Recently I came across (for the second time) the text editor bitters which is essentially a lo-fi love letter to the Canon Cat. I’d seen this before, having some time ago watched a video about the Canon Cat and falling in love with the simplicity and humanistic view of human/computer interaction.

I gave it a try on my work macbook the other day, this being the sort of thing that I do for a break. Because in my convoluted internal logic, obviously, your RSI/eye-strain/mental fatigue meters all reset when you switch between work and “leisure problem solving”.


Anyway, installed sdl and build the thing and off we went. I quickly realised, however, that to have a really satisfying writing experience I would need to adapt my keyboard to make the leap keys accessible and having a split ortholinear keyboard (in the crkbd or “corne”) I would also have to make so that this new layout is highly symmetrical.

So fast forward to last night where, after work, I had the mental energies left to consider Doing Something Productive, and one of the things which I’ve been wanting to do some more is write (as evidenced), in part due to having recently picked up a copy of Abolition Science Fiction and really enjoying the succinctness of the short story format for throwing out ideas without the deep-seated need to contextualise and explain. Luckily, the book has a set of writing prompts and exercises in the back!

So, I thought to myself, maybe now is a good time to give that a go! Let me just reprogram my keyboard layout quickly…


And this, dear reader, is how my life proceeds. Because some time ago I accidentally ripped off the micro-USB socket on the left-hand side of my keyboard and had to reprogram the right side to be the master. What I didn’t factor in when I did this (and subsequently reprogrammed the layout on the right side to replace backspace with del so that I could essentially SIGINT on a fresh Plan 9 install) was that I could no longer program the left side, which would become an issue as soon as I tried to flash the right side with a more recent firmware.

So yeah, last night in an effort to start writing again, I nearly bricked my keyboard before realising that I still had the old working checkout of the old firmware build which with some massaging (it upsets more recent versions of avr-gcc and avr-ld without some flags and modifications, notably one compiler issue requiring --param=min-pagesize=0 and one linker issue requiring that I reorder some definitions.

I managed to go to bed with the resumption of an equitable keyboard at the cost of a couple of hours work.

I’ll bring my work Corne home before I try this again.

And this marks a repeating frustration in my life - to achieve a frictionless experience requires a lot of speculative friction. But I think that’s probably just the kind of person I am and this was a necessary obstacle for me to overcome. At least I’m writing now!