Category: Opinions

Vim is not TextMate

When I first discovered Vim I wasted a lot of time trying to bend it backwards into a traditional editor. The below quote sums it up perfectly:

Vim is not TextMate or whatever other editor you have used before. There is no way to transfer all your old habits seamlessly, point blank.

Instead of wasting your time trying to make Vim and your terminal into something that it’s not and can’t be you should learn how to use and customize Vim wisely. All your Cmd+Shift+Ctrl+Alt combos won’t lead you anywhere. Especially in a terminal where Alt is often problematic and Cmd unusable.

Consider using leader(:help leader):

  • it’s portable on every platform
  • it’s less prone to conflicts with your OS or terminal emulator
  • it opens a lot of easy to remember possibilities

— romainl

Adding gobs of plugins instead of learning Vim’s native functionality is another common trap, so I maintain a secondary lightweight Vim config called Ninjarc with minimal plugins to keep me sharp.

Finally, Tim Pope’s philosophy of favouring commands over leader key combos yields a more cohesive configuration. I’m experimenting with Spacemacs-style command mnemonics in my Aetherwolf Vim config. For example, instead of binding Leader+T to open NerdTree, :tn is used (Toggle NerdTree). This allows :tt for Toggle Tagbar and so on – a nice memorable taxonomy rather than a flat multitude of somewhat arbitrary leader combos.

I might eventually move this into Denite menus à la SpaceVim, but for now I’m digging the simplicity of using :ex commands.

IoT device setup: easy until it’s not

Internet-connected devices are increasingly supplied without a USB tethering option. While I presume this cuts down on manufacturing complexity and improves form factor, the wifi setup user experience is often terrible.

I recently acquired a FitBit Aria scale which has the completely undocumented quirk of only being able to connect to 802.11b wifi. My router defaults to n. I had to dig through the router settings and enable dual-band. There is absolutely no way a muggle would ever figure this out.

To compound the issue, their activation API was suffering a bug that returned a cryptic JSON error when using a Mac or iOS Safari to register the scales. I have no Wintel, so I finally got it working using iOS Chrome.

Googling revealed loads of posts by angry consumers who had returned the product as defective. I wonder how much this poor design choice cost FitBit’s bottom line? Omitting a USB setup option might have seemed clever but it backfired badly – perhaps it would have been fine if their wifi onboarding experience wasn’t so flawed.

And after enabling dual-band support on my router my Kindle Paperwhite would no longer connect to the wifi network. I had to manually enable WPS discovery mode on the router to pair it again. Oy!