The Tiniest of Hacks

18 March, 2005

The scale of this idea really couldn't be a whole lot smaller, but since I know there's a couple of you out there who have recently started using (or recently bought: good for you) Net News Wire 2.0b, I thought I'd go ahead with it anyway:

Hitting 'tab' cycles your focus between the three panes of the main NNW window: the subscription list pane, the items and tabs pane, and the content pane. Here's what's useful about it: When you click on a link from a post in the content pane of a News Item, NNW will open the link as your rightmost tab and jump the content pane to it if you've got that preference selected. I don't keep that preference selected because I like to use open tabs as a kind of standing "to read" list that I return when I have some free time. Usually, after clicking, I want to keep my News Items in the content pane so I can just hit the 'up arrow' when I'm ready to read the next Item. Anyway, even though I've got my preferences set to just open the link in the background, NNW still shifts my focus to the new page (without displaying it), the result being that the 'up arrow' no longer moves me to the next News Item. For awhile, I was having to mouse over to click on the next Item, until I found that if I just hit 'tab' twice in quick succession, the focus would be back where it belonged and I could 'up arrow' again happily.

As I say, this 'hack' couldn't be smaller in scale, but it's made me happier since, in reading upwards of 100 items a day, I probably click through 20 or 30 times, so it makes for just that many fewer times I have to take my hands off the keyboard. Also, like any good hack that undoes a user interface bug (of whatever scale) it goes just that little bit further to syncing my brain with the program, so my 'flow' with it is never interupted, and the amount of time I have to spend on the task at hand goes down a bit -- here it's by just enough that I can notice it with satisfaction.

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