Work Faster, and More Comfortably!
In this edition of Digital Darlow, I am combining a software and hardware review, with some tips for getting the most out of some products that I rely on just about every day to get things done quickly and more comfortably.
If you are like me, you appreciate the expandable text features in many Web browsers and email clients. When you start to type a familiar word, the application "guesses" what you want to type based on your past activity. TypeIt4me utilizes a similar concept, but takes it a step further by allowing users to pre-define specific "abbreviations" that then can be expanded to a full word or even many sentences or paragraphs. This can be a major time saver for those who need to frequently type the same text. For example, I begin almost all of my text and image file names with the date in this form, "20050420," followed by a descriptive phrase or other text. Below, I've outlined a simple way to do this very quickly. Another great use for the utility is to paste a copyright notice, password, business terms and conditions, or common text for online forms or PDF documents.
The utility is available for Mac OSX and Classic. Here are a few tips for the OSX version to help you get started:
1. When you first install the utility, it will ask you to create a new Abbreviations File. Then select "Edit Entries" from the keyboard menu (B&W icon on the top right of your screen) and click on "New." Then select the "abbreviation." I chose \ for the date. To have the date appear as the "expansion text," select the date format you want from the pull-down menu on the right (circled above in blue). Click on Save and you're ready for action.
2. To make the type expand in just about any application, just type \ followed by a "trigger" like the space bar (triggers can be defined under Preferences). Also, Under Preferences>Expansion, check the box "Don't append trigger" if you don't want to add the trigger item to your text.
4. You don't have to use the expansion capability; I often just select "Show Abbreviations Palette" from the menu, place my cursor in the application or form where I want the text to paste into, and I then click on the specific shortcut (circled in red above). Also, you can copy any text and choose "Add an Entry" from the menu. Enter your abbreviation and voila!
Lapworks, Inc. makes a number of innovative products that have really made a difference in the way I work. The LaptopDesk v.2.0 (left), is a base made for just about any laptop, and it can be used flat, or propped up in a folded position. When in the folded position, the v.2.0 greatly reduces heat buildup and is also sturdy, despite the fact that it weighs only 18 ounces. It has five adjustable typing angles, and I generally use it in the highest position whether it is on my lap or on a desk, which makes typing much easier. I even use it on my stomach when lying in bed. The non-slip surface is excellent and I can quickly fold in the angle adjustment bar and put it in my bag when I'm done working. The advantage to using it flat is that an external mouse can be used, either directly on the v.2.0, or with its clip-on MouzPad attached. If you use a mouse, I recommend adding a small regular mouse pad on top of the plastic. Lapworks UltraLite is similar to the v.2.0, though it weighs less, and is best reserved for laptops under five pounds because it is not quite as thick or sturdy.
The company just released Laptop Legs and Mac Feet, which are sets of flip-down legs that attach to laptops, keyboards or other items. Two sets of legs come in each package and the only difference between the two products is the color (gray vs. white). I am currently typing on the keyboard pictured below with the Laptop Legs attached, and find it to be a much more comfortable way to work. The retractable legs attach by peel-n-stick adhesive and can be adjusted for two elevations: 1" and 1 3/8." I also tested the product on a seven-pound laptop and found it to be very sturdy, while offering an improved typing angle and significant cooling effect. I recommend visiting the LapWorks website to see how all of its products function.