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Archive for June, 2011

From Dictionary.com:

—adjective

1. foul and repulsive, as from lack of care or cleanliness; neglected and filthy.

2. wretched; miserable; degraded; sordid.

Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

The little country pub had a certain charm, despite its squalid floors and stained countertops.

 
View this word on Dictionary.com for pronunciation and additional definitions.

Find out more about Wordsmith Wednesdays.

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Sonia’s writing challenge this month at Not All Who Wander Are Lost was to do a piece of flash fiction in 500 words or less to the theme of creature feature. I had fun letting go of some conventions with this one.

Creature Feature Part 1

 

Creature Feature Part 2

 

Disclaimer: This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to actual events or people (living or dead) are purely coincidental.

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Do you often find yourself searching on Wikipedia? Or eBay? Or Amazon? Isn’t it tedious to navigate to the site, click the search field, type in your term, and hit Enter every time? What if there was an oh-so-simple, one-step method you could use to get the job done with a few swift keystrokes?

If you use Mozilla Firefox, there’s a handy little feature built into the browser called a Keyword Search. If you already use it, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a time-saver. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll explain what it is and how you can start speeding through your searches.

A Keyword Search allows you to take any website that has a search field, and use that search directly from your Firefox address bar by typing something like ebay digital camera, or some similar combination of keyword and search terms.

We’ll go through the following steps, using Amazon.com, to set up an example Keyword Search.

  1. Go to the website for which you want to create a Keyword Search. In this case, http://www.amazon.com/.
  2. Right-click inside the search field, and in the context menu that pops up, click “Add a Keyword for this Search…”.

    Firefox Keyword Search Context Menu

     

  3. You’re now presented with a New Bookmark dialogue. In the Keyword field, type a sequence of characters that you will use to access the website’s search feature and click Save. For Amazon, I’ll use ama, so that when I want to search for something on Amazon, I’ll simply have to type ama kindle or ama northanger abbey, etc. into my address bar.

    Firefox Keyword Search New Bookmark Dialog

 
And that’s really all there is to it! Now, when you want to search, all you have to do is type your keyword and search terms into the address bar, like so:

Firefox Keyword Search Term

 
The results appear just as if you had performed a normal search through the website.

Firefox Keyword Search Results

 
You can use any keyword you like, but for the sake of speed, it’s a good idea to keep it short. You could use something like shop if you prefer a keyword that resembles an instruction (shop headphones). I usually like to use shortened versions of the site name so that I always remember which site the Keyword Search is linked to. You can always change your keyword later, too. It gets saved as a bookmark, so all you have to do is right-click it in your Bookmarks menu, go to Properties, and change the keyword. Once you start amassing lots of Keyword Searches, you might even want to store them in their own folder to keep them out of the way of your regular bookmarks.

Here are some Keyword Searches that I use.

def
Dictionary.com

syn
Thesaurus.com

wik
Wikipedia

yt
YouTube

imdb
Internet Movie Database

mb
MusicBrainz

map
Google Maps

You may occasionally run into a hiccup, but they’re rare. For example, Dictionary.com has trouble understanding Keyword Searches that contain spaces. This is because spaces are not allowed in URLs and are encoded as %20. Dictionary.com unfortunately doesn’t translate a %20 back into a space before performing the search, so if I were to type def ruling class into my address bar, I’d get a search for ruling%20class which, as you can imagine, doesn’t return the page I want. Luckily, two-word dictionary terms don’t seem to come up too often.

You might also notice that Google Maps doesn’t respond well to Keyword Searches at first, giving you a blank page with nothing but a text field. Thanks to a tip from GreySquare Blog, you can just go into the properties of your Google Maps Keyword Search, and remove the string &source=s_q&output=js from the URL, changing the entire URL from something like this:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&output=js&hl=en&geocode=&abauth=3183ad6f%3AjAdGUOnAnWmBtnF-BPdW_nNNmkE&q=%s

to this:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&abauth=3183ad6f%3AjAdGUOnAnWmBtnF-BPdW_nNNmkE&q=%s

Aside from those two minor anomalies, I’ve experienced relatively smooth sailing with Keyword Searches. They take only seconds to set up, and if you’re a frequent searcher, you’ll love the blazingly fast access to search results that they provide.

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This week, I’m trying out the Schedule feature on WordPress. If all goes well, this post should be published automatically at 7:00 AM EST on June 22nd. Let’s see what happens.

From Dictionary.com:

—noun

1. a level of command, authority, or rank: the top echelon of city officials.

2. a formation of troops, ships, airplanes, etc., in which groups of soldiers or individual vehicles or craft are arranged in parallel lines, each to the right or left of the one in front, so that the whole presents the appearance of steps.

3. one of the groups of a formation so arranged.

4. Also called echelon grating. Spectroscopy . a diffraction grating that is used in the resolution of fine structure lines and consists of a series of plates of equal thickness stacked in staircase fashion.

Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

Employees at every echelon would be significantly impacted by a merger of the two companies.

 
View this word on Dictionary.com for pronunciation and additional definitions.

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Awarded an Award

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

My first ever blog award was given to me a few days ago by Alexis from Bunny Ears & Bat Wings. As per the terms of the award, I submit the following.

 
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.

Thanks for thinking of this blog, Alexis!

 
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.

  • I like sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humour.
  • I taught myself to touch type in my early teens by removing and mixing up all the keys on my keyboard.
  • I’ve played all the games in the King’s Quest series except KQ7: The Princeless Bride.
  • I accidentally wasted the Master Ball on a Venonat. (Years ago. I don’t still play or anything. Really.)
  • I wish I was as tough as those guys you hear in the distance red-lining their engines and squealing their tires.
  • My favourite movie is The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.
  • Though I’ve never been told, I consider myself to be occasionally (though unintentionally) pedantic and pretentious, correcting the grammar of friends and family in conversation, answering Jeopardy! questions out loud, laughing during Frasier, and using roman numerals where they aren’t necessarily needed.

 
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.

In the words of a certain robot from Futurama: “Like most of life’s problems, this one can be solved with bending.”  . . . the rules, that is. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make 15 a running total, as I really can’t think of that many blogs of which I’m a dedicated reader. But for now, I’ll send the award along to these:

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Out of the Woods
Yikici
Just Rambling…

 
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Alright.

 
On a related note (let me just put on my lab coat and glasses): I briefly attempted to trace the origins of the Irresistibly Sweet award. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat chain letteresque, and you don’t have to do much math to know that 15 people sending to 15 people, and so on is a lot of awards. So, I was unable (read: too lazy) to find the award’s creator.

However! I did make an interesting discovery. And that is that the award seems to have mutated over time, resulting in several different “strains”, if you will. I’ve put them in the order in which I imagine them changing.

On Strain #4, we’re actually lucky enough to have caught a mutation in progress! You only have to trace it one level to the previous recipient to see it change.

  Link Back Facts Send To Congratulate Image
Strain 1 No 0 15 No Cake
Strain 2 No 4 guilty pleasures 6 No Cake
Strain 3 Yes 7 10 No Cake
Strain 4 Yes 7 10 Yes Cake/Ice cream
Strain 5 (this award) Yes 7 15 Yes Cake
Strain 6 Yes 7 15 Yes Doughnuts

 
Image credit: Whoever created the award

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From Dictionary.com:

—noun

a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.

Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

They built a cairn on the grave of their fallen companion and thrust his sword into the ground.

 
View this word on Dictionary.com for pronunciation and additional definitions.

Find out more about Wordsmith Wednesdays.

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From Dictionary.com:

—noun

the highest point; summit; peak: The empire was at the acme of its power.

Wordsmith Wednesdays made-up example sentence:

Fuel prices will no doubt climb as we approach the acme of oil production.

 
View this word on Dictionary.com for pronunciation and additional definitions.

Find out more about Wordsmith Wednesdays.

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