The Hong Kong-based start-up lofree is manufacturing a typewriter-inspired mechanical keyboard that was recently crowdfunded at Indiegogo. I purchased one for $79. It arrived on 12 June 2017.
Keyboard Layout: Numeric and Function Rows Misaligned
The main video on the campaign’s homepage claims — at time 0:48 — that the lofree keyboard “features the exact same keyboard layout as Apple’s Magic Keyboard.”
This isn’t true, and many people have expressed their discontent about this in the Comments section of the product’s Indiegogo page.
The numeric row and the function row of keys have been shifted to the right by a key, effectively forcing touch typists to re-learn how to type.
If you’re willing to re-learn the layout and this will be your only keyboard, then stop reading. For the rest of us who use multiple machines, however, the layout is unacceptable.
Keyboard Layout: Fix
Lofree advised me (and others) to use Karabiner to fix the keyboard layout, but Karabiner doesn’t work in macOS Sierra. Thus, I set out to create a layout that works in all modern versions of Mac OS X.
The layout re-aligns the numeric row back to the standard position, not the function row. The back tick/tilde key, now a dead key, is placed to the left of the delete, and the toggling you’d get with command + ` (back tick) is converted to a three-key combination: command + control + 1.
As for reliability, I’ve used the layout for two weeks in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan and macOS 10.12 Sierra without incident.
In February 2012, I purchased a Lacie iamaKey, which carries a 2-year warranty. Seventeen months later, in July of 2013, the drive stopped working—it wouldn’t mount in Mac, Windows, or Linux. Nothing I tried was able to revive it; Lacie replaced it. (I had to provide LaCie with proof of my having destroyed the broken drive before they would replace it.)
Eighteen months later, the replacement died—the drive became write-protected, and the protection could not be removed. The replacement drive only carries a 3-month warranty, so no replacement for the replacement. (The replacement was destroyed because I’m showing my disdain for this company.)
So, the original drive failed about a year and a half after I purchased it, and its replacement died exactly a year and a half later. Perhaps a coincidence.
These drives look cool, are convenient to carry, and are designed to be carted around on a keychain with other keys. They are, however, too unreliable. I have a SanDisk Cruzer that is about 8 years old, is encased in plastic, and has taken a beating since 2006. It works perfectly.
In the summer of 2014, I was approached by Packt Publishing to review a book about Max/MSP. Since I was in the planning stages of writing my own book, I thought it would be a good learning experience.
Four months later, in November 2014, Packt released the book, Multimedia Programming Using Max/MSP and TouchDesigner. Overall, it was a good—and fast—experience in understanding the back-and-forth of technical reviewing and editing.
Another poor UI design. Adding a database using this layout is quite easy: click the icon with the plus (“+”) character over it.
Dropping a database, however, isn’t immediately obvious. The icon to do so appears to the right of the “add user” icon, in the right section of the page. It’s likely there because the UI designer(s) didn’t want users to mistakenly delete databases.
OK. Understood. But, why not place the icon along the same row as the add database feature, but along the right margin?