Hello! 👋 I'm moving the focus of these blog posts away from COVID-19 and towards more general topics that I've been working on or interested in at the moment. Coronavirus isn't going away, and so I'll probably mention how lockdown is going from time-to-time, but… there's enough discussion of that in other spheres.

Updated Tools List 🛠

I updated my tools page this week. Some things changed significantly, for example I've moved away from Sublime Text and towards VSCode/vim. Other aspects mostly stayed the same: I still use a 2015 Macbook Pro, and the macOS utilities I use haven't changed much in the past few years.

I added a new section for apps that I use (Libby, Overcast, Pedometer++, etc.) and I added entries in my “hardware” section for the notebooks and pens I use regularly. I'm not super finicky about pens (…yet), but I do have a couple favorites (Pigma pens are great!). I've also really enjoyed using Leuchtturm notebooks for the past couple years.

Headphones and Keyboards 🎧 ⌨

This week I fell down the rabbit hole of ergonomic mechanical keyboards. Right now, I'm using an old Apple wired keyboard. I've been looking for a new mechanical keyboard passively for a while – but some wrist pain prompted me to start looking again. I like the idea of a mechanical keyboard, but the board1 I owned in the past was too bulky for my current setup. I also am not a fan of the “gamer” aesthetic (RGB lighting, wacky aggressive fonts, etc.), so I want to find something subtle.

One board that caught my eye was the Ergodox EZ. It's super customizable and is definitely an ergonomic choice (it's a split keyboard). However, it's pretty expensive, and the common wisdom is that it takes about a month to become effective using it, so I think I'm going to pass for now.

Ergodox EZ

Ergodox EZ

After researching the options for ergonomic mechanical keyboards, I think I want a keyboard that:

  • Has a split design.
  • Uses QMK or similar for its firmware.
  • Has a detachable USB keyboard and optional tenting and wrist rests.
  • Has a layout similar enough to a “traditional” keyboard that the ramp-up time isn't too onerous.

Here are some options, and why I decided against them:

  • Happy Hacking Keyboard – Ergonomic, but no options for a split design.
  • Kinesis Freestyle Pro – Split design, but uses a cheap plastic case and (as far as I can tell) does not have a detachable USB cable.
  • Dygma Raise – Almost perfect, except for it's gamer RGB aesthetic. (I could look past this, but the software you have to use to configure it is similarly… garish)

Another option would be to give up on the mechanical key switches and go back to using a Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard. From a purely pragmatic perspective, this is probably what I should do. But, clicky keys are just so satisfying. Maybe I'll end up building a custom keyboard, as many have done on /r/mechanicalkeyboards.

This week, I also researched some upgrading my desktop headphones. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD598CS from a few years ago, but they're getting older, so I was looking to replace them.

Sennheiser HD598Cs (Left); Bose QuietComfort II (Right)

Sennheiser HD598Cs (Left); Bose QuietComfort II (Right)

I ordered a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35IIs. Everyone I know that's owned these headphones raves about them. To be frank, I was disappointed. The noise cancellation is excellent, but the Bluetooth sound quality was subpar (compared to my Airpods). Also, there was a distracting amount of Bluetooth latency. The sound quality when using wired audio was about the same as my Sennheisers. I mostly use over-the-ear headphones at my desk, so the wireless capability of the QuietComforts wasn't compelling enough for me to keep them. In the end I returned them.

After all that, I didn't end up changing my setup at all 🤷‍♂️, but internet window shopping can be a fun diversion.

itch.io's Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality 🎮

If you haven't seen it yet, you really should check out the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality . The important thing is that all the proceeds are donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund. Selfishly though, it's a great deal: the pack contains thousands (!) of indie games, asset packs, and experimental art.

Here's a few games I've played before, or am interested in checking out from the pack:

As of writing, there's just about a day left to grab this bundle. – So jump on it!

  • The Looming Bank Collapse – Not a light read, but it's eye-opening. Explains how the finance industry's “collateralized loan obligation” (CLO) instrument might be the next “collateralized debt obligation” (CDO), which was the catalyst for the 2008 financial crisis. The piece lays out a worst-case scenario for what could happen as businesses affected by the pandemic begin to default on their debt:

The financial sector isn’t like other sectors. If it fails, fundamental aspects of modern life could fail with it. We could lose the ability to get loans to buy a house or a car, or to pay for college. Without reliable credit, many Americans might struggle to pay for their daily needs.

It is a distasteful fact that the present situation is so dire in part because the banks fell right back into bad behavior after the last crash—taking too many risks, hiding debt in complex instruments and off-balance-sheet entities, and generally exploiting loopholes in laws intended to rein in their greed. Sparing them for a second time this century will be that much harder.

  1. I had a Cooler Master QuickFire XT with Cherry Brown switches. ↩︎