A review of Logitech’s G610 mechanical keyboard

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I splurged on a mechanical “gaming” keyboard for our family desktop computer: a Logitech G610 with Cherry MX Red switches.

Its predecessor, a Cherry low-profile membrane keyboard, had lasted years, but some keys were becoming unreliable due to mysterious crunchiness beneath. I have removed keycaps in the past for cleaning, but replacing them properly on the scissors-style plastic clips is a questionable proposition.

I don’t game. The kids play some web games and Minecraft. I’m reasonably nostalgic for old-fashioned mechanical keyboards (which I used as a matter of course in the old days when that was what a keyboard was), although I’ve typed high volumes on various lower-profile keyboards and they can be fine as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had two Cherry-branded keyboards, neither of which had Cherry MX switches.

What I would call a poor keyboard would be something really budget-constrained like that on Asus’ original eeePC (2007?) or Acer’s Aspire Switch (2014) (which was the last thing I found time to blog about, and whose keyboard was not very responsive from the beginning, but which at least never really deteriorated despite a couple of coding-intensive years, unlike my wrists!).

The computer attached to the G610 is a Linux box, so no Logitech software is available to program it.


  • Keycaps are removable. If something gets under there, I can pull the key and clean it out. There are fairly large gaps for things like crumbs to fit through, though. Nominally, there should be no crumbs near my computer but it does not seem to be the empirical case.
  • I like the white backlighting. I find the minimum brightness nice night and day (and I don’t generally have the lights off).
  • But, because the backlight LED is at the top of each key, the alternate character (accessed with SHIFT) is printed on the lower half of the keycap instead of the top. If the LED has to be up there for functional reasons (does it?) I would have preferred the alternative solution of setting the two characters side-by-side.
  • The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock indicators are not dimmable, so when the keys are dimmed (or unlit), the indicator LEDs are irritatingly bright. I have an idea of putting polyimide tape over for a warm amber glow, but that’s not exactly elegant. These should really just follow the brightness chosen by the user for all the other lights.

  • The LEDs default to a slow wave rolling across the keyboard on boot. Idling, that’s cute. I don’t know who would find it tolerable during use. Without Logitech’s software, on each reboot I have to hit the brightness key + 0 to get it to settle down to a constant backlight — and then set the brightness.
  • The caps lock indicator LED can get confused and indicate the wrong state. This has been mentioned in reviews of the keyboard. One reviewer said removing the Logitech software had solved the problem. I never had the Logitech software installed as I’m on Linux.
  • Possibly related: sometimes it behaves as if the shift key is permanently held down – mouse functions are changed, keypresses are shifted. It may be more complicated than that. The key itself doesn’t get stuck. Twice, I have solved the problem by literally mashing my hands around on the keys for awhile. Does this indicate the issue may be an intentional mode with a key combination to toggle it? Dunno, but I don’t have a use for it.
  • The Cherry Red switches have some lateral wobble which is unsettling at the moment. Don’t know if it’s good or bad for typinng in the long run.
  • Actuation force is so small that it bothers me a bit. The Red switches don’t give a tactile clue as to how far is far enough to activate a key. It’s generally not very far. As a result, I’m finding it very easy to inadvertently push the space bar or “a” (on which apparently I sometimes lightly rest a finger on) as it can register with very little movement.aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Maybe the Brown switches, with the “bump” sensation, would mitigate my issues. I haven’t tried them.
  • There’s quite a lot of noise even without clicky switches, particularly the rattle of the space bar, but all the keys make noise when they move laterally, when they bottom out, and when they top out on rebound.
  • After three months, I find I’m still sloppy with the tall keys, hitting extra ones on the way to the one I’m aiming for. I suspect I may have done this with other mechanical keyboards in the distant past, but that the keys were less likely to register a light brush than these are.
  • No one else in the family likes this keyboard. They’d all prefer chiclets and find the tall mechanical keys aggravating.

I really want to like this keyboard, and I kind of do, even though it’s not really logical given that I make more errors using it than I did with my previous one. White backlighting, removable keycaps, dedicated media keys (scoff away), volume roller… all good things for me. But when I finally give in and order an ISO-layout keyboard, it’s not going to be another Logitech G610.

Coming soon to YouTube: Nym Wars 3D

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Disclaimer: This is a post in which I really am thinking aloud. OK, not really aloud, unless you’re using a screen reader, and of course at that point, when you’re hearing it, I’m not thinking it anymore…but I digress. I’m not an expert on this topic so I may be missing the most salient arguments. Just be glad I’m not posting the entirety of process that got me to this point. Also: This post may be boring. Hmm, I probably shouldn’t include that disclaimer here, or I will start to feel like I have to put it at the top of everything I post. OK, feel free to start reading. Or not, if you think it’s going to be boring. As you wish.

When I read Wil Wheaton’s Google is making a huge and annoying mistake blog post, about Google rolling out a requirement that YouTube users “upgrade” to Google Plus accounts to continue rating videos, I was a bit bemused.

My initial reaction was to ask how Google could possibly avoid linking its services and the user data that go with them. If Facebook and Apple already link all their data, then can Google afford not to? Wouldn’t it be bowing out of the competition to serve the most lucratively-targeted ads? Wouldn’t that be tantamount to suicide? Google’s thing is ads.

Presumably they can’t just “upgrade” everyone’s “YouTube” accounts to “G+” ones that they can use for posting comments and +1-ing stuff all over the web if they want, because G+ requires you to give them more information.

And this is where I realize the obvious: linking YouTube to G+ brings the nymwars to YouTube. (This is, in my opinion, a great post on the nymwars).

As long as G+ is just a sort of “completely optional” social network, terms like requiring a “real name” that uniquely identifies the user simply make it less attractive to those who can’t afford to be identified (this, for instance, via Making Light).

Requiring the G+ identity’s “real name” to upload to YouTube surely conflicts with Larry Page’s boast (in his 2012 Update from the CEO) that YouTube “enables an activist in Syria to broadcast globally.” Unless he’s deliberately chosen as an example an activist for whom it’s safe for everybody to know who she/he is.

But from his same statement, I get the idea that not only does Page want a “beautifully simple experience across Google,” but that he’s now deeply invested in the idea of clearing out all our web personae from Google services (or worse, sorting and collating them) and making Google the definitive source of info on people. Applying behavioural data, so valuable in targeting ads, to searches for people.  Annnnd … becoming an authoritative verifier of identity (via)?

I don’t have any new insight on the nymwars, but I’ll put in two cents on one aspect: the fact that Bradley Horowitz so trivialized the concerns of users over the G+ “real names” policy, pretending it’s an issue with the “signup completion” process and happily proclaiming that the majority of the problem is sorted because a nickname can now be added to a G+ profile, sends a chill down my spine. If Google is up to something it doesn’t want its users to notice, well, the best course is probably to continue to try to deflect the questions just like that.

At any rate there’s a pretty fundamental clash arising between the way people use the web and the terms on which Google plans to allow us to use its services.

The price of Google’s services is going up.* The changeover is going to be pretty disruptive for content producers on YouTube who, like Wil Wheaton, have a stake in likes or subscriptions.

As for whether the brand can afford the move to consolidate all its users into G+ entities, I don’t know. Can annoyed users, including influential ones like Wheaton and Neil Gaiman, affect the course Google has plotted? Will Google services just become so uncomfortable that they start to shed users? Or will it be a storm in a teacup until enough of us are acclimatized to the warmer water in our fishbowls (the two metaphors don’t – intentionally, at least – refer to each other in some clever way – unfortunately).

As for whether Google can afford not to make the move, I wonder that too. What revenue model can Google turn to in the near term if it chooses to ease off on a core strength (acquisition and analysis of user data) and let Apple and Facebook outdo it in advertising?

The landscape can change fast through the jockeying of competitors for position (heh, more mixing of metaphors). If Apple decides to compete with YouTube, users of this service will have to create an account with Apple, if they don’t already have one, and there they’ll be, inside Apple’s garden, and Apple will know who they are.

Are there more creative, more disruptive (in that new, positive way) paths Google should be plotting? Are they plotting them, while I’m distracted by the old-fashioned negative disruption they seem to be effecting on their old properties? I’ll be interested to see how it unfolds.

*It’s been said many times that if we’re not paying for a service, then we are not the customer; we are the product. But that’s an incomplete picture, since we do pay for these services with our data, which is in our possession before we hand it to the providers. I’m sure that’s been said many times too.

Leonardt Hiro 700 nib

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I’ve been extremely remiss in not getting a post like this up before now. I blame (prize for originality) being tired and being busy. I’ve got a few things on my plate and, well, a good analogy is that I’ve been eating like a toddler. This post is one of those dried-up peas you find in the corner behind the wine rack, when you go to do a really good vacuuming.  (Aside: Why did we buy a wine rack? Will there be a day again when this object has a use?)

Actually, my analogy doesn’t work at all. Let’s make that a fresh pea that rolled under the edge of the plate and I’m a pretty hungry toddler that eventually finds the pea and eats it. Or something. Maybe it should be a piece of mango. Anyway.

In my previous post about nibs, I mentioned that I’d ordered a Leonardt Hiro 700 nib but that it had arrived damaged so I couldn’t try it out. I fired off an email to Scribblers.co.uk, from whom I’d bought my nibs, and very soon they’d graciously sent me a replacement 700. Not very graciously, I didn’t get around to testing it for a while.

Leonardt Hiro 700 nib

As you can see in this picture, I did eventually get around to testing it, then didn’t clean it that well. It’s a smooth, shiny, springy little object and I really wanted to like it.

As it happens, I really did like it. Testing it against a Gillott 303, I found the Leonardt 700 smoother and more controlled, with less risk of making puddles by dragging ink from previously-drawn thick lines (perhaps because it doesn’t put down as much ink at once? This attribute is probably quite dependent on the consistency of the ink, too).  Looking back at my other post, I should have played with the Gillott 170 at the same time to get a comparison. The Leonardt 700 can’t get down to the hairline that the Gillott 303 makes, and doesn’t seem to have the same dynamic range as either the Gillott 303 or the Gillott 170, but it is very flexible and friendly to use. If I find I’m using it a lot, I will have to get a supply of them, because I don’t think these will last like the giant, stiff Hunt 513 EF that I’ve had for well over a decade.

Another note: Nick Mullins of nijomu.com, who uses nib pens a lot more than I do, has some much more professional-looking nib tests here and here, with more nib photos and discussion here.  Nick noticed my post and linked over here.

Many thanks to Simon of Scribblers for the new nib.