I plan to contribute something to the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper. The deadline is Sunday, August 2nd, 5 pm EST.
What about you?
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
So, that scrawlcast looks a little problematic, but allow me to explain. It *was* supposed to be a colorcast, but it mysteriously failed as colorcasts sometimes capriciously do, leaving me only with this salvaged piece of kid-artwork that is the backside of the colorcast carbon (that is, the piece of paper with the crayon scribbled on it), on which I alternated typing with the template setting and a non-advancing ribbon.
Toward the end of the paragraph I noticed this switch on the Olivetti, a lever really, kind of under the carriage on the left side, and when I flipped it, lo and behold, the ribbon began to move.
I do not claim to know what all those levers and switches do.
While making a huge mess of the living room going through the Silent Type submissions, I paused to take some random photographs:
Allow me to disclaim that this last picture shows an entirely wrong technique for colorcasting, and was taken "just because."
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Today I saw a presentation at coughcoughMicrosoftcough by Scott Rosenberg about his book Say Everything: How blogging began, what it's becoming, and why it matters. On the topic of ever-evolving media forms (e.g., blogs replacing old media, Twitter replacing blogs, etc.), he indicated that no form of media truly extinguishes another. "The new medium redefines the old," he said, "and helps us see its essence."
I'd like to think that this is what blogging does for the typewriter. Did typists of the past ever imagine that someday, tactile sensation would be mostly expunged from the act of forming written thoughts? That new disposable technology would create great amounts of toxic refuse, and require expensive investments on a regular upgrade cycle? That typewriters, machines in regular use for 100 years, would quickly become nothing more than jewelry, movie props, and shorthand symbols for technophobia, due to our ready reception of marketing messages that tell us mechanical equals obsolescence?
And, climbing off my soapox, I turn now to the long-neglected topic of the Kodak Kodaslide tabletop slide viewer (bonus points to anyone who can find solid interweb documentation of this device; I could not). This fully functional early 50's era electric tabletop slide projector has been sitting on my dining room table for a month (at least), waiting for me to do a post about it. Originally, I filmed a videocast demonstrating it in use, but it turned out that *I* appeared in the video, in all my fast-talking camera-unreadiness, and so only this lone frame (and the one below) of the original film has been salvaged. (I might perhaps re-film the demo, provided I can find a suitable spokesmodel. The husband, perhaps?)
It's quite a convenient alternative to slide projectors and screens and whatall if you have a stack of slides you'd like to view. However, my own parents are hoarding any slides of relevance to me in an Arkansan hallway closet full of 50 year old clothes and bags of expired personal beauty products (dad, you KNOW you need to clean those closets), and thus, I unfortunately have no use for it myself, despite its delightfully retro-futuristic pod-shaped form and distressed vintage case. It was given to me by a friend of my husband's, who knew it would be just the thing for a Strikethru post.
Could anyone out there make better use of this item than I can? You KNOW that you need a Kodaslide tabletop viewer. You have my permission to brush aside any family members/second thoughts that argue otherwise, if this device will serve your slide-viewing needs.
It even comes with handy slide drawers and a replacement lightbulb:
Monday, July 20, 2009
As you may well be aware, Colorcasting is all the rage in the typosphere. As I am no stranger to rage, I had to try it too. But get this, my friends: I raised the stakes. Colorcasting in public. "Oh no you didn't!"
You'll note that, as Starbucks generally lack easy access to heat guns, thermal hair dryers, and/or toaster ovens, the legibility of my results is quite poor, at best. Don't worry-- you're not missing much.
Oh wait, I forgot to mention, if you are not reading Joe Van Cleave's and his grandson's blogs, you're missing out (kids' typecasts are wonderful, IMHO, and this one is no exception). I plan to try a typewritten instant book like Joe did-- and heck, shouldn't we all? It's National Zine Month, you know.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
You may have seen the recent New York Post article Typewrite & Wrong: NYPD 'Wastes' $1M on Relics by Jeremy Olshan, or perhaps you saw it referenced on BoingBoing. As written, it's a perfect marriage of web-ready themes: government waste and the failure of institutions to rapidly adopt digital technology. "The city is plunking down nearly $1 million..." Olshan writes, "for the purchase of thousands of new manual and electric typewriters over the next three years."
I wrote Swintec to ask them about this article, and also to inquire about their product line, which includes clear cabinet typewriters, designed for use in correctional institutions. Ed Michael, Sales Manager for Swintec, responded with some interesting clarifications about modern typewriter technology and the deal with the NYPD:
Thanks for your interest in Swintec Typewriter Company after reading the article in the NY Post on Monday July 13, 2009 entitled "Typewrite & Wrong, NYPD 'Wastes' $1M on relics."
First of all, let me clear up the misconceptions, mistakes and misgivings the New York Post printed in its article. Columnist Jeremy Olshan misstated the name of the contract, which is "Typewriters: Manual and Electronic," not "Manual and Electric." There is a big difference between electric typewriters and electronic typewriters.
The duration of the contract is 5 years, not 3 years. The longer duration spreads out the contract amount for 5 years, which makes the annual amount much less; besides the contract amount is only posted as an approximate value. The City is not bound in any way to purchase the value of the contract. In a depressed economy, the City does not have to spend the money in the contract at all; however, what expenditure it does have to spend is done at a contract rate rather than a retail rate, and that makes a big difference.
He (Jeremy Olshan) intimates that the NYPD is purchasing old manual and electric typewriters that are outdated relics from Swintec. Nothing is further from the truth. The portion of the contract that Swintec is responsible for is the Electronic Typewriter portion wherein we list 3-Swintec Electronic typewriters with Display, Memory and Spellproof and 2-Swintec Word Processors with 15" Monitors, Disk Drives and Interfaced Electronic Typewriters. These are high tech electronic office machines, not old electric or manual typewriters.
In fact, the name of the contract is also misleading, as the Manual Typewriter portion of the contract bid was not bid on at all, so it was not awarded to anyone. There are no manual typewriters on the NYC contract for "Typewriters: Manual and Electronic." He (Jeremy Olshan) also lists the suggested retail price of the typewriters as a point of reference. Of course, the contract price is much lower than the retail price, since it is a competitive bid type of contract. The contract is very cost effective for the city to utilize, and the contract provides for all necessary supplies such as ribbons, correction tapes, print wheels, and extended warranty at very affordable prices, so the statement that he placed in the article, "We have to sneak around the rest of the precinct in search of a ribbon to steal," is absolutely ludicrous. The NYPD Quartermaster keeps inventory on all supplies that the police officers and detectives need. All they have to do is call their Quartermaster Sergeant to have the necessary supplies sent over.
We are proud to hold this contract and we feel we are doing a great service for the City of New York in providing these Swintec electronic typewriters and Word Processors to fulfill the requirements of their daily applications and needs. We not only have equipment at the police department, we also have our typewriters and word processors in numerous other agencies in NYC. The applications we support are many. The Word Processors allow the person using the machine to program in forms such as Purchase Orders into the typewriter portion and then complete the order on the monitor screen, then, place the form into the typewriter and press print, and the complete form is filled out automatically from top to bottom without any errors.
The typist can place a multiple-part form into the typewriter, and by using the display, can type the necessary information onto the display. While they are entering the info, the typewriter will Spellproof as they are typing and will alert the typist when a mistake is sensed. At that point, the display will offer the correct spellings of a list of words that could be the correct words and will replace the selected word automatically onto the display. When the typist wants to print onto the form, there is a key labeled "Print" on the keyboard and will print the display information onto the form, again, without mistakes. We offer several models to NY City on this contract and all come with a 1-year warranty with an optional 1-year extension.
Our 8500C/7000 60K SC word processor and 8500C/2600 60K SC word processors are full-fledged word processors. They are comprised of a Swintec model 7000C typewriter or a Swintec 2600C typewriter interfaced to an 8500C word processor/ floppy disk drive with a 15" full-screen monitor. This entire package sits nicely on a desk return and makes a very useful device for a secretary or clerk dedicated to doing daily typing chores. The applications available on the 8500 are many: Forms-Fill-In, Mail Merge, memos, letters, envelopes, lists, special documents with page numbering, headers, footers, and more. The only application it does not do is go onto the internet. In some applications, that is important, especially when used inside prisons for inmate use in Law Libraries.
The 2640SC and 7040SC are typewriter models with Display/Memory. The 2640SC has a 40-character display with a memory capacity of 112,000 characters (approx. 56 pages) permitting the typist to prepare a document in memory and then save it to come back at a later time, then to open it up to add to it or complete it and then print it. Forms can be programmed into the memory of this typewriter remembering exactly where to move to and stop to allow the typist to enter the necessary data and then will move automatically to the next printing field and so on to the end of the form. The Swintec 7040SC has the same functions as the 2640SC except that it offers a larger carriage of 17" for wider forms.
Seven years ago we developed several "Swintec Clear Cabinet Typewriters" for use in prisons by inmates. The purpose for the clear cabinet is to eliminate a hiding place for the contraband that is a huge problem in prisons. Weapons, drugs, notes, and anything that is not permitted inside a prison is considered contraband. It is the responsibility of the corrections officer to keep each inmate's cell as contraband-free as possible. He must search every inmate's possessions on a regular basis. It has been necessary in the past to disassemble the typewriters completely to be sure there is nothing hidden inside and then put them back together. If a typewriter is damaged in the process, the prison must pay for it to be repaired. Both the time and cost of repair are very costly. Our Clear Cabinet typewriters solved 2 problems; very little time is required to look over a clear typewriter to see if anything is hidden inside, and it is not going to be damaged because it does not have to be taken apart.
We make several models available for inmates. The 2410CC is a basic non-memory clear typewriter with no storage memory for prisons that do not permit typewriters with memory.
The 2416DM CC models come in 6 memory capacities: 4K, 7K, 16K, 32K, 64K, and 128K, where K stands for thousand. 4K is 4,000 and 128K is 128,000 characters of storage. The average business letter is approximately 2000 characters.
The inmates in their cells either own these clear typewriters or they are placed in the Law Library and shared by inmates during their library time for use to prepare their litigation or for general typing.
There are also larger models of clear typewriters more suited for heavy-duty use by multiple users with and without memory. These are the 2600CC and the 2640CC.
We developed numerous applications in the past for classroom use and for word processing. When a special application needs to be solved, we often have a solution for completing it on one of our elecronic typewriter or word processor models.
Swintec has been working with government accounts since 1985 and has been in existence since 1973 when we started with a line of electronic calculators. We were the first typewriter company to place an electronic typewriter on Federal Contract as a sole source vendor in 1985.
You can see the entire line of Swintec products on our web site, www.swintec.com.
If you have any questions, feel free to call or write at any time. We will be glad to speak with you.
Edward A. Michael
320 West Commercial Ave
Moonachie NJ 07074
(201) 935-0115 ext 313
(201) 935-6021 fax
1-800-225-0867 ext 313
If I read this correctly, The New York Post misrepresented:
- The technology being purchased
- The length of the contract
- The cost of the typewriters to be paid by the NYPD
- Whether the typewriters are maintained or serviced
- Whether the NYPD was obligated to/intended to buy $1M of merchandise
Well, at least it made for an exciting headline. It's too bad though--whether and how institutions can modernize paperwork processing could be an interesting topic.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
But first, it's time for an update about the typewriter journal project. If you sent me a submission, check the spreadsheet to make sure I marked it as received. Now I'm reading through them to determine the order they should go in, etc. The release date of "sometime this summer" still holds for when the finished product will be available (I'll send one copy each to contributors). Once the layout is underway, I'll do some posting about it.
Moving right along...
This evening, one of the shelves in a poorly-made bookcase of mine gave way, vomiting my notebook collection onto the rug. I stuffed them all back on the shelf, pausing first to arrange and take a picture of the embarrassingly large-ish collection (it seems to have grown, if this former picture is any indication). Consider this an official challenge to photograph and post about your collection as well.
For reasons I don't understand, some of my notebooks are at least half used, while others have only a sullied page or two, and still others are completely blank. When I look back over my skritchings, one thing is clear-- since college, I have rarely used a notebook for anything other than cryptic notes, rambles and weird little margin drawings.
I dearly love other people's weird little margin drawings, so I'll show you these sad scribbles in hopes that you'll reciprocate.
Octodog is of course, an homage to this.
I saw a van today that had "Clowns Unlimited" written on the side. I don't know about you, but I think there definitely should be a limit on clowns.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Other posts in the IPRC print camp series:
IPRC print camp: Letterpress printing
IPRC print camp: Block printing and altered books
Am I STILL writing about the IPRC's 2009 print camp?! I've already covered letterpress printing and relief printing/altered books, so now onto the third and final installment: mimeograph printing.
The class instructors, Dan and Jake (this is not my photo, btw), started out with the Spirit Duplicator speech. That being: the mimeograph machine is not to be confused with the spirit duplicator, or "ditto machine." (Here is an interesting article that identifies them as competing technologies, in fact). People over the age of 35 enjoy sharing memories of snorting fresh dittoed copies of grade school math tests, but we'll have to talk about that another time.
The first step in mimeograph printing is to carefully cut a design onto a mimeograph stencil using a typewriter or stencil cutter. Mimeograph stencils are sort of like carbon copy forms with that thin top layer of paper. Here is someone's picture of a mimeograph stencil (but even more awesome is the parent site of this link, http://www.vacuumland.org, which is about collecting vintage vacuum machines. But I digress).
The next step is to put ink (LOTS of ink!) on the drum at the center of the machine (assuming the machine is low on ink), and then place your stencil over the drum. (Here is a page from the mimeograph manual they handed out that explains this all in more technical terms.) When it was my turn to produce copies of my stencil, Dan had just inked the drum. You'll see how this affects the first few copies:
You then set your blank paper into the tray, and start cranking the handle. It's definitely more fun if you crank it fast; copies will kind of shoot out of the other side. (Is this the origin of the expression "crank it out?" Because you can rack up a lot of copies pretty fast.) Once the ink had settled in, my copies began to look a little cleaner:
Here is the mimeograph in action (complete with paper jam) with Dan and Brandon at the helm:
In addition to Dan's demonstration of mimeograph by machine, Jake showed us a machine-less method of mimeograph printing that uses hand-held tools (this picture, also not mine, shows the closest approximation that I can find) and small templates that allow you to print on a diverse array of surfaces (I was sporting a mimeographed arm tattoo for the rest of that day, by way of example.). To cut my smaller stencil, I used a typewriter that Jake had brought. It happened to be an Olivetti Lettera 22.
In the comments section of a prior post, several typeospherians scolded me for trashing the Olivetti, based on my underwhelming experiences with the Underwood-Olivetti 319. "Try the Lettera!" they cried, and thus I found myself in the following weeks lurking eBay for this iconic machine with the one red key. Needless to say, I was delighted to encounter one at the IPRC, and told Jake post-haste that I coveted the machine.
"Well then, it must be yours," he replied. "I got it at a garage sale for 5 bucks." (I of course foisted my Flip camera videos of Portland's Ace Typewriter upon him immediately, which he aptly referred to as typewriter pr0n. This led to a discussion between Dan and Jake about their typewriter hoarding issues and the relative sexiness of the Selectric l vs the Selectric ll. You all should have been there to hear it, you really should have).
Thanks to Jake's generosity, this Lettera 22 has now pushed my typewriter collection into the dreaded double digits. Y'all were right. It's a darned good machine.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Other posts in the IPRC print camp series:
IPRC print camp: Mimeograph printing
IPRC print camp: Block printing and altered books
I attended a print camp at The Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, OR a few weeks ago that covered the basics of letterpress printing, mimeograph, altered books, and relief (block) printing. I've already written about the block printing and altered books portion of the two-day session, and so now, on to letterpress.
In fact, the entire first day of the session was devoted only to letterpress. If you know anything about the topic, this will make sense. It's not a simple process. Instead of a providing a convoluted explanation, I'll just send you on over to this video on the topic, set at the IPRC (unrelated to my visit), if you want to see it in action.
Letterpress is a natural fit for scribeomechanical types: it's tactile, ink-based, provides access to fascinating antique machinery, there's no electricity required, and of course, it's centered on a reverence for the printed word. The resulting type has a sharpness about it that you won't get any other way. However, you'd better have a good memory for facts, as letterpress terminology is vast. Also, there is an upside and a downside to the completely manual nature of setting type character by character into a composing stick and then tightening it down into a frame with a series of little blocks and keys: there is no CTRL-Z. There were several versions of the following design that featured characters set the wrong way.
Next post: mimeograph!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
As you may know, the deadline for submissions to Silent Type was yesterday. Out of the 25 people who signed up, I have gotten
8 11 submissions in time.
Lucky for you, I will keep checking the box until July 11th, if you want to put the pedal to the floor. (Do add your name and info to the spreadsheet if you've joined us at the last minute). If you can't make it, I understand. It would be helpful for layout planning purposes however if you could indicate on the spreadsheet that I should not expect an envelope--I'll add a "Withdraw" columm. Hopefully you can make the next issue, if you'd like.
Silent Type will have a table of contents, which will list the title(s) of your pieces, the genre/type of piece, and your name. I will take this information from data you provide on the sign-up sheet. If you are contributing, please visit/revisit this sheet and make sure you have provided title(s), type(s) of work, and your name exactly as you want it listed. (If you have submitted multiple pieces, be clear which title refers to which format, etc.).
I think this is going to turn out to be an interesting/fun publication (that is, if you are a retronerd), so thanks to the participants. I haven't seen one yet where I thought "What the hell was X thinking?!" despite all the sturm und drang over horrrrrible submissions in the comments of certain bloggers cough Speegle cough.
PS: If you know of any artists who want to contribute, please sign them up. We need some visuals to break up all the typin.' I may resort to using my own bad outsider art drawing of a Lettera 22 if I get desperate. (That said, we do have one great illustration and several photographs, so thanks for those y'all).