March 10, 2018


I think I may have a keyboard problem.

Pok3r Pok3r

This is the Pok3r. It is a wonderful-feeling keyboard featuring blue Cherry MX switches. It clicks and clacks, giving that feeling of typing important things. The size is also pretty awesome. Pok3r is a so called 60% keyboard, meaning it not only lacks the numerical island to the right, but also function keys, arrow keys and even the duplicate Windows/command keys. I love the size in itself, but the thing definitely has a learning curve. To arrow around, and perform a whole lot of other keypresses such as home, end, page up and down, and so on, you need to use the fn key. Pok3r places the arrows on I, J, K, and L, which I realized is right where Vim users want their movement. Additionally, the fn key is placed on the lower right, meaning using arrows requires folding the right thumb below the hand or some other contortion.

This was the major stumbling point for me starting out, and I initially thought this was proof my keyboard size was full or tenkeyless but no smaller.

But as so often, sticking wiht things just a bit, some reading and some talking to people with more experience quickly made little dents into my hesitation.

First, I started reading up, checking out some reviews and looking into just what people used all the programmability of the Pok3r for. Pok3r lets you have three programmable layers in addition to the default keyboard (where the keys do what they say), and it also has a set of little switches underneath to alter the layout. Most of them are about layout: you can go change between the standard Qwerty, Dvorak and a third one I keep forgetting. There is also a switch to allow free remapping of almost all keys (by default some can not me changed). Finally, and most importantly to me, the last switch changes caps lock to also work as the fn key.

That one change made all the difference to me. No more twisting my right hand to arrow, I now have the fn key right below my left pinky, right on the home row. It still requires more key presisng than on a standard keyboard, but perhaps having all the keys needed right on the home row makes up for that in the long run? I can not deny that it feels neat to do, even though I am still much slower moving the cursor this way.

Pok3r next to 12-inch Macbook keyboard Pok3r next to 12-inch Macbook keyboard

Also required was Macos builtin ability to switch the position of the command and alt keys. While par for the course when using any non-Mac-adapted keyboard, it had an added bonus on the Pok3r. The kebyoard is so tight they chose to only put one command key on it, on the left side, but they kept alt on both sides. I rarely use the right-side alt since I am on a Mac where there is no alt-gr, so now I got two command keys again instead. Big win.

I loved the look and feel of the Pok3r right away, but in the beginning I seriously doubted I would give it much use. One week later, I am surprised at how well I have adapted, and I still enjoy typing on it just as much. This might just be the beginning of a long, happy story.

(Unless sensitive ears around me forbid its use.)

March 04, 2018

High definition

I love good screens. Give me larger and brighter. But also give me more pixels per inch, higher resolutions, and retina-style goodness. Plus, of course, better color reproduction, HDR and the widest color spaces we can find. I probably miss a lot of subtle details, but I do seem to care - and notice - more things like this than most people I socialize with. I notice if my screens are retina or not, I notice scaling and blurs, and so on.

This Friday, I got new glasses for the first time in many years, and I still feel as if I went from standard definition to high definition and retina. There are so many fine lines! So much texture and detail! And they are all so sharp!

Changes to eyesight is a devious, sneaky process. So slow you are almost guaranteed not to notice until you get an examination and see what new lenses can do for you. An almost silly twist is that these new glasses are adjusted to be used for working in front of screens all day. The adjustment is that they are made somewhat weaker than regular glasses would be. I can not imagine things looking any sharper and clearer at the moment, but I know I need to replace my regular glasses soon because this improvement is just too great. Especially when you consider it is from a situation where I could do everything I want perfectly fine and did not suffer any head or neck aches or other ailments. I would never have guessed there was this much improvement to be wrung out of the part of the scale between "perfectly fine" and "insanely great". Or rather, I did not imagine the scale stretched this far beyond what I alredy had.

Side note

I never noticed before how awesomely Blade runner-cool the machines used for checking eyesight and finding better lenses really are. All the lense-type action going on in Blade runner 2049 must be lifted straight from those machines. They feel solid, business-like. They whirr and views briefly distort as lenses are rotated through. And of course, you also get those moments of amazing clarity as things come into focuse, kind of like the zoom and enchance effects we already knew no computer could do.

March 03, 2018

Books I have read

Books and other literature I have read, in, somewhat uncertain, reverse chronological order. The list starts from the summer of 2008, and my main purpose with it is to be able to see what I have actually been reading. I do feel that I read many quite good books, but I never seem to be able to recall what I have recently read when asked for recommendations.

February 26, 2018

Home screening, part 2

There, that is more like it:

Iphone home screen, February 2018 edition Iphone home screen, February 2018 edition

So, Rands made a follow-up post with some neat home screens readers had sent him. I clicked through to the originating Twitter thread and found both some seemingly impossible icon layouts as well as their explanation: Makeovr. The service processes an uploaded image of your home screen, then allows you to place web shortcuts on your home screen with the appropriate section of your background image as their icon. Deeply clever and also clearly limited, it is the perfect kind of sleight of hand to be worth doing. To never break the illusion, you are recommended to turn off the background perspective effect and also enable reduced motion. I decided the first was enough for me, so I can notice the icons when exiting apps and similar. I also realized turning a plus-sized phone into landscape mode naturally and severely breaks the illusion, making the breakage on zoom effects feel less severe.

Fun times! And I have to say it makes a rather noticeable usability difference to have those icons in the bottom row. Perhaps Apple will one day change the icon layout to start from the bottom and build up?

Oh, and could new apps come dropping in from above, Tetris-style?

February 24, 2018

Home screening

Jocke and I (along with the rest of the world) have been discussing social media and the negative habits we form around it for a while. Jocke has removed all the social apps from his phone and I sort of want to decrease my use even more as well.

Then I read Rands writings about his phone home screen. Finding some sort of inspiration in the empty spot he kept on the bottom-right, I took a long hard look at my own home screen. Then I shuffled it around, and now I am not quite sure where anything is anymore.

Iphone home screen, February 2018 edition Iphone home screen, February 2018 edition

It is all new and interesting and I think I am on a nice track, but this surely is not the final layout. I really like having empty space, but it is super annoying that it has to be in the most reachable spots on the screen. I may well end up re-filling the screen just to make things more reachable.

I have almost always been a Facebook-in-the-browser-user, so I could not tuck it away any more than I already had. Instagram and Tweetbot, however, got moved into the second page of the "Resten" folder, and I do think that has helped put them somewhat farther out of mind. (Discord being visible is kind of nice, I have so few interactions there it does not feel like a lure yet.)

Next moves

Despite all this purging, there are still some apps which need to defend their spot, the pair of Photos and Google photos being the ones who should worry the most. Google maps is also something of a question mark, getting to stay mainly because when I am on the move and do need a map it is good to have it as close by as possible. Most days, though, it could easily live deep inside a folder. Having my banking app that close at hand feels a bit superfluous too, now that I think about it …

And the clock app? How often do I really adjust my alarms, and am I ever in a rush to do so? Hardly.

Out of the social

Of course, the real trick is not to just put the distractions away, but to fill their moments with better things. Replacing a smoking habit with a drinking problem would kind of suck, but the last time Jocke and I talked about this it struck me that longer form reading is what I should try. Instapaper has always been on my home screen, but I have plenty of things worthy of attention inside of Ibooks as well (and I regularly rediscover how easy it is to send new reading material there these days).

Making grand promises is not my style, but this seems like a path worth pursuing and the first few days have been nice.