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Optimus Keyboard Starts Shipping 309

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the true-sticker-shock dept.
Tom's Hardware is reporting that the Optimus keyboard that everyone was so anxious for (although maybe less so when they saw the price tag) started shipping this week. "According to an announcement made on the Optimus project blog, keyboards are now shipping to customers who pre-ordered the $1564 keyboard nine months ago. Keyboards with passive keys are delayed and will be shipping in about a month, the manufacturer said. [...] Earlier this month, one of the first Optimus Maximus keyboards was sold for $2750 on Ebay." Engadget even got the chance to test one of these expensive toys out.
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Optimus Keyboard Starts Shipping

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  • Review summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smackheid (1217632) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:37PM (#22519138) Homepage Journal
    -LEDs are bright and clear
    -Key Image Editing is quick and painless (use your graphic editor of choice)
    -Still some quirks to work out with Macs
    -High-quality parts and construction
    -Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.
    • Re:Review summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:43PM (#22519230) Homepage

      Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.

      Don't a lot of old-timers say that the keyboards of old, where you actually got some resistence from the keys, were more comfortable to type with than the yielding keyboards of today?

      In any event, it's interesting to see that advances are still being made in keyboard technologies. The input model of, say, the film minority Minority Report [amazeon.com] , where you have to wave your arms around would in reality prove highly exhausting. Voice input isn't anywhere near ready, especially for people like me who are entering a different language in each window on the screen. And unless Kurzweil is right after all, I'm sure we're still a long ways off from direct neural input.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *
        I'm also glad to see that keyboard technology is still evolving, but I'm not sure Optimus is the right direction. Instead of an extremely expensive new keyboard that needs lots and lots of delicate tech and will slow down my workflow, I wouldn't mind having a little less hardware sitting under my fingers. Button-pushing seems to me to be so 20th century. Because of the type of work (and play) I do with my computer, I'd like to have ways to interact in much more subtle and complex ways than just "click cl
        • Re:Review summary (Score:5, Informative)

          by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:16PM (#22519684)
          You mean something like TouchStream [fingerworks.com] from Finger Works [fingerworks.com]? This [fingerworks.com] is just a sample of the input commands for text editing.

          Apple bought them and incorporated their tech into the iPhone, iTouch, & MacBook Air. I suspect 2 finger scrolling and right click on the Intel laptops also came out of this.

          You can find iGestures on eBay, but they're fetching a pretty penny last time I checked. They even have a macro editor and such so you can assign any finger gesture to almost anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
          For someone with a musical background, who may have the subtlety of touch required, that would be fine. I personally prefer something a bit less responsive, as I have a tendency to slide my fingers across the keyboard which leads to a lot of typos on more responsive keyboards.

          If I'm doing a lot of typing I prefer a heavier keyboard; I find accuracy and action of the keyboard more than compensate for the increased "work" of typing.

          That being said, I can't imagine paying for a keyboard with the LED picture ke
      • Re:Review summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ushering05401 (1086795) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:27PM (#22519848) Journal
        Having resistance and click-points on a keyboard was very helpful. When typing on such a keyboard I would never bottom out the key, thus expending extra force.

        When using modern clickless (and mushy) keyboards I often find myself 'bashing' keys harder the faster I type. It has something to do with the lack of tactile feedback while touch typing.
      • Re:Review summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dindi (78034) on Friday February 22, 2008 @08:19PM (#22522818) Homepage
        On resistance keyboards:

        Well, I thought so, and used IBM M-type (the old clicking type), than switched to multiple ergonomic ones, and could not understand why they are so soft and why they switch well known key placements...

        Then the new Apple "keyboard" arrived. Same feeling as a laptop keyboard. Not much feedback, but very sleek feel.

        I just wish someone put out a new keyboard which is as sexy as the apple, same feeling as a laptop, but ... but split. Just split the damn thing and make it connected via a ball joint, so you can turn it into any direction, or even separate them.

        Hmm, I guess for now I live with the apple, and maybe someone comes up with something like that.

        Now on the Optimus : great idea for gamers and maybe video editors to highlight stuff. For the typist/programmer/technical-technician: useless. I do not look at the keyboard too much, so for me that is really overkill.

        just my 2c
      • My computer is less than a year old. My keyboard is 15 years old. It's so old I have an AT->PS2->USB adapter just to get it to work with my present computer.

        You have to be careful when talking about resistance. Old skool keyboards are considered good because there is a significant difference in force from before the key has activated to after it has been activated. So if you just nudge a key, it has some firm resistance, then when it clicks, it has almost no resistance at all (at least until you h
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:45PM (#22519262)
      -Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.

      Phew! Good thing I wasn't planning on using my keyboard for that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gnick (1211984)
        Actually, I can think of at least a couple of applications for a keyboard like this where additional key resistance wouldn't be a big deal:

        * A public terminal at the U.N. or other international agency. You wouldn't expect (or encourage) long use-times at public terminals and venues like the U.N. could really make use of a keyboard that can change character sets quickly and easily.

        * Gaming. Now, most of my gaming experience is with FPSs and real-time strategy, but the keyboard use (although important) was
        • by ronadams (987516) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:13PM (#22520494) Homepage
          I'm going to have to contend with your gaming point. In an RTS, a decent player can have an APM (actions per minute) from between 90-250, depending on the game. Granted, a good bit of mouse clicking is figured in there, but it's a whole hell of a lot of hotkeys. A super heavy keyboard would drive me nuts while I'm trying to order 200 zerglings [wikipedia.org] to bite your medics.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dedazo (737510)

      -Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.

      I was talking with a friend about this and while I type really fast and need a keyboard that will keep up with me, he's a touch typist (or hunt-and-peck I guess) and he said he wouldn't care about that, considering the rest of the features. He used to be a fan of the old Gateway programmable keyboards and that's more important to him than key switch strength since he doesn't really type that much. Come to think of it

      • by aesiamun (862627)
        A touch typist isn't a hunt and peck typist...

        if you can type long strings of words without ever looking at the keyboard and know how to align your fingers to the home keys then you are a touch typist...

        if you look at every key you type and tend to use 1-2 fingers to type...then you're a hunt and peck...er
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:54PM (#22519386) Journal

      Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.
      Assistant: Every student in the school's grades are still failing.
      Principal: Well, what about all the super resistant Optimus Maximus keyboards we gave them to repress internet usage?
      Assistant: That backfired and merely created a generation of hackers with super strong fingers. We've got them trapped in the gymnasium but you can only approach them in specialized suits with extra padding so they can't get their fingers around your limbs or any part of your body. Several teachers have had their arms and wrists broken after attempting to block all gaming ports ... things have gone from bad to worse, sir.
      Principal: Damnit, I was hoping it wouldn't come to this ... *sigh* ... increase the creatine dosage in the locker room drinking fountains. And then ... release the jocks into the gym. Kill all power and lights to the gym and pipe loud Metallica through the speakers to hasten the process.
      Assistant: But ... but ... sir how will we stop the overpowered jocks once they are done?
      Principal: Simple, we just increase the depressants being injected into the goth kids and the problem will eventually take care of itself, we might even be on the news!
    • Re:Review summary (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:02PM (#22520314) Journal
      $1564 keyboard

      -Still some quirks to work out with Macs
      -Requires extra strength for keypresses, so unsuitable for typing more than a few minutes.


      Erm, uh, the summary gives no indication whatever why this sucker costs more than a new computer. Is the damned thing made of gold and diamond studded?

      Some people have too many dollars and no sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Brandybuck (704397)

      use your graphic editor of choice

      Still some quirks to work out with Macs

      That reminds me of the Model T. You get your choice of color so long as it's black.
  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MonorailCat (1104823) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:37PM (#22519146)
    according to Engadget, not only is it wildly expensive, but it's painful to type on. I wish form followed function a little more often in the gadget world.
  • Lawsuits? (Score:4, Funny)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:38PM (#22519150) Journal

    one of the first Optimus ...
    I'll bet when Prime [michaelbay.com] saw this keyboard, he ran and got Lawyer-bot and they sued the ever livin' shit out of Art Lebedev.

    ... Maximus keyboards was sold for $2750
    And then when Russel Crow [es-tu.com] saw it, he went and got Litigiosus Andronicus and did the same.

    I think I have some good ideas for some more keyboard names:
    • Neo Bourne
    • Skywalker Castle
    • Wolverine McBain
    • The Incredible Thing
    • Thor Rambo
    • Rocky Terminator
    • Frodo Potter
    • Riddick Kenobi
    • Walker Texas Bauer
    • Sorry, I was with you right up until

      Walker Texas Bauer

      which would, of course, violate certain laws of thermodynamics and cause the universe to implode.

      On the plus side, if his gun ever jammed, he could simply toss a bullet into the air and roundhouse it into the terrorist's thigh.

  • Design flaws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:42PM (#22519210)
    The DC supply plugs into the back of the keyboard, ugly for such a otherwise expensive and well designed keyboard.

    Why couldn't they have a split end on the keyboard cable with the DC input and USB connections, that way you would have no DC cable in sight.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tknd (979052)

      I think there are more serious flaws with this "customizable display on key" concept. One issue is if the keys are dynamic (they change function) then in order for the user to recognize the function of the key, the user has to look at his keyboard. Many typists no longer look at the keyboard when they're typing and even if they do, they don't "hunt" for keys. People can do this and type fast because they have built the necessary mapping in their brain to not have to process things like finding where each k

  • ALL my keys would be Tatu jpgs. Fuck the Optimus anyhow - I have a Lemur [jazzmutant.com]!
  • While it is cool and all. I think Multi-Touch displays may make these keyboards obsolete and perhaps cheaper too.
    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      While it is cool and all. I think Multi-Touch displays may make these keyboards obsolete and perhaps cheaper too.

      I was going to say that those would be horrible for touch-typing. Then I remembered the review saying that it's actually horrible for doing proper typing on anyway, so you're probably right.

      If the intended use was sporadic keypresses (a la Photoshop shortcuts), then a multi-touch display (*) *is* probably just as good. So although this keyboard is cool-looking and all that, ultimately it's going to do better at being a "real" usable keyboard, or it's just going to be an overpriced piggy in the middle.

      (

    • by fmobus (831767)
      Yeah because, for some reason, NOT having tactile feedback is a good idea. See iPhone: perfect for typing long texts!
      • So lets wait a couple decades so every hot point has a static charge on the display so you can feel they keys.
  • Optimus fails it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:44PM (#22519248)
    From the Engadget article:

    Okay, why does typing on the Optimus suck, you ask? Well, although the keyboard uses mechanical switches and a lot of high quality components (evident when we pulled off some keys), and there is some clicky tactility to keypresses, as a whole it just requires way too much force to depress keys. And the larger the key, the more force is required, so enter is easier than space, but harder than tab. Let's put it this way, we sit around and type all day long and this thing wore us out in about 30 seconds to a minute. Carpal sufferers, beware.

    So, the keyboard is painfully inadequate at doing the one thing keyboards are suppodes to be doing: data input. Kinda like a solid gold mouse that won't track, or a 80-inch monitor that won't display better than 800x600. Pretty pointless.
    • "or a 80-inch monitor that won't display better than 800x600"

      Those exist, they're called HDTVs.
    • by Telvin_3d (855514)
      Well, that's not quite what they say. They say it sucks as a TEXT input device, at least in comparison to other keyboards. On the other hand, as a context sensitive input/output device it sounds like it works exactly as promised. As someone who spends a lot of time switching between programs that have several hundred possible hotkeys each, I would love one of these. In a couple years, I expect to buy the $200 descendant.
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jointm1k (591234) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:46PM (#22519272)

    This thing is the dumbest thing ever. Even more useless than the display on the G15 gaming keyboard. Who fricking watches the keys while typing or gaming?! And according to the review typing sucks on this keyboard. WTF? A keyboard that does not allow you to type properly has no reason to exist. And what looney pays $2750 for it?

    Made by idiots, for idiots.

    Flame on!

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Funny)

      by jointm1k (591234) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:00PM (#22519470)

      Haha, I bet the one who modded me as a troll actually pre-ordered one. Poor schmuck.

    • by Fex303 (557896)

      Even more useless than the display on the G15 gaming keyboard. Who fricking watches the keys while typing or gaming?!

      That was actually great for two reasons. First off, it let me see what was playing in iTunes without leaving WoW. Second, it had all my WoW stats when I wanted to see them. Really handy when changing armor. (Which I did often, since I played a druid.)

      The G15 LCD is great for stuff that you don't want to see most of the time, but would like to be able to get to quickly occasionally.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Reapy (688651)
        I agree, G15 is great when a game supports it. My two favorite uses of it include the clock for when I'm gaming so I can see that I actually need to get to bed on time (No clock on the wall in pc room) and the support for fraps so I can check my fps all the time without disturbing the picture.

        There are even some miranda-im plug ins that show what people are chatting to you (so you can view while gaming) and I believe there is a teamspeak plug in that will show who is currently talking.

        There are just a ton o
    • Agreed. Of all the things to rice out on a computer (which I think is stupid as a whole), why the keyboard? My keyboard gets about as much visual attention as my mouse.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "Who fricking watches the keys while typing or gaming?! "

      A lot of fricking people.

      Plus it's designed to make things you would be mousing with a little easier.

      the G15 is killer when gaming. It's not as good a a keyboard that has memory for on board programming, but still macros are very handy, and considering most macro languages in games get castrated soon or later, I would rather right a keyboard macro.
    • by Telvin_3d (855514)
      You obviously do not use any 3D modeling software. Hundreds of commands. Many of which are used only occasionally. And frequent switching between software packages/versions.

      My current work flow has me using 3DS Max, Photoshop, Illustrator, Combustion and a few smaller miscellaneous programs. I'd be shocked if between them there are less than a thousand hotkeys. In the past, I have used Lighwave and Maya. Those 2 and 3DS share 90% of their possible commands (in the same way that all word programs have
    • by mobby_6kl (668092)
      This keyboard sounds like a good idea when you're faced with trying to memorize this [lead-pursuit.com] (nice pdf, lame html list [www.dunc.de]).

      Well that, and, as others already mentioned, unfamiliar apps with thousands of keyboard shortcuts.
    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:11PM (#22520444)
      Who fricking watches the keys while typing or gaming?!

      I know a WHOLE LOT of hunt-and-peck typists. Doesn't everybody?

      The idea of having a customizable display on each key is a sound one. A modern keyboard has five or six different shift keys, but at most two or three different glyphs on each keycap. A user can only discover other keyboard behaviors from cues provided away from the keyboard (looking at shortcut hints in menus, RTFM, etc.).

      But if the stuff printed on each key changed when you press the Ctrl key? The user will be exposed to so much more functionality! And that's not even mentioning Function keys, or modal software (like vi), or...

      The decisions to use high-resolution full color OLEDs on each key, and require a external power source beyond USB's +5v, and cost twice as much as the computer it's hooked up to, and to make it suck at being a keyboard are all less defensible.

      If they had made a keyboard that felt like a typical $20 OEM keyboard but had a 16x16 monochromatic LCD built into each key, and cost $100, I'd own one for each computer I use regularly.

  • by Will the Chill (78436) on Friday February 22, 2008 @03:48PM (#22519304) Homepage
    Since these things appear to be mostly geared toward Windows users (yes, I know, some Mac too) it's only a matter of time before somebody releases as script-kiddy utility for pwning your friends' and enemies' keyboard OLEDs.

    I can see it now. Grandma is surfing for recipes and all of a sudden her nice new keyboards starts showing all sorts of inappropriate text and images.

    And plus apparently it sucks as a keyboard.

    -WtC

    *** $!g +yP3d 0n 0p+!^^u$ k3Yb0@Rd ***
    • it's only a matter of time before somebody releases as script-kiddy utility for pwning your friends' and enemies' keyboard OLEDs. I can see it now. Grandma is surfing for recipes and all of a sudden her nice new keyboards starts showing all sorts of inappropriate text and images.

      That's a nice idea- but what'd be even cooler is if the displays weren't so small and you could *really* go to town with offending Grandma. We need something huge, like 17" or more- Grandma's just sitting there and she sees "inappropriate text and images" in 1024 x 768 or larger. Right in front of her!

      *Sigh* It'll never happen... how many people (especially Grandma-types) have esoteric things like 17" LCDs or CRTs attached to their computer? We'll just have to stick to offending them through their Optimu

      • by geekoid (135745)
        haha, you don't actually knwo a lot of grandma's these days, do you?

        Most of the ones I work with would just laugh, many of them would be doing this to their friends keyboards on purpose.

        Me, I would make the CEO's keyboard do it, then ask for a promotion so I can 'fix it' so it won't happen again.

        If I was still corporate.
  • Nice to know it's no longer vaporware, but I think I'll have to wait until the price drops by about $1500. Hopefully enough early-adopters are insane enough to blow $1500+ on this thing to expose as many likely bugs as possible.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:00PM (#22519466) Journal
    No wireless. More keyforce than an IBM Model M. Lame.
  • Article is dumb (Score:5, Informative)

    by ianare (1132971) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:02PM (#22519490)
    I like how the article confuses LED with an OLED display, thereby completely missing the point of the device. Any idiot can stick an LED inside a keyboard key, in fact there are plenty of LED back-lit keyboards out there. But putting in a completely programmable display in each key is something much, much more complicated (and cooler). This is why there has been so much interest in it, and why it so expensive.
    Speaking of which, the full blown 103 programmable key version is $1564, but with less programmable keys it is cheaper. As follows [artlebedev.com]:
    • 1 active key - $462
    • 10 active keys - $600
    • 47 active keys - $1000
    • 103 active keys - $1564
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:02PM (#22519498) Homepage
    Unfortunately, the G-15 does exactly what the Optimus will be doing 99.9% of the time, for $1450 less.

    Also there's the Catch-22 that no geek actually looks at the keyboard whilst typing, so the demographic most likely to think it's cool is also the least likely to need it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcnnghm (538570)
      I touch type and I definitely see a need for this. If it was under $300 I would buy one today if it had support for some of the popular keyboard-shortcut heavy applications I use, like Photoshop, Blender, and perhaps even Eclipse. If I could hold down the control key and have the keyboard show me pictorially what each keys function is, it would be well worth the money.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:05PM (#22519548) Homepage Journal
    One of the three signs of the pending Apocalypse:
    • The Optimus keyboard ships
    • The Phantom ships
    • Duke Nukem Forever ships

    Then the Destroyer will plug the Optimus into the Phantom, boot Duke Nukem Forever, and the universe will come to an end.

  • ...since the price has apparently dropped from $1500+ to "only" $462, according to Lebedev's website. And as a $600 iPhone owner, I thought Apple was bad. I suppose at that price I could almost give it serious consideration, but I think I'll wait it out for v2.0.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You need to read better, bud. The $462 price is for the keyboard with ONE programmable button.
    • At least you get a keyboard with the Optimus.

      Sorry, lame and played out, couldn't resist.
  • people still read that site? I thought it had faded away or was that Anand?
  • "And the larger the key, the more force is required, so enter is easier than space, but harder than tab. " whothehellneedsspacewhentheygota$2750oledkeyboard?
  • to use regular everyday keys for the main keys, and use OLEDS only on the Function keys / keypad and perhaps a row of extra keys?

    Of course, that may be a US-centric view of what a keyboard should look like, but I bet that since most of the standard alphanumeric keys don't need to be changed often, it is a waste of OLED functionality. We just want to make our programmable keys prettier.

  • So I take it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:13PM (#22519648)
    You're not supposed to run the Optimus through the dishwasher if it gets dirty and crusty? :) And unless you're filthy rich, you can't chuck it and buy a new one.

    So you either:
    Type with gloves on;
    Use in a clean room;
    Spend a painstaking amount of time cleaning it.

    The Optimus is best at home among all those other impractical gadgets, usually found in HOUSE OF THE FUTURE! exhibits, that aren't used by real people...
    • by geekoid (135745)
      OK mister Hughes you can take the tissue boxes off your feet now.

      How many people use your keyboard? Plus it comes apart for cleaning.

  • According to Bill Gates. http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hWfu1kO8fzvC3It-EWAI2XHL9PGw [google.com]

    PITTSBURGH - Bill Gates predicts people will interact more and more with computers using speech or touch screens rather than keyboards.
    • And we all know how his predictions pan out. "640k ought to be enough to be enough memory for anybody" "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time." "Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time." etc etc etc
    • by geekoid (135745)
      and I predict people will start interacting with their TVs by having more ways to view movies.

      No Shit. Sadly, Gates is often late to the table, sitting at the wrong table and ends up realing on Contact and bullying instead of quality.

      How will they do it? I suspect it will be predictive computing. Something the will be awrward at first, but the more you use the system the better it gets.

  • by Sqweegee (968985) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:14PM (#22519664)
    Am I seeing this properly? Are the hot keys in the second column in the engadget article as follows?

    Firefox, Youtube link, Lesbian porn link!?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dk.r*nger (460754)
      It looks like the TATU girls (russian pop, one red-head, one black-haired - and definitely hitting some lesbian notes in their videos and CD covers), although I can't find a cover that looks like that [amazon.com] - maybe it's for the musicplayer, displaying the cover of the currently playing song.
  • Hey, if the tech industry keeps this kind of thing up, we might see a demo of Duke Nukem forever soon!
  • But seriously, I don't look at my keyboard. When I was but a wee tyke I took typing class and haven't looked down since. While I can appreciate the novelty of having it, how often does anyone look at their keyboard long enough to appreciate this while actually doing work? Is there something I'm just not getting here?
  • When I first saw this keyboard about a year ago (I think) I thought it was extremely cool and wanted one myself. Now I look at it and wonder "what's the point?"

    Obviously it'll get most use out of games where re-mapping keys is essential. But how often do you look at your keyboard while playing a game? I know I never do. I memorize the mapping.

    Maybe the keyboard would make it easy to switch to different mapping sets.. but I'm sure there's software that will do the same thing, and not cost $1800.
  • Now we actually CAN download keyboard drivers!

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