Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Super Bowl LIII Typecast

Super Bowl LIII Commercial

Post-Script: I'm no football fan, don't have a favorite team (except the 1980s-era San Diego Chargers), and didn't have any skin in this game. But I did think it would be fun to try my hand at fledgling sports-writer, 1930 Underwood Portable at hand, to see if I could keep up with the plays. I decided to log the game at local mountain time, instead of the game clock, as this would better illustrate how long one of these matches can last. Ostensibly 60 minutes of play time, it took 3.5 hours, including the halftime entertainment. It's interesting how frequently interrupted the game is with commercial adverts, but that's the NFL these days. Billions of dollars at stake, with the viewers being the product.

I certainly have a newfound respect for the sportswriter of old, sitting at their typewriters, furiously documenting the game. The real sportswriter actually understands the game, knows the players, can find a real story amidst the minutia of statistics, and thus can do a much better job than I. But hey, I got to spend time with family, enjoy food and drink, while typing in the midst of the television program - can't do that once my wife's "stories" come on!

Best of all, I found (or, rediscovered) another use for typewriters. I'm reminded of Robert Messenger, fellow typewriter blogger, who is the real thing - veteran sports writer, reporter and typist.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Sporting Silk

Hermes Rocket at Stag Tobacconist

Post-Script: Of course, I haven't tried every ribbon supplier out there, so there's more exploration to do. One of my YouTube viewers suggested an Etsy supplier of cotton ribbons, which I'll have to try out and review. Another suggested FJA Products, another good supplier.

Blog articles like this one aren't spectacularly informative, but they do represent the ongoing lifestyle of a typewriter aficionado, living with these machines, taking them to the cigar store lounge to write a blog article about taking a typewriter to the cigar store lounge. Self-referential, yes; but I think it's an important aspect of typewriter culture, documenting how we live with, and use, these mechanical wonders, mundane as that might seem.

On a technical note, I like to fold this green engineering paper in half when typing a narrow column for this blog, especially with the Rocket's 13 CPI typeface. So the left edge is creased and the right is open, when threaded through the platen rollers. But the right side must have fed faster than the left, because in the scan you can see the lines of text start out at the top slanted toward the left and end up slanted toward the right at the bottom of the page. Probably some subtle pressure roller issue in the carriage, but nothing that's going to keep me up at night. I should be just left the paper unfolded and used a backing sheet.

In the resulting video, linked below, I have some wonky audio issues, caused partly by a weak battery in my dynamic mic's preamp, which spoiled the video's overall quality, since audio is so important of an aspect to video. I tried to even out the clips' levels, but it's still rather awful. I need to take better care next time.

I have a number of video projects needing to be made, but my time these days has been occupied with edits and rewrites for my Cold Hard Type short story project. I've also been holding off on another typing assignment until the deadline has passed, because I know a number of participants to the series that are also in the midst of writing their Cold Hard Type stories.

Last night I spent hours typing changes to the story on my Royal QDL, while today I once again broke out the Olympia SM3 to type a neat copy incorporating all the changes thus far. While the Royal is a darned good machine, the SM3 is yet a cut above.

I hope to get one more video done this week. Wish me luck, and that the quality will be up to par.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Who's Enabling Whom?

Olympia SM3
Olympia SM3

Post-Script: A big thanks to Ted Munk for identifying it as an SM3. And later I checked the Serial Number Database and found it was made in 1957, the year of my birth.

Which reminds me: do as I say, not as I do. If you have any kind of typewriter collection, you should register them, in serial number and photos if possible, on Ted Munk's site. I've been remiss. Really need to get this done.

Here's Duke City Kitchen's menu.

And here's my vlog-style video on this day of thrift store hunting:

PPS: After typing this two-pager, the backspace decided to start working. Goes to show, these machines thrive on being used.

Now, a preview of an upcoming video: what's the best machine: Olympia SMx, Hermes 3000, Olivetti Lettera 22 or Smith-Corona 5? Hmm...

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Monday, January 14, 2019

ABQwerty Type Writer Society Kick-Off

ABQwerty Type Writer Society Logo
Joe’s Collection

Post-Script: Here's a shot made several weeks ago of the vintage guitar and hi-fi shop next to Rust is Gold Coffee, part of the Albuquerque Arts Collective, who hosted our meeting:


Settling in this evening as the video was uploading, I began perusing the leftover typed sheets that I usually collect from these meetings, and was pleased to find this spontaneous poem:


I assume it was written by Sandra, the lady sitting across the table from me, as I was conversing with the school teacher who acquired one of my machines for his classroom (the Smith-Corona Silent), since it contains references to our conversation. He teaches middle school computer classes, and in our conversation I was trying to make a connection between the broader concept of "mechanical logic" as it applies to manual typewriter mechanisms and the specifics of software-programmed logic. I was, as an example, explaining that each typewriter character key has two "functions" - upper or lower case; or the line spacing selector is an example of 3-state logic. In general, I was using creative analogies to help describe the typewriter as an example of a logical mechanical device, predating electronic programmable computers; an approach he might find useful in his computer classes. I'd like his students to see the typewriter as more than mere historic lineage predating the computer, but a device that exhibits its own sense of pre-wired "logic".

Further down in the poem we see references to my advice on how Sandra could clean her Olympia SM4. I'm going to keep this poem and return it to her at the next meeting. I love spontaneous creativity, since this is one of the primary goals of our society. Well done Sandra!

Typecast via Remington Quiet-Riter.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Grab-&-Go Typing

Rocket Typing at Rust is Gold

Post-Script: This search for the ideal meeting venue is not unique to our fledgling typewriter society. Kevin belongs to a British car club and they, too, struggle with finding the right place for their meetings. I'd like to keep our society dues-free as much as possible, so paying for a meeting place is not the way I want to go. Hopefully our current choice, at Rust is Gold, will be workable for us.

I posted a short video today about the value of books, in particular as they relate to my various arcane interests, and how purchasing used copies of out-of-print editions can be a satisfying way to retain access to these invaluable sources, that are often removed from libraries once they become too worn. I've recently made online purchases of several such special-interest books:

Games Calculators Play, by Wallace Judd

The History of the Abacus, by J.M. Pullan

Narrowcast: Poetry and Audio Research, by Lytle Shaw

Love is Meat, by David W. Pedersen

At the cigar store this week I had a great conversation with a pipe smoker who happened to share an interest in pens, especially fountain pens and mechanical pencils. We had a great time, and it reminded me of the need to take some pens and notebooks with me, to share my interests with fellow aficionados.

Finally, I'd like to mention once again the blog of Austin Kleon. If you are a creative in need of recharging, you need to visit his blog every day. And be sure to follow the many resource links he provides, as you'll soon find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of creative exploration.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Stranger Than Fiction?

Common Grounds Coffee Shop in Payson, AZ

Post-Script: We finally had Internet service restored before dark. Once returning from the cigar store, I spent the afternoon and into the early evening typing up a third draft of my story, in the final formatting required (4"x7" text area), using the Facit 1620. Being as it's a pica typeface, those lines were pretty short, only 40 characters wide, which meant either a lot of empty space on the right side of each line, or excessive hyphens to break up longer words. I chose mainly to leave spaces, but also changed some of the wording from the 2nd draft, so as to fit words more exactly on each line.

To make the process a bit easier while still adhering to the required borders, I drew up a 4"x7" rectangle in bold ink, centered on my backing sheet of paper, to use as a typing guide. It was easy enough to see through my typing paper, which wasn't all that heavy in weight, making the typing process manageable. I'd seriously recommend this method to anyone working on their story for Cold Hard Type.

I also thought about reverting to an elite font machine, but I do like the clearer imprint of pica. My wife reminded me that I'd have the same problem of breaking up words at the right margin, regardless of typeface size.

This exercise also reminded me how nice it is to read a book with justified text. Perhaps someone out there is writing their story on an IBM Wheelwriter 2000?

Despite the challenge of fitting neat, readable type within such narrow confines, while keeping one's story intact, I do understand the needs of the printing process, since the pages need to appear uniform once in book form.

And now it's snowing outside, with a promised blizzard hitting the area. I guess I'll stay indoors and do more typing. Hopefully the Internet stays up.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cold Hard Typing




I've been enjoying this collection of jazz tapes. The Panasonic player is monaural, but has a pretty good tonal range. It's especially handy sitting table side; next to my writing area, where I can stop it easily enough before leaving the room. My Sanyo cassette deck with the Lafayette receiver and Polk speakers are in the garage, not where I want to sit while writing in the wintertime. The garage is also too cold for the Sanyo's health, which I should bring inside the warmer house during the winter months. The garage gets 45f in the winter, not too bad, but enough to cause the old deck some grief. That garage stereo system was intended to be there for the warmer months, and I don't really want a loud system in my office, since it adjoins the bedrooms and I have a tendency to be up late at nights on my off days. So the little Panasonic player is about ideal for my office cassette music needs.

About that top photo, you can see in the upper left corner a Japanese soroban abacus, another addition to my collection. I need to make a video about it soon. Maybe also review my entire collection.

Regarding Richard Polt's Cold Hard Type project, see this link.

If you're interested in my collection of Loser's Blend short stories, see this link.

Here's the website for Rust is Gold Coffee Shop, here in ABQ.

More about my coffee shop typing and the Cold Hard Type project in this video:

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Family Reunion

Joe’s Collection

Post-Script: This was fun. Not just trying to make a self-portrait, but more so the gathering of the typing clan. Do typewriters travel in clans, flocks or gaggles? Hmm. Bunches? Troves? That's more alliterative. Yes, a trove of typers. So be it then. As for the portraits, I ended up with these two:


Also captured some nice "B-roll" footage of the trove.

Typecast on Adobe Rose, the Royal QDL, onto the backside of the recently acquired 4-3/8" wide thermal paper. About perfect width for blogging with elite-sized font.

Here's the video about this shoot:

Today I spent hours making test exposures with my various video cameras, trying out various settings, then uploading the footage repeatedly to my computer and viewing full-screen on my monitor. I'm trying to optimize my video quality. I keep wanting to use the little Canon Vixia 800 camcorder, as I like the form factor and it has good image stabilization. But the video quality just doesn't keep up. Some of the footage in yesterday's video was shot with the Canon and I wished I'd used one of the Lumix cameras instead.

The el cheapo "Ape Man" Go Pro knockoff camera is really small, but has a fish-eye field of view and rather cruddy image quality. I wish someone like Go Pro made one with a flip-up screen and external mic input for vlogging. And better image quality, like the Sony RX0.

The older Panasonic GH-3 has the best 1080P files of the four cameras, but it doesn't have as good of autofocus or dynamic range. The even older G5 has the best colors on its LCD screen but the results don't hold up once imported to the computer. The newer G7 has the best dynamic range and auto focus but the colors tend to be a bit orange, and its 1080P isn't as good as the GH3. But it also has cropped 4K, so that's what it's primary use is for.

As for lenses, the 14-42 kit lens has optical image stabilization but its F/3.5 maximum aperture is a bit slow for dim lighting; whereas the 14/2.5 is faster in low light but lacks OIS. I probably need to bite the bullet and fork over some big bucks for a constant aperture stabilized f/2.5 pro lens. The OIS isn't important for stationary shooting in my office studio, but for moving-around scenes, like this typewriter shoot, I really need better stabilization while maintaining a fast aperture. I don't think Santa will be dropping one down the chimney any time soon, however. Plus, our gas stoves' chimneys are rather narrow. Santa's a big boy, last time I checked.

Oh, well. As George Carlin once said, "you can't have everything - where would you put it?" Probably next to all the typewriters.

Now I have to work on Christmas cards. Yes, I'm running late again. I want to type up some letters to go along with them. Wish me luck.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

How You Doing Now?


Post-Script: I haven't thought much about how to "archive" these typings in my 3-ring binders until now. The width of the paper is too narrow to span two holes of a binder punch. I think I'll just cut some strips of thicker 11" tall paper, maybe several inches wide, then 3-hole punch that strip and tape the top of the thermal paper to the strip, sideways, and fanfold the thermal paper to fit inside the binder.

I use the term "archive" in quotes because of course thermal paper printing isn't archival. But if stored in a cool climate, it can last for years. My expected usage of this kind of printing is first-draft, to later be edited and worked into some more permanent medium; or journal entries; or just idle thoughts or notes that don't deserve permanence. The stuff that's important can of course be scanned into PDFs and archived digitally. And everything I put on this blog, image-wise, is also on Flickr - but we'll just ignore the question of how permanent online media corporations are in this era. I've a paid membership to Flickr, so all my images are, thus far, preserved from whatever upheaval is currently underway, as one company gets bought out by another. As long as I continue to pay my annual fee, that is.

I know some people have advised me to just host my own server and store my own images that way. But however you spin it, you've gotta pay somebody for some kind of service. The people who are currently complaining about the changes at Flickr mostly have been riding for free. You don't get something for nothing.

Okay, I've also got a video up today for The Tape Project series, comparing two "shoe box"-sized compact cassette recorders, a Radio Shack against a Panasonic. I expected the Panasonic to be the clear winner, but some surprises were found.

This week I also made a more permanent intro clip for my videos, that's in 4K, which in iMovie causes the rest of the video to be rendered also in 4K, even if the rest of the clips are only 1080P; which in turn improves playback quality once uploaded to You Tube. I also made an intro clip for the Tape Project.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Thermal Typing at Rust is Gold

Rust is Gold
Thermal Typing

Post-Script: Ted Munk's thermal paper roll holder was much more pragmatic than mine. As is usual for these kinds of projects, I rummage through a bin in my work shop for just the right bits. Usually they aren't ideal, but I figure a way to make them work. In the case of this project, it took several iterations to get a simple, workable holder system that easily breaks down flat enough to fit inside the front pouch of the Brother EP-20 carrying case, along with a roll of thermal fax paper.

When it comes time to cut or sand wood, I like to open the garage door and air out all that sawdust. But cold weather kept me from doing so, and now I have a cleanup job to do when (or if) it does warm up sufficiently.

Here are the components to my paper roll holder, disassembled:


To assemble, first one end of the brass rod is inserted into one of the side brackets:


Then the paper roll is slipped onto the rod:


Then the other bracket is installed:


There's enough clearance for the bottom of a full roll not to drag on the table:


The bracket has a low profile and sits conveniently just behind the machine. In practice it helps to pull out a "service loop" of paper and drape it behind the bracket, so the paper has enough slack to easily feed into the machine.


I thought the experience of writing using this system was actually rather good; better I think than using a manual typewriter in public, which for me is fraught with constant worry about what other people think about the noise. Definitely a usable writing system, and easy to tote around.

Here's a video about today's venture:

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