Addicted to Mechanical Keyboards

It’s official. I’m addicted to mechanical keyboards. I now own no less than 5 of varying types and quality. I recently added a Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro to my collection. It has true RGB (like one of my Logitech Gaming keyboards that I can’t recall the name off the top of my head). It’s a beautiful bit of color that I never thought I’d need on a keyboard (until I bought one.) After reading Reddit’s Mechanical Keyboard Guide, I settled on the Cooler Master (or Coolermaster) from their picks, because it’s the nice sweet spot between the WASD and the off-brand “mechanical-like” keyboards on the market. WASD makes some awesome keyboards, but their cheapest cost models are $150 and up. This Cooler Master came in at $99 with free shipping from Amazon. Now, for $150, WASD gives you some seriously good stuff, but nothing with RGB. I have a Cherry MX Green WASD keyboard that I love, with the notable exception of its height. It reminds me, as I might’ve said earlier, of my old Breadbox C64 in how I felt typing on it. I still use the WASD, but not as my daily typer. πŸ™‚ That’s the Cooler Master for now.

A small aside that I like (along with the WASD) the Cooler Master has no “Windows” keys. This keyboard has their logo printed on what would be that key. My WASD has a Tux logo. I appreciate that companies are learning that Windows/Mac aren’t the only games in town. I’ll be writing emails and fiddling with this keyboard for the next week or two and I might write a follow-up that details the “first week with the Cooler Master”. It depends upon how much info I can get out of using it (other than “it’s great” or “I hate it after X days” sorts of things.)

I’m off to play with the lighting now… the RGB wave that it is using now is neat, but I like to fiddle. πŸ™‚

Fiddling with keyboards

I am apparently very difficult to please when it comes to keyboards. I’ve had plenty (loved quite a few, but mostly didn’t like them after a period of adjustment), but none have been “perfect”. The closest one was my original Microsoft Natural Keyboard (before the “Elite”) that was quite comfortable and easy to keep my hands on and level. It now holds a spot in my office at work for my development machine. It’s a great keyboard that I truly wish I had bought a spare or two. (I often wonder why Microsoft quit making that keyboard, but I reckon it’s based on cost.)

Another useful keyboard was my Ninja Tenkeyless from Filco. It was my first mechanical keyboard and used Cherry MX Black switches (which have a very rigid feel to them and aren’t “clicky” like the Greens or Blues). I bought it because it was a keyboard without a numeric keypad, which reminded me of my old 8-bit machines. Still, in spite of its heavy travel on the keys, I used it quite a bit. I bought a WASD Keyboard with Green MX switches, and those were great too, but they were clicky and heavy travel (for some reason.) I felt like I was typing on my old C-64 keyboard at times with the high front and even higher back. The keyboard is built like a tank, though and I appreciate its durability. I just needed to use a wrist wrest for extended typing sessions.

I have had many knockoff keyboards too, since I am a sucker for a cheap RGB Chinese knockoff for $20. I have a couple of them, including a Wal Mart branded “Blackweb” cheap Chinese knockoff. I am currently using it because it has a built-in wrist wrest. Of course it’s a large keyboard and though I use a trackball, there’s little room in my pullout keyboard drawer for anything but the keyboard and trackman. πŸ™‚ It’s louder than the Green MX (not sure what knockoff keycaps they’re using), and it has that pleasant RGB coloring that the Logitech G keyboards have (I had one of those too, but I didn’t like the travel on the keys all that much.)

So, if you count the myriad of keyboards that either came with PCs I’ve bought or purchased used on a whim (plus my micro keyboards and my mechanical ones), I’ve bought far too many keyboards to count. I’m going to stick with this Blackweb one (which wasn’t terribly expensive, so I surmise it’ll last less time than my Filco or WASD.) But if some other keyboard comes along and tickles my wallet, I might just move to another. πŸ™‚ I am fickle, and I certainly don’t have brand loyalty when it comes to keyboards. πŸ™‚

Rust and Go

In 2019, I’m going to add to my language repertoire with Rust, Go, and Java. Java is a minor addition, because we’re doing some conversion from Java to other languages (Oracle’s new licensing is really putting a damper on usage. Some projects are going to OpenJDK, but some are being converted.)

I have fiddled with Go for a bit and I am impressed. It has all the power of C with Python’s ease of syntax and simplicity. I rather like it so far. I have been working on a django web project and think some of the things can be handled by Go, given its ability to do web-based backend stuff without much code. It’s too early to tell, but it might work. πŸ™‚

As for Rust, I have found some great books, and given Firefox has been rewritten in Rust, I have to give the language a shot. If for no other reason to get the two books on making your own interpreter and compiler in Rust. It just sounds like fun. I don’t do as much system level programming anymore, but I still like to fiddle from time to time. It’s a hobby, but if it pans out and I need it someday soon, I’ll be all the more ready.

Of course I will still work in Python, because I love the language. I have some great ideas for things and tools I could use (while at the same time honing my skills and learning new concepts), and with Python it helps to keep up with the language. It doesn’t hurt that it’s my favorite language to code in either. I’m really interested in Pygame for some ideas I have and some toolkits I could make for hobbyist stuff i do with MAME roms and whatnot. You know, to automate the boring stuff. Plus, I’d like to, even though it’s a bit outdated, learn Curses, so that I can make some things in the terminal that I think would be neat. Mostly, I’m just working along and seeing where it takes me.

I would like to get into more text processing (for things like conversion and whatnot), so that I can get a handle on manipulating text fluently and without a lot of iterative steps and brute-force methods for dealing with data. I can use those techniques at work and at home, given that text processing is always something one needs to do. I can do that in Python and Go as well. Given that I have not learned enough Perl to do anything useful, I suppose I could brush up on some of the streaming features of the language. But suffice to say, Python is the language of choice (for me at least) when it comes to manipulating text.

One day I’ll retire and I’ll probably hang up the coding hat, but I’m not there yet. And given that I’m not prolific in my output (doing little things here and there) should be enough for me not to get burned out on the tasks. Now that I eschewed Social Media, I’m free to jot down things here and do what I love, rather than try to interact with trolls and rotten people online. It should be a fun adventure.

New Start to 2019

I’ve decided that social media isn’t my thing. I deactivated my Twitter account. I have not deleted my Gab account, because I’ve got a year of Pro. Once it lapses, I will probably deactivate it as well. It’s not healthy. None of it is. I haven’t been back to Facebook since 2005 or so. My main Twitter account was suspended for spurious reasons by the staff of Twitter, because I dared respond to a violent threat made by a leftist. I had a new account that I used, but I decided against continuing after I was suspended for 7 days (like some teenager) for daring to match insults with a leftist. Those who think Twitter is relevant are those who are most likely attached to it emotionally and spiritually. It’s not healthy.

I am now going to blog from time to time, get back to my programming projects and watch funny Youtube videos when I am not deciding on what game to play. I am still going to convert one of those old pocket war games I bought at Half-Price Books to an electronic solitaire version (they have solo modes.) I think it wouldn’t be too hard to make a minimalist interface so that I can experiment with randomness and that sort of thing.

I need to get back into watching my old cartoons I bought on DVD recently (From the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection). I miss good cartoons these days. Television is a wasteland of evil and with Tribune and Spectrum/Charter fighting over money, I don’t get AntennaTV without an antenna (ironically enough.) I’ll just watch old cartoons when they’re on (on Boomerang) and RFD TV so I can get Hee-Haw reruns and cool documentaries about trains.

 

My mind feels better now. It feels calm. I feel calm. I don’t think anyone on Twitter will miss me, but then again, I am not “friends” with anyone electronically anyway. They never noticed I was suspended last time either. I am not the target demographic of Twitter. I’m too old and not narcissistic. God loves everyone, but not many people make it easy for me to love them back, that’s for sure. I pray for patience and peace daily. God bless, and if anyone ever reads this… I’ll try to be more frequently posting. πŸ™‚

Fallout 4 Ending Thoughts (Main Quest) Spoiler-free of course.

I won’t go into details of the ending, suffice to say the Fallout 4 universe is like New Vegas in that you can choose any one faction in the game (or none) to continue the “future of the wasteland” (or in this case “The Commonwealth”). Like New Vegas, you have 4 factions that seemingly have differing views on how to move the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth forward.

In the game, you have The Institute, The Minutemen, The Brotherhood of Steel, and the Railroad as the factions. (Recall, New Vegas had “House”, the NCR, the Great Khans, and Caesar’s Legion). I don’t think Fallout 4 lets you pick “none of the above”… or I’ve not figured out how (without looking at a Wiki or Game Guide). This is just me playing the game like you would in the old days where hints cost $0.99 a minute. πŸ™‚

In the game ending I chose: I chose to side with the Institute. I won’t say why (it would spoil the story), but it sort of aligned with any of the other factions in Fallout 4. By that I mean it got one faction angry with you right off the bat, and the others were either indifferent or instrumental in the completion of your storyline (dealing with them rather than letting them be indifferent or ignorant of your alliance with the Institute.)

What bothered me about this ending was how “meh” it was compared to the ending of New Vegas. Each selection you made in the “future” of The Nevada Wasteland was a unique, and sometimes cringe-worthy exercise in post-game critique. πŸ™‚ You could even make it so none of the factions had any true hold on the ending, which was the one I picked when I first played through New Vegas. I couldn’t help myself. I thought each and every faction was dickish in some way. HOWEVER, the writers of New Vegas scolded my solution as being bad and uncertain for the future of the wasteland, and I had somehow shirked my duties by choosing “none of the above” (typical statist sci-fi writers. Oh, won’t the benevolent blob of bureaucracy save us!)

In terms of the Fallout 4 ending. I think the choice didn’t matter all that much. Sure some things were done, some factions were moved out of the Commonwealth, and in one instance, the dang writers rehashed a stinking item from Fallout 3 to complete a section. (C’mon, guys!) But all in all, I found the ending to be rather pedestrian. Without spoiling it, I think the Institute ending is the quasi-easiest to accomplish, given the events in the game itself.

Perhaps I’m giving game writers too much credit (some games have had masterfully crafted endings, and others had great stories with simple “you won” endings in my 40-year career of playing games of all types: board, card, computer, console).Β  But I think the Institute ending is the most intellectually lazy one of the bunch. Each person who pledged undying loyalty to you for helping them in intermediate or side quests suddenly look at you with suspicion, and the enemies still hate you (the Gunners are particularly pissed at me perpetually… heh.)Β  And forget the settlements… they amounted to a hill of cheap XP after a while, and I generally “failed” to help them against attack even though each settlement had enough automatic turrets and minefields to make a WW1 veteran go “that’s just too much, man.”

 

It makes me wonder if I want to try the other endings. Because instead of “Moobs” Perlman giving the ending speech, it’s your “lone survivor” voice. (And it’s cringeworthy as anything I hear him say throughout the game.)

Oh, and I feel like the quest to find your son is a Rube-Goldberg machine making exercise. THAT was tedious. πŸ™‚

Python Game Creation

I thought about my half-baked ideas recently and I decided I should try to make some of them myself. I’m not going for super ambitious projects (like converting solo board games I got from Half Price Books) and doing something silly simple, just to see what I can do. Maybe a Demon Attack clone (one of my favorite games on the 2600). πŸ™‚

As I have not said much about this lately, it is probably obvious that I never got around to finishing anything…. so much for dedication. πŸ™‚Β  Code away!!!!!!

The Gamerz Tek Super HD-2 vs. Old Skool Classic II

I had my 2 year old Retron 5 finally die (it had been having problems with the Famicom slot for a while now, and the most problem-ridden slot was the Famicom (for whatever reason). Then the Genesis slot started becoming grabby (for lack of a better word) on the cartridges, but the NES slot finally gave up the ghost and I decided to give it a once-over. It didn’t look like anything “blew out” or “let the blue smoke out” of any chips, but the cart slot pins on the NES and Famicom had a few bent ones. I tried re-bending them with small tools, but after that, none of the cart slots would show the cart’s name (just “unknown cartridge”) on things that were cleaned or used previously and cleaned. So I bought another one, but I got to thinking, what about allΒ  those one-chip hardware compatible SNES/NES clones out there? I knew I needed HD, just because the Retron 5 spoiled me, so I began looking for a possible replacement (and one that can play multicarts and repros.)

I went digging around youtube, looking around the reviews and settled on two to try out. The Old Skool Classic II and the Gamerz Tek Super HD-2. Both are SNES/NES (and Super Famicom, but not famicom (without an adapter that I am not sure would work anyway).Β  I got the Old Skool first (hence named “Classic II” and the Gamerz Tek will be called “Super HD-2”).

The Classic II so far…

I’ve been fiddling with it for about a week and it has been really compatible with most anything (it has issues with my Burger Time cart for some reason), and it has some really nice controllers. The problem I had with the Classic II was when the 4:3 switch was set (not widescreen), 90% or more of the NES/SNES games I tried came out garbled, like they needed cleaning. I tried on a whim to go to 16:9 and had no issues with any cart, even those that were garbled initially. Another weird feature was the passive HDMI, which played havoc with my HDMI powered switchbox. It never showed as “connected” until shortly after the intro started on any cart I tried. And I would have to manually switch to the port on the HDMI switch to get to it. It was strange, but it would work fine after that. Other than these issues, the Classic II is a solid console. It’s surprisingly beefy, compared to some of the other clones. You always know a clone by its weight, and most of the time you have to put double-sided tape on the clones to keep them on the desk. πŸ™‚

The Super HD-2 so far…

I got this just today (May 28th) and so far it’s been far better than the Classic II in two respects: 1. It has no trouble with 4:3, with all carts working flawlessly, and 2. the HDMI port isn’t playing weirdly with my switch box. If I turn on the Super HD-2, it switches like I expect it to. (And the Super HD-2 has a Pal switch too, not that I would ever need it.) The Super HD-2 has the same problem with Burger Time, but it seems not as bad as the Classic II. I like the fact that my Retro-bit Joe and Mac compilation works (on both without incident.)Β  I am going to play with the Super HD-2 some more over the week and see how it handles various strange carts, like SuperFX cartridges, etc. The Classic II had no trouble with them, so it should be the same for this one. Overall, I like this one as I do the Classic II.

Verdict so far…

I am right now leaning more to the HD-2 because the Classic II has weird issues with my switch box. I don’t consider this a dig at the Classic II, because they both perform very well (and are colored like the American SNES.) I just prefer the active switch on the HD-2. Other than that (I am not a slave to 4:3) I like both and will keep both for my “main” gaming console. I will continue to use my Retron 5 for Famicom games and for Genesis (until my Mega HD gets here from Gamerz Tek). I will also use my Retron for gamest that have a “Save” feature but have a dead battery. (Makes it easier to play RPGs on it.) But if I were in the market for a decent clone console, both of these SNES/NES clone systems are top notch.

As an aside, I couldn’t get the Retro Trio 3+ to work at all (it was DOA.) I may try again, because it’s also hardware, but it has some nice features (like a cover for the controller ports, and would be more compact than 3 devices on my desk.) I’ll order another from Amazon soon, but not right away, because I don’t want to run afoul of their “return violation” policy. πŸ™‚

I am not a fan of the FPGA “super” clones, mainly because of their price. If they were about $100 cheaper, I’d snatch one up. But $300 for an FPGA (emulated after all) console is not my cup of tea. Heck, I use a cheap-o Dell PC with onboard video for most of my MAME gaming. πŸ™‚ I am not one to be looking for the aesthetic equivalent of a Rolex watch. My Casio tells time just as well and at a fraction of the cost. YMMV, but I’m more into buying the games I want to play. I skipped the Genesis/SNES era, mainly because I was a computer gamer (and I really missed the NES era for the same reason), so I’m playing catchup a bit. I would’ve bought a Genesis had I been more financially secure then (college wasn’t cheap.) But I still had my Amiga 500 well into my college years (yes I’m old.) πŸ™‚ Happy gaming!