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A few days ago I turned on my laptop to begin a writing session and was greeted with a pop-up from Microsoft telling me I needed to do a Windows update. I punched go and went to the kitchen to make coffee. Two and a half hours later the computer finally finished downloading and updating and downloading and restarting. Windows has gotten absurd and is driving me to build my special writing computer.

And Microsoft knows it. The company helped lead the computer revolution with the idea that big, mainframe computers with remote terminals were obsolete. Bill Gates envisioned a computer on every desk. In fact, this vision meant Microsoft missed the very beginning of the Internet revolution because Gates didn’t see the usefulness of connected computers.

Now, with cloud computing, Microsoft is all in. They almost require you to be connected to work. They now call Windows a service, not a product, and there are reports that they will soon demand that they control your entire desktop – they call it DaaS Windows and Microsoft Managed Desktop. And of course, for your convenience, they will charge a monthly fee for doing it. If you don’t pay, you don’t need to use a computer.
All of this has led me to investigate building a free software computer for writing.
I’ll update in the category Writing Computer available in the menu at the top of each page.


Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin tells us about writing blurbs – and particularly how to avoid writing bad ones.

Anyway, I thought we’d take a break from the interviews to talk blurbs.  Every time I link books for our book plug I come across blurbs that make me want to crawl away backward.

I am not the expert on blurbs among my group, but I can give you some clues about what to do and what not to do.  Because some of these blurbs are so bad anything will improve them.


At the end of the year, it’s time for new resolutions such as setting daily word goals and getting organized. Here are some tips for organization.

1. Download and use Scrivener. It’s advertised as a manuscript and script writing tool to replace your various word processors. The software is much more. It works for blog posts, podcast scripts, novels, short stories, recipes and any other writing you think of. In addition to a writing tool, it’s also an organizational tool. There are templates included with Scrivener for various types of writing – and others you can download from the Literature and Latte site. Plus, it’s easy to create your own. It takes a while to learn, but I’ve found the time a good investment.
It sets up a file structure, and there are templates for novel outlining. I find this organization system better than using word associations or mind mapping. It includes a binder for keeping things together. It keeps up with your word count and goals. There’s an inspector so you can add notes to yourself.

2. When working, use the Pomodoro system. The philosophy is that you can make yourself do almost anything for 25-minutes. Set a timer for 25-minutes and go to work. Then take a 5-minute break. If your working on a computer, the five minutes is great for resting your eyes. The name Pomodoro comes from the creator’s use of a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. He lived in Italy at the time, and pomodoro is Italian for tomato. I use an electronic timer with two clock functions – I set one for 25-minutes and the other for 5-minutes. It automatically alternates between the two. Here’s the one I use.


3. Buy a copy of Getting Things Done by David Allen. Unlike other books about personal organization, Allen’s makes your life easier. He says that the brain is to be used for creativity, not remembering things. He has you write down everything you need to do, want to do, or might ever want to do and put it all in one place. Then you write out a Next-Action step – whatever needs to be done next. When you have them all collected, you can work on whichever you want. You don’t have to worry that you’ve forgotten anything. You can do your collecting in a paper notebook or electronically. There are Getting Things Done apps for you phone or iPad, but there is also a Scrivener template.


A lot of posts and books put you through exercises to discover your feelings about writing. I found in the newsroom that a professional writer can’t be worried about such – roll a piece of paper into the typewriter and get to work. These tools will help you.


For sale is a Yamaha SY-77 synthesizer.  It was one of the sounds of the 80s and early 90s.  Listen to an episode of Miami Vice and you hear it constantly.  It is unique in having three, rather than two, mod wheels.

This one is in good shape.  It has been in storage for a couple of years following a move, and I recently pulled it out and tested it.  All of the keys play a note, all of the buttons change the sounds.  All sounds work.  All of the tally lights work. The display is very dim, but, as you can see in the photos, it works.  Replacement backlights are available from Telesis and other places on the internet along with specific instructions.

I put a blank floppy disc into the drive and nothing seemed to happen.  I would assume the drive needs some kind of repair.  Some people have succeeded in getting the drive to work by replacing the drive belt.

As you can see in the photos, one rear corner has cracked and been covered by electrical tape.

Asking $350.00 US plus the actual cost of shipping.

Contact me at this address with SY-77 in the subject header.




FormulasThis solution is suitable for treatment of exposed films previous to development, to permit increased darkroom illumination and greater safety for film inspection during development.


Pinakryptol Green 1 g
Water to make 500 ml


Note – Use of a 50/50 water-alcohol mixture for solution will improve the keeping qualities of the desensitizer.


For use, dilute 1 part stock solution with 10 parts water. Immerse films for two minutes at 68F (20C) with room in total darkness, and then transfer to developing solution. After one half of the developing time, films may be inspected for 10-second periods at one-minute intervals; illumination being supplied by a yellow-green safelight (such as Ansco A6 with 10-watt lamp) placed 2 to 3 feet distant. Desensitized films should be developed approximately 50% longer in Ansco 17 or Ansco 47 than non-treated films to obtain comparable gradation and shadow detail.


If preferred, the same stock solution may be used directly in the developer in the proportion: 1 part desensitizer, 30 parts developer. This procedure should not be followed with developers containing more than 1 gram per liter (15 grains per quart) of hydroquinone.


From Ansco Formulas for Black and White Film by GAF, 1948 – Formulas are provided for historical reference. They may not work well with modern films and papers. Some of the chemicals can be dangerous. As with all photographic processes, be careful.


FormulasThis formula is recommended because it is convenient in use and gives permanent results. The degree and character of intensification can be controlled to an extent by modification of the developing time used for the redeveloper.


Potassium Bichromate 9 g
Hydrochloric Acid 6 ml
Water to make 1 L


Immerse negatives in this solution until bleached, wash for 5 minutes in running water, and develop in bright but diffused light in a metol-hydroquinone developer such as Ansco 47. Negatives should then be given a 15-minute wash before drying. Intensification may be repeated for increased effect.


If any blue coloration of the film base is noticeable after intensification, it may be easily removed by washing the film for two or three seconds in water containing a few drops of ammonia, in a 5% solution of potassium metabisulfite, on in a 5% solution of sodium sulfite. This treatment should be followed by a through washing in water.


From Ansco Formulas for Black and White Film by GAF, 1948 – Formulas are provided for historical reference. They may not work well with modern films and papers. Some of the chemicals can be dangerous. As with all photographic processes, be careful.


FormulasThis reducer is useful for lessening the density and contrast of heavy negatives.


Solution 1

Ferricyanide 35 g
Potassium Bromide 10 g
Water to make 1 L


Bleach in Solution 1 and after through washing, redevelop to desired density and contrast in Ansco 47 or other negative developer except fine-grain developers. Then fix and wash in usual manner. Conduct operation in subdued light.


From Ansco Formulas for Black and White Film by GAF, 1948 – Formulas are provided for historical reference. They may not work well with modern films and papers. Some of the chemicals can be dangerous. As with all photographic processes, be careful.


TypewriterRichard Polt has collected a number of typewriter manuals from various sources, including this site.  After an email discussion we decided it would be a good thing to duplicate these manuals just in case something goes wrong online.

Here is the manual for the Brother Wizard typewriter.