Friday, May 24, 2002

Handy utility

I've lived in a bunch of places where I couldn't or wouldn't have cable TV or a satellite dish around, which deprives me of TechTV. When I think of all the poor souls out there with Internet access but no TechTV - oh the humanity! So as a public service I'll tell you about some of what you're missing.

IMO the best show is The ScreenSavers. It's a 90 minute bull session for geeks with product demos, short interviews with people like Willie Nelson and Kevin Mitnick, news, polls, user call-in, babes whose names give me Google hits in conjunction with "nude", and occasional fights among people dressed in Star Wars outfits.

Tonight Megan Morrone demonstrated this neato toolbar I'm experimenting with now. You put it on your Win98 or higher toolbar and it gives you a text entry box and an icon to click for a menu.

Enter some text and instantly it fires up Google with the results. Enter an equal sign and a mathematical expression and it'll calculate it. Enter a period (or cnn) and an expression and it'll look for that keyword on CNN. And so on for dozens of options such as Ebay, Merriam-Webster, Amazon, weather, the Bible, Daypop, Jeeves, the CIA World Factbook, AIM, ascii conversions, hex conversions, alarms, timers, program launching, phone lookups and even a word unscrambler for cheating at Scrabble. You can download it here, and it's open source, so you can finagle with it if it suits you. I'm not through reviewing it yet but it looks terrific so far - check it out.

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