Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Year Anniversary: Picture Heavy!

Today marks the first anniversary of Vintage Technology Obsessions.  Before I go any further, I want to thank all of you who regularly visit this blog.  I'd like to think that I would keep going without page views, but the truth is I like to see the number go up and the comments and conversations are greatly appreciated.

In the spirit of this blog and the Typosphere, this is a hybrid post.  I think I will use a few different typewriters.  Do you recognize the machines from their typefaces?

Yeah, typewriters are real; typographical errors and all.  The machines:  Underwood Deluxe Quiet Tab, Royal Signet, Olympia SM-7, Remington Mark II (a plastic Torpedo) and a 1932 Royal known as Keylime.  I lust after a machine with German blackletter or an Olivetti Graphika.

I've been surprised at some of the posts that have picked up the most hits; mostly from Google searches.  I'm glad that I diversified content from the beginning.  I blog because I love learning about many obscure subjects that have nothing to do with my professional life.  I also love photography and this is a fun avenue for me to share images.

Here are some of my favorite images from the last year:

This little guy was a graduation gift for a friend of the family.

Svetlana Optima is our mysterious Cold War throwback.  She was manufactured in East Germany in the early '50s and has some pretty serious trust issues.  This comes from her new ribbon day.
And now for some statistics.  Thanks to readers such as yourself, this blog passed the 16,000 pageview mark on August 11.  The top ten posts by pageview, paraphrased and in descending order, are:

ITAM Special Report: The Eight Millionth Remington
Remembering Ralph McQuarrie
Zeiss Ikon/ICA Folding Camera
Juvenile Cold War Space Fiction
Happy Typewriter Day from Keylime
The Birthday Blog Post from Space
Royal Typewriter Rescue(feature Old Red, a Royal with the Vogue typeface rescued from choppers)
A Tale of Two Cameras (the modern Sony NEX3 coupled with Olympus PEN F lenses)
Mousiest Royal Futura (a not all that fun to type on Royal with an awesome cursive typeface)
B-36 Restricted Report (Features an SM-9 keeping track of the dreaded Svetlana Optima)

And here is the subject of the top post, Remington number 8,000,000.

Just full of awesome and kind of OK to type on.  This machine receives plenty of Google search hits.

If only I could keep the bench this tidy.
Being an Art Deco icon, this machine starred in its own movie "Last Stand at the Remington".
This is an outtake from the hit movie "Last Stand at the Remington".

Yeah, totally growing up would be pretty boring.
This is the first typecast with our Senatorial Olympia SM-9.  Racoons had recently dug a hole through our roof.
This man of mystery was a hit at the 2011 Kansas City Maker Faire.

The dreaded Dollar Store "Spacebot" testing out that old saw about the pen being mightier than the sword.  However, Bill has some muscle in the form of a junk part R2-C4 unit.

I'm still bitter about losing a whole summer worth of B-grade movie reruns to the Watergate hearings.

You don't want to know.

Here's our family mascot, Trollie!  Isn't that the most creative name you've ever heard?

Gotta love southern Florida.  There was a guy shooting a monster handgun towards a 40 foot fiberglass panther on the other side of the parking lot.  Ah, the memories Trollie and I have together.

Two extremely shiny typewriters.  They don't get used nearly enough what with my weird typeface fetish.  The gold Royal goes by the name of Margo.

Thank goodness we have a good copy editor in the house!  What fate awaits this tough Royal?

Like a candle in the Windy City.  Poor Marilyn is about to lose her head.

Keylime and Old Red, the Vogue typeface Royals.  The one on the right is named Keylime.  That was redundant, but I am too lazy to reconfigure the link.

Such a happy couple.  Too bad they are about to be mauled by zombies!

"Do you hear moaning?  I swear I hear moaning."

Imaging the Transit of Venus with a pair of binoculars.

Shopping for the perfect violin for Hannah.  It was a great experience.  The bow cost more than my first car.  Sure, the car was a beater, but you get the idea.

In the violin finish lair.  This strings shop is a great maker space.

My portable typecasting machine for our summer vacation.  We came back to a very long stretch of hot and a drought that came out of nowhere.

Something shiny from the Art of the Car Concours.

This is a nice rat rod from the Kansas City Good Guys show.  The Duesenberg at the Concours was worth more than a Belgian dressage horse.  The rat rod?  Not so much, but it is awesome!

3-D printing pretty much rocks.  This is from the 2012 Kansas City Maker Faire.

Souped up kiddie cars in the Power Wheels racing series.
This is Super Awesome Sylvia and her dad, the Tech Ninja doing some live science at the 2011 Kansas City Maker Faire.

This is precisely why we need maker culture.  We are so proud of Curiosity's team!  I still have a rendering of the skycrane lowering Curiosity set as my wallpaper.  We haven't forgotten Opportunity, either.

The team, as seen on my LCD during the live streaming of the landing.  Dang, where is that sexy Mohawk Guy?

Ahhhh!!!! Not only is he adorable, the Christmas Squirrel will bring your family socks and undies.  Part 1 on "The Origins of the Christmas Squirrel" is found here.  Yes, there is a Part 2 and the story involves Nikola Tesla, Erwin Schrodinger and a certain Mr. Edison.  It was cold outside and I was on vacation.

Claire's most awesome repurposed Christmas present to me.
This is one of Claire's friends.  She is a convert to the ways of the typewriter.  We gave her an Olympia SM-9 with the Senatorial (robot) typeface.  She is a total typeface junkie and can tell you about the history and design of many typefaces.  That may be atypical for the average eleven-year-old.

Claire (aka: gingercat) and the Six Fingered Man's twin brother at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Thanks again to all of you that follow or have happened upon this crazy, mixed up blog of mine!  It's gotten a little serious in the last couple of months.  Me thinks it is time to break out some Hong Kong knock-off robots and a jumbo Machinder.  Yes, that would do nicely!

Copyright:  The Copyright is a noble beast that I, the owner of the blog known as Vintage Technology Obsessions, claims for my own.  With the exception of the images of the amazing Curiosity, all images and text are mine and are copyright 2011 and 2012.  Regular readers would not need to be reminded that, in addition to legal recourse, if someone were to pilfer my images for use without attribution or for commercial use of any form they would likely be awakened in the middle of the night by the buzz and hiss of a flying, steam powered Oliver Number 99 hovering over their bed.  Thieves, you have been suitably warned.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ephemeral Chicago Circa 1942

Keylime has a a NOS Silk-Spun brand silk ribbon and is now a crisp and happy camper.

I'm sorry to have missed the era of streamlined trains.

Today, the trains may look newer, but there is little difference in the appearance of the Lake and Wells line crossing.

Two of my favorite buildings:  The Wrigley and the Tribune.  The Wrigley features white terra cotta tile.

Deco style doesn't get much better than this.  So optimistic!
Back cover.  Chicago has pretty much anything a tourist could possibly want.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Found in the Wild: Olympia SM-7 with Congress Typeface

The serial number is just over 2,005,000 which should date this as a 1962 model.  Other than a hard platen, this typewriter performs flawlessly after application of PB Blaster.  Not bad for a 50-year-old machine!

The ribbon is old and will need replacement at some point as the red is really dry.  The platen is as hard as a rock.

This is the first time I have seen the "Made in Western Germany" statement so prominently displayed.
Isn't this machine pretty?  I have seen plenty of photos of the Olympia SM-7 online and honestly had not been impressed.  The in-person experience is much different.  As it turns out, the semi-random looking textured panel above the keyboard is well pressed metal and its look is mirrored in the bottom wedge paint - hammertone in a nice metallic grey.  The paint texture is similar to the 1959 Olympia SF and the Socialite that live with my girls.

The SM-7 shape is similar to the SM-9, but has more personality.  It does lack the basket shift and super-light touch that defines the SM-9.  The keys appear to have the shape of the SM-3's keys with the matte texture of the SM-9's variety.  These have a pleasant feel.

As nice as this machine looks, I would have left it behind had I not looked at the type bars.  I love the look of Modern Congress Pica.  My oldest daughter, Hannah, loves it as well and has started typing to catch up with a summer worth of activities on her blog.  As for performance, it feels the same as our SM-3 machines, also with special typefaces (Italic and Professional Elite).  The main difference is that those came from ebay and this looker was found in the wild.  That is a satisfying experience.

More typewriter porn.  I hope this helps some wayward SM-7s find good homes.  It is a machine deserving of our affection.
 Once again, thanks to Ted Munk for posting the NOMDA Blue Book Olympia Type Styles guide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiosity, Welcome to Mars!

Great job, NASA!  You've gotten Curiosity to Mars!

First images coming..  The first image is a thumbnail of a wheel in the foreground and the horizon of Mars in the background.  The first full resolution image is the shadow of Curiosity on the face of Mars.

I watched the landing live through the NASA JPL feed and it is hard to believe how smoothly it went.  Every piece of the entry vehicle operated exactly as designed.  The communications equipment worked perfectly with only short dropouts as various portions of the entry vehicle separated.  The is a fantastic feat of engineering.  I can't wait to see the science this rover produces.

Update:  Added photos of Curiosity during its parachute descent phase taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Update 2:  The mother lode of space ephemera blogs posted a great image collection of how we have imagined travel to Mars:

Update 3:  Added photo of Curiosity's shadow with Mt. Gale in the background.

First High Resolution Image
Here is the first high resolution image from Curiosity.  The crud is dust on a protective shield that has now been lowered.
Fresh Image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter posted by NASA August 6:  Curiosity in descent under the hyper-sonic parachute.

Mission Control Post Landing Confirmation:  Here are a few shots of the control room post landing taken from my LCD.

Victory and relief.

This is the guy in charge of the entry vehicle team.  He cleaned up pretty good for someone who flunked Geometry in high school.

First images.  I'm still smiling!
Landing Plus 18 hours:  Curiosity's shadow with Mt. Gale in the background.  Our rover is going to climb that bad boy sometime during its two year mission.  "Our rover" as in during the press conference last night, the mission director mentioned that it cost each American around $7.00.  I think a little national pride is worth seven bucks.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Good Luck, Curiosity!

I stared writing this blog entry 4 days, 1 hour and 53 minutes before the scheduled touchdown of the rover Curiosity on Mars.  On Wednesday, the descent vehicle switched over to an on-board computer to control the landing cycle roughly 48 hours from now.  We're dependent on the work of a talented group of makers and 500,000 lines of code.  The landing cycle has been dubbed...

The Seven Minutes of Terror!

In a nutshell, the lander has to deliver the rover on target while scrubbing a lot of velocity in a relatively thin atmosphere.  And it can't kick up too much dust that will gum up the works of this precision machine.  Up until recently, the track record for landing on Mars was spotty at best.  My spousal unit and I used to joke about Martians shooting down our spacecraft in orbit.

Flying to Mars ain't like dusting crops!  Check out this skycrane action.  So cool!
  While writing this entry, I realized that it is totally redundant.  There is a massive Wikipedia entry on the subject.  NPR has been abuzz with news and interviews (the design team manager is a really interesting guy - a classic gifted underachiever that just needed a goal).  Viewing parties are popping up all over the country for late Sunday night.  So why write this?  I suppose it's because I don't always write for an audience.  This is my online journal and I am keenly interested in the space program, robotics and exploration.  It's kind of like my meaningful version of Facebook's Timeline.

So here I am asking some questions that I won't know the answer to until Monday morning:

Will Curiosity, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, get a chance to work years past its scheduled mission end like Opportunity and Spirit?
Will it burn up in the atmosphere?
Will the supersonic parachute deploy?
Will the sky crane concept work?  What if the skycrane lands on Curiosity or if the cable doesn't release?
What if we just lose contact altogether?

I suppose I should trust the designers.  The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineered a fairly complicated system to get this machine down and operational in one piece.  Gravity is a harsh mistress, even on Mars.  Previous generations of rovers were much smaller and could be dropped inside inflated cocoons.  That's not so practical for a machine roughly the size of a small SUV!  The landing vehicle is part heat shield and part sky crane.  It is an audacious bit of engineering.  Because of the transmission time delay, Curiosity will be on the surface of Mars for fourteen minutes before its signal can reach Earth.

We space nerds can only cross our fingers and hope for the best.  In the meantime, here is a diagram of the landing cycle thanks to Wikipedia.

Behold the seven minutes of terror and more official videos at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/videos/index.cfm?v=49

Remember, Curiosity is a mobile science laboratory.  It is not dependent on solar power given its nuclear power pack.  And it is fully equipped to find traces of life or building blocks of life on the surface of mars.  Here's a bit about the science mission:

The good news is that the Opportunity rover hasn't been forgotten.  This plucky little bot is completing day 3,111 of its planned 91 day mission and is still producing good science.  Great job, NASA!  Oh, our family hasn't forgotten Spirit, either.  Someday, all of these machines will be stops on an interplanetary sightseeing tour. 

Good luck, Curiosity!

A family portrait:  Sojourner, Opportunity/Spirit, Curiosity greet friendly Martians.