More (mechanical) keyboards and Mac key remapping

After browsing too much r/MechanicalKeyboards I bought some more keyboards… 😀

One is a white TKL CODE with 65g Zealios switches
White TKL CODE with 65g Zealios switches
(which is essentially the same as my current WASDv2 except for the case color, switches and lighting), which I bought because I was interested in the Zealios switches, and this is one of the few pre-made keyboards that offer them.

The other was a birthday present to myself and is a Leopold FC660C (Topre) in Grey & Blue:Leopold FC660C (Topre) in Grey & BlueThe Leopold does not have a Mac specific mode (although you can use its DIP switches to swap the Windows and Alt key, but that doesn’t get you ⌘ to the right of the space bar).

Therefore I fiddled a bit with remapping some keys for these keyboards for macOS use. One option for the Leopold FC660C is Hasu’s Alt Controller which replaces the controller board itself with a fully programmable one. Another option is to use Karabiner to remap the keys at the software level, but I found the CPU usage of Karabiner’s karabiner_grabber process a bit too high for what it should be doing. Since macOS 10.12 there’s another way to remap keys using hidutil.

My configuration (for both keyboards) looks as follows (stored inside ~/bin/ which is run on login, based on this script):

#!/usr/bin/env bash






# WASDv2 / CODE in Mac mode
hidutil property --matching '{"ProductID":0x269, "VendorID":0x4d9}' --set "{\"UserKeyMapping\":[
{$FROM: $F13,          $TO: $MEDIA_EJECT},
{$FROM: $F14,          $TO: $MEDIA_PREV},
{$FROM: $F15,          $TO: $MEDIA_NEXT},
# Leopold FC660C
hidutil property --matching '{"ProductID":0x134, "VendorID":0x853}' --set "{\"UserKeyMapping\":[
{$FROM: $PAUSE,        $TO: $MEDIA_NEXT},

Mainly this maps the modifier keys to be more Mac-like, caps lock to escape (which means I can run the Leopold’s escape key permanently in ` / ~ mode (using Fn + Q), as well as some media keys. The links in the header-comment of the script contain lists of supported pages and usages; the page is the upper 32-bit word and the usage the lower 32-bit word.

If you want to run this on login, you can use launchd by storing a plist in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/de.maven.remap_keys.plist for example containing

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Happy hacking!

SoundPusher v1.0.0

And we have a release (which is fairly untested, but it works for me). This is first time I’ve released something post-Gatekeeper, so I hope I signed all the things correctly. Also the first time I’ve attempted an installer.

I’ve redone the synchronisation between the input and output thread about 5 times now, let’s hope this variant works out. It’s easy if you don’t care about latency, but trying to get that as low as possible without glitching and staying real-time is quite hard. By default, only AC3 encoding is enabled as DTS support in libavcodec is only experimental. EAC3 seems to distribute packets over multiple SPDIF frames, and thus seems to be a bad choice due to further increased latency.

Diablo 3 sounds quite different with 5.1 sound for example, as the different screen corners map to in front or behind your character (and thus the listener) due to the isometric perspective.

Report any issues or suggestions on the GitHub page. Happy multi-channel audio-ing! 🙂


I’ve been on a bit of a coding spree during my time off work, and managed to make some progress on my old attempt to provide a virtual 5.1 sound-card that does real-time AC3 encoding to a digital output connection. This time around, I didn’t actually stop a third of the way in and it actually works (and quite well at that — at least on my system — if I may say so).

The code is on GitHub. If you’re interested helping with testing, feel free to get in touch.

For some internals, I reduced the number of components to two, as I eschewed AudioUnits (and thus the separate encoder) altogether. There’s now just the user-space LoopbackAudio driver (AudioServerPlugIn) and the SoundPusher application that reads from the loopback-driver, compresses that and then sends it to the real digital output stream. Latency is reasonable from my experiments, as is CPU usage.

Puzzle Games

I really enjoy puzzle games. Here’s a list of some I’ve enjoyed:

  • 3D
    • Antichamber
    • Kairo
    • Portal (2)
    • The Talos Principle
  •  Platforming
    • Braid
    • FEZ
    • The Swapper
  • Pure
    • Hexcells (Plus / Infinite)
    • Picross 3D
    • Slitherlink
    • SpaceChem

All of these are well worth buying.

Things I learnt about my Synology NAS

The following points have been observed on my Synology DS414, but I would think that most of them are due to the software stack, and not hardware specific.

  • DDNS updates with FreeDNS require explicit use of username and password, instead of allowing use of the authentication token.
  • DDNS update interval seems to be hardcoded and not configurable (through the DSM UI). I’d prefer the NAS remain hibernating at night.
  • The AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) implementation is based on the old-ish version 2.2.3 of Netatalk. Netatalk requires a separate database to record file to id mappings (managed by cnid_dbd) which is purged by the NAS on every reboot. This database is created as soon as a user connects to the volume via AFP and can take multiple hours to build if the volume contains many files. This makes all other accesses quite slow while the database is rebuilt.
  • Hibernation leaves fans running.
  • If your AFP connections to the NAS reproducibly crash and disconnect (with very flaky behaviour on the Mac, no clean dismount, endless reconnect retries and replays “AFP_VFS afpfs_DoReconnect” when attempting to create a Spotlight index on the NAS volume, a likely cause is problematic extended attributes on files on the volume. These can be removed (after ssh’ing onto the NAS and going to the correct shared folder) with 
    find . -type d -name "@eaDir" -print0 | xargs -0 rm -rf

Gone Home

Gone Home peaked my interest when I saw the trailers and reviews on its release but the asking price seemed a tad high, so I put it on my wish list and forgot about it. A few days back, it popped up in a Humble Store flash-sale and I went for it. In retrospect, I would’ve been happy paying full price, but it’s not as if waiting did any harm.

I really, really enjoyed it, but I can see why people dislike it (or think very little of it — in game terms). It uses many of the usual “tricks” for evoking emotion (great voice acting coupled with musical “riffs”, strong nostalgia, …) but despite knowing these things were used on me, they worked just fine and affected me. (As an aside: I also played The Stanley Parable, which seemed like it tried too hard to be clever, then you realise it actually is cleverer than you gave it credit for, but it remains an entirely left brain experience — sort of the opposite of Gone Home.)

Gone Home is like a puzzle game where you slowly assemble pieces of the story in your head from hints scattered around the house. While the main thrust of the plot is very “in-your-face” (but still well done), you might miss entire side-stories in the puzzle, but they’re there for you if you pay attention (and they make the game better by providing a more complete, internally consistent picture). The developer commentary is also interesting, especially how they’re coming from the “1st person interactive simulation” school of game design (e.g. Looking Glass’ classics, * Shock, Deus Ex, …).

I recommend it highly, but I’m not sure how much of my enjoyment of it stems from 1990 nostalgia of my own teenage years, so buyer beware.