The Best Laid Plans of Macs and Men

My continuing quest to make my Mac products work better has met its newest obstacle: funny keyboards.

I got around this by using Doublecommand on my Powerbook, which gives a few options for remapping generally useless keys into rather useful keys on a Mac keyboard. The only option I was using was one that remapped the extra Enter key, next to the right Command key, into a second Option key. This meant I could navigate through tabs in Camino with just my right hand. (Get your dirty jokes out now. It has nothing to do with that. Probably.) I also updated the keyboard shortcuts for Safari to work the same way; by default, you navigate tabs in Safari with Shift-Command and an Arrow key, but that just ends up selecting a line of text if your window happens to have Gmail or WordPress up. Option-Command just works nicer.

Or rather, it just worked nicer. Somehow, this only partially made the transition onto my Macbook. Option-Command-Left Arrow works normally, and I can use it to navigate tabs without a problem using either the original Option key or the modified Enter-as-Option key. However, Option-Command-Right Arrow only works with the original option key. My computer firmly refuses to believe that this keystroke even exists, to the point where I can’t even manually assign it as a shortcut in the Keyboard preference pane. I press it, and nothing registers. I am totally at a loss and mostly just wanted to vent, but feel free to speak up if you have any alternative ideas.

This doesn’t even begin to address how challenging it is to use a Mac keyboard when running Windows, so I’m looking for a keyboard remapper for that, too. (Or maybe it’s just that Windows keyboard shortcuts generally suck. I mean, seriously, Ctrl-everything? I am much more dextrous with my thumb than with my pinky. That is how we defeated the apes.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering how things went with Fusion, I’m going to try getting my money back, but I will probably fail. Running it off a Boot Camp partition just doesn’t work as well, as it forces Windows to shut down every time you quit (as opposed to saving the state). So, in addition to taking awhile to start every time you want to use Windows, it means that Windows is stuck installing a crapload of updates while you’re trying to get out of it just to free up some freaking RAM.

I’ve been remapping Caps Lock to Ctrl on all my keyboards for a few years now, and in addition to keeping my wrists a little straighter, it makes a virtualized Windows and Emacs a lot easier to use.

After spilling coffee on my last laptop, I spent over a year with the non-functional right arrow key remapped to something ridiculous like Cntl-Cmd-

Apparently my comment gets eaten if I type angle brackets. What you missed was the end of my story about remapping arrow keys, me asking you if you have tried a Parallels Desktop demo yet, and my mumbling about RAM usage on your laptop as a source to your Fusion woes.

I haven’t tried Parallels yet, but $40 felt like a lot to shell out for software, and $80 feels like maybe more than I’m willing to spend right now. Maybe once I finally buy Endnote and the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite, I’ll get over such concerns.

Anyway, Dan was able to replicate the DoubleCommand error on his Macbook, so I posted to the bugs forum.