Saturday 30 June 2012

Random thinking during an Australian dusk.

I strongly suggest you click these to enlarge them. 

Well, I did mean 'serviced' Hermes 3000, but I had the book 'Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance' in mind while I was writing this. 

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Typecasting from Paradise City. The other one.

You may want to click these to enlarge them. Just a suggestion, nothing meant by it. 

Oh, and there's probably a few errors. Proof reading is for wimps. Or people with actual writing careers. 

*Correction 'still waking up in the darkness, to asleep to have a conversation. 

But you probably got that anyway. 

Saturday 23 June 2012

Comments on comments on comments.

“I’m going to put a knife in your chest as you sleep, and burn your house down around you with your family still inside”

This wasn’t the first death threat I had ever received, but was the first I copped on facebook. Since that time I’ve received hundreds of threats to my life, wellbeing and reputation through the same website. Maybe even thousands of them. And all this has been because I have often stood up for the lesser privileged in our society.

I love the people of the typosphere – because of the similar interests that they have to me. Their respect and appreciation of the beauty of those writing machines, and the confidence that ‘typewriters’ are not yet an anachronism. They also understand the passion and wonder of writing – and the places that the written word can take you, along with the freedoms that it brings. Some write about scrapbooking. Some write about guns. But they do so with absolute freedom.

The more I read from the people in the typosphere – the more understand their appreciation of that beauty, and the more I feel at home.

But two blogs this week talked about the context an ugliness in our online society, and quickly dropped it into my typosphere world with a thud. Firstly; John Birmingham (yes, he of the ‘throw the typewriter off the bridge’ fame) wrote a very pointed blog about anger on the internet – and in internet blog comments and forums. Later, I read a typecast form Word rebel over at their “Conversations with my ID blog” about the scathing criticisms they had copped on a writers website, in the comments on an article that had been posted about people still using typewriters.

Many of these comments ranged from the stupid to the abusive. Almost every time someone writes an article in the media somewhere about typewriters, you’ll have someone ask rhetorically “Does anyone still make typewriter ribbons”? oddly ignorant to the fact that – if someone is still using a typewriter, there’s still ribbons being made somewhere.

But that obligatory stupid question is nothing compared to the inevitable hate lumped on ‘hipsters’, and how somehow typewriters have become a symbol of hipsterism. Again, this hated raised its ugly head in this discussion, and the people who feel the need to label others with such limited names, seemed to be the ones who were the least limited in their understanding of how the world works around them.

There were also plenty of people giving instructions on how people should get rid of those typewriters and start using computers. As though they felt like they were instructing their aging grandparents on the most basic tools of computer use, and fighting against an attitude that was against their beloved technology. I hate to say it, but the level of ‘stupid’ was high with these people, as they seemed to be ignoring that this discussion was taking place on the internet, over computers and advanced digital communication lines – with people who clearly knew how to use computers and were currently actually doing so.

The ‘Labelers’ – the people trying to bunch typewriter users into the ‘hipster’ stereotype (see what I did there?)  – give us an insight into what is really happening behind the scene. By grouping people into such groups, we often apply judgements onto them, and assign a criticism on an observed behaviour, which they then can tar the entire group with.

We all essentially do it. Dealing with lots of people individually is a difficult thing to do. So we often organise them in our heads with people of similar characteristics. But often when we do, we start to forget other traits of that person that doesn’t fit that stereotype.

Are you a Muslim? A black? A man? A gay? We all have these little stereotype groups organised in our heads. Heaven forbid if we have to deal with a Black gay male Muslim.

However, as much as we almost always mentally organise people like this, many of us also have judgements that we heap on these stereotypes, and turn them into negative stereotypes.

That’s the funny thing about the internet – it has allowed an even greater level of puritanicalism and self affirmation as people have been able to live out lives reading millions of articles that self confirm their convictions – without ever having to read someone questioning it. The internet has made knowledge sharing easy, and bullshit spreading even easier.

On top of that – armchair social commentators have become heroes in our society. They attract news every time they say something controversial, and as such many have many people mimicking the boldly judgementalism and black and whiteism that radio shock jocks, editorialists and Fox News commentators love to spew. Their messages are deceptively simple, and yet people live their lives and make powerful decisions based on them.

And to that end, the comments and abuse on the article that Word Rebel had written about have stemmed from such a puritanical, judgemental and often self-righteous place. People invest a lot of their self-esteem in having the media confirm their way of life. As such they feel a level of righteousness – yes, an almost religious ‘I’m on the right path, fear ye who deviate’ affirmation.

Some of you may be familiar with a website called ‘Ravelry’. It is a knitter’s website. They recently were talking about having a ‘Ravelympics’ on their website – in celebration of the Olympics, and suddenly found the United States Olympic Committee breathing down their necks about violation of their trademarks.

Before everyone was in full receipt of the facts , there was such a torrent of heat and scorn poured onto the USOC on the Ravelry website that I heard it described as a ‘Knitter’ storm’. There was a ferocious defence of their knitting activity, which relied heavily on preconceived ideas about themselves along with the USOC that had for a fair part been ill considered, and frequently factually incorrect.

 It is hard to understand where all this hatred and anger comes from on the internet. Understanding why you are hated for saying ‘Hey, I use a typewriter and I like it’, is difficult to understand. To us, it is something that makes us happy and forms an important part of our lives. But to have it hated by others – especially has it has absolutely no baring on them what-so-ever seems to make no sense.

But I have found comfort in understanding that this is because of their personal lack of self-esteem, that they need you to be just like them so that they can feel that they are actually living their life in the righteous and meaningful way. They haven’t managed to break their own personal happiness away from their need to feel accepted by a wider society.

It makes me sad to think about it like this, as I feel that they themselves haven’t found those things that they can enjoy that can give fulfilment in their lives, because they have limited themselves to a path that even the most minor things must align to – even if they are never likely to change the outcome of their own lives. And need the affirmation of others to feel good about themselves.

I can sit down and write a letter to someone in America, or the UK, or France, or even Ethiopia on a typewriter and enjoy it, no matter how much harder it is to do compared to doing it on a computer. They cannot. I’ll debate with them in discussions for as long as I feel comfortable, but ultimately – I intend to never let someone damage my own happiness.

Oh, and I’m not a hipster. I have no problem buying a t-shirt at K-mart.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday 14 June 2012

A right royal pain....

Moments after I wrote this, I pushed on a particularly soft piece of metal on the FP, and broke it. DOH!

Another thing to fix now....

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Dunking and drying. Did it work?

So I got this Hermes 3000 for $9.50 right? Well, it seemed a little dirty, but it appeared for the most part clean.

And maybe filled with a few dead Silverfish and dust-bunnies. 

So I thought - as a couple of the keys seem a bit sticky, let's give it a dunk. It's pretty clean, right? 

Where the f...... did all that come from? 

Oh well.... I'd better dry it.

Basking in the hot Australian sun.

Well, it doesn't seem to have hurt the typewriter. I cooked it at about 60°C for about an hour to dry it out, and it was pretty successful. For the most part the keys came good. Except for the D and J keys, which functioned perfectly underwater after a few pushes to operate them in these soapy conditions, but returned to their same jammy state the moment I started to rinse them with hot water from shower hand piece. But I'm still pretty confident I might be able to get these keys 95% back to original operation.

At the moment I have the pieces of this typewriter all over my back deck, while I work some other ideas involving it.

I made sure that a few crucial areas got a tiny dose of lubrication after I dunked it, and as such everything pretty much seems to be running very smoothly. I'm pretty confident that this unit will have an excellent second life.

Can't wait till this machine is finished. It might be an awesome typer yet.

Thursday 7 June 2012


                                                                            Typograph. 2012.

This was a happy accident (to me) while I worked on some repairs to a typewriter. I'm referencing 'Rayograph' here. 

Tuesday 5 June 2012

So - let's take a look at another Hermes 3000 70's.

Okay... So... following the Hermes 3000 that I was so excited about a couple of weeks ago, I purchased another 70's era Hermes 3000 for a whopping - bank breaking $9.50. Which officially makes it 50 cents cheaper than my previous cheapest typewriter acquisition from ebay. 

Australian 50c coin - featuring our coat of arms. 
AKA: The big coin that busts up your wallet. 

Again, I really didn't need another typewriter, but as I couldn't see myself using a QWERTZ keyboard regularly - and as I was so impressed with the feel of the previous unit, I felt a QWERTY unit would be... nice to have. And at $9.50 - why not. 

But typewriter geeks... That's where the logic of this story ends. 

May I present to you - The hungarian made Hermes 3000. 

Where as the previous unit didn't label it's origin, this one sure does. While the serial number is only 200,000 units different, the quality of this typer feels quite varied. 

But firstly - let's talk about what the seller described as a "perfect" typer. Hit the shift key and the basket locks down. Gummed up? Probably. The ribbon is drier than sandpaper, which is roughly the same way I would describe the texture of the platen. 

But it types. Or at least will once I shuffle in a new ribbon... and crank the shift key by hand. 

Having said that, I feel that every time I type - the family of dust-bunnies that are living inside this unit are being tormented by the hammering sound of the keys slapping the near rock-hard platen. It must be tough for them. I bet they have nightmares about someone writing poetry as they sleep at night. 

There's the obligatory sticky key... D to be exact, but I get the feeling others are close to being home stuck bodies too. Which brings me to the next point - The sharp and accurate magic of the key presses of the other unit, just... well.. don't seem to be here with this one. I don't feel that tiny ratcheting so much, or the same quick movement that my other unit has. Some of the keys are perfect in action still, and do have the quite same feel. So I'm guessing that the problem could be dust and gunk in the segment. 

It's not that it is bad. I just feels a bit more.... average. The 'force' is not strong with this one. Must have less midi-chlorians. 
WARNING: Midi-chlorians are copyright Lucasfilm 1999. And are also known as 'The all time worst superfluous plot point in cinema history'.

The plastic itself is quite sun affected, and as such has become something akin to that 80's era computer beige. 

Further more - the smooth and silent operation of the carriage on the QWERTZ unit, isn't quite so silent on this one; it ratchets - although somewhat quietly - when shifted. 

I can't help but feel that this machine wasn't made to quite the same quality standards as the other unit I purchased. It sure hasn't been looked after as well. And it even has the 'Dataprint' sticker on it from the store that sold it here in Australia. So this doesn't even have an interesting story behind it.

Although... what's this on the side? 

Another address label! This time, it is clearly a pharmacy label. These H3K owners seemed to really love labelling their typewriters. 

The label on this occasion has two addresses. One for the pharmacy business that the label came from, there other for - what I suspect is the owner's address. The Owner's house also appears to be currently for sale.  Or was that the address that the typewriter was loaned to? 

The city that this address is located in, although it isn't specified on the label - is Melbourne, my old home (and honestly quite missed) town. The Pharmacy is no longer there. It has been bulldozed to make way for a toyota dealership. 

Looking at the label, the phone number listed on it is pre-early 1990's when Australian phone numbers changed from a 7 digit number, to an 8. 

Oh well, I hate to say it... but this typewriter is destined to become a project writer of my own. It'll be interesting to see what I can do with the plastic shell of this unit, and I'm looking forward to having a bit of fun with it. Certainly the other problems are potentially resolvable, so I'll keep you up to date with what I manage to achieve with this - $9.50 typer. Clearly I won't be able to turn this unit into a 'Silver surfer

Corrrrr.... $9.50. Really... I can't believe it.