21 June 2013

Bristol geeks and their remarkable spec keyboards

This Bristol geek has paid over 130 happinesses in order that his fingers experience the satisfying recoil of a Buckling Spring keyboard. Often described as the 'older' style, back in the 90s you could expect one of these as standard with your new IBM PC but these days you actually have to make an effort to own one. For professionals who spend the majority of their day at a computer it's a small investment for a user interface that is both tactile and satisfying on the ear. Additional bonuses include it's ability to register a greater number of keys depressed simultaneously, enabling button combos that are simply not achievable on your common-or-garden device. +4 geek points awarded. +1 bonus point for having a ginger beard.

But woah! Here comes Gavin (photographed at Bristol Web Folk Hack Night), trumping Zac by having the same buckling spring setup but this time with no markings on the keys.  Because...  well isn't it obvious?! Seriously, I have no idea. +8 geek points.

But out-nerding both of them is Brizzle's favourite div lopper, Nic Alpi who uses a keyboard with the buttons in the wrong place. He explains: the backspace and return keys are positioned in the center and the buttons are aligned in vertical columns which is kinder on the wrists and more comfortable to use, leading to greater accuracy. It takes a few hours to get used to.  +10 geek points awarded and a further +2 for wearing a HJKL vim evangelist t-shirt (he didn't even know I was coming to snap his picture, he actually wears that t-shirt normally).

Who didn't make this list? Not included here is the über hipster who actually uses a typewriter (yes the ones that hammer an ink-infused ribbon against the surface of the paper) to compose letters and the guy I met at Bristol Hackspace who has hacked a BBC Micro to a Raspberry Pi enabling him to send Tweets on a device built in 1981. Why not included? Because no matter how fun and quirky these exercises are, they just ain't practical for getting things done. And if there's one trait that can help explain the recent rise to power and great sexual magnetism that geeks are currently enjoying, it's their practical abilities to succeed.