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5 Tools That Make You a More Productive Computer User

The following software utilities and tools will help you work faster and make you more efficient at using your computer.

enso_launcher Enso

Enso is a free application launcher, but it is also more than just that. Enso is similar to Ubiquity, however, Enso works at the Windows operating system level, not just inside your browser. It is available to you in any application you’re using. On the other hand, Ubiquity is open-source, Enso is not. Enso is also similar to Quicksilver on Mac.

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal explains:

Enso is dead simple to use. You just hold down the Caps Lock key and type an Enso command, which is displayed in a translucent overlay. Once the command is typed, you simply release the Caps Lock key to activate it, and the overlay disappears. If you type fast, it all happens in a flash. For instance, to launch the Firefox Web browser, you just hold down the Caps Lock key and type "open firefox." To look up the meaning of the word "proclivity," you just hold down the Caps Lock key and type "define proclivity."

Other launchers: Launchy and Colibri. Google Desktop can also be used as an application launcher.

clipboard CLCL

CLCL is a freeware clipboard caching utility. It allows you to stack things (text, images…) on your clipboard in one batch then bounce once to the destination and paste them all in the appropriate places, one at a time.


Other clipboard enhancers: Jumpcut and iClip for Mac.

autohotkey2 AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source macro tool that allows you to automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder. Using AutoHotkey, virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.

autohotkeyOther macro utilities: TextExpander and Typinator for Mac.

powertoys Virtual Desktops

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP have many useful (and free) “toys”, but one of the most useful is the “Virtual Desktop Manager”. It allows you to manage up to four virtual desktops, each with a taskbar controller, unique wallpapers, and hotkey support. Virtual desktops provide an excellent way to kill distractions, stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand.


On Linux, both GNOME and KDE have virtual desktops built-in. The Leopard version of Mac OS X added this feature, called Spaces.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Almost all operating systems and applications that run on them have keyboard shortcuts. There is a reason why they are called shortcuts, it’s because once you master them it takes shorter time to perform a task using keyboard shortcuts than using the mouse. The following is a list of common and useful shortcuts:

I have been using the above tools for a while. I can now do things on my computer faster than I’ve ever been able to.

Other than the ones mentioned above, what tools or tips do you use that help you be more productive using your computer?

4 Comments | Filed in Technology, Tips | Tags: ,

SQL Developer and UTF8

In this global economy the need for software globalization is increasing. As a result of this globalization, localization is becoming an important part of software development. And as a result of this localization, software developers like myself will have to work with multiple languages. So, it is becoming more crucial to have development tools that support multi-byte in addition to single-byte characters, like Chinese versus English for example.

As an Oracle database developer I have been using Quest Software Inc.’s SQL Navigator for years. We are currently involved in the implementation of Oracle E-Business Suite in our new plant in China. So, now we have the Chinese characters to worry about. It turns out that SQL Navigator does not support multi-byte characters and UTF8 encoding (which is needed to display Chinese characters), however, Oracle’s SQL developer does 🙂

Here is how SQL Navigator displays a query result that returns Chinese characters: Continue reading…

23 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Tips | Tags: , , , ,

Oracle is Female Oriented, Adobe is Male Oriented

According to Microsoft’s new adCenter Labs Demographics Prediction tool that enables you to “predict a customer’s age, gender, and other demographic information”, is female oriented with following confidence: 64% female and 36% male. Continue reading…

2 Comments | Filed in ColdFusion, Oracle | Tags: ,

Web 2.0, vyew, buzzshout and AJAX

I was reading Remko Mantel blog about Web 2.0 and thought about sharing with you a couple of links. The first is a very cool and useful “Web 2.0” website that offers a free, web-based collaboration tool that provides a feature-rich meeting room with real-time, whiteboard functionality. Features include:

  • Create instant meetings – No client to download or install
  • Annotate, share, and save documents
  • Store your work (25MB free storage)
  • Capture and share screenshots with 1-click
  • Conduct a meeting with up to 20 attendees
  • Upload and share photos from your Flickr!, Yahoo! Photos, or Kodak accounts
  • Create custom photo slideshows with music

Check it out at I have played with it a bit and my first reaction was: Wow!

If you’re wondering what other “Web 2.0” services are available out there on the Net, wonder no more. Just launched, a new (Web 2.0) website,, an online listing and repository of reviews of the hottest new “Web 2.0” companies.

AJAX is a major component in all Web 2.0 website development. Oracle already has a one-stop shop for AJAX development available on OTN.

1 Comment | Filed in Interesting, Oracle, Technology | Tags: , , ,

I use Oracle Database 10g Express Edition to …

I like Oracle DB XE, not only because it is free and has all the power of an Oracle database, but also because it comes with Application Express, or APEX (formerly HTMLDB). I plan to learn APEX and use it as an ad hoc application builder for such applications that can be shared among team members or on the company’s Intranet.

I installed the demo Web Services application that comes with APEX. For testing purposes, I wanted to allow my coworkers access to this demo application on my Oracle DB XE instance on my PC. Not a big deal, I just gave them the URL to the application, something like this: But, they could not connect to the application.

Well, I discovered that there was a setting called “Manage HTTP Access” under the Administration section of APEX. By default, this setting was set to “Available only from local server”. I switched it to “Available from local server and remote clients”. Now anyone who is on the same network as my PC, is able to access the application.

Of course, if you are exposing access to the whole Internet, you may think twice before doing this. But since I’m sharing the application only among my team members and only inside the company’s firewall, I was not paranoid about security.

Another thing I find useful is to use my Oracle DB XE instance as a tool to load CSV or XML data to another non-XE database (or even XE) through database links.

Assuming you have a non-XE Oracle database instance called ENTORA, and you have a table in a schema in the ENTORA database that you want to populate from data in a CSV file. There are many ways to do that, here is one way to do it using your local Oracle XE instance.

First, in XE, you create a database link to ENTORA. Something like:

create database link ENTORA
  connect to <username> identified by <password>

Then, using APEX, you load the CSV file into either a new table or an exiting table. Loading the data into an Oracle XE user table is just a few clicks away.

Once you have the data loaded in the table, you could do this (connected to user@XE):

insert into t@ENTORA select * from t;

I’m assuming that both t@ENTORA and t@XE have the same structure and DB users have the right privileges.

Poof! Your CSV file is loaded into a table on your non-XE Oracle database.

For more Oracle DB XE benefits, check out Lewis Cunningham’s article on OTN: Oracle Database 10g Express Edition: Not Just for Learners.

If you have downloaded and installed Oracle DB XE, what do you use it, or plan to use it, for?

5 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Tips | Tags: , , ,

Free screen capture software

I often want to capture some part of my screen to an image file or the clipboard. Sure there are a lot of software that do that, but, today, I found a completely free and a very easy to use screen capture software called ScreenHunter 4.0 Free. I just thought that you might find it useful as well.

8 Comments | Filed in Interesting | Tags: , ,

Oracle SQL Developer Graduated

Following up on my last post: Oracle SQL Developer Updated, it was finally decided to release SQL Developer to production. So, go ahead and get your fresh copy from OTN.

Oracle Database 10g XE has this:

It would be nice to have a similar one for SQL Developer as well, would it?

Comments Off on Oracle SQL Developer Graduated | Filed in Oracle | Tags: , ,

Oracle SQL Developer Updated

Another day, another Oracle SQL Developer release. That brings the current release to:

Early Adopter Release 7, version
March 8, 2006

To get an idea of the frequency of new SQL Developer EA releases: Continue reading…

4 Comments | Filed in Oracle | Tags: , ,

Password Overload

I have a password overload. Everywhere I go on the Net, I have to login. That means I have to memorize dozens of user name and password combinations.

I could just use the same user name and password on all sites, but this is not only insecure but also most of the time not possible because different sites have different requirements for user name and password size and complexity.

Just to give you a taste of what I deal with on a routine basis and what requires me to provide my user name and password: Continue reading…

11 Comments | Filed in Personal, Technology | Tags: , , ,

Your SQL Tool Part II

As a follow-up to my previous post about the different SQL development tools, here is the result of the quick poll I had on this site.

I asked the question: What SQL development tool do you use most? There were a total of 150 answers, broken down like this: Continue reading…

3 Comments | Filed in Oracle, Technology | Tags: , , , , , ,