Review: AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard Blue Switch with RGB Backlighting

This is a review of the AUKEY 'Blue Switch' mechanical keyboard, available for a little over $50 on Amazon.

AUKEY closeup of RGB blue keycap mechanical gaming keyboard

For years, I've used the various versions of Apple's USB and Bluetooth keyboards, mostly because they lasted forever (I still have a couple spares that have most of the home row letters worn off), and they're pretty comfortable for my typing style. Also, they're pretty quiet. And the switches are robust. And the body is sturdy aluminum so there's no flexing while typing (a lot of plasticky keyboards have that problem).

Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away — the Escape key

In Apple's 10.12.1 macOS update, the file 'ApplePaySplashSA.tiff' seems to spilled the beans on Apple's new MacBook Pro's (and possibly other laptops') contextual function row key replacement. I'm guessing this change won't make it's way to Apple's Magic Keyboard for some time... but for users of Apple's laptops, having a 'software-defined' escape key might be a pill that's hard to swallow.

Macbook Pro Escape Key missing OLED contextual keys

Remapping the Caps Lock key to Escape in macOS Sierra

Update: As of macOS Sierra 10.12.1, the Caps Lock -> Escape remapping can be done natively in the Keyboard System Preferences pane! To remap without any 3rd party software, do the following:

  1. Open System Preferences and click on 'Keyboard'
  2. Click on 'Modifier Keys...'
  3. For 'Caps Lock (⇪) Key', choose '⎋ Escape'
  4. Click 'OK'

(See screenshot for reference).

For the past three years, I've used the Mac Development Ansible Playbook to automatically configure all my Macs, so they have the same applications, utilities, and preferences at all times. One of the most important tweaks I use is the combination of Karabiner and Seil to remap a few keys and to increase the key repeat rate.

Review: Anker Ultra Slim Mini Bluetooth 3.0 Wireless Keyboard

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: A great (and very inexpensive) alternative to an Apple-branded keyboard. You get what you pay for, and a little more.

Ever since Apple introduced its first 'chicklet-style' keyboards on laptops, I've been a fan. I love the feel of a loudly-clacking Apple Extended Keyboard II, but I can type much faster and more accurately on Apple's newer keyboards, like the $69 Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. I also like the compact footprint and durability of the aluminum-bodied keyboards, even with the larger Apple USB Keyboard with Numeric Keypad ($49).

Anker Bluetooth 3.0 Ultra Slim Keyboard Black Closeup

Pick and Choose F-key usage (Brightness, Sound, Dashboard, etc.) on a Mac

For the longest time, I've flip-flopped on whether to check the 'Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys' option in the Keyboard System Preference pane.

I love using the volume up and down keys on the keyboard, and probably use them fifty times a day. I sometimes like using the 'Dashboard' key too. I rarely use the media control keys. I'm undecided on the F1/F2 keys, though... I would like to use them as brightness control on my MacBook Air keyboard, but when my Air is plugged into my external monitor and keyboard, I want to use those as F1 and F2 (especially for code folding in TextMate).

Lucky for me, I found this great bit of freeware: FunctionFlip.

It's a System Preference pane that lets you choose which F keys are used as standard function keys, and which ones are used for the marked purposes (brightness, volume, etc.). AND, you can even set things different depending on what keyboard you're using. Nice!

Supercharge your Key Repeat rates in Mac OS X Lion

As an ardent keyboard-only user of Mac OS X (mice are so early 90s!), I like having a very fast key repeat rate, allowing me to hold the delete key to remove characters, command-z to undo a bunch of things in my text editor, etc.

Since I have a MacBook Air without an Eject key, I had to use KeyRemap4MacBook to switch the F12 key to behave like the Eject key for the purpose of turning off the screen with the keyboard.

This gives me another nice feature, too: the ability to have extremely fine-grained control over key repeat rates. After installing KeyRemap4MacBook, you can click on it’s ‘Key Repeat’ tab in the System Preference pane, and set your own values (in ms) for waits.

I simply set the ‘Initial Wait’ to 200ms, and the ‘Wait’ to 25ms. These values let me type, delete, and undo things very fast. That’s sooooooooooooooo spiffy ;-)

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