` Backtick Character on iPhone / iPad

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The iPhone and the iPad (as also the Motorola Droid and all the other Smartphones with their fancy virtual keyboards on the touch screen) do not support all possible keys in their virtual keyboards. A case in point is the backtick character. This makes it a problem when you need to enter the character in a text entry field of some app or web-site.

A simple but annoying way to deal with this is to do a web search for that character by name, find the character on some web-site and copy and paste it in to whatever text entry field that needs it. For your convenience I’ve provided this character on a separate line at the top of this post (to help work with the limitations of cut-n-paste on the iPhone/iPad).

Note that some of the virtual keys bring up a pop-up with additional keys supported when you keep you finger pressed on it.

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Problem Using Vim on the Motorola Droid

I use the excellent ConnectBot SSH client on my Motorola Droid to SSH into Linux/Unix boxen. Subsequently, I make the mistake of using Vim. Once I enter insert mode in Vim, I realize that the Droid keyboard (and probably every other smartphone keyboard) doesn’t have any key representing the Escape key (that is used in Vim to exit insert mode). There isn’t even a key, AFAIK, representing Control. After being stumped by this multiple times, I now do the following every time before I start editing with Vim when connected in via my Droid:

:imap qq <Esc>

Note that you have to do this *before* you enter insert mode (remember you want a key-sequence to be able to exit insert mode). Once set, I can enter ‘q’ two times in succession to simulate the Escape key action.

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Smartphones suck when used as phones….

Today I bought the Motorola Droid phone and after a few hours of playing around with it, realized that SmartPhones suck at being used as a phone :-(. They have fancy features and Internet access and what have you, but with my old (not-so-smart) phone, I could dial a number that I was used to dialing without looking at the phone (using a couple of key presses or using speed dial using my memory of the physical layout of the keys). With the Droid, it appears like you cannot do a simple thing such as speed dial (remember there are no keys available to dial the phone — you need to “look” at the screen and bring it life by doing stuff like flicking your finger on the screen requiring the use of two hands — one to hold the phone, one to gesture correctly — and then get the number you want out of some form of menu — ugh).

Thinking about this, it seems like BlackBerry is really the best smart phone — they haven’t compromised on the traditional phone functionality and have smartly addressed the iPhone market with the Storm which they aren’t really paying too much attention to. The rest of the touchscreen smartphones including the Driod are simply chasing the iPhone market segment without innovating on what a cell-phone is — iPhone defined a new segment for itself and it’s finish and polish outclass just about everyone else. The others should not simply copy it — they should come out with something vastly superior to it. Until they do, I am stuck with the Driod.

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