The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

This post contains no affiliate links, I bought the keyboard myself two months ago.

Back in January, right after releasing Redbriar, I started shopping around for a new keyboard for my computer. There wasn’t anything super wrong with the old one save for a few broken keycaps, so I shopped around for something that would work well enough for my own use. My previous Razer keyboard was a seven mile long beast with extra keys and gaming macro options that I never used. Small keyboards like the ones on laptops have always been my favorite kind since I never needed volume controls or buttons mapped to my shaman’s totems or anything crazy.

So I began shopping around and looked at the DasKeyboards like my husband uses, the Ducky, and WASD. All of which had the options and price range I was looking into until one of my husband’s workmates told him I should check out this cool split keyboard out of Hungary. We’ve all seen the bonkers looking split keyboards from the early 2000’s where the middle arches up and the keys are shaped like a wave on your desk. I don’t have any physical limitations to typing on a standard keyboard so why get a split board? The other split keyboards are on a base, you can’t adjust the space between your hands, with this style of keyboard you can still have straight keys but you can spread them out to where your elbows aren’t touching while trying to type. You can switch between a standard keyboard and a split setup as both halves join together. My favorite part is that the two halves are joined by an old school curly phone cord like we had growing up.

Not this kind of split keyboard.

Now, I ordered the keyboard at the end of January knowing it would take some time to be produced and get to me. They had a supply issue in February (plus we all know about what happens to overseas shipping in the middle of Feb) so it got pushed back a little further. None-issues compared to the quality of the keyboard I got in the mail yesterday. The only thing I had to do was install the risers as it’s a hackable keyboard you can make it what you want, and place them in various spots to make them rise in the middle or at the top. One of the biggest reasons for the new keyboard was getting something without blue switches. My old keyboard was so loud (even with o-rings installed) that you couldn’t do much else in the room if I was writing because the sound was a major distraction. I got the brown switch option and it’s a world of difference as I’m a bit of a heavy typer.

Both sides together.
separated

With this split keyboard set up the space bar is split as you’d expect, but the right one is a type of shift key for a mode that turns the jkli buttons into directional arrows that would otherwise be on a full-size keyboard. This takes ten minutes to get used to unless you are a left-handed spacebar user, in which case you can swap the keys in the software it comes with. I ordered the ISO key layout and found the left shift button just a little too far away for my liking so I remapped the |\ key to a second shift. Easy enough to do. Another thing you can do is change the entire keyboard layout to one of a few other formats like Dvorak and Colemak with the function key. There is also an option for mouse use via a key where capslock usually is and if you don’t feel like using it you can easily remap it to such.

the arrow keys
action shot

Now I’m sure all the other keyboards have key remapping software and stuff as well, I’m just telling you what this one has that I haven’t used before. Looking around online you’ll see most folks have put a custom set of keycaps on their UHK‘s but since the right side buttons and the shift keys are non-standard sizes it gets very expensive very quickly to get a full set printed so I’ll be sticking with the stock keys for a long time. I’m sure someone on massdrop will come out with a custom set option once the demand appears. I also pre-ordered one of their modules coming out later, another thing I liked from old laptops is the red directional nubbin in the middle of the keyboard, UHK has a module for the keyboard that attaches near the spacebar that has two little mouse buttons and a red nubbin just like the olden days. 😀 They have several other options as well as wooden palm rests for those of yall who somehow type with your wrists on the table. So far so good with typing last night. I did notice it was a little awkward to have it split while doing photoshop shortcuts but it’s super easy to slide the halves back together. Super great keyboard so far.

Misprints News #47 – Trying to write in the future is hard.

I had to take an entry level BCIS class at TJC back in 2003. Each school I went to required a basic “how to use computers” course to ensure you knew how to type a business letter in Microsoft Word. These machines were rocking windows 95 and some manner of Office using keyboards so tactile and clicky they’d be on eBay for thousands of dollars today. During one of the lecture sections of the class (Yes, a BCIS class separated into a lab and lecture combo for some reason.) our professor had us come up with a fake company to which we had to create a powerpoint presentation to explain what it did.

I think most people had restaurants and retail shops, I can’t remember what mine was at all. But there was one guy who came up with a really good idea which was to have a kiosk where you could select a 15 song playlist and have the machine burn it to a CD for you. This was 2003 and people were still out there buying physical CD’s or burning them from stolen songs off the internet. At the time our professor and most of the class thought it was a great idea for a business. Pay for songs you wanted and get them in hard copy as opposed to the slim selection at the time on iTunes.

Now I look back and think just how screwed this guy’s dot.com would have been had he run out that day and tried to create his musical version of Redbox. Besides all the licensing and upfront costs to have cd burner stations made, he would be toast by 2007 when the iPhone showed up and everyone started using their phones as iPods. Cars don’t come with CD players anymore, everything runs off Bluetooth from other devices that stream from the internet, another concept unheard of back then as phones didn’t exactly have the internet as we know it or huge data plans. Texting was expensive, having music play from a remote source. I think it wasn’t until around 2005-ish when I was able to get the Razer phone which had the option of internet and email but the plan was still too expensive to actually buy.

The problem that I’ve run into when writing for a future setting is that I only have the technology available to me at this point in time as a reference. My cyberpunk story is set around 2060, just far enough ahead that most of what we use might still be relevant but some big things will be obsolete. Will people still use a desktop computer? Will they still have cell phones? Will people be allowed to drive or own their own cars? Some of these things have been played with in my short stories done back in November. The same timeframe is being used, just not in the US and the characters are different. People having automatic driving electric cars, a cashless economy, and a more invasive government are just a few that appear in them. I can sit all day and read nonsense about 5g and magical new battery technologies. They can 3d print all kinds of stuff in more ways than before. However, in only 30 years time we won’t exactly have autonomous metallic humanoid servant robots wandering around. Amazon will need more time to create a personal C-3PO for everyone if they’re still around then.

Remember, the big companies around today might not be there in a few decades. Huge cities can economically collapse, natural disasters can wipe out towns, and wars can cut up countries very quickly. What if Detroit makes a comeback by 2060? What if you need a license to own a domain and website? What if my book sounds crazy in 30 years because people are still using cars and cell phones? For some stuff, I just have to go with it knowing it probably won’t come true. Anything political or geographical can’t easily be guessed so those things are easier to suspend disbelief with. It is speculative fiction anyway, half the fun is saying “what if?” and then going along for the ride.

This week I’ve been able to sit and work out more of the outline to the new story. There have been several kinks to work out as most of the action results in something logical and boring happening afterwards. Nothing a few nights of reworking it won’t fix.

As with the old newsletter, Jetlinks are never affiliate links.

Jetlinks: Friday 22 2019

Also of note, the old website should go dark starting today. It will be another month or so before I can afford to get my url mapped over here.

Haven’t been to a real arcade in a long time.

We’ve gone to a dozen kids parties that featured an arcade section or seen a few cabinets in the corner of a theater, most either have a cash slot or run on the new card reader systems. Don’t get me wrong, the new card system is great for keeping track of tickets earned and keeping track of all your tokens/coins. However, it’s just not the same as having a handful of tokens and a fistful of paper tickets at the end of the trip.

PINBALL WIZARDS

Tonight we took the kids to a place called Pinballz in Austin. This is their northern location which features a bar/restaurant as well as an entire other side with a mini go-kart track. Cody had gone to a work event at this place and thought the kids would enjoy going to an arcade similar to the ones we grew up with. The key figure of this place is their working section of vintage games and pinball machines. Our boys had never played a pinball machine before and it was fun watching them try to figure out the concept of the flippers and keeping an eye on where the ball was. Most of the pinball games were about a dollar to play, some of the simpler ones were less.

BLINGBLINGBLINGBLINGBLINGBING

There is also a section of gaming cabinets, whose games my kids have played just not with joysticks and buttons. Most of them only cost fifty cents to play which was also nice considering how the modern games, here and at other places, run a couple dollars per play easy. The boys are used to playing games where there is an ending or a final boss to defeat, these old games were all designed to eat quarters while you attempted to beat somebody else’s high score. I find it funny that these old quarter eaters work on the same system as modern “pay to play” mobile games.

And yes 99% of them worked.
WHERE ARE THE TURTLES!? Raph was out of order.

Besides the fact that this place had a real restaurant in the back who served proper pizza (not that you know what pizza from you know where) and alcohol, most of the modern games gave out real live tickets for the prize booth. New games with card readers simply flash a number of tickets won which you scan at the counter to pick out your candy and bouncy ball. This place used an RFID card you could reload to pay for your games (including purchasing the physical tokens for the older games) but spat out the glorious roll of paper tickets. These were then loaded into a counting machine which gave you a Las Vegas-style voucher to cash in at the prize booth later. Completely worth the extra work to watch your nearly 3-year-old scream with glee as the fishing game unrolled the paper tickets that she held onto for half an hour.

These weren’t ours.

When we were kids arcades were loud, smelly, and where the mall rats hung out while their parents were out shopping. There was always a wait and a row of tokens on the dash of the Tekken and DDR cabinets. I like that this place was relatively quiet and the lights weren’t down so far you couldn’t see the floor. We once went to an arcade in downtown Austin a billion years ago called Einstein’s Arcade I think, which was a couple of rows of cabinets from the doors to the back wall, and so crowded you couldn’t really get in or play anything.

I always play skee ball.

Anyway, this place was really nice and the kids had fun playing videogames that required standing up and keeping up with a cup full of tokens. Oh and you can see from this skee ball pic there are cupholder stands ever so many feet around all the games so you can drink and play at the same time. If you have a local arcade nearby I encourage you to go once in a while. Those cabinet games and pinball cabinets will just end up in the trash otherwise.

Misprints News #46 – A Cyberpunk Story

Getting The Widow of Redbriar out to the world took a little longer than I’d hoped it would. After a setback with the internal print files of the paperback version, things are now shipping out smoothly. The holidays are over for the most part and things are back to normal around the house which means I can now jump back into the nightly writing schedule.

As of today, I’m still in the outlining stages of my next little book. This one will not be a sequel to Redbriar, for which, a concept is written down but I’m burnt out on Mary Ellen. Instead, I’m working on a cyberpunk story set in a speculative future. The main characters are guys, the world has electricity outside of Edison’s garage, and everyone has amazing flush toilets. Total opposite of Redbriar.

The “Cyberpunk” story as of right now follows two guys who write medical software for government pharmaceutical companies which have developed a chip-based drug delivery device that can be programmed to deliver custom signals to the brain to relieve pain, suppress hunger, etc. Again, this is speculative fiction and I’m not a scientist but you can grasp the concept. Our two guys write software for the devices by day and custom illegal software for them by night. Things go bad when one day the government decriminalizes the custom software hours after our guys have taken out a loan with one of the many drug rings in town.

Some differences from standard Cyberpunk:

  • Not a dystopia
  • Not set in NY/LA/HK/or Tokyo
  • Main characters are not orphans or teens

JetLinks!

  1. Amazon is pulling out of their New York HQ location.
  2. Chinese censorship workers spend all day banning history.
  3. JP Morgan is crazy late to the alt-coin game.
  4. Chinese business programs now invest in Reddit.

Among other things, you’ll notice this isn’t the original website. I’m in the process of moving it over to WordPress’s pro plan in the next couple of weeks so some old links may or may not work after Feb 22nd. Also until I get on the paid plan there may be ads on the site they inject, whatever garbage they are for wasn’t approved by me.