irst Looks and Nifty Gadgets brings you reviews of the new and novel. Each month we take a look at what's just hitting the streets and some tiny, but tried and true products that are still helping people be as productive as possible.
Did you ever wonder what the Scroll Lock key was supposed to do? Have you envied users of the Microsoft IntelliMouse with that nifty little wheel between the mouse buttons, used for scrolling up and down pages? Well Hot Scroll is a new utility that can actually put that darn Scroll Lock key to some practical use, and does a fairly decent job of emulating the IntelliMouse's nifty scroll wheel on non-IntelliMice too.
Give any window with a scroll bar the focus and toggle Scroll Lock on, the mouse is instantly 'locked' to the vertical scroll bar and wherever you move your mouse laterally (up and down the screen) the scroll bar will be sure to follow. Since the mouse (and keyboard) is still free to be used as normal, you can use it in Netscape and browse for hours with it. As you glide your mouse down to click on a link, the page and the link you're targeting scrolls up to meet it. Best of all, while Scroll Lock is still on, the mouse remains anchored to only one particular scroll bar -- meaning that not only won't it interfere with other windows, but you can minimize the locked program, go and work on something else for a while, and when you come back the mouse is still locked to that one scrollbar. Tap the Scroll-Lock key again to toggle it off and the scroll-bar is liberated, ready for you to 'lock' the mouse to another application.
If using Scroll-Lock does not appeal, Hot Scroll can also perform the same function by either holding down the third mouse button (if you have a three button mouse) or holding down Alt-Ctrl-Shift.
Hot Scroll works with most applications, including Netscape, OS/2's Workplace Shell folders, PMMail and others. An exception list is included with workarounds for applications that don't work, as tested by the author. Overall it's a surprisingly useful and tiny utility.
Hot Scroll 0.52
I found this the other day on Hobbes; some of the rest of you might know about it already, but it's a first for me... Thing is, it's from, like, 1993. It's a little program which magnifies the OS/2 desktop; eyes a bit bloodshot from indulging the night before, and squinting at the monitor simply hurts? Simply fire up Lens and you can move your mouse pointer around the screen, enlarging the area your pointer is over. It's weird, the fact that something can be close to 5 years old, and still be pretty cool...
I saw a screen saver like this on a Win95 machine the other day, more advanced, but the same principle. The lens on the Win95 machine was circular (this one's square), and moved around the screen for more realism. (This one shows the enlarged view moving in a stationary window.)
Great for people who have vision problems which might be bad enough to be annoying, but not bad enough to justify switching to a lower graphics mode.
Since it'll soon be out of its beta stages, this little jewel deserves mention... Dialog Enhancer is an application which improves the look of your OS/2 system by tweaking the fonts and graphics of many of the Warp 4 system dialogs and programs. When IBM designed Warp 4, they introduced a new font called WarpSans, which was much nicer than the System font used in Warp 3; unfortunately, IBM didn't take the time to convert all of Warp 4 over to the new font, so many places in Warp 4 you'll see a dialog with the old Warp 3 System font; after seeing WarpSans, the System font just looks ugly.
Richard Castle's Dialog Enhancer tweaks the graphics resources of much of Warp 4, one-by-one making dialogs use the WarpSans font. Additionally, Dialog Enhancer has shrunk the size of many of the dialogs so they don't look quite so bulky, and even added text and graphics to them in places where it would make them easier on the eye. Not just dialogs have been changed, either; Castle has attacked many of the programs that come with Warp 4 and improved them in a similar manner; programs such as the Dial Other Internet Providers app (GIF, 10.7k), and the OS/2 Icon Editor. Since only the programs graphical resources are changed, the actual executables are left alone, and worries about corrupting a program so it won't run are slim.
Anyone who cares about how their OS/2 desktop looks should really download this program and try it out. It's expected to be finished beta sometime early in the new year, at which time it'll sell as shareware for $15. Download it and try it out now! (Its install program is currently in beta as well, so you have to download the install program and the actual Dialog Enhancer files separately)
Dialog Enhancer v1.0
That's it for this month. Tune in next time for more reviews of neat gadgets and first looks at new OS/2 tools.
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