Mechanical Keyboard Madness

So I delved back into using mechanical keyboards after quite a long hiatus. Back in the early 2000’s I acquired 2 old school IBM Model M keyboards that were likely from the early 90’s. At the time I had no idea there was a difference in keyboard construction, I just knew that these things felt amazing to type on, and contributed to me being a better typist after starting out as a clumsy hunt-and-pecker. One of the keyboards actually had removable keycaps, which I made use of when I made the unfortunate but thankfully short-lived decision to try out the Dvorak layout. Both, however, had the same clicking bliss. I ended up using one at home and one at work (which was a little risky, since everyone in adjoining offices would now be able to hear my typing, and asking themselves just what the hell was I typing so much for in the instant-messenger-paranoid environment that it was.)

But alas, all good things must come to an end. Over the course of a few short years, the Model M keyboards started to malfunction, which usually consisted of them suddenly making the computer beep like crazy as though one of the keys was stuck. It started out as temporary, being remedied by an unplug and reboot, but worsened to the point to where that’s all they did while plugged in.

So, years went by and keyboards to me, for the most part, became an afterthought. I’d mainly use whatever was available in whatever office I was working in. A few times when I was able to order a new one, I opted for the split ergonomic styled ones, which I thought would improve my typing. Unfortunately, I never could find a cheap one that felt as good as those old Model Ms, with all of them suffering from spongy keys to varying degrees.

It wasn’t until recently that I was finally educated as to what made those old IBM Model M keyboards so special- they were mechanical, versus the rubber membrane style of just about all cheap keyboards. I also learned that there were several different brands and styles of the mechanical switches, with different degrees of clickiness. I also noticed that some of my co-workers were using them, and that requesting one to be purchased for me was an option.

Upon learning this, I of course said that I wanted the most clicky ones around, which I understand to be keyboards fitted with the Cherry MX Blue switches. One of the supervisors was concerned about this choice being that it’s an office environment, and others with mechanical keyboards were using ones with Cherry MX Brown switches, which are a bit quieter than the blue variety. However, he also said that he had a mechanical keyboard at home with the blue switches that he would bring in to let me try for a week or so, and see if anyone in nearby cubicles complained. After almost a 2 month wait, he finally brought it in last week, and it’s a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013.

And, I must say, it was love at first keystroke. Typing, for the first time in many years, was once again pleasurable instead of cumbersome. It made me want to type more and more. I also pondered the possibility that perhaps the reason I hadn’t participated in blogging and the like in so long was due to shitty keyboards.

After just using the keyboard that one fine day, I felt that I could no longer tolerate the awful keyboard I had been using at home, so I went on eBay that night and sought out a mechanical keyboard for my home at a reasonable price, which was a bit of a tall order since these things generally aren’t cheap. After much searching around, I was surprised to find a Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2014 model. I did some research and found that starting with the 2014 model year, Razer began using their own switches instead of the Cherry MX-branded ones, which they call the Razer Green. I also learned that, while the Razer Greens are supposed to be comparable to the Cherry MX Blues, they are said to be of lower quality. Further making this a risky purchase, was the fact that I was able to get this keyboard at a mere $28 with free shipping, which was amazing considering that these things retailed for over $100, and the average price for used ones was still around $50. It also said that the rubber feet on the bottom were missing, and that the extra programmable function keys on the side of the keyboard did not work, which didn’t bother me since I rarely use any extra keys on a keyboard anyway save for the volume keys. But, I bit the bullet.

To my amazement, the keyboard arrived today, after only ordering it late Friday night from a private seller. I was surprised that not only was it in it’s original box, but the keyboard was in excellent shape for something that’s around 4 years old and potentially used during all that time. I was also surprised to find that not only were the rubber feet intact, but the programmable function keys also worked just fine.  Right away, however, I could tell that the key action isn’t quite as nice as the 2013 model I’m using at work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still miles above any run-of-the-mill or stock membrane keyboard, it just leaves a tad little to be desired to the one at work. The clicking, and the tactile feel of that clicking, isn’t near as prominent. And there’s even a few keys that, while functional, feel “dead” compared to the rest. And the backspace key is pretty awful, and cludgingly loud.

However, I’m certainly not going to throw out the baby with the bathwater- as I said, it’s still miles above any membrane keyboard, and typing this long-ass post out on it was a very nice experience.

Spring cleaning?

I went through the sub-pages and cleaned some broken stuff out of the code. Mainly, the old Lycos/GuestGear guestbook links, the “Hitbox” and web counter stuff, and even some ancient Internet Link Exchange(!) code that was still lingering around on a few pages.

I made sure to make a copy of the old pages just for old times sake. The pages in and of themselves are already relics, reeking of 90’s style and tackiness, and are arguably dumb. But screw it, they’re over 20 years old. But to think back to the times when things like guestbooks were a thing, not to mention the web counters, ranking sites, and especially the Internet Link Exchange, it sure brings back some nostalgia.

I believe even the old guestbook was at least still viewable to some extent in recent years. All gone now. I think the ILE was the first thing to die before the 90’s were even over. I remember Microsoft buying it out at some point, and it may have lingered for a few years after that. Apparently Hitbox became defunct not long after Adobe bought them out in 2008. Surprisingly, I did find that Digits Web Counter is still around, but my old account and counter apparently isn’t. I may look into either getting a new one, or asking them about my old one and if it’s possible to use it again (which isn’t likely since I probably registered it with a long-gone email account I was using in 1996.)

So apparently Papyrus is a hated font…

Yeah, so I had no idea that Papyrus was such a hated font, right up there with the likes of Comic Sans. And here I’ve been using it as the main font on my website for about 15 years now. It’s considered kitschy and tacky and it supposedly shows that you’re a bad designer.

Well fuck. So, I kind of get that it’s overused. I hadn’t really realized that until I saw the SNL sketch with Ryan Gosling, and it really hit home (or, should I say, it really hit ‘homepage’). You do see it used on signs for hippie-esque shops and and tea brands and the like.

So, perhaps I’m just a terrible, hopeless web designer. Because in the context of my site here, I look at it and still feel that it fits perfectly with the parchment background that I use. Or perhaps I’m just a very slow learner. After all, I did use a quite tacky background in the early days of my site for the first 6 or 7 years. And just like then, I just can’t fathom using anything else. Of course, I also don’t claim to be some sort of web design expert, and I’m not trying to gain a following. I have no delusions of thinking that my little slice of the web is going to become popular like I may have had long ago in the early days of the internets; that’s not my goal at all. This is for me. And I fucking like it. (And if you view this site on a Mac instead of Windows, it’s downright beautiful. macOS renders the font much more smoothly.)

I may fool around with different background and font combinations for poops and hoops, but for now, Papyrus stays.

Fuckin’ guitarists, man… how do they work?

So at the moment I am not in any band, and that is sad. I haven’t been in a band that played shows since late 2014. The last band I was in ended in May of 2017. This was a band that myself, the drummer, and the guitarist had been working on since mid-to-late 2016, and it felt very promising. This was to be the first band where I would be the lead singer, along with being the bass player. I was getting the hang of singing and playing more and more songs, stuff that I thought was impossible for me in the past. And my voice was getting better all the time, though it was a rough start on some of the songs we chose. And it was a band that was a long time in the making, so to speak, with all three of us having a former band in common, and the guitarist and drummer were childhood friends.

Oh, and the songs… since all three of us had similar tastes in obscure songs, we were diving right into those to get them out of our system, with plans to add more common songs later on. The plan was to build up a huge pool of songs so that we would never play the same show twice, and also be able to switch gears and arrange our setlist according to the crowd we would be playing to at any given location. We were learning songs such as Not Fragile by BTO, Tomorrow’s Dream and Snowblind by Black Sabbath, Better By You Better Than Me by Judas Priest, and Too Hard To Handle, just to name a few.

Our practice space was an old unheated shed, so when the weather became colder, we had to take a hiatus over winter. Spring came a little early that year, and we were able to get back into the groove of things by March. We added a few more songs and worked on them, and finally had enough songs for at least one set, which would also be enough to at least open up for another band until we had more songs under our belts. It was going really well, or at least I thought. The ironic thing all along was the guitarist never choosing any songs. Yet, he is normally a very outspoken person, and we would always ask him if he had any songs in mind, and he was always declining to name any and acted as though he was satisfied with whatever the drummer and I chose.

Then came May. In the week leading up to our next practice, the guitarist, from here on out to be known as “Kunt”, started to become a bit non-responsive when I would message him about our next practice, giving short, terse answers when he would respond. A day before practice, I asked him if he wanted to practice the next day, and he just said “I don’t know.” And that was it. Practice came, and he didn’t show, and didn’t respond to phone calls. In the next few weeks, the drummer and I tried calling, texting, and messaging him, but he would never respond. After over a month of this, we gave up. It was crushing, and very confusing since there was no explanation, so all we could do was guess- Was it my singing? Was he angry because he never chose any songs? In hindsight, I do recall him mentioning a song once, but he never pressed the issue, and we flat out asked if he would like us to learn it, and he would just sort of shrug his shoulders. Was that the straw that broke the Kunt’s back, so to speak?

A few months later, we start seeing posts by a mutual guitarist friend, which were videos of practice sessions of a band he was working on. This was a mutual friend who was also a former bandmate of all of us, and also another childhood friend of both Kunt and the drummer who Kunt would relentlessly talk shit on at every opportunity. Before we had started on this band, he would also talk very resentfully of the drummer when he suspected that he was dropping everything to go and jam with this other guitarist instead of him. Yet, lo and behold, there was good old Kunt in these practice videos, now playing bass for this guitarist’s new project. Also, through word of mouth, we found out that he was saying that his reason for abandoning our band was due to the drummer’s attitude. This drummer, his childhood friend, is one of the nicest guys I know. The only attitude I ever recall was him bitching sometimes about his own inability to get some parts of songs right. But, this was always to himself, and very brief. It wasn’t like he was outright flipping his shit and taking it out on everyone. In fact, the only attitude I recall in the whole atmosphere of the band was when Kunt would talk shit on anyone and anything he disliked. Most recently I saw that this new band the other guitarist put together is starting to play shows, but Kunt isn’t with them. Apparently he abandoned them too.

So here I am, nearly a year later, without a band, and not much hope of putting another one together. We’ve been looking for another guitarist with no luck whatsoever, save for a wishy-washy one that I’ve played with in the past who raised our hopes a few times by saying he’d join us, only to go back on that at the last minute. And it’s such a damn shame too- I’m always changing up my singing technique to try and get the best out of myself, and in recent months I made another breakthrough and now more and more songs are more effortless for me to sing, not to mention I’ve also kept up with practicing playing and singing more songs.

I’m just fucking crushed. But it’s not all about me; I also feel for the drummer. Not only was he very enthusiastic about this band, Kunt was his friend since childhood, and they had been playing in bands together on and off since their early teens. The last we heard he was telling people that the drummer was a piece of shit and that he was glad that they no longer speak. Over absolutely nothing, literally. No arguments, disagreements, falling out, nothing. Just a silent “fuck you guys!” to us. Now that he’s abandoned us and the other band as well, I have to wonder if he’ll sit around and rock on with his miserable self, or turn a “New Leaf” and get back with another group of musicians that he also liked to complain to us and talk down about.

Old posts revisited: “Negative Person”

Here is a post from my old blog from October 1, 2015, still very relevant…

I get really puzzled when it comes to thinking about what peoples criteria is for writing off someone as a “negative person” that they no longer want anything to do with. People claim they need to get away from negative people. They also claim to prefer people who are genuine over ‘fake people.’ People also tend to complain about people turning their backs on them whenever they are going through bad times when they may need support from other people the most.

 

I am not one to broadcast my problems publicly, especially on social networking. I prefer to talk about the things going on in my life privately with those who I feel I can trust, whether in person or through instant messaging. For the past several years, there have been quite a lot of things going on in my life that weren’t quite the best of times. People who I would chat with would ask me what is going on, and I would proceed to tell them. Not looking for advice in most cases, I was just laying it out to them because they asked, and a listening, non-judging ear is always a good thing to help get things out of your system. I was being “genuine” to the people whom I felt I built up a level of trust with, and I would gladly reciprocate, listening to their problems. It seems as time passed, my conversations with these people became more and more brief. They would ask how I was doing, I would tell them, and usually get the standard “well I’m sorry you’re going through that.” type of response. Now, maybe this is just me, but, telling someone you are sorry for something that is happening to them that you are in no way responsible for, seems a little silly. But, not everybody thinks like I do I guess. Not to mention, venting about an issue does not necessarily require an apologetic response at all, other than maybe something along the lines of “oh, that sucks!” and perhaps discussing some of the details. So anyway, usually not long after I am done explaining the negative things that are going on in my life, something would come up on their end, with them saying “oh, hey, I’ve got to go take care of this-and-that, brb!” and they would never come back. In most cases, if not all, I would never hear from these people again until I tried to initiate a conversation with them again, which would usually go about the same way. Eventually, I gave up.

 

I can only assume I was being “too negative” for them, apparently bringing them down, and was eventually written off as an undesirable person to converse with. So, stay away from negative people… got ya. Must be cheery-positive all the time. The new status quo. OK. It’s like proverbially saying “That old friend of yours that is going through hard times and just needs a listening ear? TO FUCK WITH THEM! They’ll only bring you down!” Some of these same people, when they go through bad times or have an annoyance, promptly broadcast their issues all over social networking. And they do it often, in between posts and memes condemning negative, toxic people and spouting happy, everything-is-wonderful type posts. And they get all sorts of comments lending them support. Many of them of the “I’m sorry you’re going through this…” sort. And then you see them and the people who support them also posting about others putting all their “stuff” out there publicly on social networking, being labeled as attention/drama whores. In other words, complaining about bad, negative people. Yet, they get all sorts of support. But I, someone who prefers to only disclose my happenings to a select, trusted few in private, being “genuine,” am written off.

 

I don’t get it.