Hold my hand dear readers, we are about to enter the utilitarian world of tabs. That’s right, instead of apps I figured it’s time we talked about tabs. Tabs, a rather boring four-letter word, with a ton of varied meanings, from bar bills to ancient diet colas to paragraph indentations. But today we want to talk about the little tabs that sit atop your Internet browsers while you surf the Web.
Back in the late 90s, browsers could only open one Web page per window. Opening multiple Web pages meant opening as many windows, thus creating a drain on your PC’s resources and a cacophony of information that forced you into cascading windows layered like a sliced cake. But soon after the turn of the century, the Mozilla foundation gifted the Firefox browser to the world and introduced Web surfers to tabbed browsing, a function that allowed users to surf the Web while viewing multiple pages by loading them into tabbed sections within just one browser window. Today, every major Web browser, including mobile smartphone browsers, work this way.
The ability to open multiple tabs in a browser allows users to multi-task at levels never seen before on our counters. If you want to see this function in action, just visit one of your customers and ask to sit behind their best counterperson. I guarantee he or she will have multiple tabs open, hopefully including your ecommerce site in the first tab, along with all of your competitors’ websites, manufacturers’ catalog sites and a Facebook page or two — all opened and in-sync to allow them to do the many lookups we ask of our customers today. They are like big wave surfers riding the Web from tab to tab, checking and rechecking catalog info, buyer’s guides, interchanges, pictures and competitors’ prices all within one screen — our industry’s wealth of information at the beck and call of their lightning fast fingers.
Interestingly, many software developers have tapped the power of tabs to create small, but useful, applications that operate within the tab functionality but act like a full-blown software program. I have found three such “intelligent” tabs that have become part of how I now surf the web.
Convert Case (http://www.convertcase.net/)
Many of us in this industry still interact with legacy computer systems that for some God-forsaken reason require us to write everything in ALL CAPS, BUT WHEN YOU SWITCH BACK TO THE WEB, WE OFTEN FORGET TO LOWER THOSE CAPS! DAMN IT, I JUST DID IT AGAIN RIGHT NOW! I do this all the time and hate to have to retype my words, often opting to just send an email in all caps, hoping the recipient will understand that when I was typing the message, I was just sticking to my bad form of not looking at what I’m typing, but looking at the keyboard instead. I’m in no way yelling, screaming nor ranting at them (REALLY, I’M NOT!).
After years of suffering through countless retypings from UPPER to lower cases, I found Convert Case, a simple tool that allows you to copy and paste your all-capped words and have them converted into a variety of formats like all-lower, all-capitalized, or my favorite, “Sentence Case.” I use this tool so often, I have saved their webpage as a permanent tab on my browser. A word of warning to my regular email recipients — now you know that if you still get an email from me with all caps, I really am yelling.
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This one is a quick and easy way to open a tab to jot down a quick note that does not need to be saved. There are a myriad of options to do this on note pads, Post-it notes, and sophisticated word processors, but there is swift quickness of doing this in the same browser you are already working in. This tool is so cool its not even a Website, but a bit of HTML code that, when pasted into the browser’s URL bar, it will open a new, empty tab where you can type a quick note in seconds. Just copy and paste the instruction as written above in your browser’s URL bar and give it a whirl.
This one is not only super useful, but is beautiful to look at. An aptly named tab tool that allows you to manage time right on your tabs. A 3-in-1 solution: a timer, an alarm and a stopwatch. All three tools can be easily found elsewhere in our wristwatches and smartphones, but I find that by engaging these tools on my browser, I actually get to use them more. For instance, I set up a timer when I started writing this column and I can see now that I have spent way too much time on it, better get back to selling parts now!