Do you hate the search “feature” they put in Windows 7/8? I think it’s terrible and slow. Since Google Desktop was discontinued–hold on, let me take a moment to grieve–it’s been a sad, slow, opaque world for me. While Outlook search has improved greatly, I think because they integrated LookOut, searching through Windows Explorer is painful. It takes too long, returns too many false positives and has a pointlessly complicated syntax for refined search.

I’ve looked around for a good free alternative, and I’ve come to rely on Agent Ransack. It’s zippy, bare bones ugly the way I like it, and has a great name to boot. Once installed, you can access it through the right-click menu.

Try it, I think you’ll like it.

Pro-tip: the hotkey is the letter “a” so you can right-click on a folder and type “a” to get to the search box fast. Or, if you’re in no-mouse/keyboard-only mode, hit the menu key to the left of the spacebar and tap “a.”

Here are some search alternatives, but I haven’t tried them myself.

And here’s the crazy syntax for making Windows search behave.

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Sometimes you need to see what your fonts look like, and waiting for the preview in Word or Illustrator is just too slow. Try STC fontBROWSER (Flash). It lists all the fonts that are installed on your computer and gives you a quick preview at two different sizes.

There are other browser-based font viewers, I learned, with pros and cons to each. Read about them here.


Noggin Box Font Picker

I found this interesting:

note: How does a web app interrogate my fonts?
In a word: Flash. Most of these systems use a Flash applet to retrieve font names — even if the interface is primarily HTML.

The only exception is which relies on JavaScript. It uses a database of known font names and determines whether a font is installed by applying it to an element and detecting whether its dimensions change.

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9 Mind-Blowing Canvas Demos

Some jaw-dropping code that will run in essentially any browser–nothing more than HTML and javascript. Goodbye Flash.

via The Verge (they pick three favorites).

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Yelp Wordmap

This is fun. Choose a city, pick a keyword, see where that word is mentioned. I found it interesting how “pasta in New York” is pretty much everywhere, but “pasta in Boston” is all in the North End.

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Boil Up.

Robert Hodgin continues to amaze me. He created this simulation of a bait ball for an exhibit at the Auckland Museum (New Zealand), called Moana, My Ocean. Here he explains his process.

Pretty great.

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American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States.

It’s not a beautifully designed site, but it’s inordinately deep in content. If you miss the way people used to talk good, then read the best stuff here.

via MeFi

Once you’ve learned some high quality rhetoric, use this new bot at MIT called MACH to practice being a better public speaker.

At the heart of MACH is a complex system of facial and speech recognition algorithms that can detect subtle nuances in intonation while tracking smiles, head nods and eye movement…

The software then provides feedback about your performance… What’s particularly exciting is that the program requires no special hardware; it’s designed to be used with a standard webcam and microphone on a laptop.

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Sometimes you’re looking around the web and spot an image that is perfect, something you need to keep, but the site has some kind of furtive script thing that keeps you from right-click-saving like you usually do. You try to save it but end up with a small white square instead. What to do?

Of course, you can take a screenshot (PRINTSCRN on Windows or Command-Shift-3 or Command-Shift-4 on Mac), but that’s rarely satisfying.

To get the actual image file you see in the browser you can use the Developer Tools built into Chrome and Firefox. I prefer Chrome, it’s a little easier to find:

  1. Right-click on the page (anywhere on the page).
  2. Select “Inspect element” from the pop-up menu (at the bottom of the list). A new console will pop up, either as a separate window or at the bottom of your browser window.
  3. At the top of this new console you’ll see different tabs: Elements, Resources, Network, Sources, etc. Click Resources.
  4. At the left side you’ll see a cascading list of folders. Find the one(s) named “Images.” If you dig around here and keep opening subfolders you should find what you’re looking for. Clicking on any of the filenames will show you a preview at right.
  5. When you find the image you’re looking for, right-click on the preview at right and select “Open image in new tab”
  6. Go to that new tab and save the image as usual.

Now, of course I don’t recommend doing this to steal images that someone obviously went out of their way to protect. Use only along fair use guidelines. Please.

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WikiHouse, open-source cutting files for CNC machines, to build new cities barn-raising style, without architects and without developers. Uses SketchUp for now. Open invitation to join in the project.

TED Talk

HuffPost with video interview (Alistair Parvin)

It’s an interesting approach, clearly born out of academic studios. It requires access to a host of expensive, first-world things, namely a CNC machine, computers that can run SketchUp, and plywood of reliable quality. It’s an architecture student’s “raw materials”–chipboard and laser cutter–scaled up, and tasked with a noble mission. Honorable, but you have to wonder whether this is really an efficient way to bring housing to the masses. If you follow the production path from chopping down trees to making plywood, to CNC milling it, and then reassembling the whole thing into a house, it brings to mind making a casserole out of canned food.

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Watch lasers track bubbles to the beat of Daft Punk | The Verge.

I love that the simple addition of bubbles make this fully 3d, and with refraction.

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Fantastic. I always love novels that begin with a map. Here they tell historical stories, plotted on Google Maps.

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