Best tools for authors


just some more tools for authors

Just some more tools for authors

Sorry about that title. This is my third post on the best tools for authors, after the first one and the second. Here are some more tools, as well as some tricks of the keyboard and some online sites of great interest. And oh yes, one site that some of you are going to want to drown me for.

Some primary stuff

Fancy keyboard manipulation

If you are absent-minded, long-sighted, have banana fingers, a laptop with small keys, or a combination or two or more of these factors, you want to keep this keyboard command in mind: Ctrl+Shift+T. It helps bring back a tab on Google Chrome that you terminated by accident. I use a desktop for the most part, but I also have banana fingers, because I keep accidentally “X”ing out sites when I am actually trying to open them.

Ctrl+F allows you to search for and find specific words in a webpage. It is equivalent to the Find function in MS Word.

Too tired or vain to get your glasses and put them on? You can Ctrl+ or Ctrl– to increase or decrease the font size of the content you are reading.

You can avoid having to type in the prefix and the suffix part of website URLs if you just type in the domain name and hit Ctrl+Enter. Doing this automatically adds a www. in front of the domain name you typed in and a .com after, which means you access the site straight. Otherwise, just typing a domain name and hitting Enter will take you to a page of search engine results. However, this trick works only for domains with the dot com suffix.

On to some more serious stuff

Using just the keyboard to switch between tabs

Hitting Ctrl+Tab enables you to switch around through the various tabs that are open on your browser. I think I mentioned up there that folks like me tend to accidently hit the “X” and delete the darned tab instead of opening it up when we use the mouse.

Staying off the browsing history radar

Don’t want to leave a traceable record of your browsing? Ctrl+Shift+P on Firefox or Ctrl+Shift+N on Chrome enables you to browse without leaving a history behind. The benefits do include being able to visit porn sites without fear, but more than that, you can visit sites that track your cookies without getting on their radar.

Ah. An unspammable email inbox?

This is probably one of the better tools for authors, or for that matter, for anyone.

Want to email people without fear of getting spammed or hacked? Use mailinator. The beauty of this program is that you don’t have to sign in, create a profile or go through any other crap like that. You just need to think of a name for your mailinator email address. You can use 10 Minute Mails for the same purpose, but this site limits the lifetime of your newly created email address to just 10 minutes. You can get an extension of 10 more minutes on request. It has its uses, too, for hit and run jobs.

the mailinator home page

The mailinator home page

Tracking Amazon prices

Did you know you can track Amazon prices for products of interest? You can go back in history and study the pricing trends, and you can also get this site to inform you of any changes in the prices of the items you are tracking.

Most serious stuff

Securing your laptop

Do you move around with your laptop a lot? If you do, and if you are forgetful, you should get your laptop some Prey protection. You register with the site and fill in your profile, including details of your laptop. If you ever misplace your laptop or if it gets stolen, you go to Prey and list your laptop as “missing”. Prey will keep track of your laptop by:

  • telling you of its location
  • taking pictures every few moments
  • recording sounds picked up by the laptop.

A must for your laptop, don’t you think?

the Prey home page

The Prey home page

Just the audio, thank you

You can use this tool to separate the audio component from the visual element on any YouTube video and download and save the audio component to your computer. Especially useful when you want an audio track on your computer without the boring single-still-picture visual part.

Create your own posters

Want to create some posters of your own for a book promotional event? Just to hang up on your walls? To spread around in public for notices like asking folks to inform you if they find your lost dog?

Actually, the possibilities are almost endless.

Create and print your own posters here. You can also order prints from the site administrators. Be warned: the prints come out grainy, but should work out fine when high resolution is not mandatory.

That same old cliché

Another of the best tools for authors.

Are you infected with cliché mania? Does your writing tend to suck because you just can’t help it, those clichés seem to roll off your brain, out through yours hands and on to the monitor without your knowing it?

Here’s your cure. Use this site to catch those cursed clichés and cast them out.

Class is over, folks

Before we wrap up, here is one to send you away in a good mood (I am keeping my fingers crossed). Go to this site and hit the Please button. Hit it several times. The more the merrier. Each hit takes you to a separate site.

Be prepared to get sometimes irritated, sometimes baffled and sometimes amused. Some of the pages are hilarious, though. And some are going to piss you off, wondering why I am wasting your time.

To each according to his or her karma.

Even if this is not classifiable among the best tools for authors, it is worth spending some time over when you are feeling the blues.

What about you? What best tools for authors do you feel like declassifying from “trade secrets” and releasing to the public? We wait in the comments in section.

Best tools for authors

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 4 min