Dvorak remapping with Karabiner-Elements on macOS Sierra works!

With some config file elbow grease, Karabiner-Elements works wonderfully on macOS Sierra to remap your keyboard to Dvorak.

I have been using Karabiner for a while now to remap my keyboard to Dvorak, as the OSX system Dvorak keyboard mapping exposes a bug in many Java apps, including all of the JetBrains development environment tools I use intensively, whereby the keyboard is in fact Dvorak, but all shortcut keys are Qwerty, which is of course tremendously confusing. You can read more about the issue in this StackOverflow answer.

I was postponing the upgrade to macOS Sierra, because Karabiner, fantastic keyboard remapping tool, is unable to function on the new OS due to changed APIs and whatnot.

Fortunately Takayama Fumihiko, awesome hacker behind Karabiner, has been re-implementing his work in a new tool called Karabiner-Elements. The GUI is not up to pre-Sierra level yet, but the tool works perfectly to solve my Dvorak-remapping (and other) issues!

After upgrading to Sierra, install from the dmg file, start Karabiner-Elements, then copy qwerty_to_dvorak.json from the examples into your ~/.karabiner.d/configuration/ directory and name it karabiner.json. It will be immediately picked up, so you’re typing in Dvorak.

Personally I have also added the relevant lines from the change_caps_lock_to_left_control.json and change_section_key_to_accent_key.json examples to the simple_modifications clause of my karabiner.json file. Using caps-lock as control is essential for efficient Emacs use, and that section key at the top-left of the MBP 2015 keyboards should have been backtick / tilde to start with.

Weekly Head Voices #96: Never gonna give you up.

The week has resulted in a terribly nerdy list of bullets. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! (there’s a beer recommendation or three at the end to compensate)

  • It turns out that the terrible Samsung trim bug which would eat all of your data, as discovered by Algolia, was a Linux kernel bug after all (now patched by Samsung) and that it would only affect RAID setups. Let’s hope there are no surprising new turning outs.
  • Found out that the fastest ADSL lines available at my new place are a whole 2 Mbit/s. We’ve called off the transaction and we’re now searching for a new house.
  • I’m joking. It was really shocking however to consider the world as seen through a 2 Mbit/s connection. Now it seems that I will soon be entering the wonderful world of 5 GHz wireless connectivity, which should give me a fast enough connection, at least until fibre is rolled out in the year 3047.
  • Started watching Mr Robot. I don’t normally do series, but the pilot was just that good. I like the story, I really like the socially very strangely adjusted hacker protagonist and I love the cinematography. Up to episode 3, I give it 4 out of 5 Linux Distributions!
  • Continued fighting with OSX to get it completely working with my Dvorak and Emacs keybindings, also in Java apps such as IntelliJ IDEA. Two weeks ago I mentioned karabiner as a solution to most of these problems. The final piece of the puzzle was unbinding keys like Alt+W (or Mod+W as Apple calls it) in ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict to prevent OSX from turning it into a \(\Sigma\) (sigma); as everyone knows, M-w is the Emacs shortcut for copying the selected region! You can use this trick to prevent OSX from turning any of the other Mod combos into completely unwanted special characters. (My base dict file is that of Jacob Rus.)
  • I guess OSX only Just Works(tm) if your time is worth nothing. Err…
  • My first Kivy pull request, a fix for a Mac-bug (go figure), was recently merged into master. I’ve been using Kivy in the third or fourth generation of my current and probably longest running side project.
  • I’ve also been screencasting some of my night-time coding sessions using one of the more prominent livecoding sites (bonus points if you can find these sleep-inducing performances). It has been an interesting and strange experience programming with people watching over one’s shoulder as it were.
  • On Sunday, I ended up at the Root44 Market in Stellenbosch for another of those really terrible balmy winter days. I had so much fun in the sun, tasting Devil’s Peak First Light Golden Ale and their King’s Blockhouse IPA, and Stellenbrau’s Craven Lager, all from the tap, that I forgot to take a photo of the beautiful surroundings.

Have a beautiful week dear readers! Just remember, I’m never gonna give you up.

Weekly Head Voices #94: Into the wild.

  • This WHV deals with the weeks from Monday June 29 to Sunday July 19. I skipped an edition or two whilst away on vacation, as I was quite busy with, you know, being on vacation. So, about that vacation:
  • Last year I explained about the Kruger National Park, or KNP. Well, we went again this year, and again it was lovely. It helps that in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, “winter” at this time of year seems to mean “lovely balmy days with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius”. What completely and utterly seals the deal, is being surrounded by this particular permutation of natural vastness. You should go there to see for yourself, but here’s a taste:
Elephants in some of the vastness that is KNP.
  • EXTREME-NERDERY BULLET: If you’re a Dvorak typist using Java-based tools on the Mac (e.g. Eclipse, IntelliJ, AppCode, and everything by JetBrains) you might have noticed that keyboard shortcuts fall on the spectrum somewhere between extremely wonky and plain infuriating. Besides that you now know that this subset of persons is not limited to just you, here’s an SO answer that I wrote up based on information in the JetBrains bug threads. In short, a long-standing (as in years) bug in Java on Mac means you have to use an open-source tool called Karabiner instead of Mac’s built-in Dvorak support.
  • Here, have a photo of a stealthy leopard to recover:
This leopard was stalking something, but then disappeared.
  • A Sunday lunch at the Thirsty Scarecrow led to at least two new discoveries. Citizen Beer, a craft beer brewery I have not ran into yet (it’s not for lack of trying, really) makes a pretty delicious amber ale called Alliance (their wonderfully-named Saboteur IPA is not too shabby either):


Very important discovery number 2: You can (and should) deep-fry Oreos!


  • I’m still terrible at these bullets, but I imagine they’re better than being faced by a wall of text. What do you think?

Right peeps, that’s it for this edition. I wish you a fantastic and especially meaningful week. If at any point you need a little pick-me-up, my baby giraffe is standing by:

A baby giraffe, because we all need one once in a while.