I’m becoming more and more of a keyboard freak. It’s so much quicker to do stuff using the keyboard as opposed to using the mouse. If you’ve been following my blog you probably know I’ve been posting a bunch of things related to productivity.
By observing other people work I notice (in horror) how much time they spend moving their hands to reach the mouse, move the mouse pointer on the screen, hit the correct pixel to open a menu or smart tag, select an option (sometimes we select the wrong option, and then the slow ritual has to begin again…), and then go back to the keyboard. Most of the time there are quick shortcuts to accomplish the same task in a fraction of a second. If there isn’t a shortcut, there probably are ways to create one. If you’re not too familiar with standard shortcuts already available, check out this post.
It’s not that I think the mouse is totally useless. That’d be stupid. I just think there are a bunch of things that the keyboard is better suited for; and there are definitely things the mouse is the better choice.
When I’m working on my laptop, I really like using the Trackpoint as an input device. The thing that attracts me is that I don’t have to take my hands off the keyboard so to get the "mouse" behavior. It’s all there, just beneath my fingertip. I’m actually considering getting an external keyboard with a Trackpoint to use on my desktop machine. On the other hand, I can’t stand the Touchpad. That thing I just can’t use to save my life. I actually ran across this good post about it Touchpad versus Trackpoint. The author’s preferences are actually the opposite on mine, but it’s interesting to read some of the comments people left there, favoring either one or the other device. The bottom line is: if you need to use the mouse, it’s much better if it’s sitting right beneath your fingertip.
SlickRun and Windows Vista "Start Search"
Like I’ve mentioned a few months ago, I’ve chosen SlickRun as my launcher program. Even though the "Start Search" feature in Windows Vista is kind of handy, I believe it’s only handy when you’re "searching" for something (like when you’ve installed a program and don’t know where it went; the Vista search usually makes it easier for you to find it). But if you already know what you’re looking for, why waiting for the search??
You still also need to wait for the search to happen. And you also need to wait for the window to come up. Sometimes that’s a flash of a second, but sometimes it takes several seconds, just because Windows is busy rendering or doing something else.
Since SlickRun shows a pretty simplistic user interface (who the heck needs fancy interface for something like this anyway?), it shows up extremely quick, and you don’t have to wait and search to happen.
For instance, say I want to launch Visual Studio. If I use the Vista Search, I hit the Windows-key, and type "V". After a few seconds, Vista shows me a list containing not only Visual Studio, but also Visio, Event Viewer, plus a bunch of other stuff.
Well, with SlickRun, I’ve just set a "vs" magic word, so it takes almost no time for me to hit Windows-key+Q, type "vs", and hit Enter. Also, if "vs" was the last magic word I’ve used, I can type just "v", instead of "vs", and I’m right there. Of course, saving one keystroke doesn’t sound impressive, but if you’re navigating to paths, or anything longer, than you start to appreciate this feature even more.
Quickly creating a new email
That all said, one thing that was bothering me is to create a new email. You know, as I’m working, sometimes I remember I have to send an email to somebody. There I go, get the mouse, click on Outlook, find the "New Email" button somewhere, yadda-yadda-yadda. I finally broke down and created a "mail" magic word in SlickRun. This is the magic word definition for it:
That shortcut brings up the "new email" screen immediately.
Yeah, one could hit the Windows-key, type "mailto:" and hit Enter, but I prefer to just hit Windows-key+Q, type "m", and hit enter. Yup, I’m that lazy (plus, again, why trigger a Windows Search, when I already know precisely what I’m looking for?). 😉