Random Notes, March 2, 2020 Edition


In my prior random notes, I commented that I wasn’t a fan of the keyboard on my 2019 MacBook Pro, from a feel perspective. Two points on that:

  1. I am actually rather fond of the keyboard on my WorkTop, Lenovo ThinkPad T490. It really does have good feel. I do wish the keys were a bit bigger, but all in all, a good board. Unfortunately, I’m not sure about the reliability of the system itself. As of this writing, I’ve been with the company three months and one week, and I’m on my third laptop. I swear I’m not doing anything to them.
  2. At home, I have a Compaq 185152-001 I rescued from a data center I was closing. It was meant to go into a 19” wide rack-mount draw to support servers, circa 1998. One of the keys in the number pad is busted, but otherwise, it works great. The size actually makes it fit a bit easier in my lap. Even cooler is it is a mechanical keyboard, with a great clicky feel. It also has a small trackball on it–I prefer my Logitech mouse, but it’s sometimes handy. The only real downside is it wasn’t meant for Macs, and it predates the ‘Windows’ key, so there is no standard mapping for the Mac Command key. I remapped the Caps Lock key to it. I don’t use it all the time, but I like having the option.

My Compaq 185152-001 Keyboard

OK, one other trade-off is the odd arrangement of the function keys. As I’ve said, I’m not sure how useful they are in GUI-space. The only one I use with any regularity is F2 in Excel, to edit a cell.

Laptop Stickers

I had a bit of a tradition, for my personal laptop, to adorn it with stickers. I had some cool ones. “My Other Computer is a Cray” or “I CX." I liked how it made the system seem a bit more *mine*, and told a bit about me. I don't do it to the WorkTop, as I feel it's the company's, and should reflect them.

So far, though, I haven’t put one on my current Macbook. I’m not sure if I’ve outgrown that, like it’s current clean, professional look, or if I just haven’t felt strongly enough about anything to put on it.

I’m kinda hoping it’s that I haven’t gotten around to it or just like the look of the box. I’d hate to think I outgrew that.

Maybe I’ll put some on that Compaq keyboard I spoke of…


I confess to having a red squiggle dependency. I look for software to help me spell right. I will type a word I’m unsure of. Then, I’ll pause to see if the red squiggle appears, taking satisfaction if it doesn’t. I’ve caught myself doing that when writing with a pen! The real-time spell check was a game-changer in Word 95–before that, you had to actually run the spell check function as a separate process. I confess I forgot to do that more often than not before submitting a document.

Gradually, this became standard. Web browsers got that capability, which was extremely helpful as I had to complete more and more web forms for work. It made its way into the rest of the Office suite, and became a standard in other programs as well. When I discovered Flyspell, I was able to bring that capability to EMACS. Not only do I get a red squiggle in the GUI, but it adds real time spell check and highlighting in console mode. Take that, WordPefect 5.1!

My small question: the Notepad app is the text editor that ships with Windows. Why does it not have any spell check at all. It doesn’t just lack red squiggles; there isn’t even the Old School “check the spelling when I’m done” system. Why not?!?!

I’m honestly surprised, at this point, that spell check isn’t a system service that any application can simply plug in to. In that case, any application calling for standard text entry windows could plug into it–it would be everywhere!