So I guess I gave a TED - no, a TechTalk. No, a TextBlade Talk. In a THEATER!

I suspect many folks here saw or in the very least heard about the new Avengers:Endgame movie that just came out. I saw it twice, and each time was in a theater with leather seating, food served at your seat, and space enough to sit back and type on a TextBlade before the movie starts.

Any time people see me typing on the TextBlade, they take notice. Often they have questions. But it turns out being in a theater full of “geeks” guarantees a lot of interest. Both times, as people were walking by, they had questions and I answered them. But one night in particular, AFTER I’d answered questions people had, I noticed the conversation about the TextBlade continued behind me (I was sitting toward the front of the theater). I heard people saying things like that it was the sort of thing Ironman would have and use (I’d agree!). People wondered (of course!) when they could get their own. I heard one person mention it was the size of your thumb (it isn’t that small). Eventually I found myself answering questions as new people walked into the theater and joined this kind of lingering conversation that was happening behind me, in front of me, and on both sides of me.

Someone said I should stand up front and before I knew it I was in front of the screen about twenty minutes before the movie started answering all kinds of questions people had. At one point I had to assure them that no, I was NOT the inventor of the TextBlade, hahah! (If only!)

One of the questions I answered was of course what the website was, but I explained in painstaking detail that there was NO assurance of when they’d receive it. I mentioned this occurrence to Waytools and was surprised when they told me there was a significant and very noticeable uptick in orders from Arizona (where I live). That surprised me because honestly, I would have thought given how careful I was to explain that there was NO WAY to know when they’d get it, that most people would be put off from ordering. Yes, I clarified it was originally announced back in January of 2015. For the people not as good with math, I literally said in that theater that Waytools began taking orders more than FOUR YEARS ago and it still hasn’t shipped. I said all that, and apparently enough people in that theater decided to order TexBlades that Waytools could notice the bump.

Clearly, among fans of the Avengers: Endgame movie, there are those that see the TextBlade as something worth investing in. :slight_smile:

There is another thing on my mind about the TextBlade though. It is hard to quantify, but I’m going to try.

I haven’t been here since the beginning. I’m not a person that placed an order in January 2015 and that still has not been accepted to TREG. So I’m wholly unqualified to try to put myself into those shoes and pontificate about how I’d feel. I can describe how I -think- I’d feel. But I’m not living that life am I?

As I’ve mentioned before, there are things I know that not even other TREG members know. This is because I’ve been lucky enough to have Mark share more of the behind the scenes information with me. I don’t know why for sure, but I suspect that, because I’ve been doing engineering and software work my entire adult life, and that there are surprising bits of overlap in terms of what they’ve done and what either I’ve been exposed to, used, or done myself, that Mark has decided to share some extra things with me. He’s done so in confidence and to date, despite many people trying many things, I’ve done my best to keep those confidences, even among my fellow TREGers. For example, a fellow TREG member recently said something to the effect of: “We all signed the same NDA - just share what you know with all of us”. The thing is, yes, we all signed the same NDA, but what Mark shared with me was sort of a gentleman’s agreement on TOP of that, and I honor such agreements.

So here I am, again, with some information other folks are not privy to. And I try to put myself in the shoes of people that aren’t even in TREG. People that have been waiting, some patiently, some not so patiently, for the day they can use their very own TextBlade. I asked myself, what would -I- want to know, that I can share? I’m going to do what I can:

  1. From my own standpoint, I’ll re-iterate some things I’ve said before: I am STILL amazed at how tiny the TextBlade is. How portable. How I can have it with me ALWAYS. How flawlessly I can switch between multiple devices with it. How reliable it is. How, while it DOES have a learning curve, and how, while I still make mistakes from time to time (notably getting a Z instead of an A or getting M’s when I want an N, things like that), it is the best most portable keyboard I’ve ever EVER -EVER- used!

  2. Next up, the question I see all the time, and which I’m least able to answer: If it is so good, WHY THE HECK ISN’T IT SHIPPING YET?!?!?!? I’ve got a partial answer for you guys today. I’m hoping it makes sense.

First, take a look at these people and what surrounds them:

https://na.rdcpix.com/1858993262/b943f56c484fca795646f20f4d602287w-c0xd-w640_h480_q80.jpg

Next, try to imagine this room has no external access. To get to it, you need to travel through three other rooms to get to it. And each of THOSE rooms is more full than this one. Next, imagine that you need to get a Grand Piano into the room pictured above. Not easy. Now imagine you had to do it without REMOVING anything from the house. All you were allowed to do was to re-arrange things to get the Grand Piano into the room she’s in. You can kind of picture the process, and it isn’t a pretty one.

I’m not happy about it, but that is basically where the TextBlade had gotten. You’ve seen Waytools comment about it here on the forums, though in different ways than I’ve described above. And to be honest, I think they would probably prefer a different analogy to the one I used, but the fact remains - they were in a situation that was untenable - to add new features, to fix existing bugs, they had to rearrange all that had come before. I know a few of the intricate details of just what extent this had reached, and… it was bad. VERY bad.

So why did it get that way? Why didn’t they plan ahead enough to keep it from happening?

The short version is that they planned ahead, but they didn’t plan FAR ENOUGH ahead. They had a lot more space in the device originally than they thought they’d ever need. But over time, what they had implemented in the way of bug fixes, required functionality, and yes, new features that weren’t in the original specification, like Jumps, they ran out of room. Not only did they run out of room, but they had to find new ways to store the things they already had. Refactoring, being creative, literally finding space to put things that they hadn’t originally intended to put there. You name it.

You could make the argument that they went so far down that road of cramming things in that they should have known better long before it got as bad as it did (and maybe they knew that, I don’t know!). You could make the argument that they should have stopped development long enough to fix this problem rather than making it worse.

I choose to say that they went sufficiently down this road to determine what truly had to be in the solution, sufficiently down this road to confirm they COULD DO all the things they wanted to do. And then, after reaching that point, they knew they needed to fix the problem. They knew they couldn’t ship their product while it was in the state it was in. They knew they wanted to be ABLE to add a Grand Piano, several Grand Pianos. And they knew they wanted to be able to do that without re-arranging everything in the entire house.

I’m aware of some of the low level details of how they made a set of changes, how significant they are, and what those changes will enable. I’m going to try to characterize it as follows. This is what we will have when the new firmware is shipped out:

https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/banners/1553105383_spring-duncan2.jpg

A wide open FIELD, tons of room, ready to do whatever you’d like. How easy would it be to place a Grand Piano into that field?

SO EASY! :slight_smile:

  1. How long will it be before you all get to know more of what I know right now? Well, considering I was hopeful last November that more information would have been made public by now… yeah. I don’t want to get overly zealous, but I think I can safely say this: Based on my most recent conversation with Mark, I’d be surprised if you don’t know more in less than two months. Hopefully significantly less than two months from now. Does this mean the world ends if we don’t get that information in the next two months? No. Does it mean Mark guaranteed ANY timeline about when more information would be made available? No. So please read this as I intend it - I’d be surprised if we are here, two months from now, and you STILL haven’t gotten more meaningful information. But I can’t guarantee anything other than that I’d be surprised. :confused:

  2. With all this talk about “WHEN WILL WE EVER GET TO GR”, what about after GR? I know people here are (understandably!) loathe to discuss what might happen AFTER GR when they’ve been waiting years just to get to GR… But I still think it is worth talking a bit about life after GR. In a nutshell, things don’t stop. I think if anything, they accelerate. Right now everything is gated by the simple and IMPORTANT question: “Is this thing we’d like to work on going to get us to GR quicker?” AFTER GR, it simply becomes “Is this something people would want to have?”. I am also privy to a lot of the things they are hoping to do soon after GR. Many of these things I’ve been aware of for a year or more now. So in a sense, for ME, these new features are like the TextBlade itself is to YOU (I’m talking to the people NOT in TREG right now). Knowing what I do about what is coming, I’m -MORE- excited for all of that than I was to originally get the TextBlade! So what I’m saying is - as great as the TextBlade is, as much as you are hoping to get yours, know that there is so much more to come that even after you get your TextBlade, you will be right back here, hoping for something that isn’t out yet. But the difference will be - THEN, after GR, the TextBlade will be real to you. You’ll have it in your hands, you will KNOW it was worth waiting for. And so, as you lust after the things that will come after GR, you will have confidence they will see the light of day.

I’ve never forgotten that there are tons of people here in the forums (and people not even on the forums) that have been waiting for their TextBlade longer than I’ve KNOWN about the TextBlade. I advocate for you guys and gals. I think about you. I don’t forget you. And I fight to get us closer to GR. I know NONE OF THOSE THINGS has put a TextBlade into your hands up to now. But I want you to know that I care about you and I haven’t forgotten you. And I never will. Until MAYBE the day you all get your TextBlade. But even then it is worth remembering that it is all of you that made this thing possible. Without all the customers backing the TextBlade, there wouldn’t be investors willing to finance all the work being done to get it into your hands.

-Verxion

P.S. I haven’t been on the forums much since November. We have been incredibly busy - we are STILL working to adopt our little “almost two year old” son that we’ve had in our care since right after he was born. We have another court date on May 10, and are still PROBABLY several months out from being able to adopt him. But the good news, the INCREDIBLY good news is that his bio parents have finally realized that they are just not in a position to be able to parent their child (they LOVE him, they just aren’t able to provide the environment he needs to thrive). We knew this because we went through this whole process with his sister (who we have already adopted), but understandably, for loving parents, they wanted to try to do what would be best - for THEM to parent their son. Not only have they come to realize they aren’t able to do that, they have told the court they truly want their son to be placed with us for adoption! The road we are on is still a long one and it will take months to get there, but this is the foundation upon which we will finally be able to have this amazing tiny little man permanently become a member of our family. :slight_smile:

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Quite a relatable story, @Verxion. I too have had the comment, ‘Move over Tony Stark.’ TextBlade draws attention wherever I use it in public. I can only hope that I’ve inspired a few orders.

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I’m certainly hoping it will be less than two months. Within a month would be more encouraging. After all, they already said on the forum the tech update they’ll post will come before the new firmware is sent out. So the longer we wait for the tech info, that just pushes everything else further back. But what happens, happens.

I wonder if they might say something about how long it would be from the time they decide their testing and treg testing is successful (thus approving GR) and when the first units would go out? I don’t think that has ever been mentioned. IOW, not pinning down when they think it WILL be approved, but whenever that is, how long after what do they ship.

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I have the firm impression that once they are ready for GR that production TextBlades will be in people’s hands just a couple days later.

-Verxion

I can think of a number of things that could happen between saying to go ahead and actually shipping.

They may have, relatively, small numbers being made (in the thousands at some point, but well below a full ramp up). So they’d need to take whatever steps they need to ramp up. They may also opt to make a bunch of them but not ship until they can do a bunch all at once. I hope they wouldn’t wait, but it is possible.

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Only significant thing they should still need to do at that point is to load the latest firmware in. EVERYTHING else should have been done before that.

-Verxion

I was under the impression that they have a large quantity on hand that would just need new key caps and firmware. This probably doesn’t cover all open orders, but could be a good start.

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I think there will be a significant effort involved with contacting people to confirm shipping addresses are correct, keycap choices, etc…

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Yeah, that too

I think that they won’t announce GR without having fixed the goods for mass delivery already.

Exactly. Well ahead of shipping, of GR readiness, they will need to confirm addresses (surely many people have moved since 2015!), and done all the hardware related fixups, keymaps or whatever it might be.

Then when GR is finally ready, they just ship.

-Verxion

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I guess I should have specified as to when they decide, internally, that it is ready to ship - not when they tell us it is, which could be some period of time.

Also, when they do announce and send out those confirmation emails to update addresses, layouts, etc, I hope they won’t wait until they get most of them back.

I figure, if they ship in order (which may not be perfect if they don’t run the different keycaps at the same time), they should start right away.

Suppose they have 10,000 ready to go and, to keep it simple, let’s say everybody ordered a qwerty layout of the first 10,000 orders. I would then take every person of those first 10,000 orders and as soon as their confirmation email was returned, I’d ship their TB. That way, within reason (you can’t wait forever if someone doesn’t respond) there is no delay for those orders. If 1000 don’t respond right away, well, you might hold on to 1000 of them so when they do respond, you can still ship them right out. Maybe for the first week. Anyone who takes longer than that will still get a priority as more are made, but they won’t be holding existing ones more than a week - they just go to the next 1000 people who did respond.

With all the time that has already passed, I wonder if they might give us some up to date info on how fast they can make them? Oh, I’m sure it will be vague, as in the past (things like “many thousands” or “tens of thousands” doesn’t narrow things down much, but it’s good to have something.

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image

Another way to visualize the work we’re doing right now.

Look at the first shelf in the upper left.

Even though it’s organized well, it’s very hard to add more books, because it’s too tight.

Look at the next two shelves to the right. There are many books, but there’s some room to maneuver.

Now look at all the new shelves below.

There’s plenty of room to do whatever needs doing, so adding books is easy and fast.

You want wide open shelves for general release.

And you can’t build them while the library doors swing open.

Now is the smartest time, because of the already visible user excitement about where this platform can go.

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TextBlade is very much an eye-catching technology. I’ve had a lot of folks ask me about it, on my university campus, or on the bus, or when I use it on my breaks at work. People see about it and they want to know what this bit of wizardry is. I’ve done my best to explain it, and point out that it is available for preorder but isn’t general release yet. I don’t know how many orders have come out of me talking to people, but I don’t think that it’s enough to cause a noticeable bump in the statistics–well done, @Verxion !

As for TextBlade being something that Iron Man would use–in many ways, it’s actually better. All through the MCU films, we see Stark and others working away on see-through glass displays, or holograms in the air, none of which provide any tactile input–they exist purely because they are cinematic. They let us the viewers see what’s going on and they make it look cool. But, without any touch response, those glass displays and holograms are of very limited utility as far as text input and a number of other things. There’s even an episode of Agents of Shield where the people that are trained to use the hologram table aren’t around, and the other folks are trying to use it, and just make a complete mess of the holograms because they can’t intuitively feel what they’re doing and where their hands are supposed to be. There is absolutely no way they could use those three-dimensional, touchless interfaces without looking, constantly, at what they’re doing.
TextBlade, on the other hand, gives you that tactile feedback, constantly, all the time. Every sculpted keytop, every feel and sound of the keys pressing, it all works together to tell you what’s what by non-visual senses, and that is truly a wonderful thing.

Iron Man could implement something like that into the hands of his armor–put in haptic feedback systems so that he could feel any virtual object, and type on any keyboard he could program into his list of simulated VR objects. Were he to do so, I am confident that a TextBlade would be nearly optimal in shape, possible with one keyblade and one spaceblade per hand so that he could type on it without having to put his hands together, but that’s really the only improvement I can think of that Stark tech could make to the idea of the TextBlade. And, maybe we’ll get something like that for the TextBlade Mark 2–Iron Man suit probably not included. :wink:

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