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keyboard woes

I knew that installing custom keyboards was buggy. Considering that the keyboard layout creator is barely supported at all? It was to be expected.

It took several cycles of reboots and adding the keyboards and deleting the keyboards and then rebooting again for me to get my keyboards the way I have them now. And for me, that was worth it because it meant that I was able to make my computer feel familiar, which in turn means I’m going to use it more.

However, buyer beware et cetera. It is quite possible that the process which previously worked is now totally borked. Which, although unfortunate, isn’t super surprising; so I’m just going to note that, as with anything, installing custom keyboards is something we all choose to do at our own risk, please don’t do so if you don’t feel confident fixing things and tinkering about.

Thanks, have fun, good luck, and remember, none of it matters at the end of the night.

choosing now

When I first asked my now-fiancx to marry me, it was half a joke, half a throw for the far future, some time when things were more stable or we had accomplished this that or the other thing.

“If I’m very, very lucky, will you marry me some day?” Some day.

The second time I asked them to marry me, I meant it. And it was complicated for a few days, maybe a few weeks, as we navigated what our version of polyamory means for us and what would or wouldn’t change if we got actually married. There was a bit of tension between myself, and my metamour, as I reiterated both to him and to myself that asking my fiancx to marry me did not and does not in any way invalidate their relationship. On the contrary, being able to see their relationship brings me a great sense of compersion; being able to do things that validate it and enable them to have their own experiences even moreso. But marriage was still something that was for the future —

We wanted to go to Las Vegas, because it’s a location that’s easy enough for family members to be able to come and celebrate with us, yet far enough away that we felt like we would be able to make the experience stand out for us. Plus, the cliché of it is funny to us.

Then of course, the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and where before they usually came out over-the-road with me for my job and rode along on the truck right up until the start of winter, our world got smaller. I didn’t want my fiancx to come on the road with me and be exposed at countless shippers and numerous truck stops while so many other truck drivers were behaving with what I saw as recklessness in light of the risks. With all of that went the chances of having the wedding we had envisioned, so instead we figured that we would have our wedding and get married, legally, after.

Doing it after the pandemic would leave us plenty of time to plan. We envisioned at first that it would perhaps happen in the spring of next year. Or maybe closer to summer. I’ll be the first to admit that I tried very hard to cling to optimism about what was yet to come.

Since then, I left the job I was at; I had been close to burning out on being over-the-road.

My fiancx and I moved back to California, both to be closer to my parents and because with how long I was away from home at a time, we lived at a point which was too rural perhaps even for us. We repainted the guest house that my parents had originally built for my maternal grandparents in preparation for moving in. Santa Ana winds knocked over the catalpa tree in my parents’ back yard and knocked out the power and the internet. I got a rejection from somewhere that I had submitted writing to, and on the same day as that, the local job that I was hoping to get in California fell through.

So instead I accepted another job, this one regional. It will keep me closer to home should something happen for which I need to return, and I’ll be home every other weekend, far more frequently than I was with my previous positions.

But moreover, we also know that there won’t be a clear end to the pandemic now.

Although Las Vegas is less than a five hour drive from where we now live, any reality in which we would get to take a vacation and go up there and get married now feels impossibly far away.

The most recent time I asked my fiancx to marry me was in our chat window over Messenger. Their response was, “lmao when?” at which point, I responded with, “this weekend or next week?” Because when it comes down to it, I love them, and I don’t want to keep waiting and pretending that at some point things will be normal again. (Of course, things like benefits eligibility as I start a job with better benefits than I previously had figures into the equation as well.)

We’ve booked an appointment at one of the same-day wedding parlours around here for this coming Friday, at which point we will make official our legal entanglement with each other.

Safely masked and socially distanced from the officiant, of course.

We do not have any particular wedding registry or anything as such. We are both immensely grateful for all of our friends both digital and otherwise and the support that we’ve received throughout moving and everything; please please please do not feel obligated to get us anything just because we’re getting married.

I jokingly in some various text messages referred to it as completing our legal entanglement and have kept doing so because that, too, is funny. And while, yes, there is meaning and such attached to it, we’re having a small and simple civil ceremony for the primary purposes of said legal entanglement.

I don’t expect much else to change. I’ve loved my fiancx since we first met, when the same evening as I had picked them up to come over-the-road with me for the summer, we wandered through a store, giggling, hand in hand.

This? Is just putting that on paper.

custom US extended keyboard

Quick note: Installing keyboards is probably broken.

I keep making keyboards. This time because there are many features and characters that you can type from an Apple keyboard easily, and that’s what I’m used to, and I kept in particular missing the ellipsis when I’m using Twitter. Look, it has a character limit and sometimes that one or two is the difference. Plus, the actual character looks better and kerns better than just stacking three periods in a row, or three periods with spaces between them.

For this keyboard, the main lowercase layout is identical. I didn’t change anything there.

The first change comes on the shift screen.

Keyboard with the shift key.

On the shift screen, instead of a regular space, I changed the character over to a thin space character.

Keyboard with the alt-gr key.

On the alt-gr screen is where I put the majority of special characters. Although the spacebar appears blank, the spacebar is holding a non-breaking space character, which is a really useful thing that not all programs have an easy shortcut for entering. As for the rest of the characters, many of them are mapped, if included, to where they would be on an Apple keyboard. The rest, I used my imagination.

On shift alt-gr, the spacebar has been mapped to a thin non-breaking space. There are additional characters, some of which are capital letter versions of characters found on the alt-gr configuration, and diacritical marks that I’m likely to use less frequently but still want to have easily available.

There’s also more space available, but I ran out of ideas as to what to put there, or anything that would be useful for me.

As usual, I’m happy to answer any questions about this on Twitter, or leave a question here.

The install package can be downloaded here, and the keyboard layout file can be grabbed here. The keyboard layout file itself is available under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licensing, so feel free to mess around with it as much as you wish.

Hebrew QWERTY phonetic keyboard, part 2

Quick note: Installing keyboards is probably broken.

As I said previously, it’s been write documentation time. One of the great things about writing documentation is that you find your own mistakes, or figure out some way in which the project that you’re working on could be better.

Simultaneously, one of the worst things about it is that you figure out some way in which it could be better, and then instead of writing and being finished you get to backtrack however many steps, fix it, test it all over again…

In any case, I’m very happy with what I’ve managed to come up with, and I hope that by sharing it this will also become useful for others.

I’m skipping any long-winded explanation as to the rationale of what I’ve done. I wrote several, and then decided that anyone who is looking for something like this probably also already knows enough about this to not need my blathering on. Although if you do use it and have questions feel free to get my attention over on Twitter, or leave a question here.

Keyboard in the normal layout.
Keyboard with the shift key.
Keyboard with the alt-gr key.

I have tried to be complete in this, while also maintaining a degree of familiarity in order to make it easier to touch type fluently and quickly.

If you’d like to give it a try, it can be downloaded here!

And if you’d like to download the keyboard layout file and mess around with it some first, you can grab that here. I’ve made the keyboard layout file itself available under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licensing, so feel free to mess around with it as much as you wish.

Hebrew QWERTY phonetic keyboard, part 1

I recently got a new laptop. To start with, it’s the first laptop that I’ve bought in approximately eight years. And, it’s a Windows computer. (All of my previous computers, with the exception of one tower computer that ran Windows 2000, have been Apple.)

One of my intentions now that I had the computer was to get back to doing Duolingo, specifically Hebrew. Although I took Hebrew in high school, it’s been years since I used anything other than prayerbook Hebrew and I keep feeling like I should remedy that.

The first thing that I needed to do was get a keyboard for Hebrew installed. However, once I did that I realised that although the layout may in fact be the modern standard layout, it wasn’t at all intuitive for me. After all, who puts the letter aleph (which although it doesn’t have a sound of its own in Hebrew, is the beginning of the alphabet and is often mapped to a for simplicity’s sake) on the t key? The next thing that I noticed is that the layout simply had no way to type the niqqud, nor any way to type characters used in Yiddish.

After a quick Google search, I found this, which was a good starting point but not quite what I wanted, as it also lacks the Yiddish characters, and I wanted an easier way to type letters that have a dagesh, which is sometimes used for clarity between the dagesh and non-dagesh version of the letters. Additionally, as I don’t mind switching keyboard layouts entirely (the Windows+spacebar shortcut is useful here!) so I didn’t include any of the English letters.

So I downloaded Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and got to work. (Note: it took me several times to actually manage to install this on my nice new computer. You get a helpful little dialogue that tells you that the program requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0.50727 and has a link to go get it… and then that link brings you to a page to download the most recent versions of it. Dear reader, those will not work. If you get that error, the version that you need can be found here.)

Honestly? Playing with the keyboard layout thing has been pretty fun, and now that I’ve finished the Hebrew keyboard I’m going to be getting to work on an English one that more closely mimics the layout and special characters available on Apple, because that’s one of the biggest user experience level things that I find I have been missing. However, it was pointed out to me that perhaps I, too, should share what I’ve made.

And then I realised that if I was going to share it, I also needed to make some documentation, or else how was anyone going to know what I did or why it was laid out the way that it was? So right now I’m working on that.

As soon as I am finished with creating the proper amount of documentation, the documentation and download links for both the .klc source file and the installer will be forthcoming in part 2.