Multilingual Drupal, Typing Speed

So I set up a multilingual drupal installation today, after several hours of slow, careful setup, everything worked fine. I was really pleased with the outcome, I feel like I've learned from past mistakes.

But I still think the multilingual documentation is in dire need of a rewrite And there needs to be a real effort to take the key modules in the process out of beta/alpha status (I'm thinking of Title module and Entity Translation module). I guess the real focus is on finishing the drupal 8 versions, since many of these modules have been adopted into drupal 8 core.

In other news, I've been continuing learning Colemak, I'm really pleased with my current level of ~48wpm with accuracy of ~97%. My TextBlade will probably take another 2 months to arrive, but that's cool, since I have a lot to do in the meantime; including a holiday at the end of July.

New Music

Sound Farm Studios

I've booked a holiday to Turkey in July for some family weddings. While I'm there, Clancy will be flying over and we'll spend some time in the studio making music. He's only there for a week, which isn't really a long time for any epic recording sessions (considering we haven't played together almost ever), but we'll both be bringing some sketches with us that could hopefully be built into songs.

It's still about 3 weeks before I'm due to fly, but I can feel the mental preparation beginning inside; the excitement is certainly building... slowly.

Making Music

I had booked my flight to Turkey a while ago. The trip will last about two weeks and spans the 2nd and 1st days of two two-day weddings, respectively. I had imagined that I'd visit my studio to record some tracks, but honestly I hadn't picked up my guitars for anything other than light practise in a very long time. Still I figured I'd go there and play around, see what happens.

And then yesterday I spoke with Clancy, and having considered a previous invitation, he has decided to accept and will be joining me there. I was so excited yesterday when he told me that I was babbling on the phone to him!

We began compiling a list of things we're going to need while we're there. The list will be updated until the day that we fly. Needless to say I'm now very excited about the trip and am struggling to contain my enthusiasm!

Further improvements

I've spent a lot of free time this weekend practising the Colemak keyboard layout. I found this site which many people are using over at the Colemak forums. It's alright, though I've reached a point where I now should work on thinking while typing. I can reach typing speeds of 40-50 on that site, but I can't yet reproduce those speeds in everyday typing (eg. chat, emails etc.).

When I push myself to type faster I frequently push incorrect keys, either from the QWERTY layout or just from crossed wires in my head. I can see that I still have a way to go to reach the 60+ WPM I had before, but I'm happy with my progress so far, and (importantly for me) my hands feel better than they did before.

Off to type some more...

Colemak - reduced finger pain

Since lurking on the waytools forums I have decided to switch to Colemak. I had previously attempted to learn Dvorak and Colemak, but in the end the time required to match (not even exceed) my current typing speed was too limiting a factor.

I ordered my TextBlade while I was in between jobs. Not having the daily demand for typing gave me the perfect opportunity to practise this alternative keyboard layout. At roughly 30 WPM, I'm currently just under my normal typing speed.

I occasionally get joint pains in my fingers. One of the appeals of the TextBlade is the reduced finger travel required to reach each key. The colemak keyboard layout was also optimised in this direction. Since switching to colemak, I have already noticed the benefits (reduced finger pain), I can't wait for my TextBlade to arrive, as I expect the effect to be cumulative.

Colemak Keyboard - in preparation of the TextBlade

I discovered a new jquery library while working on my first project in my new job. It's called Fullpage and it is the perfect tool for creating professional looking one page websites - go check it out.

Did I mention my new job? I started my new job on Monday - I'm now working as a web-developer at Identum, a web design agency based in Vienna's 8th district. They have a pretty impressive client list (I'm not sure which ones I'm allowed to share at this time, I should check before name-dropping!).

My first week went well, I'm really enjoying working with the people on my team, and the atmosphere is close to the best tech companies I've worked for - flat hierarchies done the right way :)

Colemak Keyboard Layout
I have decided to try and stick with the colemak layout with my TextBlade (when it arrives, that is). I have been practising the colemak keyboard layout on the following site:

I am now able to type accurately at around 24 words per minute, which is less than half of my normal typing speed of around 65wpm. I have been using it also in my new workplace.

Modern Masters 2 - Great for existing Modern players

I played a couple of rounds of Modern Masters 2 Draft over the last weekend. I enjoyed the format quite a lot actually, though I must say I won't be drafting a lot of it. I'm not the biggest draft enthusiast, but that's not the main reason.

I drafted a lot of Khans of Tarkir because it was a good format, I'd say MM2 is about as good. However the cost of boosters is truly prohibitive. ~€35 euros for a round of draft is well over above my budget, there are many Modern staples I could buy for that price.

Magic is an expensive hobby in general. If it were not, I could at least see myself drafting more. It's cost is almost certainly why so many players follow the start-stop-start cycle.

Eternal formats like modern, commander and legacy, are as important to wizards as Standard - by far the most popular format. It is these eternal formats that players on a budget can make a one-time investment in their deck's, incrementally adding a small number of cards as new expansions are released.

As a set, Modern Masters 2 serves a purpose of re-introducing expensive staple cards to the secondary market. It provides opportunity for new adopters to complete their modern decks. It attracts new players to the modern format and ensures upcoming modern tournaments will be well represented. If they continue with a cyclical release schedule of the Modern Masters product, as many suspect, Wizards will provide confidence in the future of Modern as a format.

Buying MM2 boosters is not how I think existing Modern players will benefit from it's release: after some time, cards from the set will fall in price. With a little patience, these cards can be bought for considerably less than their pre-reprint value. As a casual Modern player, that's what I plan to do. I have a number of decks which are incomplete, now I have a great opportunity to complete them for less than originally anticipated.

If you're curious about MM2 as a draft format, it really is a lot of fun. But if you're drawn to Modern as an eternal format, I wouldn't get too fond of it. If you have some money set aside, pick a deck and spend your money on the cards you need, instead.

New MacBook Keyboard - Initial Impressions (early judgements)

My local tech store now has the new Macbook, so I decided to try out the new keyboard. This is by no means an in-depth review, just my initial impressions after a short trial of the keyboard itself.

This new keyboard has a 40% thinner key assembly than the previous keyboard design. My initial impressions (first few seconds) were good, the keys have a more 'buttony' feel than the apple keyboards you're used to, with an almost spongey quality when depressed.

However, after a typing several paragraphs of text, my opinion has swung from superficially pleased to pretty disappointed. As a touch typist, with an average wpm of 70, I found there just was not enough feedback for quick accurate typing.

As a small form factor laptop I'd imagine typical use cases to be light computing on the go, which today means Web browsing, file editing, emailing and instant messaging. This keyboard is certainly capable of those tasks.

But throughout the entire experience your fingers will be screaming to get back to your normal keyboard - unlike the keyboards on a Macbook Pro, or even the discontinued entry level Macbook before it; those keyboards don't have such a deficient feel.

Quick typing especially requires feedback from the keys for you to recognise that the key press has been registered. The amount of travel these keys have is very slight and I found my fingers pushing extra hard or extra long because I wasn't feeling the response I recognise. The whole experience feels like a compromise.

Netbooks and small form factor PCs are also a compromise which people are willing to purchase because of their low price point. When you're spending over £1000 on a laptop (The base MacBook model will set you back £1049), you don't want to compromise on perhaps the most important interface you have. Considering the low end MacBook Pro and the each standard MacBook Air model costs less than this, there seems to be a misalignment of what this machine offers and what you're expected to pay for it.

I should add a caveat here that in time I'm sure you could learn the new key travel distance and type quite comfortably on this keyboard. Ultimately I'm expressing a personal preference here, but I think many of you who have been using computers for years will agree with me, whether you're an Apple fan (like me) or not.

PS. I have got to get the comments feature working on this site soon, this seems like a topic that might inspire a healthy debate...

New Frontiers: Bootstrap for Drupal

I've installed the drupal bootstrap theme and have begun working on a sub-theme for this site. Drupal can seem overwhelming to new-comers and anyone who has taken a break from it's esoteric way of working. When you're surrounded by it daily though, it provides a real sense of possibility that is unrivalled by CMSes such as WordPress and Joomla.

Anyway, the new logo is up and I have plans to shape the layout in the next few days, before I start my new job. As always, I'm aiming for something minimal, that matches the level of content I post here ;)

Task list of sorts...

I want to place some of my older projects up here as a showcase, and I'm taking the opportunity to learn some contemporary tools, such as LESS and node.js/npm. I installed SVN locally and reconfigured some git projects too, all in the aid of re-familiarising myself with these tools.

I need a way to display some of these older projects, which I'm polishing up, on Tomorrow is a national holiday here in Austria, maybe I'll set some time aside for figuring that out.

I should also work on a theme for - a Drupal default isn't a good idea for showcasing anything. I think there's an opportunity to start using bootstrap theme for Drupal.

While I'm configuring the innards of my site CMS, I should add an advance post (text) editor, so formatting text and adding links will be easier and quicker.

That's just off the top of my head, I'll make a start on some of this tomorrow, and post an update when something is ready...