ErgoDox EZ Users

Thomas Anderson

IT Director
Thomas Anderson

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Thomas Anderson, I’m a husband and Father of two. I currently work as an IT Director for Lakeshore Learning Materials. I’ve been with Lakeshore since I graduated college in 2004. Over the years I’ve ended up wearing many different hats and I’m fortunate to have helped setup everything from the storage, network, and server infrastructure to writing code to help solve some interesting business challenges.

Outside of work I really like photography, fiddling on the guitar (though I need to practice more) and enjoy running and cycling for fitness.

What hardware do you use?

Well an Ergodox EZ for my keyboard of course! I moved to San Diego several years ago and was fortunate to keep working remotely for Lakeshore, so I switched to using laptops as my daily driver. Currently I’m using a 2016 MacBook Pro 15”. I know the touchbar is not the most popular feature, but I kinda like it. Some of the apps I run have made a good use of shortcuts on the touchbar that are helpful when I forgot the keyboard shortcut. I also have a HP “Pizza Box” running Linux which serves as a test/dev environment for various projects I work on.

Setup

Not that I’m “old” but since I’m not getting any younger I became really concerned with following good ergonomic practices and doing what I could to make my computing environment as comfortable as possible. For my desk I have an Uplift Desk with a 4K Dell monitor attached to a monitor arm. I also use a Wacom Intuos Pro for my mouse. I found I was experiencing a lot of RSI-type issues when I only used a regular mouse so now I primarily use the Wacom and occasionaly go back to the mouse for short bursts. I also found the Wacom to be really helpful with post-processing my photos.

I keep my Macbook Pro on a Rain Design stand and switch between clamshell mode and using the dual display depending on what I’m working on.

And what software?

When I’m working in the terminal, iTerm2 is my fav. When it comes to coding I have a couple favorite tools. For the quick local edit I’ll normally use VS Code. If I’m logged into something remote I’ll jump in vim. For the larger projects I really like the Jetbrains suite of tools.

I’m currently back to using Omnifocus 3 but I find my use of todo list tools to be a vicious cycle and will switch to Todoist and Things 3 from time to time. In one of the Cortex podcasts CGPGrey described it as setting fire to the todo apps to spark new innovation and I certainly seem to follow that. I also like to pair that with a loosely followed bullet journal to jot down what I want accomplish for the day and notes as they come up.

For photography I recently ditched the Adobe CC suite and switched to using Capture One & Affinity Photo. I’m not very good with Affinity yet but I’ll get there as I have time.

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

I have a slightly modified layout with two custom layers. I’m a big fan of using hjkl for arrow keys so my “move” layer makes that possible along with some other convenience shortcuts for media controls and quicker access to the common programming parentheses and brackets. My other layer gives me the F1-12 keys and was really meant to help make a couple keyboard shortcuts with IntelliJ easier to access.

I have to say, this is the greatest thing about the ErgoDox EZ and the QMK firmware. Anytime I feel like the layout or position of a certain key is not working for me, I can change it. The 2nd greatest thing about the ErgoDox EZ is being able to change the keyswitches. I use a combo of Cherry MX Whites for the alpha characters and Kailh Box White switches for all the mod keys. They have a very nice click and feel to them — satisfying yet not annoying when I travel to the office with the keyboard.

My keycaps originally were the standard blank set from when I bought the ErgoDox EZ. I was always amused by the look on people’s face when they see the keyboard with no letters and gave that look like “How do you ever get any work done”. A while back I joined the Pulse Round 3 group buy on Massdrop to get a custom keycap set. It just recently arrived so I now have a very nice looking colorway on the keyboard with matching TRRS and USB cables. The SA profile of the keycaps feels very nice, but being quite a bit taller than the stock keycaps they required an adjustment period.

What would be your dream setup?

To start, I would upgrade my desk to one of the beautiful handcrafted wood table tops from Uplift desk. The unique look of those is amazing and would compliment my room very nicely.

I would get the latest MacBook fully specced out. My current MacBook is serving me well, but since we’re talking about my dream setup, upgrading to the latest would be great. I would change my monitor to a larger 29 - 30” 5K monitor. I’ve used dual monitors in the past and it just never really works for me. I would also pick up a second ErgoDox EZ Glow keyboard because I really like the backlit keys and my current ErgoDox EZ could be my travel board or backup.

Finally, I would also hire someone to customize the desk and tabletop in whatever way was needed to hide the cable and wires. I like the minimalist look of a clean and tidy desk. Cable management is always such a chore, and I never seem to get it as clean as I’d like.