Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2003)
I've had no end of trouble with my Asus 1015E's trackpad. A discussion of laptops on a mailing list -- in particular, someone's concerns that the nifty-looking Dell XPS 13, which is available preloaded with Linux, has had reviewers say that the trackpad doesn't work well -- reminded me that I'd never posted my final solution.
The Asus's trackpad has two problems. First, it's super sensitive to taps, so if any part of my hand gets anywhere near the trackpad while I'm typing, suddenly it sees a mouse click at some random point on the screen, and instead of typing into an emacs window suddenly I find I'm typing into a live IRC client. Or, worse, instead of typing my password into a password field, I'm typing it into IRC. That wouldn't have been so bad on the old style of trackpad, where I could just turn off taps altogether and use the hardware buttons; this is one of those new-style trackpads that doesn't have any actual buttons.
Second, two-finger taps don't work. Three-finger taps work just fine, but two-finger taps: well, I found when I wanted a right-click (which is what two-fingers was set up to do), I had to go TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP maybe ten or fifteen times before one of them would finally take. But by the time the menu came up, of course, I'd done another tap and that canceled the menu and I had to start over. Infuriating!
I struggled for many months with synclient's settings for tap sensitivity and right and left click emulation. I tried enabling syndaemon, which is supposed to disable clicks as long as you're typing then enable them again afterward, and spent months playing with its settings, but in order to get it to work at all, I had to set the timeout so long that there was an infuriating wait after I stopped typing before I could do anything.
I was on the verge of giving up on the Asus and going back to my Dell Latitude 2120, which had an excellent trackpad (with buttons) and the world's greatest 10" laptop keyboard. (What the Dell doesn't have is battery life, and I really hated to give up the Asus's light weight and 8-hour battery life.) As a final, desperate option, I decided to disable taps completely.
Disable taps? Then how do you do a mouse click?
I theorized, with all Linux's flexibility, there must be some way to get function keys to work like mouse buttons. And indeed there is. The easiest way seemed to be to use xmodmap (strange to find xmodmap being the simplest anything, but there you go). It turns out that a simple line like xmodmap -e "keysym F1 = Pointer_Button1" is most of what you need. But to make it work, you need to enable "mouse keys": xkbset m
But for reasons unknown, mouse keys will expire after some set timeout unless you explicitly tell it not to. Do that like this: xkbset exp =m
Once that's all set up, you can disable single-finger taps with synclient: synclient TapButton1=0 Of course, you can disable 2-finger and 3-finger taps by setting them to 0 as well. I don't generally find them a problem (they don't work reliably, but they don't fire on their own either), so I left them enabled.
I tried it and it worked beautifully for left click. Since I was still having trouble with that two-finger tap for right click, I put that on a function key too, and added middle click while I was at it. I don't use function keys much, so devoting three function keys to mouse buttons wasn't really a problem.
In fact, it worked so well that I decided it would be handy to have an additional set of mouse keys over on the other side of the keyboard, to make it easy to do mouse clicks with either hand. So I defined F1, F2 and F3 as one set of mouse buttons, and F10, F11 and F12 as another.
And yes, this all probably sounds nutty as heck. But it really is a nice laptop aside from the trackpad from hell; and although I thought Fn-key mouse buttons would be highly inconvenient, it took surprisingly little time to get used to them.
So this is what I ended up putting in .config/openbox/autostart file. I wrap it in a test for hostname, since I like to be able to use the same configuration file on multiple machines, but I don't need this hack on any machine but the Asus. if [ $(hostname) == iridum ]; then synclient TapButton1=0 TapButton2=3 TapButton3=2 HorizEdgeScroll=1 xmodmap -e "keysym F1 = Pointer_Button1" xmodmap -e "keysym F2 = Pointer_Button2" xmodmap -e "keysym F3 = Pointer_Button3" xmodmap -e "keysym F10 = Pointer_Button1" xmodmap -e "keysym F11 = Pointer_Button2" xmodmap -e "keysym F12 = Pointer_Button3" xkbset m xkbset exp =m else synclient TapButton1=1 TapButton2=3 TapButton3=2 HorizEdgeScroll=1 fi
The broken AC that I was very worried about turned out to be a small burnt out part that cost $88. Since I had visions of replacing $10k worth of AC, this was a huge relief.
The walls still have holes, although the cabling work is mostly done as is the plumbing. Drywall repair is going to be $$$ but we budgeted for that going in, so that's ok.
My friend A points out that we have lots of space for ceiling cats.
The wallpaper is gone by my hand, including the horrible painted over wallpaper. I declined to remove the cheerful wallpaper in the Harry Potter Room below the stairs because it amuses me.
I found some mildew in the drywall. It seems like everything's dry behind in the wall, so I'm hoping we can replace the insulation we ripped out and close it back up, but we'll probably have someone look at it first.
Alas, since the walls aren't closed yet, we can't get painters in. In the end, it's looking like I'll be painting the basement myself while John's out of town.
The carpet is gone, except for the living room.
Nothing's been done with the living room yet because it's full of boxes and we need somewhere to move them before the flooring guys can proceed.
The floors are going in now. We did some of the removal, but have hired folk to put in the new stuff. It looks great so far!
Not sure we'll have floors by the time the moving truck comes on Tuesday and deposits the remainder of our stuff in the new house, but our lease is up so we'll just have to deal!
Ppl be like “ I want an actual male gem, not just Steven.”
Jeez, it’s like having only one character
to represent your whole gender
in a group composed all of another gender
is a bit upsetting huh?
what this lack of representation
Following the Community Leadership Summit (CLS), which I wrote about wrote about here, I spent a couple of days at OSCON.
Monday kicked off by attending Jono Bacon’s Community leadership workshop. I attended one of these a couple years ago, so it was really interesting to see how his advice has evolved with the change in tooling and progress that communities in tech and beyond has changed. I took a lot of notes, but everything I wanted to say here has been summarized by others in a series of great posts on opensource.com:
- 10 top-notch community tools by Jono Bacon
- A guide for community management from Jono Bacon by Nicole C. Engard
- 7 books every community manager should read by Nicole C. Engard
…hopefully no one else went to Powell’s to pick up the recommended books, I cleared them out of a couple of them.
That afternoon Jono joined David Planella of the Community Team at Canonical and Michael Hall, Laura Czajkowski and I of the Ubuntu Community Council to look through our CLS notes and come up with some talking points to discuss with the rest of the Ubuntu community regarding everything from in person events (stronger centralized support of regional Ubucons needed?) to learning what inspires people about the active Ubuntu phone community and how we can make them feel more included in the broader community (and helping them become leaders!). There was also some interesting discussion around the Open Source projects managed by Canonical and expectations for community members with regard to where they can get involved. There are some projects where part time, community contributors are wanted and welcome, and others where it’s simply not realistic due to a variety of factors, from the desire for in-person collaboration (a lot of design and UI stuff) to the new projects with an exceptionally fast pace of development that makes it harder for part time contributors (right now I’m thinking anything related to Snappy). There are improvements that Canonical can make so that even these projects are more welcoming, but adjusting expectations about where contributions are most needed and wanted would be valuable to me. I’m looking forward to discussing these topics and more with the broader Ubuntu community.
Monday night we invited members of the Oregon LoCo out and had an Out of Towners Dinner at Altabira City Tavern, the restaurant on top of the Hotel Eastlund where several of us were staying. Unfortunately the local Kubuntu folks had already cleared out of town for Akademy in Spain, but we were able to meet up with long-time Ubuntu member Dan Trevino, who used to be part of the Florida LoCo with Michael, and who I last saw at Google I/O last year. I enjoyed great food and company.
I wasn’t speaking at OSCON this year, so I attended with an Expo pass and after an amazing breakfast at Mother’s Bistro in downtown Portland with Laura, David and Michael (…and another quick stop at Powell’s), I spent Tuesday afternoon hanging out with various friends who were also attending OSCON. When 5PM rolled around the actual expo hall itself opened, and surprised me with how massive and expensive some of the company booths had become. My last OSCON was in 2013 and I don’t remember the expo hall being quite so extravagant. We’ve sure come a long way.
Still, my favorite part of the expo hall is always the non-profit/open source project/organization area where the more grass-roots tables are. I was able to chat with several people who are really passionate about what they do. As a former Linux Users Group organizer and someone who still does a lot of open source work for free as a hobby, these are my people.
Wednesday was my last morning at OSCON. I did another walk around the expo hall and chatted with several people. I also went by the HP booth and got a picture of myself… with myself. I remain very happy that HP continues to support my career in a way that allows me to work on really interesting open source infrastructure stuff and to travel the world to tell people about it.
My flight took me home Wednesday afternoon and with that my OSCON adventure for 2015 came to a close!
More OSCON and general Portland photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157656192137302
The Guardians of the Big White Box... No, seriously, what is that? What is its purpose? I know this is some sort of traffic department but still...
Just some C-Sec architecture…