Quicksilver is also a Mixmaster client, used for sending anonymous emails through anonymous remailers.

Other clients include the original Mixmaster command line interface and JBN.

Quicksilver will automatically download capability strings (tell you what a remailer will do), public keys, and statistics. It will also automatically update the client software if you dont have it installed. In fact, you can just download QUicksilver, and it will download Mixmaster for you.

Quicksilver is the first installment in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, an intended trilogy, comprising Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System of The World.

For fans of his usual sci-fi output, as well as fans of his extraordinary novel, Cryptonomicon, this will seem quite a departure from his accepted norm. Neal Stephenson seems to be a man who has recently shaken of the fetters of his genre, deciding quite bravely to venture out into pastures new with a historical novel, nay a historical trilogy. At 927 pages this novel isn't for the light-hearted, delving into such arcane subjects as alchemy, natural philosophy, cryptography and astronomy .

Focussing on the adventures of several key protagonists, namely Enoch Root, Daniel Waterhouse, Eliza, Jack Shaftoe and many other factual characters, including Isaac Newton, Samuel Pepys, Gottfried Leibniz, William of Orange and many others, this novel is a masterful account of its era.

The novel gives an illuminating insight into the social mores of its time, in an often witty and intelligent fashion. Having read this book before either of the other two volumes were released, I can only assume that the ground is being set in this volume (one hell of a build-up, considering the length of the book), as the story doesn't really go anywhere, despite being very intriguing and intelligent. Nevertheless, the insight given into such events as The Great Fire of London, The Black Death and Newton's Principia Mathematica are reason enough to read this book.

Rather than being a science-fiction novel, it's more like a science-fiction novel for the 17th Century. A great read, and a great precursor to what promises to be an epic trilogy.

 

The Baroque Cycle
~
Quicksilver | The Confusion | The System of the World



I'M REMINDED OF THE film Wonder Boys. An aging author, played by Michael Douglas, sits down to his typewriter, to his manuscript, and begins a new page. He types the page number, "261"—then, glancing down at the previous page for reference, he appends the digit "1." He's working on a novel of such outrageous proportions that, as one of the author's students complains, it even includes genealogies of its horses.

Perhaps Neal Stephenson came upon this film and—rather than viewing this manuscript as symbolic of undisciplined talent, of our tedious literary writers who feel the need to speak and speak and speak, yet have so very little to say—he saw it as a challenge. Quicksilver, you see, is not really a 900-page novel: it's 1/3 of a 2,600 page novel. The Baroque Cycle is its title, and its second and third installments are called, respectively, The Confusion and The System of the World. I realize, in most of the genres Stephenson melds here—sci. fi., fantasy, historical fiction, swashbucklers, potboilers, and miscellaneous other adventure yarns—there is a precedent for novels published in series. Foundation comes to mind, or Ender's Game and its sequels, or the interminable Wheel of Time. These are stories tied together, deeply connected but separate, and they come to us slowly, over the course of years. The three volumes of The Baroque Cycle are to be published in intervals of six months—written, certainly, more as one than as three. And if Quicksilver is any indication, there is no more effort here to make the volumes singular unto themselves than there is to do so for each of the multiple books within.

The proper comparison here is with The Lord of the Rings, the epic novel in three parts. Rings is a collection of six books published in three volumes, telling a single story; and for those of you who watched last year's The Two Towers (probably most of you), I should not need to explain how poorly each separate volume stands on its own. The Baroque Cycle is to be a collection of either seven or eight books in three volumes (three in the first, two in the second, and either two or three in the third). It will be over twice the length of Rings, wider in scope (if not gravity), and peppered with lyrics and poetry and philosophy (Milton, Defoe, Hobbes, the King James Bible, et al, and a bit of verse from Stephenson himself), as well as maps and diagrams and, yes, even genealogies. I couldn't help but think, reading Quicksilver, that Stephenson's intention here is to out-epic J.R.R. Tolkien.

And Stephenson does have a few advantages. He need not create a world of intrigue and magic, a vast tapestry of politics and infighting and war: They can all be found, he discovers, in the few hubs of European trade and thought at the dawn of the Enlightenment. He need not create wizards and magical races and magic itself: The appeal of these is novelty and the power to change worlds, and here Stephenson has Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz—to name just two who held such power—just at the moment they discovered it.

He also, as an advantage over Rings, has women and sexual tension, and of course sex.

~

QUICKSILVER CONTAINS FOUR STORIES, give or take, somewhere between three and a dozen major characters, two separate pirate attacks, executions in the dozens, and two civil wars (along with a number of the other kind). It acquaints the reader with four kings and a few of their bastard sons, and finds itself located mainly in Boston, London, Paris, Leipzig, and Amsterdam, as well as various points between. To summarize the plot in any coherent way would probably drive me over the 64K character limit, as well as drawing hate mail and vicious heckling from the balcony, so let's just say this, this book that's one third of a novel, it's big. Fifteen <big>'s big.

You get the idea.

Throughout the first book of Quicksilver, we learn parts of the history of Daniel Waterhouse, a puritan and natural philosopher (in modern terms, a scientist), and an advisor to kings, not to mention a friend of Newton and Leibniz. We follow him through two separate time-lines: the first, story-wise, is his return trip to England as an old man; the second, his college years and early adulthood. These alternate chapter-by-chapter, in a rather obnoxious cliff-hanger sort of way.

Much of Daniel's time, during and after his college years, is spent in the company of the Royal Society. This English association of natural philosophers conducts various experiments (many which would not get them invited to any PETA get-togethers), communicates with other such groups in continental Europe, and discusses findings. Daniel finds himself an assistant to Isaac Newton and, as a member of a religious minority, a diplomat between the various forces within and outside the Society. His philosophical work is secondary.

As an old man in Boston, Dr. Waterhouse is the founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologickal Arts, or MIT, which is little more than a log cabin filled with gears and sprockets and springs. He's spent two decades on this work, and is now being called back to England by the presumptive Princess of Whales.

The second book leaves Dr. Waterhouse and follows "Half-Cocked" Jack Shaftoe, an English vagabond who's nickname is an anatomical description, though its other meaning is appropriate as well. Jack travels Europe, squatting and stealing and, as a soldier, looting. In the process of the latter, Jack rescues a Qwghlmian girl named Eliza, who's been enslaved by Turks. The two travel across Europe in search of riches and adventure and so on.

There is much swashbuckling and cleverness. The relationship between the two, however, is not as light or romantic as one might expect. Jack's impending syphilitic insanity and death, for instance, dampens the mood slightly—as do her flirtations with minor royalty.

In the third book, the stories remain basically separate, but both continue in parallel. Daniel and Eliza each find themselves embroiled in political games of all sorts—particularly between Louis XIV of France, James II of England, and William III of Orange. There is a revolution on the horizon, as obvious as a thunderhead; at its front are the natural philosophers of the Royal Society and a few scheming aristocrats in Amsterdam, and at the center of each group are Daniel Waterhouse and the newly-titled Eliza de la Zeur.

Quicksilver ends in a beginning, as any Volume One should end in a beginning—but more than anything, it ends in a six-month wait for us, the readers—a wait probably necessary after nine hundred pages but certainly not welcomed.

~

NEAL STEPHENSON IS QUITE possibly the ideal geek novelist. He wrote the sci. fi. novel of the nineties, Snow Crash, as a convergence of the best sci. fi. of the eighties—cyberpunk, or in other words, William Gibson—with the one thing it was most clearly lacking: irony. Snow Crash centered around a character named Hiro Protagonist, a samurai pizza delivery boy and virtuoso hacker (I rest my case). The novel was filled with the sort of humor that appeals to the average geek: puns and word-play and non sequiturs. There is a line of descent here from Douglas Adams and Monty Python—who I have to say, so as not to offend the geeks out there, are certainly funnier than Stephenson. But the thing is, he writes hard-edged and significantly visionary sci. fi., and he actually has an apparent sense of humor.

Which all makes sense: Stephenson is a geek. He was once a computer programmer who decided to start writing books. He has this innate obsession with technology that's driven all of his novels, and he naturally grasps that peculiar geek brand of humor. Gibson's famously been a late-comer to the technologies he's described in his fiction, and it's unlikely he'd ever tell a joke involving the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle or Schrödinger's Cat; Stephenson is the type who would.

And perhaps as important as all of this is that he left science fiction. With Cryptonomicon, the novel just previous to this one, Stephenson began to write tech-heavy mainstream fiction. Or, if you prefer, sci. fi. in which the "science" part is real. His subject in that novel was cryptography and computing, along with the Second World War.

Cryptonomicon is both a precursor and, it seems, an epilogue to The Baroque Cycle. They are clearly similar in style and genre, and separate from his other novels. Cryptonomicon inspired the research that, in turn, inspired The Baroque Cycle. Those who've read Cryptonomicon, as well, will have recognized two of the surnames of characters I mentioned earlier: "Waterhouse" and "Shaftoe." The central characters of that novel were, mainly, members of modern generations of these two families.

Qwghlm, the fictional island off the coast of the U.K. that's home to Quicksilver's Eliza, also plays a part in Cryptonomicon. A wasteland of jagged rocks and mud, it's understandably quite isolated. Because of this, its people have a unique and cryptic language, one that contains no vowels and is unpronounceable to non-natives. This makes it ideal (like Navajo) for secret communication.

The two novels also share at least one character. Enoch Root (a.k.a. Enoch the Red), many geeks will be happy to learn, is ageless or immortal or somehow capable of existing across multiple centuries. In Quicksilver, he is an alchemist who appears at various locations (over the course of roughly sixty years, by my calculations), often bearing messages.

Stephenson has confirmed that Enoch Root is indeed the same character in both novels—which isn't particularly surprising, as his death was described in the mid-1940's in Cryptonomicon, only to be glossed over when he appeared in the same novel in the 1990's. Enoch seems to be Stephenson's all-purpose wizard, handyman, and warrior. He is a sort of idol to Stephenson's core of geek fans. He's interesting enough that Stephenson can throw him around inexplicably without too much complaint.

Quicksilver also contains the origins of the fictional book called Cryptonomicon, a cryptological text that plays a role in the real novel of the same name.

~

QUICKSILVER HAS MANY STRENGTHS—it has many characters worthy of novels all their own, it has a pace that drives and drives and drives. For its length, there is a great deal Stephenson does not describe. One often hears of long novels the complaint that they are "extremely detailed," or so on, which is a polite way of saying "tedious." My test for this tedium is simply how often I find myself skipping paragraphs, skipping ahead to the next line of dialog, leaving behind the voice of the narrator in order to just, well, get on with the story. With Stephenson, I do not do so often.

And as I said earlier, Quicksilver has a draw peculiar, today, to fantasy novels: the epic sweep, the near-magical power of discovery. The texture of fantasy. The sword-play and royalty, the peasant wandering dumbfoundedly amongst ornate castles, mistaken for a Person of Quality. The political intrigue surrounding struggles for the throne. The intense, ever-present game of appearance and influence and realpolitik that lie under the surface of the best examples of the genre. It's no coincidence that the community of hardcore fantasy junkies intersects so heavily with the Society for Creative Anachronism, with their maces and hand-made chain mail. Whatever intangible these readers find missing in our time, whatever it is they're seeking in the past, they'll find also in this novel.

And then there's the science. This time period, these few short decades, plays host to an incredible pool of new thinking. Really, it's a new way of thinking, and the discoveries seem to be simply waiting for someone with a little interest and time and diligence to come along. It's not a matter of genius. Daniel Waterhouse and his contemporaries are mostly just curious people who have the time to experiment. We live in a time when it seems most discoveries are incredibly complex refinements of prior discovery, and those interested in science can't help but long for the sort of opening of an entire field of knowledge that takes place in this novel. Good science fiction deals at least as much with the consequences of its technology as the technology itself (a classic example of this is the ability to foresee not only the answering machine, but also that people would use an answering machine to screen calls). Stephenson, of course, does not have the luxury of forseeing anything, but he certainly writes of technology with wonder, and has organized this book in such a way as to suggest that the subject of the two upcoming volumes will be the consequences of this seventeenth-century burst of knowledge.

There is strength here, and a suggestion of something more, as a whole, to come.

Quicksilver also has its weaknesses. The lack of any point of reference between its first and second books is disturbing—it's just plain hard to start reading a completely new story, unexpectedly, after a few hundred pages of the old. Especially since the old story reaches no real resolution at its end. The future timeline in the first book, as well, is clumsy and unnecessary. I'd rather not know that Waterhouse lives into old age prior to seeing him in peril in his youth. It's just not dramatic.

Stephenson's humor is not always on key, and he has a way of being irreverent for its own sake: the spelling of Qwghlm, for example—it's not particularly funny, and it diminishes the sense of reality that the reader holds. It reminds me of his "joke" in Snow Crash of saying that BIOS, a computer term, stands for "Built In Operating System" (it doesn't). It reminds me of his steady use, in Cryptonomicon, of "Nipponese" to refer to the Japanese and "Finux" to refer to the operating system Linux. Stephenson is being different for the sake of being different, which is not the same as being funny.

This sort of thing doesn't hurt an absurdist novel like Snow Crash (indeed, on some level, it probably helps), but in historical fiction it simply deflates the suspension of disbelief. At one point I closed Quicksilver in disgust, as Eliza and Jack were discussing the habits of a certain Personage, who eats only "fish that had gone bad—quite some time ago," and spends his days searching out women who can pass something called the "sniff-test."

Stephenson also seems to have a strange obsession with kidney stones, which I don't care to elaborate upon.

And his dialogue here can be difficult to swallow. I first took it as a symptom of Stephenson's geekdom, his geekness, whatever the word—that he sounds, sometimes, like a fifteen-year-old dungeon master trying to talk like a medieval nobleman. We readers have a sniff-test of our own, and the first few stretches of dialogue place somewhere between day-old fish and the well-spoiled kind. And he's attached to archaic spellings, magicks and technologicks and æ ligatures, which on its own can be forgiven, but certainly contributes to the geek idea. But, well, it's simply a matter of growing accustomed to his language: To write seventeenth-century dialogue in modern idiom would be, plainly, wrong. Comical, even. But, as this is a twenty-first-century novel, to write it in Shakespearean English would be wrong as well. Stephenson has settled here on a compromise somewhere between the two—fairly elaborate English that is easily understood by modern readers, interspersed, occasionally, with clearly modern phrases. Once you grow accustomed to the smell, it works quite adequately.

Perhaps the strongest feature of this novel, in comparison to Stephenson's others, is simply that the complete lack of an ending is not, here, much of a detriment. Or, let me put it another way: If his previous work is any indication, he will not bother to tie together all of the sordid plot-threads of The Baroque Cycle until three pages from the end. He's notorious for his flaccid endings—but with Quicksilver, well, at least for now we can hope.

I'll be reading the next two volumes as they come out—if only to see if my theory on horse genealogies plays out. There's this horse named Turk that . . . well, we'll see.


Quicksilver : Volume One of the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
914 pages, Copyright © 2003 by Neal Stephenson
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0-380-97742-7



Quicksilver | The Confusion | The System of the World
~
The Baroque Cycle

Quicksilver is the compound secreted by the biosynthetic quicksilver gland in The Invisible Man (2000-2002 - SciFi).

By bending the visible light spectrum around the object coated in quicksilver, the object is rendered completely invisible to the naked eye. However, quicksilver does not completely bend other wavelengths of light, making it possible to see while 'quicksilvered', and also making it possible to see something that has been quicksilvered. Additionally, since light does not reach the surface of the quicksilver, and is simply refracted around it, the object's surface temperature drops to a very low temperature (approximately –10°C), rendering quicksilvered items visible to thermal systems such as thermal night-vision goggles.

Quicksilver acts as a neuroinhibitor, causing the host implanted with the gland to eventually go insane and become afflicted with quicksilver madness unless they receive regular injections of a counteragent to the effects of the quicksilver. This neutralises the excess quicksilver in the host’s bloodstream, curing them of quicksilver madness.

A hero published by Marvel Comics. Quicksilver was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in X-Men #4 in 1964.

Pietro Maximoff is the son of Eric Magnus Lensherr, the powerful mutant known as Magneto and his gypsy wife Magda. Magda fled Magneto and hid herself, fearing for the child she carried after discovering his powers and what he was capable of. Magda found her way to Wundagore Mountain and the realm of the evolved animals that were the subjects of the High Evolutionary. Bova, the bovine nursemaid, helped Magda to give birth to twins, Pietro and his sister Wanda. As soon as she was able, Magda fled Wundagore, hoping that her children would be safe if Magneto was to find her. It is believed that she died soon after.

Bova was soon approached by Robert Frank and his wife, who had formerly been the heroes the Whizzer and Miss America. The couple were expecting a child, but the pregnency had experienced difficulty and so the two did what any couple would do, which is turn to the nearest highly evolved cow that they could find. Mrs. Frank went into labor, but died due to complications. The baby was stillborn, and in an attempt to assuage Frank's grief, Bova presented Pietro and Wanda to him as his own children. Overcome by his loss, Frank fled leaving Bova with the twins and further complicating parental issues for the pair in years to come.

Bova finally gave the twins to a gypsy couple, the Maximoffs, to raise. The pair was raised by the Maximoffs for years, believing them to be their natural parents. Upon reaching puberty, the two began to show amazing powers. Pietro found that he could run and move at incredible speeds. When his adoptive father was caught trying to steal food for the family, the local villagers attacked their family. Pietro grabbed his sister and fled, but soon found that they had become lost and could not find their way home. This additional trauma in their already fractured life, caused the pair to suppress their memories of the Maximoffs.

For many years, the two wandered until Wanda's powers caused a fire which burned down a home. Accused of being a witch, she and her brother were attacked by some villagers, but the pair was rescued by their natural father Magneto, though none of them knew of their relationship. The pair was recruited by him and they became part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

The Brotherhood fought against the original X-Men on a number of occasions. The pair took the names of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and they stayed with the team until some of their members were taken into space by the mysterious Stranger. The twins returned to their Balkan home for a time, but were eventually asked to join the Avengers. Some of the founding members of this reknowned super hero team were leaving for personal reasons and Quicksilver and his sister, along with the bowman Hawkeye were asked to join. Fighting under the leadership of Captain America, the group made quite a strong showing for themselves.

During a battle with the Sentinals, Quicksilver experienced some serious injuries. He was discovered by the Inhumans and they took him in and treated his injuries. During this time, Quicksilver and the Inhuman named Crystal became romantically involved. They eventually married and Quicksilver went to live on the Moon with the rest of the Inhuman royal family. During this time, he worked with their militia.

The twins searched for their past and eventually discovered that neither the Maximoffs or the Franks were their true parents. Magneto eventually found Bova and discovered the truth of who his offspring are. Though the twins know who their father is, they have not embraced his beliefs.

Quicksilver and Crystal had a daughter named Luna, but their relationship became strained during this time, and Crystal cheated on her husband with a real estate agent. Their marriage broke up and Quicksilver began to seemingly breakdown from the strain. He sided with the agencies of the U.S. government and betrayed his fellow Avengers to them. He fought his former teammates in the company of a group of LMD versions of the Zodiac. He later attacked the Fantastic Four and even teamed with former Soviet agents in an attack on the Avengers. Eventually it was discovered the Quicksilver was being influenced by the Inhuman Maximus.

Quicksilver then joined the second incarnation of the team known as X-Factor. This team was run by the U.S. government, but evenually folded due to internal strife. Soon afterward, Crystal and Quicksilver were reconciled, but were separated by the sacrifice of Crystal and the other Avengers to defeat the villain Onslaught. Quicksilver joined the Knights of Wundagore, leading the evolved animal warriors in the defense of the mountain and the High Evolutionary. Crystal has since returned to Earth and the two continue to mend their relationship.

Quicksilver is a utility available for Mac OS X. Its function is analogous to that of a command line interface, any Mac OS 1-derived GUI, or any other way of interacting with a computer: it provides a scalable way to access, change, and organize data on your computer. It is developed by Blacktree, and Quicksilver and its source can be downloaded from http://www.quicksilver.blacktree.com. At the time of this writing, it is at version β49. Because of the depth and breadth of its functionality, it will not run on any operating system other than 10.4 (Tiger), although β35 for 10.3 (Panther) is still available.

From blacktree.com:

In the end, Quicksilver has one very important effect: the effort of frequent tasks fades into the background and you are able to act without thinking. After an adaptation period, Quicksilver becomes an extension of yourself; the process fades away leaving only the results.

A properly configured Quicksilver will make you understand and use your computer on a level that was previously only possible for hackers in cheesy movies. I am not exaggerating. Quicksilver is so powerful that when you attempt to explain it to your friends, you will be at a loss for words. It makes menial tasks trivial, it exposes functionality in a way that programs and the OS can't easily do, and it makes the interconnectedness of programs and data in OS X into something that makes a nerd's heartstrings quiver.

When you first get Quicksilver, you will probably use it as a file launcher. This is fine. It can do this very powerfully and effectively. When setting up Quicksilver, you configure "catalogs" — basically, sources of data. These can be volumes, directories, and (once you start using plugins) more interesting things. We'll get to that later. When you configure directories, Quicksilver gives you (among other things) the option of specifying the subdirectory depth to which it indexes data, the ability to restrict the indexing to specified file types, and the ability to remove any indexed item from the catalog.

Once you have the directories you want to access configured and indexed, opening Quicksilver's Command Window (which can be done by a hotkey, by opening Quicksilver from the hard drive or any file launching system, or other fashions, depending on your plugin configuration) and beginning to type will present you with Quicksilver's best guess as to what you want to open. This will change over time as you use Quicksilver, as the utility maintains a constantly-evolving dictionary of what you have typed in the past in order to match commonly-typed inputs with the data you want. It is important to note that Quicksilver is performing subsequence matching for what you type: if you want to open, say, Adobe Photoshop, "adobe" can be just as effective as "aphoto", or, in my case, "ps." When you first start using Quicksilver, it won't be amazing at this. You will have to train it. The easiest way to do this is simply to use it frequently. It will start to build up its dictionaries. You can also locate anything with Quicksilver (or find it using the Finder and press Command-Escape, which will open the Command Window with that file selected) and assign it the abbreviation of your choice. This brings us neatly to the Action Pane.

Actions are the heart and soul of Quicksilver. When you find a file, you can click into the Action Pane (or tab to it, or space-bar to it, or simply start typing in capital letters, depending on how you have configured Quicksilver) and find an Action. Quicksilver has many, many Actions. With plugins, my Quicksilver currently has 233 Actions in 11 categories. Limiting myself to File and Folder Actions for the time being, these range from Open, Open With…, Raise Priority (for a running process), Compress (using any of five common compression techniques), Email To…, Get File Path, as well as any action from the Mac OS' Services menu, which are automatically imported into Quicksilver with the appropriate plugin.

Some Actions require a third datum: these range from a folder to move something to, a program to send it to, a line of text to alter it with, a contact from your Address Book, and many others. When these are needed, a third pane appears. When they are not, it is hidden. Think of it as an argument to the Action.

If this sounds confusing, it should be. It will become very clear as soon as you use Quicksilver. Quicksilver is more adaptive, more configurable, and more intuitive than anything else you have ever used. You can restrict it to be very weak or expand it to be so powerful that the Finder, Dock, Menubar, and most other parts of the Mac OS GUI are unnecessary fluff. Let me demonstrate this by explaining plugins.

Quicksilver has many plugins. Some give Quicksilver the ability to interact with specific programs: the Address Book plugin lets you access contacts (or any field within a contact: I can type in a friend's name and send their phone number to Skype, or their e-mail address to Thunderbird, or simply dump the contents of a field into whatever is the active program); the Terminal plugin adds Actions related to the command-line; the Transmit plugin gives me FTP and SSH actions through the program Transmit. Some add useful features to Quicksilver: the Extra Scripts plugin gives you Applescripts to control shutdown and sleep, open keyboard utilities, find your IP address, and more; the Growl plugin makes Quicksilver Growl-compatible (check out http://www.growl.info for information on Growl, another very cool utility); the Mouse Triggers plugin makes Triggers (basically stored Quicksilver commands) activatable with the corners and sides of the screen and any number of modifier keys. Some plugins give you a new appearance to Quicksilver: you can have the Command Window have a number of different shapes and layouts, be very compact and roll down to cover the Menubar, or mimic the look of Spotlight (which, interestingly enough, complements Quicksilver instead of being superseded by it). Finding and installing plugins is integrated within Quicksilver: one of the panes in its Preferences lists all known plugins, and they are automatically downloaded, installed, activated, deactivated, and reactivated by checkboxes.

It is quite simple to develop plugins: Quicksilver has a large and helpful developer community attached to itself. Plugins can be written in Objective-C or PyObjC, an extension of Python which gives it those parts of Objective-C necessary to interact with other heavily Cocoa-oriented programs. If you don't know either of these, Quicksilver can be quickly and effectively extended with Applescripts.

Quicksilver has many other features I haven't mentioned here. You can develop a library of triggers, which are macros that can perform any Quicksilver command, be layered, and get activated through keyboard combinations, a variety of mouse actions, or even gestures. You can stack data and perform mass actions on them; you can quickly and easily navigate layers of subdirectories, whether on the hard drive or metaphorically in, say, your music library; you can locate a program and press right to access program data that a plugin has taught Quicksilver about (such as locating the Address Book and pressing right to access contacts, locating iTunes and pressing right to be given the choice of navigating iPod-style through artists, songs, playlists, and others); you can locate a program and press option-right to access package contents (if you don't understand that, don't worry). Of course, Quicksilver is utterly beautiful. It uses all of the silly little effects that Core Graphics gives to developers: panes and menus slide, spin, fade, and change in ways that another operating system simply would not be able to handle. None of this interferes with the utility of Quicksilver: it's just nice to know that the most useful program on your computer is also the best-looking.

I cannot recommend Quicksilver highly enough. It took me the better part of a year to become a power user with it, but using a computer without it now feels clunky and awkward. It embodies everything that is right about the Mac OS and wrong about Windows. Quicksilver knows what I like, and brings it to me the way I want it. It takes full advantage of the interactions between programs that are coming to the fore in OS X. It looks fantastic, runs cleanly, and makes plenty of other programs and technologies obsolete. It is very cool to know that I can start typing, and my favorite programs will appear, that if I type in a URL, I can just Open it and Quicksilver will know which program to handle it with (or I can force that URL into any other program that thinks it knows how to handle it), that if want somebody's work fax number, it will take about ten keystrokes to find it. If you have a Mac running OS 10.4, you owe it to yourself to download and install Quicksilver. It is the future of interacting with your computer.


To find out more about Quicksilver and its use, explore the following:

Quick"sil`ver (?), n. [Quick living + silver; -- so called from its fluidity; cf. G. quecksilber, L. argentum vivum. See Quick, a.] Chem.

The metal mercury; -- so called from its resemblance to liquid silver.

Quicksilver horizon, a mercurial artificial horizon. See under Horizon. -- Quicksilver water, a solution of mercury nitrate used in artificial silvering; quick water.

 

© Webster 1913.

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