Key remapping (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the home/end keys)

So the page up and page down keys on my laptop (see my review on the T430s) are next to the directional arrows. This was driving me insane, as I would accidentally hit them and then my view would jump to kingdom come. Thankfully you can remap keys in Linux, and I found autohotkey for Windows. Such a lifesaver. I remapped pgup/pgdn to home and end. That's when I discovered...

How did I not know about HOME and END until now!?!?!

These are fantastic keys, especially since I'm so used to vi/m in Linux, and jumping to the beginning / end of lines to do inserts. It is super-useful to have these keys in Windows. I absolutely love the keyboard layout with the remapping now.

Weekend Project - Mini Cornhole

Somehow I completely escaped cornhole while in college. I must have seen people playing it, but probably thought it looked a bit too silly to play myself. One of my friends in grad-school had a set, however, and I gave it a try.

Turns out I'm really good at throwing a beanbag into a hole - and had a good deal of fun doing it.

So this weekend I set out to make a set of my own! I had some plywood lying about, so that set the dimensions of the boards to 20"x13" (which is pretty close to the golden ratio). I used two 7" sections of my favorite 2"x2" furring strip for the legs.

The recipe is simple enough: Slice off the sections with the jigsaw, then drill a hole big enough to get the jigsaw blade into and spiral out until you can cut out the center hole.

I measured out the center of the hole, and then used an old lid (a paint can could work as well) to mark a circle. You can center the circle by making tic marks the radius away in the horizontal and vertical directions. Line up the edges of the circle with those marks, and it should be centered.

I drilled a hole large enough for the jigsaw blade and then spiraled out to cut the hole out. Be careful and take your time during this part, since it's largely freehand, it's also VERY dangerous!

Sand everything down so there are no edges to get splinters from. That would put a damper on your fun!

Onto painting! The photos are a bit out of order - I hadn't charged my drill - and I got a head start on painting before finish the cuts. There are some tricks that can make the painting go easier. I was going for a three-tone design, with two lines leading up to the hole. First I laid down a strip of painters tape for where I wanted the line to go, and painted around it.

Running a razor blade (or x-acto knife) along the edge of the tape helps it peel up without dragging the paint up with it.

I also used the x-acto knife and the lid I drew the circle with to cut a nice circle out of the ring of tape around the edge. This left a nice circle when I painted the highlight strips.

Finally, attach the legs with a couple of screws (this prevents them from rotating). Don't forget to counter-sink the screws, so you don't have the heads sticking up waiting to catch someone's finger.

You may have to do some touch-up work, but we're done with the boards. Now onto the bags.

I used some split-peas for filler, as they have a nice smooth feel to them (it must have looked pretty strange to see me feeling up all the beans in the store). I measured out ~5.3 oz as a good weight, which used 2 16oz bags of beans for the 6 bags. As you can see, I was very careful about measuring out the beans :p.

Finally, we used some old cloth we had lying around for the bags, which are sewn just like a pillow - inside out and the flipped, filled, and sealed.

All done! Grab a cold soda and enjoy your handi-work.

  • Jigsaw
  • Hand drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter's tape (optional)
  • Paintbrush
  • Coutersink / drill bits / screwdriver bit
  • Plywood (spare, probably ~$10)
  • 2"x2" furring strip ($2)
  • Screws (8x ~$5 for a large pack)
  • Paint (I used some old latex paint we had lying about ~$5)
  • Cloth (spare, ~$2)
  • Beans ($4)
Total: ~$28

Cracked Screen

Disaster hath struck:

I've been running my tablets "naked" (shorthand for without a screen protector) and it's finally taken a toll.

How it happened: The Note was balanced right on the edge of stability on the table edge. A small nudge sent it flipping over and it landed flat, face down, on a tile floor.

Interestingly, I've dropped the Nook 3-4 times now, and its screen is still in perfect condition. I think there are two main differences here;
  1. The Nook has a smaller screen, so for a given thickness of glass the aspect ratio (diagonal to thickness) is smaller for the smaller screen, providing added strength.
  2. The Nook impacts have all been at an angle and not face-on.
Repair: I always like to do things myself, but after watching a few videos on removing the screen on YouTube, I opted to find some professionals with some more experience. The screen replacement cost $130, about half as much as I had initially purchased the tablet for on ebay (ouch!). The screen repair shop I went to was very professional though - they had obviously done this before (they had 2-3 Note's sitting in various stages of disrepair) and had a good turn-around time of four days (including the weekend).

The one down-side is that they weren't able to source the dark-gray screen, so the front of my tablet is now white:

But it works mostly as well as before! The new digitizer works well with the pen - it's responsive and there are no dead-zones. But there are a couple of new dead-zones for touch (right where the spacebar / web navigation tab is in portrait mode. Unfortunately, that is really annoying spot for a dead zone. Still it works, and works well enough.

Guess it's time to invest in a case.