Unexpected Consequences of my Crowdfunding Addiction

I admit it. I’ve been trying to cut down. But still things I funded years ago come around to bite me.

My current rathole is a certain “internet-connected” keyboard. It lets you light up particular keys to tell you things you would otherwise have to look at on-screen notifications to find out, and it clicks real nice too. I ordered it, and eventually it arrived, and I gave it to my kid because he’s the only one in the house with a windows machine, and there were no drivers for using the keyboard on a Mac.

Even more eventually the mac drivers were available for download, so I took the keyboard back, only to discover that “available” didn’t mean “stable”. It’s a nice keyboard, and I like being able to look at my function keys and try to figure out what it thinks tomorrow’s weather will be, but I don’t like my mac crashing every few hours or even every few days.

So I moved the fancy keyboard over to my linux box (where the drivers are stable) and fired up the mac with some random garbage keyboard from the basement. (Suddenly no crashes for weeks at a time, but lousy keyboard.)

Then the kid and I were browsing the free pile at the local used computer shop, and found this PS/2-to-USB adaptor. Aha! I could use my indestructible old Dell QuietKey (ha!) which had been languishing unused because of its PS/2 plug. Oh, but wait. When my mac is asleep, I wake it up by hitting the shift key (because I don’t want to inadvertently type something that could have consequences). The combination of QuietKey and adaptor does not transmit the shift key, or at least not in a way that wakes my computer. So I’ve been keeping that garbage USB keyboard from the basement over in a corner of may desk just so I can wake my computer up when it goes to sleep.

Until the other day, when I had a brainstorm: I don’t need a whole other keyboard, I just need a USB device that can transmit a keystroke. There are only about half a dozen Teensy microcontrollers of varying vintage in the basement, and they do faux keyboard (and mouse, and joystick) just fine. So, after wrestling with the Mac’s anti-support of USB for Arduino programming, and a few ins and outs of how USB keyboards actually wake things up, I now have a passive IR sensor connected to a teenyy 2.0 that wakes my mac up whenever I wave at it.

And to think: if I didn’t buy unreliable crowdfunded gear none of this would ever have happened.

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