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The Dancing Cursor

2021-06-10

Something felt still out of place in my retro setup.

It's a terminal emulator, it's white on black, and it's even a mechanical keyboard; but something was still missing. Or out of place. Then I found out what it was: the blinking cursor. Thankfully the Xfce Terminal had an option to disable the blinking. Nice. Now it looks retro. The disabling has effect on programs like nano too.

Then I suddenly realized what else was great about it: no distraction! The blinking cursor can be a curse. Sometimes it feels like a clock you have to run against. Constantly pulsating, it makes you feel like you are intentionally wasting time and getting behind in your work while you are in fact thinking what to type. It's exactly like a person sitting next to you and urging, only to assert pressure and decrease the quality of your output.

The distraction can be sweet too. Sometimes you get lost in a cursor's rhythmic dance. It makes you play some music in your mind to match the tempo. It takes you to random areas of thought. All good, but I don't want any of that while I ought to be thinking about what to type.

So let me stick to a non-blinking cursor while I have something in plan and want it done, and make it dance again when I am ready to wander.


Some facts added on 2021-06-11:

  • I remember seeing some applications make the cursor sleep after a few seconds of inactivity, but they start blinking soon after you resume typing. I prefer this to an ever-blinking cursor, although I'm not sure if I like it better than a never-blinking one.
  • A non-blinking cursor doesn't make it that hard to locate. All you have to do is pressing an arrow key. But there is another disadvantage that is real. The blinking cursor usually stops to let you know that bash autocomplete is in action and you aren't supposed to type (noticeable when the autocomplete depends on a remote computer). You'll miss this after switching to a never-blinking cursor. I wish there was an option to invert the blinking behaviour rather than suppress it altogether. Kind of a "behavioural dark mode" for the cursor.

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