Home Page Improvements

Let’s talk about your home page.

You know, that first page you see when you open up your browser.

For most of us, it is something you don’t even look at. Maybe you have it set to Google or Yahoo, but more than likely it is whatever it was when you first opened the browser and stayed that way.

However, if you are a Firefox user, I have a suggestion for a homepage that will be much more useful. (You can do this in any browser, but it is clunky in Chrome and Safari.)

TiddlyWiki

http://tiddlywiki.com/

Yes, it has a strange name. What is it? It is a wiki (like Wikipedia) but one that exists only in a single file.

This means you don’t need a web server to use it. You will simply download a single file, save it somewhere safe (your dropbox is a good place!) and go from there. Get it here:

http://tiddlywiki.com/#GettingStarted

So, for me, I downloaded it, put the file in my Dropbox and renamed it “startpage.html’. You can name it anything you want, but it must still end in “.html” to work.

You will need to do one thing through Firefox first, and that is get a plugin.

Install the Plugin For Firefox

First we have to go get the plugin:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tiddlyfox/

Install it, and when it is done, you’ll need to re-start.

Chrome, Safari and IE

You can use this idea for all of these browsers as well. Check out their documentation for more information:

http://tiddlywiki.com/#GettingStarted

Setting up your Homepage

First step, open up the TiddlyWiki in your browser. Go to File -> Open File… and find your newly downloaded TiddlyWiki.

Now, go to your preferences page, which is a gear icon on the left hand side.

Info

This tab is for general information. pay attention to this part:

Choose which tiddlers are displayed at startup:

We will come back to that later.

Settings

Under settings, make sure it is selected to save automatically. This way, when you are done editing an entry (tiddler, they call them ‘tiddlers) it is saved without having to remember to hit ‘save’

Saving

Once you are done with that, there is a icon near the gear that is an arrow pointing down into an open box looking thing. It should be red. Click it, and it will tell you it saved (in the upper right)

But…

Yes, you set it up so that it autosaves, and it will for just about everything. The settings are different, and you’ll need to manually save them.

Making entries

Hit that green + button and you’ll be shown a brand new entry form. Change the name from “new tiddler” to something more like “Start Pages”.

In the box, put some links. There are ways to fancy format things, if you want, but for now, just add the links on their own line, and hit enter twice after.

Hit that green checkmark when you are done.

You just made your first entry. Wasn’t that easy? Something to notice, on the right hand side you’ll see a list forming. Your new entry is now there.

Back to Settings

Now go back to that gear again, and on that “Info” tab where it says:

Choose which tiddlers are displayed at startup:

These are the entries that will show up when you first open this file. Delete what is in there, and add the title of the entry you just made, surrounded by double square brackets [[ ]]. So, if you named it “Start Pages”, then put:

[[Start Pages]]

in that box.

Now hit that arrow save button again.

Set as Homepage

We’ve set up the file, now just one more thing: making this file our homepage.

Make sure no other tabs are open first. Then open your Firefox preferences. Under General there is a place for “Home page”. Click “Use Current Pages” and it will update to your TiddlyWiki.

Ok NOW what?

Now you have a file that when you open your browser, will show you links. At first, this may not be amazingly useful. For example, you probably don’t need to click on Facebook often.

What it is good for are those things that you like, but don’t often use. For example, I have an entry for my bills. So when I need to, there is a nice organized list of the things I need to pay, and links for each.

I also use it as a research tool. A tiddler just for Markets, one for fonts I like, another for how to edit tumblr themes.

I’ve been storing information here. When I do a search for something, especially something like editing a blog theme, where I know i’ll need to know it again, but not for a while, I make an entry here and keep it.

Now it is easy to find. I just hit that house button on my browser, and my start page is filled with things I’ve added.

I have entries with links to images, to how-to’s on HTML and CSS, references to Markdown and fonts. You can store text as well, copy and pasting from files or pages to keep things how you like. I had even used TiddlyWiki as a story notebook for a while (something I suspect I will return to)

I want Fancier Formatting!

Here you go: http://tiddlywiki.com/#WikiText

There you can learn how to make links prettier, how to format entries and more. Despite being just a single HTML file, the wiki is pretty powerful.

And your homepage is now a little more useful.

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