496: Keyboard Hacking with Brett Terpstra


Love listening to Brett Terpstra. Looking forward to listening to this episode.


I’ve just looked at the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard - that’s insane!

Despite the huge number of options I’ve understood the benefit a keyboard that splits or tents. It just seems like an extra barrier to typing as efficiently as possible.

I mean I guess it would be possible to get used to it in time, but still, it’s not for me.

I haven’t listened to the episode yet, but here’s a shout out to one of my favorite keyboards.

Sorry to miss two in a row. Been out of pocket with a family situation that’s just about resolved. Looking forward to publishing our next episode which is a real fun one. In the meantime, I’m pumped to dive into this interview.


For true keyboard geeks, QMK compatibility will often be the deciding factor for whether a keyboard is actually “configurable” or not.
Luckily, it’s quite easy to get or make a little dongle that sits between the keyboard and the computer and makes it possible to run QMK with even Apple USB keyboards. (No bluetooth yet)

Hey David,
If your iPad Pro keyboard is failing, go to Apple and get a new one. I’m on my second Smart Keyboard case and on my third(!) iPad Pro 10.5. If it’s a hardware problem and not your fault, they will give you a new one.

I have not a single device from Apple that hasn’t seen a form of free service (just got my watch series 3 replaced as well [force touch was failing and the battery life was at 15 h]).

1 Like

I always enjoy the broadcasts when Brett Terpstra is a guest. I went and took a look at
nvUltra and it looks really interesting. I look forward to it’s release. The concept of the app alone has me diving in my purse. Good show guys!


I agree. The tenting idea throws me for a loop. I suppose I could get used to it, but why?

Tenting is commonly seen as better for RSI. No idea if it works.

What episode is Fletcher Penny featured in? He was mentioned in this Brett Terpstra episode.

Google is your friend:

37… That’s like… pre-war!


Brett mentioned a git-like app for writers. He couldn’t quite get the name. I confirmed with him on Twitter that he was thinking of Draft Control · Save every version, track every change.

I have used this and really liked it, but it hasn’t been updated in like 2 years. I think it was about $10 which wasn’t enough to be sustainable, especially with a niche audience.

(UPDATE: Brett confirmed that Draft Control no longer works, so if you were thinking of buying it despite its age… don’t.)

I also like Tower, but I don’t use it enough to justify the $70/year subscription price, so I’ve stuck with version 2 which had a single-purchase license, and which does everything that I need.

1 Like

This seems like something that could be emulated with Hazel. Each time the file changes, save it with a date & time appended - maybe into a hidden folder.

1 Like

To be honest, the reason I didn’t ever really use it (even though I owned it) was that:

  • I get 30-day’s worth of “undo” from Dropbox

  • Almost all of my files are in Dropbox

  • I can’t recall ever wishing that I could go further back in time than what Dropbox offered me

  • Dropbox largely “just works” and Draft Control often didn’t

Keeping a copy every time you save is fine if you’re working with small text files, but if you’re working with something large and complex, you wouldn’t want to duplicate it on each save (git and programs like it are able to save just the differences between changes, which is much more efficient).

You’d probably find that “every save” is actually too often in most cases. What you really want is more like every paragraph or every page. If you changed a word, saved, then wrote a sentence, saved again, then re-wrote it, and saved again… you might want each of those versions, but you might not. The trouble is, it’s hard to know until you’re in the thick of it. For some documents, you might really only want to save a “version” of it each time you close the file and finish working on it for the day.


Agreed. I just saw an editor with infinite undo, can’t recall which.
iCloud has versioning too, though I don’t have occasion to use it.
I keep everything important (except binaries/data) in git repos.

This would be a good indication that you’re using Word :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yeah, in fact I have never found it necessary to have more than the end of the day’s version. And not much use of that really. Sometimes I think it is a case of us following the capabilities of the technology rather than vice versa.

I did form my writing habits on hard copy I admit. I find I have really developed new habits since IT; forming sentences on the screen rather than in my head I might put it. I don’t need prior versions for that though, I just keep correcting a paragraph or sentence at a time and never need previous versions.

My first paper though was done on Word I think 30+ years ago. I do write better electronically I think and did from the get go: however that one was a kind of fight with Word software as I remember it. I use Ulysses all the time now till final version and find it meets all my needs and without any ‘battles’.
I have written articles on mimeograph, lots at one time: that was an irritating challenge with no room for error and I don’t long for the ‘good ol’ days’. However some older writers who famously wrote ‘straight off the bat’, Bertrand Russell for example, produced what remain classics of style and content. I use, for final versions, LaTeX; very often because I love the program for aesthetic reasons you might say; the visual type set result of it too. It was designed as a type setting program as you know and is not relevant to this topic!

1 Like

That’s okay. If you mention Word, you can mention LaTeX. It restores the balance in the Universe.


Re alternatives to git-hub, particularly for writing you don’t wish or shouldn’t be made public, my choice is Fossil SCM, written to support development of SQLite. Admittedly it’s command line driven, but is quite simple.