Super fast app-switching on the mac

You know that feeling when somebody not that into computers writes in their browser’s address bar which already is also a google search field? Or somebody selects a chunk of text, then right-click it and super-slowly chooses “Copy” instead of pressing cmd+c (ctrl+c)?
Well, I have that feeling when it comes to switching from one app to another. When the mouse slowly crawls its way to the Dock or exposé appears for another few seconds of confusion until the right window is clicked. Many people nowadays use app launchers like Alfred, Quicksilver or LaunchBar to quickly open up an app but that is still the long process of launching the launcher, pressing two or three letters (or worse: write the entire word) and then hit enter. It may sound ridiculous to call that a long process but think of how many times you have to do this every day. Unless you are a complete internet maniac and never leave your browser window, of course.

I found the quickest way to switch to an app is simply assign a letter to it and setup a hotkey. Then to open up e.g. Calendar press alt + c, to open up Spotify press alt + s and so on. Of course you can extend this to websites, folders, scripts and so on. I made the downloads folder alt + d, Facebook alt + f, etc.

There are several apps that help you setup those shortcuts. For myself I use Alfred which has a very easy-to-use hotkeys section. You will need the Alfred Powerpack for this, which I can highly recommend for anyone already using Alfred. A cheaper solution is a little piece of software called Apptivate which is still $2.99 but focuses entirely on that topic. There are plenty of other ways to do it out there, just find what best suits you.

How to add tasks to Remember The Milk using

I have been a huge Alfred fan since I first found out about it and have never switched since then. The only thing missing was the ability to add tasks to my favorite task manager Remember the Milk. So I googled and found a solution using rumember at this blog. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it work, so I googled some more and found out that some others  had the same problem and nobody knew what to do.

Send a task to via RTM

After some unsuccessful troubleshooting I built my own, kind-of-dirty solution. First you need to download AlfredTweet, a great extension from David Ferguson for tweeting via Alfred. Alternatively to save you some dirty code tweaking, you can download my modified version of David’s extension. All credit and copyright goes to David Ferguson except for some slight changes which may affect the originally intended behavior. If you want to understand what I changed read on here, otherwise just authenticate your account and continue after the code snippet.

Read the instructions and authenticate your account. Then go to the extension, right-click and choose “Show in Finder”. Edit script.php and go to line 854. Replace the send_tweet function with this code snippet:

if ($auth == false) { echo "Unable to send dm. You must run setup and authenticate first."; }

else {
$tweet = new TwitterOAuth($ckey1, $ckey2, $auth['oAuthKey'], $auth['oAuthSecret']);
$res = $tweet->post('direct_messages/new', array('screen_name' => 'rtm', 'wrap_links' => true, 'text' => $argv[1]));
if (isset($res->error)) { echo $res->error; }
else { echo "Task sent to RTM!"; }

Go to Remember the Milk for Twitter and add your username. Add rtm as your friend on twitter and send it a direct message with the code displayed.

Now you can send a task to your RTM account via Alfred using the keyword specified in the extension.

If it’s not working try sending a direct message to rtm fro If the direct message shows up in your tasks, something is wrong with your AlfredTweet authentication or with the code modifications. Otherwise, repeat the verification process here.

Hope you enjoy this little workaround, please comment if you have questions/improvements.

THESEUS Preisträger

Das THESEUS Programm ist ein Forschungsprojekt vom Bundesinstitut für Wirtschaft und Technologie für eine bessere “internetbasierte Wissensstruktur”. Bei dem Wettbewerb im Juni 2008 wurden 20 Problemstellungen gegeben von denen die Teilnehmer sich eine aussuchen mussten um anschließend eine umfassende Lösung für das Problem zu finden und zu dokumentieren.

Im Mittelpunkt des Programms standen Semantik und intelligente Strukturierungs-Algorithmen.
Zu diesem Thema habe auch ich einen Artikel verfasst und eingereicht. Die konkrete Problemstellung lautete:

“Durch eine automatisierte Eingabeunterstützung beim Tagging (Verschlagwortung) kann die Qualität und Anzahl der Tags deutlich erhöht werden. Wie kann Tagging in social software Applikationen verbessert werden, indem dem Nutzer möglichst geeignete Tags vorgeschlagen werden?”

Mein Konzept zur “Zukunft der Verschlagwortung” wurde von der Jury als eins der besten anerkannt und ich bekam am 17. Juni bei der Preisverleihung in Berlin von Staatssekretärin Dagmar Wöhrl meine Urkunde überreicht. Als kleinen Bonus gab es außerdem ein Preisgeld von 500 €.