Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Amish computing"

I'm getting so much spam. Hundreds of messages a day trying to seduce me by appealing to my darkest lusts and my greed. So I've gone back to basics. I stopped using my fancy word processor and installed WordPerfect for DOS, which was last updated about a decade ago, and which lets me type in gray letters on a blue screen without using any windows and without the need of a mouse. It never crashes. I also bought a little device called an AlphaSmart Neo, which is mostly sold to schools. The Neo is just a keyboard that stores text as you type it. It does nothing else. It doesn't tell the time or let me play games. It runs off of double-A batteries and the batteries last for hundreds of hours. Using the AlphaSmart and WordPerfect I've started to enjoy computing again. There is no Wikipedia, no email, no constantly changing the MP3s I'm listening to, no downloading going on. The spam still piles up but I'm not aware of it, because my email program is shut down until I want to send a message.
From an essay by Paul Ford, "Followup/Distraction." Having switched from Microsoft Word to Notepad2 for writing on the computer (as opposed to "wordprocessing"), I'm in strong sympathy with the idea of "Amish computing," as Ford calls it.

LINK: "My version of Amish computing" A related blog post

LINK: "Followup/Distraction" An essay by Paul Ford

LINK: "Are there 'good' distractions?" Further thoughts on distraction from Paul Ford: "I want to feel like I did something during my brief life besides check my email." [Via 43 Folders.]

comments: 3

Anonymous said...

My alphasmart pro is very good for on the go nanowrimo-ing but the keys are a might bit sticky. It must be the imagination of children from the school it used to live in -- or just boogers. :)

Michael Leddy said...


Stephen, you might want to look at this piece on keyboard gunk.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... It's a good thing that I don't type with my mouth anymore. :)

In an effort to fix the keys I pryed up each key and cleaned it with q-tips and rubbing alcohol, but now it seems to be too clean. I think that I need some grease to reduce the friction. The keys don't stay down like they used to, instead they have a hard time being pushed down. Maybe this explains the low price? :)