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Comment cross-platform remapping (Score 1) 646 646

I actually use Linux, OS X and occasionally Windows at work. (I work on Qt, so I need to be able to test bugs and features on every supported platform.) I use the same keyboard for all of them, on a KVM. It's not so hard to get capslock to be the control key on all of them. (On Linux though, that means remapping it on both the console and in X11 and Wayland globally, not just in some desktop environment's control panel.) But then after using OS X I have grown to like the idea of keeping control (as used on the terminal) separate from command (as used to copy and paste text and other such things, even in the terminal window). I'd like to find a way to make that consistent everywhere. I think I will find a way on Linux. But first I want to have an ergo keyboard with a real command key. (Thus the ergodox, with its customizable firmware.)

For now though, on a regular ergo keyboard, capslock is control, and control is also control on Linux and Windows, whereas on OS X I map capslock to control and control to command and the windows key to command, so that I can develop portable muscle-memory: I use the same key for control-C or command-C regardless of OS when I want to copy text, and the same capslock key for control-C to stop a running program, for example. And the windows key is closer to where the command key is on a MacBook Pro, so if I hit that one by accident it still works, whereas the windows key has no other use on OS X.

It IMO doesn't make as much sense to remap the windows key, because it has its own uses in various Linux desktops and window managers now. So, the more bucky keys, the better; it seems I actually use 5 of them now: control, command, alt, window and compose. Oh, and shift, of course. The window key is still the least useful though. Can't decide whether I prefer using window-mouse-drag or alt-mouse-drag for moving windows around. There is some inconsistency about that between openbox, awesome and weston.

I was using a model-M at home, with no Windows key, but my wife complained that she couldn't sleep, so that's the trouble with that. But then I had to try to use the two alt keys more effectively. The right one has to be compose if you need compose, whereas if you also have a menu key, you could use that for compose. I live in Norway now, and don't want to get used to Norwegian keyboards because they are too different (lots of odd and unnecessary changes), because I don't actually write much in the Norwegian language, and because I will never be able to switch completely due to having lots of old hardware. So I use compose for writing the 3 extra characters ø å and æ. I think it's an intuitive and extensible way to handle all the accented characters, and everyone should have a convenient way of typing them, even if they are only needed in rare cases.

After I switch to ergodox, I wonder if it's going to get really hard to use other keyboards though.

Comment ErgoDox might be the future (Score 1) 646 646

I have ordered a couple variants of these; haven't received either of them yet. But it sounds good in theory. And there are no IP issues: it's an open-source design, with open-source firmware, completely programmable so that each user can customize his own layout. (For the first time I'll have a keyboard I really "own".) The keyboard can still be made flat (although usually the two halves are positioned independently), so any laptop manufacturer could even start shipping with this kind of layout. I hope that will happen at some point.

The main points are that the two halves are rotated to a better angle to reduce strain, and also that the thumbs are able to operate several keys each, not just the spacebar.

What to do with capslock is such a minor issue compared to everything else that's wrong with QWERTY. This is why, despite being quite a fast typist, and not suffering particularly much wrist pain, I nevertheless feel that it's time to try something more efficient. I do have some shoulder pain sometimes, so figured maybe that's from having to hold my hands too close together in front of me. It's worse when I use a laptop too much, whereas at work I've been using an old Microsoft 4000 ergo keyboard for years.

Now if they would just ship... ;-)

An similar alternative is keyboard.io. From one side, I wish I'd waited for their crowdfunding campaign to get started, because it's gorgeous, and I love the wooden-case idea. From another side, I think theirs is going to be less customizable: every key has a different shape, so you can't have printed rearrangeable keycaps, e.g. if you want to try colemak you have to ignore the legends on the keys, or get keys without legends. And they are definitely not going to ship until the middle of next year, either.

Comment install development tools on the embedded system (Score 1) 257 257

See also the story about the Amiga HVAC controller which someone else already linked to...

If the system is expected to run for 25 years, then it should still be able to run its own compiler in 25 years too. As long as it's not underpowered, it should be able to build its own software. So do the development that way too. Although I do wonder if flash storage is up to a 25-year lifespan.

Comment arduino (Score 1) 608 608

But on the flip side, it amazes me that some not-so-geeky people manage to make use of Arduinos. The whole package is a not-so-thick veneer over plain Atmel C programming, and yet it opened up the chance for many times more people than would have ever managed with the Atmel-provided IDE. And then there's Processing for an even less-geeky approach.

Web technology is just stupid... all the usual languages are bad ones, and even if you manage to find a cool language to develop in, you still have to use it to translate everything to XML and Javascript at the end. Web 3.0 will hopefully happen eventually. The language of the future should be declarative and imperative at the same time, extensible at the metalanguage level so that it can be adapted for every task on both client and server, and with elegant syntax too. I don't enjoy web programming as much as writing applications and frameworks, not because I couldn't learn enough about the technology but because it's kindof disgusting. And now it's hard to switch away from "the browser" to something else, because the replacement would have to be more compelling on so many levels that people would actually use it, and avoid getting corrupted too early with commercials and spying and malware and crap. It should be clean and elegant and there should be some kind of self-enforcing social contract that keeps it that way. I suppose that part is impossible though...

Comment mitosis (Score 1) 324 324

Experience has shown that cell division is just a precursor to further growth.

How about we go back to having an unambiguously named War Department which is in recess whenever there is not war (which should be most of the time), and abolish the rest of the agencies that are determined to make enemies of everyone possible? Policing the people should be a matter for the states anyway.

Comment We saw it coming (Score 5, Informative) 535 535

I worked at Nokia from 2011-2012. Everyone was saying then that the reason for Elop (who was otherwise so useless) was to devalue Nokia enough that it would be a good deal for Microsoft. And here we are... the other shoe drops. But there will be a third shoe when he becomes CEO of Microsoft. They deserve each other.

Comment Re:The singularity has been "near" for decades. (Score 2) 244 244

Siri? Google Glass and the apps that run on it? Google Voice turning your voicemails into emails as fast as you receive them? Turn-by-turn directions developed independently by several companies? This stuff used to be called AI.

Comment Good idea to teach about it (Score 1) 704 704

A course that covers the history of software would be about as useful as, say, music appreciation or art history. It could be taught in a non-CS department just to get some of that liberal arts flavor, maybe even count as one of the required humanities credits.

Comment Re:Let's go retro... (Score 1) 590 590

That's a good idea actually. It just takes a lot of space relative to the cargo it can carry, but the sky is big so what the heck. I suppose it's just not going to be fast enough for passenger transport.

Maybe if the envelope was e-ink, you could make it rise by turning it black (to absorb sun) and fall by turning it white. Or use a tether to raise and lower the cargo so that you don't have to completely land in order to "drop-ship" something. Not that it would work so well when the wind is blowing...

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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