Category Archives: Tutorials

Killer Keyboard Skillz

I remember when I first met my boyfriend Tim, he impressed me by alt-tabbing and exporting paths from Photoshop to Illustrator. I was mesmerized by his Illustrator work flow: no visible tool bars, full screen mode. He was a keyboard master. Then I saw his desktop and realized he was an application-savant. Still…the impression was made during that critical get-to-know you phase.

Get L337 skills that impress the geekiest of your friends by becoming a mouse-free keyboard Jedi. Not only is it cool, it’s a major productivity booster.

Here’s some links to get you started.

Hack Attack: Become a Gmail Master

Now, don’t go off and try to learn everything at once! Unless you have an amazingly spongy memory it will be a waste of time. I usually learn a couple at a time by writing them on a post it and sticking it to my monitor. Once I have them down, I find new ones. The key is to actually use the shortcuts…force yourself, it’s harder than you think to start breaking the mouse addiction. It will feel awkward. But once you have, you’ll feel liberated.PDF of Firefox browser's keyboard shortcuts

I’ve got the basics of most my apps down, so now I have a cheat sheet for Firefox Shortcuts pasted to my monitor. Here’s a pdf of it, it’s a tri-fold that will eventually have a section for Gmail shortcuts and one for my macros and custom shortcuts in my text editor and various IDEs.

And once you’ve learned all the keyboard shortcuts you need, it may be time to take it to the next level and use an application like Hotkeys (freeware) that extends windows keys shortcuts.

Learn Web Design

Web Design is not what it used to be. It’s now a sort of nebulous term that encompasses a LOT of technologies. No matter what sort of sites you plan on designing, I feel there’s no substition for a good understanding of standards-compliant xhtml and css. Of course, it helps if you know some graphics programs too, like Photoshop or the cheaper alternative, Paintshop Pro. Notice I didn’t mention any web design programs…well, I said learn web design not make a website real quick and dirty like.

Here’s some of my advice under ‘Learn Web Design‘ at 43things…a place where people tag, discuss and connect about things they’ve done and would like to do.

Getting started.
A word on web standards.

How to Start Your Own Blog in 30 Seconds

This post is just some emails I’ve sent and resent. It deserves some editing for flow, but the info is good. Thought I’d put it out there cuase people keep asking! (Following is MHO and YMMV and all those other typical disclaimers)
Here’s an email I recently sent to a co-worker that wanted to start a blog:

Get your blog…if you use one that is hosted elsewhere, you can be
set up in about 2 minutes. (they host for you. you can also install the
software on a server yourself, that site is
and that is what I use) another very popular blogging system.

If you don’t host your own blog, or even if you do, managing photos
is easy and fun with Flickr. In fact, some people use Flickr as their
blog…they just create a “group” and discuss things there or add
really long notes/descriptions to their photos.

Once you start blogging, if you meet other bloggers and you want to
keep track of them, instead of remembering to visit a bunch of sites
you can just subscribe to their content using a feed reader (any blog
software you use will automatically generate feeds). Btw, you can
subscribe to the NYT, Seattle-PI and content like that too. – a new one, I switched from Bloglines. – probably a little more stable, rojo is
new, but not as cool!

“I have been told today that I need to set up a blog for [an event] by Monday, and I have no experience in blogging whatsoever. Here are the requirements:

  1. Multiple editors
  2. Ability to make a page template that looks like our site
  3. The ability to redirect the blog URL so it appears to be coming from our own website

Your easiest bet is to go with Blogger or WordPress. I set up a
Blogger blog for a band many years ago and here you can see it
incorporated into their site with no problems:

In this case there’s only one author, but they do support multiple authors:

The public docs are pretty sparce, but I just logged in
to one I set up in 30 seconds to show people how easy is it (I’m not
kidding about the 30 seconds) and you can set up multiple blog authors
with different levels of authority with the click of the button. In
general I would say the admin area looks almost identical to the one
you install and host yourself:

I started with Blogger, it’s super easy, and you can always import to
Wordpress later if you wanted. (Most blogs allow export/import so
don’t worry too much about your first choice). You can customize the
look with both but I think that WordPress offers you more
power/flexability as there are a lot of plugins and documentation on
tweaking it – of course that means more to learn/read too.

There are other choices as well, but I don’t have experience with them
(except for MovableType, which I didn’t care for in comparison).

It’s is seriously so easy to set up…you should try both and see what
you like better and what looks easier to adapt to your site.

Oh, for the record, typepad is very popular as well. And to clarify, (hosted) is to (you install on your own server) what typepad is to movabletype.

To expand on why I prefer WordPress to Movabletype/Typepad, all the following are true of WordPress:

  • All services are completely free, the software is completely free.
  • It’s easier to install on your server (if you go that route – it was way easier for me anyway…)
  • WordPress is supported by a huge and rabidly enthusiastic community – this equals free support and hundreds of cool plugins that you can use to extend and customize your blog.
  • Movabletype may have improved since I used it, but I must say, since the release of Wordpres 2.0 and the Askimet plugin (installed by default), I have virtually no blog spam. If your blog ever gets hit you’ll understand why this is so important!