Friday, August 23, 2013

What you write with. Literally.

 Funny, I just wrote about office supplies, and now I read Flavorwire's Writing Tools of 20 Famous Authors, which inspired me to write further about my own writing tools. Other than a computer, obviously. 

I do not like pencils. I never have. I probably never will. They're a "necessary evil" for gaming (character sheets require a lot of erasures, for your health if nothing else), and they were required in math class in school, but other than that, I don't use them. And I no longer have school, and thus little math.

I do like fountain pens, as many of the 20 writers the quoted article favor. I have a couple of cheap ones that tend to run out of ink through evaporation before I've written it all down. I've also used Varsity disposable ones, discovered in my college store. I just got a new one (brand forgotten already) from Walgreens. It's "steel" and the cardboard package is green; that's all I remember so far.

If I'm hand writing something, though, I like pens that are felt tipped. Flairs are great (pictured in my previous post with the rad wolf journal). Bic has some that aren't too bad. Sharpie pens are surprisingly disappointing; they're too rigid at first, the lines too draggy and skinny, and then they die soon after they're "just write". I do like a regular Sharpie, and occasionally I've written in a sketchpad using a Sharpie. This works well for the legibility of my handwriting as well. Like a kindergartener, a larger writing implement helps with my manual dexterity.

The (horrible) epic fantasy novel I wrote in high school was written using Pilot vball pens, and also sometimes Pilot precise, which had a way of leaking onto the first knuckle of my middle finger, leaving me with a smudgy blue smear. I flip flop between using blue ink versus black. More than 1000 pages handwritten on loose leaf, in one of those Pilots or the other. I'd like to think that I got it out of my system.

I've been on a black ink kick for several years now, so that might be the one that stays.

Monday, August 12, 2013

If only I still had my Petster

Remember Petsters anybody? Mine was a cat, with blue eyes.

For those who don't remember, Petster was a big round animal robot thing (my understanding is there were non-cat ones available as well) that rolled around on the floor, meowed once in awhile, and changed direction based on obstructions and sound. I have memories of using a Petster during a thunderstorm while my grandmother was vacuuming (which might have, in fact, caused its little robot brain demise. I don't remember).

So why am I talking about Petster? Well, Roomba really reminds me of it, actually. They're disc shaped, they have directional capabilities. Roomba, however, is considerably smaller than Petster was (the above linked article said it's seventeen inches long and nine inches tall, compared to Roomba's 13 inches long and 3 1/2 inches tall). Where. Uh. Where does the vacuumed up stuff go? Does it have an internal combustion engine which uses vacuumed debris to power its cleaning primary directive?

No, it docks in a wall charger.

Okay, and it's wireless, so there isn't a little vacuum tube that runs along the ceiling and directs the stuff to some internal house waste bin.

Teleportation? No, I don't think the science on that is quite up to par.

How Stuff Works has an article on Roomba how they work (which you should look at at least the first page of, because it shows a neat picture of the Roomba's cleaning algorithm, which determines the path it takes. Said article also says:

You typically need to empty the dirt bin at least once for each room the Roomba vacuums, and possibly two or three times depending on how dirty your floors are. Roomba doesn't know when the bin is full -- it just keeps going. There's a filter you'll need to replace when it gets too clogged, but there's no vacuum bag -- you just dump the bin and put it back in the unit.
 So, not as World of Tomorrow™as one might perhaps desire. It isn't intended for thick carpeting and it doesn't know when its internal dust bin is full. So, I guess we're still a ways away from a self cleaning house, so far as tiny robot vacuums are concerned. Of course, the Roomba is just the brand name one everybody knows about; somebody could be working on a Jetsons-style Rosie and we don't know yet, though God, is Rosie named that because of Rosie the Riveter? That's just as bad as the recent Swiffer commercials (and I already dislike Swiffer and will not buy them because of their Cesar Millan endorsements).