Technical difficulties

A day without work is always good, but today tried hard to disprove that.

My plan was to spend a few hours editing and then printing the master copy of the zine for December, and then get on with living in January. A few hours became several, though, as this five-year-old typewriter with a disk (‘word processor’, says he manual) has been misbehaving.

It still handles typing fine, and reading and writing off its disk memory, but it balks at printing long texts. The daisy wheel slips a gear, and every fifth page or so is gibberish (no jokes about the other four, please). When that happens, the carriage jams and refuses to turn, and now the spellchecker’s suggestions are in Spanish. ¿Qué diablos le pasa a esta cosa?

Upshot is, I’ve re-read the manual and cleaned the machine’s innards — there were a few cockroach corpses in there — and reworked all of December as ten smaller files instead of one big file, and it worked. It’s printed a month of master copies I can take into work and turn into zines. It took the whole day, though, and it wasn’t fun, and I’m hoping I won’t need to buy a new typewriter/word processor.

Modern technology is so persnickety. Something goes wrong and you barely know why. Probably the roaches.

Other than those frustrations, the only borderline-interesting moment all day was when I killed two roaches with one slam of the dictionary against the wall. Usually they’re not close enough together, so getting two at a time is a rare joy. Stay out of my typewriter!

From Pathetic Life #8
Monday, January 2, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Addendum, 2021: Today, 'word processor' means software. Microsoft Word is a word processor, and so's the Libre open-source software I use instead. Back then, though, a word processor was both the software and the machine that housed it. 

Mine was a typewriter, not all that different from the ones Mark Twain used, but with the joyous addition of a disk-based memory. Wow, man — you could type to either disk or paper. It had an LCD screen that showed a whopping 14 lines of text, and it had the newfangled ability to edit text before printing.

Man, it was science fiction — a Brother brand WP-1400D, top of the line when I bought it, and definitely the coolest thing I owned. The video below brings back fond memories, I tell ya — that sound it made when you switched it on and the carriage jumped a little, and the clackity-clack of watching it type, with every other line typed in reverse. 

I don't remember when I replaced it, but to my memory — other than January 2, 1995, I guess — it served me well. That model is long-since discontinued, of course, but there's still a FAQ at the Brother website, and Wal-Mart has its ribbons in stock.

Having such a high-tech device in my rez hotel was a worry, not because of the cockroaches, but because some crackhead might steal it and sell it. When I moved in, I made sure the word processor was undetectable in a box or bag when I carried it up the stairs...

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  1. I remember the first 8 or so issues of my zine were hand-written. The last two, from the Crown rez hotel on Valencia, were done on an honest to god typewriter.

    I just this moment pulled out one of the two issues I have left, to take a picture as an example. Apart from the terrible rantings of a 23-year old child, I noticed your name mentioned on the left-hand page.


    1. Good stuff from you as a young whippersnapper. The me bit reads like my libertarian era.

  2. Yes, in 1991, I splurged on a 'word processor' that used these 3-inch hard disks. I had a huge screen, though. It took up most of my desk and showed a full page of orange colored computer text. I'd get my article/review set just like I wanted it and hit print and it typed it like I was the world's most efficient typist. I don't remember any issues with it. except I got a 486 computer in 1994 after my dad died. I've had a number of laptops and desktops since. Each one has died after five to eight years of service. Total scam. I'm too lazy to 'back up' shit, so I lose it all and move on. I should be like that with all my possessions but I'm not.

    1. Full page! Well, ain't you fancy!

      I loved those old school typewriter/word processors, and yeah, they lasted forever, I think, because that's all they were. No unwanted built-in bloatware and adware, and no internet connection meant no malware, no spyware, and far fewer things to go wrong.

      You didn't ask, but I'd sure recommend reminders. Among my dozen daily reminders is an email smack-in-the-head that arrives nightly at 7, and says, "Run the backups, Doug."

      Free from https://www.followupthen.com, though there are a million other choices.


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