I consider myself very fortunate that my parents raised me the way they did. I had to pay for anything “extra” after I was tall enough to push a lawn mower. This included video games, paintball, and camping stuff. I learned when I was 8 that quality counts. I used my allowance to buy a hand saw from Walmart. My family has always been big do it yourselfers and carpenters and I was ready to have my own tools. I purchased a multi function saw that you could swap the blades for four dollars. Now, when your allowance for chores is only two dollars a week, four dollars was a good amount of money.
I quickly learned that this purchase was bad on two levels. First, I learned be very careful when buying a multi-functional tool. A TV/VCR combo may sound like a good idea, but what happens when the screen goes out? You have a giant VHS rewind machine. Second, I learned its not a good idea to go cheap on stuff you will regularly use.
Over the years, this has been drilled in my head by learning the hard way. I bought cheap video game controllers, that would quickly break and rattle. I would get cheap hiking shoes and go on a ten mile hike with my boyscout troop. I would come home with giant blisters from wet feet and poorly fitting shoes.
What did this do? It taught me a valuable lesson about quality. I learned to only buy official licensed Nintendo controllers and go to an established outfitter for hiking boots. I’ve owned 3 pairs of hiking boots in the last 10 years because I bought quality. The first two pairs have been heavily worn out and I’m still wearing the third pair to scout events. Now, I’ve never had a good sense of style. I wore those boots EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. I could go all day on that.
Now, if you do something “professionally”, you need quality equipment. My definition of “professional” is you do something as your job or more than the average person. So the average Joe that plays basketball for three hours a day, four days a week and the dude that plays for the NBA are being considered “professional” in this context.
I did paintball as a profession for 8 years. The first thing I learned was that you needed a quality mask before a quality marker. I purchased a Blue JT Flex 7 Mask (an $80 dollar mask) while I own an original Tippmann Model 98 (a $130 marker). I was a referee at the local field. I wore my mask 5 hours during the 8 hour work day. I quickly learned that my $20 junker mask just wouldn’t cut it and I broke down and ordered the top of the line.
So, I tell you all this because I’ve been hit with another time where I’ve learned my lesson.
I’m a web developer and I spend all day typing. I’m always excited about cool looking stuff. I started looking for a cool new keyboard for gaming about a year and a half ago. I decided I wanted a backlit keyboard because I played Battlefield 2 in low light conditions and all the cool gaming keyboards were backlit. I really wanted a Razer Lycosa, but ended up getting a Logitech G11 because it was a little bit cheaper. A month later, a Lycosa shows up on a Woot-Off . It was refurbished and 60% off the retail price so I buckled and got it as my work keyboard.
The Razer Lycosa is a sweet keyboard. The keys are built like laptop keys. They are flat and it takes very little pressure to press the keys down. After a month of heavy usage, one of the keys stopped working. I threw it in the closet and got it replaced the day before the warranty expired. I got another refurbished one and threw it in the closet. The new warranty is expired now and the enter key broke today. One of the grippers on the back of the key broke and so they key no longer holds on to the return spring. I’m really rough on keyboards because I “angry code” and pound my keyboard a lot. It still technically works, but the enter key must be pressed very carefully for it to return.
About a month ago I ran across this article about mechanical keyboards. I use to dispose of old keyboards at a corporation in highschool and I was always told to “save this kind” that clicked like crazy when you typed on them. Never understood it until now. They were mechanical keyboards. Each key has an individual switch behind it and they are replaceable. So you can actually repair it when it breaks (to a degree.)
It turns out that Razer is releasing a keyboard next month called The BlackWidow. I’m thankful that they are releasing two kinds. A non-back lit for $80 and a backlit with usb and audio pass through for $130. Knowing this, I don’t have a problem spending $80 bucks on a keyboard. Plus, there are some other cool features of mech keyboards that help with hand fatigue and all that other fun stuff that would benefit me.
Well, so yeah. I’ve put my foot in my mouth for the thousandth time. Now, I leave you with the coolest thing I’ve done with a keyboard… and I did this before it broke!