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Ubiquity as Handy Firefox Commander

February 6, 2009

Even though I mentioned Ubiquity here and there, I hadn’t really given it a try. After reading Gina’s post, “Make Ubiquity Your Ultimate Firefox Commander“, despite the fact of still being at the pre-1.0 stage, it’s time I should try it out.

The first thing I noticed after the installation was that it didn’t work. The command of firing up Ubiquity, “Ctrl+Space (windows)”, conflicted with the hot key of the IME toggle in my PC. After reset the hot key for IME tool, I could start to try it out.

Email this

One of the things I wanted to try is “email this or that to someone” with web page link, text, picture or video, as demonstrated in Gina’s presentation:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

But it didn’t work well sometimes. 😕 When I first tried it, the layout of the email message was all right but later — not sure whether that’s GMail’s problem or not — it showed the markup commands that shouldn’t be there. But I guess it may be due to Google’s handling, other than Ubiquity’s problem, since I got some error message in sending email from my GMail account at that time.

Translate this in-line

I tested this on one Japanese web page, and, despite that I received an error message from Ubiquity, the English translation of the selected text still showed up. Only a small part of the original text wasn’t translated (which may be the reason for the error message).

Tested it with one Chinese web page, no error message appeared. I love this feature! 🙂

Search this or that in Amazon & Wiki etc

In the beginning this feature was not very exciting to me. Part of the reason is that I have DictionarySearch add-on installed, which can allow me to search the selected text in some dictionaries of my choice as well as in Wikipedia. Besides, the keyword command “Ctrl-K” in Firefox can let you immediately type the text in the search toolbar.

Here I compare different look-up methods in my Firefox:

  • Method 1: use mouse to select text, right click to search in Wiki, Dictionary or the current choice in the search toolbar.
    Result appears in a new tab window.
  • Method 2a: Ctrl-K to go to search bar, type the text, and use the arrow keys to choose the site.
    Enter to show the result in the current window or Alt-Enter in a new tab.
  • Method 2b: Select the text (by mouse or cursor), Ctrl+C, Ctrl+K, Ctrl+V, , and use the arrow keys to choose the site.
    Enter to show the result in the current window or Alt-Enter in a new tab.
  • Method 3a: Ctrl-Space (bring up Ubiquity), type site keyword + space + the text to search.
    Similar results appear in Ubiquity window, and you can select one of them and Enter to show it in a new tab.
  • Method 3b: Select the text, Ctrl + Space, type command keyword of your choice (e.g. we -> weather, w or wi -> Wikipedia, def -> define, i.e. dictionary search, map -> Google map, tr -> translate etc).

Certainly, Method 3 has some advantages (marked) that other methods don’t. The more you explore it, the more you’d like it.

Customize your commands

You can teach Ubiquity new commands and share them with other Ubiquity users. To know how this is done, you can see the example on Atul’s site.

Don’t worry that you don’t know how many commands in Ubiquity or even remember them all. You can always check them out by bringing up Ubiquity and type “command-list” for a list of commands or “help” for general information.

Get your Firefox commander here. 🙂

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