Mechanical Keyboards as a Hobby — My Collection [2019/11]

November 13, 2019 · 09:53

I’ve previously written only a few short words about one of my newer hobbies — mechanical keyboards — which has been a fantastic journey, keeping me occupied, teaching me new things, while providing a superior tool for all my writing at the same time. This all started over 30 years ago, when I used my first mechs, but which I left behind when I switched to laptops. Unfortunately, I listened a little too much to Jason Snell and John Gruber talking about their mechanical keyboards on their podcasts, so here I am, and I’d like to share what I’ve collected so far…

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I’ll Be Pre-Ordering a White iPhone 11 Pro Today

September 13, 2019 · 10:42

I was actually not planning on upgrading from my iPhone XS this year but there are two features which got me hooked. I’m not really into the ultra wide 13 mm lens — I would still prefer a proper tele in the 70-100 mm range — but the new video features, including the ability to record from two lenses simultaneously (via Filmic Pro) and to the possibility of continuously zooming between all three while recording, are what made my mind up.

I had a white X and it was great at masking all my fingerprints. Unfortunately, I decided to get a Space Grey XS and discovered that the lens is an absolute lint magnet (I don’t use a case and I didn’t even notice the lint on my X) so I’ll be going back to white again. Additionally, I love the look of the polished stainless steel case around the glass — it reminds me of high quality mechanical watch cases.

A little over 3 hours to go…


Mechanical Keyboards, Apple Keyboards, GMK Phosphorous — A Brief History of My Keyboard Hobby

June 7, 2019 · 10:17

Ever since I got my 2016 MacBook Pro, I have had a love/hate relationship with its keyboard. Yes, it’s pretty good to type on. No, it doesn’t offer much feedback and the travel is extremely shallow. There was the one (well, two actually) with the Touch Bar, which I got rid of because of its mediocre battery life and being unable to live with Apple’s latest “innovation”. Then I had to have one on my MacBook Pro Escape replaced.

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Adding Dark Mode to Infinite Diaries

May 23, 2019 · 12:05

Mozilla released Firefox 67 a few days ago and they introduced support Dark Mode, as Safari did a while ago too. This prompted me to finally tackle implementing this feature here, on Infinite Diaries, hacking through my CSS. I should have spent the time to rewrite it from scratch, using CSS variables, but that will have to be done another day.

P.S. You might have to clear your browser’s cache to get it to work.

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May the 4th Be With You

May 4, 2019 · 11:09

Star Wars has been a part of my life for over 30 years and there are some characters I always loved more than others. Chewbacca was one of them. Tragically, Peter Mayhew passed away a few days ago…

Star Wars wouldn’t have been the same without him.

But he should have gotten that damned medal though.


Quick Thoughts on AirPods 2

March 28, 2019 · 09:45

I have used my first generation AirPods almost daily for the past two years. I started having issues with the right AirPod a few months ago, so I sent them in to get them looked at. They, surprisingly, replaced both AirPods (I got the old case back since it was fine) because Apple confirmed the issues that I had described. Quite frankly, going without AirPods for 5 days wasn’t easy — they’re easily the best product that Apple has created recently.

I expected AirPods 2 to get a 30% price increase and there being just one model available. Ideally, Apple would have introduced the second generation model with the charging case at the same price, but that’s just not how the world works. Instead, we got new AirPods with the old case for the same price and the option to upgrade to the Qi-enabled case for an extra 25%. This is better than nothing and honestly, you don’t actually need the wireless charging case.

There are rumours of AirPods with ANC. I will wait for them but I really hope they’re not going to charge even more for those.

Anyway, if you haven’t yet used AirPods (and they fit your ears), make sure to get a new pair. They really are extraordinary.


Quick Thoughts on the iPad Mini 5 and 10.5-inch iPad Air

March 28, 2019 · 09:29

I really thought the iPad Mini was dead but when the rumours started coming in about a newer model, I kept my fingers crossed for Apple adopting the Liquid Retina display from the new iPad Pros, along with a similarly designed case. I had two Minis in my iPad history and I loved them both. They were most excellent for thumb-typing and fantastic reading tablets, especially for RSS, the web, Twitter, and even ebooks. The screen was a bit small for comic books and magazines but I blame my ageing eyes on that. While a new Mini is always welcome — it really is a great little tablet — things have changed in the last few years. I really expect more from the “most innovative” company in the world, than just a speed bump, a slightly better screen, and the same 7-year-old design.

The “new” 10.5-inch iPad Air is really just a 10.5-inch iPad Pro without ProMotion and the quad-speaker system. While most people won’t notice the loss of the former, they really could have retained the latter, since a lot of people like to use iPads for watching video. The good news is that the price is down slightly.


Quick Thoughts on the New iMac (Early 2019)

March 28, 2019 · 09:14

Apple finally updated the iMac with new CPUs and GPUs last week and while not much has changed in the design of this particular Mac — same design, same Bluetooth, similar configs, etc. — a speed bump is always welcome. Unfortunately, some upgrade pricing is still as insanely absurd as ever and the base models still offer spinning disk drives:

  • The base models should all have SSDs.
  • The 8 GB → 16 GB upgrade costs $200. You can buy an 8 GB module for around $40-50 and a 16 GB module to around $90, which means Apple is charging 3-4 times more.
  • The 32 GB RAM upgrade is $600. A 32 GB set of two 16 GB DDR modules is around $180-190.
  • The 64 GB RAM upgrade is $1000 while a similar set can range from $200-430, depending on the vendor.
  • SSD upgrade pricing is 2-3 times higher than current prices for high-quality NVMe SSDs.
  • Since the design hasn’t been changed, I’m assuming that dust will still accumulate on the back of the screen over time.

I’m glad that the iMac has been updated but I still cannot comprehend why they aren’t getting more flack for their absurd upgrade pricing. The i9-9900 configuration should make a nice hackintosh config though, which I can fix in minutes or hours should anything go wrong, instead of sending it in to Apple and waiting 5-7 days. This route also allows me to use much beefier GPUs. I just wish Apple and NVIDIA stopped bickering — MacOS really could use GTX and RTX support.


My Reddit Subscriptions

March 11, 2019 · 11:26

I was recently asked for a list of the subreddits I subscribe to, so here it is…


Getting My Logitech Harmony Hub to Work With HomeKit After Logitech’s Firmware Changes

March 6, 2019 · 09:46

I got a Raspberry Pi last year just to integrate some of my less-than-smart devices with HomeKit, so I could control them via Siri. Late last year I decided to get a Logitech Harmony Hub to be able to control my TV, receiver, and Apple TV with Siri but Logitech decided to change-up their plans, shutting down their local API which integrated with Homebridge. They backtracked on their plans after their users voiced their outrage and new firmware dropped a few weeks ago. I had to make some changes but I finally got my Harmony Hub working with Siri once again. Here’s what I had to do…

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Twitter vs. Reddit

February 20, 2019 · 09:34

Every day, in the morning, while drinking a tea, coffee, or Red Bull, I’d first launch Twitter and catch up on events. For the past two weeks, more or less unconsciously, I have been slowly transitioning to Reddit.

I think the problem is the people I follow — they’re just posting less. Perhaps I could change things up by following new people but Reddit is partly superior in this regard — I can just follow topics that interest me instead. This naturally leads to more disconnect with specific people but there’s so much more variety and content.

I can’t hide the fact that I’m extremely disappointed with how Twitter itself is being run and I’m sure these feelings influence my usage but it’s refreshing to know I have found an alternative of sorts, especially since Twitter will die for me the day they pull the plug on third-party clients, such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific.


Microsoft’s Keyboards Are Vastly Superior to Apple’s

February 11, 2019 · 11:40

I have been using Apple’s keyboards almost solely since 2008, starting with the silver keys on my now sold 17-inch MacBook Pro. I then graduated to an Apple Wireless Keyboard, the 2013 MacBook Air and 2014 MacBook Pro keyboards, an Apple Magic Keyboard1, and I’m currently on a 2016 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard, which has been already replaced once in April 2018. My frustration with the last two has led me on a long quest to find a mechanical keyboard, which would bring back to the joy to typing once more — I am currently using a Vortex Race 3, custom programmed to my liking, which I also use with my iPad Pro. So that’s my background, but what’s up with headline?

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  1. I still haven’t found anything magical about it.

Vortex Race 3 — A Mechanical Keyboard for My iPad Pro

January 28, 2019 · 10:13

My Vortex Race 3 arrived while we were away on our vacation, so naturally I spent most of last night playing around with it, instead of sleeping like any sane person would. I’ve already preprogrammed the first layer and it seems to suit my needs perfectly, connected to both the iPad and Mac.

I’m very excited to go back to a mechanical keyboard, especially since I’m frustrated with the one in my MacBook Pro.

Rainbow backlight turned on only for the purpose of taking the photo — I don’t actually use it.


iCloud Drive Still Has Sync Issues in 2018

December 11, 2018 · 11:31

I still rely on Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) to sync my files between Macs, an iPad, and an iPhone. It works perfectly but I have been considering switching to iCloud Drive ever since I upgraded to the 2 TB storage option (please give me a cheaper 500 GB and 1 TB option Apple — I don’t need 2 TB at this point in time).

I was trying to transfer an edited photo from my iPad to my MacBook Pro a few minutes ago. I saved it to iCloud Drive and went to look for it on my Mac. Not there. I checked my iPhone and verified it was synced. So I restarted my Mac. Nope, nothing.

Want to know what triggered the sync process? I created a new folder in Finder.

Seriously, Apple?


The Space Bar on My MacBook Pro Doesn’t Register Presses Properly

November 19, 2018 · 09:54

I recently had a problem with my Control key which I finally fixed by taking out the vacuum cleaner and sucking substantial debris1 out from under it. Today, the Space bar will not register keystrokes on its right half.

(A few minutes later.)

Seems to be working fine again, after thoroughly vacuuming it at max power.

I am not happy with this keyboard and I refuse to buy another MacBook until they fix this issue with a completely new design — silicon condoms membranes are not enough.

  1. A speck of dust.

I ❤️ iPad

November 17, 2018 · 11:38

I’ve always really enjoyed using the iPad as a secondary device but the new iPads Pro take things to a whole new level.

I just can’t get enough of that gorgeous new screen.


My Replaced MacBook Pro’s Keyboard Is Having Issues Again

September 28, 2018 · 12:24

I had my 2016 MacBook Pro Escape’s keyboard replaced in April 2018, because some of the keys were expanding under heat, making them “sticky”, e.g. when using it in the sun.

I’m extremely happy to report that today my Control key has gone on strike and will only work when it feels like it should, which translates to registering maybe one in ten presses.

This keyboard is great to type on, when it works, but it’s generally a disaster.


Export Your Messages and Texts to TXT Files With Image Attachments via Baskup

September 25, 2018 · 15:29

I have been having some issues with Messages in the Cloud on my Macs — both show less texts and iMessages than my iPhone and iPad. I guess I could go through Apple Support but their software solutions usually are to log out and log back in to iCloud or to start fresh (seriously). Instead, I spent a few hours pruning old conversations, which I didn’t need anymore. This still didn’t solve the issue of the multi-year threads that I have with my wife — I have three of those on my iOS devices and only one on my Macs. Since Messages only loads a page or two of messages at a time and requires the user to constantly scroll up to load older messages, its close to impossible to get to the beginning of the thread anyway (I don’t have the patience to scroll-wait-scroll for hours). This led me to the decision to just export our message history as a txt or PDF file and then clear Messages.

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Adobe Charged My PayPal Without My Permission

September 7, 2018 · 09:58

I pay an annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and I had my PayPal details on file with them but since receiving an email a month ago, asking me to verify and/or change my payment details before the charge goes through today, I removed all the PayPal details (Adobe is not authorized for recurring charges in PayPal’s settings either) and added my credit card instead. Since the charge was in Euros and I no longer had any Euros in my PayPal, I would save money on the conversion rate (around €10).

Adobe went ahead and charged my PayPal today anyway.

How is this even possible?

I have since been in contact with their phone support. They have cancelled my subscription and I should the amount in question charged back straight to my credit card1, but I assume this will trigger another currency conversion, which will mean that I’ll be paying for their mistake through no fault of my own.

Oh, and since my account is cancelled, and I refuse to pay for it until the chargeback comes through, my Creative Cloud apps don’t work.

Cool.

  1. In 5-7 days. It never ceases to amaze me that it takes seconds to take my money but days to return it.

Computers Are Supposed to Help Us Solve Our Problems

August 7, 2018 · 10:08

Sameer Samat details the new Android Pie on Google’s blog:

The latest release of Android is here! And it comes with a heaping helping of artificial intelligence baked in to make your phone smarter, simpler and more tailored to you. Today we’re officially introducing Android 9 Pie […]

I wanted to comment on two of the new features…

That’s why Android 9 comes with features like […] Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness in different settings, and does it for you.

I have been using iPhones and iPads since 2008, and always relied on Automatic Brightness. I don’t know what Apple did, but I never had an Android phone which handled this function, as well as iOS does — I’ve always had stuttering or sudden brightness shifts, including flickering while it’s been adjusted. All this on many flagship phones, including older Nexus devices and more recent ones like the Galaxy S8.

At-a-Glance on Always-on-Display: See things like calendar events and weather on your Lock Screen and Always-on Display.

I have always found it curious that Apple chose not to use the Lock Screen in a more productive fashion (widgets do not count). Just weather information could be easily included and it’s something I miss every day. And since we have a OLED screen on the iPhone X, that could be taken advantage of even further. Burn-in could present a problem and perhaps that is why Apple isn’t in on this, but I can imagine a scenario where one tap on a screen shows upcoming calendar events and the weather, while two taps wake the screen.


Computers are (partly) supposed to help us solve our problems. This isn’t being pursued as I had hoped it would be. We’re 11 years in and iOS still can’t do things that my simple Nokia could, such as setting it to Do Not Disturb mode for a precisely set amount of time. iOS 12 will introduce a few new features that help in this regard but there’s so much more that could be done. My iPhone know’s my daily schedule and how I use it — it should adapt automatically. When I walk into the gym, it should suggest launching Overcast and Workouts (on my Apple Watch). When I leave, it should suggest that I text my wife, informing her that I am on my way and share my ETA. When I get into my car in the parking lot beneath the gym, it should launch Waze and guide me to where she is. I do this every single day and I should not have to manually repeat these steps every time — the OS should have learned by now. It has my location, it knows my routine; it should help automate repetitive tasks automatically.


MacBook Pro (mid 2018) throttling

July 19, 2018 · 11:14

As expected, the #ThrottleGate controversy is being looked into by anyone who has their hands on the new MacBook Pros.

John Poole on Geekbench’s blog, running a CPU-only test:

Why does this test not replicate the throttling seen in other tests? Part of the issue is the test themselves. Premiere uses both the CPU and the GPU, while Geekbench only uses the CPU.

The i7 ran at an average 3.0-3.1 GHz, which is above the CPUs base 2.6 GHz frequency, but below the advertised 4.0 GHz Turbo Boost for 6 cores. So is it throttling or is the test just not maximizing load on the CPU?

Jeff Benjamin, for 9to5Mac, ran a test based on Final Cut Pro X:

Leaving the Core-i9 configured as default, I exported the video in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Throttling was definitely noticeable during the export, as you can see from the following chart created from Intel Power Gadget log data.

Curiously, when he set the CPU to utilize only four cores, it was faster than when using all six.

Mike Wuerthele, for AppleInsider, opted for Cinebench 15:

We shifted to a different benchmark for our own series of tests. Using Cinebench 15, we ran 10 total runs on the i9 MacBook Pro.

Immediately after starting the first test, the CPU clock speed shot up to 4.17 GHz. It rapidly drops to 3.86GHz until it hits the chip critical temperature of 100C. It then drops nearly immediately to 2.57GHz and also nearly immediately drops to 84C.

The speed of the processor varied between 2.33GHz and 2.9GHz generally, with one profound dip to 2.02GHz, and then the range drops to a peak of 2.65Ghz.

I think it’s same to assume that all MacBook Pros will throttle under load, especially when both the CPU and GPU are being taxed. A potential solution for this problem is running an eGPU, which should help (in addition to being significantly faster than the one on-board). Surprisingly, an iMac Pro may not solve everyone’s problems when it comes to video editing — it was a slower in 9to5Mac’s test than the MacBook Pro:

Xeon CPUs lack onboard hardware video encoding, dubbed Intel Quick Sync Video. So even though the iMac Pro runs circles around the MacBook Pro from a thermal perspective, it doesn’t really matter in this test.