Month: February 2016

Keyboard Review: Leopold FC750R

In my ongoing quest to find my perfect TKL (mainly to use as a daily driver for work), I may have found a winner.  For now, anyways; we all know this mechanical keyboard thing is a never-ending chase that will destroy our wallets.  But anyways; this one is nice.

So far I’ve been able to experience a number of TKL boards, so my frame of reference is decent.  I’ve checked out the CM Novatouch, CM QuickFire Rapid, WASD V2 87, Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition, and the KUL ES-87.  I had some high hopes going into checking out the Leopold though, since what I’ve been able to find about it is that it stacks up really well with other premium boards.

This follows my last review of the KUL ES-87, and beating it will be a tall order.  While I panned it for having a “ping” (this was with Cherry MX Clear switches), it was an extremely high-quality, thoughtfully designed board, and one I would absolutely consider as a daily driver.

This Leopold, however, is equipped with my current favorite switch, the old reliable-and-loud Cherry MX Blue.  This won’t be a switch review, however, as we’ll be concentrating on the board itself.

Last couple things: pictures taken with a Nexus 6.  Keyboard procured from, $114.00.

First: Unboxing!



Contents are pretty straightforward:

  • Keyboard
  • Dust cover
  • USB cable w/attached velcro tie (nice touch!)
  • Ring-style keycap puller (i.e. another thing to throw in the trash)
  • Replacement stepped CapsLock key (with no LED window)
  • Replacement ScrollLock key (with no LED window)
  • Extra spacebar, because…yay?
  • USB->PS2 adapter

First impression: this is a well-built keyboard.  No flex at all if you try, using both hands.  There’s a decent heft to it; not as substantial as the KUL ES-87, but heavy enough.  The plastic case is thick with a nice rough finish that resists fingerprints.

Here’s a picture of the underside:


Features of note: thick rubber feet, thick and sturdy flip-out legs for some hot angle action, cable channels to route to either side.  I noted that the top cable channel was especially snug, but not so much as to hurt the cable.

Now, to show off one of the primary features of this board: dem caps.


These PBT beauties are pristine.  Pad-printed legends, but they’re legends you’re not likely to rub off due to their stealthiness.


The above picture is one of the Leopold PBT caps next to a Vortex PBT cap.  They’re just as thick.

Now, some quick observations so we can wrap this up:


  • Excellent build quality.  I’d give the slightest of edges to the KUL ES-87, but both boards are phenomenal specimens.
  • PBT keycaps; not often included, always appreciated.  Side printing is very nice. as well.
  • Overall good package; there are no glaring omissions from what I would expect from a $114 keyboard.
  • Sound-dampening – I assume it’s working.  There is absolutely zero ping on this board.  And I tried to coax it out.  None.
  • Value – you’re getting a lot here for $114.  Most other high-end TKLs don’t come with PBT caps, or build quality this good.


  • Ring-style keycap puller: you may as well not include these, no one should be using them.  Especially on these included keycaps.
  • The spacebar has a pronounced hollow “thud” to it.  I actually like it, but I could see it bothering others.
  • The rubber on the flip-out feet is so grippy that if you push from the front of the board, you’ll un-flip the feet with enough force.  Not a real issue, just sort of humorous.
  • No DIP-switch features, though I don’t think many will miss them on a TKL form factor.  This would be egregious on any smaller form factor, but forgivable here.  Would be nice, though.
  • This is only available in four switches: Red, Brown, Blue, and Black.  Considering the popularity of Clears (and to a lesser extent, Greens), this seems like a bit of a miss.



I don’t think there’s any serious or meaningful flaw in the board.  Though there are a few other high-end TKL boards I haven’t tried as of yet (Realforce, Filco, CODE to name a few), this is the best I’ve encountered.  It lacks a few (possibly minor) features that other boards have, but those other boards also have weaknesses of some kind.  This board has no problems, and comes with a nice set of front-printed PBT caps to boot.  For $114, that’s an insane value.

To me, if you’re looking for a TKL, the only reason you wouldn’t want one of these boards is if it doesn’t come in your preferred switch type.  That sounds dramatic and sensational, but I stand behind it.

So, this baby will be taking up permanent residence as my daily driver at work.  Until the next thing comes along.  Guh.



Keyboard Review: KUL ES-87

For all zero of you who know me, I’ve recently taken up a love for mechanical keyboards.  I’m ending what’s called a “test drive” phase, where I have a hunger to try all the different kinds of switches and “feels.”  It’s all very nerdy.

Anyway, I got a Cooler Master Novatouch TKL last week, to check out Topre switches.  I wasn’t terribly impressed (though I am not done with Topre), so when I returned the board I decided to get a KUL ES-87 in its place.  I wanted to check out the hype about KUL’s build quality, as well as to try out the Cherry MX Clear keyswitch, which is specifically in a weight class that I hadn’t tried before.


Enough intro, here’s some opinions, for your mouth:


  • The build quality is spectacular.  Heavy.  Firm.  Substantial.  This thing is meant to become part of your desk, with its weight and thick rubber feet.  When you’re not typing, be careful when picking this stone tablet up, as others are liable to think you’re getting ready to club them to death.
  • This board has a number of features that clearly make it an enthusiast’s board.  I don’t need to list them all off, but there’s a bunch of stuff us keyboard people like.  We like this stuff.  This board has that stuff.  Thumbs up.
  • MX Clears are nice.  Normally I love Blues, and was wondering how the feels would be with a heavier switch.  It feels fine.  I’ve tried to fatigue my fingers by running lots of TypeRacer tests, but either my fingers are meat sticks of wonder, or Clears are just fine for me.
  • The “unboxing” moment is nice.  It’s well-packed and presented.  Not a big deal, but it’s nice when you open a new keyboard, and everything’s nice enough to where it feels like you’re Link opening a chest in Legend of Zelda.  And now the “treasure-opening theme” is in your head.  YOU’RE WELCOME.


  • The included keycaps are pad-printed ABS, which isn’t great.  However, they do look and feel like better quality ABS than your average in-the-box offerings.  As a staunch PBT acolyte, I think it means something for me to think that I could bear these keycaps for a bit (though the second some shine occurs I would slap some DSA PBTs in their place faster than you can say “Pimp My Keyboard is a weird name for a website, guys”).
  • Ring-style keycap puller?  C’mon guys.  I SAID C’MON.
  • The cable’s OK.  It’s not braided, but whatevs.  It connects.  Yay.


  • The ping.  It’s been well documented.  It was present on my board.  It’s clearly the plate mounting amplifying spring noise, and the heavier spring in MX Clears probably makes boards with this switch worse than normal.  To make matters worse, there have been reports of KUL saying “well that’s just what it does.”  Well, sure guys.  You know what stops that?  A sheet of foam or other sound-dampening material on the bottom plate.  You know how I know this?  Because people in the community have done it, and it works.  It probably adds $0.10 to part costs.  That’s virtually nothing to make your keyboard stop sounding like a toy piano.


So, the KUL ES-87 is overall a great board.  I can’t speak enough on the overall build quality.  However, I can’t recommend it with Clear switches because of the pinging issue, and honestly I would prepare to add some sound-dampening material either way.  If you’re OK with doing that, then you’ll have yourself a near-perfect board.  Otherwise, I’d consider other possibilities.

My First Time With D&D

So my board game night people decided to do D&D.  While I know a good deal about D&D rules (from plumbing the depths of old D&D video games for how they all work) and have roleplayed a bit in the past in other venues (just not D&D), this is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.

Because organizationally it was easiest, I was to be DM for our maiden voyage.

As a reference, we had one person who had played a few campaigns, another two who had played once or twice, and then myself and my wife who had never played.

We decided to play 5th edition, mainly because it was the easiest to find resources for, and most opinions online were very positive (for those who had tried it; many people still stick to 3.5, Pathfinder, and some version of 2E as well, from my understanding).

Anyways, we forged ahead with what more or less amounted to the starter set: pre-generated characters (halfling rogue, high elf wizard, human fighter, dwarf cleric) and the Lost Mines of Phandelver starter campaign.

Sadly, I was not as organized as I would have liked going in; I had intended to cull my resources the night and morning before, but real life decided to make that difficult, so my running of the campaign left a bit to be desired, since I had to stop and look stuff up from time to time instead of having it all prepared.

However, everyone had a blast, and I think I did a good job of DMing as far as keeping things going, and presenting the setting.  No one was confused as to their options, and I felt I played the different NPC characters rather well.  There were already some pretty memorable moments of silliness.

Also, RNGesus decided to pay a visit.  There was a bandit fight that had two critical misses and three critical hits.  One exchange involved the wizard getting 20’d and one-shot by a bandit, then the bandit on the ensuing turn critically missing, which I interpreted as him tripping over the wizard’s corpse and accidentally head-shotting himself with his short-sword.  That was fun, because it let the dead wizard feel at least somewhat useful, in death.

I think we’ll be continuing with this week-to-week, and I can’t wait.  I don’t think DMing is something I always want to do, but I certainly don’t have a problem with it, and I think I’m pretty decent at it.  Just need to get more organized and learn the rules a bit more.

Baldur’s Gate: Again

I have this strange relationship with the Baldur’s Gate series.  Actually, this applies to the whole Infinity engine family of games; BG, Icewind Dale 1&2, and Planescape Torment.  But we’ll focus on Baldur’s Gate here first.

I got Baldur’s Gate as a random present from one of my mom’s friends wayyyyy back in 1998.  I was immediately hooked; it was only the second game I had ever played that gave me so many choices (the other was Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for the NES).  It was top-down, which allowed for incredible strategic elements.  It had dialogue choices that meant something.  It had humor, seriousness, epicness.  It had it all.

Baldur’s Gate 2 was just a continuation, but stacking complex high-level spell combat on top of the already wonderful freedom and storytelling.  It also had one of the best villains in video game history, Jon Irenicus, who was voice-acted tremendously by David Warner.

I consider both of those games heavily influential on my gaming tastes.  I consider them both among the best PC games ever made, if not among the best games ever made, regardless of system.

I’ve never beaten either of them.  This is baffling.

I’ve certainly found it harder in recent years to complete games.  I often reach a point where I go “I get it” and put a game down, regardless of where I am.  I never beat Final Fantasy 9, despite getting to the final area.  I did the same with Final Fantasy 13 (though didn’t get quite as far, but I did get to the point where the game opened up).  I’ve done it with a few Ultima games.  And I did it with BG and BG2.

I’m not sure if they’re too long or what, but I have just never finished them.  I certainly got quite far into BG1, but never beat it, nor did any of the expansion content.  I got somewhat far in BG2 in the sidequests, but never advanced the main storyline past breaking into Spellhold, which is barely halfway, I think.

I’m currently trying to do a full playthrough of both, starting a character in BG: Enchanced Edition, play through it all plus the expansion content, then import the character into BG2 and do the same there.  I doubt I’ll make it, if previous attempts inform future actions.

I think it might be the combat.  It can range from mundane to ruthless, and I don’t think I like either.  I feel that my time is wasted with a fight with a few kobolds, but then my time is wasted when staring down a Beholder and six Yuan-Ti mages, which is pretty tough.

Or it might be all the freedom.  I often restart the game multiple times since I can’t decide which class to play.  I’ve found in other games that I can be paralyzed by choice, and end up putting the game down rather than settle on a certain race, class, or playstyle.

I had a startling thought just now.  Maybe I just want to play actual table-top D&D.

Luckily, I’ll be doing that this weekend.  I’ll write on that as well.


A Quick Rundown of the Crazy People Running for President


Jeb Bush
A man with his pedigree and record cannot be trusted.  Look at that snarl.  He’ll probably steal again!

John Kasich
How can a person so good at Fruit Ninja find any time to govern effectively?  NEXT.

Ben Carson
He might be the most intelligent Republican candidate, but if he can’t hold in a fart without making a face like that, diplomatic trips are going to be a non-starter.

Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina
I know that we’ve recently broadened our horizons when concerning who’s able to get into the oval office, but this is way too far.  Say what you want about a woman in the White House, but someone with a giant doppelganger twin?  This is too far.  That might come in handy in diplomacy, but the White House is NOT big enough for a failed businesswoman and her colossal clone!

Marco Rubio
Old-guard Republicans are in love with him, but he looks more like an extra in a John Hughes movie.  Is this a face you can trust with the nation?  Or is it a face you can trust with helping the main character with a tricky relationship problem?  I think the answer is clear.

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Announces His Run For President At Liberty University
Cruz may be the leading alternative to front-runner Trump, but are we sure we can let this man kill again?  How could we let someone who feeds on the souls of the innocent into the White House?

Rand Paul
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that people with hair that looks like that are either middle managers in retail, or the villain of an Adam Sandler movie.  May as well elect Christopher MacDonald to office.

Donald Trump
Perfect.  You can’t beat the perfection that is Donald Trump…’s hair.  The hair is perfect, and would kill in the general election.  Too bad it’s attached to a despicable human being.

THE DEMOCRATS (thank Jebus there’s a lot less of them)

Hillary Clinton
The idea of a Hillary presidency has long been a goal of the Democratic party, but honestly, we can’t elect someone to a third term.  Seems unfair.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders
Aw, grandpa woke up after falling asleep watching Gilligan’s Island reruns.  Can you go get him some hot cocoa and a blanket?  And tell him to stop sleeping on the couch, it’s bad for his back!

Martin O’Malley
Martin O’Malley is a person, who happens to be running for president.  I think he’s real.  Citation needed.