Review: Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2

Recently I took the plunge and purchased a Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2.


The first thing you notice about the HHKP is its small footprint. It is approximately the size of a laptop keyboard, but the keys are full size. I purchased the black version, which uses a dark grey plasic for the board/keys, with black lettering on the key tops. Taken as a whole, it looks very attractive and minimalistic. One thing to note is that the contrast between the keys and labels is very slight, which might make it difficult to see in a darkened room. The textured plastic also seems to attract lint, which mars the overall appearance.


The keys feel great; if you’re used to typing on modern Apple keyboards, the key travel will feel almost excessive at first. I wasn’t sure what I would think about Topre switches, but I think that I like them; they aren’t really noisy, but have a deep, satisfying “thunk” when they bottom out. The keycaps have a textured plastic on the top which is also very pleasant to feel. I think that overall, the switches fulfill the requirement I had for them, which was to provide moderately deep travel and not be too loud for a cramped office space.


Of course, the reason why the HHKP is so polarizing is that the designers made some choices that not everyone will agree with. Probably the most obvious is that there are no dedicated arrow keys; you have to press a modifier key plus one of the [, ;, ' or / keys. If you’re a visual text editor power user, this may very well be a dealbreaker for you. The only other real annoyance I’ve found is the placement of the tilde (~) key, which is on the upper right side of the board, above the Delete key. It’s very commonly used in Unix-flavored systems (e.g. cd ~ will take you to your home directory), and I have not gotten used to its placement yet.


Although it will only appeal to a subset of keyboard enthusiasts, I have enjoyed using the HHKP. If you use a computer professionally, it’s definitely worth your time to investigate other keyboards besides the one baked into your laptop.

Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 on (referral link)


Let's Build Bridges!

Finally getting around to making note of this here: I finished another simple puzzle game a few weeks ago. It’s a hashi wo kakero implementation, called “Let’s Build Bridges.” Check it out on the Ganbaru Games site. It works great on mobile (Chrome/Safari) as well, so you can save it to your device’s homescreen for fast access. Alternately, I put an IAP-enabled version on iTunes, so plz give me pennies.

Also, since trashing the Ganbaru Games dev blog, I needed something to put there, so ended up making a faux smartphone-type interface. It’s a bit spartan now, but will be fleshed out a bit as I slowly convert some of my Javascript games over to using Arcadia.


Play Spelunky on OS X!

Spelunky is a great game. I remember playing the first freeware version, and sucking at it. I don’t think I ever got past the Mines. Never owned an Xbox 360, so I wasn’t able to play the HD remake when it was first released. I shed bitter tears about that. Imagine my joy when a port was released for PS3 (which I actually owned)! Imagine my anguish when my PS3 bit the dust, suffering from the dreaded “Yellow Light of Death!

While there is a PC version of the game, no OS X port has been released, and it’s looking rather unlikely at this point. Fortunately, it’s super easy to get the Windows version of the game running in Wine! Even better, there’s an application called Wineskin Winery, which will bundle the Windows .exe into its own self-contained Mac .app bundle! When you get the whole thing working, it’s totally seamless and amazing. While I found a few tutorials online to help walk through the process of getting Spelunky up and running, they were a bit sketchy, so I figured I’d recount the process here, complete with screenshots. Note that I’m running the GOG version.

  1. Download Wineskin Winery. When you start the app, you’ll see something like this
  2. Install an engine. I installed 1.7.29, but you can probably use anything newer.
  3. Click “Create New Blank Wrapper.” Give it an awesome name.
  4. The wrapper is done! Click the “view wrapper in Finder” button.
  5. Right-click the wrapper app and choose “Show package contents.”
  6. You’ll see an app called Open it, then choose “Install Software.”
  7. The installer will allow you to choose a setup executable. Click that then choose the Spelunky setup .exe.
  8. Install it!
  9. Click the “Advanced” options and choose “Tools” -> “Winetricks”.
  10. Install d3dx9 from the “dlls” section.
  11. Do a test run. Hopefully it should work!
  12. Use Controllers to map keyboard input to your Bluetooth game controller!

Now, enjoy some of that sweet, sweet Spelunky-ing.


Make an animated hamburger icon!

I’ve been using the Lollipop version of Gmail quite a bit recently. One neat little detail is that whenever you drill down into the individual email view, the “hamburger” button in the upper left smoothly animates into a “back” button. In fact, you’ve probably seen this effect quite a lot – a simple search for “animated hamburger icon” returns a boatload of results. Most of the techniques for doing this sort of effect on the web utilize some sort of CSS trickery: they’ll use psuedo- elements to create the hamburger, then animate it all with transforms.

What if you have to support older browsers in your site? I know it’s hard to resist the shiny new features in the most recent version of Chrome, but lots of folks still use (gasp!) IE8 (or older). In fact, one of the sites that I help administer has an even split of users between Chrome and IE8. For that reason, I was thinking about how I could implement a hamburger animation in a way that wouldn’t totally break for IE8 users.

animated hamburger icon

I ended up simply using two images, a “hamburger” and an arrow, then fading between them. On newer browsers that support transforms, the fade is obscured by a rotation animation. Sure, it’s hacky; the cooler versions of this effect will create the hamburger using DOM elements, then animate each one into position. But most end users won’t notice the difference. And using images will allow older browsers to get an approximation of the effect.

Check out a JSFiddle with the implementation details.


Roll back multiple migrations with Capistrano

Have you ever used Capistrano to run Rails’ database migrations in your production environment? It’s pretty great, just cap deploy:migrations and you’re good to go. You’ve probably also had to use Capistrano to roll back a bad deploy, using cap deploy:rollback. But what if your most recent deployment had a migration that introduced a schema incompatible with your old code?

Well, if there was only one migration, you could roll it back by using rake db:rollback RAILS_ENV=production. However, the problem I found myself in a few months ago was that I had deployed a feature with multiple migrations. And, it was a long running branch, so the migration files weren’t the most recent ones run. rake db:rollback would have, in fact, reverted only a single (and wrong!) schema change.

The correct command to use in these cases is rake db:migrate:down RAILS_ENV=production VERSION=<UR TIMESTAMP HERE>. Let’s be honest, though. If you’re rolling back a schema change, you don’t want to mess around with running these tasks one at a time. In my situation, I had 10 (!) migrations that needed to be reverted. I ended up rolling them back on at a time, until one halfway through threw an error. I then realized that the only way out was through, and fixed the bug that caused the rollback attempt.

So! Resolving to never be in that situation again, I created a simple Capistrano (ver. 2) task to revert multiple migrations. And I always ensure that all migrations in any pull request I merge can be run both ways.

desc 'Migrate downwards; Usage: cap db:migrate:down VERSIONS=TIMESTAMP,[...],TIMESTAMP'
namespace :db do
  namespace :migrate do
    task :down, roles: :db do
      ENV['VERSIONS'].split(',').each do |version|
        run "cd #{current_path} && bundle exec rake db:migrate:down VERSION=#{version}"