Saturday, September 23, 2006


(Don't try this at home, kids!). Super-glue your left little finger to the key marked "Ctrl" at the bottom left corner of your keyboard.

Introduce your left-hand's index finger to all the letter keys within range.

Go On! Take a few seconds to inspect your keyboard:

In the image above I have outlined the 2+3+4=9 keys within easy reach of your left index finger.

Hold down the Ctrl key with your left little finger, and use your left index finger to reach:

Q - Reset Style
W - Close File
A - select All
S - Save file
D - open font Dialogue
Z - edit Undo
X - edit cut ("X" is a pair of scissors)
C - edit Copy
V - edit paste ("V" is a proofreader's symbol for insert)

Now tell me that we haven't covered about 90% of your actions on any document.

Or spreadsheet, for that matter.

(Yes, I know, time to wipe down my keyboard)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Keyboard And Mouse Combinations

Click on a word, slide the mouse pointer, hold down the Shift key and Click.
Text is selected between the first and second click positions.

Click-Shift-Click selects text

Double-click, Point, Shift, Click.

Text is selected between and including the start and end words.

Slide to the selection area, to the left of the text.

The mouse pointer changes to a North-east pointing arrow.

Click once to select the line.

Double-click to select the paragraph.

Ctrl-Click to select the entire document.

The Ctrl and Shift keys greatly enhance your text selection skills.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

How To Cheat At Hearts

Let's have a little fun!

Brace yourself for winning bets!

Bet an onlooker that you can win the game of Hearts EVERY TIME!

Take the bet.

Load Hearts, choose Game, Options, and set the other three player's names to your name.

Exit Hearts, reload Hearts, and play however you like.

Collect your winnings.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

QuickLaunch Heaven

For years I used Desktop Shortcuts . My desktop was a clutter of litter that glittered but was awkward to navigate. Then I installed Windows XP and discovered the serenity of the Quick launch bar.

My desktop is now absolutely free of icons:

(A different wallpaper appears each time I reboot, based on over 3,600 images selected according to the minute and second time of reboot).

For each frequent-use shortcut, I assign a item in the QuickLaunch folder.
Locating your QuickLaunch folder
Use Windows Explorer to locate the folder “C:\Documents and Settings” and look in there for your user folder, drilling down until you arrive at something like “C:\Documents and Settings\Chris.LAPTOP\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch”.
Building your QuickLaunch folder
Create shortcuts in the folder.

Typically I locate a program such as “C:\WINDOWS\Explorer.exe”.

I right-click on the file and choose Copy.

I right-click in an empty area of my QuickLaunch folder and choose Paste Shortcut.

Note the little curved arrow that identifies this icon as a shortcut.

Managing your QuickLaunch folder
If your QuickLaunch folder begins to crowd out everything from the bottom of your screen, consider building a folder tree in the QuickLaunch folder:

You could click on the folders in the QuickLaunch bar, but this will leave a trail of folders across your desktop, and we want a clean desktop.

Instead, hold down the Ctrl key while you click, and you’ll be rewarded with menus.

You can see that I’ve replaced the traditional icon “yellow folder” with another icon to distinguish it from the Windows Explorer icon.
So what’s in your Quick launch?

1 This shortcut points to Diary.DOC which contains a 3-column table in which I record everything that happens, several entries per day. Columns are , and . Next year I can retrive what I did this year, what I did today, the dialogue for any project. A handy tool.

2 This shortcut points to a DOS batch file which determines the date and fires up explorer pointing to a drive “B:” which is mapped to a date folder in my blotter. Today B: is mapped to C:\Blotter\20060605. I do most of my work from within Explorer. Explorer provides me a full-screen browse window, much bigger than any browse window from a File, Open command. My eyes/brain navigate much fatser than my fingers.

3 This shortcut points to my Mail program. Mozilla Thunderbird, since you ask!

4 This shortcut points to an MS-DOS command prompt. Batch files do repetitive processing, freeing me for other tasks.

5 This shortcut points to a restart routine which first calls up my timesheet billing file to turn off the meter on the current task, then issues a call to reboot the system. It’s what I do a lunchtime ….

6 This shortcut points to my contacts database. Just happens to be written in Microsoft Access.

7 This shortcut points to a folder containing maintenance tools, amongst them virus scanners, ferrets, clock adjusters and the like. Things I might do once a day. It also holds a shortcut to a shutdown routine which first calls up my timesheet billing file to turn off the meter on the current task, then issues a call to power off the system. It’s what I do at the end of the day ….

8 This shortcut points to my old DOS Batch file for invoking Microsoft Word. The batch file copies out the existing, possibly modified to a named file, then copies in a secure before invoking WinWord.EXE. Virus protection a la crème!

9 This shortcut points to the desktop. It’s what I one-click to minimize all application windows.

10 These shortcuts (!) points to my timesheet billing file and logs a datestamp at the end (see “The timesheet billing” at Why two icons? Because I need a large target when the telephone rings!

11 This shortcut points to my FTP client.

12 This shortcut points to the folder of Microsoft office shortcuts as shown in Managing your QuickLaunch folder

13 This shortcut points to my browser program. Mozilla Firefox, since you ask.

So what does all this mean? Just about everything on which I work can be located through one of those 12 distinct shortcuts. I use the Start button perhaps once a week.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Desktop Shortcuts

I don't know how you have managed to work without these. I feel naked on a machine that doesn't have them. (but see also QuickLaunch Heaven )

I make heavy use of File Explorer, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Eudora. I use a DOS Window and I use WS-FTP-LE to upload files.

On my desktop I have a shortcut icon to each of these applications (and several others, but IÂ’m primarily concerned with my frequent-use shortcuts here).

For each frequent-use shortcut, I assign a shortcut key combination.

Assigning a keyboard shortcut for Microsoft Word:
Right-click on the shortcut icon.
Choose Properties from the pop-up menu.
Select the Program tab.
Move to the shortcut key text box
Hold down both the Ctrl and Shift keys and then tap the letter W.
Confirm out of there.
From now on, a Ctrl-Shift-W will launch Microsoft Word, without having to click through menus, reveal the desktop, or anything.

Choice of letters is important.

You need good mnemonics and no conflicts:

DOS; Ctrl-Shift-C; DOS Command prompt
Eudora; Ctrl-Shift-M; Eudora Mail
Excel; Ctrl-Shift-E; Excel
Explorer; Ctrl-Shift-D; Data on the hard Drive
FTP; Ctrl-Shift-F; Ftp
Word; Ctrl-Shift-W; Word

Using Your Shortcut keys

Remember, the whole point of assigning a shortcut key to a desktop icon is that you donÂ’t have to switch to the desktop to get things done!

If you are in your browser and want to fire up your mail program, use Ctrl-Shift-M and get on with life.

If you are in your mail program and want to fire up your word processor, use Ctrl-Shift-W and get on with life.

If you are in your word processor and need to execute a DOS command, use Ctrl-Shift-C and get on with life.

DonÂ’t forget to use Alt-Tab to cycle through your open applications.

Better Use Of Desktop Shortcuts

It wonÂ’t surprise you to hear that we are not done yet.

DOS Batch files are still an excellent way of automating command tasks.

Example: Loading Explorer to a specific folder

You can tell Explorer (still using the Ctrl-Shift-D combination) to start up in any specific folder.

IÂ’m currently engaged, night and day, in work for IFF, producing Molecular Bubble Charts.

HereÂ’s the (Right-click, Properties, Shortcut) target to a folder for my current project:
C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n, /e, C:\Greaves\Clients\I\IFF\BubbleCharts20040830

In the good old days we had a blotter on our desk. The cleaning staff placed a fresh blotter each morning, and we doodled on the blotter.

My boot sequence has a batch file that determines today’s date, and stores it in an environment variables “Daily”. It also builds a folder with that name under C:\Blotter, hence I have folders C:\Blotter\20050913, C:\Blotter\20050914, C:\Blotter\20050915, and so on

HereÂ’s the (Right-click, Properties, Shortcut) target to my daily desktop blotter:
C:\WINDOWS\EXPLORER.EXE /n, /e, c:\Blotter\%Daily%

Example: Loading Word without macros
From time to time I need a clean copy of Word loaded – without any of my special add-ins and global application templates.

Word is quite clear that this can be achieved with the “/a” switch.

HereÂ’s the target for that desktop shortcut:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\WINWORD.EXE" /a

Example: Thwarting Word Viruses
If you are in the habit of creating trial macros in your, youÂ’ll know how quickly it can get cluttered up with failed attempts.

I use like a daily blotter; it holds my essays, and IÂ’m prompted to save it when I quit Word, although before I quit IÂ’ve usually copied any really good program code to a true application template or utility folder.

Virus macros like to propagate through, and while my virus protection is adequate, IÂ’m still paranoid, so copying a safely-preserved file to at the start of each Word session makes sense to me.

All taken care of through a batch file referenced by a desktop shortcut icon hooked up to a shortcut key:

Example: Switching Mail Clients
I occupy several email accounts, and for each one I need different settings in my Eudora program. The settings are stored in an INI file, so I have one INI file for each email account to be accessed through Eudora.

So I have one batch file for each INI file.

So I have one desktop shortcut for each batch file:

Appendix – Word97 batch file
REM Word97.bat Christopher Greaves Thursday, July 1, 1999
:: Updated January 3rd 2003 for BigC
:: Re-create the prior to loading Word97
if "%debug%"=="" set debug=off
@echo %debug%
echo on
call c:\bat\settime
copy "c:\GREAVES\ADMIN\Templates\Normal.DOT" c:\___spare\%se%.DOT
:: @echo suspended
copy c:\GREAVES\ "c:\GREAVES\ADMIN\Templates\Normal.DOT"
:: Saturday, December 29, 2001
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\winword.EXE" %1
REM end of Word97.bat

Appendix – Eudora INI file for

copy c:\Greaves\Admin\Eudora\WizDom.INI c:\Greaves\Admin\Eudora\eudora.INI
"C:\Program Files\Qualcomm\Eudora\Eudora.exe" "c:\greaves\admin\eudora"