ErgoDox EZ Users

Calle Björkell

Staff Software Engineer @ Tradeshift
Calle Björkell

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Calle, a Finnish national living in Denmark. I’m working as a Staff Software Engineer at Tradeshift in Copenhagen, where I’m the lead on a small team tasked to beef up the connectivity between our multiple data centers. In that capacity, I usually work fairly far down the stack, worrying about network protocols, data storage, software deployments, and service APIs. My day mostly circles around typing in various capacities, either writing Go code, tweaking our Java components, reviewing pull requests on GitHub, or ranting on Slack.

My free time mainly goes to my wife and kids. I have twin boys, four years old, and they keep me busy with all sorts of madness until their bedtime. As a hobby, other than the newly found keyboard obsession, I’ve also been cultivating a pet project that I call the “Tiger player”. It’s a Raspberry Pi wired up to an RFID reader and some buttons/LEDs, all of it installed in a ”Useless Box”. The Raspberry Pi then controls my Sonos speakers based on which NFC tags have been detected (if any). It’s almost done now finally, and the kids seem to enjoy it a lot :).

Tiger_player
Tiger player

I do some light gaming on the PS4, playing Rainbow Six: Siege, and I also follow the Pro League casts for the same game. Esports are really fun to watch nowadays, and the production values are actually really high.

I also try to make it to the gym at least two times a week.

As a Swedish-speaking Finn (there is a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland) living and working in Denmark, I feel pretty Nordic nowadays. What still tugs on my heartstring about Finland, though, is the archipelago, and overall all the lakes and islands. In the summer, I always spend a couple of days at least in this setting, and it’s where I feel the most relaxed. The Finnish midsummer sun and a cold beer on the deck of a sauna out in the archipelago is pretty much my ideal summer setting. Just need to watch out for those damn mosquitoes.

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The midnight sun in Helsinki
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The Vaasa archipelago in Finland
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The Vaasa archipelago in Finland

What hardware do you use?

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Calle's work desk

I was a MacBook user for a number of years when I started at Tradeshift, but now I’m back to my PC roots, using a Dell Precision 5520. Most of the time, I have it hooked up as a secondary screen, with a 25” Dell U2518D being the primary. As for peripherals, I’ve used my Logitech M570 Trackball instead of a mouse for almost a decade, and last fall, I took the plunge and bought the black ErgoDox EZ. This was originally just my work setup, but when I finally got the space for a proper home office nook, I ended up replicating my work setup at home as well.

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Calle's home desk

I almost forgot one very important piece of hardware: my Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones. I use and enjoy those a lot :). Oh, and I also got new switches, so now my ErgoDox EZ is sporting awesome tactility with the Zilent 67g switches.

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Installing the Zilent switches
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Installing the Zilent switches

And what software?

As I’m back on a PC, I’m also back in the Linux world. I’m currently using Ubuntu 19.04, which makes a lot of things easier when it comes to my job, since Ubuntu is also the operating system that we deploy our services on in production. When coding, I spend all of my time in IntelliJ IDEA and on the command line via the excellent terminal emulator, terminator. G Suite is also periodically in fairly heavy use, as well as Lucidchart. Firefox is my browser of choice. For communication, I’m spending quite a lot of time wading through a seemingly infinite number of Slack channels, and for my private messaging, I pretty much always have a WhatsApp Web tab open.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

Up until recently, I was using the keyboard as it was when I received it, hardware-wise — that is to say, an original ErgoDox EZ with Cherry MX Brown switches and blank sculpted keycaps: one at the office and one at home. Getting the ErgoDox EZ got me into the mechanical keyboard scene, so now I’m spending quite a lot of time browsing /r/MechanicalKeyboards and /r/mechmarket and getting all sorts of urges to try out new switches and caps. Currently, I’m sporting Zilent V2 67g switches on both boards, and also have the MiTo SA Laser keycap set incoming, so my keyboards will probably look quite a bit different before long.

When it comes to the layout of the keyboard, I’ve tweaked it heavily since the first day I had it. After the initial heavy modifications, I started tracking the various versions, and now, a half a year later, I’m on tweak number 94. I keep on coming up with small things to try out and ways to make typing even more comfortable, and I do believe that I’m getting quite close to my ultimate layout now. In February, I made the switch to the Colemak layout, and I’ve found that to be a great improvement for me as well when it comes to typing comfort.

The current layout that I have has five layers. The base layer contains the Colemak layout. I did try out Mod-DH for a short time as well, but found it less comfortable than the standard Colemak. Layers one and two only contain overlays for the Swedish and Danish special characters, åäö and åøæ respectively, which I do need from time to time. The symbol and navigation layers are heavily used when I’m coding, and the last layer is set up with Gnome window management shortcuts to move windows around my desktop.

What would be your dream setup?

I feel I have a pretty nice setup right now, but a standing desk at home will probably be added at some point, and you can never have too many screens. I also have a feeling that tweaking the keyboard hardware and layout will be a never-ending story.