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Taika Waititi Calls Out Apple's MacBook Keyboard Backstage at the Oscars (reddit.com)
84 points by williamstein on Feb 10, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments

I was expecting a quick call-out, but man he went on for quite a while. Very specific about what he doesn't like about them, and I can't believe how much time he spent railing on these keyboards (well deserved, IMO).

One thing that didn't make sense though was he mentioned the iMac keyboards. I assume he meant to say MacBook/Air/Pro, since those are the ones getting all the hate.

I hate the desktop Apple "Magic" keyboard. The keys are too close together, so prolonged typing on it cramps up my fingers something awful. The key travel is absurdly low, so it's easy to miss characters. The up and down arrow keys are only half the size of the left and right, because reasons.

I wouldn't classify the Magic Keyboard as disastrous the way the MacBook keyboards have been, since it doesn't suffer the same types of catastrophic reliability problems. But ergonomically it's a horror show.

I'm very happy with the "Magic" keyboard I currently have (the aluminum solid-wedge-shaped one with white keys).

Of course, I mostly preferred the one before it because, aside from needing batteries, the keys had a bit more bounce.

And, of course, I'm mostly very happy because it's an immense relief to type on now that I have one of those fancy MacBook Pros...

When I first got this MacBook I thought the complaints were overblown. And yet, even after having it for months I still have trouble with it:

- double-pressing keys or, more regularly, somehow not pressing properly so entire chunks of words are skipped.

- daring tion in the document to put my palms anywhere near the machine and accidentally putting the cursor in an an entirely different loca.

- trying to up the brightness or volume and the touchbar not responding. I use caps lock as esc so the missing escape key doesn't bother me too much.

and perhaps worst of all, for the first time in years I've started feeling pain in my shoulders/fingers/arms again. and the only explanation I can think of is this fucking keyboard.

Hold your horses a second, there are multiple Apple "Magic" and wireless keyboard versions. The original Magic Keyboard and later all suck from my view, trying to be some sort of ortho hipster conversation pieces that never get used. As it so happens, I'm currently typing on an "Apple Wireless Keyboard" (Aluminum, Bluetooth) MB167LL/A, which has a sensible layout and full inverted-T arrows. They can be had on eBay for $40 US and take 2x AA batteries that last for several months on alkalines or about a month on NiMH rechargeables. The Logitech "smart" keyboard that came with an iPad Pro case is a glorified cover that I never use as a keyboard because it's not nearly as good as the WK. I've had this WK for about 8-10 years and really abused it, but it keeps working... the same can't be said for modern Apple products.

And I hate mechanical keyboards that can be heard five rooms away. It’s a frigging desktop, you can use any keyboard, and using the magic keyboard doesn’t bother anyone else unlike clunky mechanical keyboards that are supposed to be ergonomic.

I happen to very much like mechanical keyboards but not the noise. I think it's noise pollution tbh. Loud clicky keyboards, usually using Cherry MX Blue switches or like the old IBM or Northgate keyboards, can be retrofitted with O-rings so that they're quieter by limiting downward travel and the stress and noise that bottoming them generates.

If you like mechanical keyboards without the noise, MX Clear (modded with brown springs) or MX Brown switches are the way to go. There's a whole subreddit on DIY and keyboard mods.

Maybe you just haven't tried mechanical keyboards? Or perhaps you haven't tried a good one? I think once you start using split keyboard - it's hard to go back to using regular boards, same thing for when you start using mechanical keyboard. But once you start using mechanical, split keyboard (Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, etc.) - you never willingly go back to using regular keyboards.

I don't think they hate mechanical keyboards per se, but the noise pollution that they've associated with keyboards that have Cherry MX Blue switches, or an IBM Model F or M, or Northgate Omnikey Ultra. It was fine back in the day in the computer lab in high-school or wherever else that it's not bothering people, but not fine to bring in a clicky keyboard, full tower PC and a 37" monitor to a coffeeshop where 50 students are studying for finals, or in an open office environment where every little motion and noise has the potential to distract everyone else.

This seems like vi vs all other editors then. I should stick with vim because I will always find myself on some other system where vi is the lowest common denominator. I should stick with a straight, flat keyboard because I will always end up with a straight, flat keyboard. Having temporary joy created only by making all other moments comparatively unpleasant seems like a bad trade.

"Lowest common denominator" argument in our industry is a false dichotomy. One should try different things and choose whatever makes them happy. Fortunately, our field is so deep, there's always stuff to choose from. If you don't like Vim/Emacs/VSCode/Atom/etc. - fine, use something else; If you don't like Javascript - there are multiple ways to transpire/compile into it, choose the one you like; don't like OOP - try FP; etc. Doing something because most people doing it, using tech-stacks simply because they are popular, choosing QWERTY layout and not trying other options, etc. - hinders self-growth of an individual and stymies innovation in general.

I grew up on mechanical keyboards. Not split, but I’ve used some fairly expensive ones (not talking about >$1k apparently) and I’m not a fan. You just have to accept that unlike retina displays, people will have drastically different preferences for keyboards.

Also, one undeniable fact is that other people in the office/household usually aren’t amused about loud keyboards.

> other people in the office/household usually aren’t amused about loud keyboards

My partner and kids don't like many things about my job of a software developer, but they've learned to live with that. There are many, more difficult jobs in the world. And my family probably happy with the fact that I don't have a job that entails leaving them at 3AM with a fear that I may not come back alive.

Besides, at this point, split, mechanical keyboard for me is not a gimmick - I literally cannot type for longer than several minutes on a regular keyboard, my wrists hurt badly. I honestly think - Kinesis Advantage might have saved my career, my only regret that I haven't made the switch before I had my RSI, which was so severe that left me no option but to try it.

I don't think the current external Magic keyboard is really an improvement over the old wired aluminum keyboard, but it isn't terrible. The new laptop renditions fix the arrow key layout somewhat, so there is hope on that front.

Recently I've tried out a Matias laptop pro keyboard. A bit retro-clunky looking and heavy, but it has good key travel and isn't as loud as some other "mechanical" keyboards. Not bad for a Bluetooth Mac keyboard.

What is your Mac keyboard of choice?

Are the keys closer together than Apple keyboards from a decade ago? I ask because I am content with my 2008-era Apple Bluetooth keyboard (on which I am currently typing because I hate my 2017 MPB), and I assumed that the new 16" MBP's keyboard would be fine since it imitates the Magic Keyboard.

My iMac keyboard sits in a drawer collecting dust.

It's a fine keyboard that's ruined by a terrible arrow key layout.

Which one do you have (and what layout do you prefer)?

The newer one (2017 model). The previous keyboard layout (2006 to 2015) was perfect.

Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (aka extended magic keyboard) doesn’t have that problem. That’s my daily driver btw.

All of Apple keyboards are terrible. 16" Pro keyboard is still terrible, only very marginally better than previous model.

You’ve said that twice. What, specifically, don’t you like about the newest keyboard?

key travel is still too limited, bottoms out immediately.

Interesting, I hated the butterfly keyboard, but I find this one to be even preferable original keyboard on my old MacBook Air.

Until you pointed it out, I couldn't quit put my finger (hehe) on the reason why.

Small keyboards in general make you contort your hands, wrists, and shoulders.

I imagine writers have it even worse than programmers.

> I imagine writers have it even worse than programmers.

Well, I dunno about that. One of the major projects I'm currently working with, has over 130K lines of Clojure (tests excluded), and that is not too big of a project. I'm too lazy to figure out the proper way to count "words" in that project `wc` shows over 5M. In comparison - "War and Peace" [technically] is ten times smaller.

Programmers do type a lot. Possibly, way more than writers have to. And that's just code. Have you ever thought about how much typing happens outside of coding? When reviewing PRs, replying to emails, etc.

That is why every single programmer must invest into choosing the right keyboard; learning how to maintain a proper posture; maybe learn non-traditional ways to input text - Vim and Emacs keybindings; try Stenographic input¹; Speech recognition², etc.

Because when they don't - sooner or later they end up having problems: back and neck pain, headaches, RSI, hemorrhoids.


¹ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpv-Qb-dB6g

² https://www.thestrangeloop.com/2019/voice-driven-development...

I'm an editor and writer and at my last job I got interested in how many words I typed a day. I put some applet on my work computer that tracked them across all applications. It was usually less than I thought; something like 10-15k words per day, sometimes more like 5-8k.

Think you're probably right about how much programmers type. I was going to write that if a programmer sets something up to track how much they type, they'd have to measure it by keystroke because I don't know whether all aspects of most programming languages would count as "words". Plus navigation, shortcuts etc. Tracking by keystroke or character would be better. But then... if you asked me what I consider a high or low number of keystrokes for a working day I'd have no idea what to tell you, whereas if you told me you typed 20-30k words or more in a day I'd be hoping you are using a good keyboard and sitting properly.

Programming my voice really hasn’t caught on. I maintain a bunch of links on Github for anyone who might be interested:


The worst flaw(s) of the MacBook Pro was (and still is on the 13") that the keyboard and trackpad didn't work properly. The second worst flaw was the lack of a physical esc key.

16" Pro has a physical ESC key. keyboard still sucks just as bad.

Taika Waititi, a guy well-known for being very serious in front of a microphone and never elevating the trivial for comedic effect.

One time there was a reality show for up-and-coming comedians, I think it was Last Comic Standing. And Norm MacDonald was a judge on the show. And -- well, if you know comedy, you know Norm. Funny guy, very laid back, talks like he's on a 24/7 morphine drip, you know, it's Norm. So this guy gets up and starts doing his set, and he opens with a few jokes about Christians, comparing the Bible to Harry Potter, "you get to quote from your favorite book, I get to quote from mine", etc. When he finishes his set, the comic is hailed by the other judges for being brave enough to take on the Christians, and Norm claps back with this, in the most serious voice I have ever heard from him in all my years watching him on television, etc.:

> I disagree. I don’t think the Bible joke was brave at all. I think if you’re going to take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about. JK Rowling is a Christian and JK Rowling famously said that if you’re familiar with the Scriptures, you can easily guess the ending of her book. I don’t like it.

It was a professional critique from one comic to another. Norm wasn't offended by the Christian jokes, he just thought they were amateur-hour comedy at the expense of an easy target.

Point being -- people who are professionally funny, like Norm MacDonald or Taika Waititi, that's not how they are all the time. And you know when they're being funny and when they're being serious.

Comedy is only funny if it contains truth in some form, otherwise it’s just random nonsense. Either it contains true statements that are funny in the current context, or statements that the audience either want to be true or is afraid could be.

Of course there is truth; everyone knows that Apple has had problems with their keyboards.

What is funny is suggesting that that should be the #1 priority for the Writers Guild of America.

That's the true statement that's funny in the current context. Using that statement in the WGA context is the joke. If he was complaining on the Mac User Forum it wouldn't be a joke, just a complaint.

As with any good joke, if you read deeply and between the lines, he's also clearly stating his opinion on the WGA and its problems. I'm just not familiar enough with the circumstances to know what the satire is about.

He sounds like he’s got some sort of physical problem with his shoulder and tendon in his forearm.

In the video he complains about the smallness of the keyboard causing his shoulders to be in a bad position. He also talks about the “bounce back“ of the keys.


Would be great if Apple just ran with this and reinvented the keyboard. That might mean nothing more than an external split keyboard that tents, for example.

He was asked about union negotiations and replied with an extended riff about keyboards.

You can hear people laughing at the end of his remarks.

Is he not aware that there’s hundreds if not thousands of keyboard models on the market? Now, if he was talking about the Apple TV remote, that I’d be totally on board with.

Only -1? Stop slacking off shittwaddles.

hn > reddit > twitter

can we keep going

I'm not an expert but I think that's how Internet works. Those who don't like that, probably can send their complains to Tim Berners-Lee.

When Tim considered a chain of 2 hyperlinks, he probably didn't expect it to take 20 seconds because of all the JS crap that gets loaded besides the actual content.

Yeah, Tim definitely have not envisioned the rise of JS crap, nobody has, even not Brendan Eich.

Parkinson's Law applies to JS (Sturgeon's Law does too). What else is new? Use effecting script-blocking tech.

Can't agree more. Brave Browser incredibly cuts so much crap out of every payload. Sometimes, I feel (with the way how things usually done in the US) someone may try to lobby for "this kind of technology needs to be regulated..." kind of BS.

It could happen, given our "one dollar one vote" system. But precedent and trends favor user rights to block and screen- or just plain reader mode, if not use GreaseMonkey (Brave's site-specific script system is called GreaseLion). DRM got a carve out for HD video, ebook vendors want it, so support the EFF.


Who is taika watiti and why has he not appended a "old" to the beginning of Reddit.com?

He just won the Oscar award for Best Adapted Screenplay so whether you like his work or not, he is an admired figure in the entertainment industry, which has huge cultural reach. Basically, he is a guy from the inner circle of People Whose Opinions Matter.

Taika Waititi is an amazing director/writer/actor. If this is really you, What We Do In The Shadows and Jojo Rabbit we’re fantastic.

> Taika Waititi is an amazing director/writer/actor

First of all - he is a vampire. And then all the other things you've mentioned.

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