ErgoDox EZ Users

Enrico Zschemisch

Traveling Engineer
Enrico Zschemisch

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Enrico. I work as a traveling engineer in software development, engineering support, and technical sales. The two main offices I work in are in Stuttgart, Germany, and San Diego, California. Other workplaces are Munich, Germany, the Bay Area, and Texas. I try to teach at a university in Stuttgart as much as possible. With traveling, it’s nearly impossible, though.

Outside of work, I like to be in nature: hiking, camping, swimming in the ocean, sailing. My lovely wife likes the same things, fortunately!

My work mostly uses my brain. I love cooking to create something physical with my hands. My French friends tell me I make a killer crème brûlée:

Creme brulee
Before putting the caramel layer on
Creme brulee
The results

Here’s a meal I cooked for my sister and her family, all made from scratch:

meal1
All from scratch!

Maybe this one is a better showcase:

meal2.jpeg
All from scratch!

Roasted chicken, green pea mash, roasted Brüssels sprouts with Feta, potato mash with crunchy onions, smoked salmon rolls, tomato with mozzarella — and there’s some medium-rare steak hidden under a plate in the corner. You might say I like cooking nearly as much as keyboards. ;-)

What hardware do you use?

In 2015, I pre-ordered the first ErgoDox EZ on Indiegogo. I still have it, and it is going strong!

In total, I have four ErgoDox EZ keyboards and one Plank EZ:

  • ErgoDox #1 is in my office in San Diego (regular white, Kailh Thick Gold).
  • ErgoDox #2 is at my home in San Diego (black Glow, Kailh Thick Gold).
  • My home in Stuttgart has a black ErgoDox EZ Shine with Kailh Thick Gold (#3).
  • And last is a black regular ErgoDox with Cherry MX Brown (#4). All four keyboards have black or white wrist rests.
  • The Plank EZ is a Glow model with Kailh Silver switches. I do have a set of Cherry MX Red and Kailh Thick Gold switches for it, but I think both are too loud for a coffee shop or a co-working space. I really do like the low activation force of the Kailh Gold switches.

office-sd
ErgoDox #1
home-sd
ErgoDox #2
home-stuttgart
ErgoDox #3
no-4.JPEG
ErgoDox #4
travel-setup
Planck EZ and travel setup

Fun fact: my wife can distinguish between programming, writing, and gaming solely based on the sound of my typing.

On any given day, I switch between my personal MacBook Pro (2012), an iPad Pro, an iPhone XS, HP and Lenovo laptops, and HP Z4G4 workstations with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Two monitors are a must. I use various standing desks with an Ergodriven Topo Mat for more comfort.

Also in 2015, I supported the Roost Laptop Stand on Kickstarter which has, since then, saved my back and my wife’s. In total, I have three Roost stands. This is the one tool I can’t travel and work without. Usually, I use an Apple Magic Keyboard with it because they type really well and are lightweight. For years, I’ve used iPads for entertainment and reading while traveling. They also serve as secondary displays using Duet Display. Number two among my favorite tools are Bose QC35 Noise Canceling headphones. ​
My two personal PCs have an AMD 2700X and a Radeon VII. Waiting for the AMD 3950X release to upgrade. They both run Clear Linux, Windows 10, and macOS Mojave (Hackintosh).

Besides the ErgoDox EZ keyboards, I have many other keyboards: Topre keyboards, multiple TKL keyboards, a Keyboardio Model 01, some Kinesis keyboards, and some flat keyboards like the Sharkoon PureWriter TKL RGB. The Model 01’s wood is absolutely gorgeous, but typing on an ErgoDox EZ just feels better.

The 12.9” iPad Pro with a keyboard gives me a lot of freedom to escape the office and work in other places. Changing where I work gives me a boost in motivation and creativity. Different environments and inputs lead to new solutions. This effect is hard to describe. I have heard from multiple people that they see similar results when changing environments.

Currently, I am working on convincing my family to use Solokeys security keys — at least to secure everyone’s email accounts.

And what software?

Most of the software I use is determined by the project I am working on at any moment: Ubuntu and Red Hat Linux with all the usual Linux tools, Vim or Sublime Text, Subversion, Git, Sublime Merge, Jira, TigerVNC, Outlook, and Microsoft Office.

I need to be able to easily and quickly switch between different user accounts and use others’ accounts and settings, so I don’t want to customize my own setup too much anymore. I did that in the past and it created too much confusion for me. As much as I love fzf and ripgrep, they are not available on most of my engineering systems.

A lot of my services for my family and myself are hosted on a server at Hetzner with Backblaze B2 for backup. Resilio Sync synchronizes multiple terabytes of photos, documents, music, and files from my family members and me. Nextcloud serves as a nice graphical frontend for the file synchronization and for file sharing and document editing. I can’t recommend all four products enough.

Mozilla Firefox with uBlock Origin is a must. Rescuetime keeps time-wasting websites away and helps with analyzing where I spent my time.

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

All my ErgoDox EZ keyboards have the same basic layout, based on the default US layout with minor changes.

My one ErgoDox EZ Shine with Kailh Thick Gold switches has GMK Terminal keycaps. All the others have their standard printed keycaps. Good keycaps seem hard to source. I would love some GMK Carbon keycaps.

Thanks to Paweł Wal’s interview, I am now experimenting with the Workman Layout. I might just switch to Dvorak, though.

What would be your dream setup?

  • First, a 12.9” Apple iPad Pro with a quarter of the current model’s weight (or less).
  • Second, an ErgoDox EZ or Plank EZ with flat switches and keycaps.
  • Third, two 27” 4k monitors and a computer with either macOS or Linux. And a decent SSD.