Artists and their tools

Posted in Company News
By Laura Leslie on December 12, 2014

rsz_dsc03689I’ve never given too much thought to the keyboard I use, my laptop came with one that for obvious reasons seemed like the natural choice. It wasn’t until I started working at Rubikloud did I notice the variety of keyboard possibilities. Large and small, quiet and loud, number pads or not, keyboards evidently come in a plethora of different shapes and sizes to accommodate even the pickiest of typers. Here are a few of the keyboards used by the engineering team at Rubikloud Technologies.

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Das Keyboard (The Real Hacker Feel):

Frank, Co-Founder and Chief Architect prefers the satisfaction of the loud clickity clack of the Das Keyboard Model S. Lovingly paying homage to the IBM M model, it takes on a similar shape to the vintage keyboard, but with a modern spin.

Frank is a self-proclaimed “touch typer” meaning he sees no need for the white lettering on the keys. “It’s more of an aesthetic thing for me,” Frank said, “I just don’t need them and I think it looks cooler”. I tested Frank on random, less frequently used keys to see if he was truly unhindered by this feature and he surprised me with his accuracy! He uses his Das Keyboard in conjunction with his track ball mouse. Also seemingly difficult to use because of its need for precise movements, it is obvious Frank doesn’t take the easy way out.

It’s most stand out feature by far is the intensity of noise being emitted with each and every key hit. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the loudness being a benefit, however Frank explained to me that the clicking makes you really feel like you’re getting something important done. “You could be typing up a simple email, but you’ll sound like a hardcore hacker.”

Frank does accounting occasionally which made him opt to get a keyboard that included the number box on the side for easy numbering. There is also a handy USB hub on the top and its very heavy to hold, giving it a high-quality sturdy feel.

Pricing in at about 140$, Frank feels it is worth every penny. He uses the same model at home too, making him a true Das man.

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Microsoft Comfort Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard (Preventative Measures): 

Jason, one of our full stack developers, uses a Mac but favours a Microsoft keyboard. His reasoning was simple enough, “I will go with whichever company makes the best product for cheapest.” Jason’s ergonomic keyboard is in place as a ‘preventative measure’. He feels no pain yet, but wants to make sure he is preventing the wrist problems of the future. The keyboard is split down the centre to allow for a more natural placement of the hands, rather than twisting your wrist to reach each side, it props them up so they can hang down to hit the keys.

Many keyboards will require an added purchase of a wrist pad. Jason’s comes with one built in making it even more cost effective. It came with an added number pad and ergonomic circular shaped mouse, at around 100$ Jason feels this is an adequate price for the health benefits.

The sphere like mouse that was included looks difficult to use and maneuver. Jason confirmed it was not conducive to his cursor speed needs. His current mouse choice is the mac trackpad, making his desk a fun mishmash of various brands and products.

rsz_dsc03688Code Keyboard (Until Death do us Part):

Adrian, our Lead of Infrastructure, used to use the standard Apple Keyboard before eventually upgrading to the far superior (in his opinion) Code. I asked him why he considered such an ordinary looking keyboard to be so extraordinary. “Jeff Atwood, a well known programming nerd who is the creator of Stack Overflow, took all his opinionated thoughts on keyboards and partnered with WASD Keyboards to create a custom keyboard. WASD then released it as its own line with two variations.”

Adrian explained the reasons behind his keyboard choice with some considerable passion, so I decided to try it out and see what all the fuss was about. The keys are bouncy, easy to use, and click at a reasonable volume. The switches in this particular keyboard (green) create a tactile feel that affects the resistance and sound. There is some dampening, and once you get below a certain level, BOOM – it gives. This helps touch-typers not accidentally double tap.

The Code looks and feels the same as a 1970’s IBM keyboard. Consequently the ergonomic benefits seem just as antiquated. Without a wrist pad this keyboard could cause harm to your wrist, but at least it looks cool.

When I asked who Adrian left his keyboard to in his will, he said it would be left to no one. “I will be buried with it in my coffin as my pillow,” he confirmed. Spoken like a loyal supporter and fan boy.

Kinesis Advantage Keyboard (50 years of job security):rsz_1dsc03693

Brian, one of our data scientists, is by far using the most unusual looking keyboard I have ever seen. The keys are broken into four separate sections, with the two main sets of keys located in two valleys almost 8 inches apart. The focus of this keyboard is to be the most ergonomic friendly keyboard available. It is taking keyboarding to the next level accounting for things like the usage of your pinky finger. Being a smaller finger, it has weaker muscles and is most likely to strain, thus the backspace button is located in a spot that is accessible to your left thumb.

Switching commonly used keys and placing the home row downhill is obviously something that would take some getting used to. Brian explained the only downside to this keyboard is the 2-3 weeks it will take a new user to become familiar with the placement. The benefits however, greatly outweigh that, “I started having repetitive strain when I was in grad school, I tried icing my hands and taking breaks, but then I decided spending the extra money was worth avoiding these problems,” said Brian. He went on to explain that this keyboard was around 350$ dollars, but in the long term it will save money on the consequences that having a bad keyboard will inevitably cause. After all, we will be working for at least another 50 years, minimum 8 hours a day, you might as well take care of your money makers!

 

Common Ground:

Although the keyboards of Rubikloud vary in style, size and capabilities, there are a few commonalities I noticed about them and their users. Almost all of our engineering team will go to great lengths to not use their mouse. Some will overlay letters to links in their browser, while others like Frank will use only a trackball. Everyone uses Vim text editor, which I have learned is a less common preference to share. They all remap their keys, either in their software or hardware, and everyone “escapes” wherever suits their shortcut needs best. I have also learned that loud typing is only annoying if you aren’t contributing to the noise, and if you aren’t…you should probably get a new keyboard.