# Sunday, 23 September 2012

Loquacious updated

Avid readers of this blog (well, I can dream can’t I?) may recall that almost a year ago to the day I added a blog post about Loquacious, a fancy word picker for Windows that allows you to paste long and pointless words into your emails (or whatever) with minimal effort.

This program amused me, and I have been adding words to it over the past year. One problem is that I can never remember what word I want, which means I would need to read down the list to find it. The other problem is that I like to do things quickly, and I wanted to be able to pick a word with the minimum number of keystrokes possible. The version I posted last year allows you to type a letter, and it will highlight the first word in the list that begins with that letter. However, if you have a lot of words beginning with (say) “s” then you have to use the down arrow to get to the one you want, which can be a bit painful. I rarely have the patience for reading the list or repeated clicking, so don’t use it as much as I would like.

I decided that it would be far more useful if you could search for words using more than one letter, and also search the definitions. Enter... loquacious version 2 (drum roll please).

Loquacious version 2

As you can see, a text box has been added at the top, which you can use for searching. When you first start loquacious, it behaves exactly as before, so typing a letter will highlight the first word in the list that begins with that letter. However, if you type Ctrl-f (“f” for “find”), then the focus is put in the text box, and you can type more letters. The list of words below will be filtered to include only those containing the letters you type. This includes the definitions, so it allows you to search for a word by its meaning.

At any time, you can click either the Tab key or Ctrl-w to set the focus back into the list of words, allowing you to move up or down the list with the arrow keys, or press Enter/Return to choose the word. If you press Enter/Return when in the text box, then the first word in the list will be chosen. As before, clicking the Esc key closes loquacious without choosing anything.

You can download loquacious by clicking here. See the previous post for instructions on how to install it.

I hope this is useful. Feel free to leave me any feedback or comments. Who knows, I might release version 3 in a year’s time!

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# Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Free program to search Chumash

Following on from the enormous success of my free fancy word program Loquacious (OK, so my brother liked it!), I have decided to release my Chumash Search program on the unsuspecting world. I wrote this some time ago, but never did much with it. Having been asked about it by a few people, I decided to release it.

Chumash Search

Full details of how to download, install and use the program can be found on the Chumash Search page.

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# Sunday, 25 September 2011

Are you a lover of fine words? If so, read on my sesquipedalian friend!

A pointless, but amusing program for those who like long words

Those who know me are used to the fact that i find it hard to use one word when ten will do, or a short one when a long one is perfectly sufficient. I blame my mother who gave me all manner of fine books to read when I was a boy!

Anyway, I have long enjoyed peppering my speech, and indeed e-mails and blog posts, with unnecessarily long and obscure words. This amuses me, and confuses others! Being a programmer by profession, and a tinkerer by nature, I decided some time ago to write myself a small application for my computer, which could pop up with ease and help me insert lovely words into whatever I was typing. This gave me great (if childish) satisfaction.

Perhaps I’m foolish for doing this, but I decided to release this little program to the unsuspecting world. If you would like to spice up your e-mails, you can download it from here (Note that this works on Windows only). It consists of two files, the program itself, and a file that contains the words. Put these two files somewhere safe, for example in a folder called “Loquacious” in your “My Documents” folder.

When you are typing, and you want a nice word, call up the program and choose one from the list. When it is selected, click the Enter key and the window will close. If your e-mail (or whatever) was the last window open, then the word will automatically be pasted in. If not, go back to your e-mail and click Ctrl-v (or choose Paste from the Edit menu if you prefer).

The main Loquacious window

Note that as I am a keyboard fan, and use the mouse as little as possible, I wrote this program to be keyboard friendly. This means that it doesn’t really use the mouse, and if you try double-clicking a word, nothing will happen. I know this is easy to do, I just never got around to it!

A quick way to start the program

If you are using Vista or Windows 7, you can make this even easier. When the program is running, look for the icon on the taskbar, it looks like a yellow submarine…

My taskbar, showing the Loquacious icon fifth from the left

Right-click on the yellow submarine, and from the little menu that pops up, choose “Pin this program to taskbar” (I know, they missed out the word “the” in that sentence. Don’t blame me, I didn’t write Windows!).

The pop-up window that allows you to pin programs to the taskbar

This will leave the Loquacious icon on the taskbar, even after you close it. Now, when you want to start Loquacious, you can click the little yellow submarine on your taskbar and it will start. Much quicker eh? But wait, it gets better…

An even quicker way to use it!

Now, here’s a little–known, but jolly clever trick for Vista and Windows 7 users (no, it doesn’t work in XP, I tried it!). If you hold down the Windows key on your keyboard, and press the number 1 on the numbers across the keyboard, it will open up which ever program is the first one pinned to the taskbar. in my case, that would be the program with the red icon with the two plus signs you can see above. If you choose Windows+2, you get the second icon (mine would be the purple and white “N”0 and so on. This is a great way to open your favourite programs quickly.

Now, if you drag the Loquacious icon towards the left end of the taskbar, so that it is one of the first nine icons (ignore the Start button, that doesn’t count), then you will be able to open it by clicking Windows+5 (in my case, your number will depend where you put the little yellow submarine).

The benefit of all this is that inserting words becomes very quick when you are typing. For example…

  1. Whilst typing an e-mail, you want to insert a nice word, so you click Windows+5. Up pops Loquacious.
  2. You use the arrows keys to move up and down, or type a letter to jump to the first word that starts with that letter. Do this until you find the word you want.
  3. Press the Enter key on your keyboard. Loquacious closes, and inserts the chosen word in your e-mail.

Can’t get much easier than that eh! If you decide not to insert a word, press the Esc key (usually in the top left corner of your keyboard) to close Loquacious without inserting.

Adding and deleting words

To add a new word, just open Loquacious and press Ctrl-a. This will pop up a small window where you can add a new word and its meaning. To delete a word, choose it in the main list and click either the Del key or the BackSpace key (often just has a left-pointing arrow).

I hope this program amuses you. If so, please leave a comment and tell me (politely) what you thought of it. Just click the “Comments” link below.

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# Monday, 14 March 2011

Albert Einstein on computers

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein

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# Sunday, 19 December 2010

Blog finally working again!

I have been having all sorts of problems with my blog recently. I upgraded my server to a new version of Windows, and the blog platform that I use wouldn't allow me to post :(

I think I may have finally sorted it out, and so may be able to bore you once again with irrelevant comments and pictures of my children! If you find this thought too stomach-churning to bear (and I don't blame you), you may want to switch your computer off right now.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

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# Monday, 21 December 2009

My very first virus – I am proud!

A virus todayI had my first virus yesterday! No, I don’t mean a cold or flu, sadly I’ve had those before. I mean a computer virus, you know the type that other people get but I don’t ‘cos I’m clever! Well, I’m obviously not as clever as I thought.

For years I never bothered with a virus checker, as I figured they were for daft people who download all and sundry from all sorts of dubious places. However, clever people like me who never download anything dubious, and would only download from trustworthy places, such things as virus checkers weren’t needed.

OK, so this was a stupid attitude, but amazingly enough, I survived for years with it. I finally got an anti-virus program a year or two back, but often wondered why. It sits there checking things, but never finds anything. After all, I’m clever!

Well, yesterday, I clicked on a link in a very well-respected professional forum, and when the expected site appeared, so did a PDF file of rubbish! I couldn’t work out where the file had come from, and was rather surprised when my anti-virus started throwing warnings at me about deadly viruses on my system.

B”H, the anti-virus killed them before they actually hit the computer, so no harm was done, but it did provide a useful life experience, as well as an object lesson in not sitting on your laurels. Apart from squashing them, it can harm your computer.

Don’t know why I bothered writing about this actually. Mind you, I’m not sure why I bother writing about most things that I do, so why should this be any different?

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# Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dragged, kicking and screaming into the modern age!

Are we the only ones?

Neither of us own a mobile 'phone. We never had, and hopefully never will. I know, everyone tells how useful they are, and how owning one doesn't make you subserviant to it honest, but we're not convinced.

However, before the Boss went into hospital to have Chaya Devoira, we were offered a mobile to borrow for the (what was expected to be) couple of days that she would be there. The way things worked out, we still have it, and yes, it has been useful.

Being gadget mad, and technologically minded, the first thing I did when we were lent it was to fiddle with it until I had discovered all of the menus and options. Despite knowing nothing about the subject, I quickly worked out what text messages were, and how to read and delete them. The one thing that totally baffled me was how to send one. I got as far as where you type it, but couldn't persuade the mobile to type what I wanted, and not what it wanted me to say. It seemed to have its own idea about what I should be typing, and with all due respect to its opnion, I rarely agreed! So that was that. We used it for calls, and got the occasional text, but nothing more.

And then, the Luddite struck back!

My dear wife has never been one for technology. She insists on making cakes by hand, instead of using the electric mixer. She insists on chopping garlic by hand instead of using the garlic/herb chopper, and so on. It came as a surprise to me to discover that she had worked out how to send a text. I didn't even know she knew what they were! During her most recent (and hopefully last) stay in Pendlebury hospital (before we were transferred to London), she spent some time fiddling, and worked it out.

Well, that was it. She has sent enough texts in the past couple of weeks to require several telecommunications companies to upgrade their networks, due to the excessive traffic! I don't mind as it has been a huge boost for her, keeping in touch with her friends and accessing some of the services that people have offered.

But through it all, I never worked it out. On the one hand, I felt a bit cheated that my Luddite wife had worked out something that I, the modest and self-effacing computer genius (well, maybe not that modest!) hadn't managed. On the other hand, it gave me a weird sort of satisfaction, knowing that I wasn't subservient to the stupid device!

All that changed yesterday...

When we arrived at Yolanda's late on motzei Shabbos, she handed me a spare mobile, and insisted that I keep it while we are here. This was very kind of her, although I wasn't too sure what I was going to do with it!

We were sitting on the ward yesterday, and I decided to have a look at the mobile she lent me. I had a quick tinker, and lo and behold, managed to send a text! Yup, my very first text message ever. It went a long way, all the way from my seat to the mobile phone sitting next to the Boss, about six inches away! I acted innocent, as though I had no idea what was going on, and was amused by her expression when she realised that the text had come from me.

It turns out that mobiles have a function that predicts what you are about to type, and completes the word for you. The mobile we had borrowed initially had this turned on, which is why I couldn't work out how to send a text. The mobile was incorrectly predicting what I wanted to type. Maybe I'm weird or something :-)

Anyway, it seems that Yolanda had the same problem with it as me, and had Jon switch the functon off. This is why I was able to send a text on her mobile. I sent another one to the Boss later, this time with a picture - even she hadn't worked out how to do that yet!

So, now I'm a texting expert. I have sent four texts now. The last two came about because I got a text as I was walking down the hospital corridor to go back to Yol and Jon's last night. The Boss had remembered something she wanted to ask me, and didn't think she could catch me up. I managed to receive it, and send a reply before reaching the London Eye, which is about halfway between the hospital and the tube station. I was proud of myself. We exchanged one more each way before I was plunged into the textless underworld of the Tube.

So, I finally caught up with the rest of the world. This knowledge will stand me in great stead for the next couple of days, until we give back Yolanda's spare mobile!

I wonder what will be the next step in our exploration into the modern world? Maybe we'll get a fax machine... nah, too modern!

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# Tuesday, 01 May 2007

Google's unique innovation in distributed computing

I just read about an amazing new innovation that Google developed for powerful computing. It's worth reading the article right to the end, and taking especial notice of the line in red right at the bottom.

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# Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Google notebook - could be useful

I came across what looks like a very useful tool today. As part of the ever-expanding Google empire, they have developed Google Notebooks, which are a bit like a normal notebook, except that being web-based, you can access them from any web-enabled device.

If that were the sum of the tool, it would not be particularly remarkable. What is natty is that by downloading an extension, you can add to your notebook from any web page. Say you are viewing a page about Andalusian Hairy Ferrets (well, who doesn't?) and you want to make a note of something on the page, be it text, images or whatever, you just highlight it, and right-click. There is an option to add it to your notebook. You can also get quick access to your notebook in a little window right there and then, or go to the main Notebooks site and access it a full browser window.

Been using it for a day or so, and it looks quite useful.

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# Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Shurely shome mishtake here?

I just went on to PayPal's web site, straight to the member log-in page. Right above the log-in form (which was the only real content on the page), was a message in red informing that I had to be logged on to access this page!!

Shurely shome mishtake here, hic.

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# Tuesday, 03 October 2006

The design process

For a few years now I've been a designer, either a web designer, or a software designer (or both). This job requires you to work with clients, a strange breed of human who know exactly what they want, without having a clue what they want!! Trying to create the web site or application that is in their heads can be quite a challenge when what comes out of their mouth bears little similarity.

Anyway, the reason for mentioning this is that I just came across the following cartoon, which is not new in principle, but illustrates the problem very nicely...

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# Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Well, they amused me (doesn't take much)

Just came across these two paradies of well-known adverts. First, the ever-profitable designer clothes for babies...

...and of course, where would we be without a parady of Microsoft?

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# Monday, 31 July 2006

Build your own house - for free!!

OK, it's not quite as exciting as that might sound, but I came across a real gem of a program yesterday, and the best bit is that it's free!! Within about five minutes, I managed to build a new house...




Now that not might look like your idea of a dream house (nor mine), but considering that it took less than five minutes to build, it's not bad!! You can whizz it around, zoom in and out, and go for a walk around inside.

All of this was done with Google SketchUp, a 3D modelling program distributed by Google. Although there is a posh version that costs, the basic version is free, and very easy to use. It's about 19Mb to download, but well worth it. You can build all sorts of wacky and wonderful things, not just houses. I have made a start on a model of the Beis Hamikdosh (which is how I came across this in the first place), but I reckon that would take rather longer.

Download it and have a play, it's a great toy!!
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# Monday, 22 May 2006

Microsoft stupid, Apple stupid!!

Those avid readers of this blog (hello) will eagerly remember the New Mac entry, where I mentioned that I bought an Apple Mac. Well, after a few teething problems with the wrong operating system, I finally got hold of a copy of OSX, the latest and greatest version of the Mac OS. I looked forward to an installation and usage free from the stupid usability issues that bug Windows users. Boy was I wrong!!

Stage One - Installation time
A few years ago, when Windows NT was the buzz, I reckoned that it took about 20-25 minutes to do a full installation from scratch. XP takes a little longer, but not significantly. I was expected OSX to be about the same... I inserted the CDs and started the machine, to be greeted with the "Installing OSX" screen. I was a little, erm, surprised when it told me that the instalaltion was expected to take two and a half hours!!! Yup, about four times as long as it takes to install Windows!! Strike One.

Current score, Microsoft one, Apple nil.

Stage Two - Registering the OS
Practically as soon as the install had begun, it asked me for loads of personal information so that it could register my details with Apple. Wait a sec, I don't want Apple to have my personal details, they're personal. It seems that Apple don't care about this and insist that you supply them. You can't click the "Next" button to go onto the next stage on installation unless you fill out all of those boxes. The only consolation here was that it assured me that my country would be used later to localise the installation.

Being the awkward type, I decided not to give them any real information, and entered useful tings like "a" for my name. I gave my real country as I was looking forward to having it do all my regional setting for me. I clicked "Next" to continue, not impressed that I had basically been forced into supplying info that they don't really have any right to demand. By contrast, Microsoft make registering an option, and they don't ask you until the operating system is fully installed. Strike Two.

Current score, Microsoft two, Apple nil.

Stage Three - Localisation
Computers are very sophisticated nowadays, and they will recognise your locale and modify the interface accordingly. Thus, a French person, even when living in the UK, with the time zone set to Uk can still have the interface in French. Jolly clever eh?

Whilst watching the OSX installation out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that it was preparing the Traditonal Chinese localisation for me. How super!! Whilst wondering about this, I noticed that it then prepared a Spanish localistion as well. To my amazement, it spent over 30 minutes preparing loads of localisations for languages that I cannot speak. Apart fomr the gross waste of time, this was after it had assured me that my choice of country (see above) would be used to set localisation for me!! Needless to say, when the installation was finally complete, I still had to set some of the localisation stuff myself. Strike Three and out.

Current score, Microsoft three, Apple nil.

Conclusion
Windows may have its faults, but Mac OSX isn't so brilliant either!! Shame that neither of them seems to have bothered watching real people use their installation procedures. They might have picked up a few tips!! Maybe I'll send them this entry... or maybe not!!

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# Tuesday, 09 May 2006

New Mac!!

I got a Mac today. No, I don't mean a Big Mac, I mean an Apple Macintosh computer, like my big bro has, only not as new and posh as his.

I know, it's a toy, but I have a slight justification for it as I need it (well, vaguely need it anyway) for testing the web sites that I write. There are a couple of browsers only available on the Mac, so it seemed like a reasonable enough justification.

Dontcha just lurve EBay and the thrill of impulse buying?

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