I recently built an Atreus keyboard.
This keyboard is an extremely small keyboard with only 42 keys.
Below is the photo of my result.
As you can see, it has a split layout and the keys are aligned vertically and staggered.
Thanks to using Ergodox keyboards since 2014, I’m very used to this key layout and find it superior to traditional keyboards.
The keyboard is very small.
To give you an idea of how small it is, here is a photo of it next to one of my Ergodox keyboards and with a bit of my fingers in the shot.
Building the keyboard was pretty straight forward.
The included instructions are thorough and include plenty of photos.
All of the components are through-hole so the soldering is not difficult.
This would be a good first keyboard project.
I already had USB cable, key switches, key caps, and a micro-controller so I purchased the partial kit from Phil.
It came with everything else, except for something to coat the wood, that you need to build the keyboard.
I wanted to connect the keyboard to USB C ports, so I used a micro to USB C cable.
I enjoyed the color of the laser cut wood and appreciated the burn marks.
I didn’t want to lose the color or burns so I coated the wood with a water based clear polyurethane with a satin finish.
This was probably the most difficult part of the build, and it was pretty easy, simply because I lack experience finishing wood.
When reading other build logs I noticed that someone else put a zip tie on their USB cable to help prevent it from tugging on the micro-controller.
I have no idea how helpful this is but it seemed like a good thing to do so I also did it.
To do this you basically just wrap the cable with a zip tie and cram it against the case so that the zip tie prevents tugging on the micro-controller.
You can see it in the picture below.
I’ve only been typing on the keyboard for basically this blog post but I’ve already found myself adapting to it pretty quickly.
I don’t intend for it to replace my Ergodox for normal usage but I think it will be a great portable keyboard.
Overall it was a fun project and I’m glad I did it.
I look forward to customizing the firmware to make the key layout fit my usage.
I’ve owned a Onewheel XR for about a year now. It is a one-wheeled electric skateboard-like device that is super fun for zipping around Chicago.
When I first got it, I purchased a small guitar stand. It worked but it was always a bit finicky and I was never satisfied with it. I had to sit the Onewheel on it just right to have it stay on it without causing the legs of the stand to spread too wide.
I grew frustrated with these non-purpose built stands and started looking into purchasing a Onewheel stand. There are plenty of beautiful stands out there, both officially from Future Motion and from third party vendors like The Float Life.
Then I remembered that my old coworker, Tom Marsh, built his own and put the plans online. This inspired me to go the DIY route.
I thought that a stand made out of pipe would look pretty good and be easy to construct. It also gave me a good excuse to ride my Onewheel to Home Depot.
I explored the plumbing section of Home Depot and bought a variety of pipe and pipe fittings and took them back home to experiment with putting them together.
I ended up building the stand below.
I think the above stand looks great and it was easy to build.
Here is the part list:
2 ½ inch x 8 inch nipple
1 ½ inch x 6 inch nipple
2 ½ inch x 3 inch nipple
2 ½ inch 90 degree elbow
2 ½ inch 3-way side outlet
2 ½ inch cap
I washed off the black coating using Goo Gone and then assembled the stand. This ups the risk of rust but I think that might actually look cool so I’m not too worried about it. You could optionally coat the pipes for some protection.
Once you have the parts the assembly is very straight forward. The only additional work I might do is to put some rubber feet on the bottom to prevent scratches to my floor.
Last fall I started to work in an office again. I’ve used a hand-built Ergodox for years now and really prefer working on it. This meant I needed another ergodox for the office. Luckily, now you don’t have to build your own. I bought an Ergodox EZ1.
The Ergodox EZ uses the QMK firmware. This has a lot of fancier options than the firmware I had been using on my hand-built ergodox.
This mostly didn’t matter and I just configured the Ergodox EZ to match my original Ergodox’s layout. Then I started a new job and found myself programming in Scala using IntelliJ IDEA.
Shockingly, after not using IntelliJ for years, I still remembered many of the keyboard shortcuts. This was great! Unfortunately, in my years since last using IntelliJ, I created some conflicting keyboard shortcuts for managing my window layout. These were mostly shortcuts that involved holding Command + Alt and pushing an arrow key. Luckily, the QMK firmware supports a Meh key.
What is the Meh key? It is a key that presses Control + Alt + Shift all at the same time.
This is great for setting up shortcuts that don’t conflict with ones found in most normal programs. This let me change my window manger shortcuts to use the Meh key and I was then conflict free.
I can’t handle having different shortcuts across different machines with the same OS, so I needed to needed to update my original Ergodox to use the QMK firmware so I could also have a Meh key at home. Luckily, the QMK firmware also works on it and, maybe even more luckily, the Ergodox EZ firmware just works with my original Ergodox.
This actually means I can simply take the compiled Ergodox EZ firmware and flash it straight to my Ergodox. Any time I’ve done this the keyboard keeps working.
Unfortunately, the LEDs in my original Ergodox are mostly hidden by non-translucent keys. These LEDs indicate when I’m not main layer and I find them really useful. I only have a single translucent keycap and would prefer only that LED to be used.
This snippet gets added to the bottom of the keymap.c. It only turns on led 1, which is the one under my translucent key, whenever my keyboard isn’t on layer 0.
Now, I can use the fancy Meh key to be conflict free and easily tell when I’m not on my main layer. This is wonderful.
I bought one with Cherry MX Clear switches. I’ve since switched them to Cherry MX Browns. The clears were too firm for me. I did not get Cherry MX Blues because I didn’t want my fellow coworkers to be annoyed by the glorious clickty-clack of those switches.↩
Over the years, I’ve read many articles about the negative aspects of social media. You’ve probably read articles extolling the benefits of cutting social media out of your life. These articles are abundant and easy to find through a search for “stop social media” or “quit social media”.
Social media hasn’t played a significant role in my life for a couple of years. I first started being more mindful of how I consumed social media in 2013. Back then, I temporarily switched to using a feature phone (a non-smart phone) for a month and a half. This really reset my relationship with consuming media on a phone. Since my phone was my primary entry point into Twitter and Facebook, my usage of both plummeted.
Since then, I’ve continued to take a careful look at how I use social media and have made tweaks to get maximum enjoyment with minimal downsides. This has involved changing how I use the desktop web applications for both Twitter and Facebook1.
The following books have helped shape my thinking towards digital distractions. They’ve put into words some of the practices I stumbled into. They’ve affected how I use smart phones and how I approach social media.
One of the ideas in both Digital Minimalism and Essentialism is that you can pick and choose what you add to your life. This extends to individual features of products you use. This is something I arrived at prior to reading these books and it was nice hearing others putting this idea into words.
Below is how I’ve chosen to use various social media platforms.
I only consume Twitter on my computer and I read it through Tweetdeck.
I don’t check my entire feed. Instead, I have Tweetdeck setup to display a few curated lists of accounts along with mentions and direct messages. One list is composed of close friends, another highlights some people in the software development space, and another contains some Twitter art projects.
Because I focus on a limited number of accounts, I don’t have an infinite list to scroll through. This focus keeps Twitter useful to me and allows me to check it every few days and still stay up to date on topics I care about.
I rarely tweet but when I do it is usually to promote my own or another person’s writing. I also occasionally tweet as an art bot.
I only consume Facebook on my computer and mostly stopped using the website in 2016. The 2016 US presidential election made me realize I didn’t find the Facebook news feed useful. It did not add positive value to my life.
That is when I found the News Feed Eradicator Chrome extension. This extension gets rid of the news feed. It is great.
Without the news feed, I no longer open the site and mindlessly scroll through the firehose of updates. I no longer know what is going on in the curated lives of my friends that still use Facebook. That is ok. Now when I run into them in real life, I can catch up and learn about their kids and their lives. I can have an honest reaction to learning that someone got married instead of sort of already knowing it. Someone can tell me about a trip they took and can show me photos I’ve never seen before.
I haven’t completely deleted my Facebook account because it does add value to my life through a couple of groups and Facebook messenger. Only using these features has reduced the frequency I visit Facebook to once every few days. That is more than enough to keep up with what is going in in the Chicago climbing community and events going on at local climbing gyms.
I rarely post to Facebook but when I do it is often to promote something I’ve written.
I’m not really sure if Goodreads counts as a social media site. I use it to keep track books I want to read and books I’ve already read. It isn’t something that consumes any amount of my time mindlessly.
I’m not sure if you can consider my usage of LinkedIn to be actual usage. It mostly results in email in my inbox that almost immediately gets archived. It does keep me somewhat informed about what job opportunities are out there though recruiter outreach.
I very rarely post anything to LinkedIn.
I’ll completely admit that this is the social media platform that I waste time on. It is the only social media app on my phone and that increases how frequently I use it.
I signed up for Instagram in order to follow tattoo artists. This helped me learn what tattoo styles I enjoyed the most. This was a huge success and now I have a much better appreciation and eye for this art.
Eventually, my usage of Instagram expanded to follow some friends, local Chicago artists, and professional rock climbers. Following each of these groups is slightly beneficial but I’m not sure if it is an overall positive impact compared to the temptation to fill downtime with Instagram scrolling.
I’m approaching the point of deleting Instagram from my phone and experiencing that.
I post occasionally to Instagram both using the story feature and normal posts. These are usually photos of some street art or stickers put up in Chicago. It is very infrequent.
So that is how I consume social media. It mostly happens on my computer and I use a subset of features a platform offers. I’ve reached a point where I feel like I’m getting a lot of the pros without too many of the cons.
It is an area in which I’ll keep experimenting. I’d encourage you to as well. Try a different usage pattern for an extended period of time and then reflect on your changed behavior. Keep the changes that have made a positive impact.
Ignoring LinkedIn and Goodreads, I think Facebook and Twitter were the only social media platforms I used back then.↩
Today I released lein-test-refresh0.24.11. I don’t always announce new lein-test-refresh versions with an article but this release breaks some existing behavior so I thought it was worth it.
Each of these changes is the direct result of interacting with four different lein-test-refresh users. Some of this took place on GitHub and others through email. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to think about improvements and notice oddities and bring them to my attention.
Breaking change: Monitoring keystrokes to perform actions
Prior to this release, if you hit Ctrl-D then STDIN reads an EOF and test-refresh would quit. With version 0.24.1, test-refresh no longer does that. Instead, it stops monitoring for input and just keeps running tests. Since it stops monitoring for input it no longer notices when you hit Enter to cause your tests to rerun. You can still stop lein test-refresh by sending a SIGINT with Ctrl-C.
This change was made because there is some combination of environments where if test-refresh execs /bin/bash then it receives an EOF on STDIN. Before this change, that means test-refresh would quit unexpectedly. Now it will keep going.
Thanks Alan Thompson for bringing this to my attention and taking the time to help diagnose the problem.
You can supply your own narrowing test selector
Being able to tell test-refresh to narrow its focus by adding :test-refresh/focus as metadata on a test or namespace has quickly become a favorite feature of many users. Now you can configure a shorter keyword by specifying configuration in your profile. See the sample project.clj for how to set this up.
I’ve turned down this feature in the past but a narrower request came up and I thought it seemed useful. test-refresh now exposes a function you can call in a repl to run test-refresh in that repl. This makes the repl useless for any other task. To do this, first add lein-test-refresh as a dependency instead of a plugin to your project.clj. Then, require the namespace and call the function passing in one or more paths to your test directories. Example below.
This request was done so that you can run it in Cursive’s repl and gain the ability to click on stacktraces. Thanks Klaus Wuestefeld for bringing this up again with a really solid and focused use case.
If the error reporting failed, I didn’t want to trigger reporting another error or completely lose that error. I decided to log a reporting error to the console. I wanted to write a test showing that errors reporting errors were handled so that a future me, or another developer, didn’t accidentally remove this special error handling and enable a never ending cycle of of reporting failed reporting attempts.
It took me a while to figure out how to do this. I searched the web and found various articles about using Jasmine to do async tests. They were helpful but I also wanted to mock out a function, console.error, and assert that it was called. None of the examples I found were explicit about doing something like this. I forget how many different approaches I tried, but it took a while to figure out the below solution.
This uses spyOn to mock out fetch and console.error. The fetch call is told to return a rejected Promise. The console.error spy is a bit more interesting.
The console.error spy is told to call a fake function. That function asserts that the console.error spy has been called. More importantly, it also calls a done function. That done function is a callback passed to your test by Jasmine. Calling done signals that your async work is completed.
If done is never called then Jasmine will fail the test after some amount of time. By calling done in our console.error fake, we’re able to signal to Jasmine that we’ve handled the rejected promise.
You don’t actually need the expect(console.error).toHaveBeenCalled(); as done won’t be called unless console.error has been called. If you don’t have it though then Jasmine will complain there are no assertions in the test.
So there we have it, an example of using some of Jasmine’s asynchronous test features with spies. I wish I had found an article like this when I started this task. Hopefully it saves you, and future me, some time.
Leiningen test selectors are great. They allow you to filter what tests run by applying a function to the test’s metadata. If that function returns a truthy value then that test will run. lein-test-refresh supports them and even includes a built in one for its focus feature.
I was recently asked if test-refresh could support filtering tests using a regular expression against the name of a namespace or test. Lucky for me, test-refresh already supports this because of its support of test selectors.
Most of the examples of Leiningen test selectors show very simple functions that look for the existence of a keyword in the metadata. We can do more than that. We can write a predicate that does whatever we want with the metadata.
To take a look at a test’s metadata, I generated a new project and looked at the generated default test file.
(ns selector.core-test(:require[clojure.test:refer:all][selector.core:refer:all]))(deftesta-test(testing"FIXME, I fail."(is(= 01))))
I then used my repl and to see what metadata was on the test.
The setup linked above works great for when I’m doing work all by myself. It showed a problem when using ssh and tmux to pair with another developer. Instead of both developers receiving a notification, only one did. One is better than none but not ideal.
Below is a GIF showing the problem. Each window simulates a different developer.
This wasn’t too hard to fix. A little digging through the tmux manpage shows that tmux display-message takes an optional flag telling it which client receives the message. If we can get a list of all the clients then iterating over them and sending a message to each is straightforward.
tmux list-clients give us this list. Below is the output.
We can combine that with xargs to send a message to multiple clients.
That command is a bit much to put into lein-test-refresh’s configuration so I shoved it in a script called notify and configured lein-test-refresh to use it. Script and GIF of that below. Now both you and your pair can get notifications.
At the beginning of every year I like to take the time to reflect on my previous year’s reading. It gives me a time to correct my data and think about where I want my reading to go in the upcoming year.
I’ve continued to keep track of my reading using Goodreads. My profile continues to have the full list of the books I’ve read since 2010. Here is my entire 2018 record.
I slacked off a bit when writing reviews for all of my read books in Goodreads. I often didn’t write a review until some time had passed after completing the book and, as a result, I think I did a worse job reviewing books. Some books don’t even have a written review. I’m not a fan of this and will push myself some in 2019 to do a better job.
There are a few more books on writing that I’ve wanted to read for a while. I’m planning on reading at least one of them this year. I’m also want to read more Octavia Butler. - Me (in the previous reading post)
That was my goal for 2018. It breaks down into two goals:
Read at least one book on writing.
Read more Octavia Butler.
I succeeded on the Octavia Butler goal and completely failed with the other.
I read 43 books for a total of 16,213 pages. This is a bit less than last year but still a fair amount.
Below is a list of my five star books from 2018. The book titles link to Amazon and are affiliate links. The other links are to my Goodreads review. Unfortunately, this year I didn’t do a great job of always writing a review so some of them are missing or very short.
I generally highlight a lot of passages while reading and then rarely go back to look at them. I’ve included links to my highlights. Are they worthwhile without the context of the book? I have no idea. I’ve reread them and got something out of them but many are also so far removed from my memory that they are almost useless.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
This book deals with the end of our lives. It was great. There is a lot of good insight here. Like a lot of the non-fiction books I read, I really should go back and take notes on what I highlighted.
We’re all going to deal with death and sickness. This book can help.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
My entire Goodreads review is two sentences.
This is an incredible book. You should read this. - Me
I still agree with this. My friend, Steve Deobald, described this book as “the most lucid book he’s ever read.” There is a reason this book has a 4.45 rating on Goodreads. Go read the blurb about it there and then buy and read this book1.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. - Greg McKeown
A really great book encouraging you to focus on what matters and, as a result, make a bigger impact and be happier. It is better to make a mile of progress on one thing instead of making inches of progress in a bunch.
Tim Ferris recently published a podcast with Greg McKeown which I’d also recommend. I’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast after a bit of time away from the book. This has helped reinforce ideas from the book. If you’re hesitant to read the book, take the time to listen and pay attention to this long podcast.
I highlighted over 100 sections of this book. I plan on revisiting these notes and this book periodically.
Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
A crucial conversation is one where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong. This book provides guidance for handling those conversations better.
I enjoyed this book and thought I picked up some useful tips from it. I think this is another where doing follow up work would help solidify some of the concepts.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
I really like this book. It is a wonderful collection of short stories. This was my second time reading it and I still enjoyed it.
The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) and The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3) by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin has won a Hugo three years in a row. Those three years line up with each release of a book in The Broken Earth series. They are really good.
This series is great. The world is interesting and the story compelling. I highly recommend it.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reading lets you experience life from a different perspective. This book is good. It was quickly made into a movie which is also pretty good.
I read this as part of my book club and it was universally enjoyed.
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) and Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo
I just really enjoyed this series. I enjoyed the fantasy world it was set in and have read most of Leigh Bardugo’s other books that are set in this same world.
The series is a young adult series. It isn’t complex. The reading isn’t difficult. It isn’t going to change your life and you’re not going to be blown away by the writing. It almost feels weird to include this series in the same list as CivilWarLand and The Broken Earth series. Even still, I found myself sucked into the story and didn’t mind spending the short amount of time it took to read the books.
Non-Five Star highlights
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
I really enjoyed this. Pink references other works to build a narrative about how timing matters. When should you take a nap? Is it better to go do the doctors in the morning or afternoon? How do are cognitive abilities generally change throughout the day? How should you try to end your vacations?
I did take some notes on the book while reading it and I have referenced them. It was a good book. I should have taken more notes.
This is a great collection of short stories and non-fiction articles written by Octavia Butler. I really love her writing. I’ve read a few of her works and still enjoy Lilith’s Brood the most.
Below is a quote from her about science fiction that really resonated with me. It really hits home on one of the reasons I love reading science fiction.
But still I’m asked, what good is science fiction to Black people? What good is any form of literature to Black people? What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, doing, thinking—whoever “everyone” happens to be this year. And what good is all this to Black people? - Octavia Butler
This book is great. It is very approachable and dispels some wrong common knowledge.
I struggled generating stats this year. I kept having data issues with Goodreads. There is data that is in Goodreads that is failing to export both through their export feature and API. I’m somewhat wondering what I would need to do to track reading in a different way.
Below is the reading stats per month. The numbers are based on when the book is completed. December is partially so low because the other books all carried over to January.
Electronic books continue to make up the majority of the books I’m reading.
There are two physical books not included in my read books that I started and still need to finish. They are a both books focused on fitness (climbing injuries and proper movement) and aren’t books I’m actively reading.
Nearly a third of my reading was non-fiction. For the second year in a row, only two of those were software related.
| | Number of books |
| fiction | 29 |
| non-fiction | 14 |
I have a stack of software and process books and I’d like to read through at least some of them (others are more reference books). I’m also going to bring over the 2018 goal of reading at least one book on writing.
In a more general sense, I’m hoping to put some practices together that help me gain more from the books I’m reading. I’m still thinking through what that means.
In the beginning of 2019 I also read Harari’s “21 lessons for the 21st Century.” Spoiler alert: this book will end up in my 2019 reading summary post.↩
I’ve been using Emacs in a remote tmux session lately and I’ve been missing lein-test-refresh notifications when my Clojure tests pass or fail. Luckily, it only took me a little bit of searching to figure out a solution for when I’m working inside of tmux.
Below is a GIF of the notifications I get as my tests run and pass or fail.
With the above notifications, I can keep my focus on my code and only switch to the tmux window with lein test-refresh running when a test fails.
This was pretty easy to setup. You can trigger a message in tmux by running tmux display-message <MESSAGE_HERE>. To configure lein-test-refresh to send notifications to tmux simply include the following in your :test-refresh section of your project.clj or profiles.clj.