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Because of my work schedule and a change of priorities, I decided to build up my collection of RSI-friendly keyboards while reducing the number of flat keyboards that I own.

The IBM Model F PC/AT keyboard is one of the most sought-after mechanical keyboards. I have sold four in the last 13 months—these have been archived on this website:

  1. IBM Model F PC/AT sold on February 22, 2012
  2. IBM Model F PC/AT sold on June 28, 2012
  3. IBM Model F PC/AT sold on July 10, 2012
  4. IBM Model F PC/AT sold on January 14, 2013

If you missed out on the previous sales, you’re in luck today because I’ve decided to put one more IBM Model F PC/AT keyboard on the market. Unlike the other Model Fs that I’ve sold, this one comes with its original IBM box. The condition of the box is fair (3/10 at best) but the keyboard is in excellent shape, i.e. 8.5/10 or better—see the photos below.

I purchased this keyboard more than a year ago, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was in such great condition. This, together with the fact it came with its original IBM box and I was already using a superb IBM Model F AT keyboard as my daily driver, meant that this keyboard would be stored. I tested it with my Blue Cube for about half an hour to make sure everything worked—each key worked as expected—and promptly put the keyboard back in the box it came with and stored it in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. The keyboard has remained in storage throughout this time. I have not used it, and the only time I touched the box after testing was when we moved house in November 2012. I carried the box and its precious content (as well as all my other valuable keyboards) to the new place by hand.

Today was my scheduled day to inspect the keyboard and box, and to take photos and place an advertisement on this website. The latter is not going to happen today. I have been and remain terribly busy with work. Therefore, I wasn’t able to do much more than look at the box and keyboard (still in its plastic bag), and take some quick photos this afternoon. So, you can regard this post as a preview of the IBM Model F PC/AT keyboard that I will be selling.

Below are the photos of the keyboard and its box. I did not take the keyboard out of its plastic bag today.

There are some stains on the keyboard and its keycaps—I am confident that these will be removed easily when I get the opportunity to do so. There are no scratches, yellowing, or other more permanent (or difficult-to-correct) defects that I can see. Then again, I still need to remove the keyboard from its packaging to inspect in detail. I will do the latter when I find the time.

I pressed on a number of keys this afternoon, and they felt like how a Model F switch should feel (I should know).

I am 99% sure the keyboard works and each key registers because I remember testing it thoroughly last year. Then again, I’d like the chance to confirm that the keyboard is functioning as it should.

Make Me an Offer

A review of the selling prices of IBM Model F AT keyboards on eBay in the last 12 months tells me that this keyboard is worth more than $200, excluding the cost of shipping. The keyboards that have been sold on eBay are cosmetically inferior to this one, and their functionality is often questionable. This keyboard has zero discernible (permanent) defect, has all its rubber feet, and the keyboard cable has kept its coil (it’s like new!).

Without checking the keyboard in detail, it’s not fair (to all parties concerned) for me to fix a selling price yet—I know it is worth more than $200 but I don’t know how much more. It might take me another week (i.e. 7 days) before I clean the keyboard, check its functionality with a Blue Cube PS2-to-USB adapter, take more photos, and post an update on this site.

However, I do know that at least three persons (and possibly more) have been keenly anticipating the sale of this keyboard while I have been overseas in the last few weeks. Therefore, I’m open to offers.

If the information provided and photos above are sufficient for you to estimate the value of the keyboard, please feel free to place your offer by completing this simple (and brief) Google form.

I’ll consider any offer above $200 plus any condition(s) of the offer that will facilitate the transaction. If you do not hear back from me within 48 hours of placing your offer, you can safely assume that it wasn’t accepted. You may choose to revise it or wait and see what happens.

Please note that I accept payment by PayPal or cash only.

Make your offer for the IBM Model F PC/AT keyboard.

Edit March 11, 2013:

This keyboard is sold. Thanks to all who expressed their interest in this IBM Model F PC/AT keyboard.

Check back at my sales page over coming weeks for more vintage keyboards that I am selling.

Edit March 17, 2013:

Before sending this keyboard to the buyer, I had the opportunity to give it a light clean as well as take some photos.

This is the keyboard after cleaning:

The plastic film on the IBM badge is still intact! I had forgotten about this minor detail until I had a closer look. Of all the IBM Model F keyboards that I’ve come across, this is only the second one with this feature. The plastic film can be eaily peeled off—I’ll let the buyer decide if he wants to keep it as is or remove it.

The cable had undegone some “shelfwear”—boxwear, to be precise. While the keyboard was in its box, the Styrofoam had left some residue on the cable and the cable appears to have “melted” a little. This is quite common. Most of the Styrofoam residue came off after wiping with a damp cloth.

The buyer also wanted an AT-to-PS/2 cable, which I purchased from a local store:

I also inspected the bottom of the keyboard—it looks really good. All rubber feet are intact and the retractable legs work flawlessly. (Reminder to the buyer: push the knob in, then twist to extend or retract the leg. There is a small chance of breaking the leg if you do not push in (against the spring) before turning the knob. I prefer to type without the legs extended.)

This is one fine keyboard.

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Ever had a general health check? And the results came back saying everything, or almost everything, was OK?

I have. As a matter of fact, I’ve had several general health checks in my lifetime, all of which indicated comparatively minor problems, like a rise in my LDL cholesterol level or higher-than-normal uric acid levels. Nothing to make me worry about my health. I felt confident that I didn’t have cancer, significant heart disease, or anything else that might cause premature death. Obviously, in my case, those health checks did nothing to forewarn me that I would be struck by idiopathic gastroparesis, life-threatening flu, or obstructive lung disease in my middle age.

Krogsbøll et al. recently published a report of their Cochrane review of the effectiveness of general health checks in reducing morbidity and mortality from disease in adults. They found no evidence that general health checks reduced morbidity or mortality, neither overall or for cardiovascular or cancer causes! Not surprisingly, the number of new diagnoses increased with general health checks.

What does this mean for the average person? General health checks may lead to some positive findings and even diagnosis of a condition. However, regardless of what is found by the tests or the subsequent diagnoses and their treatments, undergoing health checks will not change your incidence of illness (morbidity), when you die (mortality), or the disease (if any) from which you die.

But general health checks cost individuals and companies a lot of money (and time), and may lead to unnecessary anxiety and patient harm.

Under the pretense of detecting an asymptomatic disease in its early stage and presumably at a stage in which treatment could be more effective in addressing it, healthcare organizations throughout the world conduct tests and investigations that will inevitably lead to findings that “warrant” further investigation and possibly even treatment. A CEO of a hospital once justified the existence of his hospital’s perennial loss-making “Wellness Centre,” where patients first go for the “health checks,” by viewing it as an avenue for diagnostic and other services to be ordered and then provided by the same hospital, hence generating healthy profits for the organization.

The providers of general health checks often pride themselves in patient education, e.g. with regard to diet, exercise, smoking cessation, etc. I suppose this could help improve the health status of the general population. However, I wonder if the same providers will be equally inclined to reveal that the battery of tests that they ordered had little effect in improving the person’s morbidity or mortality (as traditionally purported) and may even be detrimental to the person because the tests and any subsequent investigation or intervention carry a risk of patient harm with little or non-existent clinical benefit.

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Migrated Virtual Private Server to KnownHost

Epiguru.com, together with the website of my healthcare consulting firm and my CPHQ certification membership site, is now hosted by KnownHost on a managed Virtual Private Server (VPS) plan.

About a year ago, I moved all my three WordPress sites to a VPS due to two issues on a shared hosting plan:

  • Poor reliability; and
  • Automatically-generated e-mails were inadvertently regarded as spam by e-mail services.

The move to a VPS gave a noticeable boost in performance and reliability, and I was generally happy with the results for about six months. My sites’ traffic increased considerably and visitors/users were given a better experience.

However, from about June 2012, the server suffered downtime that lasted anything from a few minutes (which I can tolerate) to about 20 hours (unacceptable!). These episodes happened about once a month, but the final straw was two prolonged periods of downtime in December, two weeks apart and which lasted about 20 hours each. (I didn’t lose a single member from my membership site during this month, which is really quite remarkable.) To make matters worse, the response from the VPS hosting provider was nonchalant with a tinge of arrogance.

I had earlier already decided to make a switch to a different VPS host, so the two incidents in December just pushed me to do something that I really should have done months earlier.

The VPS migration happened on New Year’s Eve, i.e., 31 December 2012. It was seamless, real easy. But the initial joy of having a VPS with guaranteed uptime and decent speed did not last long. Yesterday, I learnt (the hard way) that the plugin software driving my membership site was not sending out automatically-generated e-mails after customers had paid for their product. This tends to be a bad thing because it means service recovery from then on. Definitely not good for business!

I also noticed that WordPress would ask for my FTP credentials whenever I wanted to install a plugin:

To perform the requested action, WordPress needs to access your web server. Please enter your FTP credentials to proceed. If you do not remember your credentials, you should contact your web host.

Entering my FTP credentials would lead to successful installation of the plugin, but I suspected that the underlying problem was also causing the membership site to stop sending out automatic e-mails. The latter cannot be done by manually entering FTP credentials. Besides, it’s impractical to enter FTP credentials whenever someone purchased a product.

So I contacted KnownHost Support in the early hours of this morning to explore my options. “Eric” told me that the issue was related to Apache running PHP scripts with DSO PHP handler:

Installation/upgrade of WordPress plugins is not possible with DSO without using FTP login details. It is possible with SuPHP.

The problem with SuPHP is inability to use PHP caching extensions, such as eAccelerator and XCache, translating to slower sites. The main benefit of SuPHP for me was the ability to get my WordPress sites fully functional, but SuPHP is also supposedly more secure than DSO (Dynamic Shared Object).

I didn’t like the idea of slower sites, so we tried chmod 777 to a number of directories and their contents. But this did not resolve the issue.

I eventually relented and requested a change of the PHP handler to SuPHP. Eric did this in less than five minutes, and, like magic, all three WordPress sites regained full functionality.

The entire exercise—from the time I submitted my “High Priority” ticket to when the sites were running on SuPHP—took about 90 minutes. A pretty responsive support desk (!), and a far cry from the service I was receiving from my previous VPS host.

It has only been a few days since I changed my VPS hosting provider but my experience with KnownHost has been nothing short of excellent. I cannot recommend them more highly.

On the downside, my sites have taken a noticeable performance hit with the switch to SuPHP, so I’ll need to spend time addressing this issue. I tried several tactics today in an effort to improve loading times—the only thing that seems to have helped is replacing the W3 Total Cache plugin with the WP Super Cache plugin for epiguru.com. For some inexplicable reason, the CDN plugin that works with WP Super Cache breaks my other site (tehandassociates.com). More work is needed before I get the site speeds back up to what they were before.

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Indoor Rowing Program Back on Track

As it turned out, I wasn’t able to row yesterday because my body was not ready for another 10 km. (It wasn’t going to handle even 2 km.) So I took the day off the rower yesterday—the rest made a huge difference to how I felt this morning. The aches were pretty much gone, and I felt motivated enough to attempt another 10 km. I made the distance comfortable and in two sessions (instead of three, which I did in the previous two days that I rowed). My plan is to continue rowing 10 km per day at least five times a week, and ramp up the daily distance rowed in perhaps a month. At the same time, I’ll try to wean myself off the Prednisolone, which I am taking for presumed post-viral bronchial hyper-responsiveness.

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bend-spoon

I rowed 10 km yesterday after a long layoff. It wasn’t easy but I made the distance, divided into three sessions. To prove that yesterday’s effort was no fluke, I tried rowing another 10 km this evening. I succeeded—again over three sessions—but it was more difficult than yesterday’s row. My shoulders and back felt the strain of yesterday’s rowing session, and I was generally tired from the rowing yesterday and lack of sleep due to rowing-induced aches and pains.

The last few kilometres were challenging. I was tired and body parts—palms, ankles (from friction with the ankle support; I rowed barefoot yesterday), shoulder, lower back, etc.—were sore.

Using a variety of mind tricks, I fought through the exhaustion and pain to record another 10 km. Let’s see if I can repeat the same feat tomorrow evening.

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Resumption of Indoor Rowing

I suffered a severe episode of probable influenza in July, and post-viral reactive airway disease, marked by bronchial hyper-responsiveness, as an after-effect. Although I have never been diagnosed with asthma, I can imagine that I would have the same symptoms if I did—wheeze and coughing with clear sputum production, especially when it is cold or dusty, and shortness of breath (sometimes). The symptoms were particularly bad a few weeks ago because we moved to a new place, where the ambient temperature is at least one degree Celsius lower than our last home (because the new place is further away from the polluted air of town and is surrounded by Penang’s native forest). It got to a point where I felt short of breath even between lifting things, i.e. at rest. To prevent further lung damage and discomfort, I started myself on a course of low-dose Prednisolone to see if it makes a difference. If it did, it would also lend more support for my presumptive diagnosis of reactive airway disease/bronchial hyper-responsiveness. Within a day of commencing oral steroids, my breathing was noticeably better, and I was able to sleep comfortably for the first time in weeks only after about three days of steroid therapy. (I should have tried taking the steroids weeks earlier!)

Even though I still have the occasional cough (with much less clear sputum production) and wheeze, which are almost always precipitated by cold or dust, I felt strong enough to try rowing 10 kilometres today. Before today, I was quite badly limited by my respiratory symptoms, hence the long period of inactivity.

I first rowed 6 kilometres, at good pace, and then took a break of a few hours while attending to more unpacking and sorting of stuff. I also brought out an old DT225 trackball from storage and took photos of its internals to (hopefully) help someone fix an issue with his DT225.

In the evening, I rowed another 4 kilometres, divided in two sessions. Therefore, I rowed a total of 10 kilometres in three sessions through the day. I think today’s steroid-assisted effort exceeded most people’s expectations, including mine.

I’m going to try another 10 kilometres tomorrow.

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Last Sunday, 25 November 2012, my family and I went to Batu Ferringhi beach to join thousands of locals at the Penang Beach Carnival 2012. On what was a glorious day, we participated in the Sandcastle Competition and took home the 1st prize. Our Kingdom of Heaven-inspired sandcastle was constructed in two and a half hours, with Chris (who loathes getting his hands dirty) dishing out instructions to his parents.

The theme for the sandcastle competition was “Cleaner, Greener Penang”, hence the array of flora that was scavenged nearby.

Below is a photo of our winning entry.

Winning Entry for the Sandcastle Competition at the Penang Beach Carnival 2012

From left to right: Chris, Jo, Andy and our friend for many years, Mr Peter Chan PJM, who is also Chairman of the Penang Chefs Association.

In addition to playing with sand, we also watched part of the Mr Penang Beach Carnival 2012 Bodybuilding Competition (“flex… and relax…”) and flew Chris’ kite on the beach.

It was a terrific day at the beach!

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Back on the Rower: Take 2

After a failed attempt at returning to indoor rowing in August due to a persistent cough and wheeze which followed a bad bout of the flu, I’m ready to have another go. My self-diagnosis is post-viral reactive airway disease. Because the symptoms have not been terribly debilitating (I can still work and travel long distances), I haven’t felt the need to seek treatment. And because my symptoms seem to be improving, I decided to try hopping onto the rower again. I rowed for 7 minutes last evening without any untoward effects, finally stopping due to exhaustion, no doubt related to severe deconditioning. Unlike what happened three months ago, neither the cough or wheeze got any worse. I might finally be getting better!

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The last couple of weeks have been busy. I am not in a position to reveal what I’ve been up to, suffice to say that I am in good spirits. I may disclose my recent activities next week.

I have given myself two weeks from today to complete my Kinesis Model 100 Project, mainly because I have other interesting hobby projects to work on.

The plan is to:

  1. Select the right key well to work on first.
  2. Desolder all the switches in the right key well
  3. Remove circuit board/membrane.
  4. Use alcohol to remove the dried hot glue
  5. Remove the switches
  6. For each switch, remove the springs and apply Krytox 205 to their sliders
  7. Replace the spring with different springs:
    • The three medial (closest to the midline) columns will have brand-new 62g Korean springs
    • The next medical column (with the ‘2’ and ‘9’ keys at the top) will have springs from brand-new Cherry MX blue switches
    • The next two (most lateral) columns will have brand-new 55g Korean springs
  8. All springs will be lubricated with Victorinox Multi Tool Oil
  9. Fit the switches into the key well plate and apply hot glue to fix them
  10. Solder the switches to the circuit board/membrane
  11. Reassemble the keyboard
  12. Test to see if everything works
  13. Repeat on the left key well
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IBM Model M 1391401 Keyboard [SOLD]

Manufacturer: International Business Machines (IBM)
Model: Model M 1391401 Gray label
Serial Number: 3178866
Serial Number: 4 September 1987
Condition: Very Good
Cosmetics: Very good. A few minor signs of wear, no deep scratches, no major scuffs, no yellowing. Two-piece keycaps. The SDL-to-PS/2 cable is the original IBM cable that came with the keyboard—it has kept its coils very well despite its age.
Operation: Works perfectly. Classic Model M clicky sound from each key. Occasionally, Model Ms, even brand new ones, have broken plastic rivets. This keyboard has no broken rivets.
Price: SOLD!
Shipping: Free of charge. This keyboard was sold to a Singaporean mechanical keyboard enthusiast—his first mechanical keyboard! (A fine choice.)
Contact: modelm4sale@gmail.com

Another IBM Model M keyboard, in very good condition.

The keyboard was manufactured on September 4, 1987. Consistent with its date of manufacture, this keyboard features old school metal stabilizers under the big keys, e.g., “Enter” and “+” of the numeric pad. Model M manufactured from late 1988 have plastic stabilizers instead of the metal ones that you see on this keyboard.

Each key was tested both via a PS/2 port as well as a USB port with a Blue Cube USB-to-PS/2 adapter, and works perfectly. The person to whom I sold this keyboard also purchased a brand-new Blue Cube PS/2-to-USB adapter from me. In this case, the buyer required a Blue Cube adapter to enable the keyboard to work on his MacBook Pro laptop computer. I recommend people to get a Blue Cube adapter even if their computer has a PS/2 port for several reasons:

  • The adapter makes the keyboard future-proof (for at least the next five years)—it would allow the keyboard to work seamlessly with any modern keyboard. (Modern keyboards do not usually have a PS/2 port.)
  • The Blue Cube is the only PS/2-to-USB adapter that has worked with every IBM Model M keyboard that I’ve tried (that’s easily more than 50, and counting).
  • Good value. For the combination of its compact size, proven durability, and price ($15 or less for a brand-new Blue Cube), I don’t think there is any PS/2-to-USB adapter that can compete with the Blue Cube.

I guarantee that you will not find any other IBM Model M in this condition with all the special features (gray IBM badge; made by IBM USA and not Lexmark or Unicomp; non-stretched original IBM SDL-to-PS/2 cable; metal stabilizers under larger keycaps instead of plastic ones; no broken plastic rivets, etc.) for sale at this price (or lower) anywhere in Singapore or Malaysia, and quite possibly the rest of Southeast Asia.

External Reviews of the IBM Model M Keyboard

Many people in Asia are unfamiliar with this legendary keyboard. So I’ve included some links to reviews of this keyboard below. If you are new to buckling springs keyboards, you should probably have a look at these reviews and do your own Google search.

Video of IBM Model M Keyboard

To get an idea of the clickiness of typing on an IBM Model M keyboard, watch the following video:

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