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Give me a chip and a chair

Well, it’s that day. The pinnacle of a long NFL season at the end of a trail of dashed dreams, broken hearts, and a bevy of fans already looking forward to next year. Unless you are a fan of ATL or NE.

Each year starts with everyone believing in an equal chance, their shot at the Championship on par with everyone else. But the longer one watches you start to understand that even then, not everyone has an equal chance

Players migrate towards better teams

The teams with past success are able to get their pick of talent. Oh sure, all the teams have the option to spend the money and in theory have an equal chance. But really, when it comes to free agency and players having to decide; what team would you choose? Jacksonville (no offense!) or New England?

All things equal players are going to want to play where they have the greatest chance of success. This is even more of a driving force for the very best players concerned about their legacy. Players go to NE expecting to have a great shot at a SuperBowl. Players go to Jacksonville to make a check and to play in the NFL. Sure, they want a championship too but all they need do is look at the rosters and they know the deck is stacked against them

Refs are people too

Which leads me to point two. The NFL viewership is down this year and I feel like it will only continue to drop. That is unless changes are made. The issue? There are too many arbitrary penalties in this league. How many games have turned on a pass interference call or a timely holding call? And it often is not about the calls that are made but rather the ones that are not.

Refs are people too. They know who the teams are and even if they do not consciously consider it when they make calls, it certainly is a part of the decision. Why has the NFL never taken a long look at the role penalties, or the lack thereof, have on the outcome of a game?

Even players know this. Most recently, Grady Jarrett commented about one of the franchises who has most benefited from the officials: the Green Bay Packers.

Sure other teams can win against these odds, but it just makes it all the much harder. In a league where parity continues to grow, these small margins can make a huge difference.

Some fans love it, some fans don’t

Of course, the teams that continue to enjoy success and find themselves on the plus side of the officiating balance sheet will scream high and low that it is completely fair. But why wouldn’t they? Everyone likes to win. But even more so, there are those legions of fans who somehow believe that their team’s success is somehow theirs. Now, that is fanaticism.

It is no coincidence that the teams that enjoy the largest fan bases are the ones who benefit over and over again from missed calls or drive saving calls just when they need a miracle. Cowboys, Packers and Patriots are at the top of that list. Ever seen a call turn the outcome of a game when your team faced one of these:

/www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-fan-base-rankings-cowboys-beat-out-steelers-packers-fans-for-top-spot/

And the fan base shrinks

At issue here is not whether or not this is true, it’s that it is the perception and fans are tuning out because of it. No one wants to waste time cheering for a team that has the odds stacked against it. And that, I believe, is the very core of the issue with the NFL today.

Steps need to be taken to remove or at least diminish the impact of judgement calls. How about we just say to heck with it, holding is no longer a penalty? Pass interference? No such thing. Get out there and earn that catch like the old time players. That would be a good start.

In this age of offense driven rating I doubt there is any chance of this happening. People want the excitement of an up and down the field shootout. So we are left with an imperfect system that favors the popular teams. We see the same teams over and over at the end of the year and when they are not we hear about how ratings are down. And that can not stand, the NFL is a business. It is not about a fair and partial league.

As made famous by Cuba Gooding Jr., Show me the money! And when you do I will show you the teams that find themselves at the top year after year.

Obligatory Super Bowl pick

My pick, for what it is worth, are the Atlanta Falcons. I think their offense is going to be able to overcome the NE defense and at the end of the day outscore the Patriots. I have no doubt that Brady and the NE offense will also put a ton of points on the board but I just feel the ATL Defense lines up better against the NE offense.

Either way here’s hoping for a great game. And even more so for a future in which the NFL addresses the growing concerns of the current rules systems.

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 WhiteFox is in the house

As a software guy I spend hours and days driving a keyboard. Some time ago I decided that since this would be my craft I would invest in a the best tools I could find. Part of that toolkit is a keyboard and for me that means a mechanical keyboard.

I have went through many iterations looking for the ideal board for me. This journey has led me to today, and to my newest keyboard. The WhiteFox keyboard from Input club. To me, the best keyboard I have had yet.

What makes it special

I don’t know that there is one thing that makes this board the best, but rather there are a number of things that this board gets right which makes it to me the ideal keyboard.

Fully programmable

The WhiteFox is a 68 key board that is by design minimal. No ten key cluster here, just the keys you need. But lest you think this is limiting, it is not. The WhiteFox is fully programmable and has 7 layers available in addition to the main layer. You can map the keys and layers any way you see fit. It can be overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it I think you will truly enjoy the flexibility and functionality of a programmable keyboard.

Configuration of the board could not be easier. I:C provides a web configurator that makes the experience mostly point and click. Once you have your preferred layout, simply download it and flash it to the keyboard. There are full instructions at the I:C website. The process is very simple and straightforward with the mac, which is what I have and use. YMMV with other platforms.

Layouts

The WhiteFox is available in 5 different layouts and in my case I chose the True Fox layout. This is the preferred layout of the designer of the board and the most popular configuration available. As a developer this layout offers a lot of features that make sense.

First is the arrow key cluster. This cluster is played out in the stand inverted T configuration. Many minimal boards (which this is) sacrifice the arrow cluster to strange layouts, or in some cases eliminate it all together. Some might be fine with that but for me I use those keys much to often to have them relegated to second class status.

Additionally there is an intentional gap between the modifier keys and the arrow cluster which, as they state on their website, “provides your hands with a natural air gap so you may more easily navigate your keyboard”. I am not sure about that but I do know that having the keys is a plus, having them in a familiar location makes them ideal.

The second thing about the TrueFox layout is the location of the backspace key. Rather than being located on the top row it is instead immediately above the Enter key. It sounds like a small thing but its value should not be dismissed, being able to access the backspace key without taking your fingers off the home row is a real improvement. It might take a little bit to get used to but once you do you will wonder how you ever got along with located in any other place.

Keyboard Switches

There are several options for switches and I am sure that you can find one that suits your needs. Many if not all of the Cherry and Gateron switches, in addition to the Zealous are options. In my case I chose the Zealios switches and would recommend them to anyone.

WhiteFox keycaps

There are so many things that this keyboard gets right. And one of those is the choice of keycaps. The board comes with stock keycaps which are PBT dye-sublimated caps. They feel great on the finger and provide a pleasant “think” sound to the keypresses. In keeping with the WhiteFox theme, the keys are white with few blue keys interspersed here and there. Minimal and beautiful. Exactly the goal of the designers.

Thoughts

There is so much to like about this board, and I for one absolutely love it. I get it, a keyboard is a personal thing. What might be ideal to one is unusable to another. For me the combination of flexibility and functionality combined with its simple elegance and beauty is a wining combination. Of course, none of that would mean a thing if it did not deliver on its main purpose which is to be a flexible, comfortable and effective tool for input. And that I am happy to say it does with excellence.

If you spend a significant amount of time on your computer (and who doesn’t) you owe it to yourself to make the experience as pleasant as possible. The keyboard is the primary interface between you and your PC and can make a world of difference.

The WhiteFox to me is ideal, but even it is not your cup of tea you should seek out other alternatives. But be warned, it can be an expensive and time consuming and most of all addicting. In the past couple of years I have went through 6 keyboards with the WhiteFox as my second complete build. But I am not complaining, It has been an enjoyable journey with each step along the way being its own reward.

I want my own!

The WhiteFox can also be hard to find and your best bet it to watch Massdrop for availability. In previous drops the boards have been offered pre-assembled in some of the switch configurations. If you are just not comfortable with a soldering iron this is the route for you.