Off the Web

SUBHEAD: When the internet goes down are you ready with a replacement for getting out the word?

By Juan Wilson on 5 March 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: An AB Dick 437 mimeograph machine with a mounted stencil ready to print. Photo by Juan Wilson.

[IB Author's note: Today is the first day in three when we have had reliable phone service from Hawaian Telecom. Before this article the last post to this site was dated March 3rd. The reason is the heavy rain we have had on west Kauai on Wednesday and Thursday. The rain interferes with our telephone service. This has happened a few times before when there has been torrential rain.]

[IB note: Problems exist on the mainland too. Others have recently had serious outages this week as as well. See Ea O Ka Aina: AT&T and Amazon Cloud Outages].

Our service provider, Hawaiian Telcom, has its local telephone exchange center is across the Hanapepe River and seems to have trouble when there is persistent rain.

The symptom is not a complete blackout of signal. It's a interference with static that can be so loud that it blocks out the spoken word. But long before you cannot hear or speak to another person our internet DLS signal becomes slower and then intermittent and finally nonexistent.

We are still on a landline phone because there is terrible cellphone service at our home in the valley. That is something the phone companies just don't get. When the service gets muffled by static we will call Hawaiian Telcom about an immanent service outage and they'll say they'll call to make an appointment to service the line. We'll tell them our land line is not working.  And we have no cellphone for them to call us on, and they seem to doubt that's possible. 

You get the impression that the phone companies wish the landline business would simply disappear. It must be very costly and annoying to have to put together, print and deliver a phone book to every customer. Hell, it's only old folks that still have landlines and they are dying off.

Another problem with landlines are those pesky public phones outdoors. They get so much damage from drug addicts, abusive husbands and frustrated teenagers. Can't all of this just go away?

Unfortunately, that just is not what is going to happen. More likely what we will see in the decades to come is a return to landlines. This is because landline telephones are a much simpler technology that cellphones. The Bell telephone system was built on what was a 19th century technology. It operated in the horse and buggy days. You can build a telephone in a well appointed garage shop.

Cellphones, as built today, require 21st century technology and fabrication plants. Cellphones are sealed units that cannot be opened for repair. If they don't work, simply get a replacement or buy another.

This was drilled home to me when my iPod 6 had a problem. The small glass cover over the camera lens had fallen out. Soon after the lens could not focus properly. Dust or moisture probably. I took the iPod to our local Apple approved dealer (there is no Apple Store on Kauai).

They told me there was no part or repair procedure for such an event. Apple had no solution. There was nothing on the internet to solve this problem either. The only answer was to buy another iPod. Kaching! Another $300.

The reason I bring this up is that I a few years ago I purchased a couple of Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriters and an 1950's era AB Dick Model 437 mimeograph machine.  You might have read about this in one of the articles below.

It has been only this week that I loaded the AB Dick drum with ink and used the Royal typewriter to actually try and prepare an "Island Breath Journal" front page. It was not easy typing without too nasty a bunch of errors onto a stencil and then trying to get an even application of ink onto a 7.5"x14" piece of paper.

Having no experience or manual it took about five stencils before I began to understand even the basics of what I needed to do. A light touch on the keyboard was not nearly enough to cut the letters through the stencil. This was a two-index-finger bang out.

One piece I entered onto the stencil was the "Typewriter Manifesto". See a version I found online. It was not strictly honest in that the title and last line were not typed at the same size as the rest of the piece. Also, mimeograph cannot produce multiple colors like a standard typewriter.

Image above: The Typewriter Manifesto. From (

More over, getting the stencil onto the drum ink pad so it is is tight and smooth can be messy. After several attempts I got an almost acceptable printed page.

The upside: The mimeograph can operated by turning the drum manually or by using the motor. With the motor the Model 437 prints much faster than a laser printer... as fast as you can count. It spits out a ream of paper in a couple of minutes.

The prints are dry as they come out of the unit and do not smudge. It is a printed page.

I'm hoping that in the next week or two I can get this technology down and produce a decent double-sided printed page. I'm looking for a supplier of stencils, ink and a stamp for a title banner.
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Office Equipment Revolution 2/16/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Priorities and what's really important 10/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Lost in the Blogosphere? 8/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: No Substiute for Newspapers 5/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The One Way Forward 1/28/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Time of the Seedbearers 5/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The New Game 11/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Down is a Dangerous Direction 4/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Blogger Conspiracy 5/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: We pass 750,000 hits 10/5/10

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