A Keyboard Fit for A Fool

That’s no moon

The Clueboard keyboard company has sadly somewhat shut down, but one of the silliest things they built every year was a keyboard for April Fools’ Day. The layout in the past few years has been a variation on the theme of too many keys in what the Clueboard folks call a 2×1800 layout, which has two sets of numpad keys, two arrow keys, and more F-keys than you will ever be able to sort out without advance notice. There are 129 keys on this board. In the past it has added rotary knobs and an etch-a-sketch mode where you could shake the keyboard in order to reset a drawing made with the knobs. This year’s version is the Clueboard 2×1800 LED Sign Edition (2021) and it has, as the name suggests, a programmable LED array. This is the most keyboard you could buy and it would probably take someone a few hours to solder in the 256 LEDs on their own. Oh, and of course this keyboard also has the rotary encoders, a speaker, a built-in breadboard for future expansion, 6 GPIO pins, and all of the 129 keys from the previous years models.

At $150 including almost everything you need to build the world’s silliest mechanical keyboard, this Clueboard 2×1800 LED Sign Edition (2021) seems like it is certainly one thing to do with your money and time but you’ll also need to get stabilizers and switches and keycaps, which is gonna be difficult with two sets of arrow keys and number pads to cover. The product page mentions that a 3D-printed case is on the way but it might just be files for you to print your own and that’s probably gonna be tough with a keyboard this size. It is also important to note that the final PCB will have a black solder mask and a white silkscreen with some other aesthetic differences to the prototype photo.

You’ll also need to decide quickly, as the sale ends on April 6th. Unlike most mechanical keyboard group buys this one is expected to ship relatively quickly in mid-May.

Solitaire is Now an E-Sport

One of the games added to Apple Arcade yesterday was MobilityWare’s Solitaire by MobilityWare+, and it has online multiplayer. Playing klondike solitaire alone is relaxing so long as you don’t abide by the timer. Adding in a second player who is trying to win first turns this relaxing game we have all been playing for the past 30+ years into all of the joy and frustration of playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds into a tiny bite sized dose of card-based mayhem.

In about an hour of games I’ve had moments of victory but the majority of the time I am getting destroyed. No foe has been greater than that of Liam. In one of our matches the game gave me the autocomplete option to let me quickly finish the match and I accepted the choice. As the animation of the cards returning to their decks started playing, somehow Liam rocketed ahead and won. They must have just hit the final card a moment before me and now I hate Liam with the fury of a thousand suns for besting me at Solitaire by MobilityWare+.

Sadly, Solitaire by MobilityWare+ is not available on the Mac, but it is on iOS and iPadOS with that Apple Arcade subscription. On the Mac I recommend playing Full Deck Solitaire, which has better card designs but no multiplayer. However, Full Deck has a ton of other card games built-in and even AI competitors for Texas Hold ‘Em.

New Games on Apple Arcade

Apple added a heap of games to their video game subscription service today, new games like Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat and old games like Mini Metro that have been updated for the service.

Having just checked out Namco’s Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat, it’s a decent version of the drumming series but it does feel a little bit like an odd one-and-done thing for a music game to be on Apple Arcade.

Part of the deal with Apple’s subscription service is that games on don’t have ads and won’t sell in-app-purchases. This means that you won’t ever be able to buy more songs for a music game like Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat. In terms of other ways for the game to work with the platform there is exactly one achievement and it is for completing the tutorial. It is fun to tap to the beat on an iPad, the drum controllers for the console versions are hard to come by here, but it’s clear that Namco got paid and probably won’t ever look at this version again which is a blessing for most games on mobile platforms that are riddled with ads and in-app-purchases.

Apple Arcade games are usually required to be on the Mac, and Taiko gives you a keyboard option there which is a great way to play it. However some of the games added to Apple Arcade today don’t seem to be in the Mac App Store. More might be available for users with M1 Macs.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the service because I don’t like ads and in-app-purchases in general but it still makes it clear that the Apple TV box desperately needs an update to run these games better. Many of them won’t run well on that device because it hasn’t been updated in 4 years.

OpenTTD on Steam

OpenTTD, the open-source game of business transport simulation based on Transport Tycoon Deluxe, is now available for free on Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The developers recommend that new players check out OpenTTD’s manual, a 26-part tutorial series on YouTube, and a short 14 minute video on signaling. This seems like it’s in the Dwarf Fortress realm of difficulty but those guides should help.

The Secret Life of Components: Springs

For springtime there’s nothing better to build with than springs

Tim Hunkin is back today with another episode in his The Secret Life of Components series. Springs are covered and it’s fun to watch Hunkin explain the subject with real-world demonstrations of how different springs work and then applying them to his creative arcade machines.

There are just three episodes left in The Secret Life of Components, as Hunkin has already covered chains, LEDs, hinges, and switches, next week we should have access to his thoughts on connectors, then glue, and finally bearings. As always I recommend checking out Hunkin’s site for more details on the series.