Sunday, October 2, 2011

New Typing Converts

Gingercat (aka:  Claire) had one of her super smart friends over today.  Cyborg 10051438 (self-assigned designation) took to the typewriters quickly.  She served as a guest on gingercat's first typecast entry for her new blog on the Hermes Media 3 (Cursive).  But at heart, Cyborg is a future engineer and gravitated towards the Olympia SM9 (Senatorial/Robot font) and knocked out two and half pages worth of a new short story before going home.

Choice Cyborg comment on the blog entry:  "I am here today to discuss the unfairity of the fact that these typewriters are being used daily.  They should be used hourly!  GRRRRR!"

That last part I will need to scan after gingercat has a chance to do her own post.  GRRRRR looks really interesting in the Hermes' elaborate cursive.

As soon as she got home, Cyborg 10051438 showed her typing to her mom and gushed about typewriters.  Count her as a convert to the typewriter cause!

Gingercat hard at work on her first typecast and pen blog entry.  She's good with a computer keyboard but tends to hunt and peck with the typewriters.  The Oliver 9 is her favorite with more of a speed hunt and peck.  As noted by other typecasters, cursive looks really bad with errors, so the typing tends to be more methodical.

Cyborg 10051438 jamming on the Olympia SM9.  In the background sits the Oliver, a Zeiss Ikon camera of a slightly later vintage and some new/old paper supplies.  My wife is starting her own blog aptly entitled "House Full of Nerds".

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Cameras - 50ish Years of Technology

The PEN F with a relatively huge 100mm f3.5 lens.  This camera takes standard 35mm film but only uses half of a frame for each exposure.

Many photographers use the manual focus primes for video preferring the shallow depth of field and the wonderful analog lens controls.
Notice the lack of a bulky pentaprism.  The mirror is flipped over to the left where the image bounces to your eye through a relatively small view finder.  Ignore the texture - that's light filtered through a screen door.  Oops.
That's the shutter.  It is a unique rotary titanium design.  Pretty cool for 1963!
And here we have the mirror box for the PEN F and the sensor on the Sony NEX 3.  It is the same size as on the Canon 60D series and does pretty darned well in low light.  The Sony system is encumbered by clunky and slow zooms, but the one currently available prime and wide angle adapter are pretty svelte.
This is the NEX 3 with a PEN F 38mm f1.8 and Chinese adapter.  I was shooting with the Canon 60D, so shown here is the old 30D that gingercat uses equipped with a 50mm 1.4.  This is my favorite walk around combination.  Yes, I love primes.

This isn't an entirely fair comparison.  The Canon is a far more capable body.  I can't shoot fire jugglers in motion with the NEX 3 body (middle), but it works for most of my casual walk around use and for catch and release in thrift stores and antique malls.  Notice how much bulk a proper pentaprism adds to the body size.

The three shutters are almost the same size.  The mirror box on the Canon is quite a bit bigger than the actual sensor.

Here is the NEX 3 and PEN F combo with a quarter for scale.  Even with a lens hood the set is tiny given the capabilities of the camera.  Bonus:  it does HD video.
 That all sounds wonderful, but there have to be disadvantages, right?  The live view screen as viewfinder is the worst thing about the NEX 3.  It totally washes out in daylight.  The controls are pretty fiddly.  I can shoot in mid-winter with gloves and adjust controls on the 60D.  That is not happening with the NEX.

Sony announced the NEX 7 body that is more oriented towards advanced amateurs.  It looks like a good spec, but I'll wait for tweaks and for prices to come down.

There is good news and bad news about the PEN F system.  The good news is that these lenses will never be thrown away or repurposed for art.  The bad news is that demand is high between the desires of NEX and Panasonic/Olympus 4/3 system users.  Prices are up, but these vintage lenses are still cheaper than their current autofocus counterparts. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Writing Supplies...and a Confession

We'll start with the confession: my handwriting is really, really horrible. Below you will find recently acquired writing materials from an antique mall and estate sale. However, you should not expect this to result in a pencast on this blog. Yep, that bad. I can't draw, either – that's why I do photography.

The good news is that gingercat (Svetlana's codename for my youngest daughter) has artistic skills obviously not inherited from her parents. I helped her set up her own blog and she looks forward to productive pencasting after she overcomes first post writer's block.  My elder daughter was inspired by the quill and pen journals of a Lewis and Clark Expedition reenactor and may give it a try as well.

Estate sale materials from someone who did oil leasing and basic stratigraphy

I love these graphics!  Perhaps gingercat will make better use of these than I could.

The Royal QDL likes the new paper.  Sadly, it is still in need of cleaning and a more competent typist.  My wife loved the button.  She is a long time Beatles fanatic.

Tasty, and still ready to go after many years.

I work for a coatings company and am amazed this ink is in such good shape.

Gingercat and I looked for fountain pens at an antique mall, yesterday.  Junkies...
 Pen fans:  How old is this ink?  I also have a half bottle of Parker Super Chrome in blue.  The bottle isn't quite as photogenic and the tin isn't so great, but I'll post photos on request.

Once we have a pen to work with, we'll post the results.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Svetlana Optima's Rules for Survival

This is the first experiment in using an actual scanner instead of camera for posting a typecast.  Claire, codename gingercat, had some unfortunate experiences over the last week.  She is as tough and lucky as the average secret agent.  Svetlana has grudging admiration for those qualities.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Z Man The Brain Car - About My Profile Photo

If you look really hard, you can find photos of me on the Interweb.  I'm on enough standards committees that this is inevitable.  Given a choice, I travel incognito.  As of this writing, my profile is a cryptic robot looking guy.  He goes by the name of Z Man The Brain and is one of the first, if not the first, programmable battery powered toys.

Who is this masked man?  He looks vaguely like some modern custom vinyl piece but also very retro.  Truth is, he's in love with his car.

Mine is not a perfect example as he is missing missiles, tail lights and a motor.  However, he is a pretty rare, if obscure, toy.  A pristine one would cost more than a couple of really nice typewriters.  I like Z Man because he is different and not found in everyone's robot collection.

Z Man was produced around 1956 by a long defunct company.  One of the regulars on Alphadrome put together great information including the original patents.  Yes, patents.  Programmable toys were something new and different in 1956.

So, how did he work?  If you flip down his visor, you find this:
Timing Switch Assembly
Simple binary - you move the switches in or out to define a turn. The disc spins and closes a connection. That is translated into running one of two front drive motors.  In that respect, he is similar to the Chevrolet Volt.
Drive Motor
The whole system is somewhat recursive.  The front drive motors move it along and the rear wheels operate a timing gear that spins the disc to send power to the front wheels.  Repurposing another motor to get this running is on my long to do list.

Rear Wheel with Timing Gear Shaft
The timing system also automatically fired missiles at semi-random intervals.

This toy came in several variations, primarily with different front end grill treatments.  Based on the fact that mine looks like the patent drawing (no grill) I would guess he is from an early production run.  Z Man is very much a product of the Space Age and is a valuable part of the household robot and space toy population.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HERMES Media 3 in Cursive - Typecast

The last comment is from my 11-year-old.  So glad my kids know how to build sentences.

OK, I'm going to get this over with.  I may be a heretic, but the sage-ish green of Hermes typewriters is just kind of OK in my book.  Color, however, is a very personal thing.  The freakishly smooth operation of this machine is in another class.  The downside is that there is no chance whatsoever to even think about changing your mind in mid key stroke.  The type has already hit the page.

The cursive script on this machine is dainty and delicate.  I haven't done a thing to align typebars, yet everything links together nicely

Lovely curves.  I wonder how it would look in a deep metallic green?  Just kidding!

Unexpected bonus:  an official Hermes brand ribbon spool!

The money shot.
It was pretty clean to start with.  I was kind of lazy and focused on cleaning up old lube and getting the segment slots and type cleaned out with mineral spirits.
If I'm reading the Internet Typewriter Database right, this machine was made in 1962.

Bad light in the garage during cleaning.  This is the underside of the basket with the ball bearing equipped shift rails.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cardinal Sin - Warning: Off Topic

WARNING:  This post is off topic and highly offensive to grammarians.  Read no further if you were expecting something about technology!

Bonus Type Face Samples.  The ROYAL QDL still needs cleaning; some bars get stuck in the segment.

While this is supposed to be a technology blog, there are some errors that simply cannot be forgiven and must be addressed.  After all, this blog is about the importance of words as well.

Seen in the drive through at the McDonald's in DeSoto, Kansas:

My apologies for going off topic, but seriously, how hard can it be to have someone do a little proofreading?