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4 Reasons Why You Should Switch to Mechanical Keyboards

4 Reasons Why You Should Switch to Mechanical Keyboards

Even for those with only a minimal need to do so, having a good keyboard to rely upon is so important. Whether it’s looking at more classical keyboards or switching to the various great mechanical keyboards on the market today, knowing what options are open (and useful) to you is very important.

Some people find that using a modern keyboard can feel a little dull, without the same quality that we were once used to. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia factor, the lack of that click and crash that we are all so used to from a classic keyboard. At the moment, the market has two specific kinds of keyboards to pick from – membrane and mechanical options. Depending on what you use and what you tend to prefer (or at least what the profile of your hands prefers) you’ll find that getting the best keyboard can be quite a tough question to answer.

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The Mechanical Keyboard Conundrum

When deciding whether to go membrane or mechanical, you have two major decisions to make. First off, though, it can help greatly to work out what the major difference between the two kinds of keyboard tends to be. Only then can you make a truly educational choice on what option is going to fit your own hands better.

A typical difference is that a mechanical keyboard actually uses physical switches underneath each key. This means that when you press it, a little mechanical tool comes to life under that key and tells the computer what has happened. Accordingly, it then prints the letter that you just hit.

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By pressing the key, you are pressing the switch. By pressing the switch, you authorize that you want this letter to be printed. Whilst not exactly a major difference to what we are used to, it does have a subtle change in operation. The pushing of the key is supposed to make a letter pop up on the screen – that’s why you are here, right?

Well, the main difference is how it works under the hood. Membrane systems instead use small rubber switches underneath each of the keys, instead. So when you press that key, the rubber switch will push through a small hole in the membrane. This connects top, middle and bottom membranes together as one, and this creates the electrical circuit needed. Then, the keyboard sends the message to the PC. The PC will then print the letter that you just pressed on the screen – simple! Right?

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The main difference then is the sound – that audible noise that lets us know we have pressed the right key. When using a membrane keyboard we lack that clear sound and signal to let us know that we did in fact, hit the key. Instead, we have to keep our eyes on the screen to make sure that every hit is picked up and that every key we press actually will appear in front of us.

With a mechanical keyboard, that changes. You hear every hit and hit every touch meaning that you know for sure whether or not you hit that key hard enough. This makes it easier for those used to mechanical keyboards to type with pace and accuracy.

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If you are sick of membrane keyboards being too light and precious to pick up every stroke with accuracy, then you can make an adjustment quickly.

Why Going Mechanical Helps

Still not sure if you should be making the change? Are you worried that a mechanical keyboard might feel a little too tough on your fingers? Let’s look at the differences in each style.

  1. Mechanical keyboards feel quite different while typing on them. You get a much more satisfying (if somewhat more painful on the fingers after a few thousand words) sound from the keyboard when you hit those keys. When you get used to the precision and the feel of typing on a mechanical keyboard, a membrane keyboard can feel light and weak. That might be OK if you feel like your fingers cannot handle the constant back and forth of the mechanical keyboard, but not if you enjoy that particular feeling.
  2. There’s a better crunch on every key. Some people despise laptop keys as they tend to be too bouncy – it’s too easy to think you have hit a key. When you read back your content, though, it’s awash with errors and missing text. Using a mechanical keyboard removes that particular problem from the list of common issues. It’s too easy to tell when you hit a key on a mechanical keyboard as the sound it makes is so telling.
  3. Greater feedback. If you like the idea of the old typewriters giving you 100% feedback on every hit key, and not strokes of other keys being picked up, then this is the place to be. The loudness of every strike simply lets you know that you are on the right track. If you enjoy typing and really feeling every letter and every press of the key come through, then this is the ideal place to get started with. Other keyboards won’t offer the same depth and satisfaction as this is capable of.
  4. Longer lifespan. Another major impact of using a great mechanical keyboard is the lifespan. The membranes wear out faster and tend to be far less secure than the mechanical equivalents that so many of us are used to using today. On an average a mechanical keyboard can get as many as 50m presses before losing strength. For reference, a typical membrane keyboard is likely to last 15m presses. That is a pretty drastic drop and is likely to be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing keyboards to go with.

As you can see, the main difference is likely to come in the profile of every press. If you prefer a more certain and secure feeling behind every key press, then go for the mechanical keyboard. With so many great mechanical keyboards on the market today, finding one that you truly love isn’t going to be too tough.

Featured photo credit: afterpad.com via afterpad.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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