Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 8 March 2013

Fairly useful pages on the internet

These are the websites I have filed under 'Useful' - that's literally the only thing that unites them. I've numbered them but no ordering system is implied.

1. Alt codes for PCs
For typing unusual shapes like ♣ and ♫ with your PC's numeric keypad and your alt key (make sure you switch on NumLock) - it won't work with the numbers across the top of your keyboard. If you don't have a numeric keypad on the right hand side of your keyboard it's possibly embedded in the main bit of your keyboard (check the JKL letters), accessed with the Function (Fn) key. I'm using a Mac so I just copy and paste them.
http://www.spike-jamie.com/alt-codes.html - like the small bullet points I'm using? It's Alt+7 = • and Alt+8 on a Mac •
http://www.alt-codes.net/

1a. Keyboard shortcuts for Macs
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343

2. Online timer
Probably worth using the 'five second test' first so that you can hear what the alarm sounds like. I recommended this page to my dad who set the alarm for a period of time minutes, forgot about it then after the time had elapsed discovered his computer making a really odd and unpleasant sound and with no idea what was happening until he twigged.

3. File converter
I've used Zamzar a few times and it all went swimmingly. I've converted an mp3 into an ogg file for uploading to Wikimedia Commons and a Powerpoint into a PDF for printing as an A1 poster.

4. Google results URL pruner / link converter
If you've ever 'right click / copy address' from a page of Google search results and pasted the address somewhere else you might have been a bit disappointed by how ugly it is. There's a whole load of stuff that Google adds to URLs when they're participating in its search results and this tool prunes out the excess.

Basically it turns this:
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0A&
// url=http%3A%2F%2Fabc.go.com%2F&rct=j&q=abc&ei=kuw&cad=rja
(line break added by me)

into this:
http://abc.go.com/

5. Domain tools
Who owns that website, when was it registered? These tools can help.
http://whois.domaintools.com/
http://www.domaintools.com/
http://who.is/
http://www.nominet.org.uk/uk-domain-names/about-domain-names/domain-lookup-whois/whois-tool
http://www.dnsstuff.com/

6. Freezepage
Lets you capture a copy of a web page as it is, in case it changes.

7. Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive
Lets you find earlier versions of websites, even if those websites have since disappeared.

8. Google cache search and site search
Find the previous copy of a web page (eg if it's recently changed and you want to see what it looked like before) by adding cache: to the URL (but delete the http:// bit). Search within a domain / site by restricting it using site: and then the name of the website.

Examples - this is what you type into the Google search box:
• cache:brodiesnotes.blogspot.com
• site:brodiesnotes.blogspot.com useful

9. URL shorteners
Although no longer needed for Twitter as it automatically converts any web address into a shorter one these are still useful in printed documents or powerpoint presentations where a reader / audience might want to note down or type in a web address that doesn't go on for ever.

With bit.ly ones you can also find out how many people have clicked on it and some other analytics stuff.
is.gd
bit.ly
tinyurl.com ← this is the one I'd use where I'm not sure if the audience is familiar with URL shorteners

10. What is my monitor size?
- Hold a credit card on top of the on-screen credit card, slide the slider until they match and voila, it tells you how big your screen is. Also works with compact disc, and a whole bunch of American stuff (nickels etc).

11. BT Speed Test
Gives you a rough estimate of your download speed (not your upload speed though - there are tools for that though, but I never use them).

12. TV CatchUp  // TV Guide UK
Free, awesome, registration required. Watch actual live television (couple of seconds delayed) on your PC, Mac or iPhone etc. Wifi connection needed. 

13. Flickr images with a Creative Commons licence
Find pictures that can be used, as long as you credit the photographer / Flickr appropriately (eg if you embed a picture into a blog using the embed code this all happens automatically).

For example, here's one (hover over it to see who it's by, click on it to see it on Flickr, in situ)
Saving Time

14. Oral Rehydration Solutions
If you've got diarrhoea but have salt, sugar and water to hand you can help yourself feel a lot better by following the instructions in this excellent page:
http://rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm#recipe

15. Cheaper telephone numbers for companies - say no to 0870
http://www.saynoto0870.com/ - helps you find geographic numbers (eg 020 8xxx xxxx rather than 0845 numbers which may cost more, especially if run from a mobile).

16. Remove line breaks online tool
For when you need to copy and paste text from one place to another and want to get rid of line breaks (example below). You can choose to get rid of line breaks and preserve paragraphs, or just get it all running together: http://www.textfixer.com/tools/remove-line-breaks.php hat tip @zeno001 who pointed out that the site has other useful tools too.

Example
Raw text from Food Standards Agency letter on raspberry ketones (October 2013). 

(a)
Under Regulation (EC) 258/97, novel foods and food ingredients may only be
marketed if they have been evaluated and authorised under the procedures
defined in the regulation. A novel food or ingredient
is defined as one that was not
consumed to a significant degree in the European Community before 15 May
1997.
Raspberry ketones
have
not
been authorised under this regulation.

(b)
Same text with formatting removed (there's a button in Blogger's editing pane that does this):

Under Regulation (EC) 258/97, novel foods and food ingredients may only be
marketed if they have been evaluated and authorised under the procedures
defined in the regulation. A novel food or ingredient
is defined as one that was not
consumed to a significant degree in the European Community before 15 May
1997.
Raspberry ketones
have
not
been authorised under this regulation.

(c)
Same text run through the line break remover

Under Regulation (EC) 258/97, novel foods and food ingredients may only be marketed if they have been evaluated and authorised under the procedures defined in the regulation. A novel food or ingredient is defined as one that was not consumed to a significant degree in the European Community before 15 May 1997. Raspberry ketones have not been authorised under this regulation.

Ta da!

17. Vocaroo
Online voice recorder - record a short message and share it with a link. It's a bit like an audio tweet.




2 comments:

  1. For those who need photos, in addition to Flickr there is also Wikimedia Commons, where all the pictures and video in Wikipedia is stored. All of that stuff, by definition, is freely usable even for commercial purposes. commons.wikimedia.org

    Also, if you go to Google Image search and click the gear icon for advanced search, there's an option there at the very bottom to search for images with specified licenses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Useful ta - in fact I have an 'images' folder which also contains the Morguefile Creative Commons bookmarklet (see http://www.morguefile.com/about for more info) and the CDC's Public Health Images Library (http://phil.cdc.gov/phil/home.asp) which contains photos that can be used as they've been collected by people working for the US Gov as part of their job. I've used a couple (with acknowledgements) in blog posts.

      Delete

Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

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