Gidgetry Gadgetry

Normally I recommend against installing gadgets on a computer. As a late adopter, I prefer the tried and true ways of optimizing a computer such as uninstalling all the consumer do-it-for-you programs and taking the computer’s visual features back to somewhere around 1998 levels. The first year or so I had Vista I did my share of carbon burning by keeping the cool graphics of Vista active –the slide in windows, transparency, thumbnail previews, all of these features are nice to look at. But after dumbing down everything to the Classic theme, I fell in love with the computer’s longer battery life, faster reactions, and fewer lockups. Nevertheless, as time went on, and from time to time… I allowed myself a few liberations in the form of gadgets that claim to automate small processes that take place many times each day on a computer, thus raising production and eliminating needlessly repeated processes. In other words, I got them because they were new and shiny, and I like new and shiny things.

Grid Move is one such program. The purpose of Grid Move is to automatically resize windows to fit a grid system that I specify on my computer monitor. That’s all it does. Instead of flipping back and forth between open windows, or tediously resizing them with tiny drag-arrows, I let Grid Move do the busy work for me.

After trying out the new Windows 7 operating system, I liked the drag-and-drop window resize feature. Pull the top bar of an open window to the edge of the screen and it snaps to fill that half of the screen, drag it to the top and it maximizes, and drag it to the bottom and it minimizes. It’s tedious for me to have several windows open at once and be able to see them all at the same time. This program works splendidly, even with my bloated archaic processor of logical information. I use the default two windows side-by-side grid, although if you have a huge monitor you can make any customized grid to optimize screen real estate.

Launchy is another on these mini-apps. Launchy is a keystroke program launcher. What this means is that to start a program, push Alt+Space and the first few letters of the program, i.e. to open Firefox type in F and push Enter, immediately it’s open; much faster than Quick Launch or clicking an icon.

I resisted this one valiantly. My brother and friends were using it for some time, and telling me it was great. As a late adopter, I would eventually succumb and download it. My original argument was that the .075 seconds saved every day would probably never make up for the ten minutes it took to download and configure the program. I love this app; it’s quick and invisible and always works. This program learns quickly; for example if you want to type r to open Firefox instead of F, just type r and select Firefox from the list the first few times. Soon Firefox will open by typing r or F. It can be set to open files as well as programs, but works best with programs because of the sheer volume of files that a few keys must correspond with. Like Grid Move, this app is so resource-tiny that I doubt it affects computer speed.

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