There was recently a thread on reddit about whether or not people use scopes, and as usual, the vocal “UNITY SUCKS I HATE CANONICAL BECAUSE I LOVE GNOME2 AND WISH IT WAS STILL 1996″ crowd was present, although there were also quite a few positive answers. What it made me realize most, though, is how much Unity/scopes can do that people don’t seem to know about, so I thought I’d take the time to highlight some of these cool features that I use on a pretty regular basis. Most of these utilize a super basic feature that most people don’t even know exist: the use of keywords in Unity. So without any further ado:
Like most people, I find myself wondering what the weather is like outside, while I sit inside and work on my computer anyway, you know, just in case maybe I want to go outside. Now I could open up Chromium, go to weather.com, then search for my zip code, and figure it out that way, OR I could just hit the super key, then type ‘weather’. That’s it, no location necessary, it will use GeoIP to figure out where I am, and will give me the relevant weather data right there! If I wanted to figure out the weather anywhere else in the world, I could simply search “weather: city name” and get it.
Clicking on a specific day will give you more information, including the High/Low temperature, as well as a button to open more info in your browser.
Hey look, I'm not gonna leave the house this weekend
This is one scope that I use probably every single day. A simple calculator is built directly into Unity. No keywords are needed, just type in some math, and Unity will spit out an answer. Simple as that! Note if you’re worried about other results showing up, you can use the info: or calculator: keywords to get just the results.
Use info: if you want just the results
Sometimes, I’ll come across some word that I don’t understand. It happens to the best of us… right? Well, instead of loading up dictionary.com, I can just press super, and type “define:word” and get my definition right there. Easy right? Doing that will bring up a list of words, and clicking one will get you the definition, as seen here:
So THAT'S what it means
Sometimes, you just want to know where the closest Dunkin Donuts is. Luckily, I live in Boston, so it’s never more than like 20 feet away. But to find out where it is (especially useful if you’re on vacation or a business trip), just hit super, then type foursquare:dunkin donuts (info: will work as well!). In some cases, you may not even need the keyword at all, but if you want to be sure you’re getting foursquare results, be sure to add it. Selecting a result will show you the address, and a link to open up a browser to its Foursquare page.
We really like our Dunkins
There are many, many more awesome scopes to use (github, virtualbox, news, stocks, and wikipedia come to mind) that I’ll try and write about soon, but this will hopefully at least help some people discover some of the awesome features in Unity that most people don’t seem to know about.