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productivity interview questions

Top 15 productivity interview questions

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Programming productivity: How to hide cursor while typing

Whenever I click somewhere to type some code, by definition that's exactly where my mouse cursor is, which is obscuring what I'm trying to type. Often, if I forget to move the cursor away before starting to type, I'll find myself moving my hand from my keyboard back to my mouse just to move the cursor out of the way and then go back to typing.

I know that there is an OS-level "hide cursor while typing" option, but that seems to have no effect in Visual Studio.

Also, I know of utilites that can run constantly in the background (I.e. CursorHider), but, for stability reasons, I'm hesistant to run yet another background service on top of the many that are already running.

Is there a solution?


Source: (StackOverflow)

How do you map a solo press of a modifier key to its own function or mapping on Windows?

Today on hacker news there was a clever article on custom shortcut keys.

The author talks about a technique for remapping a modifier key such as CTRL to ESC if CTRL were pressed without a modifier. This is useful in vim because of how often you need to press ESC.

Another technique he describes is mapping the open parenthesis, ( to the left shift key, and ) to the right shift key.

If another key is pressed when shift is held down, the shift key behaves normally.

The author describes the software he uses on OSX, but is there a way to do this on Windows?

I've heard of AutoHotKey but it seems to only fire macros when simple keys are pressed, rather than the conditional state switch that this would require.


Source: (StackOverflow)

Making switching between Mac and PC each day easier

As I've started to use different operating systems at home and at work, I've found a few things that help.

  • App Launching

    (Quicksilver and Launchy)

    Not having to mouse through folders or menus is nice, but having the same shortcut mapped (apple + space, alt + space) on both OS's is just great.

    (RocketDock)

    OS X style doc on your pc.

  • Web Bookmarks

    (Delicious)

    I've installed the Delicious add-in on all my Firefox installs and added the tags to the the toolbar - so I can have tags 'tech', 'google', 'tech' at work and 'video','toread','etc' at home. Naturally, tagging an item makes it show up on all computers - nice!

  • Keyboard

    The keyboard problem seems most complicated. Copy/Paste uses control on Windows and apple key on Mac. The apple key is in the Alt key's spot on Windows keyboards. Could I remap alt to be ctrl on Windows? I'd probably need to buy a mac keyboard for my work computer to make my brain work on this one. It has adapted to switching when it feels the flat mac keyboard!

    (Witch) €9.95

    Witch lets you access all of your windows by pressing a shortcut and choosing from a clearly arranged list of window titles.

Does anyone else have any tips on making the daily switch easier?


Source: (StackOverflow)

Browser extension (or other software) to delay page load [closed]

The alt text to today's comic at xkcd.com (strip below) says:

After years of trying, I broke this habit in a day by decoupling the action and the neurological reward. I set up a simple 30-second delay I had to wait through, in which I couldn't do anything else, before any new page or chat client would load (and only allowed one to run at once). The urge to check all those sites magically vanished--and my 'productive' computer use was unaffected.

(bold is my emphasis)

Does anybody know of a browser extension or other software that will add this sort of delay? I've seen extensions which simply block sites, but not a delay like this.


Source: (StackOverflow)

Being as productive in Windows as in Linux [closed]

I'm contemplating moving from Linux to Windows. What worries me is being less productive. E.g.:

  • In Linux, I can run applications fairly quickly if they are in the PATH (and most applications are because of the filesystem layout standards -- e.g., /usr/bin and /usr/local/bin)
  • I can open vi right in the shell (not losing focus)
  • I have programmatic completions. For example, I have a script that finds all files with some string in their name in the somewhere under the current directory and I have completions for it (so "ff Foo<tab>" will complete with all file names containing Foo)

So I'm looking for suggestions of Windows tools that will make me more productive. I'm aware I can use Cygwin, but I'm looking at alternatives that are not "make Windows behave like Linux".


Source: (StackOverflow)

How do I make Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse middle-click on single touch?

I've just got my Arc Touch Mouse. It has a touch panel instead of the wheel.

By default you can scroll by swiping your finger on the touch panel. Tapping ends of the panel sends Page Up and Page Down and double tapping in the middle of the panel acts as middle click.

The last one is irritating. I use middle click quite often and I don't like that I have to double tap specific area for a single click, especially when I want to click multiple times in a row. I know that I can disable Page Up/Down in Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center, but it won't let me to configure single tap for middle click.

Googling yielded nothing useful. I don't find AHK workaround comfortable.

Is it possible to enable single tap middle click, preferably enable entire touch surface? Please note that I'm talking about MS Arc Touch Mouse, not MS Touch Mouse (which doesn't have middle button at all). This is the one I have:

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

Clarification, because I'm getting a lot of answers about remapping buttons:

Remapping is possible with the software that Microsoft provides. The problem is that for the computer to detect middle click, you have to double tap the touch panel on mouse. Computer doesn't seem to even be aware of single taps.


Source: (StackOverflow)

"Virtual mouse" using the keyboard

(For Windows.)

I'm looking for a kind of program that I hope exists. If it doesn't I might try to create it.

I passionately hate using the mouse. I've learned how to use the keyboard for 99% of the tasks I have to do on the computer, but the aforementioned passion is strong enough for me to want to find a solution for the remaining 1% as well.

Here's the solution I want: I press a predetermined keyboard hotkey. (I'm thinking Start-J but to each his own.) Suddenly the screen real-estate in all of my monitors is divided into a grid, with every cell showing a letter. Pressing that letter on the keyboard will further divide that cell into sub-cells, repeating the process until we've narrowed down a small-enough area, and then the program generates a click.

Is there a program that does this, well? It needs to be awesome. Otherwise I might as well build my own.


Source: (StackOverflow)

What can I do with a large Hard Drive?

So I'm looking into the world of external Hard Drives bigger than I can easily comprehend (1-2TB sort of sizes. A few years ago I thought 100GB was big. Blimey), and just wondering what possible uses open up here?

Things like imaging my boot drive once I have everything installed, so I don't need to worry about stuff, setting up personal version-control, and such.

I figure I'd never, ever use that much space treating it like I do now, so how can I use it to improve my workflow and computing time in general?


Source: (StackOverflow)

Is there a native OS X app like WorkRave? [closed]

I'd like a (preferably free) break reminder app that's native to OS X. Does anyone know of such a tool? There's WorkRave for Windows and Linux.


Source: (StackOverflow)

Outlook conversation view and categories

At work, I tend to receive a couple of hundred emails a day. To keep from being overwhelmed, I have been using categories to sort and prioritize my mail messages. I auto-assign categories, then group by them: Code Reviews, To, CC, Distribution List/BCC. This means that, for example, a message that's explicitly to me will always show up higher in my inbox than one I get because I'm on a Distribution List. It's a huge time saver and it brings important emails to my attention much more quickly.

Recently, the email threads I'm involved in have started to get quite long, and I'd like to be able to use conversation view, or at least sort by subject. Outlook, however, doesn't seem to support any (useful) combination of conversation view and categories. I've tried the following things without success:

  • Grouping by category, then conversation view -- Outlook gives me an error (the grouping/sort combination is too complex).
  • Using a custom view to group by conversation -- category doesn't show up as an option to sort by
  • Grouping by category, then subject -- Getting closer, but the top subject is the first alphabetically, not the most recent
  • Grouping by conversation, then category -- This works, but it doesn't do me much good, because the top conversation is the latest, without regard to what category it belongs to

Is there a way for me to retain my category system or something similar while taking advantage of grouping related emails together? I don't at all care about the semantics of the solution, so I don't necessarily have to use Categories proper or Conversation View proper; I really just want to be able to use some kind of priority system to emphasize emails sent to me while having email threads grouped together in some way.

I've written Outlook plugins in the past, so even that's not too out there to serve as a proper solution. Anything that works, really.

Update: I still haven't seen a good solution. I'd like everything to be in a single view. Separate folders or search folders aren't good, because, for example, if I've cleared out my TO list, I don't automatically see CCed emails at the top, I have to manually go to a different view for that. At that point, there's nothing to make TO inherently ordered before CC besides the order I click on the folders.

Being able to aggregate several folders/search folders into a single view would likely be a great solution. I haven't seen any answers even mentioning custom scripting/programming, and I suspect that any solution that fits my criteria would require it. The bounty is there because I'm pretty sure the solution isn't trivial.


Source: (StackOverflow)

Integrated Help - Merged Help Indexes

If anyone has had more than a couple of Microsoft tools or products installed (or a local install of the MSDN library) side by side, you might have noticed that opening help (hitting F1) or opening, say, SQL Server Books Online causes the help indexes to be re-indexed - this is usually after installing a new product or tool.

This can be a really, really time consuming exercise!

Does anyone know a way to prevent or opt out of having combined help indexes?
At best, even just preventing the reindexing at all?


Source: (StackOverflow)

Good Digital Pen that Integrates with Microsoft OneNote

Does anyone know of a good digital pen product (like the Logitech IO2) that:

  1. Can cleanly integrate with Microsoft OneNote
  2. Works with regular paper (not expensive DPS paper)
  3. Works with Windows 7 - ideally Win7 x64

Source: (StackOverflow)

Solution to remember a window's size and position for laptop built-in monitor vs external monitor on Windows?

Some laptops, like mine, are so easy to dock/undock. So, I do that all the time. When docked, my screen is Full HD. When undocked, it's smaller. So, everytime I dock/undock my window arrangements get messed up.

Does anyone know of a solution that could make my laptop monitor-aware and restore the arrangements of my windows based on the monitor being used?

I'm on Windows 8, by the way.


Source: (StackOverflow)

PowerShell: history enhancements (readline)?

Some of the things I like in Bash and would love to know how to do in PowerShell:

  1. In Bash, I have history scrolling set up so that it only scrolls commands that begin with the same prefix as the current line. If I want to see my latest commit (e.g. to reuse part of the comment) I write 'git' and then .

  2. Related is of course the history search with Ctrl + R

  3. To find other things, I write:

    h | grep foo
    

    In PowerShell I use:

    h -c 1000 | where {$_.commandline.contains("foo")}
    

    (obviously I'm a newbie, there must be a shorter way)

  4. Things like:

    mv file.txt{,.bak}
    

    or

    mv file.txt !#$.bak
    
  5. Magic space (that expands !$ inline)

What are the alternatives in PowerShell?


Source: (StackOverflow)

Is there a way to search the windows application menus like OSX's CMD+SHIFT+/ command?

I've moved from an OSX to PC workflow, and I've duplicated just about everything except when I need to use a menu item that I can't find.

On OSX, I'd often use the CMD+SHIFT+/ command which brings up the application help menu - from there you can type a command and the program will reveal the correct menu item.

Example in OSX Photoshop: CMD+SHIFT+/ , type in Crop, push down, enter.
      Works for any obscure menu item.
Example in W7 Photoshop: fish through menus till I see what I want.

It's an amazing productivity tool. When I tried Rhino, I started wondering why all applications didn't let you type in a command with auto complete. I found out with OSX you basically can. Now I can't live without it!

Is there any similar functionality or app for Windows 7?

Here's an example of looking up an obscure nested command.

enter image description here


Source: (StackOverflow)