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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Here’s a pro-tip for you architects (not sure how many of you already do this, but from what I’ve seen, not enough):

Install Picasa (free) or other photo manager on your desktop at work, and have it index all your active project folders. Go to the Tools menu and select Folder Manager. If your server is smallish, go ahead and set everything to “Scan Always.” Otherwise pick the project folders you’re interested in.

Let it comb through the folders in the background (leave Picasa running). It goes pretty quick, and it will remember where everything is the next time you open Picasa.

Now you have the power of Picasa’s (Google’s) search box whenever you need to find something. Assuming you’ve done even a mediocre-to-poor job naming you image files and folders, you will have a much easier time finding the images you need this way, rather than trying to remember where you saved things. The search feature is instantaneous. You can filter results, browse through folders, or (less obvious) scroll up the left pane to the top for “Search results”–it will show you everything grouped together rather than sorted by folder.

Or, you can just scroll through the thumbnails and find what you need by sight. Thumbnail size adjustment is a slider bar at lower-right.

And this is really killer: it can index and print Photoshop files. I have found nothing faster. Adobe Bridge is silly compared to Picasa. When working with a team, it’s a quick way to see what other people are working on, what their psd’s look like at the moment, or what images they’ve found.

Everything a photo manager app does can and should be used for work: printing images as a batch from across multiple folders, exporting to smaller sizes, slideshows, sharing and so on. Get to know the keyboard shortcuts and image adjustment tools. It will make your life much easier. One handy shortcut is holding Ctrl+Alt while hovering over a thumbnail–you get a full-screen enlargement instantly. [I believe this is Windows-only.] Another one is Ctrl+Enter to open the folder containing the image you’re looking at (Control+Enter on Mac).

Last tip: when you take new site photos, name or tag the photos immediately, or at least group them intelligently within well-named folders (for example, “lobby,” “theater,” “room 2001″ etc). When the day comes you  need to look up a specific field condition from your desk, you will thank yourself.

I could go on and on, but you’ll find plenty more ways to use Picasa on the help page.

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After over a year (two years?) of angrily perusing Harper’s, I’ve decided to cancel my subscription of many, many years. Since Lapham left, it’s become terrible. Ideological without wit, a poor sense of what  fiction is… even the book reviews are disappointing in that they’ve become too accessible. I’ve decided to reallocate my reading time to Lapham’s Quarterly, which is a godsend. Really, it is amazing. A boon to the world, and a friendly door to the great writings of the past.

Anyway, I went to the website to enter my request to cancel and noticed this graphic on the side:

partyImage_sf

And then I thought, I wonder where this comes from. Dumping into Google Images, I found it here:

 biblioklept | terms of venery

An Exaltation of Larks, or The Venereal Game,by James Lipton

And Amazon has it.

If you don’t know about dragging images into Google, you should get to know it. Powerful and fun stuff.

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