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KBC Poker keyboard

2012-06-18 , ,

I bought an open box, all but unused KBC Poker keyboard with Cherry Blue MX keys as my “travel” keyboard back in September 2011. It’s the size of a standard keyboard with the number pad, function keys, and arrows lopped off. It has clicky, full-travel keys with a normal pitch. Great for fixed mobile typing.

The problem with this little keyboard is the <ESC> key. There isn’t one, or more precisely, there is but it’s accessed by holding down a function-key to the right of the spacebar and hitting the tilde at the top left corner of the keyboard. I’m an Emacs user. The time at work I don’t spend in meetings is spent in Emacs. I have years of configuration and muscle memory invested in using it. You might be asking yourself by now, “What does he think is wrong with the Apple keyboard?” Nothing really, but I strongly prefer the feel of a mechanical key switch. If you spend eight to ten hours a day typing, preferences matter.

The solution is KeyRemap4MacBook, a free System Preferences extension that lets you remap your keyboard and change key behavior. It can do all kinds of things with pointers and key mappings (most of which I’ve never explored) and found the following settings work just fine with the KBC Poker:

General-
  Don't remap an internal keyboard
  Don't remap any pointing devices
  Don't remap Apple's keyboards
  Don't remap Apple's pointing devices
Change Backquote(`) to Escape if no modifiers pressed

After seven months of use a couple of days each week, I’m fairly satisfied with the keyboard and the work-around (certainly for the price). I like the mapping of the Mac volume keys and the function keys but prefer not to have to switch key layouts when I’m at my main desk and I find distracting the small amount of flex in the plastic case and key mounting. I’ll continue saving up for a Happy Hacking 2 Pro keyboard (and probably will be saving for quite a long time).

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