Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A few more giant steps toward giving up my mouse

Many of you may not know I've been in a quest to abandon use of the computer mouse entirely and do everything from the keyboard, as part of my broader goal of improving ease of computer use, which itself is ... nevermind, I'll cut it off right there.

The point is, I've found an absolutely marvelous tool that lets me use the keyboard for a notoriously mouse-intensive task -- web browsing! With this tool, Vimperator (a Firefox plugin and apparently modeled after the Vim text editor, which may or may not have something to do with the "vi" environment), you can "click" on any link just by hitting "f", which brings up a key command for each link on the screen, and then typing that command! While it has many other features (that I'm still slowly learning), that by itself justifies installing it.

In fact, I even created this entire post without using the mouse, and yes, that includes logging in and copying the link from another tab.

With such an amazing tool, how can I criticize it? Like this:

The time for the link key commands to pop up is too long for my taste and makes it not time-competitive with the mouse. (This is probably not easily improvable -- the programmer is no fool!) Also, it doesn't have enough alternate commands to make one-handed use very feasible. (Yes, you just thought of a naughty comment and no, we don't care.) ADDENDUM: oh, and how the link key commands ("hints") don't seem to exploit the letters that already exist in the links (as native alt commands do), plus they overlap the links without any transparency features that let you continue to see the text of the link while the hint is on top.

Still, compared to all that vimperator makes possible, these are tiny nitpicks. Hats off to Herrn Martin Stubenschrott!

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