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Friday, December 03, 2004 :::

ActiveWords: the Silver Bullet of Desktop-Apps

Had the pleasure of meeting with Buzz Bruggeman, the man behind ActiveWords, at a Redmond Tully's yesterday. Great guy. I really believe in his idea, have been a big fan for quite some time and use ActiveWords on my desktop relentlessly. Probably saves me several hours a day. I never use my Favorites folder anymore (or many of the features I used to depend on before ActiveWords) for that matter. It's the only new application I've tried this year that I can't live without.

In a word, ActiveWords is the ultimate shortcut to wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do. For example, whenever I want to go check the stats at Wondir, which is central to my job, I simply enter the letter "a" then double-space. It doesn't matter where I type it, whether I'm in Word, email, a browser or even if I have no applications open at all. ActiveWords just "listens" to what I'm typing wherever I am and knows what to do. In the above example, my computer launches the browser and brings me to the URL for the admin at Wondir, where the stats are. Usually this process would take me quite a while, but with ActiveWords it takes me a split-second and bam, it's done.

All of this hinges on the fact that ActiveWords gives my computer a new "ear" to listen to me and a new "eye" to see what I'm saying. In the above example, my computer suddenly knows where to go b/c I've told ActiveWords what "a" means to me. It knows that whenever I type "a" then double-space that I want to go the admin URL for Wondir. It also knows that when I type "sc" then double-space that I want to go to Scottrade.com. It even knows that when I type "pa" then double-space that I want to paste the the standard Wondir partnership proposal piece into a document (a piece of text that is several hundred words long).

So ActiveWords gets me to any destination, or initiates any task, that I want it to, skipping all of the busy-work steps in between. It's the ultimate macro, except without the pain in the ass associated with macros. To create a shortcut, you simple type "add" and double-space and it opens a window that walks you through the steps. Takes about ten seconds, generally, at the most, to create a new shortcut.

The same goes for all sorts of other things that used to take me a long time and now take no time at all. I can't imagine not using ActiveWords, and I predict that this shortcut-system, whether ActiveWords' version or another's, will become an indispensible, standard component of everyone's on and offline experience in the not-so-far future. At the extreme, a resourceful user of ActiveWords could eventually bypass the need for the mouse and GUI altogether.

::: posted by Allen Searls at 2:59 PM

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