Der Kampf des Innerern Schweinehundes (The Battle of the Inner Pig Dog)

It’s been… a very long time indeed. Despite plenty going on, there hasn’t been a whole lot worth posting about. And if I’m being honest, I’ve found myself in a rather unshakeable funk this summer. Maybe it’s been the uncharacteristic heat we’ve been experiencing, the fact that I’ve been out of school for a year now, or the fact that I was just about to go back (as I’m only finally once again healthy enough to do so) before some rather unfortunate events occurred this past month that made that impossible this semester. It’s hard to say.  

Frankly speaking, I’m not the most motivated person on Earth. I struggle on the daily just to get out of bed, to do the dishes, to take my beloved chinchillas out even though it’s one of the things I look forward to most in my day. However, I used to set myself a hard limit of 7 days between blog posts. Once I started hitting day 3 or 4, I'd get anxious. I'd start feeling like I was already falling behind, even though I almost always have notebooks full of my thoughts.. By day 5, I’d force myself to sit down and go over whatever material I’d collected throughout the week. It was usually at this point that the anxiety would subside, because I’d realize there was indeed something very specific that I was trying to say, and it was only a matter of ironing out that specific idea. But lately, I haven’t wanted to revisit any of it. I have so many KeyKollectiv drafts from the course of the last few months, but it just takes so much out of me. It’s amazing how difficult it can be at times to reign in your own thoughts, to shape them into something meaningful--or coherent even. 

As some of you know, Kudos has been busily working away on Snackeys 2. It was my intention to update you all on that while he was away for work at Comic-Con last month. However, the day he left, two of my co-workers (half our staff at the time) announced they were quitting, leaving us to frantically look for new people. I’ll be honest, I was actually relieved. I cared too much about them (outside of work) to ever take any action, but both of these employees were so beyond jaded that I had secretly hoped they would recognize they no longer possessed the ability to perform their job responsibilities and leave amicably—which was almost the case. Almost.

The intention up until that point had been to turn a new leaf once they left. To utilize it as an opportunity for improvement. Update our equipment and bring in a much friendlier staff. It meant working a lot more on my end and not being able to go back to school just yet, but once things stabilized and we had a staff that was trustworthy and reliable, then I could finally go back again. Being able to work on school work is about one of the only redeeming qualities of my job, so if I was going to stick around here, I might as well be making the most of it after all. I was overwhelmed, but I was ready. 

Just as I’d finally gotten over the initial shock of everything that was going on at my work--on a day that I was not present--the owner of the company had a run in with one of the aforementioned employees. This encounter evidently led to an intense confrontation. This, then, set forth an explosion of chain reactions which led to them closing our location altogether. So I went from panicking about taking a higher position and working more to having no job of which to speak, and all over the course of just a few days; all while Kudos was working away in San Diego.

The salt in the wound in all of this, of course, is that I considered one of these girls to be a close friend of mine. Well, as much as anyone can be considering I go out of my way NOT to have friends (likely for reasons like this). It’s all too complicated to explain, and obviously I’ve left a lot out for the sake of people’s privacy, but I’m sure everyone knows what it’s like to be lied to and let down, and all the worse in the midst of something like this. But it’s also no coincidence, since it's exactly moments like this when you get to see people’s true colors. I have to remind myself, once again, that this is a good thing. 

What does any of this have to do with Snackeys? Well, it does and it doesn’t. Production took another very short halt while we waited on more silicone to come in and plotted out our next move (and while life funneled our financial resources into yet another black hole of responsibility). Response for Bento Blanks so far has been lukewarm, but it’s a concept we wanted to see come to fruition. Ultimately we decided to press on with it regardless of the overall public response. And if there’s anything you guys have learned about KeyKollectiv, it’s that we’re sticklers for the methods we utilize. For us, proof of concept is more important than simple aesthetics alone. It’s the whole reason we do this at all. If we don’t feel like we are challenging our current skill set, then we feel like we’re letting you guys (and the community as a whole) down. Even if it ironically means upsetting people because they’d rather see Snackeys 1 make a comeback. 

Speaking of which, we will probably revisit Snackeys 1 eventually, as we do feel it merits revisiting, but only after we’ve proven that we can do more than that. Are you noticing a pattern here, guys? We believe that revisiting designs should be a celebration of progress—about respecting the fact that we can implement cleaner methods than we were capable of when we first released them. What sucks about that is due to the amount of experimentation on our end, we have learned a lot of things the hard way, sometimes to the point of nearly throwing in the towel altogether. Unfortunately, growth actually requires making mistakes. To make no mistakes would require doing nothing at all. Yet another thing I have to continue to remind myself when I’m feeling down and out, which admittedly I’ve done my fair share of lately.  

We have poured our hearts into this last collection, as it’s the fruition of ideas we had back when we decided to make Snackeys 1. I asked what you guys would like to read about on our Geekhack thread, and one of you said you’d like to hear about some of the ideas that didn’t make it into this collection. However—hilariously--this collection is essentially what didn’t make it into the last one. It’s heartbreaking to have to kill your darlings, but this was something we knew we didn’t quite have the chops to pull off yet. As for ideas that didn’t make it into this one, I had really wanted to make a Sakura Jelly key (essentially what sakura sake looks like, but with a custard colored bottom), but Kudos said he didn’t think anyone would know what it was. Also, the gradient/frosted effect in Sakura Sake is technically more challenging so ultimately we decided to go with that. I can’t say too much more because we have plans to revisit those eventually, too!

Someone else asked how we find the right colors for our caps. I love this question because it’s something we really enjoy doing and take a lot of pride in. Kudos spends DAYS perfecting and color matching until we find just the right one for what we’re working on. The custard color I had in mind for the Sakura Jelly flavor was a failed attempt at finding the right color for the Siamese (aka “Poof”) cat from our Purrkeys collection. “Latte” from Meowcaps was actually the first failed attempt at Mute Mallow/Taro Milk (yes, they’re the same color!), which was a huge surprise because it’s actually a purple color. Our resin has a yellow tint to it, so we have to mix color accordingly, and in this case (not unlike glazes in ceramics), we had a happy accident and we went with it. I had wanted a nice coffee color to begin with, so it was actually all kind of exhilarating at the time.

What else have we been up to? Outside of all of this, Kudos and I built my first PC, binge watched the entirety of Evangelion (twice), Alien, Aliens and Prometheus (gotta get pumped for Aliens: Covenant 2017!). And yesterday I had the privilege of giving our chinchilla Furt a haircut, which consisted of me chasing him with scissors for an hour and him yelling at me. That was fun. -__-  We’ve also been thoroughly enjoying getting to watch our friend Tiny sculpt ridiculously cute keycaps on her Twitch.tv stream. More on that to come later!

As for the next sale, we will be opening the raffle for Snackeys 2 officially as of tomorrow (September 1st). Who’s ready for some Bento Blanks?!?!?! 

With love, 
🐨🍵

Coming Full Circle

It’s certainly been quite some time since I’ve sat down to collect my thoughts. After working San Diego Comic-Con, I am finally home and have the opportunity to reflect on where we are now and what our plans are for the future. I admit, I am mentally and physically exhausted. Writing this blog post was something I planned to do for weeks now. At a certain point, you simply can’t keep waiting for an epiphany or an end to writer’s block. You simply have to hunker down and write down your thoughts.

A few weeks ago, we began teasing Snackeys 2. The approach we took was to apply a fairly complex encapsulation method to a blank keycap. We took a technique we utilized with Kosmonavt’s visor and modified it to fit this new format. To us, it seemed like natural progression to expand on these concepts further.  The process, like previous encapsulated projects, called for a  minimum of three mold parts (one of them requires five)  and required multiple steps spanning anywhere between 9-12 hours from start to finish. It was our hope that the end result would be one that is “deceptively simple”. Unfortunately, like some of our past releases, it may require having one in your hands to truly appreciate the process. The hope is that we may further demonstrate the potential of this method in future releases. Who knows? You might even see some KeyKollectiv classics in a new light.

That’s great and all but when is Snackeys 2 coming? Without delving too deep into personal matters, we are sad to say that issues within the family have required us to divert resources (financial and bandwidth) from the new collection. This was a decision that we struggled with a great deal and has significantly affected the production timeline that we set out for this collection. KeyKollectiv would like to thank those who have reached out to offer support and contributions. We are moved by your kindness but we simply cannot accept that which we did not earn. To that end, we are hoping to announce the official release of Snackeys 2 within the next few weeks.

 

Though KeyKollectiv has stayed relatively dormant in the past few weeks, we are grateful to say that our fanbase has grown quite a bit since. It’s been a great honor to have had the continued support of fans since the very beginning. Unfortunately, if you’re a relatively new fan of KeyKollectiv, there really aren’t many opportunities to acquire some of our older keycaps. Our philosophy of always looking forward makes it that much harder. Koala-T and I have spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to bridge the gap between our early supporters and the new fans. Ultimately, the goal is to cultivate a balance where classic collections are more accessible to new fans while maintaining the unique nature of older collections for our long-time supporters. We understand that the line between the two is tenuous at best and will make every effort to strike that balance.

So what’s in store for you? What can we expect from KeyKollectiv for the rest of 2016? Expect to see the revival and revision of some of our favorite collections. Expect brand new designs that fit the KeyKollectiv aesthetic that you’ve grown familiar with. Expect us to continue pushing the boundaries of the medium. Expect the unexpected.

Until then, kudos and godspeed.

KeyKollectiv Workshop: Hands-on with :~$ynth

I remember Binge mentioning the :~$ynth late last year. I admit, I was a bit perplexed about how an artisan like KeyKollectiv would utilize a tool like this. Over the course of a year, we developed and fine-tuned methods that fit our workflow. Introducing a new tool like :~$ynth seemed superfluous at best. Despite this sentiment, the concept intrigued us and we felt it would be a disservice to ourselves if we didn’t explore the possibilities. 

We were fortunate enough to receive our :~$ynths a little earlier. Having watched Binge’s tutorial, we had a good understanding on how to properly utilize it. The first thing we noticed was how polished the :~$ynth was. We could tell that a lot of thought was put into its design. Considerations such as proper spruing, registration marks and cruciform stamp was a good sign that the :~$ynth was created with the maker in mind. 

The :~$ynth exceeded our expectations in form, but what about function? Any artisan that has had the pleasure of making MX molds knows, all too well, the variance of fitment. From our experiences, creating a base template with SP DSA’s or GMK’s produced Cherry stems with ample fit. However, the same could not be said of Gateron or Imsto PBT keycaps. Naturally, this was a point of concern when we started experimenting with the :~$ynth. I admit, there was skepticism when it came to using the cruciform stem stamp. Luckily, after vigorous testing, we’re happy to conclude that this tool was able to allay any doubts of fitment.

Setup was easy and felt intuitive for us as fairly experienced casters. The :~$ynth provides a solid baseline template to create precision keycaps. Simply put, it's a powerful tool for veterans and beginners alike. Furthermore, having made efforts to source CNC’ed masters in the past, I can safely say that the price point is more than reasonable for the functionality that it provides.

Prodigious Progeny and Other Discrete Surprises from the South.

It's not often that we have the privilege of working with such talented artists-- let alone, having them write a guest blog post. KeyKollectiv is proud to host a beloved member of the Kommune family. Without further ado, Retrochick.

Hello, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? First off, I want to thank Kudos and Koala-T for allowing me to write a blog post for their site. I’ve deliberately taken a step back from being an active member of the online keyboard community since my move to North Carolina. This decision was a hard one for me to make - I had come to know so many great people and really enjoyed the sense of community that Geekhack and Reddit offered. I was making forays into the artisan keycap world and was blown away by everyone’s support and positive energy. The creative juices were just starting to flow. Disappointingly, I decided to put all of that on hold while I made a cross-country move to be closer to family and focus on seeking out a better quality of life. So like the inevitability of all things that come to be, I found myself back on the East Coast far far away from the life I had known before. Everything - the people, the land, the air - was different. This was the South and the South is weird. Read more...

The tale of how FrankenFurt came into existence is a simple one. I reached out to Livingspeedbump and told him that I would be moving to his neck of the woods. Surprisingly, he was more enthusiastic about meeting up than I expected - another thing about people from the South is that they are friendly. So Andy met up with me and helped me move into my new house. We instantly got along and as the days passed we started hanging out on a fairly regular basis. I really enjoyed talking shop and craft with him and loved that I could share my experiences to somebody who understood the hobby and the obsession. One day he suggested that I reach out to Kudos with any questions I had about making keycaps. One thing led to another and I suddenly found myself in the midst of artisans, makers, and people that I admired such as Binge, Keykollectiv, Booper, LSB, Zip, etc. The floodgates had burst open and I found myself swept up in the electric creative energy of other makers that I had so desperately wanted to talk to and get to know. Somehow, incredibly, and in the South mind you, I had found what I had been searching for all these years as an artist: a sense of belonging.

One day, while in the thick of Kosmonavt launch/sale/promo, Kudos approached me about doing a collaboration with my Frank N Cap design, and I said ‘Yes!’. After many weeks of putting our heads together, experimenting with one thing and another, discussions about prices, names, colors, the fruit of our labor was born and when Kudos showed it to me I was completely blown away. FrankenFurt had surpassed any and all expectations I had for the keycap. The details, the encapsulation, the end result truly was more than the sum of it’s parts. Kudos had managed to preserve the original integrity of the design while incorporating his own indelible touch to the keycap. He also gave the keycap some much-needed updates, not least of which was sculpting onto the base to increase the height of the keycap to Cherry profile, and providing a Topre stem version. This iteration of Frank is my favorite one yet, simply because it is the culmination of 3 artists who came together to create something that did not exist before.

We realized that we loved working together, that the spirit of collaboration, enthusiasm, appreciation for the arts drew us closer, and we wanted to honor that relationship by forming an artists collective that celebrated inclusivity, artistic integrity and expression, as well as mutual respect and support. We formed Kommune with the intent of creating a place where everyone can feel supported, and where we can pursue that which we are most passionate about: art and the pursuit of happiness.

I’ve literally had a change of perspective this past year and of all the things that surprised me was the realization that I belonged no matter where I was - whether that was in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, or with other like-minded artists who love art for art’s sake.

-Retrochick

Redefining Endgame

A little over a year ago, I spoke of the ever-elusive "endgame" board. What I've learned along the way is that such a thing simply doesn't exist. No keyboard will persuade you not to buy another one. No keyset will make the next GMK group buy unappealing. That artisan that you finally managed to trade up for. The one that matches your board perfectly. That too will lose it's luster when the next sale starts. Once we reach this level of acceptance, we are freed from the addiction and finally allowed to enjoy what we have. And though, we can't reach "endgame", we can surely aim for the next best thing. A keyboard worthy of being our daily driver. A keyboard that is a pleasure to type on and look at. 

I make no secret of it. Topre is my switch of choice. As much as I'd like to say that all Topre boards are created the same, it would be a blatant lie to do so. Having tried all weights (variable, 45, 55) and forms (HHKB, Realforce, Leopold 660C), I still find myself longing for my HHKB. My Watermelon Type-S has been my trusty companion for quite some time now but it left something to be desired. The 55g 10th Year Anniversary Realforce called for me but the cumbersome size and feel of the metal plate left me unsatisfied. It is no surprise that the logical conclusion was to bring the best of both worlds together.

There is a common criticism that case-mounted Topre housings feels "cheap" or "toy-like" on an HHKB. To me, the plastic helps to "absorb" the impact of the upward slider movement and feels smoother than it's Realforce and Leopold counterparts. This absorption lends itself even better if your preference is for the silenced variant. Though 45g is generally considered as "stock" weight, my typing style would be better suited for something more substantial. Having tried 55g weighted boards, I knew that my next board would likely require procuring some domes. 

Portability Evolved

With the HHKB Bluetooth finally out, I knew that I could no longer hold off on putting together this board. With the help of /u/apolotary, we had two on the way. Luckily, I already had two 55g Realforces collecting dust and a 87U with purple sliders. Why purple sliders? Compared to the Type-S sliders, the purple ones were slightly longer which allowed more travel distance. Having used both, I will honestly say that the difference in distance is negligible. However, I'd imagine that obtaining Type-S sliders is substantially more expensive than it's purple counterparts. Luckily, a community member was kind enough to provide the remaining sliders I needed to populate both keyboards. With all the supplies I needed, I feverishly checked the status of the EMS order.

Upon opening the box, the first thing that caught my eye was the rounded corners. Though the HHKB Pro 2 already has curved corners, it was much more "pronounced" on the HHKB BT. When I first saw promo photos of the BT variant, I was turned away by the "tumor" on the back. To me, the added bulk of the battery compartment took away from the minimalist form of it's predecessors. And though, I'm still not a huge fan of the design choice, I can safely say that it is imperceivable during daily use. Compared to my Type-S, the top plastic plate of the BT feels more rigid and thick -- producing a deeper "thock". Of course, these revisions don't come without a price. Gone is the feather-light aspect of the HHKB Pro2. In it's place, the BT feels noticeably heavier and now closer to the weight of a 660C. Aesthetics and feeling aside, I wanted to test the functionality as well. I was delighted to see that there was no perceivable input lag when typing on it. Range did not seem to be an issue at all either. Setup was painless and connection remained solid throughout my initial tests.

Modified Metamorphosis

The process of dome swapping can be somewhat time-consuming. It's not necessarily a difficult procedure but definitely tedious. As this would be Koala-T's first time opening up a Topre board, I wanted to make sure I allocated enough time to explain the process to her. One thing to note is that there are a lot of screws that need to be removed during the process so designating a separate container for each keyboard is highly advised. Along with the containers, I've found that a small Phillip's head screwdriver and tweezers will be needed for the procedure.

We started by opening up our two 55g Realforces. Three tabs along the bottom part of the back case are pushed and the case easily opens up to expose the plate and PCB. Be sure to disconnect the internal cable connectors before proceeding. There are quite a few screws to remove. Though, I’m sure the order in which they are unscrewed is inconsequential, I made it a point to loosen the black, then silver ones. Attention must be paid when separating the plate from the PCB. Personally, I grip the plate/PCB together and flip it over. This ensures that the domes will be facing upward and not succumbing to gravity during the separation process. I’ve found, from past experiences the domes are attached with weak glue. Do not rely on the fact that the domes will be secured so practice caution when separating the parts. With the domes easily accessible, we set the keyboard aside and move onto the HHKB.

The HHKB BT is slightly more tedious to open than the Realforce but not more difficult. We located the screws holding together the case. They are located in a “cavity” to the left and right of the feet. The third is located in the center of the battery compartment. We noticed an extra Bluetooth module attached to PCB. This was easily removed by locating and unscrewing two small screws on top. While removing the module, be sure to keep an eye out for a “plastic washer”. Set the washer aside in a safe place. At this point, we noticed that the module is also secured by a white adhesive tape. Loosening the screws under the module allowed for us to finally separate the PCB from the case. Just like the Realforce before, we pinched the parts together and flipped it over. This way, we don’t run the risk of having the domes fall off during the process.

While the keyboard was still opened, we figured we’d take the time to lube up the slider/housing. Since we planned on replacing the stock sliders with purple sliders, not lubing seemed like a wasted opportunity. Looking at the slider/housing, it's evident that the slider has “feet” that move along a groove in the housing. This groove is where we chose to apply our lube for maximum effect. For this project, we used the GeekHacker’s V2 Lube (thick) and EliteKeyboard’s thick lube. In my experiences, I haven’t noticed any stark differences in feel so use which one is more easily accessible. Do not use thin lube or you’re in for a mess.

To remove the sliders, we used a pair of rounded end tweezers to pry the stem out of the housing. Anything small enough to wedge under the slider without marring it will do. Upon doing so, you may experience a slight “pop/snap” of the stem. A small plastic tab on the end will likely break. This is normal and not a necessary component of the stem. From here, we replaced each black slider with a purple one. A quick thing to note is that there is a chance that your silencing ring may come off your slider. Make sure that the “glossy” side of the ring is facing up when reapplying it. A simple push and the slider should pop right in. From here, we applied some lube to the joints of the stabilizer wires and prepared the case for the dome swap. 

I’m sure everyone has their own methods for performing the dome-swap. Some prefer to remove all their domes/springs beforehand. For us, we tried to keep our domes intact up until this point. From personal experience, I found that lining up the domes into the housing was the easiest way to ensure alignment during reassembly. Because the sliders will naturally push up when we position the case facing down, you'll need to have something to prop it up. We used old silicone molds to suspend the case, though any items you have on hand will work.

The dome-swap itself requires a little creativity. You can opt to only swap domes for the alphas but in our case, we chose to do a complete swap. If you’re looking for the most straightforward transition, I recommend doing just the alphas. The domes are secured to your PBC by a light adhesive and should peel off easily. Take extra precaution when handling the springs, as they tend to bounce quite a bit and will likely tangle into one another if you are not careful. For us, we took a more systematic approach and swapped each “cluster” one by one. Ultimately, how you do the dome swap depends mainly on your level of comfort. Once the swap is complete, be sure to line up your PCB carefully. We used the screw holes as “guides” when aligning the parts. From here, it’s just a matter of reassembling the keyboards in reverse order and we’re done. 

With what was left over of the 55g domes, I took the chance to swap with my Realforce 23u Numpad. No need to let those previous domes go to waste. I also had some Hypersphere rings on hand so I applied the silencing mod following the same basic concepts.

Post Modification Impressions

I want to preface the following with the fact that my observations are purely based on personal preference and perception. Upon completion of the modification, I noticed that the silencing was on-par, if not, better than the Type-S. For those who like the the “pop/thock” of the upward slider motion, I don’t advise doing the silencing mod. For me, the audio difference is equivalent to the sound of large raindrops falling on a tin roof and the sound of raindrops on a wooden deck. For me, the sound and sensation is pleasantly muted. The new upper case lends itself well to the silencing in my opinion. In terms of weight, I personally prefer the 55g much more than the stock 45g. I consider myself fairly heavy-handed so I find the added weight helps in preventing erroneous keystrokes. The new domes also feel “springier” and I find the upward force helps to rebound my fingers for the next key press. Somehow, I feel somewhat more dextrous with the 55g domes. 

Overall, I consider the modification a great success. The new Silenced 55g HHKB has become a keyboard that I look forward to typing on. I guess considering the qualifications I look for in a “near-endgame” keyboard, this one ticks off all the requirements. For now, this bluetooth variant has satiated the desire to purchase another keyboard for quite some time. That is… until the white one comes out.

If you haven't had a chance to look over our previous post, here are two quick comparison videos. Note the sound difference before and after the modification.

My Mother, My Hero

I must admit, writing about my personal life makes me a little uncomfortable. The goal has always been to write about our experiences with KeyKollectiv so I usually avoid divulging details of my life. I'd like to think that I could somewhat justify this blog post as its tangentially related.

My parents were born and raised in Taiwan. A few years after I was born, a toy executive from the states took notice of my mom's work and approached her about working in the United States. Though I'm sure the recruitment was a great opportunity, I can't imagine the fear and anxiety of uprooting your entire life for the sake of giving your children a better life. They gave up their home, family, culture and traditions when they arrived in America. If not for this sacrifice, I would have turned out to be a completely different person than I am today.

My mother worked for a prominent plush toy company in Manhattan. I remember days when she would take her kids with her to work. We'd take the 7 train from Queens and I'd watch the graffiti covered skyline move like a film strip across the subway car. Her office was a short walk from Penn Station and a floor above a studio owned by Marvel. Back then, I fantasized about being a comic book artist and making that commute with my mom in the mornings. 

Company loyalty meant something then. Big brands like Hasbro and Gund actively courted her but she was resolute in staying with the company that gave her the opportunity to bring her family to America. As a budding artist, I admired the pride she took in her work. But the landscape of the toy industry was shifting. The demand for plush dwindled and what remained was being outsourced overseas. Inevitably, the company collapsed and, along with that, our stability.

During the recession, my mother took night classes to learn Illustrator and Photoshop. The language barrier made that difficult. She applied for jobs she would've never accepted a few years ago. Her skill set just no longer had a place in her industry. I watched a proud woman, whom I admired greatly, become obsolete over the span of a few years. It broke my heart. And though she dedicated her time to charity in order to keep herself occupied, I knew it tore her apart.

Five years ago, she returned to Taiwan to look after my grandmother. She worked in a small factory not much better than conditions in a sweat shop. And though my grandmother has already passed, my parents remain there mostly out of comfort. With each phone call, I sensed their English slipping away.

I received a phone call two months ago with the news that my mom had been laid off. Ironically, her company planned to outsource her work to China. She was crushed. As her eldest son, it was my duty to take care of my parents in their old age. How could I when I could barely support myself? I had failed them. No amount of remorse or self loathing could repay the debt they paid when they sacrificed their lives for their children.  

I did the only thing I could. I asked her to make a few cases for KeyKollectiv. The profits, though probably paltry, she would keep. We discussed design and patterns. I provided specs and feedback. I heard excitement in her voice for the first time in a long while. After all, don't we all strive to feel useful? Don't we all long for purpose? In all honesty, we're not entirely sure where or how far this will take us. But for what it's worth-- having shown her a glimpse of that woman I admired as a child -- what does it matter?

 

-Kudos

Before & After: HHKB Silence Mod & Dome Swap

With the last of the KK Mod replacements finally out the door and our 4 year anniversary on the horizon, Kudos and I wanted to do something for ourselves for once. It's truly been non-stop since February for us, and Mods have lasted nearly double what we had originally allowed for. That being said, the standard breaks from life weren't going to cut it this weekend. I needed to celebrate the end of this hellish journey with a bang. It needed to be special.

I have a personal philosophy about gifts: they should be something the person would want but couldn't bring themselves to buy for themselves. They should be indulgent in nature, but far enough out of the person's comfort zone that they would be very unlikely (or at the very least, hard-pressed) to splurge on the item or impulse buy it on their own. Most importantly, it should be meaningful in some way to that person. I personally love gifts that better a person's quality of life in some way or another. Although perhaps mundane in nature, one of the great joys about keyboards to me is that they are actually a HUGE part of daily life in the digital age. It should come as no surprise that Kudos and I had both immediately fixated on acquiring the new HHKB Bluetooth's for one another, though I wasn't actually an immediate convert. I was attached to my pink pexon cable and my white HHKB (newly endowed with cherry blossom PBT RF blanks, mute mallow modifiers and matching taro milk meowcaps). The new BT's aren't even offered in white, after all. What's the point?

wo systematic cable failures over the course of less than 2 weeks--which left me HHKB-less at work--definitely had me singing a different tune. Though I tried to acquire them without consulting him, ultimately Kudos beat me to the punch. With the help of a friend in Japan (thanks again /u/apolotary!!) we were the proud owners of two new HHKB BT's in less than two weeks time. While we waited, Kudos seduced me with talk of mods and endgame level setups--of experiencing oneness with cup rubber. After some deliberation, we settled on lubed purple sliders and a full dome-swap from 45g's to 55g's. Kudos documented the whole process, so hopefully sometime this week we can consolidate those photos here. It was definitely nerve-wracking opening up our HHKB's for the first time, but the final result was well worth the adrenaline rush. I know topre is already known for being "buttery" but there is truly no singularly more appropriate way to describe these feels. Butter, y'all. Just... butter. <3

Before

After

I'm honestly not sure I expected the difference to be as stark as it was, but even from the (albeit crappy) audio on these clips, you can hear that there is a MASSIVE difference in the acoustics. It's also bit of a harder actuation when you hit the keys, but given that I slam down when I type, this is actually a plus for me. Overall I would say the mod was a huge success and it was definitely a lot of fun to do. More on that to come!

With love,
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May the Fourth Be With You

Where oh where does the time go? We are nearly halfway through this year, and while we have plenty to show for it, I can't help but feel like it's been lackluster so far. Though I suppose therein lies the problem of having expectations about the way a year is going to go. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things we've wanted to--try as we may. Sometimes I have to remind myself (and especially Kudos) that slow and steady wins the race. Not that this is one, but it's especially hard not to be trigger-happy when it comes to things your passionate about.

Our last two (sculpt) releases have been collaborative efforts between some our favorite artisans in the community--Retro Chick and Booper--and we feel immensely honored to get to put our heads together with some of the most talented people we know and release something totally different. Especially in a community where people are more often against each other than for each other--as much as that baffles me personally. KeyKollectiv has been fortunate to be surrounded by such positive and encouraging friends and fans, and we couldn't be where we are if it weren't for all the lovely people we surround ourselves with. My dad used to always say, "the ten people you hang around with are the most influential people in your life." So, if you hang out with nothing but jerks, you, too, will become one yourself. He always meant this more in regards to personal successes (business associates) as opposed to simply friendship, but I think it's equally important.

So my question is, if the people you surround yourself with shape you, who do you want to be? In light of recent events, I am reminded more than ever that I want to continue to be a kind, loving and generous person. I will do my best to learn from my failures. Which brings me to my next point: perhaps my loftiest and most heartfelt goal right now is focusing on making our blog a place where people can feel welcome in this "niche" community, a place to find strength when all the odds are against you, and lastly a place to have open-minded (and not inflammatory) discussions about the community as a whole!

And yes, that includes disagreements, because we are all human; they are bound to happen. Some of the most interesting topics of discussion are also, not coincidentally, some of the most highly debated--and not without good reason. If answers were clear cut, especially when it comes moral ambiguity, there would be no need for discussion to begin with! I think it's high-time we embrace our disagreements and use them as opportunities for clarity and growth. It's time we make this community (that we all love) a better, more inviting place. And for those who prefer to keep it exclusive, you're absolutely entitled to your position, but I'm curious: if you love it, why are you sentencing it to death?

With love,

🐨🍵

Kommune Episode 1 is online!

The livestream went so much better than any of us expected, and the turn out really blew us all away! There are a few things we can tighten up, such as figuring out how to allow more people to view the chat at the same time. However, we honestly didn't expect more than 50 people to show up, so we were very surprised to hit the cap as fast as we did! (and hope we can find an alternative to that before our next episode)

Overall, we had so much fun putting this together, and we hope that we can make this a monthly thing where people can come talk keyboards, artisans and generally awesome stuff! For those who weren't able to make it, I'm including it in this post for those who would still like to see it. And to those of you who did, thank you so much for all the support and great questions. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did!


With love,

🐨🍵

Welcome to the Kommune

Hey guys, just updating to let you know that some of us are getting together tonight to do a livestream. We'll be answering questions as well as making some big announcements. We would love if you guys could come watch and participate in the discussion! More information here.

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