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Epomaker GK68XS

Minimalism, Sturdiness Make for an Intriguing Keyboard

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:42 PM

I’m doing a series of keyboard reviews for OFB. Here’s the second one, on the Epomaker GK68XS, which I like quite a bit:

Like Keychron, Epomaker has emerged in no small part due to its successive and successful crowdfunding of boards that eschew the gaudy B-movie sci-fi appearance of many gamer keyboards. Both companies also make a lot of different models, several of which have gotten a lot of attention for gee-whiz new features during those hugely successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Situated somewhere in the middle of Epomaker’s lineup is the unassuming GK68XS, which lacks all that hoopla, but like the K2 ticks off the sorts of boxes a person looking for a keyboard of similar layout to one’s laptop might want.

It isn’t a perfect keyboard, but if you’re looking for the same sort of keyboard I have been, it’s worth your consideration.

Keychron K2

So Close, I Wish It Were Perfect

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:23 PM

I’ve been on the quest for the perfect keyboard for a while and I kick off a review series exploring different options with the very nice Keychron K2:

What I want is relatively simple, if hard to find: a mechanical keyboard that is oriented towards writing, not gaming. My match would be reasonably compact and friendly towards Macs, too. Keychron, as much as anyone, has arisen as one of the few companies interested in ticking those boxes.

What do I like about it?

The K2’s size is just about perfect for anyone who finds the size of an average laptop keyboard — including MacBooks — agreeable. It dumps the numpad to free up more of my desk, but doesn’t overdo the downsizing like so-called 60% boards do. They often drop keys I depend on for writing and editing, such as the arrow keys.

Many smaller options also end up with at least a few keys in non-traditional locations, slowing my touch typing. The K2 is perfect on this count, making it easy to go from my MacBook Pro’s keyboard to it and back again without having to recondition where my fingers go to do things. Mac friendly multimedia keys are also where you’d expect, which is nice and not necessarily a given on mechanical boards. I am not sure how I lived without volume and mute keys on my keyboard for so many years, but those years are a distant memory.

RavPower Mini External SSD Pro Hard Drive

It is Better than a Thumb Drive

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:32 PM

I take a look at RavPower’s tiny, portable SSD:

When the pandemic hit last year, it threw me into a world where I was doing vastly more video editing than I did previously. Anyone who has spent time splicing and dicing video files knows those files can fill up storage devices really quickly and they are a pain to transfer between computers. Enter the new class of tiny, pocketable, external SSDs like the RavPower Mini External SSD Pro.

NC Part Deux?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:35 PM

The Verge reports:

Microsoft is putting Windows in the cloud. Windows 365 is a new service that will let businesses access Cloud PCs from anywhere, streaming a version of Windows 10 or Windows 11 in a web browser. While virtualization and remote access to PCs has existed for more than a decade, Microsoft is betting on Windows 365 to offer Cloud PCs to businesses just as they shift toward a mix of office and remote work.

This reminds me a great deal of the Network Computers (NC) of the late 1990’s. Come to think of it, we have multicolored iMacs again too… did I somehow time travel?

Compression Issues Mar a Nifty, Cheap Live Streaming Tool

A Look at the Esywen USB 3.0 Video Capture Card

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:56 AM

I’m continuing a series of reviews of live streaming gear with a look at one of the plethora of generic video capture devices that have shown up in the last year:

For most of last year, it was nearly impossible to get a name brand video capture card for a computer. These devices help to take video from a camera, video game console or other device and make it usable on your computer to record or stream. In a world that was dependent on streaming, well known cards like Elgato’s were selling for several times over their original price, giving room for a whole range of generic cards. Some of them are pretty good, so let’s consider one of them.

Pixel Voical Wireless Mic System

A Highly Portable Wireless Mic for Your Camera

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:53 PM

I’ve learned more than I thought I ever would about microphones this past year courtesy of the pandemic. So, why not review a few? Here’s my latest take on an oddly named microphone system:

Can an affordable and seemingly misspelled wireless mic system help you with your live streams, Zoom meetings and other audio and video projects? We’ll find out as OFB Labs puts the Pixel’s Voical (sic) Wireless Mic system to the test.

Apple's M1 and the Spring Forward Apple Event

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:56 AM

Joel Hruska over at ExtremeTech:

Apple couldn’t position the M1 this way if it wasn’t an excellent CPU in its own right. The M1’s dramatically higher efficiency and improved performance relative to x86 allowed Apple to standardize on a single CPU core across a wide range of products and price points. This is in complete opposition to the way PCs are traditionally positioned.

If you haven’t tried an M1-based Mac, it is hard to imagine precisely how good it is. But, put it this way: it can run many native “Apple Silicon” programs as well as many non-native, still targeted for Intel processor programs at least as fast as current high end MacBook Pros that are still running Intel’s processors. For example, Final Cut Pro and OBS Studio can both run at least as well on a much cheaper M1 system as they do on a $3,000 MacBook Pro; highly targeted apps that use machine learning, like Pixelmator Pro, run better on the M1.

Essentially, Apple is saying, “what you spend on a system should primarily be about what type of computer you want (laptop, desktop, all-in-one), how big of display you want, what extra features you want, not if you want a fantastically fast processor or not.” This is very similar to the approach Apple has taken on the iPhone for a number of years; the base iPhone 12 offers the same years-ahead-of-the-competition processing performance as the highest end, most souped up and most eye-wateringly expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Resetting MySQL Primary Key in Chronological Order

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:53 AM

As longtime readers of asisaid know, this blog — and my other sites — run a custom content management system called SAFARI that I started writing way back in 1999. For a long time, SAFARI evaded spam comments simply because most spammers targeted WordPress and other vastly more common CMSes. However, at some point in the mid-2010’s as I started serving as a pastor and professor, this blog went into something of a hibernation and the spammers went crazy with it. I later implemented more serious anti-spam measures, but there were already thousands of junk comments to deal with. I recently realized that my panicked hacking away at the comments back then wiped out nearly 4,000 early comments to the blog that were not spam.

I wanted to restore them from a backup I dug up, but since more comments have been posted since then, the unique id number given to each comment had been given away to other comments. The database table that stores the comments is set to auto-increment the ids, so I could remove the ids from the backed up comments before restoring them, but the result bugged me: older comments that were restored had higher id numbers than the newer comments. It didn’t ruin the function, but it bugged me.

So, I looked for a way to regenerate the unique ids and to do so in chronological order. I combined several of the answers on this Stack Overflow page to achieve the desired result:

SET @count = 0;
ALTER TABLE `uninet_comments` DROP `cid`;
ALTER TABLE `uninet_comments` ADD `cid` int UNSIGNED NOT NULL FIRST;
UPDATE `uninet_comments` SET `uninet_comments`.`cid` = @count:= @count + 1 ORDER BY `gmt` ASC;
ALTER TABLE `uninet_comments` ADD PRIMARY KEY(`cid`);

I figured I would share the queries I used in case anyone else needs to accomplish the same thing on a database.

Improving My Coffee Game

Testing the Miroco 1.7 Liter Electric Tea Kettle

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:46 PM

I have slowly been trying to improve my home barista skills for years, using the delightfully clever Areopress to make coffee when I have time for more than my normal rush to Keurigland. Recently, I have added pour over coffee into my repertoire as well. Both methods have the “flaw” of being dependent on that old fashioned task of boiling water. Both are improved with an electric tea kettle like one Miroco provided for us to test.

Live Streaming with Mevo

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:54 AM

Last year, I put together a little overview of using the Mevo line of live streaming cameras for churches rushing to do live streaming in the midst of the pandemic. Since then, Mevo also released a new camera with a lot of additional features. We haven’t been able to look at that new model yet, but below is the guide I put together last year, which still serves as a good entry point into the world of live streaming with Mevo.

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