Wednesday, August 22, 2007

web: instantly learn about anything

Whenever I see an acroynym or name new to me, I just go directly to its page on Wikipedia, which for abbreviations is usually a great disambiguation page. Only if that fails do I Google for term slang.

In Firefox, you can assign a keyword to this that makes it even faster.
  1. Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%s (shows an error page)
  2. Bookmark this
  3. Right-click on the bookmark, choose properties and give it the keyword 'w' and the name "Go to Wikipedia page".
Thereafter, just press [Ctrl-L]w term[Enter] to learn about anything! ZOMG FTW! (If my brief explanation doesn't make sense, there's a good guide on Lifehacker.)

Firefox ships with several keyword bookmarks in the folder "Quick Searches", e.g. dict term. But this is not just for searches. For every site that you go to, then you type something in a box, then the site shows you the page you really wanted, you can make a keyword bookmark that eliminates the first page. It works for map addresses, zip code lookup, favorite section of a site, etc.

I want something similar on my phone's browser (if you have a recent phone, it can browse the web! You can and should read BBC news optimized for a phone at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low.html.) I want to permanently load a home page on my phone that has a drop-down list of all my bookmarks and a text field where I can laboriously type the term:
Then I can jump to the Wikipedia page for "ganache" or the IMDB page for "Play it Again, Sam" and impress my friends without 5 minutes of navigating huge home pages on a tiny screen.

I think it's simple JavaScript, but I don't know of a phone that can do this. And there's no money in it, think of all the search ads and home pages I skip.

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  • I use http://www.tappity.com/ as the home page on my phone, it does exactly what you said

    By Blogger noel, at September 25, 2007 6:17 PM  

  • Thanks, I signed up. But Tappity only works for query string substitutions like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?fulltext=Search&search=mobi. There's no query string in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mobi

    Tappity's thinking is limited, just like Firefox naming it "Quick Searches" is limited. I don't need to search the web, I need to jump to URLs on the web with minimal typing.

    By Blogger skierpage, at September 26, 2007 1:44 AM  

  • The home page on Opera Mini 4 has exactly this feature. You enter a string and choose which URL to put it in. It even uses the same %s for the text string as Firefox bookmarks.

    By Blogger skierpage, at November 30, 2007 1:20 AM  

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