Optical verses mechanical switches in computer keyboards and peripherals

Thankfully the computer hardware industry is finally moving away from mechanical switches in keyboards and peripherals such as mice, however many devices, and especially the cheaper ones, still use them. Why they were ever used in the first place is beyond me, but i suspect it may have been due to the large selection of readily available micro-switches on the market and their low cost.

One problem with mechanical micro-switches is that they wear out eventually (and sometimes "eventually" can be a couple weeks). Another is that the contacts bounce when they slam together, thus a filter is required so that the computer sees one signal instead of several. The hard-core first-person-shooter (FPS) gamer, or those susceptible to marketing hype, pose another problem, that being the extremely short delay caused by the "debounce" filter having to process the signal in a genre of computer games where reaction time is crucial. This concern seems misplaced however if the anti-bounce filter sends the first switch contact to the computer as soon as it's detected rather than delaying it and, actually, this concern may be invalid regardless of how the debounce filter is implemented. I think the concerns of the hard-core FPS gamer regarding mice and keyboards would be better directed at the complex USB server-client protocol and its inherent polling delay verses the dead simple PS/2 connector which is making a comeback for this very reason.

With the potential exception of delay, optical switches that use light to detect a button/key press solve these problems. In theory a good optical switch would never wear out and no filter is required to eliminate contact bounce, though apparently a similar filter is still typically used to prevent certain switch events from being misinterpreted by the computer. Furthermore, that light must be detected and converted to a signal that the computer understands and i would suspect that the resulting delay may be even greater than that of a mechanical switch where the debounce filter sends a signal to the computer as soon as a switch contact is made, thus why i think the delay concerns of the hard-core gamer regarding mechanical switches may be unfounded.

So, if i were a hard-core gamer, i would be considering PS/2 mice with mechanical switches which use an "eager" hardware debouncer rather than USB mice with optical switches. For the rest of us however, the optical switch is long overdue!

Why free software can result in less freedom

Before delving into this mess it needs to be made clear how i personally define free software, which in my mind is software for which the source code is available, reusable, modifiable and distributable by anyone. Free software has no inherent connection to monetization, though one can certainly profit in various ways from it if they so choose.

There is an ethic attached to free software which extends well beyond digital goods. I see it as more of a life choice with a strong emphasis on personal freedom. The problem with liberal software licenses, such as the GPL, is that while the ethic may be superimposed, freedom is disregarded, even if unintentionally so.

If one wants to achieve freedom, then i think it is utterly counterproductive to license software in such a way as to allow those not attuned to freedom to use and profit from it. 'Big Tech' companies such as Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Oracle, Cisco, Apple, as well as the alphabet soup of government agencies, are actively working to curtail personal freedom through narrow-minded corporate and authoritarian mentalities, and all of them use free software in some capacity because there are few or no restrictions with liberal software licenses. With its purchase of GitHub, Microsoft is perhaps one of the more egregious examples of how free software is being used -- or rather abused -- for the purpose of training proprietary Artificial Intelligence algorithms which will undoubtedly be used to further curtail freedom.

I think the Linux kernel is a stellar example of how liberally licensed software has come around to bite it in the ass. My understanding is that the majority of the code that's injected into the kernel nowadays is written by major corporations and while that code may be beneficial for a majority, it is also beneficial to entities which care about freedom far less than profiting from their code at the expense of us all.

Another benefit of not allowing unethical, for-profit companies to use your software is that this can help steer people away from proprietary computer operating systems. For example, if a developer produces a widely popular software, such as Thunderbird or VLC for example, and it's licensed only for open source operating systems, those wanting to use such programs might be more likely to consider abandoning their proprietary operating system.

Simply put, if you want freedom, then stop feeding those working to enslave you.

Personally i've started using the Non-Profit Open Software License for my little projects and, while that's a start, it doesn't achieve all i'd like it to and so i may write my own license at some point. In a better world virtually all software would be inherently free for everyone and software licenses, liberal or otherwise, wouldn't need to exist, however that is not the world we live in.

Pimping 'List Feeds', a Firefox add-on

An a time when news from quality alternative sources is vital to many people, given all that's happening around our world, the M@M's (Morons@Mozilla) decided some time ago, citing development costs verses engagement, that it was a stellar idea to remove the ability to handle RSS/news feeds.

It's no secret that the woke jackasses at Mozilla corporate are on a mission of "shaping the future of the web for the public good" which translates to controlling what information people have have access to through studies and initiatives.

Contrary to the stated reason of development costs, i suspect that the motive behind removing feed processing from Firefox was to drive people to "trusted" corporate sources and away from independent investigative journalists and analysts who are actually publishing high quality content.

In that vein, there have been several developers who have produced add-ons in order to restore news feed functionality to Firefox, among them, Smart RSS Reader, which happens to be my favorite and which includes feed detection and a news reader. While the feed detection capability of Smart RSS Reader is probably fine for most people, it won't always work for websites that don't publish their feeds, such as YouTube, Bitchute, Odysee, etc., and this is where the List Feeds add-on (GitHub), which allows you to define custom feed detection rules, comes in handy.

If you're looking for websites to add to your collection, check out the Alternative Information Directory. Also see my article, How to access RSS feeds for websites that don't advertise one.