Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Ducky Shining

The Ducky Shining DK9008S:

After increasing aggravation due to the decreasing performance of my keyboard, I finally decided it was time to upgrade to a mechanical board. 

I researched many options and educated myself on the various mechanical switch types out there.  After much consideration, I decided on Cherry MX black switches, and ideally, a backlit board - since most of my real keyboard use is spent gaming after the Mister has gone to bed. The board I decided on is the Ducky DK9008S “Shining” with white LED backlighting and Cherry MX black switches, ordered from tiger imports.

The board was in stock, and shipping only took a few days via FedEx home delivery. I found the shipping box and packing material inside more than satisfactory. The actual Ducky box was sturdy and nice looking. The keyboard itself came in a velvet-like slipcover bag, and had a molded plastic cover over the keys - I assume to protect the keycaps from scratches. I was surprised at how heavy this keyboard is, the construction looks and feels very solid.  I found absolutely no issues in the finish of the case or keycaps.  The keycaps are translucent white plastic with a dual coating of matte black textured paint. The legends are then laser etched away from the top surface, allowing the backlighting to show through.

The box also included:
• the USB cable, which is separate and connects to the board with a mini-B plug - nice.  
• a USB to PS/2 adaptor
• a plastic ring-style keycap puller
• a set of red alternate WASD keycaps (didn’t even know those were going to be included)

Backlighting on the Ducky Shining has several options in mode and brightness. Modes include: Off, WASD and Esc only, everything but tenkey lit, full board lit, and full board lit with a pulse effect. I find the lowest brightness completely adequate even in a dark room, but there are increased brightness settings to choose from.  Caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock are only lit when “on”, which is a nice minimal way of handling the indicators, IMHO. The board’s light leak is negligible. 

The appearance of the board overall is minimalist. Enter, Backspace, and Shift only have their corresponding arrow symbols instead of the traditional “word above arrow” legends. The arrow keys have simple triangles pointing the appropriate direction. The num row keys have the numerals above the symbols, so the numerals are more strongly lit (the LEDs are positioned at the top of each key.) There is no branding on the board aside from the small Ducky logo on the front of the spacebar.  

As far as switch type, first I was leaning towards Cherry browns, since I like tactile feedback when typing and they have a lower actuation force than black switches. Then, after a particularly frustrating night of gaming, I noticed crappy rubber dome boards have turned my delicate little fingers into veritable key-hammers, and the slightly higher actuation force of Cherry blacks will not likely cause fatigue for me.  Sure enough, now while typing I find myself either bottoming out, or overcompensating and making mistakes. Gaming, however, I have nothing but pure joy to report. I’m glad I went linear. However, If I did more typing, I would definitely want a tactile switch. The Mister does more typing than I do, and we’re talking about getting him a board with browns or clears. (I like blues, but he didn’t like the noise.)

The only media/macro keys are 4 shortcut keys for Calculator,  My Computer, Email, and Home, found above the tenkey. Ducky did away with the menu key and replaced it with a Fn (function) key, which is for backlighting adjustments and the media controls on F1-F7. All the bigger keys feel solid and stable with straight up-and-down action, even when struck off-center. 

*After a few months of what I’d call heavy use, I am happy to report that the keycaps do not show fingerprints. The surface of the keys remains a nice matte black with a very slight texture. 

Conclusion: I couldn’t be happier with this keyboard. When I buy a second mechanical board, which *will* be happening, there is a strong possibility it will be another Ducky Shining with a different backlight color and different switches. (maybe purple backlit with MX blues...)


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Art. Gaming. And life getting in the way of the aforementioned two

     OK, ok. I've been bad. I admit it. I have not upheld the sacred pact that is the New Year's Resolution.  While I have done more drawing than in previous months, it has *not* been every single day.  I resolved more than I could deliver, methinks. So, in order to ease myself into the habit, I've been mulling over the idea of a "30 characters in 30 days" type exercise. April. 30 days. BAM. (I may be hitting up friends and acquaintances for ideas by mid-month, so I don't bore myself or inadvertently stay too far inside my comfort zone.)

Gaming-related stuff: 
     The D&D 4e campaign I'm in has been going strong since October. I am enjoying it immensely and have taken up the job of scribe for our adventure log, and do a lot of the wiki editing.  (We're on Obsidian Portal) The game has also given me plenty of inspiration for drawings. I'm beginning to think I'm a worldbuilder at heart with how much background I've created for my own character, whether or not it is needed for the campaign. (I play a male Eladrin Wizard, for the curious.)
     I have been putting some time into playing Bastion on PC lately. What a gorgeous game. Some of my observations so far: The look of classic RPG whimsy coupled with rich details and textures - invoking the feel of a watercolorist’s patient and loving brushwork. The bittersweet bluesy soundtrack paints a layer of moodiness atop the colorful landscapes. A narrator was a risky move, and easily could have been annoying or distracting. It is well implemented, however, and gives insight into the world without taking away from the player’s own sense of discovery.  I cannot imagine the game without Rucks’ voice telling the tale. 
    My 30th birthday yielded a backlit mechanical keyboard and a nice laser gaming mouse, which are nothing short of magical after dealing with the declining performance of the cheap hardware I'd been using. I'll likely get around to writing up proper reviews of my new toys in the near future.
     I *finally* got the Mister to give Borderlands a proper chance, and now he's enjoying it. A friend at work is also playing through for the first time, and I feel like some kind of oracle or sage, giving advice and commiserating with their hardships. I, myself, re-invigorated by the talk, have gotten back into playing regularly: I've gotten a second character up to max-level, and have nearly completed my no-commerce run.

     In other news, we moved. Back to the wretched, poorly-planned infrastructure that is C-ville. Nice apartment, but we've had more issues in the 2 months we've been here than I care to think about.  Not the least of which is my car getting totaled - backed into by the garbage truck. *sigh*  It was only a few weeks of irritation before the truck driver's insurance got sick of me and gave me a rental car and a decent pay-out. Our clothes dryer sounds like a there is an angry banshee rolling around inside it every time you turn it on.  But hey, at least we no longer have a roommate, or roommate's dog, or roommate's drunk friends, or roommate's boyfriend to deal with anymore. *commence happy-dance, naked, in my living room. 'cause I can do that now.* It appears we will only be at this place for the duration of the 1-year lease -- After the 2012 holiday season is over, the Mister has been approved for a transfer to the bay area market. SJSU, here I come. Though I can't wait to get back into school, being a 30-year-old college junior will be... interesting.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh hi 2012...

So life, as it is wont to do, got super-busy by mid-December and is just now getting back to normal. The Mister and I are ravenously hunting for a new apartment, and I can't wait to get it over with. I hate house-hunting, packing, moving. We'll be staying in the same general area, for now.

My New Year's Resolution: (I actually have one this year) I will draw every day of 2012. As the interwebs as my witness, this I vow! In anticipation of *someday* getting back into school for illustration, I need to hone the skills, yo.  Even if it is just some doodling in a sketchbook, I will draw something every day this year.  Maybe I'll even keep record and put up some posts of my work - we'll see.

In other news, the Steam Holiday Sale was kind to us. We got great deals on several of our wishlist titles, but sadly, many will not see installation or play any time soon, I'm sure. This is mainly because we have one machine between the two of us, and it is also the media server. We're working on rectifying the situation... It has become apparent that our next hardware purchase will need to be a good mechanical keyboard. For reasons *ahem* unknown, the "W" key seems to be wearing out on our crappy Dell rubber-dome board.

Since it is now January, and the Casting Page for Gearbox Software now says they "have reviewed all applications," I'm guessing this means they've found their Lilith, and she is not I.  *shrug*  Welp, that means I can take my mohawk back to its original glory, with a 3-guard buzz on the sides.