Last night I attended the inaugural meeting of the Boulder-Denver Ruby User’s Group. “Meeting” was a term used in the loose sense–it was more a gaggle of Ruby enthusiasts sitting around tables with beer, chatting about Ruby and other geek stuff. The meeting was held at a brewery, so it was impossible to hear people more than a couple feet away, but as the group shifted around I probably talked with half a dozen others.

These are documents from the Magic Cap SDK which may be of interest to the community, particularly those into software development and usability. Warning to developers digging for ideas: some topics discussed in these docs are covered by patents. Using Magic Cap: User-level documentation for Magic Cap 3.1, i.e. what runs on the DataRover 840. Recommended to anyone who hasn’t seen/used Magic Cap in person. Design and Magic Cap: An older document covering the design and usability of Magic Cap, targeted at application designers.

When I first moved to Silicon Valley I worked crazy hours. I loved my job and I needed to prove myself, so I was coding like crazy. That translates to typing like crazy, and it wasn’t long before that caught up with me. This article covers my ensuing experience with ergonomic keyboards and the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Rewind to 1995. I could type pretty fast on a normal keyboard. My touch typing was not textbook proper, but hey, it worked fine for me. I started getting worried when I would go home and I could still feel the tension in my forearms and wrists. I figured that if I was going to be a programmer geek for any decent amount of time, I’d have to fix those problems pronto.

I got to talking to Eric Townsend, a coworker of mine who owned the wackiest keyboard I had ever seen. It was a Kinesis Contoured keyboard. I found myself fascinated enough to drop the $300 (at the time) to get one myself.

Question: Whatever became of Magic Cap? Will it ever be released into the public domain? Is OpenMagic happening behind closed doors somewhere? Answer: Unfortunately, no. Here’s the story according to Steve Schramm, former General Manager of the Magic Cap division and CEO/President of DataRover/Icras: Andy [Hertzfeld] strived to open Magic Cap at the time of the GMGC bankruptcy. If I remember Andy’s explanation correctly, Nathan Myrvold, formerly of Microsoft, used the bankruptcy process to capture the IP after Andy Hertzfeld working with Andy Rubin had won two previous decisions to get the Magic Cap IP.
Operating System: Magic Cap pre-1.0. Pros: Slim form factor, cool looks (perhaps the coolest). Cons: Awful screen, custom battery, difficult left-handed operation. History Bamboo was a mystery to me: definitely before my time at General Magic, I remembered only seeing references to it in the Magic Cap 1.x source code. But when I asked around among other ex-Magicians, nobody else knew about it, either. When I told Mark ‘The Red’ Harlan I had discovered one, he said: “AWESOME.

CujoChat icon

CujoChat is an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client for Magic Cap communicators. IRC is a multi-user, real-time conferencing/chat system running on the Internet. Users talk on topic-oriented channels, such as #magic-cap, or directly with other specific users. IRC has been around since 1988, and since then it has gained quite a bit of popularity. There are usually thousands of active channels, so you can find people talking about almost anything.

MagicHTTP icon

As I was digging through some backup CDs I stumbled onto this little gem from my General Magic days. MagicHTTP was a web server I built in early 1996 that ran on Magic Cap personal communicators. Not a web browser, but a web server. You could easily create pages on your communicator that others could view with any web browser. Additionally, the server would translate Magic Cap text styles into HTML tags.