How to create or edit a Firefox quick search

I like the quick search facility in firefox; the dictionary search is particularly useful. by typing “dict search-term” into the address bar you get a dictionary definition.

The definitions used to be provided by dictionary.reference.com but for some reason in the last couple of versions it’s been the Merriam-Webster website. I just don’t think the results are as good. I had a look at the search engines available as firefox add ons but dictionary.reference.com wasn’t there so I set about finding a way to change firefox’s behaviour. Here’s what to do…

  1. Click on “Bookmarks” in Firefox’s menu
  2. Click “Organise Bookmarks…”
  3. Expand the “Quick Searches” folder
  4. Right click on the search you want to change (in this case I changed the dictionary search)
  5. click “Properties”
  6. Change the name of the bookmark to reflect the new site you are going to use
  7. If you want to use dictionary.reference.com for your dictionary search change the location to “http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/%s”
  8. Change the keyword if you want to use something other than “dict” to use this search from the address bar
  9. Change the description to reflect your other changes
  10. Click OK

You can also use this method to create your own quick search for almost any site with a search facility.

  1. Go to the site you want to add and carry out a search using the usual search method.
  2. Copy the URL (including query string) of the search results page. For example here is a search for “test” on theregister.com “http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=test&mode=site”.
  3. Replace the search term in the query string with “%s”, so for the register we use “http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=%s&mode=site”.
  4. Click on “Bookmarks” in Firefox’s menu
  5. Click “Organise Bookmarks…”
  6. Expand the “Quick Searches” folder
  7. Right click, choose “New Book mark”
  8. Enter the details for your new search. My Register search looks like this:

Name: El Reg Search Location: http://search.theregister.co.uk/?q=%s&mode=site Keyword: reg Descrition: Search the register, Type “reg ” into the address bar

Dreamweaver 8 losing FTP login settings

Recently I’ve been having a frustrating time using Dreamweaver’s FTP client. For some reason, it kept losing the FTP user name and password whenever I restarted dreamweaver, and it seems I was not alone.

It appears that the problem was caused by a conflict between the version of Dreamweaver I was running and IE7. Downloading the Dreamweaver 8.0.2 updater solved the problem for me. Apparently it can also be cause by a missing registry key,  Adobe have a knowledgebase article on the subject.

Baby update

We’ve been for the 36 week check today.

The midwife seems happy with everything so that’s all good; Laura has got to go for a blood sugar level test next week as the dipstick showed slightly raised levels of glucose. We’re not overly concerned about that though because she had the same thing with Isla.

Next check in two weeks time.

A whole batch of good new stuff – Part 2: Web Sites

I read the other week that the average person in Western Europe now spends four hours a week online; I think this must make me special, I’ve just done some quick maths and I’m certain that I spend over thirty hours a week online. Admittedly a lot of that is for work (working on customer sites) so that probably shouldn’t count.

Anyway, there are a few sites that I have found over the last few months that either help me with keeping bookmarks organised, discover new sites or sites that are just interesting. I’ve listed some of them below. All of these sites are free to use.

del.icio.us

When I first heard about del.icio.us I thought was a pointless site and could see why anyone would want to use it. However having played with the site it soon became apparent that it actually was quite useful.

So what is del.icio.us about?

del.icio.us is a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. You can use del.icio.us to:

  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.

I mainly use del.icio.us to bookmark stuff that I think may come in useful later. I’ve never really bothered bookmarking stuff in the browser before because you can end up with huge long lists of bookmarks (or favourites) and no easy way to search and organise them. del.icio.us is different because you add “tags” to your bookmarks to add meaning. Tags are single keywords that you can search for later. Very handy.

Del.icio.us can also be good for finding stuff that you are struggling to find with a search engine, you can search through everyone else’s favourites as well as your own, someone is bound to have bookmarked whatever it is you’re after.

stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is similar to del.icio.us insofar as it’s a collection of people’s favourites. Where it differs is the way you get at those favourites.

You register on the site and fill in a form that describes the sorts of sites you are interested in seeing, then you download the stumbleupon toolbar for the browser. This gives you a number of functions, the most important being the “Stumble!” button; every time you click stumble you are taken off to a new site that people have tagged as being in one of the categories you are interested in. you can tag pages to stumble upon which others will then be taken to.
Try it out, you’ll be hooked.

flickr

flickr is a massively popular photo sharing site. That’s it in a nutshell.

You can upload your photos, tag them to add more meaning. Add a description, you can even sign up for one of their blog accounts if you don’t already have a blog. You can choose whether or not to make your photos public, or you can just share your photos with you friends and family.

I haven’t used flickr a huge amount yet, but I suspect I will when the new baby arrives.

local.live.com

There are plenty of websites with maps on; but local.live.com from Microsoft has something that (as far as I’m aware) no other site does: “Bird’s Eye View”!

To give you an idea of what to expect this is a screen shot (scaled down) of Worthing pier. You can see it in more detail along with the rest of the town here. Click on the link and then press the birds eye view option.

No baby Today – or at least not so far

By the time we got to the hospital the contractions had all stopped; Laura was put on a monitor for nearly an hour and had a few other checks with midwife and a doctor.

Everything seems fine at the moment, we don’t know what caused the contractions to start (or stop again for that matter) so we’ll just have to play it by ear.

Baby Update – Is this it?

I got rudely awoken about 04:30 Today by Laura with what she described as a “very sore tummy”.
Since then she’s been having contractions varying in strength and frequency, but no further apart than 10 minutes. She has just phoned the hospital and they want her to go in for an assessment at 10:00.

The baby isn’t due for another five weeks and we are nowhere near ready.
Watch this space

Sharing your printer on your home network

There are a number of approaches you can take to sharing your printer. You could physically plug it in to the USB port on your PC or laptop when you want to print, but this isn’t very practical. You could use the printer sharing feature in Windows XP, but this means you need to have two machines switched on any time you want to print; again this isn’t very practical but up to now it’s been the way I’ve done it.

As part of my current drive to reduce the clutter caused by the computer equipment in the house I decided to look into getting a print server so that the printer could be tucked somewhere out of the way (like under the coffee table behind the sofa) without us having to scrabble about for a USB lead when we decide to print. So, last week I ordered a reconditioned Netgear PS121 from digidave.

Netgear printserver in handThe unit is tiny! It has three ports, one for power one USB and one Ethernet. There are two status lights at the top of the unit. The unit came with a power supply and USB lead but no Ethernet cable which I thought was odd as people are more likely to have a USB lead for their printer than they are to have a network cable laying around.
Set up is a doddle; plug the USB lead from the printer into the print server then plug it in to the mains and connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable then toddle off and find a PC.

On the PC you install two bits of software; the first lets you see your print server on the network, the second shows you the printer connected to your server and gets you to select the right driver from a list. It really is very easy indeed. I was up and running printing over the wireless network on the first network in under ten minutes. It took me a bit longer on the second machine, I think this was because my VPN client was interfering with set up, but I soon sorted that out.

I think this is going to prove to be another extremely useful bit of kit.

Adobe “Fully Loaded” Tour

I’m sitting in the Brighton Odeon Cinema in the “Fully Web” Session of “Fully Loaded” Tour it’s being presented by Steve B(something).

It’s basically Adobe trying to sell their suite of web development products. It’s not really holding my attention. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, all they have covered in any detail so far is Dreamweaverand Fireworks. These are the two tools that I use more than any others, I don’t think I’ve learned anything new. Secondly while the presenter may know the Adobe products inside out (and to be honest I’m not sure he does) his grasp of CSS and “hayche-tee-em-el” and frankly scary.
He must have said three or four times:

There are two main types of container in CSS, IDs and CSS

The implication being that the containing block (eg the html div) is the ID or Class, he never mentioned xhtml once. There where a few other “WTF?” moments I can’t think of any of hand

The second session

We’re in the second session now which is on Flash. He’s already said “in fact Flash is more accessible the HTML, if anyone disagrees I’ll prove them wrong”!
OK this is a bit better, I’ve just learned a couple of useful things. First of the “Ease” tool looks quite useful for changing the properties of objects on the stage. Also, the “zoomify” tool for flash looks quite interesting.

In the Q & A Session, people didn’t seem that interested in asking questions. I think most of had switched off by that point. I asked what the future was for Dreamweaver, how they are going to compete with Microsoft Expression. He said he couldn’t really comment but to look at labs.adobe.com so I’ll be doing that later.
All in all, this was not the best event I’ve been to, the freebies are not up to the standard I’ve come to expect. I used to rely on Macromedia events to provide me with all my note pads and pens, all I got this time was a lousy brochure.

Life is about to get a lot more complicated

Or easier, I’m not sure which!

 IE7 is due to be released this month. Initially it’ll be available via optional download from the MS website but they are going to push it out through windows update which means that take up is likely to be very quick.

I’m not sure if it’s going to break too many of my sites, I haven’t really had chance to check, but I think I should start checking in earnest.

From a user’s point of view I think Seven is a marked improvement over IE6, I could almost see myself using it as my main browser. I say almost, because I know it won’t be my default browser, I have far too many useful firefox extensions to consider using any other browser.