Sitting in the dark with my Neo . . . .
It’s funny how the Trump presidency has already affected my life. Today a neighbor stopped by and we talked for awhile and my neighbor told me how locally people have been discussing how to deal with power outages and food shortages just in case things go terribly wrong. Today we’ve had two power outages and this is the longest one, leaving me in the dark with nothing much to do. I do not blame Donald Trump for this, I do live in the house at the end of the power line in the swamp. I’m the first to know of local outages and the last to get power back. At least I had supper already and I don’t need to set up the camp stove on the porch. I drew a big pot of drinking water and put a little Chlorox in the toilet bowl, lit the oil lamp and now I’m sitting beside the little kerosene heater and writing this on my Neo2. I see lights in the distance outside so I figure it is just a problem with Indiana REMC and not a preemptive EMP strike. I saw a car go by! Yay!
I bought this NEO word processor this past summer because I have wanted something I can use off the grid. Laptops just don’t suffice because they have a lifetime of only hours. I used to have a Brother word processor that was like a very advanced typewriter and I liked it a lot. I could write articles on it and store them indefinitely, edit them in the little black-on-green reflective screen, and print them out on actual paper later. It had no connection to the internet and no option for connection to a computer, so it was limited but it was still a good machine. It was a good machine for the days when you sent printed paper articles and books to publishers and got rejection slips in the mail.
The Neo2 is a better machine for writers today, and I will tell you why. Although the Neo2 has been discontinued and there are few other machines like it now, it is still available on eBay and possibly on Amazon also, as a used item. This is because, first of all, it is pretty damn indestructible. The Neo2 was built for use in schools so it has to hold up to hard use — children do not respect property. It can network with other Neo’s, a function you likely will not need, and it has some teaching aids aboard you will likely not care about. Other than that it is a simple word processor with a black on green liquid crystal readout and eight slots for articles. Just words, none of that fancy crap and no link to the internet.
What a joy this is to use! It has a full-sized keyboard with tactile bumps on the landmark keys, f and j, so even in low light you can find the right spot on the board. I’m writing this by the light of a cheap LED camp light, but I’ve tested it under an oil lamp and with a little tinkering I think it will work fine that way also. I need a hanging oil lamp to go with my tabletop lamp and then I’m ready for the apocalypse.
Many writers don’t actually enjoy writing and I’m one of those. I would rather do things, like anything else at all — go for a drive in my car, or dig a hole, or pretend I’m working when actually I’m checking the weather channel every five minutes to see what the temperature is now. Many things are more interesting than writing. The internet has not really been a boon to writers. Yes, it has let many of us get our material out past the publishing houses where it can actually be seen, but it also created more work for us and more distractions from work. I can easily go look at naked Russian ladies online instead of writing articles about gardening or camping. Heck, even looking at the thermometer on the porch is more interesting than writing. (Moment please, I will go check this; oh, down a degree to 59, who’d have thought?) A simple writing machine is what I wanted, with no distractions, the writing equivalent of a monastic cell with a pad on the floor and a candle on the wall. Yes! an electronic monastic writing cell something I could hook up to my computer later so I could download my work. That’s the Neo2.
My Neo2 cost me about $22 on eBay. Check here [Neo2] for current offers on Amazon. I’ve had no problems with it, it was easy to get running (push a button) and even the downloaded programs I found on line were unnecessary. Open a text writing program on your desktop, or even create a new post in WordPress, hook up the Neo 2 with a USB cable (well, one end has one of those little “covered bridge” sorts of fittings but they are common, I have three of those cables just lying around from old computers) and just click Send on the Neo2 keyboard. The text transfers at about 60 wpm typing speed but hey, that earned you a job as a clerk in the Army in 1970 and being a clerk was cushy, no dealing with booby traps or landmines. Relax, get a cup of coffee and come back later when the download finishes.
The three AA batteries that run the Neo2 last about a year, so a dozen AA’s should get you through Trump’s first term even if the power grid does fail. Twenty four should get you through eight years of the Trump presidency and by then we should be back on the internet and you can publish all sorts of things and be famous.
This is a word processor for writers, not for editors. Editors can’t bother you in the Neo2 world and this is a wonderful thing. Everything else you need to do, you can do after you download to your computer. That includes all the work writers never used to have to do, back when writers were respected as talented people with an important skill. Other people took pictures and edited little grammatical errors and worried about marketing. Today writers are supposed to do every damn thing and then someone checks and tells you what you did wrong. The Neo2 takes you out of that space into a quiet zone where you can write and drink a martini.
I bought a Samsung Chromebook first, spent over $200 on it (maybe more but I shudder to think) and have never found it useful except when I was away from home and had to use the internet somehow. Took three trips back to the factory to get the Chromebook working, and it turned out there is nothing wrong with it. I’m actually an electronics technician, I know this stuff, and I had trouble with it. The keyboard isn’t right, the wrong size and has no feel, you can change the keyboard configuration by accident, you can’t tell when you hit the keys or whether you hit the right ones. The Samsung technician finally told me, with a pitying air, “It’s not a laptop, you know.” Cripes, I am still angry about that, why not include some of the same laptop functions? like a sensible Power On Power Off system? Two bumps on two keys would have made so much difference on the Chromebook, but it doesn’t have them. The Neo2 has them. I’m betting the Neo2 has a pretty good chance of surviving a pre-emptive EMP strike, even though that doesn’t really matter much. The Chromebook would be toast and it only has a battery life of a few hours. It takes me a few hours just to check the temperature online 48 times. With the Neo2 I could write for a full year after the end of the world, on just one set of batteries, and then check the temperature on the mercury thermometer on the porch. It’s the perfect writing machine for the Trump Presidency. Push a button, it comes on, says it is ready, please write something. Push the button again, it happily saves what you wrote and turns off. If you drank too many martinis and forgot to do that, it does this anyway. Just turn it on again, nothing you wrote is lost. The NSA can’t touch this machine, it’s not hooked up to the internet!
This is why I wanted to be a writer when I was growing up, I wanted the Neo2.