Ergodox EZ Review

I started using an Ergodox EZ with QMK firmware 6 weeks ago. I’m now proficient with this keyboard and will continue to use it every day, and I’m impressed with the build quality. However, the Ergodox has some drawbacks, some of which are by design.

I’m coming from using both the built-in keyboards on MacBooks, and the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. In both cases, I perform software-remapping of the keyboard layouts in macOS, the Linux console and X:

  • US/QWERTY physical layouts are remapped to Dvorak
  • the physical caps lock key is remapped to control

Although I was happy with these keyboards and the Dvorak layout, I wanted to experience what all the fuss was about with mechanical keyboards. I like the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards, so I was looking for something similar with a split and tented/sculpted shape. I liked the idea of a columnar layout, too. And ideally I wanted a full-size keyboard.

Unfortunately no keyboards seem to fit these criteria simultaneously, so I gave up on finding a full-size keyboard. I liked the open source nature of Ergodox, but didn’t want to solder my own, so I got an Ergodox EZ with Cherry MX Blue switches and sculpted blank (Signature Plastics DCS, with O-rings) keycaps.

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Region-free Macbook Pro DVD drive

After receiving some regioned dvds for xmas, I decided it was about time to get them working on my Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro. It’s unusual to have a region-locked DVD player here in Australia; a recent Toshiba player I purchased came with instructions for entering an activation code via the remote, presumably slipped in by the Australian distributor. It’s slightly surprising that Apple Australia doesn’t do the same with the optical drives distributed in Apple hardware.

When I first got the MacBook Pro, the region was unset and although Apple’s “DVD Player” would complain, VLC would play regioned DVDs just fine. However, one day I decided to use DVD Player to play a regioned DVD from the video store, and after that the drive was region locked.

I found a good summary of the options for region-free macbook drives. I put the RPC-1 patched KCVB onto my UJ-857D superdrive using the SimpleFlash utility. ben11’s patched version of Apple’s “Superdrive Firmware Update” errored with

LSOpenFromURLSpec() failed with error -10810

The hacks for getting the patched Updater to work on Mac OS X Leopard didn’t work, so SimpleFlash seemed like a good (if slightly scarier) option.

It worked a treat. Now I can play regioned DVDs in VLC again. Apparently I can also use DVD Player after faking a region using xvi’s Region X.

Meizu Music Card

I spent a while searching for an MP3 player in the leadup to xmas 2007. I thought my criteria were reasonable:

  • Access as a USB Mass Storage device
  • Decent enough sound quality that I’m not compelled to buy an amp
  • FLAC and ogg support
  • A form factor that I can take running with me in a pocket

I ended up with a shortlist of:

iPod nano
  • the 3rd generation form factor isn’t great
  • it can’t play ogg and flac (well, until rockbox gets ported)
  • isn’t well-regarded for its sound quality.
Sony NWZ-S61x
  • It certainly seems from Sony’s promotion, user reactions, and some RMAA tests that sound quality was a focus, and that Sony were taking advice from their users by switching to UMS.
  • The lack of ogg and flac support was disappointing
  • The form factor tipped the balance. Really it’s not that bad, but it reminded me of my V600i, whose appearance I loathe.
Cowon iAudio 7
Meizu M3
  • A form factor that fit my criteria
  • Comprehensive codec support
  • Some bells and whistles (FM, mic recording)
  • A decent price
  • I couldn’t find much regarding quantitative tests of the sound quality (the others had been subjected to RMAA and similar).

On separate whims I came close to getting the iAudio 7 and an NWZ-S616.

So the belated birthday present from my sister was an M3 SP, 8 GB, stocked with the T 2.003.3 firmware. I christened it “simble”. Here are my first impressions, chronologically ordered rather than logically categorised.

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