ErgoDox EZ Users

Raphael Randschau

Software Engineer @ Amazon
Raphael Randschau

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Raphael and I’m a Software Engineer from northern Germany.

In 2017 I felt adventurous and took a job with Amazon in Vancouver, Canada. At Amazon I spend my days improving the quality of our hiring process: optimizing internal workflows around candidate and prospect interactions as well as improving the experience of our candidates.

Besides working inside a complex business domain I also enjoy working with a bunch of different programming languages — from Java to Ruby, JavaScript, Bash and Go. I also get to work on some of our application-specific infrastructure which is lots of fun.

At night I work on open-source software mostly related to the Hashistack and the Scaleway cloud provider as I’m a big enthusiast for ARM servers. Also for personal projects I try to use Go exclusively as I enjoy programming in Go so much.

What hardware do you use?

Nearly ten years ago I ditched my desktop for a laptop as I’m often working while traveling. Sometimes I carry two laptops with me: a 13” 2017 MacBook Pro provided by Amazon, as well as my private 15” MacBook Pro — both with 16GB of RAM. It’s very important to me to keep my professional and personal stuff separate.

At work we had the choice between a two screen setup or a curved Dell Ultrasharp 3417W. I decided to use the curved display and never looked back. Together with my ErgoDox EZ and an Apple trackpad it makes for a perfect workstation setup:

work

Because I like the setup at work so much, I decided to replicate it when working from home as well as for hacking on personal projects. I got a Dell Ultrasharp U3818DW and an Apple Magic Trackpad 2:

home-setup1 home-setup1

As I’m often participating in conference calls I also carry Marshall Major II headphones whereever I go — they are the perfect fit for me because of the long battery life they offer.

And what software?

I share only the essential software between my personal and work laptop:

iTerm2 with its tmux integration, Kapeli’s Dash for offline documentation and also Alfred 3 as the center of my productivity.

Together, these tools provide a huge productivity boost as I no longer need to search the Internet for documentation and I can use the built-in workflows feature and clipboard history in Alfred to optimize my most common activities.

Additionally I’m heavily invested in 1Password which I use to synchronize a small number of logins between both systems, as well as Things to manage my personal todo list.

At Amazon I mostly use eclipse because I have to work with Java often. For everything else, Visual Studio Code is my primary choice.

At home I spend most of my time in Visual Studio code and Sublime Text.

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

My two ErgoDox EZ keyboards share the same keyboard configuration while being physically quite different.

I started with the vanilla ErgoDox EZ configuration and started modifying the keyboard layout to make it easier for me to use my most common keyboard shortcuts.

Right now I’m at the ninth major revision of my keyboard layout and I’m still making minor changes every now and then.

My first ErgoDox EZ was also my first mechanical keyboard, so I defaulted to using the Cherry MX Browns as my switches.

After finding my way into sites like massdrop.com and novelkeys, I felt the urge to personalize my ErgoDox further. I bought a bunch of custom keycaps as well as dampening rings to reduce the typing noise.

After a while I realized that I enjoyed more tactile switches, so for my second ErgoDox EZ at home I went with the Cherry MX Clears.

Because I enjoy typing on them so much, I got more Cherry MX Clears to replace a bunch of the keyswitches in my work ErgoDox EZ as well.

Personalizing mechanical keyboards is great and I find myself browsing a bunch of DIY pages every other day, either looking at artisan keycaps, different switches or even keyboard mods; also I have a couple of outstanding orders at NovelKeys and alibaba for future modifications I’m planning. Lately I also found myself browsing keebtalk, a site focused on mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

What would be your dream setup?

It turns out that I have somewhat small hands so at times I find myself wishing that the ErgoDox was available in a 75% size.

That being said, I’m really happy with my current setup. The things I’m missing are an adjustable standing desk at home, per-key LEDs on my ErgoDox EZ Shine, and a mechanical keyboard optimized for single hand usage.