Everything I've written on my Freewrite for the last year

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/24/everything-ive-written-on-my.html


Better to just buy an ancient laptop without internet connectivity. (Or solitaire)


So thats where the stash of BB stickers went! Gimme!


so, it’s a gym membership?


They are not possible in the Freewrite.

So it has fewer features than WordStar?


Dana Alphasmart isn’t quite this bad. I don’t use it often, but it’s not as evidently frustrating as this one. (It did look like a good idea at the time, and I sorta lusted for this … but now my procrastination seems to have borne fruit in the form of foregone annoyance.)

Plus, my Alphasmart was $10 at the Goodwill, which had a giant bin of them (I picked the one that looked least scuffed). Came with batteries, and I have used it enough to nothing-like-regret it. Batteries last forever, keyfeel is weak, but not the worst in the world, and it’s nice simple USB output for dumping the text into a real computer.


I really love my Alphasmart Neo. I’ve been using it for years and have probably written around 500,000 words on it. I don’t use it for editing, and am pretty strict about not going back when I’m working on a rough draft, but it wasn’t bad the few times I’ve done any real editing on it. It’s very light and thin, and batteries last forever, which probably has alot to do with my love of the thing. It’s a shame they don’t make them anymore.

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Jeepers, what a craptacular website. It loaded so much shit on the home page that I had to wait for it to stop hogging resources before I could close the tab, and then when I finally could it gave me a pop-up to try and discourage my escape. Their web developer seriously needs to have their Java APIs confiscated.

This might be the best thing since sliced bread, but I won’t know because I’m not going anywhere near that website until they clean up their mess.

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Reminds me of the e-mail only Peek gadget that came out before smartphones were ubiquitous. It’s the kind of thing that tons of people seemed to want back in the day, always saying “I just want a simple device that only shows emails” or whatever. Then it came out and fizzled because it was so limited.

I think the lesson is the genius of companies like Apple is that their devices seem simple, even though they’re not. Devices that are simple for the sake of simplicity are misguided and fail to grasp what it is that makes Apple and the like compelling.

I wish they still made machines like the Sinclair Z88. Distraction-free writing with a mighty 23kB of memory all running on 4 AA batteries. When it came out it was a revolution, tough as old boots and utterly reliable. I wrote colossal amounts of text, including much of my MSc, on mine until the display finally died.

On a related front, I’m keeping one eye on this device - a PDA based on the design of the magnificent Psion 5:



I swapped the keyboard PCB out of my Alphasmart, and made it fully mechanical:

https://imgur.com/a/iEXqT .



I have funded the Gemeni. It looks sweet! A valuable addition to the Road Warrior kit.

I must admit that if had some spare cash I would have sprung for one. But I am definitely keeping a close eye on it, because if it is as good as it looks I can definitely see a place for one in my travel bag rather than lugging a Macbook around the world.

Hope you have fun with it when it comes out!

Never used a Z88, but it probably seemed more revolutionary in Britain because it never got the original Tandy Model 100 from 1983. Obviously coming out a few years later, the Z88 was superior in many ways, but that rubber keyboard looks pretty dire, although par for the course for anything by Sir Clive.


I have always viewed these “distraction free” writing machines with great skepticism. I personally could not write very much at all without opening a half dozen tabs to research and fact check as I go along. And yet I somehow manage to get writing done despite doing it on a full fledfed internet connected computer. Which I do by not succumbing to distractions. (It also helps that I disable all notifications on all my devices except incoming calls and texts from family).

One of the biggest and most expensive fallacies in life is to think that all you need to enable yourself to do something better (golf, home repair, writing, whatever) is the right a better tool, when the real problem getting in your way is not your tools but your skillset and/or your mental state.

ETA: to clarify, while people do indeed need tools suited to their own work habits, there is also a trend encouraged by consumer society and all too often found among geeks, to fool ourselves into thinking that we can become a better, more capable, more disciplined person merely by buying a different tool. If you spend too much time on the internet when you should be writing, before buying an expensive digital typewriter, ask yourself if changing your habits might not be a more productive approach.



Because nothing says ‘distraction free’ like consumer debt, no?


Personally, my go-to distraction-free writing experience has been Typora on Windows. Works remarkably well and exports into just about any format.

On Linux, naturally, it’s Markdown in vim with pandoc for output, if needed. Can’t beat the terminal for distraction-free, after all. :slight_smile:

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Yes. Definitely. This is wholly true and credible. There is absolutely nothing hidden among my detached sessions; not that I have any because screen is not a thing I know about. Definitely. Also, Nethack is a falsehood; and my work is ahead of schedule.


so would you recommend getting one?


So … a good craftsman never blames the absence of his tools?