The layout of punctuation glyphs on the en_US (US English) keyboard seems
to change with every version of Maemo. The one with Maemo-2.0 is very
unfriendly to geeks: the punctuation most used when entering shell commands
(hyphen, dollar sign, asterisk and double quote) is all shifted, and some
important keys (pipe, grave accent and braces) are relegated to the symbol
page. Therefore I resolved to create my own custom keyboard. My initial plan
(not actually realized) was to call it
English (Geek) with a locale
symbol of en_GK.
The first job was to locate the keyboard configuration files: they turned up in /usr/share/keyboards. Now, what is the file's format? Reverse engineering the keyboard configuration file turned out to be harder than expected. However, I prodced this PERL script which can read and dump any of the keyboard files including latin.special.vkb, the symbol pages.
In the national language VKB files there are six keyboards: normal unshifted, normal shifted, and four pages of thumb keyboards. In each one the keys are listed by rows, in (mostly) units of 5 octets each:
I planned to change the text description, the locale codes in the file, and
the filename (to en_GK.vkb), but even after a reboot the control panel applet
for text input would only list the file as en_GK, refusing to show the text
description, and I could not select the new keyboard. With the locale and
filename as en_US but the text description changed, the applet got it right but
the input method did not show any keys. With the text description reverted to
English (USA), then it worked properly. Very strange. I did
hack the length byte of the text description to show the actual length.
I did all the work using a SSH
session, so when the input method weirded out I was able to restore the saved
original keyboard file.
Here is the Geek Keyboard. To use it,
cd /usr/share/keyboards and rename
en_US.vkb to some other name (for easy reversion). Then copy my file to become
en_US.vkb. You could also use the dumper script and a hex editor (I used
on my laptop) to
improve the keyboard file for your proper language.
Hint: in the likely case that Unicode strings are changed in length, do them
starting from the end of the file, so file offsets in the dump are
Here's a future research project: if we didn't use 1.5x wide keys at the ends of the first and third alphabetic rows, we could get two more keys onto each of two keyboards. Would the input method accept this?
This whole thing is on hold until I can figure out how to remove pattern glyphs that conflict with what I want to use, and mistakes in entering glyphs.
Several reviewers said they disliked the handwriting input method; I'm going to make my own judgment. Sphinx of black quartz judge my vow. Seven wildly panting fruit flies gazed anxiously at the juicy bouncing kumquat. OK, I got the texts to go in.
This is a partnership between you and the Artificial Intelligence, and definitely you need to have thought seriously about the technical and programming issues of handwriting recognition to be able to do your part of the teamwork. It's going to take practice to get fast and accurate, but I know that Palm users do this regularly and I'm going to keep trying. After a few days of experience I can send handwriting with an error rate and speed similar to using the keyboard. (Except, passwords are a problem because you can't be sure what's typed.) Here are a few hints:
hyphenis destructive backspace (also the GUI backspace button); a forward
hyphenis a space, a reverse L is carriage return, and an upper case gamma is for tab. (I would have used it for F or G.) The reverse L, at least, has to be small and well above the baseline, or it becomes an upper case J. The two hyphens have to be near or below the baseline and less than a letter width.
capitalizebut I think that's only for the keyboard; it uses a heuristic to hit the shift key for you, which you can unshift if unwanted.
Decide on decent and consistent glyphs. a = alpha, b = beta, d = backward 6, f = (conventional), g = gamma (cross with loop below), q = o backslash, t = upper left corner, x = gamma upside down (cross with loop above), digit 1 = line bottom to top, I = line top to bottom.
Sorted by shape:
How to detect changed files:
echo "whatever" > /tmp/timestamp.txt (do the activity that changes files) find / -xdev -type f -newer /tmp/timestamp.txt -print
I taught it one shape: upside down lower case gamma for lower case a. This resulted in changes to the following files: