Productivity Sauce

Dmitri Popov
Extension Watch: WiRWiB

Feb 27, 2009 GMT

WordNet is probably the most valuable reference for professional writers and users striving to improve their writing skills. The official WordNet package comes with a simple graphical front-end, and there is also a no-frills Web-based version of the reference. But if you do most of your writing in Writer, switching back and forth between the word processor and the WordNet application or browser can quickly become an annoyance. The WiRWiB extension -- which stands for Write It Right, Write It Better -- provides an elegant solution to the problem. WiRWiB uses a separate window to display WordNet data for the current word, including its definition, usage, and synonyms. More...
Staying Productive while Offline

Feb 25, 2009 GMT

Surviving a long train trip without an Internet connection can be tough, but with a little bit of preparatory work, you can stay productive even when offline. Here are a few ideas that can help you to do some work without Internet access. Install Google Gears and enable it for Web-based services that support this technology. This allows you to manage emails stored on your Gmail account and work on Google Docs files as well as keep tabs on your to-dos if you use the Remember The Milk service as your Web-based task manager. Prune your bookmarks and task list. If you use Firefox to manage your bookmarks, now is a good time to go through them and delete all the cruft. While you're at it, you...
Learn Inkscape with Screencasts

Feb 20, 2009 GMT

Even if you are new to open source software, you've probably heard of Inkscape, a versatile and powerful vector drawing application. But as with any powerful tool, you have to put considerable time and effort into mastering Inkscape's tools and features. Fortunately, the Web provides a plethora of resources and tutorials to get you started, including regular screencasts at the Web site. What I like most about these screencasts is that they show you not only how to get to grips with Inkscape's basic functionality, but also demonstrate more advanced and sometimes less conventional uses of this vector drawing package. The screencasts will teach you how to design a...
Master Command Line with Command-line Fu

Feb 17, 2009 GMT

Mastering the command line can really boost your productivity and make your daily computing more efficient. But once you've managed the basics, you might want to learn a few advanced and nifty command-line tricks. Enter Command-line Fu, a veritable treasure trove for command-line users. Command-line Fu is not your plain listing of useful commands: similar to Digg, users can submit their own commands and vote for the commands submitted by others. It a dead-simple idea, but it works very well indeed. Clicking on the command you like automatically selects it, so you can quickly copy and paste it into the terminal. Commands listed on the Web site are not limited to any specific topic. Here...
Extension Watch: EuroOffice Sparklines

Feb 13, 2009 GMT

The EuroOffice Sparklines extension for is a bit of a one-trick pony, but the trick it does is a rather clever one. It allows you to turn data in a Calc spreadsheet into a sparklines graph. Sparklines are "intense, simple, word-sized graphics" (Sparklines: theory and practice, Edward Tufte). According to Wikipedia, sparklines allow you to "present trends and variations associated with some measurement, such as average temperature or stock market activity, in a simple and condensed way." Once installed, the EuroOffice Sparklines extension lets you instantly turn a row of data in a spreadsheet into a...
Track Time with Klok

Feb 12, 2009 GMT

If you are looking for an excuse to install and test Adobe AIR, here is one -- Klok, a sleek and easy to use time tracking tool designed for freelancers and small businesses. Despite being a lightweight application, Klok is packed with useful features that can help you to track the time you spend on your projects with utmost efficiency. Obviously, to make Klok work on your system, you have to install Adobe AIR first. Fortunately, this can be done in a few simple steps. Go to the Adobe AIR download page, grab the Linux version of the installer and save it in your home directory. Run the installer in the terminal using the ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin command. Download the latest version of...
Shutter (aka GScrot): Screenshot Utility on Steroids

Feb 06, 2009 GMT

Writing computer-related tutorials, documentation, articles, etc., is virtually impossible without a good utility for taking screenshots -- and Shutter (formerly known as GScrot) has all the features you could possible need. For starters, Shutter sports a tabbed interface, so you can work with several screenshots at the same time. Like any screenshot utility worth its salt, Shutter allows you to grab a selected area, a window section, and a full window. Besides that, Shutter has a rather nifty feature that allows you to take a screenshot of an entire Web page. To do this, press the Web button in Shutter's main toolbar, enter the URL of...

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