A spur to creativity for the keyboard-lazy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 March, 1998, 12:00am

Laziness, according to experts such as Mark Twain, is the mother of invention and creativity: the chap who found that rolling a log was easier than picking it up was lazy and creative. He may well have invented the wheel.

For those of us who are 'keyboard-lazy' and unhappy typing lots of commands, or 'mouse-lazy' with a dislike for clicking lots of commands, ShortCuts could be the emancipator.

Back in the days when most people were using MS-DOS on a PC, there were programs that allowed us to do things with the keyboard.

It was possible with these programs to use function keys to do all sorts of things, usually launch programs, execute batch files and the like.

Today, of course, we can run several applications at the same time and do a lot more. With ShortCuts, you can launch software applications as well as Web sites.

It uses the bog standard method of installation and is quick and easy to follow.

After launching it, you have a choice of choosing the function key (any function key plus the same key with the Shift key held down) or one of the 'special' keys on the right of the keyboard, such as Insert, Home, End, etc.

You are then taken through a series of menus to help you choose what you want to do.

Apart from the rather simple task of running applications, you can also record macros or launch any one of a number of pre-set macros. All of these seem to work fine, but there are a couple of provisos.

Customising your keyboard in this way may well make things easy for you, particularly if you do a lot of repetitive tasks.

However, remember that you are changing your keyboard. If you ever need to use another computer, such as one shared in the office, you most likely are not going to be allowed to set it up in the same way.

If you become too dependent on your keyboard setup at home, you may well become even more frustrated when using a machine that is not set up in the same way.

It is also worth pointing out that the F1 is used by most Windows software as a de facto 'Help' key; changing it may not be a good idea.

The other problem is that software that remaps things such as the keyboard is the kind that can cause problems. It may not behave well with other applications.

For this reason, it is quite important to stay in touch with the company that made the software. Kiss Software Corporation has a Web page [www.kissco.com] and it is well worth a look.

I used to think that software like this was wonderfully useful. I have changed my mind slightly.

It is a little like the telephone. I have not entered a single telephone number in any of the phones I use because I find repetitive dialing tends to help me remember the numbers. If you get too accustomed to 'one-touch dialing', you may find yourself in difficulties using other phones.

I do still rather enjoy exercising what little grey matter is left in my head, but for those who would rather hit a key, ShortCuts is for you.

PROS AND CONS Product: ShortCuts by Kissco Platform: Windows 95 or Windows NT Price: $199 Test: Dell Dimension H266, Sony PGP-505 Pros: Makes it easy to do repetitive work Cons: Makes the personal computer too personal. You must remember the settings