Keyboard lossage, mouse lossage, everything is terrible

Well, I'm in the market for a new keyboard again.

Earlier this year I got a Matias Ergo Pro that seems like an improvement over the Kinesis Freestyle2, but it has this horrible problem that if you replace the connecting cable between the two halves of the keyboard with any cable longer than the 18" TRRS cable that comes with it, the left side of the keyboard starts malfunctioning randomly.

It's infuriating. I've tried cables from 4 different manufacturers, and built my own out of Cat5, and none of them work. I've exchanged quite a few emails with the manufacturer, and their responses ranged from, "Huh, that's funny" to "Why would you want a cable that long anyhow?" So, you know, not helping.

(Suspecting that it was maybe a USB power issue, I also tried plugging it directly into the Mac, and also into a powered hub of which it was the only member, which was itself plugged directly into the Mac. No perceptible change in the frequency of failures.)

So now out of frustration I'm back to the Kinesis, which feels just so mushy and awful now after the much better keyswitches in the Matias. But my characters show up without me having to power cycle it every few hours.

So I'm open to suggestions for any two-piece split keyboard where the halves can be placed 24" apart and still work. And that aren't mush. And that is an actual product for which someone will take my money, not vapor and dreams.

And speaking of USB....

Also recently -- possibly shortly after I upgraded to MacOS 10.11, but maybe unrelated to that, who can tell -- my mouse pointer began stuttering. Moving it slowly, sometimes it will suddenly warp to 200 pixels farther along in the direction of travel then resume normal speed. Tried a different mouse, same thing; tried direct USB connection, same thing.

Is it related to system load? Disk activity? Network activity? I can't tell, because the "Activity Monitor" program is a categorical piece of shit that simply stops updating as soon as anything of interest is happening anywhere, and likes to show "kernel_task" or "WindowServer" as the culprits for everything anyway, which is pretty unhelpful. I don't see anything particularly obvious in system.log, but that's an incredibly noisy cesspool, so who knows.

You know, when I first switched to MacOS from Linux, the fact that I was finally using an operating system that understood that tracking the mouse was the highest priority thing and that you could never, ever let that fall behind was one of the most refreshing things. I guess those days are gone.

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Say hello to her little friends

I am having a surprisingly difficult time figuring out the source. Brian Yuzna might be a good guess. I have such previouslies to show you...

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DNA Lounge: Wherein there are many ancient flyers.

Here's something for you to chew through on Thanksgiving: I posted a collection of old flyers from Covered Wagon Saloon, Annie's Social Club and Cherry Bar. It's very incomplete -- I only have about 150 so far -- but it's a start.

It was quite the process to gather these. I dredged through Google Images, eBay, some poster merchants and a Facebook group or two. Attaching the proper date to the images was the hard part, since flyers rarely have the year on them, and, for example, January 28 fell on a Saturday in 1989, 1995, 2006 and 2012.

Sometimes you can tell 1989 from 1995 by the fonts, but not always, so I ended up googling birth and death dates of bands to narrow it down. But even that doesn't help much for a lot of these, because apparently punk bands are immortal and Wikipedia lists every one of them as "1982-present".

Anyway, a lot of these images are horribly low quality. If you have originals of these (or others) sitting around in a box in your basement, please aim your phone at them and send me a high resolution version, ok?

There's a similar archive for old DNA Lounge flyers, but you already knew that.



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Chicken Skin Teddy

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Screensavers on a plane

Porta Estel·lar (skip ahead to 1:48)

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HDMI audio prevents screen saver

Is there a long German word for: "You Google a problem, and the only results are you asking about it the last time you ran into it"?

Because that happens to me a lot.

Anyway, MacOS 10.11 still has the ridiculous bug that if your system audio output is set to HDMI, and iTunes is playing, then the screen saver will never activate and your screen will never lock. I fixed this once before, but the procedure has gotten more complicated because now certain system files can't be modified even by root. So now the new recipe is:

  1. Gently apply the Stick of Correction to a copy of the binary:

    sudo -s
    mkdir -p /usr/local/sbin
    cp -p /usr/sbin/coreaudiod \
    perl -pi \
      -e 's/N(oDisplaySleepAssertion)/_$1/g;' \
      -e 's/P(reventUserIdleDisplaySleep)/_$1/g;' \
    codesign -vfs 'Your Name' \

  2. Boot in "Recovery Mode" (Cmd-R), and in "Utilities / Terminal", type:

    csrutil disable

  3. Boot in "Standalone Mode" (Cmd-S), and type:

    mount -uw /
    rm /usr/sbin/coreaudiod
    ln -s /usr/local/sbin/coreaudiod.hacked \

  4. Boot in "Recovery Mode" (Cmd-R), and in "Utilities / Terminal", undo what you did the first time:

    csrutil enable

  5. Third reboot, and you're done. EASY.

Update: It turns out that upgrading to 10.11.2 blows away that coreaudiod symlink. Since I don't want to have to reboot three times every time I do a point-release update of the OS, here's a way to fix coreaudiod that does not necessitate rebooting.

  1. Step 1 is the same as above.

  2. Create a new plist file:

    sed 's@/usr/sbin/coreaudiod@/usr/local/sbin/coreaudiod.hacked@g' < /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ > /usr/local/etc/

    chmod og-w /usr/local/etc/

  3. Kill the old coreaudiod and launch the new one:

    launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

    launchctl load -w /usr/local/etc/

  4. Restart iTunes, or whatever was making noise and now isn't.


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Today in Killdozer news:

Killdozer Killswitch!

However, there is good news - while Caterpillar's revenues and cash flows may be plummeting with every passing month, at least the company has a cunning plan how to recover some inventory.

According to the WSJ, Caterpillar is eager to reassure shareholders it won't get burned on equipment leased to customers in China even as the economy cools there. CAT Financial Services President Kent Adams said during a conference call on Tuesday that the company keeps tabs on the position of machinery electronically through its Product Link system.

"If a customer falls behind, we have the ability to derate the engine or turn the engine off, and we've set up a legal presence in all of the provinces of China."

In other words, any and all Chinese lessors who fall behind on their payments will suddenly find their excavator's engine shut down and no longer operable, stuck in the middle of a mine, quarry, or construction site with a paperweight weighing dozens of tons.

"We call this backhoe 'The Stuxnet'."

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Suspension Bridges of Disbelief

I can accept messianic alien orphan superheroes and skyscraper-sized battle robots, but I will not stand for inaccurate portrayals of structural mechanics.

It's fine to bend the laws of physics if the plot warrants it, but most suspension bridge mistakes are so needless and stupid that their only function seems to be irritating engineers.

Most of the structural elements have no purpose, and bridges are instead supported by a mix of perplexing whimsy, directorial ignorance, and nothing. I've taken a look at some notable suspension bridge disaster scenes and listed them from least bad to most bad:

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