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 Things to do with your nook

I've wanted an Optimus Maximus keyboard since I first heard about it. Whereas some people seem to think it's an expensive gimmick, as someone who routinely switches between three different keyboard layouts (and can't touch type on all of them) it would be a godsend. However, I don't have that kind of money to drop on a keyboard.

A couple weeks ago I got a nook simple touch. I can't speak highly enough about this little tablet. If nothing else it's makes me want to read. Obviously pretty much the first thing I did was to root it which makes it the only e-ink tablet on the market. After getting everything working it made me wonder if I could use it as a wireless soft keyboard for my regular computer.

I've never written an android app and before I dove headlong into that I figured I should do a quick and dirty proof of concept. I decided to mock up a keyboard in html, run a minimal server on my main computer and somehow connect the server to another program to mimic key presses. I didn't want to mess with fonts, so I decided to use an image for each key. I typed out all the keys from the different keyboard layouts to a text file and used a quick and dirty python script to parse the file and send commands to image magick to produce the images then modified the same script to generate an html file. You can see the html page here.

The server side code was borrowed from another project I did a couple years ago. The code is super messy, but if you're curious, the whole thing can be downloaded here. . Basically the keypresses send a code back to the server in acsii, they are decoded in a look up table and then sent to xte which simulates the key presses.

How does it work? Not very well. Opera mini doesn't want to connect to my home brew server and the browser browser doesn't handle javascript very well so I can't switch between layouts. xte will generate German and US keypresses just fine, but I haven't been able to get it to output Cyrillic, which was actually the impetus for this project in the first place. So it's still just a proof of concept for the moment, but it was a fun afternoon getting it working. Take a look below:

Comments (310) | Posted by Andrew on 2012-03-15 03:13:15

 I found this post earlier today while in the office Very useful Sent the link to myself and will most likely bookmark when I make it home and Happy New Year! 
by Keisha | posted on 2014-01-05 02:28:49

 Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us. wish you all the best in 2014! 
by Shara | posted on 2014-01-03 05:26:42

 But i want to tell that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this. 
by post cycle | posted on 2013-06-06 06:04:50

 Hi there! Would you mind if I share your weblog with my facebook group? There is a whole lot of those that I believe would actually appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks Air Max 87 
by Air Max 87 | posted on 2013-06-05 06:46:11

 Great Stuff, do you have a myspace account? 
by Dorogie devushki Moskva | posted on 2013-02-27 10:42:19

 Where is Andrew, lost in the outside world? 
by Marc | posted on 2012-09-28 05:17:45

 Hack again?! 
by newmall668 | posted on 2012-03-16 12:08:24

 Remote Droid ( works really well as a remote keyboard, at least for a Linux host (I havenít tried anything else). It runs a Java program on the desktop and connects to it. Itís what I use for my HTPC remote control since I can connect multiple phones and tablets to it at once and it gives me mouse and keyboard control. Combine it with Hackerís Keyboard (org.pocketworkstation.pckeyboard) (search market, the spam filter won't let me post the URL) for a full set of keys. 
by MatthewB | posted on 2012-03-16 11:48:47

 @MatthewB: Thanks for the links Matthew. Just glancing at those two projects that's most of the code I need for what I want to do. Hopefully I'll have time in the next couple days to put everything together. Eventually I'd love to be able to have a truly dynamic virtual keyboard which can not only show different key layouts, but also special hot keys, or key combinations. @newmall668: I can't tell if that's a question of a statement. 
by Andrew | posted on 2012-03-16 03:19:58

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