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Who needs bookmarks? Drag-and-drop!

Hi I’m awkisopen and I’m a terrible person because I didn’t have my laptop yesterday to do a post. But I’ve got it today, and so today, I shall post!

This is a pretty simple tip, and it’s got more to do with the “inspiration/research” phase of writing than the “writing” phase of writing. I’m gonna show you the easy way to grab snippets from the web and save ’em for later.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I’m reading a blog about steampunk (called “STEAMED!”) and I happen across this hypothetical post about steampunk archetypes:

“How useful!” I say to myself and reach for the bookmark bar. But wait! What if I’m offline when I want to refer to this handy-dandy post? A bookmark in such a situation would be useless – nay, masochistic! – providing only a mocking reminder to a page that cannot be referenced.

So I do this instead. I highlight the relevant text – the list itself – omitting the introduction and conclusion, beauitfully written as they may be:

Then I simply drag the text out of the browser and drop it onto my desktop.

Doing this produces a file, like so:

Which I helpfully rename to something more useful:

Now the list has been safely copied to my hard drive as plaintext, ready to be referenced at any time!

Bonus points if you stick it in your Dropbox, syncing it across every computer and/or operating system you use.

After the Deadline: in-browser proofing

If you miss being hounded about passive voice by the Office grammar checker, After the Deadline is the extension for you. For those of us who don’t wax nostalgic about such strange things, AtD is an advanced proofing extension that works with virtually any text field in your browser.

Here’s the facts: there’s a growing number of nifty online writing services (Penzu and QuietWrite, to name two). That’s awesome and all, but most writers can’t get by without a spellcheck. While a lot of browsers now have rudimentary spellchecking capabilities, it’s really nothing compared to what Word offers these days.

After the Deadline supplements this by checking not only spelling but grammar and style too – so it’s not just matching your words up against a dictionary, it’s actually checking to see if you’ve misused a word or your phrasing’s a bit off. Its strictness on the matter is entirely up to you, of course. You’re free to turn off style checking entirely or add words (and even phrases) to its ignore list.

When AtD checks grammar and style it also gives you the option of explaining to you how exactly it was you managed to butcher the English language. If you’ve worked in Word you might remember this as a feature. I personally learned a great deal from it when I was younger. Specifically, I now know which rules of grammar only psychopaths and OCD sufferers adhere to. The paperclip was both, as I recall.

One thing that sucks: it doesn’t work in Google Docs. It just doesn’t. Somehow I’ll live, but I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

AtD is available for both Firefox and Chromium, and if you’re on Linux chances are you’re already using one of them. If you’re using something else for some reason (e.g. you’re a freak) it’s also available as an OpenOffice extension, though I haven’t tried that out yet. Oh and one other thing: you want to left-click, not right-click on your mistakes to correct them. If you’re very tired you might spend four or five minutes right-clicking incessently before you figure that out. It happened to this blogger I knew once.