PC Build 2020

You learn something new every day. That’s what I believe, and I think it’s held true so far.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of learning. You see, it’s been a while since I had to assemble a PC from scratch – the last one I did was a year ago. Over the past few weeks, it was my turn. To be honest, I didn’t need an upgrade, my PC was running fine, but since my nephews needed one to do school work from home (lockdown problems), I decided that it was time for me to get a new machine.

I said goodbye to my 10-year-old case (which had relatively new parts – the last upgrade was over 2 years ago) and scoured the internet for my next build. Jokes, I built my new PC first before giving away the old one. Since the experience is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write about it – maybe I’ll come back in five years’ time to see if anything has changed.

Cable management is a skill

In the past, I’ve never cared about properly managing the cables in my PC – I had a metal case with no windows, the only person who would know what it looked like was me. This time around, my case has a clear side panel which people can peek into. I decided to give it a shot. Initially, I tried doing it without any help, but I realized I needed some guidance. A few YouTube videos later, I got the hang of it.

It’s not the best job, but I’m proud of my first successful attempt. Cable management requires patience and some trial and error. One of my biggest mistakes was making cable bundles too thick – this prevented the side door from closing properly, so I had to unbundle the wires and try again. Also, there’s no reason to use zip ties if you have twist ties – they can look just as neat and be as functional.

Old cases have terrible airflow

Nothing much to say here except that I can game at around 40 degrees. On my old PC, it was around 70 degrees. I think all the space inside the case makes a big difference. Also, Cooler Master is pretty good when it comes to bang for the buck. I can recommend their cases if you need something budget-friendly.

Cooler Master CPU Coolers are a bitch to install

A year ago, I had problems installing my friend’s CPU cooler (Cooler Master). Turns out, you had to remove the fans before installing it. This time around, I faced the same issue, but I didn’t know I had to remove the fans because they weren’t in the instructions. I watched a YouTube tutorial to find out. I wish they’d follow Noctua’s footsteps – those mounting brackets are ingenious – I managed to install their coolers successfully on my first attempt by following a tiny two-page manual.

On a side note, isn’t it incredible how people are willing to take the time to upload helpful videos onto YouTube? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first person that video has helped out.

RGBs have standards

If you’re interested in having RGB components hooked up to your motherboard, you have to take note of the kind of connector they use. It wasn’t a big deal for me since I don’t care too much about RGBs, but my motherboard (which uses JRGB) didn’t support the connection on my Cooler Master CPU cooler RGB (JRAINBOW). While the lights work, I can’t use software to change the light settings. Fortunately, Cooler Master provided a little controller that you can fiddle around with to switch light modes.

RAM and motherboards

There is a reason the RAM slots on your motherboard are colored. You’re not supposed to simply stick the RAM in willy-nilly. Also, if the motherboard supports dual channel memory, get a dual-channel kit, or buy two RAM sticks. 8GB x 2 will perform better than a single 16GB stick. Also, don’t forget to enable XMP on your motherboard if you have high-performance RAM. If you don’t it won’t function at advertised speeds (nothing wrong with running at default speeds, but you could have paid for cheaper RAM instead).

Not all HDMI cables are equal

Because I gave away one of my monitors, I had to replace it with another (once you use two monitors, you never want to go back to one – you feel so handicapped). When I got the monitor, I kept using my old HDMI cable since it would be one less cable for me to unplug. Turns out, that was a bad idea. My monitor wouldn’t go to sleep when I had shut my PC down. Initially, I thought it was some monitor or software setting. I even tried exploring my BIOS to figure it out. I did some Googling and it turns out not all cables are equal. Long story short, I replaced the HDMI cable with the one the monitor came with and it now goes to sleep after the PC has turned off. I don’t know why, but that’s how I fixed the issue.

Speaking of new monitors, 144Hz displays are amazing. Even using Windows feels great! I had been using 60Hz screens forever since I never experienced fast refresh rate monitors before. Now that I have, it’s going to be difficult to switch back. Hopefully, 60Hz screens become a relic of the past in the future. Simply dragging windows or moving the cursor around is enjoyable. I would equate it to how responsive iOS is compared to Android – when it comes to scrolling up and down webpages, or just dragging icons around – people who have used both devices would know what I mean.

Mistakes:

I probably should’ve gotten a Ryzen processor – to be fair, I had bad experiences with an AMD machine in the past, which has led me to stick with Intel ever since then. But after reading and watching a lot more videos since I built the machine, AMD Ryzen is supposed to be the way to go – I could have saved myself quite a bit or upgraded my GPU (not that I needed to, my 980 Ti (thanks, Ken Jae) is more than adequate for me.

I removed one more rear PCI slot cover than I had intended to, and I can’t put it back without using glue.

Uninstalling your copy of Microsoft Office doesn’t give you an additional install (lol).


In conclusion, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge throughout the whole process and I look forward to the next time I put another computer together – I hope it’s not too soon (in my case, at least).

Learning never stops, until your heart (or brain) does.

Uncontrollable Lights; a First World Problem

Been a while since I wrote about a first world problem – I guess it’s time for a new one! Last night, for the first time in a long time, I had an internet outage (which was scheduled by Time Internet – just regular maintenance (on a side note, that’s one word I haven’t learned to spell. I get it wrong 50% of the time)). I had forgotten about it and was still awake when it happened.

Since I could no longer use the internet, I decided to go to bed. However, I tried turning off my lights with my Google Home Mini and was told that it couldn’t work because it had no access to the internet. And because of that, I had to turn my lights off by flicking the switches – something I hadn’t done in months.

Smart light bulbs are cool. In addition to letting you choose what color and brightness to flood your room with, they can power on and off automatically or at scheduled times. Honestly, they’re amazing and I doubt I would ever go back to regular light bulbs, but if they have one drawback, it’s their reliance on the internet.

When they’re offline, your only options are to turn them on or off – not too bad if you’re okay with their default state and color. Because once you turn off the main power (i.e. the wall switches), they reset to their default state when powered on again (note – this is just my experience with the Yeelight, maybe other smart bulbs can store settings).

Writing this post made me realize this isn’t a common problem at all. I did mention it was a first world problem. Also, it sounds like a really dumb rant. But I missed out a post last week and needed something to write about, so here we are. Smart lights are still cool, I’d recommend them if you enjoy controlling things with your voice. Or phone.

Speaking of phones, that iOS 14 announcement was something eh? iPhone users, welcome to Android!

Instagram ads are alright

I dislike ads. I’m sure most of you know that. I recommend uBlock Origin to everyone I know, I purposely purchased a domain name and rented server space so I could have an ad-free blog, and use a third-party YouTube app on my mobile devices so I don’t have to deal with them interrupting my videos.

Sometimes, ads can’t be avoided – like in the Instagram app. These advertisements show up in your feed after scrolling through a few posts, and other times they insert themselves in between stories of people you’re browsing. Most of the time I’ve received bullshit ads that I swipe away immediately, but recently I think the algorithm has me figured out (yay).

These days I don’t get any more adverts for strange sex toys, rubbish manga or cash-grabbing mobile games. Instead, I get music video ads that I watch and swipe up to. I like the fact that I can instantly load their YouTube video or Spotify page to continue listening to the whole song. While I haven’t found my next favorite band yet, I have discovered quite a lot of songs that I would have missed if it wasn’t for the intrusion.

Thank you for the encroaching commercials, Instagram (Facebook). For once, I can wholly support them, and I hope this trend keeps up.

In the meantime, do check out some of the bands I’ve discovered through the power of advertising:

Properties of Nature – You Didn’t Start a Fire in My Heart, You Started it in My House!

East of June – Rebel

PNKR – Olivia

LØE – People Have The Power (Official)

Evading the Commute, Falling Behind

If there’s one thing I never thought I’d say, it’s I kinda miss being behind the wheel. No, hear me out – I don’t miss traffic jams but I do miss listening to podcasts while driving. But wait, George, don’t you listen to podcasts because you’re trying to pass time in the car?

Yes, it’s true. However, during the past few months spent at home, I realized that I’ve fallen behind on my podcast queue. It’s starting to look like my Steam library. Because I don’t drive, I don’t listen to podcasts. So, why don’t I listen to podcasts when I’m not driving?

When I’m not driving, I’m usually doing something which requires my attention (not that I don’t pay attention while driving). In this case, it’s working from home, or watching a show, or playing a game. When I’m doing those things, I can’t have a podcast running in the background – I’ll either get distracted by what I’m listening to, or I’ll miss whatever the hosts are saying. There’s no in-between – or at least, I haven’t trained myself to be capable of doing such things.

I have limited time and attention span. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. Which is why I only listen to music while working. If I hear someone else talking at the same time, I end up losing my train of thought while writing. I definitely can’t watch a show at the same time. And with games, I end up not paying attention at all, which beats the whole point of listening.

What about listening before bed then? I used to do that but I end up falling asleep before finishing an episode and when I wake up the following day, I have to relisten to it to catch what I missed. Not a great use of time if I use it to consume the same content twice.

Is there a solution to this? Of course, but that would mean deprioritizing other things I enjoy so that I could squeeze podcast listening into my day. However, that’s something I’m not willing to do at the moment. I guess podcasts aren’t that important to me. If I was desperate to listen to them, I wouldn’t have this problem. Why the rant then?

Good point. Maybe I just wanted to write about working from home.

Working from home means you get to be more productive right out of bed. Just wash up, make your breakfast and sit yourself down in front of your computer, start working. I’m not complaining about working from home though. I think it is a good thing.

I also believe that this lockdown has a lot of companies rethinking their positions on letting employees work from anywhere (at least I hope so). As long as they get the work done, right? People save petrol and commute time. Nobody has to get stressed over traffic or risk getting into a vehicle-related accident. After all, the internet was invented for a reason.

Online Profile Privacy; Evening Drama Rebooted Plug

Back in the day, sharing your online contact details was a simple process.
You had your IM username (in ICQ’s case, it was your UIN) for people you want to chat with, and your email address for everything else. Most people would share either one without a second thought (assuming you were interested in speaking to the person requesting that information).

Now, with the number of different social networks available, it’s a bit more complex. Different online profiles have different amounts of information that you would like people to have access to, they all have different weights.

This thought crossed my mind earlier today when I was asked to request to join a Facebook group and to inform the person in charge of that group over Whatsapp instead of Facebook. In my mind, I was thinking, why? Why not keep everything on Facebook, since the platform facilitates both groups and messaging. Then I thought, maybe that person didn’t want to share their personal Facebook profile.

But that person gave me their phone number (which was on the signature of the email) – something I have always rated as more personal than a Facebook profile. On the other hand, this person might have given me a business number to reach out via Whatsapp instead. Then I thought some more – why didn’t that person just make a business Facebook profile for such situations in the first place?

And then I concluded that maybe I’m just overthinking things.

For reference, this is what my social media privacy levels are:
Phone number, email: for friends, family, and work.
Facebook: for my friends and acquaintances.
Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, Soundcloud, YouTube, this blog: for the public.
LinkedIn: for future employers and friends? I’m not sure yet. I only created an account (earlier this year) to apply for jobs, and I have less than 10 people in my network. I don’t even log on to it unless I get an email alert.

Pretty much everything is available to the public, and the only reason my phone number and email address aren’t is to avoid spam. If I could put it all up there without such problems, I’d probably do it. After all, the internet is around to make you easily contactable.

I don’t have multiple accounts and only use my various accounts for different purposes – but if anyone from the other circles find their way to my other accounts, I’m not bothered by it. I believe that anything online is pretty much public, so I don’t post anything online that I don’t want people to see.

While writing this piece, I got carried away with work and when I returned, I lost my original train of thought. I think it was about how different people treat their details differently, and most people are probably a lot more concerned about their online privacy than I am. Maybe I’ll return to this topic in the future. Possible Evening Drama Rebooted topic?

Also, if you haven’t been following, I’ve been hosting a weekly live show called Evening Drama Rebooted on Twitch for the past few weeks. We’ve managed to keep the show going for eight episodes despite not having consistent times – quite an achievement, in my opinion. It’s about me, Seng Yip, and Christin shooting the shit over random topics. The show was born at the start of the MCO and should go on at least until it ends. No idea about our future plans yet. And yes, the name is a throwback to a group blog we used to write for. Check out our past episodes on YouTube.

Shaving Foam Revelation

For those of you who have been following this blog, you would know that back in 2015, I decided to upgrade to an electric shaver and haven’t gone back. My first shaver lasted me until earlier this year when I visited a barber for facial grooming.

The dude was using one of those head shavers but without any combs, so it cut the hair as close as possible to my face and was done in a matter of seconds (my beard isn’t very thick, unfortunately). Long story short, I was so impressed that I knew I had to get one of those shavers.

So after the shave, I spoke to the barber who showed me the shaver he used. A few days later, I found myself at Mr. DIY and saw one of those shavers for purchase. I knew I was going to get what I paid for, but I had never used such a tool before and I thought, better to try using a cheap one then regret buying something expensive.

I bought an RM30 shaver which worked well, but I dropped it on the floor a few months later, which caused it to stop working. I promptly took the opportunity to purchase myself this bad boy.

Quick breakdown
Pros: fast, efficient, painless (compared to rotary shavers that pulled the hair before cutting them aka my first electric shaver), super long battery life (I’ve only charged it like twice since I got it in April), comes with so many different headpieces and combs – there’s one for every situation, including nose hair and body hair.

Cons: you can cut yourself if you’re not using the combs. I took a really long time to shave confidently initially, but after many months I have become proficient with using it. It is kinda noisy, but shouldn’t be a bother if you’re not spending hours shaving (which you shouldn’t). Pricey, but I think it’s worth it.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I bothered writing out the history of my shaving devices but I thought I’d update whoever cared enough (or comes to this blog for grooming advice kek).

Well, remember the first shaver I bought? It came with a can of shaving foam that I thought I had misplaced, and found it last week and waited until today to shave off my Movember mustache.

And here comes the point of this whole post – did you know that shaving foam helps you not make a mess when you shave your facial hair?! Instead of it flying all over the place, it is stuck to the foam which you can just wipe off or flick into your sink. Holy shit, I never realized it until today! After so many years of shaving without it (I would only use it in the shower until I misplaced it and never bothered buying a new can) because I found it troublesome to clean up. But today, I discovered its other function! Whether intended or not (I’d like to think it was), I’m definitely not skipping it in the future. It also makes an already smooth shave even smoother. And you can pretend to be Santa Claus or old Hitler for a brief moment.

Sure, there’s an additional step of washing your face again after the shave, but you don’t have to hunt those hairs on your bathroom counter anymore! It doesn’t ruin the look of a clean sink! I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. I’m so glad I found my can of shaving foam.

Too Many Choices

Thanks to the advent of fast internet connections, I’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to things I want to waste my time on when I’m in front of the computer. Previously, I was limited by the amount of space I had in my hard drive. Terrabytes weren’t a thing yet, so I couldn’t store all my favorite MP3s and movies. Then came CD-ROM burners, which helped, but not as much as external hard drives. Those used to cost way more for less storage than you get now, and beyond the occasional thumb drive (to replace the lost ones I got for free from events) I haven’t purchased one in ages.

my local MP3 collection

Now I don’t even back up most of my files on physical media anymore. Thanks to Google Drive and Photos, there isn’t a need. Not to mention, Google does a great job of automatically sorting and tagging your photos (I know people care about their privacy, but I enjoy the convenience of typing noodles in the search bar to remember where I’ve been). Machines have come a long way thanks to all the captchas we’ve been doing.

Google Photos

If you want to watch a movie these days, just load up Netflix, or your favorite streaming site, type in a movie name and click watch. It’s that convenient. If you want to listen to music, just load up Spotify or YouTube, type in a song name and there you go! No more waiting for songs to download to your PC and launching them in a media player to listen to them. I still do the latter for music, but streaming services are great to check out new artists I have not listened to before.

But like with all things, there are good and bad sides to them. While people might see it as a ‘first world problem’, it’s a problem nonetheless – having too many choices makes it difficult to decide what you want to consume. Yes, that’s right. You ever sit down in front of your TV, and browse Netflix endlessly looking for something to watch? I know I’m guilty. I see a show I think I might be interested in but I don’t watch it immediately. I add it to ‘My (neverending) List’, and look for something else that I might want to watch. Repeat this for maybe half an hour and decide that I’d rather do something else instead of watching a show. Come back to Netflix a week later and repeat the same process. It’s the same with Spotify. I have playlists of countless unwatched shows and unlistened music.

my Netflix playlist

While it’s not an issue having large playlists of unconsumed content, it could be a problem one day – when record companies or movie distributors lose the rights to the material, leaving empty spots in your playlists. And then you kick yourself for not checking them out earlier. Fortunately, there’s always the alternative coughpiratebaycough but most of the time you’ll look for something, download it and end up forgetting about it (at least that’s what I do).

I guess it’s more of my consumption habit than a problem of too many choices. I should learn to pick and choose and stick with it. Which is why I’ve been choosing not to finish some games in my Steam library. When I feel a game is more trouble than it’s worth to complete, I uninstall and move on.

my Steam library

I’ve been doing the same thing with music and shows too. If I don’t absolutely enjoy something, I turn it off and jump to the next in line. I don’t have that much time in my life, shouldn’t I spend it on something else that I like instead? This philosophy has helped me to clean up my playlist (it’s still long but I’m getting there) and it is also why I play so much Dota 2.


Also, interesting video about choices:

No More Asus Laptops for Me

I shall start with a disclaimer: this is purely anecdotal. It’s what happened to me over the past two years with my ASUS Zenbook (UX430U).

What kind of laptop charger has a breakable ground pin?

As you can see from the image above, that was the icing on the cake of my terrible experience with this device and ASUS Malaysia’s service center. Let’s start from the beginning.

ASUS Zenbook UX430U

I purchased this Ultrabook after leaving my previous job as I needed a laptop to work on. I only had an old Linux machine at home to use with a dying battery and keyboard (despite be replacing the battery and hard drive earlier, it didn’t help much). I know I wanted something slim, lightweight and powerful enough for me (I hate slow laptops, there’s never an excuse for it). I didn’t need to game on it, so an ultrabook with no discrete graphics card seemed right up my alley.

After doing some research and shopping around, I settled on the ASUS Zenbook UX430U. It had everything I wanted, and the price tag wasn’t unreasonable. Bought it, and started using it daily. I loved the weight of the machine and the performance I got out of it. It was a joy to use – until the first problem reared its head up less than a week in.

1) The laptop’s charging port stopped working for no discernible reason. It just stopped working, and I couldn’t charge my laptop. Now, you might say this is a case of bad luck, but the fact that I couldn’t get a replacement laptop on the spot was annoying. They wanted to send it to the service center to get it checked up and fixed. It only took about a week and was good to go. I was unemployed then, so it was acceptable to me even though I was unhappy about it, but I should have taken that as a sign of things to come.

2) Fast forward to about a year into having the laptop – everything was fine and dandy. Until I noticed something odd about my device – one of my USB ports wouldn’t charge my vape when I plugged it in. It could read files off drives and my phone fine, but it wouldn’t provide any charge. This bothered me as it was a laptop with limited ports (only two USB 3.0 ports and a USB C port), I had to make sure they were fully functional. I sent it to the service center to get checked out and fixed, which resulted in me in not having a laptop for a couple of days.

3) When the laptop was fixed, I noticed something odd with its display. It was randomly showing grey dots and lines on the screen, which was especially noticeable on black/dark backgrounds and images. It took another trip to the service center and a week to be fixed. This time the laptop took another week to fix.

4) My laptop’s speakers stopped producing sound. I normally listen to music using headphones, so this was something that took me a while to notice. I had to send it to the service center again, and they got it fixed within a few days. They said there was an issue with some connection.

Not detecting my SSD
The Blue Screen Of Death

5) The straw that broke the camel’s back. A couple of weeks ago my laptop was having issues with my SSD. It was an issue that I had encountered in the previous months, but it was usually fixed with a reboot (sometimes multiple). My laptop would somehow stop recognizing that I had an SSD installed and give me the BSOD while I was working. Sometimes during boot, it would fail to recognize that I had an SSD and throw me to the BIOS. This time around, restarting the laptop wasn’t doing the trick, so I had to send it to the service center again.

I informed the staff of the issue clearly – verbally and by writing it down. The lady at the ASUS service center acknowledged it. I passed the laptop to her and went off. I received a message the following day telling me that my laptop was ready for collection. I thought that was strange because I’ve never had a one-day turnaround from them before.

Reached the service center and asked them what the issue was – they told me that they formatted the laptop and it should be fine. I was distrustful of them. I told the lady that this was not a software issue, why would a format fix it? She just told me to go back and use the laptop and to come back if there were any problems. She also told me that one of the screws holding the bottom case of my laptop was missing. No shit, Sherlock. Why did you tell me that instead of just putting in a new screw? Were they short on screws?

Anyway, as I expected, the same SSD issue happened again. I even sent them photographs of the problem (at their request). Drove my ass to the service center, passed them the laptop again, with an “I told you so” look on my face. The lady apologized and said they’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.

About a week later, I collected the laptop from them. I turned it on at the shop (it was on sleep mode), and everything seemed normal (the missing screw was still missing). The lady told me that they replaced my SSD to solve the issue. Everything seemed normal to me until; I got back and rebooted my laptop after updating some drivers.

Hello Trojan!

The first thing that pops up on the action center is Windows Defender telling me that my machine was infected with a trojan. I did some digging through the Defender logs and noticed that it wasn’t the first time the trojan was detected. There was a backlog of when the warnings started appearing, and what files caused the trigger. Turns out that Windows Defender detected the trojan on the thumb drive that was used to install Windows updates on my laptop.

This meant that whoever was installing Windows on my laptop was clueless or had a complete disregard for basic PC security. I’m pretty sure it is completely unacceptable to be using an infected thumb drive while working on a customer’s machine (correct me if I’m wrong). That technician had also deliberately ignored Windows Defender’s warnings and continued installing files off that infected thumb drive. What kind of fucking moron does that? I’m pretty sure I said “are you fucking kidding me?” aloud to myself. I was furious.

I sent photos of the message to ASUS and told them that they had an incompetent technician. They had the cheek to tell me to just restart the PC. Holy shit, whoever ‘fixed’ my computer deserves to be fired and be hit by a car on the way home, with their box of belongings in their hand.

If by some chance you’re reading this, technician, fuck you.

Instead of sending it back to them and risk my machine falling into the hands of another idiot, I fixed this problem myself (created a bootable Windows 10 install on a USB drive, and wiped the SSD before installation).

For almost two years, I’ve had to visit the service center way too many times. This is not okay for a device that you rely on for work daily.

In the future, I’m not going back to ASUS if there’s an issue with my laptop I can solve on my own, and I’m not purchasing another ASUS laptop. They’ve taken more than enough of my money and my trust. I still have faith in their hardware like graphics cards and motherboards (haven’t had issues with those yet) but their laptops are a definite no from me. Based on my experience, I will never recommend an ASUS laptop if you need something reliable.


Side note: in addition to all the time spent waiting for the laptop to be fixed, there was a lot of time and fuel spent driving to service centers, paying for parking and tolls, and loss of productivity from not having a laptop to work with. Oh yeah, I had to back up all my files and remove my logged-in accounts every time I sent it to be serviced (huge pain in the ass).

Also, if you remember, I purchased a tablet to serve as a working machine during the various times my laptop was out of commission and it’s been a lifesaver (it’s still running great btw!).

Blog Security

Ever since my blog was attacked multiple times last year, I’ve done a lot of things to improve its security (except switching away from wordpress because I didn’t want to bother learning a new blogging platform) and I’ve become aware of how much my blog is being targeted.

Every day I get notifications about attempted logins to my blog (that have been successfully refused), along with attempted injections and so on. Previously, I didn’t have any security and wasn’t aware of any attacks.

a snapshot of my inbox

I’m aware I’m not some big time blogger or anything – it’s probably just random bots scouring the internet looking for websites with vulnerabilities they can exploit. Regardless, I’m glad I’ve made the changes to improve the blog’s security.

You know the feeling of using a computer after a fresh format? Or a brand new laptop after you’ve uninstalled all the bloatware? (speaking of, I’ve got a rant about ASUS laptops I’ll publish in the future) That’s how it feels like to have a website that’s completely safe to visit. Feelsgoodman.

Also, to anyone out there thinking of hacking this blog – there really is no benefit for doing it. You’ll gain access to my 30 or so daily readers (thank you guys) who probably wouldn’t even care if this blog died. I’d be inconvenienced, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I would be bothered because I have years of writing archived on this space. Tons of thoughts, memories, ideas, and all sorts of random shit. It’s nice going through them, like a stroll down memory lane. Except that it is more accurate than a memory because my words don’t change (unless I intentionally change them, which I don’t – however I have updated an older post that still gets traffic – yes, don’t ask me why people still find my blog when they search for whorecraft – it’s still one of the most common search phrases people use to get to this blog).


This post was written a few months ago to celebrate my blog’s anniversary – but I had forgotten that I renewed it for 2 years the previous year, so the reminder to renew my blog didn’t come in this year which resulted me in forgetting to post it. Today, received a spam comment on my blog which reminded me about this post.

lul

Even if the comment was legit, no I’m not interested in monetizing this blog. No thank you. Anyway, happy belated birthday to blorgy.net – 12 years and counting. You’re almost a teenager now!

Funny story: saw a comment on reddit saying that my URL was blocked at a person’s workplace – probably due to orgy in the URL. That was the first time I thought about changing the domain name of my blog in a while. After all, it was a reflection of who I was many years ago when I first registered it. I don’t think I’ve matured much since then.

1UP Keyboards HHKB (kit) Review

1Up Keyboards HHKB Kit

After using the Tokyo 60 and Tofu for a few months, I realized that they’re not as portable as I’d like them to be. Even though they’re not heavy like a full-sized keyboard, you start to feel the difference in your backpack – I could tell whether I had one of them inside by the weight of my bag alone. While I have a regular HHKB, its lack of customization (without a Hasu controller) annoys me sometimes, especially because I love using mouse keys when working on my laptop.

I’ve been keeping my eye out for a lightweight HHKB custom keyboard, and when 1Up Keyboard’s Hotswap HHKB Kit flew into my radar, I knew it was what I wanted. Here’s what I ordered: clear plastic case, carbon fiber plate, hotswap Tsangan PCB, and stabilizers. I got my switches and keycaps elsewhere.

Side profile

Firstly, I want to shout out about the purchasing experience on the 1Up Keyboards site. It’s been the best purchasing experience I’ve ever had on any keyboard shopping website. It was so easy to make sure I got everything I needed for the keyboard. There are easy-to-use drop down menus to select what you want, with prices listed clearly and total price updating live. All the options are selectable on a single page, and they make sure you can only choose compatible parts. Even though I didn’t need it, I can see how easy it would be to recommend to people who are building their first keyboard.

Back to the keyboard. It arrived undamaged, in no frills packaging that was sufficient to keep it protected. No complaints there, I also received a whole bunch of stickers to use. I assembled the board with no issues. I have never used a carbon fiber plate prior to this, so I expected it to be extremely flimsy – I was so wrong. Switches snapped in nice and snug. It worked just like a normal plate that was very light.

I put on Box Navy switches with Maxkey SA keycaps on this and was surprised to feel that it was even lighter than my HHKB (I don’t have a scale that’s accurate enough to measure the difference – my test was holding one keyboard in each hand, so I could be wrong). I was very impressed by how light it is. I suspect it would be even lighter with different (shorter) profile keycaps on. Regardless, it met my requirements of a lightweight, programmable MX-style HHKB.

Exposed carbon fiber plate

First thing I noticed about the typing experience was the flex. While it didn’t feel like I was bending the PCB, my keystrokes felt more cushioned compared to typing on a metal plate. Then again, it could have been the effect of a tray mount vs. integrated plate (which the Tokyo60 and Tofu HHKB use). I would probably need to use more plates and mounting styles to come to a conclusion. In my opinion, the switches and keycaps that you use will probably have a more noticeable effect than the type of plate but this is coming from someone who’s relatively new to the hobby. More experienced people would probably tell you otherwise. As to whether this feels better or worse – I’m indifferent. Flex vs no flex is a personal preference, and I don’t have a preference for either.

Typing on SA keycaps on Box Navy is a pretty enjoyable experience. The thick clicks are definitely amplified and people know when you’re hard at work, or gaming. I’ll be trying out different switches in the future (the positives of having a hotswap board) to see if they work better with the flexible plate.

The underglow is BRIGHT

The underglow lights on this thing is bright – especially when paired with a clear case, you can easily illuminate the surface around the keyboard. Fortunately, you can easily disable them if you find it distracting (I only turn on the underglow for photographs as I rarely use it when I’m working). You get the standard RGB modes and colors you can access through QMK, nothing out of the ordinary here.

Programming the PCB was easy – just like any other QMK PCB. However, I’ve been seeing an issue with the board pop up a couple of times on the 1Up Keyboards Discord: my PCB arrived unflashed. This meant, I couldn’t input any keystrokes on the keyboard when it was first assembled. I had to use the physical reset button (fn+b wasn’t working for me) to get it into bootloader mode before flashing my keymap. This isn’t a big deal for most people, but some sort of default layout would have been helpful for those who decide to screw the board into their case before flashing it (you can’t access the reset button without removing the PCB from the case). I’m not sure if it’s an issue for all of the PCBs they sell, or me and the people who complained were only the minority.

Issues: I won’t lie – the silver carbon fiber plate is hideous. I should have gone with black or red, though I can’t expect it will look much better. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but a texture-less version of the carbon fiber plate would have been more up my alley. This is my biggest problem with the keyboard. Yes, you read that right. I love everything else about it.

So was the board everything I wanted? Yes. I set out to build a lightweight keyboard and I got exactly that. And to top it off, it’s affordable (your choice of switches or keycaps will affect the base price). It’s also an in-stock item that you can purchase any time from 1Up keyboards instead of having to wait for a group buy (unlike the Tokyo60). Oh, it also comes with USB C.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the 1Up Keyboards HHKB and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anybody looking for an easy to assemble, lightweight and affordable keyboard. It is also available in other styles (standard ANSI and Win key-less) if HHKB isn’t what you’re looking for.

Here’s a sound test of the 1Up Keyboards HHKB: