Vim search Dash

I use MacVim as my editor and Dash as my documentation browser. They’re great. Also, Dash has the best nag-screen mechanism I’ve ever seen.

If you use them, too, I wrote a bit of Vim script to make looking things up about 0.5 seconds faster each time. Imagine, all that productivity! Just position your cursor on the word you want to look up, leader-d, and the script will try to search the right docset in Dash based on the filetype you’re editing. E.g. for JavaScript files, I have it configured to launch js:term in Dash, which searches both the jQuery and JavaScript docs for that term. (Source: a great tip from Kapeli himself. Herself? Itself?)

I’d love to hear suggestions on how to generalise this, without manually adding docsets each time. I tried passing in the filetype to Dash as the search term, but got tripped up by some asset files in Rails that Vim thought were ERB…

Ants invented TCP/IP

Stanford Engineering:

A forager won’t return to the nest until it finds food. If seeds are plentiful, foragers return faster, and more ants leave the nest to forage. If, however, ants begin returning empty handed, the search is slowed, and perhaps called off.

They’re stronger than us, more plentiful, and now we find out they invented the Internet. I’d start making offerings to our future ant overlords, but they already eat half the cat food in my kitchen now so what’s the point.

Failing Coursera

Tim Owens, on “failing” Coursera courses:

For much of the course I felt like a bystander. Here I was watching a set of videos chosen by my professor. I may or may not have a quiz at the end of the week to gauge my learning. The videos were interesting, but I left feeling like I hadn’t participated. […] I can’t tell you the name of a single other person that was in this course and it started with over 40,000. I think that’s a shame and something they could improve on.

I’ve yet to pass a single Coursera course myself–I’ve “failed” Algorithms and HCI so far. However, I do feel like I’ve really learned something from the parts of the courses I’ve taken, and I appreciate how Coursera and other MOOCs (what a great name) have encouraged all these subject matter experts to curate and present all this useful information in brief, easily digestible chunks for teachers and students.

Keyboard-only searching with Safari 6’s unified URL bar

A couple of months ago, I adapted a user script called knogs (“keyboard navigation on Google Search”) into a Safari extension. knogs restores Google’s search page keyboard navigation shortcuts (background here), so you can navigate between search results with j (down) and k (up), and get to the search field with /.

Unfortunately, Safari 6’s new unified “URL + search” bar behaviour retains focus after a search. As a result, you have to click in the search page to use any keyboard shortcuts, rendering the extension fairly useless unless you like searching for JJ Abrams by mistake.

So I’ve updated the extension to remove focus from the unified search bar. (It’s an ugly hack, though–I did it by prepending an input field on the page, calling focus on it to remove focus from the search bar, and then removing focus with blur. Let me know if you have any better ideas.)

Download the Safari extension here, and the source (userscript version) is available here. If you were using the previous extension, it should have auto-updated, if I set it up right. Test it out by searching in Safari’s URL bar, waiting a few milliseconds, and entering j, k, or / to navigate.

A couple of notes on usage:

  • You have to be searching with google.com for this to work, and not any country-specific domains. This is due to the way Safari handles extension whitelisting–I can’t get it to whitelist google.com.* URLs.
  • Disable Google Instant search in your account settings, otherwise typing j will just append that letter to your search terms. Thanks to Nick Farina for helping me find this issue.