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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Launchy's Rough Start

I work on three machines nowdays: I run Linux for my office workstation, a Macbook Pro for my work-assigned laptop and Windows XP for my home computer (the one I share with my wife.)

When I got my Macbook Pro, my friend David urged me to get QuickSilver. I was reluctant to use it at first, now I can't live without it. And the way that I know I can't live without it is that I miss it terribly on my WinXP workstation. The Quick Launch toolbar is irritating -- who wants to remember what the iTunes icon looks like, and who can figure it out with six other icons on the Quick Launch Toolbar that also look like some sort of circle?

With that, I gave Launchy a chance. Launchy sounds like it might be the more sedate and incredibly more useful cousin of Clippy, the Microsoft Office pest. Unfortunately, Launchy promising start faded quickly. I launched it with a comfortable and predictable ALT-space. I typed "fire" to see if it had already located Firefox, but nothing appeared. I pressed escape to remove Launchy from view, which it quickly did (without Clippy's typical get-on-a-bicyle-and-ride-away fanfare.) A few minutes later, I pressed ALT-space again to find Launchy, but couldn't find it. Tsk-tsk. I figured I had somehow closed it. It didn't appear in the system tray, so I relaunched Launchy. Alt-SPACE, no Launchy. So then I decided the kill the task using the Process tab of the Task Manager. I found Launchy.exe. There it was, using 0% CPU and 11MB of memory. I tried to end the process, but could not. Launchy would not die. So where was it? It turns out that Launchy was sitting behind all other windows. That is, once I minimized all other application windows, I found poor Launchy, stiff and unresponsive, like a dead bee you find in the corner of your bookcase, grasping onto its last command from its master: "fire".


Fig 1. Dead Launchy.

Poor Launchy.

Generally this would be enough for me to abandon Launchy, but I'll give it another try because I'm willing to give the Open Source community a little more leeway, and I really am that desperate for QuickSilver.
Update: I had to do more than log out to give Launchy a fresh start -- the machine froze during log out. Very bad! One three-finger-salute and a log in later, and Launchy seems to have found Firefox. It hasn't completely blown its second chance. Good for us both.

1 comment:

Brian said...

You should take a look at Keybreeze. It's not open-source, but it's a free application for Windows that's similar to Quicksilver.