Mechanical keyboard

The Akko Silent 3068 Mechanical Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown

I was looking for a 65% mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches and watched the above video . It provided a link to where the Akko Silent 3068 was on sale for $69.99 instead of $79.99. (Today, I noticed it has increased in price by $10 dollars to $89.99.) This seemed like a good deal for a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches so I ordered one.

The keyboard shipped from California rather than China via Fedex Smartpost which took 10 days to the southeast US. When the keyboard finally did arrive it was DOA. Banggood claims to have a 7 day DOA guarantee so I sent them an email asking how to get a refund and return the item.

This is my first email:

Date: 2019/8/25 3:56:22
Subject: Items received with quality problem+OrderID

Received the Akko silent mechanical keyboard with cherry mx brown switched today. The package was not damaged nor the box. Two keyboard lights came on for a few seconds when the USB was connected followed by a popping noise. Now keyboard is not working and causes the USB mouse to “freeze”. What is procedure for a refund/ return?

The reply from Bangood:

Thank you for your email and order ********.

We truly understand how frustrated you are and feel terribly sorry for all the inconvenience caused.

First of all, could you please send us some photos and a video to show some details of the issue. Requirements are listed as follows.

1.In the photos, we could clearly see product’s shipping label and SKU bar code, which stick on the package of the parcel and the product protecting bag

2.In the video, we could clearly see the product’s problems

The reason why we need them is that after checking, we could effectively confirm the problem and find out the root cause. Furthermore, we will keep them as evidences and provide them to the supplier.

About this procedure, we have written down in Banggood warranty policy, you could refer to here:

Thank you for your cooperation in advance. We will keep waiting for your reply.

Best regards,


I did all the things they required and twenty-four hours later received this mail:

Thank you for your email regarding order ********.

Could you test if it can work first?

We hope for your understanding on this matter and look forward to receiving your reply.

Best regards,


I again sent a mail explaining the problem and that the keyboard was dead after the load popping sound.

They then offered $20 to compensate me for my inconvenience. After three days of haggling with a person/bot named Luna, Banggood had raised the refund offer to $40 USD. I bet few knew that when trying to get a refund or for the company to honor their “so-called” warranty, you would need talents more at home in a flea-market or yard-sale. By the time I received the 40 dollars offer, I had read enough on-line horror stories about people being completely screwed by Bangggood that I caved and whined for the partial refund.

The Akko 3068 might have been a nice 65% layout mechanical keyboard had it worked. I plan to buy a Vortex Cypher from Amazon having been banged good for the last time.

book design InDesign page layout

South by Southwest


A book cover for a print book created with Adobe InDesign CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6.


Title page created with Adobe InDesign CS6


Chapter layout page created with Adobe InDesign CS6


Summer 1968

“Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea?”

Herman Melville

The desire to go to sea struck me when I was sixteen or seventeen—a time when I read the Bounty Trilogy and Hurricane by Charles Nordhoff and James Hall. In addition to the stories of the South Pacific, I loved the paintings of the French Impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin. By the time I graduated from high-school and started attending the University of Tennessee, my ambition was to become a painter, move to the Marquesas Islands, and paint nude Polynesian women as Gauguin had done. Of course, I had no idea how I would find the money or the means to get from Tennessee to a faraway island. I saw that as a minor detail at the time.

Painting by Paul Gauguin

Unfortunately, when I got to the University of Tennessee, I was more interested in cameras and spending my nights doing existing-light photography with Tri-X film and hanging-out in the library reading about China and Polynesia than attending Western Civilization class. I did attend Art History, English Composition, and Art 101. I managed to squeak by in Western Civilization with a D. (In 1983, I took tests from the University of Maryland in World and US history, made an A on all three tests, and earned nine-hours college credit.)

At the end of 1967, an eighteen-year-old who left college would soon be drafted. During the next quarter, the only class I regularly attended was bowling so in May 1968, I was shown the door. It was a relief since I wanted to be somewhere far away, surrounded by palm trees. Be careful what you wish for.

The following month, a few days after Bobby Kennedy was killed, dashing hopes that he would be elected and end the war in Nam, I was summoned to the Armed Forces Entrance Examination Station in Knoxville for a physical for the draft. It was a wake-up call and I realized I would soon be cannon-fodder in Vietnam if I didn’t find an alternative to being drafted into the army. As luck would have it, I went to a drive-in movie with a couple of my high-school pals that night and saw The Sand Pebbles. It is a movie about a navy machinist’s mate assigned to an American gunboat on the Yangtze River in China in the 1920s.

Most Americans don’t know there was a American naval squadron in China from 1854 until 1949 to protect American economic interests in treaty ports—free-trade ports which were forced on the Chinese by the British and Americans. It seems Anglo-American policies haven’t changed in the last 170 years.

After seeing the movie, I decided to join the navy since being on a ship off the coast of Vietnam seemed less risky than jumping from a helicopter into a hot landing-zone. One of my buddies and I went to see the navy recruiter a couple of days later and enlisted in a delayed-entry buddy-program where the navy promised to try very hard to send us to the same boot camp and duty-station (wink-wink). It was early June and we weren’t supposed to leave until September.

My pal was happy with the arrangement since he was in love and wanted to spend the summer with his girlfriend. I had no girlfriend and wasn’t keen on spending a summer working construction with my dad who was angry that I hadn’t been interested in college and wanted to demonstrate how hard life could be for an uneducated dumbass. After a couple of weeks of humping hundred-pound bags of sand a hundred yards from a truck to the base of a TVA dam and mixing concrete to repair cracks, I called the recruiter and asked if I could leave for boot camp early. A day or two later, he phoned to say he had arranged it. At the end of July, I caught a bus and spent two days at the armed forces entrance station in Nashville waiting for other people from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas to arrive before we were all sworn-in and put on a plane for the west coast.

Perhaps I should have waited. In mid-August 1968, a couple of weeks after I got to boot camp at the Naval Recruit Training Center in San Diego, I received a letter from the draft board informing me I was 4-F (physically unfit for military service even in times of national emergency) and not eligible for the draft. My boot company commander, BMC Spivey, thought it funny when I asked if it meant I could go home. The answer was shut-up maggot and stand at attention. I took that as a no.

My favorite song from 1968:

Mechanical keyboard

YMDK Key Caps


YMDK Carbon PBT key caps purchased from Amazon and installed on my recently acquired AUKEY GM-G9 keyboard. These key caps cost more than the keyboard, but makes it look much better than the OEM caps. This keyboard will become a back-up board when the Akko 3068 with Cherry MX Brown switches I bought from arrives in a few days. It is in transit from Bloomington, CA.

historical events page design


Fifty Years Later

Where were you from the 15th to the 18th of August 1969? Five-hundred-thousand people—obviously rich enough to avoid being drafted and sent to Nam—gathered in the rain and mud of a New York farm to get high, fornicate, and declare their displeasure with mommy and daddy’s conservative and stuffy world-views in an Aquarian display of “free-love” and hard-rock rebellion. Actually, mommy was likely having a little free-love herself when daddy wasn’t looking, but not flaunting it by dancing naked in the rain.

The day Woodstock began, I was on an LCU ( Landing Craft Utility ) in the South China Sea, six-miles off the coast of Quang Tri Provence in Vietnam, heading northwest toward the Cua Viet River with a load of artillery ammunition for the marine firebases along the DMZ. At seven knots, the trip north from DaNang took most of the night. Since Vietnam was across the International Dateline, the 15th of August was the 16th in Nam. It was the evening/night of the 15th in the United States as my boat headed up the river to unload at Dong Ha—a marine combat base a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone.

I recall the day clearly because I was hung-over and barfing over the side of the boat as we went up river, although I didn’t let that inconvenience interfere with manning a 50 calibre machine-gun on the starboard side of the boat and watching the peasants in their black pajamas on the grassy bank of the river twenty yards away. I remember the day because I had downed a fifth of vodka the night before to celebrate my 20th birthday. The liquor was courtesy of the boat’s cook who was an alcoholic and kept several fifths stashed in the boat’s galley.

It was a hot and humid morning with an orange-ball sun and the eight-mile trip upriver from Cua Viet to Dong Ha was uneventful. The biggest danger was from submerged mines the Vietcong put in the river at night or an ambush with a rocket-propelled grenade. One RPG fired into a 180 tons of black powder cannon ammunition was bound to make for a bad day. The boat beached and lowered its ramp at a staging area in Dong Ha just down river from the bridge which would be blown-up by a marine named John Ripley during the Easter Offensive of 1972 to deny the North Vietnamese Army a way to get tanks across the river. Since the river was closed to traffic at night, except for PBRs ( river patrol boats ) drifting with the current to ambush any VC moving supplies in sampans, every craft master wanted his boat unloaded quickly so he could go down river to the safety of the South China Sea before sunset when the river closed. Otherwise, the boat had to stay in Dong Ha overnight within range of North Vietnamese artillery.

There was a backlog at the staging area that day and even though the ammunition was unloaded and trucked away before nightfall we had to stay overnight. So as the second day of Woodstock was happening a half-a-world away, I was standing guard with an M-16 and tossing grenades into the dark water around the boat to discourage swimmers from trying to plant a mine on the hull.

1610 class LCU

1610 class LCU with a load of ammunition

The trip back down river the following morning was uneventful as well as the eighty-mile trip back to DaNang. By the time my boat rounded North Island at the entrance of the harbor and moored at the floating causeway at Camp Tien Sha annex, Woodstock was in its third day.

From 6 June 1969 until February 1970 I was on the LCU-1622 seen at 00:57 in the video

The American troop strength in Vietnam in August of ‘69 was 475,000 so there were about the same number of Americans at Woodstock as were in Nam.  That seems somehow oddly significant. I think the people who brought us Woodstock were likely the same ones who gave us Vietnam.


Woodstock was planned as a paid concert and 186,000 tickets were sold before control of the event was lost. Estimates of crowd size varies from 400,000 to 500,000. The ticket price of $7 for one day would be $50 in 2019. A two day ticket at $13 would be $92 and a three day ticket at $18 would be $127 (thank you federal reserve).


Colors Of My Life

The melody of a song kept going through my mind yesterday. I could remember none of the words or the title of the song so it was impossible to search for the it on the Internet. The only words I thought might be from a line in the song were “something …of my life”. After a lot of searching that fragment, I discovered the melody was from Judith Durham’s Colors Of My Life. I had been recently pondering writing a memoir so perhaps my subconscious was working on a title.

I have no idea what I will call a memoir, but I am sure after writing it something will come to mind. Perhaps, Recovery From Propaganda and Brainwashing would be good or I could rip-off the title of a Paul Gauguin painting: D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous ( Where Do We Come From / What Are We / Where Are We Going ). That might be fitting since my ambition at seventeen was to run away to the Marquesas Islands in the south Pacific and paint nude Polynesian women.

Where Do We Come From / What Are We / Where are We Going by Paul Gauguin

By eighteen, this had morphed into a desire to join the navy and be an engineman on a gunboat like Steve McQueen in the 1966 movie The Sand Pebbles. Sadly, the Yangtse Patrol—a prolonged naval operation by the United States Navy’s East India and Asiatic Squadrons, which began in 1854 to protect American interests in the Yangtze River’s treaty ports, ended the year I was born when Mao and the Communists came to power. The old adage be careful what you wish for seem to apply when I joined the navy and ended up on a river boat in Vietnam’s I-Corps when I was twenty.

Ten years later, still in the navy, I was sent to Taipei for a three-year-tour, which was cut short because Carter abrogated the mutual defense treaty with The Republic of China ( Taiwan ), closed the Naval Support Activity, Taiwan, and established diplomatic relations with the mainland commies. ( Can you say at the behest of globalists who wanted cheap labor? ) At the time, I had no idea that much of the The Sand Pebbles was filmed in Taipei—some scenes were shot on Yangmingshan ( Grass Mountain ) where I lived. It seems Steve and I even drank at the same bar—The China Seas Club on Bei-an Road—where I met Wu Yu Tze in December, 1978 (but that is a story for another time).

Mechanical keyboard

Aukey Mechanical Keyboard KM-G9

When my five-year-old Coolermaster Quick Fire TKL keyboard with Cherry MX blue switches suddenly died and I had to resort to a membrane keyboard, I suffered immediate click withdrawal and couldn’t seem to formulate a sentence in the silence. Those who have typed on a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blues know what I mean. The sound of a blue isn’t as loud (and satisfying) as an IBM Selectric typewriter circa 1980, but it is close.

Since the Quick Fire died a day after I spent the monthly  bank replacing an air conditioning unit, I assumed I was doomed to a couple of weeks of using a hideous membrane keyboard. It appeared the Coolermaster tenkeyless ( no number pad) keyboards had gone up in price during the five years I had been clicky-clacking away and they no longer made the exact same board I had been using. Window shopping on Amazon also revealed that most mechanical keyboards are now RGB light-shows with keys. Even Coolermaster seemed to have given in to the RGB lighting craze. I know the lights can be disabled, but who wants to spend an additional 20% for a feature which is useless (to a writer).

While watching vids about mechanical keyboards, I ran across the Aukey KM-G9. It is currently $23.79 USDs at Amazon. It is a Tenkeyless board with no lights and no bells and whistles and uses Outemu switches (a clone of Cherry MX). I purchased one with Outemu blue switches for the sound. The Aukey KM-G9 is just as good as the Quick Fire at one-fourth the price and comes with a two-year warranty. There are several reviews online which echo my opinion. If you are a writer who misses the sound of a typewriter, the Aukey KM-G9 mechanical keyboard might be worth a try.


A Test Post With Windows Live Writer

Testing writing and posting from Windows Live Writer…the real Live Writer circa 2012, not the new fake Open Live Writer! I had to jump through hoops to get this since Microsoft doesn’t allow an installation on Window 7 with the web installer.


Test of posting a photo.