The Stochastic Game

Ramblings of General Geekery

Posts tagged with hardware

Southpaw Keyboard

I was recently made aware of a group buy for a “Southpaw Full-Size” keyboard that has its numeric keypad section moved to the left-side of the keyboard:

Southpaw Keyboard

As a southpaw myself, I… just don’t get it.

I mean, sure, as a keyboard nerd, I get it – it’s a cool looking keyboard, it’s customized to someone’s needs, and, in the mechanical keyboard community, more form-factors are always welcome.

I just don’t get it that it’s marketed at left-handed people – or at least marketed as a “left-handed” keyboard. If anything, it should actually get marketed at right-handed people. See, most right-handed people prefer “tenkeyless” designs, since it keeps their mouse (which is on the right of the keyboard) closer to the the main part of the keyboard. This means they don’t have to move their right hand too much between typing and moving the cursor.

Now, left-handed people don’t get this problem – if we consider the proper left-handed people who put their mouse on the left instead of living a lie1. So getting a keyboard that puts the numeric keypad on the left does nothing much besides bringing a right-handed people problem to left-handed people! For right-handed people who are conflicted about standalone numeric keypads, however, this might be a good option to consider.

Either way, if you’re interested in this so-called “left-handed” keyboard, for whatever reason, head over to the group buy page, you still have a week or so to order.

  1. It’s estimated that almost half of the left-handed community is living a lie, using their mouse with their right hand. Most of the time this is because they have to share their computer with right-handed people. 

Is Bluetooth Even Working Correctly?

I’ve been critical of Bluetooth before. In my mind it’s nowhere near ready to be the default way we listen to music… but when my dear Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones1 started exhibiting balance problems, the nice people from the support department offered, among different options, to replace them with a discounted Wireless P5 model.

I figured what the hell, let’s try this brave new world where everything has to run on batteries and on different versions of different protocols.

New headphones

Now you must realize that those are pretty much premium Bluetooth headphones. I got them at a 50% discount, but they otherwise sell for around $400. Even then, they’re much better that I expected. Barely heavier than the wired model, and with excellent battery life. I noted a few glitches in audio playback but I haven’t checked whether wireless was to blame, or whether it was the streaming or player app being at fault.

The thing that I was mostly wondering about was how it handles multiple devices. Our wireless speakers at home2 have a lot of trouble figuring out what phone (between mine and my wife’s) to play from. My headphones would typically – on a daily basis – switch between my phone (for music and podcasts) and my trusty, original Nexus 7 tablet (which I use to run Plex and watch TV shows on the go). I sure didn’t want to go through all the trouble we typically have to go through with the speakers.

Well I can report that it works fine, but not in the way you would expect.

I have no idea how or why, but my headphones just won’t connect automatically to any of those devices. I have to connect to them manually3, which is frankly fine by me since it takes slightly less time than untangling a cable4 and plugging it, especially on Android where you can do a lot more system automation than on iOS (on my Nexus 7 it basically takes me a swipe and a tap, whereas on iOS I don’t think there’s a way around going in the Settings apps manually).

However, the simple fact that I have no idea if this is a feature or a bug should tell you all you need to know about the state of Bluetooth.

  1. The first generation, not the new Series 2. I’ve had them for a few years. 

  2. A couple of JAMBOX'es, which seem to have been discontinued, since there’s not much on the Jawbone website

  3. “connect”, not “pair”. They stay paired with both devices. 

  4. I developped a slightly quicker/dirtier version of this technique over the years and my headphone cables pretty much never get tangled. 

Design For South Paws

Sarah Baird talks about what us left-handed people have put up with all our lives, and all the way back through history:

Day in and day out, though, the biggest hurdle faced by lefties isn’t discrimination — it’s mundane, basic functioning. Almost all facets of society, from ink pens to urban design, are crafted and structured to support, abet and cater to the right-handed majority. For lefties, functioning means a constant, conscious consideration of how they can reverse or modify their natural behavior in order to most effectively move around in the world.

The funny thing is that most of the time, I’m not even thinking about it. I’ll be, say, getting hot air blowing all over me from holding the vacuum-cleaner “the wrong way”, and not really realize that this wouldn’t happen if I was right-handed. It’s just like living in a world that’s slightly less well-designed.

Generally speaking, I’ve probably encountered less hurdles growing up in France than most North-American lefties: spiral notebooks were not used a lot (we had properly bound notebooks) and student chair/tablet combinations were pretty much inexistent.

The last time I really felt the pain of being part of a market minority was when I was shopping for a new computer mouse. Being a palm gripper, I ideally need a so-called “ergonomic” mouse. But those mice are only ever manufactured for right-handed people. The only left-handed ergonomic mouse that I’ve been able to find is the Razer Death-Adder Left-Handed Edition. Many people dislike Razer for their annoying configuration software but I figured I still needed to vote with my money. And, you know, I needed a mouse.


As expected, the configuration software is annoying, but the mouse is really nice.

The post-PC era

You can see this kind of headline all over the web these days, especially with Apple fanboy tech bloggers: the PC is dead, all hail tablets and smartphones. The argument is also made for video games consoles, who are supposedly on the way out to be replaced by, guess what, tablets and smartphones. Even Jeff Atwood is getting on the bandwagon.

I don’t disagree with the facts here: most indicators we have on the market right now show that, indeed, desktop and laptop computers have declining sales while mobile products have an ever-accelerating growth.


Some tech bloggers, however, are a bit too quick to equate opposing trends with replacement – in reality, people still own PCs and Macs, but complement them with mobile devices. As far as I know, there’s no evidence that anybody is actually getting rid of their laptops and desktop computers after buying an iPad… yet.


This is why people buy Macs

A few months ago I set out to get a new laptop for my wife. She only had one requirement, after having shared a Macbook Pro with me for the past couple years: that it ran Windows (queue OS flamewar).

I quickly decided I wanted to give her something slick and light, and look at the new line of ultrabooks. I then narrowed the choices down to the Samsung Series 9 and the ASUS Zenbook by reading reviews online… but that was just the easy part.


Much has been said already about the shopping and out-of-the-box experience of PCs, compared to that of Macs, but I think we should keep beating that dead horse until it’s underground. So keep reading for much deceased equidae action.