Thursday, April 29, 2010

Keyboard shortcuts to move windows between two monitors in Windows 7.

You might already know about [Windows key]+[left arrow] and [Windows key]+[right arrow] in Windows 7 to make a window fit exactly half the screen on the left and right sides respectively.

You might also know about [Windows key]+[up arrow] to maximize a window and [Windows key]+[down arrow] to restore and then minimize a window on successive key presses.

But did you know that if you have your desktop spanned across two monitors, you can easily move windows between them using [Windows key]+[shift]+[left arrow] and [Windows key]+[shift]+[right arrow]?

No more dragging windows across your desktop to move them from one monitor to the next. All it takes is a simple hotkey to get you to windows management nirvana.

A full list of keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7 can be found here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pan-European keyboard layout for Win7.

As a follow-up to this tip, DOXdesk has an alternate keyboard that allows you to type accented characters and so much more using [Alt Gr] keyboard combinations.

Although it is quite a bit more complicated than the United Kingdom extended keyboard that comes with Windows, it allows you to type quite a few more characters with some relatively logical keystrokes.

My favourite is [Alt Gr]+[`], [letter] to type Greek letters. So [Alt Gr]+[`], [s] allows you to type the letter “σ”. For all of you writing technical papers with equations, this is, in a word, brilliant!

The download includes an html file that describes what keystrokes are necessary to type the character you want.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easily type accented characters in Win7.

For some reason, a high proportion of recent journal article I’ve added to my Mendeley reference library have been by authors who spell their names with umlauts and other accents.

In order to type these characters on my British English keyboard, I either would have to look up the Unicode keystrokes or bring up the clumsy Windows Character Map - I tend to do the latter.

But did you know that there is a feature in Windows from XP on up that allows you to easily type accented characters?

Simply head over to the “Keyboards and Languages” tab in the “Region and Language” settings in the Control Panel, and click on the “Change Keyboard button” to add a new keyboard.

What you want to add is the “United Kingdom extended” keyboard, which I’ve made my default keyboard layout.

If you have multiple keyboards and languages installed, make sure you switch to the program you want to type in and select the correct settings in the Language Bar before trying to type.

Now, to type the “ü” like in the name “Müller,” all you have to press is [Alt Gr]+[2] followed by [u]. The “ above the [2] key is a handy visual cue for the umlaut.

Finally, something useful to do with that [Alt Gr] key!

This works for other accents as well:

à [`] then [a]
â [Alt Gr]+[6] then [a]
á [Alt Gr]+[‘] then [a]
ã [Alt Gr]+[#] then [a]
ä [Alt Gr]+[2] then [a]
Also, [Alt Gr]+[c] produces ç and [Alt Gr]+[4] produces €, handy when moving through the Eurozone.

This trick unfortunately does turn all the accent modifier combinations into “dead keys,” which means that nothing appears on the screen when you type the modifier keystrokes until you follow up with the letter to be accented.

So if you accidentally press a modifier combination and nothing happens, you just have to follow up with a second keypress.

It does takes a little bit of getting used to, especially the [`] modifier as it doesn’t require a simultaneous [Alt Gr] keystroke to trigger it. However the time saved not having to hunt and peck on the Character Map makes it all well worthwhile.

So go ahead, impress your European friends with emails containing properly accented characters. And who knows, it may even lead to Parisian love.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vertical garden.


Continuing in the theme of giving old objects new life, I made this vertical vegetable garden out of some Ikea metal brackets that were leftover after we recomissioned the wooden planks for some on-the-wall shelves.

The planters were reclaimed from our local London Freegle group (Freecycle for everywhere else) and then suspended from the metal structure with galvanized steel wire.

It’s a perfect setup for our modest London garden where horizontal space and sunlight can be had only at a premium. So why not go vertical?

Imagine what this will look like in a few months time with tomato vines and courgettes hanging off from the structure? Garden deco and noms? Fantastic! And it was practically free.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A simple spice rack made from spare parts.

P1000792I put together this simple spice rack made from old parts I had lying around the flat – two pieces of wire mesh, rubber bands and some toothpicks.

Because of the weave of the rubber bands and toothpicks in the mesh, no fasteners were required other than a few twist ties at the four corners to tack the two mesh squares together.

I think it came out all right. What I love about this little project is how the repetition of a simple pattern creates something much more than just the sum of its parts.

I love the slightly offset rubber bands and the crisscross pattern when viewed from the top.

Happy Easter!