The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 24, 2012

Once More, With Ominous Glowing

Filed under: Technology — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 10:57 pm

Shockingly, my desk isn't completely disastrous right now. Just mostly disastrous.

If you work with computers on a daily basis as I do, there’s a good chance that you do a lot of typing.  Even without taking the various Blog posts that I write into consideration, I end up writing a shockingly large number of things on a daily basis, be it e-mails, bug reports, message board posts, or any one of a number of other things that, for one reason or another, happen to need to be typed.   Even with all that I would consider the amount of typing that I do to be fairly moderate when compared to what some people who type things for a living might do on a daily basis.  Regardless of the actual quantity of stuff that I end up typing on any given day, the last thing I want to deal with is a bad keyboard.  I’ve gone through a number of the blasted things over the years, some of them quite good, others just plain terrible, most of them simply not memorable enough in either direction to remember much about them.  Most recently, I’ve spent roughly the last 20 months using one of the more mediocre ones, one purchased for all of $16 at Fred Meyer around 10pm one night when my previous one (which I had spent a fair bit of money on) quit working on me roughly five minutes after the warranty ran out. 

I actually wrote a Blog post about the topic back when I first purchased the keyboard that went kaput, in which I discussed the process of trying to find a new keyboard among a sea of mostly identical (and mostly mediocre, if not actively stupid) choices.  I’ll avoid rehashing the whole thing since you can just go read it if you want, but the short version is that shopping for keyboards is confusing as heck.  Granted, I wouldn’t call myself a keyboard snob or anything like that (your mileage may vary on that one) but I do tend to be a bit picky about the topic.  For example, I avoid wireless keyboards entirely, mostly because there’s just no point in having a wireless keyboard when it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be used anywhere besides on top of the desk where it resides, and all that a wireless keyboard really does for you in that scenario is make you change the batteries every so often.  I suppose if you’re trying to stockpile a large number of dead batteries for some nefarious purpose that you do not wish to disclose to the rest of us until it’s everlastingly too late that might not be a bad thing, but for those of us not plotting assorted villainy with ordinary household items that just sounds annoying.  I also prefer keyboards that are as free of extraneous functionality as possible (especially the dreaded F-Lock key,) since mostly the extra stuff just gets in the way and none of the added functionality ever seems to get used anyway.

That said, I must admit that the last time I was shopping for a keyboard at any time other than late at night at the only place that was open, I might have gotten myself slightly distracted by bright shiny objects than I should have.  As you can see from the post linked above, I ended up with a Logitech G11 “gamer” keyboard, which didn’t really make it any better for gaming than any of the other stuff that I have used over the years, but it did come with one advantage:  It had bright shiny blue LEDs under the keys, which kind of looks cool.  Which is about all it did well really;  practically from day 1 I found myself annoyed by the thing, which had a tendency to squeak and rattle while I was typing.  For the most part I just put up with it, but ultimately the thing lasted just a little bit more than a year before several keys mysteriously decided to stop working and basically turned the whole thing into a shiny blue paperweight.  As noted above, a field expedient replacement had to be obtained at a fairly late hour in the evening, with the intent of replacing it as soon as possible.  Which turned out to be nearly two years later, meaning that the $16 el cheapo replacement keyboard lasted nearly twice as long as the $70 fancy blinkenlight keyboard it replaced, and is still in working order now to file away as a backup just in case this one decides to bite the dust at an inconvenient time.  Not that I’m expecting this type of thing to happen on a regular basis, but it never hurts to have a spare around, right?

It’s not like I haven’t been meaning to replace the thing though.  On my occasional trips to Fry’s I’ve made a point to take a walk through the keyboard aisle in an attempt to locate something that isn’t stupidly designed and/or horrendously expensive, and have invariably come up empty handed.  There are definitely some nice keyboards out there that fit all the criteria I’m looking for, but the things have a pesky tendency to come with $120 price tags, which is definitely pushing it in the price department.  Sure it’s something that I’ll be using constantly, but mostly the extra money seems to buy extraneous features I’d never use.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the so-called gamer keyboards like to cram a half zillion extra buttons on the things, then design the stuff so it requires a rocket scientist to figure out how to use any of the blasted things in your games.  Not that I’d use them anyway; I try to make a point of avoiding anything that would require an extra driver to get it to work.  But finally earlier today I found something that looked halfway decent, was reasonably good to type on, had backlighting, and didn’t cost an arm and a leg (just an arm really,) so on a bit of an impulse buy I finally got myself the new keyboard you see above.  So far it’s at least 27%(Note: completely made up statistic)less annoying than the last couple of keyboards that I’ve used, and it has the added feature of being able to choose from three different colors for the backlighting: blue, red and purple (which seems like kind of a silly color for a keyboard, but since it’s basically just the red and blue together, might as well throw it in I guess.) 

I haven’t quite figured out which color I prefer at this point, so I keep switching between them in order to try to figure this out.  Color switching is accomplished by means of a button up in the top right corner, which naturally leads to some bad ideas.  Throw in a few glowsticks I happened to have lying around the house for some odd reason, some gratuitous misuse of a flashlight and an automatic blinkenlight setting on the LED on the back of my phone, and we’ve got all the ingredients for an impromptu keyboard rave.  I apologize if this happens to be the stupidest thing you’ve seen all day, but it had to be done.  Enjoy (or stare in bewildered amazement, your pick) and remember that drugs are bad kids.



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