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Avoid Long Hierarchical Menus

If you right-click (or Control-click) on some item, such as a file in the Finder, and one of the sub-menus has many options (Open With is a frequent culprit), it may take several seconds to open, even on a fast machine, which is annoying if you did not actually want that sub-menu.

The trick is to not pull the cursor through the menu, but in a curve around it, so the cursor does not touch any menu items until lower on the list where you wanted to go.

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Eolake Stobblehouse


High Tech Humor

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A few months ago, my mother called to complain about not being able to find computer humor books. Mom doesn't have the advantage of living near bookstores made from (and completely filling) remodeled bowling alleys, but even so, people who write computer books don't often branch out into the humor department. In an effort to fill that gap, Oak Ridge Public Relations recently published the High Tech Joke Book (ISBN# 0-9640105-0-X), a compilation of jokes regarding engineering of all sorts, academia, red tape, and programming. The jokes were compiled by various Oak Ridge employees, and submitted by hundreds of people at the request of Oak Ridge.

If you've been on the nets for long, particularly if you've read rec.humor.funny or if you've been electronically befriended by someone who does, you've seen many of the jokes. The book includes lots of jokes that start along the lines of, "an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are asked to suggest an efficient method for changing a light bulb." The book ranges far and wide with sections on Murphy's Laws, other people's laws ("Shaw's Principle: Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it"), if operating systems were cars, if operating systems were U.S. political candidates, wacky but real-life quotes from professors ("Now this is a totally brain-damaged algorithm. Gag me with a Smurfette"), various glossaries defining programming and engineering terms, and more. The book finishes with a section of high-tech poetry, which generally serves to demonstrate the lack of literary computer poetry, though I did like the last poem in the book, which starts, "Hubble, hubble, toil and trouble, NASA burn and Congress bubble / Twist of cable, too much slack, Mirror testing out of whack."

The Oak Ridge press release describes High Tech Joke Book as "compact, measuring 5.5" x 8.5" x .5." It is enclosed in a rugged multi-color paper chassis. The unit comes fully loaded with all features required for use, including backlit screen simulation using high resolution black type on a white background. No battery, cabling, or additional documentation is required."

I fully expect some people to find the book totally hilarious and others to be completely unimpressed. Such is life. Oak Ridge is offering TidBITS readers a 25 percent discount off of the $14.95 list price for direct orders. Since the book is only sold in a few bookstores in the San Francisco Bay area (Computer Literacy Bookstores and the Stanford University Bookstore), direct order would be the way to go for most people.

To direct order by email to Oak Ridge, send your name, address, phone number, credit card number, credit card expiration date, and how many books you want. Various reasonable prices apply for shipping to different areas and Californians pay state tax.

Oak Ridge Public Relations -- 408/253-5042 -- 408/253-0936 (fax)


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