The Alphasmart ($30 on Amazon, but also ebay) is a low-end gadget much-loved by writers for its simplicity and enforced focus on the task at hand: writing. But among the many limitations is its cheap rubber-dome keyboard, the stuff of nightmares for serious typists. Enter Lazy Dog on the geekhack forums, who replaced his with a proper clicky 'board, all hacked into the original case.
I designed the PCB in KiCAD. This was my first time using KiCAD or any EDA software. I found it surprisingly straightforward and accessible, but also like most open-source software, possibly designed for use by aliens. ... After carefully connecting the flex cables, screwing it all together, and placing the keycaps, I finally had a fully working machine! It produces predictably loud tock tock tock noises, and is an enormous improvement over the previous keys.
What a beautiful monster. Read the rest
I'm the son of a physician and inherited his poor penmanship. I wish I had the invaluable but dying life skill demonstrated in this video. (via Uncrate)
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Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years -- more than half her life -- living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son. Read the rest
Psych scholars from San Diego State and U Georgia used Google Books to systematically explore the growth of swear-words in published American literature: they conclude that books are getting swearier and that this is a bellwether for a growth in the value of individualism: "Due to the greater valuation of the rights of the individual self, individualistic cultures favor more self-expression in general (Kim & Sherman, 2007) and allow more expression of personal anger in particular (Safdar et al., 2009). Thus, a more individualistic culture should be one with a higher frequency of swear word use." Read the rest
Andy at The Jerx (previously) describes a surprisingly effective tactic for putting a heckler in his place during the performance of a magic trick. Read the rest
Teenage girls read far more than teenage boys. Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket series and other fantastic tales, has a suggestion on how to increase teen boys' interest in books: more sex in the pages. From Daniel's essay in the New York Times:
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It is a gross generalization, of course, to say that what young men want to read about is sex — or to imply that the rest of us aren’t as interested — but it’s also offensive to pretend, when we’re ostensibly wondering how to get more young men to read, that they’re not interested in the thing we all know they’re interested in. There’s hardly any real sex in young adult books, and when it happens, it’s largely couched in the utopian dreams or the finger-wagging object lessons of the world we hope for, rather than the messy, risky, delicious and heartbreaking one we live in.
My new novel portrays a young boy’s emotional, heteroflexible sex life — and I’d like young people to read it. But it’s being published for adults, partly because the guardians of young people’s literature get so easily riled up about sex, preferring to recommend, say, books about teenagers slaughtering one another in a post-apocalyptic landscape, rather than books about kids masturbating at home.
To which many would say, so what? Don’t we have more important things to worry about than giving sexually explicit literature to young people? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about, say, the rampant misogyny of everyday life, in a nation led by a self-admitted sexual predator?
Ben Blatt's Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing takes advantage of the fact that so much literature has been digitized, allowing him to run statistical analyses on writers, old and new, and make both fun and meaningful inferences about the empirical nature of writing. Read the rest
Geoff Ryman -- the brilliant science fiction author who curated last year's 100 AFRICAN WRITERS OF SFF project, continues to publish and curate excellent, exciting science fiction from across Africa. Read the rest
This week (and next due to the nature of different release dates for the direct market and the book market) marks the release of the first collection of SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL v.1: Earth Girl Made Easy
, which compiles issues 1-6 (previously
). It’s a heavy load to recreate a character that giants before you have written. Steve Ditko is a master of the strange. His mind a merry-go-round of experimentation.
My latest Locus column is "Be the First One to Not Do Something that No One Else Has Ever Not Thought of Doing Before," and it's about science fiction's addiction to certain harmful fallacies, like the idea that you can sideline the actual capabilities and constraints of computers in order to advance the plot of a thriller. Read the rest
Today on John Scalzi's Whatever blog, Steven R Boyett (author of the classic fantasy novel Ariel) writes about Fata Morgana, the new alternate history/WWII novel he's just published with Ken Mitchroney. Read the rest
Somehow having a 10-year-old around makes pens evaporate! These erasable gel ink pens are favorites.
We seem to lose a lot of pens. These fine point Pilot gel pens have become the ones to order for replacement. The ink really does erase, even after a trip through the washing machine. Very cool for anyone who folks who make mistakes.
Trust me, mistakes are made.
Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack (31472) via Amazon Read the rest
For $9 this is a really nice pen.
I'm surprised at how nice this EastVita fountain pen is! I expected very little. The seems well made, hasn't leaked, and puts ink on the page when so applied!
Yes, the wood is real.
EastVita 8812 Fountain Pen Rose Wood Barrel Vintage Style via Amazon Read the rest
It's early days in the Trump trainwreck, but Rebecca Solnit's astonishing, beautiful, visceral essay "The Loneliness of Donald Trump" may well end up being the defining moment of the Trump presidency, in which Solnit uses the incisive wit that gave us the term "mansplaining" to explain Trump. Read the rest
Unko Sensei (literally Poop Teacher), is a charming mustachioed turd helping Japanese grade-schoolers learn over 1000 kanji characters required by the end of 6th grade. Read the rest
Since the earliest days of my novel-writing career
, readers have written to me to thank me for my books and to ask how they can best support me and other writers whose work they enjoy. Nearly 15 years later, I have a pretty comprehensive answer for them!
Trish Vickers of Dorset, England, decided to write a novel. Though blind, she preferred to work the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, with her son dropping in weekly to type up the results. On one visit, though, she learned to her horror that her pen had ran out of ink fully 26 pages ago. But all was not lost!
Not knowing what else to do, she and Simon called the police. To the Vickers’s surprise, officers at Dorset HQ volunteered to work during their breaks and free time, hoping to use their forensic tools to help. And, five months later, the police reported back with success: they recovered the never-written words. Vickers told a local newspaper that the pen she used to write the pages — even though there was no ink left in it — left behind a series of indentations: “I think they used a combination of various lights at different angles to see if they could get the impression made by my pen.”
Vickers finished the book, Grannifer's Legacy, and died the day it was published. [via MeFi] Read the rest