How Video Games Strengthen Families

How Video Games Strengthen Families by Das Keyboard

Photo from sean dreilinger via photopin cc

For years, researchers have been railing on the destructive nature of video games. To them, all these games are capable of doing is creating violent players who carry out their aggression on real-world victims.

But the fact of the matter is that these researchers weren’t looking at all the angles.

Other professionals have argued that there’s more to video games than meet the (biased) eye. For example, they’ve found that gaming makes you smarter and helps to strengthen not only neural connections in the brain, but helps dexterity and social skills.

And even more studies have shown that video games help strengthen family bonds and create better relationships between parents and children. Here’s what they found.

 

Video Games Generate Conversation

Part of the problem researchers discovered is that parents simply don’t take the time to understand their childrens’ gaming habits. But when they do, it opens up valuable discussions.

For example, researchers found when parents actually take the time to ask questions instead of just regulating gaming time, children are more than eager to explain how to play the games and the tension between the family members disappears.

“Video game play becomes a point of conversation, not a point of conflict,” said Sinem Siyahhan, an assistant research professor at Arizona State University. “On the flip side, it’s nice for the child to be able to teach his or her parents about gaming. Our research is finding that sharing this experience cultivates family bonding, learning and well-being.”

 

Video Games Promote Teamwork

In addition to conversation-starters, many video games can promote teamwork. This is more typically found in multiplayer games like Rock Band, but even the competitive games develop a sense of camaraderie.

The Arizona State University research team, led by Elisabeth Hayes, found thatgames can involve families and collaborative problem solving, giving them a chance to work together to solve an issue.”

Hayes clarified that it’s important for families to find games that interest all the participating members to make this a successful experience.

 

Video Games Create Supportive Environments

In general, when parents show an interest in their kids’ video games and play teamwork-based challenges, they’re already supporting each other as family members.

But one Forbes contributor thinks it goes further than surface-level actions: “This is the world of my kids’ imagination. When I take it seriously (and participate along side of them), I’m not only validating their inner world by giving positive reinforcement to the things that matter most to them, I’m also providing fun and supportive space in which a sophisticated emotional intelligence can emerge.”

Creating a “safe space” around video games allows all family members to enjoy them without fear of rejection or punishment, therefore making ties and relationships even stronger.

 

Ultimately, video games haven’t turned out to be as problematic as initial researchers assumed. As with most entertainment, devices, and tools in this world, they can be used to make our lives better as long as we use them properly and in the right settings.

And used in that way, families can definitely enjoy video games together and grow as a unit!

Das Keyboard Offers New 3-Year Warranty for Mechanical Keyboards

This week, Das Keyboard released a new 3-year warranty for all new mechanical keyboards. Buy this warranty to safeguard your Das Keyboard against defects in workmanship and materials beyond the initial first year of ownership.

The new 3-year warranty protects against issues that arise with normal use after owning your keyboard for more than a year.

Just don’t drop your keyboard off a cliff to see if it bounces. We can’t help you there. (Unless you want to buy a brand new Das Keyboard at full price!)

This warranty does not apply to refurbished keyboards and must be paired with a new keyboard purchase exclusively through the Das Keyboard website. It’s also only valid for U.S. customers.

Learn more or shop keyboards now.

Keyboard Shopping 101: How to Read Online Keyboard Reviews

Keyboard Shopping 101: How to Read Online Keyboard Reviews by Das Keyboard

With so many options, how are you supposed to figure out which keyboard to purchase?

According to a 2013 study by BrightLocal, reviews are where it’s at this year. The study found that only 12% of consumers say they take no notice of online reviews, and the rest all form opinions about a business or product faster than they have in the past.

But not all reviews are written equally, and bad ones could steer you very wrong in your keyboard purchase. So with the few you look at, you have to make sure they’re reliable.

Separating Good Keyboard Reviews From the Bad Ones

To help you figure out the smartest purchase to make when you’re sorting through online keyboard reviews, follow these guidelines:

1. Immediately ignore overly positive or overly negative reviews. These could be planted, or they could be legitimate, but usually reviews in the extremes can’t be taken seriously. Keyboard users who love their typing machines are likely to overlook any flaws, and users who leave scathing reviews have an agenda to try to drive the keyboard company’s reputation into the ground.

2. Consider keyboards that have lots of positive reviews. It’s always safer to go with a keyboard that has several hundred reviews, for example, than one that only has 3 or 4. You’re more likely to make a good purchase and have a good warranty if you go with a trusted, name-brand keyboard company that lots of other consumers have left good reviews for.

3. Pay attention to reviews that compare the keyboard to similar ones. These are useful for helping you decide if the product’s fit for your needs specifically, especially if the reviewer had similar goals to yours. For example, if the reviewer wanted a good gaming keyboard, and said Keyboard A responded more quickly than Keyboard B did, then you’ll know your goals will be met if you buy the first product.

4. Ignore obviously stupid comments or information in reviews. Yep, you’re going to run across people who actually complain about the color of the keyboard’s backlighting because they didn’t pay attention to the product information before purchasing. And no, you don’t need to see a list of the specs all over again (these are already listed on the product page…).

5. Look for common preferences or opinions about the keyboard. If most of the reviews say something similar about the keyboard you’re interested in, like they all think that the quality is slightly lacking, realize this is a legitimate sampling of opinions you need to seriously consider before purchasing.

 Good Keyboard Reviews Make Shopping (Mostly) Painless

There’s no such thing as “easy” research when you’re looking to buy a keyboard. But with a little sleuthing and some critical thinking, you’ll be able to skim through keyboard reviews like a pro and more quickly determine which product is right for you!

What Is a Mechanical Keyboard?

If you are a keyboard fanatic or if you have been following our blog for a while, you already know the answer to this question.

But lots of people don’t know what mechanical keyboards are, likely because they’ve never heard of them or taken the time to research keyboards. And who can blame them? Most computer purchases nowadays include a keyboard, so consumers don’t really have a reason to look for a different one.

However, if you’re one of those consumers who’s not satisfied with these “default” keyboards, and you’re starting to shop around for a different option, this post is for you.

The Basics: Switches

When you ask the question, “What is a mechanical keyboard?”, you can answer this one of two ways: simply or thoroughly. As a newcomer to this area, you need to start simply.

A mechanical keyboard is different from other keyboards because they have switches under the keys. These switches are made of several moving parts: a hard plastic “stem” contains two metal contacts and a spring underneath. When a key is pressed, the stem pushes the spring down so the two metal contacts connect, registering your key press to the keyboard’s circuitry and therefore to your computer.

Cherry MX Brown mechanical switch animation

How a mechanical keyboard switch works!

Essentially, these switches are what make mechanical keyboards, well, mechanical keyboards. You could have the same keycaps as a regular keyboard, but it will still be mechanical because of its use of switches.

 The Other Defining Factor: Quality

Because of the durability and construction of these switches, mechanicals are high-quality keyboards that last far longer than regular keyboards. Why? Simply put, regulars are made cheaply.

Because manufacturers tend to give out so many keyboards with computers, they looked for ways to make keyboards cheaper. This resulted in them making membrane keyboards (like the ones on you might have on your microwave), and, more commonly, the rubber-domed keyboards, which are a hybrid of mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. These domes aren’t made of several moving parts; instead, the domed switches are made of polyurethane underneath a rubber or silicone keypad.

When you press on a key, the rubber/silicone pushes the poly “switch” down to make contact with the circuit board beneath it. Though these dome switches can be made out of metal, you generally receive the polyurethane ones instead in your average keyboard.

And that means they don’t last nearly as long as a metal-domed keyboard, much less a mechanical one.

Why is all this important? Because mechanical keyboards use switches that are higher-quality, they can cost more, sound different, last longer, and feel heavier. Plus, there are several different types of switches these keyboard can use, which also make a difference in how they’re used. We’ll address the rest of these factors of mechanical keyboards and regular keyboards and how they could affect you in future posts.

Or you can swing over to our handy mechanical keyboard guide if you want a more thorough answer to “what is a mechanical keyboard?” (we don’t blame you — it is quite interesting once you get into it!).

 

How Mechanical Keyboards Make Your Employees More Productive

How Mechanical Keyboards Make Your Employees More Productive by Das Keyboard

Listen up, employers.

We know that you’re concerned about productivity at your company. It only makes sense; more saved time equals higher profits. You’ve invested various training and motivation techniques into your employees to help meet your goals, but it seems like they still lag behind.

Have you considered the fact that the problem isn’t with your employees, but with their tools?

If you’re interested in keeping your workers as productive as possible, a better keyboard may be what you’re looking for, and here’s why.

 1. Mechanical keyboards are more durable.

If you have employees that pound away on their keyboards like they’re tenderizing meat, you should consider getting them a mechanical-switch keyboard instead. “Pounders” are harsher on their keyboards, which means they’re more at risk for losing productivity should a key fall off or a rubber-domed switch fail to register a keystroke.

Where your employees would have to wait for repairs or a new keyboard, they wouldn’t lose any productivity if they had a mechanical keyboard. The switches in these devices are usually made of metal instead of rubber, so they’re more likely to stay strong and register keystrokes accurately. And even if a key does happen to pop off, it can simply be snapped back in place on its metal switch.

 2. Mechanical keyboards help accuracy.

Many mechanical keyboard fans rave at the loud, clicky sound they produce when using one of these keyboards. As mentioned above, the mechanical switches that make this loud noise are what’s ensuring the computer registers every single keystroke, therefore improving typing accuracy.

A few writers and programmers have tested their typing speed and accuracy with mechanical keyboards, and the results are impressive. One writer found that he was able to put in 91 words per minute at 100% accuracy, which meant he could type a whopping 900 additional words per hour with less errors. Imagine how much more your employees could accomplish with this ability.

 3. Mechanical keyboards are more satisfying to use.

This isn’t a fact; it’s an opinion held by the majority of mechanical keyboard users. They feel this way because it’s far easier for them to know when they’ve pressed a key by the audible “click” of the keys about halfway through their press (because mechanicals don’t need as much force to register keystrokes as a regular rubber-domed device). So the mechanical experience is both an audible and tactile one, instead of just tactile.

While this loud noise could be considered a drawback in some work places, you can find quieter versions on the market. And the fact of the matter is that for some people, that audible satisfaction is what helps contribute to their typing speed and accuracy (see point #2). No more double-typing a letter because an employee’s not sure she hit the key hard enough.

Mechanical keyboards have a lot of benefits that could very well increase your employees’ productivity. If you’re not sure how some of your employees would handle mechanical keyboards, ask for volunteers to participate in a trial period. It’s likely many of them will want to stay with the mechanicals, and you can slowly swap out everyone else’s over time.

But in the long run, you’ll notice higher employee performance, which could lead to greater profits every year. And that’s enough of a reason to look at mechanical keyboards for your employees.

Why Buying Quality Keyboards Could Save Your Company Thousands of Dollars

Why Buying Quality Keyboards Could Save Your Company Thousands of Dollars by Das Keyboard

Photo from Adrian Serghie via photopin cc

If you’re a manager or owner of a large company, you’re likely interested in ways to save money and increase your profits. That’s a reasonable goal, but sometimes this can lead to short-term solutions that end up costing you more in the end.

And would you believe that keyboards are one of these bad decisions?

You probably don’t give these devices as much thought as you should, but here’s why a smart investment  in quality keyboards could help you save money in the long run.

The Basics

Yes, computers and their hardware are expensive, and it’s likely that to save money, you usually purchase a mass order of computer monitors, towers, mice, and keyboards from a distributor instead of buying individual machines.

However, while your average monitor and tower can last a while with proper maintenance, standard keyboards are less likely to withstand the daily use they receive from their workers. This means you’ll have to be purchasing new keyboards more often to replace them as they break.

But how does that work out financially?

For the purposes of this post, let’s assume the following:

1. That you have 300 employees in your company.

2. That the average employee uses 6000 keystrokes a day.

3. That a standard keyboard costs about $15 (you can buy them anywhere from $5-$30).

4. That a mechanical keyboard costs about $75 (you can buy them anywhere from $50-$200).

5. That standard keyboards last 5 million clicks (most last anywhere from 5-10 million) with 6000 keystrokes a day.

6. That mechanical keyboards last 35 million clicks (many can last up to 50 million) with 6000 keystrokes a day.

The Computation and Results

With the above assumptions in place, your average employee will hit at least 2 million keystrokes a year at the 6000 keystroke rate.

If they’re working on a standard 5-million-click keyboard, that keyboard will break after 2 1/2 years of use. With 300 employees at $15 per keyboard, you’re spending $4500 each time you need to buy new keyboards. That adds up to $27,000 after a 15-year span.

But your average employee who’s working on a mechanical keyboard with 35 million clicks won’t see it break until 15 years later (maybe longer, if the keyboards are rated for higher keystrokes). With 300 employees at $75 per keyboard, you’re spending $22,500 up front, but you won’t be paying for new keyboards for another 15 years.

That’s a difference in savings of $4500. To some companies, that may not seem like a lot, but to others, that extra cash can go a very long way.

The Conclusion

We realize that these numbers will change depending on the number of employees you have, the type of keyboards you’re considering, and how many keystrokes they’re rated for.

We also realize that not every company has the initial funds to pay for high-quality keyboards up front.

But overall, if your company’s able to buy better keyboards than the standard-package ones, it’s one of the best decisions you can make, because you will notice a return on your investment in the end. Your keyboards will last longer, and they’ll help your employees be more productive (more on that later), which will in turn probably save you more money and cause your company to reap even higher profits.

It’s a win-win all around.

 

“All You Need is Love” from Das Keyboard

What’s the best way to your Valentine’s heart?

Buy a Model S Professional Quiet mechanical keyboard for your Sweetheart and get a second keyboard of your choice at 50% off.

Current Events Demonstrate Need for Personal Data Protection

Two major news stories broke last week that should make anyone with a laptop, mobile phone or tablet take notice.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. companies use location sensors to track potential customers through their mobile phones without their knowledge and consent.

For example, Happy Child, an Asian restaurant in Toronto, tracked 636 customers as they ran errands, visited the doctor and went to the gym. Data revealed that 250 users visited a gym in one month alone, so the company developed a line of tank tops featuring their own logo.

“Instead of offering a general promotion that may or may not hit a nerve, we can promote specifically to the customer’s taste,” said Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The Wall Street Journal also mentioned U.S. companies don’t have to get consent before collecting and sharing most personal information. This includes a user’s exact location.

On Tuesday, the New York Times and German media outlet N-TV announced that the National Security Agency (NSA) has installed software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world.  This allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines even though they are not connected to the internet. The possibility that a government agency has the ability to access remote personal data raises privacy concerns for individuals and companies alike.

RFID blocking technology provides way for users to stay safe and hack-free both on the go or at home. At Das Keyboard, we developed a hackshield messenger bag, backpack and wallet that uses RFID blocking material. It keeps user data safe anywhere by preventing electronics such as laptops, tablet and phones from being tracked or attacked wirelessly. It also stops them from communicating to the cloud without the users’ knowledge.

What concerns you most about marketers and the government gaining access to your private data? Share with us in the comments or tweet at us @daskeyboard.

Wrist and Hand Exercises for Gamers Who Are Uber-Dedicated to Their Computers

Wrist and Hand Exercises for Gamers Who Are Uber-Dedicated to Their Computers by Das Keyboard

There are several questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re a legitimate gamer.

A simple one is, “Do you lose track of time?” Most serious gamers are surprised when they look at their clock after a gaming session and see that it’s several hours later. You could also ask yourself if you miss meals (likely, if you lose track of time), or if you get really angry/excited about a few specific games.

Or you could also ask yourself if your wrists and hands sometimes hurt.

That Ergonomics Thing

Unfortunately, this is a problem lots of gamers have to deal with.

If your hands aren’t resting at the proper angle to your elbows, and your elbows to your body, your muscles get strained and sore. And to make matters worse, if you lose track of time and sit at your computer gaming for hours on end, you’re far more likely to develop serious issues like carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injuries.

And once you injure your wrists or hands, that means no more gaming until it’s healed.

The Stretches & Exercises to Fix This

Fortunately, you can avoid injuries (and therefore long stints of time without your awesome games) with a few simple exercises and stretches.

  1. Grab a rubber band and stick your fingers in its loop. Ball up your hand tightly for a few seconds before opening it back up and spreading your fingers as far apart as possible. This should stretch the rubber band out and give your fingers a good exercise. Doing this several times a week will actually strengthen your finger muscles!
  2. Bend your fingers at the middle knuckles. Hold for 5-10 seconds to work out soreness in those joints.
  3. Make a “thumbs up” shape with your hand. Now make 5 big circles with your thumb, in both directions. Do the same thing on your other hand.
  4. Stick one of your arms out, with your elbow straight. With your other hand, grasp the hand on the straight arm and slowly bend it downward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat with your other arm and hand.
  5. Do the opposite of the previous exercise. Instead of bending each hand down, slowly bend them straight up as far as you can. Hold for 5-10 seconds on each hand.
  6. Don’t forget the good, old full-arm stretch. Lace your fingers together, palms open and facing inward, and stretch your arms out as far as possible (your wrists should be at 90-degree angles). Now flip your hands so the palms are facing out, and stretch again.

Do these movements every time you start to feel stiff or sore, no less than once every hour.

If you need a few more exercises to keep you limber and happy during gaming, the University of Ontario’s IT department has a nifty handout about more computer-user exercises you can do, complete with pictures and diagrams.

By sticking in a few of these exercises and stretches between game sessions or missions, you’re far less likely to end up with any wrist, arm, or arm problems later on. Now you just need to work on that forgetting to eat thing…

Wearable Tech and Data Security: CES 2014 Roundup

Picture from CES website.

Members of the Das Keyboard team traveled from sunny Austin to even sunnier Las Vegas last week for this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Three main trends stood out from the tech madness this year:

1.  The new industry buzzword for 2014 is “internet of things.”

The phrase “internet of things,” or IoT,  was heard everywhere at CES. The “internet of things” refers to a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.

According to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will wirelessly connect to the “internet of things” by 2020. The “internet of things” concept is important, because it means that an object that can represent itself digitally becomes a larger entity than the object alone.

So an item such as a lightbulb or a chair will be able to communicate with your cell phone or tablet. Data can be passed between the two objects and eventually to an external server.

2.  The “Wrist Revolution” is still a work in progress.

CES dedicated an entire section to the “Wrist Revolution,” but some attendees stated that the gadgets don’t seem ready for mass market release. Many smart watches had large, bulky screens that are slow to load and refresh.

Not all wearable tech disappointed, however. The Flip smartwatch, designed specifically for children, uses GPS and Wi-Fi technology to let parents know where their children are located. It also displays large, easy to read messages that allow parents to communicate with their children. For example, a parent could send the message “Come Home for Dinner” to their child instead of having to call or yell down the street.

3.  Data security matters more than ever.

With the recent Target security breach on every news network and blog, data security was top of mind at CES. Utilizing RFID blocking technology prevents electronics from talking to the cloud and determining your location, which is why our CEO kept his gear 100% secure while in his HackShield backpack.

Now we want to hear from you. What trends did you notice this year at CES? Comment below or share with us on Twitter.

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