The goal of the search strategy I outlined the other day was to find Mary Czerwinski, a Microsoft researcher, and interview her for a podcast. I did find her, and the resulting podcast is here. We had a great time talking about ways that adaptive user interfaces can leverage spatial and temporal memory, about ambient awareness of team activity, and about the proper role of interruptions in the modern work environment.
In the course of the conversation I mentioned WriteRoom and the notion of a distraction-free desktop. Lately I find myself powerful attracted to Zen simplicity, and I wondered how that impulse might square with the new Office ribbon. It’s a great improvement over the conventional menu systems, but I wondered if there were a quick and easy way to suppress the ribbon when you want to achieve the WriteRoom effect.
It turns out that there are several ways to do that, and I documented them in this short screencast.
Now that I’ve learned how to use the ribbon selectively, there’s one piece of unfinished business. In Vista as in Windows XP, you can hide the desktop icons by right-clicking the desktop and choosing View->Show Desktop Icons. But in order to really incorporate this feature into your workflow you’d like to have it on a hotkey, like WindowsKey->M which instantly minimizes all open windows.
Jeff Ullmann had written to me a while ago with a solution based on the Windows Scripting Host, but the registry layout that it depends on is different in Vista. So, how can you make a clean-desktop hotkey in Vista? I’ve seen the question asked in various places but as yet have found no answers. If you’ve got the recipe I’d love to see it.