Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elementary Keys

I often wonder how 'IT Professionals' get away with what they do without being able to execute the simplest computer tasks. Seeing a 200$/hour consultant fiddling with the mouse cursor, repeatedly missing keys and taking seemingly endless minutes just to log in to a Siebel application makes me cringe.

So I decided to post the obvious: Some basic keystrokes which every IT pro should be able to reproduce. This is just a basic list, please feel free to use the comments to expand it.

1. Highlighting Text

If a text appears like this

...then the word surrounded by a (usually) blue box has been highlighted. There is no need to highlight it again. Here is how you highlight text (applies to most applications and operating systems).

  • Drag the mouse cursor across the text.
  • Double-click a word to highlight the entire word.
  • Triple-click anywhere in a paragraph to highlight the entire paragraph.
  • To highlight a line of text, use the Home key to position the cursor before the first character, then press SHIFT + End.

2. Copy and Paste

I confess: "I am a PC", and on a PC you use CTRL+C to copy the highlighted text into your computer's clipboard. Use CTRL+V to paste the text where your cursor is currently located. I feel sad having to post this publicly but not using copy and paste has ruined too many evenings and weekends.

3. Switching between application windows

On Windows, the ALT+TAB key combination should replace ALL fiddling and fumbling across the task bar.

To switch between tabs (e.g in your browser or even Siebel Tools), use CTRL+TAB.

The TAB key in general should be used to navigate between fields in a form or list.

Combine them with the SHIFT key to navigate in reverse order (you probably have to play a musical instrument to be able to do that ;-)

4. Windows Magic

If your keyboard has a Windows key, then you should try to memorize the following combos:

Windows + D: Show the Desktop
Windows + M: Minimize all windows (shows the Desktop as well)
Windows + E: Open Windows Explorer

Some more here. As said above, please use the comments to add your tips for more efficiency at the workplace ;-).

5. Finally, typing less is more (spare time, that is)

Simple statistics shows that the more you type, the more errors you make (I wrote two books, so I know what I am talking about ;-). Have you ever spent an evening or a whole weekend looking for a missing semi-colon or a space where there shouldn't be any? I know I have.

The answer is: Type Less! For example, you can use copy and paste or when you enter a query you can use wildcards. Or when typing an URL in a browser, you don't need the http://. Most modern apps - including Siebel - support automatic completion of text, etc. Too simple? Good for you, but for some reason you continued to read until here.

have a nice day



Christian Berg said...

Hi Alex,

Excellent rant. Since you started at the really basic basics I won't even go into "not being able to read SQL", "not knowing where to find and how to read a log file" or "not bothering with error messages but rather claiming it doesn't work".

Rant on :-D

Ulla Baedorf said...

Hi @lex!
Did you tell Mr. von und zu Guttenberg about the opportunities with CTRL - C + CTRL - V? :-)

Best regards And Happy Chrismas


mroshaw said...

Hi Alex,

Please post the name of the customer who is paying $200 per hour so that I can submit my CV immediately.

Merry Christmas! :)


Nitin Jain said...

Same question as Oli, Alex !! ;-)

Nitin Jain