Skip to content

It's been 7 months since I made the leap to remote work. It's something I wanted to do for a while and has been good for my family.
Little did I know that the entire software engineering community (and pretty much every other office based job) would soon be forced into a WFH scenario.

A few things I've learned:

  1. I hate my chair
    I bought a relatively inexpensive chair from Wayfair, but didn't realize how spoiled I was with my nice chair in the office.
    I can't imagine I'll ever spend the money for a Herman Miller Aeron, but will probably upgrade at some point.
    There's plenty of highly rated options in the $200-$300 range.
  2. No one cares about looking professional nearly as much as I do
    I worried a lot about making sure my camera was setup to minimize background distraction, that lighting was good, and that I was presentable and dressed well.
    No one really cares, just be reasonable. A t-shirt is fine, if that's what you'd wear to the office. Just make sure your camera is still, your face is in it, and lighting is reasonable, and it'll be fine. At some point, a baby will wonder through the room, a three-nager will have a screaming fit, or the neighbor will crank up his lawnmower. Don't worry about it.
  3. Staring at a screen 1000 hours a day sucks
    When I worked in an office, I was often interrupted by coworkers, meetings, fire drills (literal and figurative). This meant a lot of time away from my desk or looking away from my screen. Now that I'm a remote employee, all my meetings are hour-long screen staring events. I haven't figured out a good solution to this yet, but have been considering a pair of Gunnar glasses. Also, in large all-hands type meetings, I don't always turn my camera on, so I don't feel the need to look at the screen the whole time.

I'm hoping that the silver lining of this sudden shift to WFH will be a much higher rate of companies being willing to hire remote employees. We'll see.


My review of Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon" by Robert Kurson originally posted at GoodReads.
My rating:  4 of 5 stars
It's easy to read history and forget that the characters were real people, but Kurson does an amazing job showing the human side of both the astronauts and their families. While the book could have ended after the astronauts successfully arrived back on Earth, the addition of the Epilogue to answer the question of "What does an astronaut do with his life after going to the Moon?" was a fascinating addition.
And, wow! Humans haven't landed on the Moon since 1972? This book left me excited to watch what NASA does in the near future with the upcoming Artemis program.

I couldn't find the chords anywhere online, so I quickly charted this out myself. This song has a great Bass riff in the intro that I tried to tab out as well. Check out the video for it on Youtube.

Silicone Boone
Lyrics Copyright ©2019 Silicone Boone

Tuning: E A D G B E

G A D Bm

'I will live and will not die'
is what she told me
Now the dark oceans of her eyes grow
still and frozen
I lay her out on the open clear Where she's still
suited and covered
Did she know those words were
The last I’d ever hear

Two years of soundless night
We came on you looming
Found your pale, unwavering eye
Had foreseen our coming
Descending on the Conamara
Did we fall like matches
Or maybe more like ashes
On miles and miles of ice

In your arms ancient goddess
D Bm
No sun will rise to ease the cold
From this vantage of darkness
D Bm
A pale, blue star’s light is fading low

Seven miles down ice and stone
Fourteen months of drilling
We finally strike the oceans of your womb
Just to find that you’re barren
O the madness that drove us to this
A mistress so neglected
To her bitter breasts will
Clutch you even long past death

In your arms ancient goddess
No sun will rise to ease the cold
From this vantage of darkness
A pale blue star’s light is fading low
Every mind gonna slide straight in the dark
Every star burn hard just to be snuffed out
Every flame gonna wane, gonna break
Beneath that blinding winter
But you’re a queen besieging every fire that dies
You avenge, ascending on a throne of ice
We the fools you drew so you
Could hang us on your neck like silver

In your arms ancient goddess
No sun will rise to ease the cold
From this vantage of darkness
A pale blue star’s light is fading low

‘I will live and will not die’
Is what you're tellin’ me

G -----------------------------------------------
D --------------12-14-16-14---12-----------------
A -10--9----12-----------------------12---14------
E -------10--------------------------------------

A few months back I stumbled upon the world of mechanical keyboards. After a trip down the rabbit hole reading about the different “clicky-ness” of the various switches and about ortholinear vs staggered layouts, I thought it might be fun to put one together. 

I don’t really need a new keyboard as the Apple Magic Keyboard I have is just fine for my daily use, and considering how expensive some custom keyboard setups can get, I wasn’t really prepared to spend $200+ just for the fun of soldering some switches and building macros in QMK.

I had the idea to put together a small “macro pad” keyboard with 9 or 10 keys that could be programmed to Xcode got keys. Handwiring was my first thought, but without a 3D printer, getting a custom case to build in was going to be a hassle (and more $$ than it was worth to me). After some more searching around, I found the 9key PCB from The 9key simplified the build and when stacked on the second half of the board, doesn’t need a case.


Here’s what I ended up with:

  • 1 x 9key PCB from = $7.50 + 5.75 shipping
  • 1 x Chinese Arduino Pro Micro clone from eBay = $5.75
  • 9 x Gateron Brown switches from eBay = $6.85
  • 9 x 1N4148 diodes (pkg of 100) from eBay = $1.00 + $3.78 shipping
  • 4 x M3 stand offs from Digikey = $2.68
  • 8 x 10MM M3 Pan Head Screws from Digikey = $2.08
  • 1 x BS3-1000 reset switch from Digikey = $0.78

Total cost: ~$36 (I won’t count shipping from Digikey, as there were several other items in the purchase that contributed to the shipping cost.) Also, I still haven’t purchased key caps, so final cost should be closer to $40 or $45.

When the screws showed up, turns out I bought plastic ones, but they work just fine. Also, the stand offs are about twice as long as necessary, so the keys sit up way higher than needed. I may cut these down at some point.

The Build

The build instructions and firmware link from Switchtop is now dead, so I was flying blind on assembly. There is basic information printed in the PCB, but no instructions more specific than “mount Pro Micro last”.

I soldered the diodes in first, then the reset switch, then the switches. I wish I had found a way to keep the switches aligned while I was soldering them, as a few aren’t quite straight. The holes in the PCB are designed to accommodate several different switch types, so the holes allow some movement once the switch is placed. Next, I placed the pro micro. Once the switches are in, it’s impossible to solder it in place. However, it fits snugly and makes a good connection even without solder. I assume this is by design.

I plugged it in and it connects!

The Firmware

I used the QMK configurator ( to setup my board and generate the hex file to upload to the pro micro. I used the QMK Toolbox Mac app to upload the firmware. This took a little while as the pro micro would be recognized, then disconnect quickly. This may be due to using a cheap Arduino clone. Eventually, I managed to get the firmware flashed by enabling the “Auto flash” setting in QMK Toolbox so that the firmware would be flashed as soon as the board was recognized.

I setup the keys like this:

Build Run Clean
Cut Up Paste
Left Down Right

Build, Run, and Clean are ⌘B, ⌘R, and ⇧⌘K respectively. These are the standard Xcode hotkeys.

My firmware file can be downloaded here: <TBD>


Reverse of board with pro micro attached

Assembled macro pad

Bottom of board