This week I finally made the plunge into the slightly deeper end of the mechanical keyboard community. I made the pre-order for Drop’s Ctrl Keyboard (Halo True switches). Total damage after shipping: 201.05 USD.
It’s my first step into the custom keyboard modding community. I was contemplating for the longest time if I should build a totally custom keyboard from scratch from sites like kbdfans for example. But the high cost of entry and the fear of screwing up made me decide to go for a semi-custom route instead.
However, while waiting for the keyboard to come, I decided to do some slight modifications to my Filco keyboard to see if I could improve the feel and sound of it.
This week’s weekly came in late because to be honest, I was feeling a little burned out from work, as well as helping out with covid-19 related projects. The pace that I was working at kind of killed off my desire to do anything computer-related in my free time.
Case in point, I can’t remember the last interesting thing I did the past week, my new NAS is still sitting there, underutilized. But hey, it’s the start of a 3 day weekend so maybe next week’s entry would have something interesting.
After thinking really hard about it, I actually did fix an interesting problem that my windows desktop had for the past couple months (year?).
The past week has been pretty hectic changing between roles as a dev and ops, helping out with other projects till 2-3am every day has really taken its toll and I feel old.
Unsurprisingly, I haven’t been able to really work on any of my own projects but I did learn something interesting that I wish to write about.
Recently facing an issue on Gitlab CI pipeline, where I want to run integration/regression tests on the latest docker build. However, since each image is meant to be production ready, it means that it will be ran as a non-root user. Which means that it will restrict what the user can do when the container starts. Here’s why this problem has caused me such a headache.
Beware, below is really more of a rant about the troubles I faced.
This blog has went down twice in the past week. Which seems rather unstable. But I always have to keep in mind that it’s a $1 web host after all.
I know this because I use this service called uptimerobot which is a freemium service that can help you keep track of your services uptime. I’ve been using it for the past couple of years but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog. It’s great because it will send you email notifications when it’s unable to reach your site!
It’s interesting that when I was self-hosting it, it only ever went down for 2 mins over 6,500 thousand hours. It’s a bit insane when I think about how far tech has came.
Not sure if anyone noticed but the images has not been loading consistently on the blog, it was due to the image optimiser + caching + CloudFlare. Decided to simplify everything by relying on WordPress’s Jetpack CDN to load my images instead and it’s loading pretty much instantly now!
It has been 3 weeks since Singapore went into Circuit Breaker mode, which is pretty much a semi lock down situation. Been working from home a month or more now and I’m slowly getting really bored of the stay home lifestyle.
That said, I am thankful that I’m in the line of profession that allows me to WFH without much issue and business still goes on as usual. On brighter side of things, mentioned that I bought a new NAS last week, and it arrived this week. It’s definitely a huge upgrade over my old WD MyBookLiveDuo. (2 bay NAS). I remember that when I bought it over 7 years ago, it was the most expensive purchase in my life.
Why did I get something that was released in 2018? Well, because the new refresh for it was $200+ more and the only advantage was that it has an extra drive bay. I heard that there will be a new edition for this probably this year or next, but based on the past 5 years or so, there’s really not much performance improvements to expect from a NAS.
Well a bunch of things happened this week but I think the general theme is to optimize everything. It’s just something that I do from time to time cause gaining efficiency pleases my soul (like the cost efficiency from switching hosting provider).
Speeding up my zsh shell launch
I was feeling like my shell (zsh) launches have been getting slower and slower over time with additional plugins and packages to make my life better. But my workflow revolves a lot around the shell, so the waiting was starting to bother me.
TLDR; I managed to reduce the loading times from 1.xx seconds to 0.2x seconds.
The improvement was constant across various devices, some actually took more than 2 seconds cause of all the helper plugins I was using. But on average it was 5 times faster.
You can use this command to benchmark your shell speed.
for i in $(seq 1 10); do /usr/bin/time zsh -i -c exit; done
There was definitely a noticeable speed up when I open up a new tab. And it made my 5 year old laptop feel way faster than before.
This is a side project that I’ve been working with my friend since last year but haven’t gotten many hours into it because … procrastination. But hey we finally have a MVP deployed onto Netlify and for the rare few people who somehow stumbled upon my blog, this is something you can check out.
TLDR; this is a quick calculator online designed to answer complicated questions regarding CPF and HDB (tbd).
Even though I call it MVP it’s really still an early alpha and we’re still trying to figure things out and add more features to it. So there’s a high chance that things will just break from time to time.
We decided to work on this because planning for finance and housing in Singapore is quite a pain. While there are many calculators online that can give you numbers that you’re looking for, nothing is as simple or specific as, “How much do I have to save to retire with XYZ sum at the age of N?”.
Another attempt at reviving my blog after only 7 posts for the entire year. But I finally figured out what this blog can be used for.
So the history of my blog started with me just ranting about my thoughts and feelings, that was many many years ago when I first started blogging, there was barely any filter to the things that I wrote and it was a rant every single damn day. That changed when I became more concerned with privacy.
It started with writing my inner thoughts and feelings on a self-hosted WordPress instance inside of a VM, then that transitioned to pen and paper and I almost completely stopped blogging altogether. Last year, I made the choice start journaling on a very regular basis, using a journaling app called Journey. It was great! I wrote on a near daily basis and I felt like I have a better grasp of my life.
Then I started writing Medium articles to have a better reach to tech audiences, which was the original intent of this revamped blog in 2018. But this blog quickly died down cause it’s not easy to pump out articles like that quickly.
So what is the point of this blog then? This will be where I just spam/rant/note down the interesting things that I’ve done over the week, just purely tech related, because a lot of these thoughts and experiences have been omitted in my journal (it’s boring to write about those in a journal). I’ve set a goal of writing one per week, to consolidate the fun things that I’ve been up to.
So technically I have been working on my own personal projects now and then but haven’t really written about it for a variety of reasons. But mainly because there are stuffs that I prefer to do a grand unveiling of, or that I don’t really feel like it’s interesting/special enough for me to share.
Finally I have some inspiration to do something new and interesting (personally), with the inspiration coming mainly from work and the workshops that I’ve been to lately.
What I plan to do, is basically a extremely personalized assistant that would basically alert me whenever my services does something automatically.
The first of which is my automated torrent/flexget setup that has been working beautifully for over 2 years now. I also want a really easy way of sending new torrents for my server to download through the bot.
Secondly, I want scheduled information that would be useful for my daily routine. For example, since I go to work around the same time everyday, I would like it if the bot automatically tells me about the next bus timings without me having to check it. This could be extended with a custom app that can trigger actions base on my location. The whole point of this is just to reduce the amount of apps I need to open to get the information I want.
Lastly, I want to have important weather information alerting me when it happens. E.g. if there’s >XX% chance of rain, or if the haze goes beyond a certain PSI level.
For the weather one, technically the app I use already does it, and I know a lot of people have already done it. But this also means that there’s plenty of information to teach me how to do it, and it wouldn’t be that hard to implement it, right?
Oh and of course it will at least be slightly interactive, so being able to send some commands to get the information I want on demand. So there’s a pretty simple list of requirements and I would try to update the progress here as I build along.
So to be honest, it wouldn’t be that hard if I just go about doing this normally, but that wouldn’t be that much fun. Which is why I am determined to make most of this server-less, especially the API controlling the telegram bot. I’ve already sketched out some designs for the architecture which I’ll talk about it the next post!
TLDR; this is my favourite mechanical keyboard of all time.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
The love story began roughly 3 years ago. At this point I’ve had experience with 3 different mechanical keyboards (all Cooler Masters) and have a pretty good idea what I am looking for next. It needed to be a no-frills keyboard aimed purely for typing. I did not care for any “gaming” features or RGB, I want it to be built like a tank.
Enter the Filco Majestouch Ninja Tenkeyless (cherry mx brown switches)
It may not be the “best” or the most premium keyboard out there, but I have not regretted a single moment with it. This keyboard does not have lights, or macros, gaming features, or any multimedia key to speak of. What it has, is quality, starting with a solid construction, followed by tight keycaps that give little to no wobble at all. This keyboard is build like a tank and there is no flex to speak of. However I do listen to a lot of music, and the lack of multimedia keys that can be controlled by the fn key bothers me. The workaround is to use an autohotkey script to bind some keys for multimedia, this is the only reason why this keyboard didn’t get a 5/5 rating from me.
The reason why I like it so much is really the consistency, it feels like no matter what I throw at it, it will always continue to function the same as it did on the first day that I got it. I have tried a few more keyboards since, some of which subjectively felt better for me, but this has always held a special place in my heart.
After using it daily for 2-3 years, it has held up to my vigorous typing. The keys have started to wear out and shine a little, but overall, it is still going strong. However, the inner geek in me decided that it is time to finally give it a new life by switching it out with custom keycaps.
These double shot PBT keycaps feels amazing to the touch and it gives it a more premium feeling compared to normal ABS keycaps. I’ve also modded it by adding a dampening pad below the PCB to dampen the sound of the keys hitting the board. This brings downs the pitch of the keys, making it sound more muted and “solid”. I really like this simple mod as it changes the characteristic of the keyboard. I’ve decided to add the dampener because my Leopold keyboard comes with it, and I’ve been hooked to how it feels ever since.
In summary, this is a high quality mechanical keyboard that does only one thing, but it does it extremely well: type. If your usage consists mainly of typing and not gaming, I would whole heartedly recommend Filco keyboards. Their quality has really withstood the test of time and it is why it is pricier than those gaming RGB keyboards that has many gamer functions.