ErgoDox EZ Users

Mark Jaeckle

Staff Software Engineer @ Intuit
Mark Jaeckle

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Mark, and I live in beautiful and/but frosty Canada with my lovely wife Lorna, our 3-legged cat Yardley, and our weird but loveable dog Skittles.

I am a software engineer by trade. In another century, I was an avionics technician and then moved on to industrial process controls, but I found myself wanting more to design and create things, not just fix broken radios, so I moved on to software development in the mid ’90s, and it’s safe to say, it stuck with me. Having said that, when I’m not getting paid to make software-y things, I do still like to futz around with hardware-y bits like microcontrollers and anything I can hack together with breadboards while trying not to set my hair on fire. Also, to prevent atrophy to the other side of my aging brain, I like to make occasionally musical noises on the guitar.

But mostly I spend my time doing pretty much anything I can on two wheels, including but not at all limited to, GP and vintage road racing, single-track dirt, ice… even MTB when I’m feeling energetic.

What hardware do you use?

On the job, I use a 15” MBP with 3 extended monitors, and of course a sweet white ErgoDox EZ Glow, with standard keycaps and Kailh Coppers. I have been using Logitech thumb trackballs since the ’90s and am currently experimenting with an Elecom Deft Pro index finger trackball. All this is sat upon a powered sit/stand desk, which is great for cracking walnuts and performing other experiments, if you’re creative.

work_desktop
Mark's work setup

At home, I run a Windows desktop with, sorry, lots of RGB. But it’s also got a triple 27” monitor setup, which serves quite well for FPS and racing sims, as well as displaying beautiful wall-to-wall backgrounds of bikes. And, of course, there’s a black ErgoDox EZ Glow with standard keycaps and clacky Cherry MX Blues, flanked by a Razer Orbweaver and an Elecom thumb trackball. There’s also a G25 wheel I drag out for racing sims. I also have a bunch of Synology NAS thingies serving various purposes plugged in to the ethernet, and even a Linux (currently Mint, but it changes) box in the garage. Of course, I use that mostly to look up things on the web while I’m working on my bikes.

home_desktop
Mark's home setup

My guitar hardware includes an Ibanez SA160 and a Fender/EVH MIM Wolfgang Special, plugged in to an HD500X modeler which goes to a Roland Cube-30, in PA mode, and also interfaced with my Windows desktop for recording.

guitars
Mark's guitars and accessories

And what software?

At work I use IntelliJ, mostly for Java. It does everything — even writes most of my code. StackOverflow does the rest. Who needs anything else?

At home I use the Winstep Nexus dock and environment. I have about a million games on Steam. I use Lightroom 6 for editing pics from my Micro Four Thirds mirrorless Olympus EM1, and Audacity for guitar recording. I use Clementine for music playback on all my workstations, including my MBP. Macrium Reflect for on- and offsite backups.

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

I’ve had my ErgoDox EZs for only a couple of months, most of which I’ve spent on making my brain do the flip-flops required to shift from the Microsoft Natural keyboards that I’ve been tapping away at since the mid-’90s. Ortholinear is tough to adjust to, but now I would never go back. So, I haven’t had much chance to do anything but gradually construct a layout that works for me. My current layout has 3 layers: QWERTY, Nav/Copy/Paste, and 10-key, all with different key lighting. I currently just use the online Oryx configurator but plan on diving deeper into QMK to take more advantage of this nice hardware. Physically, I have the halves just inside of shoulder width with max tenting to match my natural hand orientation.

What would be your dream setup?

I don’t know that I would dream about workstation setups, but if I did, it would either be something so mundane and utilitarian that it increases my focus on my work simply because I don’t even want to look at the setup — or, it would be fully reclined, padded, swaddled in blinged-out monitors of all shapes and sizes, split keyboards mounted on the arm rests, all trimmed out with steampunk accoutrements and other various and sundry anachronistic doodads, a foot massager, artisanal chocolate dispenser, beverage cooler, hi-fi, low-fi, whatever-fi, and anything else to make me forget I’m actually working. That would be great.