2020 October: State of The Website

Welcome to my second major website update post! Over the last two months, I've made a lot of changes to the database, which means it really dominates this update. If you want to get a feel for the website's state in the last update, see my August update.

New stuff

Keyboard database entries

On 24th August 2020, the keyboard database reached a major milestone with the 1000th part number being recorded! The recipient of this honour was IBM UltraNav USB Keyboard (SK-8845) P/N 40K5374. Currently sitting at around 1,150 part numbers recorded, some of the newest additions include:

Keyboard database searching

The search bar on the keyboard database now has a limited selection of fixed options you can toggle in addition to the search strategies added in the August Update. This update comes just as I removed the Keyboard Finder (more information below in "Removed stuff").

Screenshot of the new keyboard database search filters
The new keyboard database search filters

As you can see, the options are quite minimal at the moment but these in combination with subtractive searching can completely replace the functionality of the Keyboard Finder tool.

Keyboard database data fields

To help make the data more complete, a few new fields have been added. Some derive data from previous larger fields and thus some old format data remains, but I will be swiftly converting it over the coming weeks.

Keyboard database submissions form

At long last, I've finally added a user submission form for those wishing to help out with the keyboard database project. Whilst I didn't get this done by the end of August as planned, it's better late than never! If you've found an IBM/Lexmark/Unicomp/Lenovo part number missing from the database, simply fill out the form as much as you can will the completed CAPTCHA question.

Keyboard database external API

As part of my goal to make my database as open as possible, I have made available a way for people to pull data from the keyboard for their own website or application. As such, I have an 'applet' that you can make GET requests to. The page below details how to make such a tailored request. As of the time of writing, the data can be given in JSON (stable) and XML (experimental) format.

Keyboard database sources field

As aforementioned, one of the new fields I've added to the database is "Source". Before this update, sources used to be exclusively listed in the About page and it used to be a bit unclear which exact part numbers come from which source. As such, sources are now displayed per part number. There's a bit of backdating I have to do, but these changes should be completed within a few weeks. At present, the source can be a document (that I will likely have saved on the website for archival purposes) or a URL.

Screenshot of the new keyboard listing source field
An example of a keyboard source field

Improved topic

I've added quite a few useful diagrams on my keyboard connections topics, including keyboard controller header pinouts and conversion tables for headers to various microcontrollers such as Teensy and Pro Micro. More are yet to come!

New article

The next major article I had planned during the August Update was going to be a comparison of three IBM numeric keypads, however, I ended up deferring that article until a later date. For now, I wrote teardown of a Lexmark-made Model M4-1 numeric keypad. When I return to the comparison, it will only feature the IBM KeyPad III and IBM KU-9880 now for a number of reasons; these two keypads are way out of the M4-1's quality and key feel league to the point that a comparison would be very imbalanced, and these two keypads are more closely associated with ThinkPads than the M4-1.

Soarer's Converter guide

The first introductory chapter of my Soarer's 101 guide is now online for review and feedback. This will be the first of a multi-part feature that will be an in-depth guide on everything Soarer's aimed at beginners.

This first part is an introduction into the technology, describing Soarer's Converter's core features and benefits, helping you decide if you need one, overviews the contents of the Soarer's Converter files download, and describes how to use the core tools. The soon-upcoming second part covers the two basic features that most will want to use with their Soarer's Converter: key remapping and macros. The third part coming in a few weeks will handle layers. Below is the only link to the first part for now since I'm waiting for the much-needed second part before I go totally public with this guide.

Removed stuff

Keyboard Finder

As mentioned in the August Update, the Keyboard Finder tool was being removed due to its clunkiness and now obsolescence in the wake of the addition of search strategies back then and the new filtering options added now. As such, this is now so and its former hyperlinks and the page itself are now no longer available. May it rest in peace.

Upcoming stuff

IBM keyboard toolkit software

A beta of the mouse acceleration functionality will eventually be available soon™.

Laptop GPUs database

I will be re-exposing the laptop GPU database soon, although I've really been putting this off in favour of more useful changes.