An artisan keyboard

It started when Eric sent me a link in email. The subject line was “another keyboard”. I’ve been looking for a new keyboard ever since my beloved Touchstream LP began dying. It’s 12 years old, so I can’t complain.

Having suffered with RSI in my late 20s, I’ve become a big fan of ergonomics. It’s why I switched to typing Dvorak instead of Qwerty.

At work I’ve been using the Kineses Advantage LF (with the cherry key stem). It’s a lot like the Touchstream in terms of light pressure to activate the keys and putting your hands in a neutral position. I even got a pedal that I can use to press the Shift key. It’s a whify thing, I was thinking about buying one for home, until I saw this…

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This is the Keyboardio.

It’s beautiful. It’s ergonomic. It was designed by an indie husband and wife team. You can program the light show that plays across the keys (or turn it off). It’s based on Arduino.

It’s open source. They give you the source code and a screwdriver when you purchase one. Which means that instead of going obsolete over time, this keyboard can actually improve. And if you like to tinker with software and hardware, you can improve it yourself.

One of the things I love about handweaving is the beautiful tools, lovingly created by craftsmen or small companies. Beautiful woods, things that feel as lovely to touch as the things you make using them.

Thanks to a couple of peer bonuses from work, it’s mine. Or at least, it will be when they ship in April 2016.


In February of this year, I joined Google as a technical writer for Google Cloud Platform. People who work at Google refer to themselves as Googlers. Newbies are called Nooglers.

And yes, they issue every single one of us our own beanie cap.


When you join Google they send you to orientation. It’s a week long, which is daunting. But what they’re doing there is orienting you to your new job, but also Google culture, which is a bit different than any other company I’ve worked for. 


One thing I enjoy about Google is the sense of whimsy. On the Mountain View campus you can find fun touches, like this giant Android statue, everywhere.


After my interview, I’d dyed my hair in red, yellow, blue, and free (Google colors) for good luck. When I told my friend David this, his grinned at me and then said affectionately, “Dork.” Yep. Guilty.

When I got to the orientation, I worried about being a fish out of water. Tech companies aren’t known for hiring middle-aged women. I imagined myself the oldest person in a sea of twenty-something guys—with odd hair besides.

So I bonded quickly with Laura, who also showed up with rainbow-colored hair. We later had adventures that involved a photo booth, and gleefully sneaking around Google offices looking for a mythical slide you can ride between floors.


See my face? That’s what I look like after I’ve stayed up late the night before, packing, and have only had two hours of sleep. An since we took our employee photos about 30 minutes before this, it’s pretty much what my badge photo looks like: ouch.

Oh, and more good news about orientation. Google hires for diversity. And that includes age diversity in addition to gender and race. They have the perspective that many varied viewpoints make for better decisions. They even have an internal affinity group, Greyglers, for folks of a certain age.

One of the exciting things I saw when I was down in Mountain View was one of Google’s self-driving cars. It’s there, at the front of the stop-light line, with the funny cone on top.


By happy coincidence, my friend Cicilie, that I’d worked with at Amazon, was also attending orientation that same week. In this photo, we’re riding in the top of a double-decker bus to lunch. 


I also found time to ride one of the famous Google bikes. To cut down on shuttles, and because the Mountain View campus is sprawling, Google provides bikes outside the buildings. When you need a bike, you hop on one and pedal it to the next building and leave it out front. There’s no reservation or check-out, just everyone sharing. Very Googley.


As I said, there are many whimsical touches around the campus, and many places to lounge and enjoy a moment. I think the idea is that you work hard and take brain breaks so you stay fresh and happy. Pretty smart if you ask me.


At the orientation, there was a wall-mounted board and boxes of legos that you could play with between classes and during the lunch break. On the last day, I added my contribution.


The last night I went out to teppanyaki with Soma, another Noogler, and her husband, Mike, who is tall and of european descent. An awkward moment ensued when we walked in. Soma is about four feet tall, with an adorable face. They asked if we would need a kid’s menu. Soma said, “What am I supposed to be, your adopted daughter?” Apparently this has happened to them before.

Don’t let the sweet face fool you, folks. That is one lethally smart, 30-something, corporate lawyer sitting beside me. The teppanyaki place is lucky she took it easy on them.


In closing, I’ll leave with this photo, taken in an ice cream shop that specializes in unique and unusual flavors.

I call this: geek’s dilemma.