not her biggest fan. Thanks for not getting pissed (Wow, that is a phrase I slur too often). I was drinking and it seemed funny at the time.

Back to keyboard shortcuts, I have always been a huge fan of right-click, and I had a very bitter diatribe to release talking about how I wanted right-click menus from the keyboard. At the last second, I googled it and found out that Alt+F10 does the trick. I think this should be way more publicized.

And fuck vi and Emacs. UltraEdit32 reigns supreme. Just ask Stephen Forte.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger gus away from the metroplaza said...

Ultraedit is awesome, but bear in mind that you are possibly subjecting yourself to a lifetime of visits from religious solicitors. I wouldn't be surprised since the ultraedit guy is crazy religious. I'm not sure if we've had this discussion before, but he used to have an interesting story on his website about developing ultraedit. That link might not work because it goes to the internet archive, but here's some snippets of the website:

In reference to the early days of working fulltime on Ultraedit:
"Later that evening, an additional registration came in - that made 22. As soon as I realized this, I remembered the night before - after asking God for 20 registrations, I had said to myself (I dare not say this to God - but He knows our every thought), I should have asked for 22 as it would be twice the number of the day before. Boy - did I know now that God was in control!!! "

And the closer:
"I don't deserve God's blessing as He has provided for us. I don't ask God why in case He decides to take it away, but I know that I owe it all to Him.

In all that He gives us, we try to give back to Him. We don't give our tithes (a percentage of weekly income given back to God - biblically 10%) to get more from God, we owe them and more to Him, but as we increase our giving, it seems as we are blessed more and more.

I could have written a lot more here, but I believe this tells the story of God's direction in our lives, and his provision for us. I truly pray, that if this is read, it gives encouragement and hope to the reader, and most importantly Glory to God. "


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