I'm definitely not the fastest, brightest, or smartest, but sometimes I manage to surprise colleagues with clever tricks and things I've picked up from experience as a knowledge worker.

I have a bad habit of generating huge amounts of documentation. It seeps into emails and pours out onto this blog. Next one-on-one or interview I'll give "writes lots" as my best and worst trait, my goal might be to, "spend more time writing less."

So these two methods seem to get the occasional, "how'd you do that so fast?"

Alvin.getUrlByTopic(string anythingYouWant)

Alvin.generateWords(double weightInKilos)


In a past career path, after serving nine months as a Web development intern back in 2005, I was brought on and promoted to a Corporate Ninja in a mid-sized, corporate environment. Well, I was really an "Internet Research Associate."

Typical tasks included:

  • Update the wiki, train the interns, and document things.
  • Find some software that does X, Y, Z, get a comparison, and draft a quick report.
  • Research the industry for a given trend, draft as of a report as needed.
  • Look at this competitive site, document functionality, and write a feature comparison.
  • Go learn Webtrends from your colleague, he's leaving in a week.
  • What are screen readers? Find out about Section 508 and compliance.
  • Research enterprise CMS (WCM), the one we bought didn't quite fit.
I'd eventually get promoted to Web Business Analyst, which included even more writing, but with more diagrams. This overlapped with everything from Tridion XSLT templates to ASP.NET programming, the Content Delivery API, and more of the above. Not sure how good I was, because I eventually got promoted to Project Manager under a real cool CIO then IT Project Manager under a real cool IT Operations lead.

Sometimes I forget I've spent some 7 to 8 years finding stuff online, analyzing then writing it up, and then passing it along to all types of audiences. I've spent three times as long using keyboards (omg, where did the time go?). I'm guessing sometimes you forget how much stuff you know.


Here are some tips, tricks, and speed hacks I still use.

In a browser I need to search, get urls, and open/close tabs quickly:

  • Alt-D to jump to the address bar
  • Alt-D, Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab, Ctrl-V: copy url to other window
  • Ctrl-u (Chrome) to view source
  • Ctrl-t for a new tab
  • Ctrl-w to close current tab
  • Rather than navigating to, I'll search from the address bar.

In Windows, I need to switch between apps, move between words quickly, copy/paste, and quickly start applications.

  • Alt-tab to switch between windows
  • Ctrl-C then Ctrl-V to copy and paste
  • Home/End to get to the start/end of a line
  • Shift-Home/End to highlight from the cursor to the start/end of a line
  • Ctrl-arrow keys to move quickly, holding shift to highlight
  • Ctrl-A to select all
  • Ctrl/Shift-click to select individual items or ranges of items
  • Alt-F then whatever letter needed to open, close, or save as, otherwise Ctrl-the right letter also works
  • Start-D to minimize all Windows
  • Start-R to open run command then:
    • winword to start Word
    • cmd to open a command prompt
    • a url to open the default browser directly to that page

In Office, I need to quickly format text, access commands without the mouse, and move between words and text.

  • Most of the above plus...
  • Ctrl-B for bold
  • Ctrl-I for italics
  • * then space to start a bullet
  • Shift-enter for a line break (soft break)
  • Ctrl-F for find or Ctrl-H for find and replace
  • Shift-Ctrl-C, Shift-Ctrl-V to copy and paste a style. I always cite direct quotes and even if not using MLA/APA format, I'll include a reference to a link.
  • Highlight then Ctrl-K to insert a link in some Office programs

In Word, I need to quickly write down ideas, keep clean formatting, and manage

  • Most of the above plus...
  • Make an informal table with tabs then change it to a real table
  • Right-click on image or table to add a caption
  • Alt-O then E to change case
  • Double-click on image or table to get the theme and formatting options
  • I use styles and themes, avoiding hard-coded formatting whenever possible
  • I keep and maintain templates based on the company style guides, but also follow the basic "hook, thesis, three points" writing I learned in school.
I also need the occasional Screen grab.
  • With OneNote I use Start-S to grab pictures. Start-r to "run" mspaint. Ctrl-V to paste. Alt-F then A to "Save As..."
  • Alt-PrintScreen to grab just the Window, otherwise Print-Screen for everything
  • Fireshot, but now Google's own Screen Capture
I mainly use Google to search.

  • search term to search specific site for items
  • tridion+whatever keyword needed, the more specific the better (error messages will tell you quickly if something's online)

I remember things better when I leave a comment, engage something, or try it. I don't remember everything, but I can typically remember the topics so later google can do the rest as my external brain.
I really shouldn't just find things for others, is better for that. But I have a habit of trying to cite and give credit to where I've learned things. Sometimes it comes across bad in a Forrest Gump kind-of-way ("my mama always told me"), but even if it's as easy as a few keyboard shortcuts, I'd prefer not to steal other people's hard work or intellectual property.
Years typing, a background in Web research, and the need to give credit away is why you'll often get a quick response followed by a url from me.

Thanks for making it easy finding the Tridion-related topics.

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