Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A better use of Caps Lock

One of the best ideas of Colemak is to remap the Caps Lock key to the backward deletion action. I never type in all caps anyways (who does?), but I mistype things all the time, especially now that I'm learning a new layout. Moving backward deletion to the Caps Lock key also freed up my Backspace key, which I in turn mapped to the forward deletion action, an action which my compact keyboard previously required a highly awkward combo to achieve. Am I happy? Yup.

Unfortunately, though, the Colemak that came bundled with Yosemite did not make the magic happen by itself. Or maybe it was not unfortunate at all, seeing that the solution also work for any layout, including my beloved Dvorak (in case I decide to go back). These are the instructions I followed (for Yosemite):
  1. Download and install Seil.
  2. In System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard (the tab) -> Modifier Keys, select "No Action" for Caps Lock. Remember to do this for all your keyboards in the drop-down list (see picture; if you don't, then pressing and holding to delete multiple characters might not work).
  3. Open Seil, and select "Change the caps lock key." Keycode 51 is for the backward deletion action, which is also the default.
  4. In Seil under "Other keys," the delete key can also be remapped. Keycode 117 is for the forward deletion action.
  5. Quit Seil and reboot for changes to take effect.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Colemak: Yet another keyboard layout

(It has been a while since last time. I don't feel sorry; it was never my intention to update regularly. Many things have happened which deserves a mention on the blog, most of which I have already forgotten; some of which I will never forget)

I am writing today because I foolishly decided to learn the Colemak keyboard layout. This in spite that I already write fluently in the rivalling ergonomic layout Dvorak, and that I am to present my master's thesis in less than a week. Writing this short paragraph has already given me a mild headache due to the vast number of characters required to make the words come together, each of which demanding my full attention. If someone gave me a penny for every character I wrote, my thesis alone would have earned me a respectable $1,427.50. If I then sold the pennies for their copper, that would yield a whopping $2,148.42. Enough to buy a new iPhone. And an Apple TV. And an Apple Watch. At least a non-exclusive version.

It all started because I co-inspired two classmates to switch layouts. However, they didn't switch to just plain old Dvorak, which was what I taught myself 15 years ago; these guys were betting on newer and fancier layouts more tailored towards computer scientists, namely Colemak and Programmer Dvorak. Admittedly, some special characters common to programming were awkwardly placed on my Dvorak layout, such as [] and {}. Thus, I wanted something better too. So here I am.

Of course, I first tried Programmer Dvorak. I really liked the idea with special characters as default on the number row, and as a Dvorak native, I learned it quickly. However, some of the most common symbols and numbers (for instance =,*,0,1) had an outright horrendous placement in the unreachable middle of the row. Yack.

So now I am typing my first lines of Colemak. We'll see for how long.