Web Monkey n'at

Slate, Vimium, and never touching the mouse again.

It's no secret, I'm VIM fan. Any time I have to take my hands off the keyboard to mess with a GUI I have issues. My palms get all sweaty, I break out in hives, and have a vague feeling like I'm playing a game of whack-a-mole. Well, it may not be that bad, but I'm sick of it. So I decided to do something about it.

I split my time almost equally been my editor and my browser, why not use the same keyboard shortcuts? Enter Vimium, a customizable Google Chrome extension that gives you vim-like control over your browser. All the commands are spot on, G and gg scroll you to the bottom or top of the page, respectively. Hitting f will display a character next to all the links on a page, hitting that letter opens the associated link. A quick gs will allow you to view source, easier to remember than opt+cmd+U (Ctrl+U on windows, lucky bastards.) Even marks work as expected!

So now I can browse without the cursor, how can I manage windows? Cmd+tab is woefully under-powered, and windows has Aero; why not improve both? Slate does just that by offering custom configuration and tons of options. By default Slate is easy to use, but via custom configuration you can tweak your way to the perfect environment. I've done everything I could come up with to my Slate config to make it work more like vim, and it's fantastic! (I stole a lot from other's configs, that's the beauty of config files and sharing) With my config Cmd+ctrl+E (default is Cmd+esc) will show a character for each open window, even if they're hidden behind others. Cmd+ctrl+[hjkl] uses the standard vim keys for placing a window on the half of the screen indicated by the direction (default are arrow keys, IIRC).

Even better, they're BOTH free, open-source, and (the icing on the cake) hosted on github; so you can inspect the code at your leisure.


VIM quick-start, cheat-sheet, and links

If you've been following me for a while, you might know my editor of choice is VIM, it's very clean. There's nothing there to get in your way, except your own limitations, and those limitations can be destroyed through practice. Havn't tried vim yet? What are you waiting for?

Vim is a text editor written by Bram Moolenaar and first released publicly in 1991. It is commonly found on unix-based operating systems. VIM is based off an older text editor, vi, and it's name is an acronym for Vi-Improved. With vim Your fingers never have to leave the keyboard to command great power. The learning curve is a little steep but you can very quickly pick up new skills as you need them. The basic premise is that there is an Input mode and a Command mode. By default you start in command mode, here you can move around the document, search, and do a fair bit of editing quickly. Insert mode is designed for adding (and removing) text, it's just like a normal text editor.

Quick Start/Cheat Sheet

From the Command Line

Working with VIM modes

VIM Commands

VIM tips

Going Further

Vim is highly customizable, you can set shortcuts and preferences in the .vimrc file, usually located in your home directory. There are a ton of plugins (aka scripts) available too. They're easy to manage with other scripts like Pathogen or Vundle.

If you want to get a headstart, my dotfiles are available on github, but there are a lot of people doing that lately, for example there's a very nice VIM Distribution named Janus that's worth a look.


RIP Google Reader

Google unceremoniously killed Reader. It was fun while it lasted, but you knew it was going to happen. I've been using Reader to keep up with my feeds for a long time; sometimes ignore them for weeks, but still skimiming for the best. The closure was hardly the hardest part. That respect does to when Google originally decided to start damaging Reader with a redesign in late 2011. This redesign brought in the new Google black bar, and partially replaced the social aspect with Google Plus. Up until then you could share articles with your friends, if they actually wanted to see them. It was great for discovering things from new perspectives, and for trading the best feeds to follow But G+ never really filled the gap. It was a separate entity and integration into Reader went out the window with this announcement. Google Plus won't be filling in any other gaps either.

The major losses here are in China & Iran where it was being used to circumvent oppressive regime's policies, so I can hardly compare my plight.

So now to fill this new hole in my life, there were a few solutions offered as replacements that I tried.

Feedly & Feedspot clearly come out on top for being drop-in replacements, although Digg reader is a close second, because their styling is nice and open, making it a joy to read.

Ultimately though I'm becoming disenfranchised with RSS feeds. They just pile up too much, and all serve the mentality of "you can't miss a thing." I'm generally "behind" by at least 1000 posts, but I'd guestimate at least 90% of them aren't worth actually looking at twice. There's got to be a better way, but for now I'm not seeing a ready-made product that combats this pile-up.