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Enso Gives Keyboard Commands to Windows Users

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the as-humane-as-cold-unfeeling-software-can-be dept.


illuminatedwax writes "The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg's latest column is a writeup on a new software system called Enso. Enso is from a small software startup called Humanized, led by Aza Raskin. The software allows Windows users to do common tasks, like launching programs, spellchecking, or Googling for search terms, but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks from within any program in Windows by use of the keyboard. From the article: 'There are two initial Enso products, which can be downloaded at One, called Enso Launcher, allows you to launch programs and switch among windows via typed commands. The other, called Enso Words, allows you to do spell-checking, even when the program you're using doesn't include that capability, and to look up the meaning of words. Both products also include a simple calculator and the ability to launch Google searches.' Humanized says that users will be able to program their own commands for Enso in future versions."

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Ads? (4, Insightful)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754666)

Aren't I paying a subscription so I *don't* have to look at ads? Perhaps I'm missing something in this "article"...

Re:Ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755856)

And what's with all the articles from the WSJ? I'm a nerd, not a stockbroker, dammit. Slashdot's dead, Jim.

Wait a second (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756116)

You mean you can't already do all that in windows now? Linux and Macs have long had right click contextual mouse buttons ("open hihlighed text in google", check spelling is default for all text windows across all apps, there's open-with contexts. Macs have the Expose and command-tab application switchers from the keyboard. Linux have virtual desktops from the mouse, etc...)

Are you saying that this sort of thing is not currently in widows or wont' be in vista. I'm having a hard time believing people work without this.

Fuck you cocodude (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754684)

Twofo [] Is Dying
It is official; Netcraft confirms: Twofo is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleagured University of Warwick [] filesharing community when ITS confirmed that Twofo total share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all file sharing. Coming hot on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Twofo has lost more share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Twofo is collapsing in complete disarry, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Student comprehensive leeching test.

You don't need to be one of the Hub Operators to predict Twofo's future. The hand writing is on the toilet wall: Twofo faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Twofo because Twofo is dying. Things are looking very bad for Twofo. As many of us are already aware, Twofo continues to lose users. Fines and disconnections flow like a river of feces [] .

N00b Campus users are the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of their total share. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time Twofo sharers fool_on_the_hill and Twinklefeet only serves to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Twofo is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Sources indicate that there are at most 150 users in the hub. How many filelists have been downloaded? Let's see. 719. But 1621 IP addresses have been logged, and 1727 nicks have been sighted connecting to one user over the last term. How many searches are there? 600 searches in 3 hours. The highest sharer on campus, known as "firstchoice", or in real life, was sharing over 1 TiB, despite working in ITS and not being on the resnet. He's only there so people off campus who think they're too good for bittorrent can continue to abuse the University's internet connection.

Due to troubles at the University of Warwick, lack of internet bandwidth, enforcements of Acceptable Usage Policies, abysmal sharing, retarded leechers, clueless n00bs, and ITS fining and disconnecting users, Twofo has no future. All major student surveys show that Twofo has steadily declined in file share. Twofo is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Twofo is to survive at all it will be among p2p hardcore fuckwits, desperate to grab stuff for free off the internet. Nothing short of a miracle could save Twofo from its fate at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Twofo is dead.

Fact: Twofo is dying

Beta tester thoughts. (4, Informative)

elcid73 (599126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754702)

My thoughts:

Ive been beta testing it for a handful of days. Ive never heard of quicksilver, and all that (PC user) so Im not sure what to make of the comparison- but Ill say the following things:

The quasimodal activation is what they wanted to emphasis, but it takes some getting used to. The caps lock key is the key in question quasi-modal means you have to hold it down while typing (like shift) long commands which requires some interesting hand movements. Further- for long commands like open with internet explorer (since its not a default browser on my system) then you have tab to complete the command like other CLIs but since youre already holding the caps key down, its really strange IMO . They do have a mode lock, but they discourage use.

-I sent some feedback during the beta about the memory usage 23-35MB at any given time seems a bit high for a launcher, but a)its beta , b) YMMV and c)You may not care about that.

-Actual usage is great. I like the learn where you can make shortcuts that dont clutter up your file system, it has a real-time list of applications/docs/etc that gets filtered out as you type your command and you can tab-complete or just arrow down if you want.

-Spellcheck, which is a much touted initial proof of concept feature of Enso, seems odd when you only want to spell check single word the spell check interface takes a second to load up (on both of my admittedly older & slower machines) and takes up the whole screen with a giant text box which seems like overkill. You can use the define command I think and get a did you mean prompt which is nice.

-Getting quick access to commonly worded applications (like internet explorer) requires a shortcut (I used ie obviously) but you cant combine that with the open with command. open ie opens up IE, but the open with ie gives me an is not a command error message.

Also Id like to say the best part of this interface is the subtle messaging/feedback system they have. Feedback is large and unmistakable and clear, yet still manage to stay out of your way.

My final thought is that the WSJ article misses the point of spellcheck. Although I agree that its a bit clumsy at times, its point is to break apart the notion of a different spellcheck with a different dictionary for every single application on your system. You have to learn the shortcut key for each one and build/add/ignore dictionaries for all as well.

Enso (thankfully) seeks to a put a single spellcheck interface that is universal in all applications.

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (5, Funny)

dangrover (782060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754988)

The quasimodal activation is what they wanted to emphasis
Hunchbacks rejoice! :: ducks ::

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755188)

its point is to break apart the notion of a different spellcheck with a different dictionary for every single application on your system.

Meaning the OS should provide the spell-checking functionality to application developers? Done: ceptual/SpellCheck/SpellCheck.html []

I don't see anything else here that Linux/OSX hotkeys or the command line doesn't do.

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (1)

elcid73 (599126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756296)

Apart from the fact that I excluded Mac in the first couple sentences, I think the other aspect is tight integration and a fluid user experience. Although the analogy is poor, I view these statements as similar as saying "Well, I can listen to mp3s on my Zune... I don't see anything with iTunes/iPod that MS can't already do..." ...when it's about looking at the entire user experience system. That said I'm very intersted in checking out Quicksilver and all the other apps that are similar.

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755356)

I use a program for doing long macros called SuperKeys [] . I have some pretty lengthy sequences for really routine tasks that I do 100s of time daily. This one program has nearly eliminated my carpal tunnel issues I had begun to develop because of the repetitive nature of some of the data entry I do daily.

Basically you can set whatever "modal" key you want (I tend to use % or *) and then have a string after that (such as %sqx) and it immediately begins to perform the macro. Works great for what I need.

The only thing that I would love to see (and I'm sure I could ask the developer but I don't know what he'd say) is CTRL-TAB support to move backwards through forms and to allow it to read data from a text file line by line and use them as part of the macro sequence.

If anyone has any idea of any other software that does what I have asked, please reply below.

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (1)

Aurostion (740363) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755408)

This does remind me a lot of Quicksivler [] . I hope they shrink it down a little bit, because I'd definitely use it. I love quicksilver on the mac, and I can't tell you how often I'll go to hit ctrl+space on my Windows box to open something quickly without realizing I was on the wrong machine for that. I also think it would be nice if they eliminated the need for hilighting things. I'd rather punch 4*2.99 into the app and get a result, rather then hiliting something and then starting to type "Calculate." That's me tough.

Re:Beta tester thoughts. (1)

Roachgod (589171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755904)

For a person who has never heard of quicksilver, it is weird that you mention it..... But, from the description, this seems to be a quicksilver clone + some spellcheck (that quicksilver doesn't need because that functionality is included in OSX by default). I have no idea why this rates a WSJ article....

FREE: AutoHotKey and AutoIt. AHKey is FOSS. (4, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755942)

Am I not understanding something? Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt seem to have everything this new program has, including auto-completion and any amount of programmability.

Use the free, open source AutoHotkey [] to make keyboard shortcuts to run programs and enter text. AutoHotkey is actively developed. Often the AutoHotKey developer, Chris Mallett, releases 3 versions a month to incorporate user's suggestions. (Windows only)

Use AutoIt to simulate keyboard entries and mouse clicks and when you need complicated decision-making. Download AutoIt with the SciTE auto-completion IDE [] . The SciTE editor makes writing and testing AutoIt programs and compiling the finished results very easy.

Both of these programs are very sophisticated, apparently the best available, come with compilers, and are FREE. Both are completely programmable.

For example, I've written an AutoHotKey program that uses a shortcut to toggle between Windows shortcut keys and WordStar/Brief control-key editing commands. I like to avoid taking the time to touch the mouse.

AutoIt is great for automating installations of software. You can compile all the installation files into the AutoIt file, and have AutoIt set permissions and copy files during the installation.

Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt allow programming your own GUIs.

Both AutoHotKey and AutoIt need an addition: A GUI method of defining keyboard shortcuts, for unskilled users.

U.S. government violence in Iraq encourages other violence.

How to find the definition of "proclivity": (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756086)

How to find the definition of "proclivity", as mentioned by Walt Mossberg in the linked article: Google define: proclivity [] .

Wow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754708)

At last I can save those precious five seconds inbetween switching windows

Re:Wow (1)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754822)

Hold down Alt.
Tap tab.
Window switching since 3.1 (or at least NT).

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755166)

Worked in 3.1 AFAIK.

Re:Wow (1)

fburton (1055708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755194)

A few years ago I hacked a tiny program launcher in Delphi which works in a similar way. With a greplike helper app I can type "def word//" for a dictionary definition, or "def word" for a reverse definition lookup. Commands are stored in a text file in the form "cmds=txtpad32.exe c:\etc\runapp.ini", so that typing "cmd" would invoke TextPad to bring up a list of commands to edit. The define command is "def=c:\windows\showmatch.exe c:\etc\bigdict.txt". (Yep, I am still running Windows 98 on this machine!) It was written in Delphi and the size of the .exe is 325k; with assembler it would be much smaller of course. It has a history. To start Internet Explorer, I just type "ie", but I can make "go keyword" lookup keyword on Google using IE.

Beware the Borg (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754720)

> "but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks from within any program in Windows"

Countdown to "adoption" in Vista: 10, 9, 8, 7...

Re:Beware the Borg (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754838)

You may as well just stop there. Vista is already out. I still download WinMover and PSHotLaunch because Windows doesn't come with anything like them, and I'm not counting on them ever being "adopted" in any release of their OS.

Re:Beware the Borg (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754936)

Gates has been talking about how part of the next Windows UI/UX would include a universal "command bar" (from the description something like this, but add a bit of Bob/Clippy "helpfulness" to it). If and when it appears, it won't exactly be like this product was the first time anyone ever came up with something similar.

You know how it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754740)

...sometimes it takes two years to copy off of MacOS.

If this kind of stuff is news to you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754758) are NOT a nerd. You are my 78-year-old father.

automate a series of commands ? (1, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754780)

So what it can do that csh cant?

Re:automate a series of commands ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755102)

So what it can do that csh cant?

Automate a series of commands in Windows.

Re:automate a series of commands ? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755396)

Even in windows you can script with bat, or perl or may be python or vbscript... Or get cygwin and get all the unix shells... Ages ago my brother wrote a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident remeber those things in DOS world?) that was triggered by a hot key. It will look up the word at the cursor location (using ascii escape sequences for a 80x24 character terminal) and if that is a COBOL language keyword, it will pop up a window giving a syntax help messages, any other next key removes the popup window.

Re:automate a series of commands ? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755336)

Let you work with GUI programs to get their ease of use and aesthetics and retain some of the power of a shell?

Maybe its just me but... (2, Informative)

Hobbs0 (1055434) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754782)

Wasn't this sort of stuff available in Linux years ago?

Re:Maybe its just me but... (2, Funny)

romi (80701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754894)

It's just you.

Re:Maybe its just me but... (1)

opiv6ix (1033966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754954)

Yeah. That's one of the reasons that I love Ubuntu. I dunno about other distros, but I know that Ubuntu will spell check automatically, without any commands, and highlight questionable words, offering options. I found this particularly useful when using GAIM, like having an edge on my counterpart, because I wouldn't have to pull up a dictionary to check the spelling of a word.

Re:Maybe its just me but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755496)

like having an edge on my counterpart
"Thanks to Ubuntu, I went on to become GRAND GAIM MASTER OF THE WORLD due to my near-FLAWLESS spelling! THANKS UBUNTU!
(do most people have spelling bees over GAIM?)

Re:Maybe its just me but... (1)

LiquidFiend (1050386) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754990)

It's been a part of windows for years too ....

Re:Maybe its just me but... (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755080)

Available in DOS before that too!

Most used key combination that I use when working in Windows: Windows, r, c, m, d, enter. Then I can use a myriad of typed commands such as "net stop spooler", "net start spooler" (often used one after the other. The spoolers seem to freeze up a lot at our company.), "ping", "netstat", and one of my personal favorites, "netsh" (Which even allows you to reconfigure the network adapters of REMOTE computers)

Simpsons did it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754798)

OK, it wasn't the Simpsons, but haven't there been macro programs dating all the way back to TSRs in DOS in the 1980s?

This is nothing new.

What a pain in the neck (1)

bcmbyte (996126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754810)

I use both hands to type, so I have to hold the Cap-Lock key down, revert to one handed typing and enter a command. This is supposed to be easier? I'd rather type with my forehead than do that. I am waiting for the day when I can talk to my mouse and my commands are carried out. "Computer.... computer... Keyboards, how quaint!" I guess the real market is for the home user that uses two fingers to type and can't spell (which I suffer from) It's nice to cross-platform for software and applications.

Re:What a pain in the neck (1)

kneehat (947359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755834)

so I have to hold the Cap-Lock key down, revert to one handed typing and enter a command
Not sure about you, but I utilise more than one finger per hand. That way, I could hold down caps-lock with my little finger whilst continuing to type with my other three fingers and one thumb. Do you use your forehead when using shift?

What a pain in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755848)

"I use both hands to type, so I have to hold the Cap-Lock key down, revert to one handed typing and enter a command. This is supposed to be easier?"

Isn't that how most geeks type?

Step backwards? (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754812)

Isn't this almost a step backwards? I mean, if you ask me, command line was always simpler and faster for me, but too many people were confused by "all that weird stuff you have to type."

So in came the GUIs and icons.

Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?

Re:Step backwards? (1)

jbreckman (917963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754996)

It is good user interface design to make things very simple for novice users. Hence GUIs, icons, etc. etc. Users like to be able to sit down on some new bit of software and instantly be able to do most of what that program does.

However, good user interface design also entails giving power users the ability to do the same common tasks either from the keyboard or from some other shortcut, making them even more productive.

No one is talking about replacing GUIs and icons. They are providing power users more flexibility.

Re:Step backwards? (1)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755148)

Isn't this almost a step backwards? I mean, if you ask me, command line was always simpler and faster for me, but too many people were confused by "all that weird stuff you have to type."

So in came the GUIs and icons.

Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?
No. GUIs were necessary for the average person to be able to get their tasks done quickly. It's rather annoying if you're brand new to a program and you have to look up in a manual the keystrokes necessary to perform a simple task like underlining. The trouble with many of these GUIs is that they limited regular users' ability to perform tasks that they perform frequently with keystrokes. Microsoft has been including keystrokes for most functions in their Office Suite for years while at the same allowing users to simply navigate to them with their mouse (and the majority of the users do just that). There are many people, like myself, that use both the GUI and the keystroke shortcuts regularly.... when there's a command I don't do often or repeat several times in the same document, I'll typically fall back to the GUI. I think this hybrid approach is optimal (although I could whine about specific layouts and such). One area that has been neglected is the OS: launching, switching, closing, sending simple commands, etc.

That said, while I welcome this launching tool, I'm not blown away with it yet. Having to hold down the caps lock (or perform caps/alt switching) sucks (a little too dogmatic on the anti-modal thing) and I think they could do a lot more with it if they really focused themselves....

Re:Step backwards? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755594)

I thought launching was covered.

Windows+R iexpore enter
Windows+R winword enter
Windows+R mailto: enter
Windows+R cmd enter
Windows+R calc enter
Windows+R [] enter

Why would I need a 25MB memory resident program to handle that?


Re:Step backwards? (1)

fburton (1055708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755928)

However, I would rather type

Windows+Spacebar /. enter  (4 keystrokes)


Windows+R enter (25 keystrokes)

Re:Step backwards? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756018)

I don't believe that people can't learn to use the keyboard if the GUI isn't there. I remember learning wordPerfect 5.1 back in highschool, and everything could be done via the keyboard. There was a strip of paper that sat above the keyboard outlining which combination of shift, ctrl, alt, and F# key did which action. Every student I know had most of that memorized. I'm not just talking about the computer geeks either. This is just the way the software worked, and people learned to use it. I guess it would be kind of annoying to new users, or people who only used a program once every couple of weeks. However, those people would have a hard time anyway. Even with a GUI.

Re:Step backwards? (2, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755990)

Now we're coming full circle and replacing GUIs and icons with command line again?

It's a little like "Those who don't understand unix are condemned to reinvent it poorly", or whatever the exact phrasing was.

Re:Step backwards? (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756206)

The problem is that a simpler method for non-advanced users was introduced (to make entry easier) but the options for advance users were lost.

When you are dealing with HCI, you want to have a balance between ease of use for new users and quick effective use for advance users. Just having a GUI with a point and click is great for new users, but it slows advanced users down.

An annecdote: I was using a "intuitive" label designing tool. The main goal of the software was that a new user could design a label w/ little to no instruction (ie customers). The problem is that it has no keyboard shortcuts. ^P does not open a print menu, it does nothing. You HAVE to go to "File" -> "print". To make text bold you just have to be in the text box and click the bold icon (which is a blatantly obvious icon), however ^B does nothing. The list goes on.. but my point is, yes the software was effective for new users, but when I had to get something done quick I would continuous butt heads with the UI.

Along the topic, my biggest pet peeve in interfaces is the walk-through/interview type interface where you continuously answer questions and hit the "next" button (think Nero's default behaviour). It is great for new users or inexperienced (they can step through with confidence of not forgetting something), but it is very innefficient. Most software allows you do step out of that mode (Nero for example), but there is the odd piece of software that makes you go through its steps every single time..


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17754830)

lmfao @ anyone who thinks that you can't do this in Windows without software

This is one rare instance where the windows key is useful. Might as well use it, it's on all the goddamn keybaords now (except the new microsoft wireless one.)

QuickKeys (2, Informative)

non (130182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754878)

QuickKeys for the macintosh essentially did all of this and more 15 years ago. nothing new here, move along.

Die caps lock, die! (4, Funny)

J.R. Random (801334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754926)

From the article: You lose the normal use of the Caps Lock key.

That is easily the best feature of the entire program.

Re:Die caps lock, die! (2, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755072)

And eliminate the programs application to most Architectural shops. Oddly enough, practically all architectural drawings (save residential plans from hacks) are done in all caps.

Re:Die caps lock, die! (1)

guaigean (867316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755650)

And many of them have font options to auto-capitalize all text. Then you can type normally, or in lower case, and get the desired result, as well as use something like this. I don't have any idea what this software specifically is good for, but perhaps this would solve your loss of Caps-Lock.

Wow! (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754968)

PC Tools for Windows is finally back.

About time -- here it's taken something like fifteen years to get back the damage done when Symantec bought it out and plowed it under (presumably in favor of the Norton Desktop.)

Ah, the Humane Interface (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754974)

Apparently, it requires upwards of two dozen megs of memory for a "humane" hotkey launcher. And you get to pay $25-40 for it.

Google Desktop Search is free, it pops up with a double-tap of ctrl (and doesn't require you to hold down keys), it autocompletes, with executables first, and it's taking about 5 megs.

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755326)

The EFF didn't criticize Esno for keeping your personal information [] either.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755436)

Why yes, that really has a bearing on the functionality of an app, especially a desktop search app.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17756290)

Google Copies Your Hard Drive - Government Smiles in Anticipation

Consumers Should Not Use New Google Desktop

San Francisco - Google today announced a new "feature" of its Google Desktop software that greatly increases the risk to consumer privacy. If a consumer chooses to use it, the new "Search Across Computers" feature will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers, to enable searching from any one of the user's computers. EFF urges consumers not to use this feature, because it will make their personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who've obtained a user's Google password.

"Coming on the heels of serious consumer concern about government snooping into Google's search logs, it's shocking that Google expects its users to now trust it with the contents of their personal computers," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "If you use the Search Across Computers feature and don't configure Google Desktop very carefullyand most people won'tGoogle will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the Desktop software can index. The government could then demand these personal files with only a subpoena rather than the search warrant it would need to seize the same things from your home or business, and in many cases you wouldn't even be notified in time to challenge it. Other litigantsyour spouse, your business partners or rivals, whoevercould also try to cut out the middleman (you) and subpoena Google for your files."

The privacy problem arises because the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986, or ECPA, gives only limited privacy protection to emails and other files that are stored with online service providersmuch less privacy than the legal protections for the same information when it's on your computer at home. And even that lower level of legal protection could disappear if Google uses your data for marketing purposes. Google says it is not yet scanning the files it copies from your hard drive in order to serve targeted advertising, but it hasn't ruled out the possibility, and Google's current privacy policy appears to allow it.

"This Google product highlights a key privacy problem in the digital age," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's Legal Director. "Many Internet innovations involve storing personal files on a service provider's computer, but under outdated laws, consumers who want to use these new technologies have to surrender their privacy rights. If Google wants consumers to trust it to store copies of personal computer files, emails, search histories and chat logs, and still 'not be evil,' it should stand with EFF and demand that Congress update the privacy laws to better reflect life in the wired world."

Interesting... (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17754980)

At first I thought this was going to be a CanonCAT / command line nostalgia mashup, but I was pleasantly surprised.

OK - was a little scared when the presentation sharted with "computers are too hard" and realized none of these guys were programming when computers were much harder, but let's see how it goes.

I'm still not sure if they're on to something per se, or if they're on the front steps of a finally useful voice recognition system.

But I'm installing it ASAP...

Already Built-in solution for running programs (5, Interesting)

plexium_nerd (724461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755022)

1.) Create a directory somewhere on your computer and create shortcuts there to programs you use the most.

2.) Add that directory to your "Path" Environment Variable under System Properties > Advanced.

3.) Rename the shortcuts you created to simple words, ie Firefox = fire, Thunderbird = mail, Winamp = amp.

That's it. To start these programs, [WIN] + r, then type the program you want.

I use it all the time and works great.

You can run more advanced commands by editing shortcut properties adding parameters to the commands and such.

Re:Already Built-in solution for running programs (1)

TheGuano (851573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755232)

I do this as well. All of my shortcuts are two- or TLA to save time, and I try to keep my desktop clear of permanent icons.

ff = firefox
ps = photoshop

Another benefit is that accessories and applets already in your Windows directory automatically work too:
calc, cmd, regedt32, dfrg.msc, etc...

Re:Already Built-in solution for running programs (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755450)

damn why didn't i think about that, this is like the cleaner version of all my
now-deprecated batch scripts in %SystemRoot%\system32, thanks for the info :D

Re:Already Built-in solution for running programs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755952)

And there you have it! Poor man's Unix!

Re:Already Built-in solution for running programs (1)

palad1 (571416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756200)

*removes Slashdotter hat*
Thank you very much mister.

*puts Slashdotter hat back on and starts rambling on about quicksilver rip-off*

xbindkeys? (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755108)

This reminds me of xbindkeys, easily one of my favorite Linux programs.

Hmmm, so retro... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755114)

I used to have this DOS program that allowed me to do the same... hmmm what was it called... 4DOS? someone help me...

Re:Hmmm, so retro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755468)

Borland Turbo-Lightning is the one that comes to mind for me.

Re:Hmmm, so retro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755968)


Sounds like EMACS (3, Funny)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755118)

The Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg's latest column apparently missed a writeup on a existing software system called Emacs [] . Emacs is software written by Humans. The software allows Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Amiga, ITS, TOPS-20, Solaris, HP-UX, Multics, DOS, and Apple ][ users to do common tasks, like launching programs, spellchecking (M-$), or Googling (W3M) for search terms, but what's interesting is that it allows you to do these tasks by use of the keyboard. From the article: 'There are many implementations of Emacs products, which can be downloaded anywhere. One, called Emacs, allows you edit text, Java, C++, C#, Lisp, Perl, XML, HTML, Relax NG, ADA, and other obscure languages, to launch programs and switch among windows via typed commands, do spell-checking, and to look up the meaning of words. Most versuins of Emacs also include a simple calculator and the ability to launch Google searches.' Humans are already able to write their own commands for Emacs using the ELisp extension language, not only in current versions, but in all versions all the way back to the pre-GNU ITS version (which itself then used TECO as the extension language.

Aren't these features widely available? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755190)

For example, don't Keytext ( [] ), using 'Shortcut Keys' in Windows Shortcuts, etc, various spellcheckers, etc., and many more utilities already provide these features?

I type Ctrl+Alt+N to open notepad or CTRL+ALT+F for Firefox, using the built-in Windows Shortcut Keys, which is much faster than their demo. Ctrl+Alt+D opens the 'DOS' command window, which gives me access to any commands not already linked to a hotkey.

Mossberg does mention that Enso works in plain English (nothing to memorize), but I have a hard time believing that holding down Caps and typing "open fire..." is faster than simply clicking an icon. Or that it's harder to remember to type "ctrl+alt+f" than caps+"open fire...". You an also put a toolbar with frequently used shortcuts on your Taskbar, or move the shortcut to the top of the Start Menu.

Re:Aren't these features widely available? (1)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755442)

Instructions for the uninitiated/lazy...
Directly from the Windows Help dialogue:

To specify shortcut keys for specific programs
Before beginning this procedure, please refer to the documentation that came with the program to verify a shortcut was installed.

Open My Computer.
Locate the program file (.exe) or the program's shortcut icon. Right-click the program file or shortcut, and then click Properties.
Click the Program tab for an MS-DOS program or the Shortcut tab for a Windows program.
With the cursor in the Shortcut key box, select the keyboard key you want to use in combination with CTRL+ALT. Shortcut keys automatically start with CTRL+ALT. The Shortcut key box will display None until you select the key and then the box will display Ctrl+Alt+the key you selected. You cannot use the ESC, ENTER, TAB, SPACEBAR, PRINT SCREEN, SHIFT, or BACKSPACE keys.

Re:Aren't these features widely available? (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755922)

That's nice and all, but that's not what the application is attempting to do. It's not a hotkey tool.

Re:Aren't these features widely available? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756060)

Yup, use it all the time. The shortcut should be in the search path, start menu or desktop otherwise Windoze won't find it.

Re:Aren't these features widely available? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755682)

Mossberg does mention that Enso works in plain English (nothing to memorize), but I have a hard time believing that holding down Caps and typing "open fire..." is faster than simply clicking an icon. Or that it's harder to remember to type "ctrl+alt+f" than caps+"open fire...". You an also put a toolbar with frequently used shortcuts on your Taskbar, or move the shortcut to the top of the Start Menu.

In other news: President Bush inadvertantly started a nuclear war when he was trying to open his internet browser using Enso.

Open Fire!


Watching the video demo on their website... (1)

SoLoman33333 (1014093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755208)

...and all I will ever remember from that video is that Jono DiCarlo needs a serious eyebrow waxing. I'm sure he's a nice guy though.

Use firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755234)

This spell-checker is clumsier than the built-in checkers in programs like Microsoft Word, but it might be handy in instant-messaging programs or Web-based email programs, or in other Web pages where spell-checking isn't built in.
Just use Firefox.
Every time I write an email these days Firefox always decided to emphasis words for me by underlining them in red.

Free Open Source way of doing this (1)

jonlan (744865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755268)

Autohotkey [] does all this and more, is free, and open-source.
It also works on all versions of Windows including Vista.
(I'm not affiliated with them in any way - just a happy user)

who needs it? (1)

the0ther (720331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755296)

hey i can already switch windows by typing in a command. the command is Alt+Tab. And if I'm unsatisfied with that I can always Alt+Shift+Tab to cycle through windows in THE OTHER DIRECTION!


Launchy (1)

0x15e (961860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755308)

This looks a lot like Launchy [] , which does a lot of this but is free and open source.

I've been using it for months and it's fantastic. From looking at the demos, I can't seem to find anything Enso has added to make it worth the price premium.

oh, I missed my chance (0, Offtopic)

Lucas.Langa (922843) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755334)

I wonder how many of you feel as I do right now: "I thought about implementing something like this but I didn't find that idea to be significant enough... but if I did... I WOULD BE ON SLASHDOT NOW." What a bummer.

keyboard shortcuts are built-in (3, Informative)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755348)

Maybe this software does something "more", but keyboard shortcuts are already built into Windows. I use it to launch Cygwin Rxvt terminal windows all the time. You just put it in your Start Menu and then right-click, Properties, and enter something in "Shortcut key". It works no matter what program I'm using.. I use Ctrl-Shift-F10 to launch Rxvt, and I have yet to see a situation where some program stops shortcut key from working. Similarly I launch Calculator with Ctrl-Shift-F12, etc.

Re:keyboard shortcuts are built-in (1)

drawfour (791912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755602)

Similarly, I use Ctrl-Alt-S to launch my screen saver... But I think the point here is you don't have to remember that Cygwin Rxvt is Ctrl-Shift-10, and Calc is Ctrl-Shift-F12, and IE is Ctrl-Shift-F6 and so on. If you know the name of the app, you just type "launch [appname]". That's probably easier than remembering which keyboard combination maps to which application.

Of course, most people probably have a small suite of applications they actually run all the time, and probably only 5-10 shortcuts would really be used, and that's simple to remember which application goes to which shortcut. To each their own, I guess. I'll never pay $25-$40 for something like that. Like one person suggested earlier, create a scripts directory, add it to your path, and then create scripts like "fire" and "word" and "doom3", then just use Windows-R to open the Run window, and type the name of the script.

Or, you can do like I do -- pin the common applications to your start menu (I think you can pin up to 10 applications, but not sure what the number is), and then you can use Ctrl-Esc and a few arrow keys to launch it. I find pinning common application to be very easy and useful.

So what? (1)

connah0047 (850585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755368)

allows you to launch programs and switch among windows via typed commands

I can launch programs via typed commands in my Start->Run box of with Slickrun [] . And I can switch between windows with Alt-Tab. Why do I need this?

Free, superior alternatives (2, Informative)

irishstallion (1008667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755412)

Um, has anyone ever heard of Windows+R? It's called the run menu, and if you don't need a big bloated app it works great. For those who would prefer to do less legwork, and let the machine handle it, here are 2 free alternatives:

This [] is autohotkey. Universal windows auto-complete(no more typing your name or your address, or any words you tend to misspell), ridiculous hotkey action, it's all scripting, so you can make your scripts into exes and use them on any windows computer anywhere.

This [] is slickrun. Windows Run++, pretty much. Windows+q opens your run window, and you can program a bunch of features, it has autocomplete, yadda yadda yadda, it tells me it's using 8k, YMMV.

Or you could buy something that has some obvious flaws and less features. You know, if you are into that kind of stuff. Oh, and it's definitely a slashvertisement when you talk about shitty products that you have to pay for, instead of brilliant, old products that are free. In case you were wondering.

Re:Free, superior alternatives (1)

3278 (1011735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755712)

I heartily recommend Macro Express, which does all these things in ways that are simple and intuitive. It's the simplest and most powerful hotkey/macro program I've seen. I literally couldn't do my job [accounting] without it. Between my macros and the universal hotkeys built into Windows, I almost never touch my mouse.

Re:Free, superior alternatives (1)

irishstallion (1008667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756344)

Nice, I'll definitely look into it. I'm a student, so all of my homework/class information is on the internet, and the mouse is kind of necessary. Strokeit: [] is something worth checking out if you ever have to do any internet stuff, it's a gestures program with some pretty good functionality (and even better functionality when you combine it with another hotkey program) that lets you execute commands, send hotkeys, open windows, send basic windows messages (close, maximize, minimize) by drawing gestures with your mouse. No more alt+F4 or alt+back, just draw a 'C' or a line to the left. Invaluable for internet mousing situations.

The gestures work like this: you hold down the right mouse button, draw the shape, then let the right mouse button go. Normal right mouse button functionality is retained (ie clicking it will still give you your context menu, and you can still drag your icons and what have you, but you have to wait about a second for strokeit to realize that you were dragging the icon, not making a gesture), and when you really have to use a mouse or a touchpad, the speed is glorious.

People have been developing... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755430)

...hotkey systems for the PC since the very first PCs shipped. In fact, I remember writing TSRs to do this for DOS myself many years ago. There are countless such products now in existence. Why has this one been singled out for a story on Slashdot?

So It's Quicksilver... (4, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755434)

Except you don't get to type with your left pinky finger cause it's holding down the caps lock. And it can't do things like "move this file to here." And it's $25 instead of free.

Borland SuperKey - 1984? (1)

engr97035 (1055718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755464)

Back to the future -- I remember using this in the 80's under DOS. Can't remember what the hotkey was though ...

Same functionality for free! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755480)

Focus problems for keyboard users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755514)

Firefox is a focus-stealing pig when I use my regular keyboard shortcuts under Linux with a focus follows mouse policy.. And the developers Just Don't Care. It is very frustrating to click repeatedly in a window only to have the focus keep going back to firefox.. Or to have the wrong firefox window close when you hit alt-w....

I'd expect similar problems under windows as folks try and use the mouse less. Developers rarely take the keyboard shortcut users seriously.

I already have this feature (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755732)

in the Litestep hotkeys module I actually use the windows key for something useful now.

Start Menu Shortcuts (2, Informative)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755752)

I've got all of the programs I frequently use assigned to keyboard shortcuts already, through the Windows start menu.

Ctrl-Alt-C brings up Calculator
Ctrl-Alt-N brings up Notepad

All you need is a shortcut to that application (or file, or website) somewhere in your Start Menu. From that shortcut's Properties, you can assign any key combination you like in the "Shortcut" textbox.

And while the unified spellcheck is a nice feature, I use Microsoft Office for nearly everything I do... so, I already have that. It shares the dictionary across applications.

It's a nice idea... (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755796)

... but the implementation is not very good (yet).

It basically attempts to implement something like QuickSilver [] but comes out being much more like the much simpler Katapult [] . It's curious then why they aren't copying stuff like the activation keys, etc. QuickSilver and Katapult share the same basic keystrokes and they're pretty comfortable too.

I like the idea of the spell-check feature. I was always curious why this isn't the default behavior for text boxes in Windows as it is in Linux/KDE (where it's automatic) or on the Mac (where sometimes you have to hit a key-combo). I've been fiddling around with Vista a bit and am still surprised about how many little UI niceties that MS hasn't lifted from their competition. There's some good stuff out there, and I can't believe that they aren't aware of it. I haven't done much coding for Windows in a while, but I can see how under pre-Vista versions of Windows these things might be a little tricky to implement (perhaps that explains the large size of this app, about 10x that of QuickSilver or Katapult).

Aza Raskin (2, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755828)

Aza Raskin, the owner of the company, is the son of Macintosh co-creator and User Interface Il Duce Jeff Raskin [] .

Colibri (2, Interesting)

jsdcnet (724314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755894)

If you're looking for a QuickSilver-esque app for Windows, there's a good candidate called Colibri. I've been using it for months and I am totally addicted to it. Small, fast, useful, free (beer). The developer is also very accessible via his forum. []

Is this news? (1)

valeurnutritive (1048314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755914)

We have hundreds of launchers, shortcut tools, global shortcut, batch tasks etc. tools for windows already out there. How is this news? Another promotion story.

Stay tuned while we next tell you about the amazing tool for your desktop that displays weather!

Enso 2.0 (1)

Crash McBang (551190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755916)

cp = copy
mv = move
ls, rm, etc.

You get the idea. Scripting? Enso 3.0 of course!

The pendulum swings back again...

Hooray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17755930)

So... this is something like Launchy? []

""Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.""

quicksilver for mac beats all (1)

minuszero (922125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17755978)

sounds a bit like quicksilver [] , except fewer features, and less cool...

*insert obligatory 'but then this is an OS X program, and the advertised is a Windows program, so no surprises there' quip*

Here's a similar, better, FREE keyboard launcher: (2, Informative)

wernst (536414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756130)

I covered this for Computer Power User magazine a few months back: Launchy, over at [] .

This free, Open Source software has many sterling qualities, including:

- extremely fast
- looks great by default, and is skinnable too
- takes less than 7mb of RAM while running, and no discernible CPU cycles
- uses Alt+Space to activate/deactivate, so you can keep your CAPS LOCK key and your left pinky too
- autocompletes text as if by magic
- opens applications, files, and websites
- opens bookmarks
- has calculator built-in
- doesn't cost $25 (or whatever)

Hey look, I'm still using my Apple II once in a while, and respect the Raskins as much as the next guy, but that's no reason to use an inferior, more expensive product.

What's with the Mossberg/Dvorak/Cringely stuff? (1)

scottsk (781208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756300)

Complaint: Why is anything written by Mossberg, Dvorak, Cringely, etc put on slashdot almost instantly? I mean, these guys are lightweights and hardly "stuff that matters".

Speaking of Mossberg, the only hope the WSJ had of attracting any new subscribers for their technical content was to offer Mossberg early retirement and give the column to Katie Boheret.

What happened to Katie? Haven't seen her byline in some time.

Enso = Reboot (1)

UberHoser (868520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17756304)

Remember ?? Bob, Dot, Enso ? Along with Fong, Megabyte, Hexadecimal, Hack and Slash, Mike the TV, NULLZILLAAAAAAAAA..... Run !!! Run for your lives !!! and when you stopped running, RUN SOME MORE !!!!
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