I have found a program that will make your life, and your job, twice as easy as it is right now. A bold claim, but I stand behind it.
Active Words is a program I have been using for years now (two? three? something like that) and I am at the point now that if I have to get along without it because I’m on someone else’s computer, it just about kills me. Or at least tortures me to the point where I wish I was dead. Close enough.
AW is a bit hard to explain, but I’ll try. First, physical appearance: It is a bar that sits up at the top of the computer screen–no matter if I’m in Open Office, Firefox, or I’m just looking at the desktop, this bar is always up there (just like the bar at the bottom of the screen that Windows puts in, except this is at the top. Boy I love it when I make extremely obvious statements, don’t you?) Just like the bar Windows puts in, you can hide the bar, but I’ve found that it’s much easier to leave it up there.
That explains the physical presence it takes up on your computer screen, but doesn’t explain anything about the program. Basically, AW is there to make your life easier. There are two tasks that I use it for all the time, although if you were smarter in computers, you can do a whole lot more with it than I have ever managed to do. But the two tasks are huge enough to me, it more than justifies my using it.
The first task is fixing my typing mistakes. With AW, you can put in (very easily) to have a certain set of keystrokes replaced by another set of keystrokes. For example, if I type “quite” as “wuite,” AW automatically fixes “wuite” to read as “quite” and you don’t have to do another thing. My fingers get mixed up a lot and I’m constantly mistyping words, and I have found that I am mistyping the same words over and over again. “I’ve” always ends up “Ive” but AW fixes it, and I don’t even notice that I did it. At first, I’ll admit: It was a pain in the rear to put these items into AW, not because it was hard (an intelligent six year old could do it without any problems) but because it took time, and I’m lazy. The good news is, being not so lazy now allows you to become very lazy later on. No more backspacing and correcting yourself–once you put the correction into AW, it will do it every time for you, no matter where you’re at in your computer. Online in a forum? It will correct your mistakes. Typing up a blog in Open Office? It will correct it there too. Typing a name into the Save As line for your new document? It will make the corrections there also. Literally anywhere that allows you to type, AW will recognize what you’re writing, and fix it.
I have entered thousands of corrections into AW over the last several years, and by now, my collection of corrections is so large, I find I don’t have to put nearly as many in now as I used to. Most of my “problem children” are already in there. There are limitations: If you enter in “begginning” to correct to “beginning,” and then you type “begining” it will not correct it. You have to put in every variation. If AW was set up otherwise, the program could correct something that you don’t want it to, and things could get messy. If you find that there are words that you just cannot ever remember how to spell (I have always wanted to spell “tomorrow” with two m’s, not matter how many times I remind myself that it only has one) then this is the perfect word to enter into AW.
Corrections is just the tip of the iceberg. In my next blog, I want to talk about the difference between auto corrections and manual corrections.