Arrow Keys (for Keyboards Without Arrow Keys)

Do mechanical keyboards really need arrow keys?

Interesting idea showcased in this article from The Verge: an upcoming Angry Miao mechanical keyboard that adds a capacitive touchpad to use for arrow movement or other functions.

I use an ErgoDox EZ split keyboard that has no arrow keys. I find that placing the arrow keys on another layer works fine with practice. However, I still prefer to have arrow keys visible and easy to access. My preferred solution is to use a tiny SIXKEYBOARD placed to the left of my keyboard. The primary downside: this adds another cable to manage.

The First Digital Nation

A sobering read: The First Digital Nation by Lilian Bernhardt.

The island country of Tuvalu moves towards the virtual world as climate change threatens its physical territory.

According to Kausea Natano, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Pacific Island nations contribute less than 0.03% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

This is from The Long Now Foundation: “a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking.” It’s a small detail, but note how they reference the year.

I’ve been following this foundation since I learned about it in 2011. It’s interesting to look back at my old blog post, in which I cite IBM’s Watson, in light of where we are today with AI. Also timely to read this article about Tuvalu in light of the recent adjustment of the Doomsday Clock.

I also recommend The Long Now’s excellent podcast.

Whatever happened to “No Man’s Sky” coming to the Mac by the end of 2022? I’m not a huge gamer, but I do quite like this game and want to see what’s it like on my Mac Studio. I say I’m not a huge gamer, but I did just buy a Steam Deck … more thoughts on that later. 🎮

Turkey Point light station, Maryland. This is one small inlet of the Chesapeake, gives a sense of just how large this bay is: largest estuary in the U.S. 📷

lighthouse with Chesapeake Bay in background on sunny January day

On the Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking

The Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking debuted at the end of 2021, but I just learned of it today. I’ll post the entire thing here, as the manifesto requires: “This declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety, including this notice.”

We recognize that an immense amount of useful information is available digitally, and that tremendous value can be gained by connecting this information. Connected knowledge enables people to create great products, solve important problems and improve themselves.

We also recognize that humans work best in psychological flow. Switching contexts, even to search for information, interferes with flow while consuming precious mental capacity, brain energy and time. Activating an aptly-placed link to information is easier and faster than searching for the information — and more protective of flow.

We affirm that the ability to copy a link to a resource is as important for cognitive productivity as the ability to copy other types of information. This applies to all persistent digital information.

We invite software developers to do their part, by

  1. ensuring their users can conveniently obtain a link to the currently open or selected resource via a user interface; and
  1. providing an application programming interface (API) to obtain or construct a link to that resource (i.e., to get its address and name). To help people benefit from the information they process with software, we advocate ubiquitous support for linking of information resources. This would help realize the potential of hypermedia that was envisioned by information technology pioneers such as Ted Nelson and Douglas Englebart.

A good goal and, fortunately for me, most of the apps I use are link-friendly.

From Adam Engst of Tidbits:

Keep in mind, this is a manifesto, not a technology, standard, spec, or product. The Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking is meant to encourage developers to add linking capabilities to their apps such that every distinct information resource within the app can be accessed via a link. And it encourages users who want to reap the cognitive benefits to request such support from the developers of the apps they use.

I read the first two books in the Monk and Robot series by Becky Chambers. These short books are not my typical fare, but I enjoyed. Themes are kindness, hope, the Important Stuff about being human. And there is a nice robot. It’s a meditative kind of series. Refreshing. 📚

  1. Hokusai’s “Great Wave” is quite different depending on how you read. Looking at a Hokusai picture (via @soonleenz@wandering.shop) 📖

  2. An amazing infographic (created by @leahdriel@fediscience.org): A classification table of mother sauces and their common derivates 🍳

I read Babel, by R.F. Kuang. Choose the audiobook: it’s uniquely suited to the medium. This story is alternative history with magic, but it’s not escapist fantasy. It’s also not easy or comfortable to read (no spoilers), but these are often traits of an excellent book. 📚

As a devotee of RSS, the rise of newsletters continues to mystify me. But I’ve adapted. Today, there are some newsletters I enjoy, but I’ve never liked inbox delivery. So this is the best thing I learned about this week: kill-the-newsletter.com 📖

Well this is new to me and I love it: Music for Programming 🎶

I upgraded to Fedora 37 and like it. I intend to write a longer post to explain why I run this in a VM on a Mac Studio. But perhaps the root of it is that it just makes me happy. That said, there’s more backstory to share that’s about the joy of reviving old laptops — a minor obsession that began with Puppy Linux in 2007.

(Sign me up) When a woodworker buys a forest

In 2023, you will be able to attend woodworking classes in Japan while gazing upon a forest at the edge of Mt. Fuji. Not only is Tak Yoshino currently building a school where he bought a forest; he is building the school out of said forest. Mt. Fuji Wood Culture Society will indeed be open to the international community.

FMail2 for Fastmail

If you use Fastmail and wish they offered a Mac app, check out FMail2, a labor of love from a developer in France. It’s free (but buy him a coffee to show your appreciation).

Email provider Fastmail has native iOS and Android clients. But nothing for macOS. The web interface used by Fastmail is excellent. The big thing missing, is that the web interface cannot behave like a native mail application. It can, for example, not handle email links. When you click on such a link it is the macOS Mail application that opens. That is not what we want.

Remember Letterpress? I began a match in March that is still underway. We have yet to use 3 letters on the board (Z,M,K). We are avoiding these tiles at all cost. I don’t know why. It was an unspoken, organic decision. We just hit 401 words. This match may not end. 🕹️

This evening, I am perusing Take Control of Untangling Connections by Glenn Fleishman. A good reference book to understand the evolution of USB and Thunderbolt. 📚

Tiny Tenkara for Tiny Streams

I deployed my Tiny Tenkara rod (4’ 11”) on a small mountain stream in Pennsylvania today. Worked great on brookies, until I unexpectedly caught a big brown. I lost that fight in seconds.

After that, I switched to my (much) longer and stronger Dragontail Mutant Tenkara rod in a bout of optimism… and then caught only trees and bushes. For those who Tenkara, just want to share that such a tiny rod exists — it’s the only rod that works in many tight spaces and folds up small enough to keep in a pocket.

Tiny tenkara rod in hand, with stream in background

Affinity V2 universal license (no subscription) for $99 is looking pretty good to me, especially considering I bought V1 Affinity Photo in 2016 and Designer in 2015.

I experimented with night shots using my iPhone 13 Mini while at Savage River. I took a shot as the near-full moon rose over the mountains on a cloudy night. This is a shot at 9 PM with a 10-second exposure, handheld. It was very dark, so I wasn’t expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised.

While I was fishing at Savage River, I came across a giant chicken of the woods. I took about three pounds home to eat, which wasn’t even half.

Been a long while since I posted. I had the chance to do some fly fishing up in Western Maryland at Savage River last week. I was expecting brown trout, but the first fish I caught was a beautiful brookie in full fall colors. I took a quick shot and put him back.

Adjustable Cat Feeder

This one is odd, but it serves a purpose. We have an elderly cat who has bad joints so has trouble eating. I set out to create an adjustable tray so he didn’t have to bend down to eat. Here’s what I came up with. I made it tall enough to plan for the future (in case we end up getting a really large cat or a small dog someday in the future). Our cat can now comfortably eat while seated. The trays easily move up or down depending on the size of the bowl.

Cat1

The inspiration for this: I had two Harbor Freight bar clamps in my shop, shown below, which I never use because I don’t like to use them for work holding. But the one thing I like about these is that the bottom clamp ratchet is very easy to move up and down. So I thought, what if I cut these clamps up and used the parts to make a cat feeder that could be adjusted?

Cat2

This is the end result, with a touch of decorative cord wrapping. This was all made with wood scraps and it’s mostly poplar. I’m happy with how it came out and I believe it a one-of-kind design. I mean, really who is going to make something this weird?

Each tray is attached with four screws (and glued) to the aluminum clamp ratchets. I framed the trays so each has a lip so the cat can’t push the bowl off the edge.

Cat3

I added bumper feet on the bottom of the stand to keep it off the ground a bit in case a water bowl is tipped. I made the top removable so each tray can be removed and cleaned. The tops are capped with scrap leather just to ensure we don’t cut ourselves on the cut aluminum edges. Each bar is set in the poplar base with deep mortises, glued, and screwed in. Also, I added wood inserts to the inner part of the bars for more sturdiness.

Cat45 Cat6

The top is shaped so it’s easy to lift off. I cut tiny mortises to fit these bits from the bar clamps and they just rest on top of the aluminum arms. I glued them in.

Cat5

And here is the final. The apparatus is sized to fit nicely on a standard cat mat. I finished all the wood parts with three coats of Osmo TopOil High Solid.

Cat final

My First Kumiko

I decided to try my hand at making a small Kumiko ornament for the tree, as a first step in learning this process for later larger projects. This one took way more time than expected, because I needed to first create the jigs to cut tiny Kumiko strips. I figured out what I needed to do with an excellent book, Shoji and Kumiko Design: Book 1 The Basics by Desmond King, and very helpful YouTube videos from Adrian Preda. So I bought a big chunk of 5’‘W x 36’‘L x 1-1/16’’ basswood from Rockler and went to work. Here’s the finished piece.

K1

And here are the basic steps, starting with some pics of getting the basswood cut down to size. I started by cutting the board into thirds.

K2

And then cutting those boards into thirds.

K3

And then resawing all of those thirds.

K4

I used two-sided tape to hold the wood while I cut the small strips out of the resulting boards, after planing them down.

K5

Here are the jigs I made, which took the most time in this project by far. The first one in the image below is for cutting the angles needed. I made this design up and I’m proud of it because it is all self-contained and can hang on a wall. You’ll see how it’s used shortly. The second jig is for planing the basswood down to uniform strips of 1/2" by 1/8"

K6

Here’s the planing stop in action. The stop is 1/2" and two inserts are added as needed, one is 1/4" and one is 1/8". The side piece of MDF is used to cut the strips to length, after removing the inserts. So it does double duty.

K7

Here’s how the angle-cutting jig works. The two short pieces of hard maple can be flipped around so each has two angles available. These fit into the jig with an adjustable stop for longer pieces. I hope to make larger Kumiko projects later on, so this gives flexibility. I can just cut new maple blocks if I need other angles to make other Kumiko patterns.

K8

And here is my first Kumiko pattern (in the classic asa-no-ha shape). It is not perfect, but I’m happy how it turned out. I stuck it in the Christmas tree. Next year, I aim to batch produce a number of these for gifts. It was fun to learn how these work and was a challenge for hand tools only. Learning to do this with buttery basswood is a good way to go. I may next try one with walnut.

K final

Pencil Box

This is another going-away gift for a work colleague who left for another job. I’m incorporating a lapel pin in the project from my place of work, as I’ve found that cutting off the back pin part and insetting the small metal logo looks really nice. The box is poplar with a bubinga top and bottom. The gift is for someone who appreciates quality pencils, so this project was a great fit. The instructions for this box come from Renaissance Woodworking. This is a great, easy-to-do project. The pencils I bought for the box are Mitsubushi 9850. As an aside, I’ve found Mitsubishi 9800 pencils to be perfect for woodworking because the graphite is strong and makes dark lines.

Pencil box

Herb Drying Rack

Here’s a project using scrap walnut tongue-and-groove boards I was given by friend, which I used to create a small tray to dry herbs — my wife does a lot with herbal tinctures and such and needed a rack to dry some of the plants and mushrooms she collects while foraging.

This is the final drying rack:

Serving tray final

The biggest challenge in creating this was the small size. Here is the walnut board I started with:

Serving tray1

I used a holding tool I previously made called a Raamtang to keep all the small bits held firmly while I worked on them. This small wooden vise has proven invaluable over the years and is worth the time and effort to build if you create a lot of smaller projects.

Serving tray raamtang

I decided to make this a simple mitered box, but will add splines for strength. I cut the angles free hand and then dialed them in with this 45 degree shooting board I made. The final pieces are shown here resting on top of the shooting board.

Serving tray mitered edges

I added a fancy curve to the four edges of the tray. I drew the curve on paper then traced it onto the wood. I used a backsaw to cut the to lines of the curve.

Serving tray shape1

Then used a coping saw to get near my lines.

Serving tray shape2

Then cleaned it all up with files and a spokeshave.

Serving tray shaping edges

Here are the final curved edges.

Serving tray pieces

After glueing up the frame, I added the splines with a contrasting wood (scraps of oak). I cut out the corners, cut the splines, then planed them flush with a block plane.

Serving tray spline start Serving tray spline Serving tray spline final

Then the final step was adding the chicken wire, for which I used some mesh from a big box store. The wire mesh is attached to the underside of the frame with wood strips half-lapped, glued and strengthened with small screws. That’s it.

Final frame

Studley Mallet

A short article in the September/October 2021 issue of Popular Woodworking called attention to retired pattern maker Bill Martley’s project to reproduce the bronze head of the classic Studley Mallet, named after Henry O. Studley (1838-1925) that many woodworkers know from his famous and mind-blowing tool chest.

A member of my woodworking group spotted this article and suggested we embark on a group build. The bronze casting for the mallet cost $69 with shipping included. What an amazing opportunity and bargain! I received my bronze mallet head in the mail a couple of weeks ago and here’s the mallet I made with it using bubinga, bocote wedges, and a handle with inset waxed cord. I just love how this came out and I’m so grateful that Martley made this possible.

Here’s the mallet I made with the casting:

Studley malletimg16

And I’ll briefly document the steps I took to make it.

First off, here’s the bronze casting as it arrived in the mail, along with the wood I selected to make the infill and handle. I went with bubinga.

Studley malletimg1

Here’s the infill block sized to fit through the hole in the bronze head.

Studley malletimg2

Next I chop out the through-mortise to match up with the hole where the handle will fit.

Studley malletimg3

Here’s a view of the wooden insert with the mortise completed, mostly to show what the top and bottom of the casting looked like before I polished it up.

Studley malletimg4

Now I began to shape handle, drawing out what I wanted in pencil.

Studley malletimg5

Here’s a view of the handle, where I’ve cut out the slot to fit into the bronze casting. I used my large tenon saw for this. I squared it all up with chisels.

Studley malletimg6

Here it is all rough fit together. Looking like a mallet now.

Studley malletimg7

Next, I shined it all up using a Dremel. Wow, what a difference. I left it rough, because I liked the look of it.

Studley malletimg8

Now, onto the handle. I cut it out roughly with saw work, then filed down with my beloved Auriou rasps.

Here’s the handle, showing the cuts for the wedged tenons that’ll go in the top to splay the wood out and hold it firm. The infill wood has not yet been cut to length.

Studley malletimg10

Next, I decided to go with a wax cord wrap for the handle. I wanted it to sit flush, so I chiseled out the beginning and the end so it slopes inward from each side, so when I wrap the cord it’ll gently slope upward. This will form a nice place to hold it.

Studley malletimg11

This image shows the beginning of the cord wrap, using tape to hold the ends in place. I wrapped the cord so tight, my hands cramped up.

Studley malletimg12

And here a few glamour shots of the completed mallet, which I finished with boiled linseed oil. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’ve added the wedges here. The two top wedges are tiny slices of bocote, which I think contrasts nicely with the bubinga. It was a fun project, and now I have a small mallet with a lot of mass. It’ll be a useful shop tool that I hope will still be in use by someone long after I’m gone.

Studley malletimg13 Studley malletimg14 Studley malletimg15
🕸💍