W. H. Heydt
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:21 am

I think part of the discussion here is overlooking a couple of things...plus there are some assumptions running around.

The OP never specified what sort of writing he is planning to do. Fiction? Non-fiction? Academic papers? Something else?

On the assumption that were are talking fiction or non-fiction that is primarily text, and further assuming that what is written is going to be submitted for publication, then one gets into the issue of proper manuscript formatting. Things have changed over the years and (as I understand it) publishers are now willing to accept electronic submissions, but they will still want the material coded and/or formatted in certain ways. It's a pretty good bet that coding part of that will be "MS Word", since publishers are NOT going to want to deal with a myriad of different coding systems.

Back in the day when *everything* was submitted on paper, there was a standard "manuscript format" that called for 1" margins, 10-pitch font, double spaced, ragged right, no hyphenation, with a running head of title, author last name, and page number. When this was done on typewriters, widows and orphans were avoided nearly at all costs (I do know of an exception to that for one particular story). It was the mark of the professional--or aspiring to professional--writer to stick to those standards.

Once WYSIWYG "word processors" came into reasonably widespread use, beginning authors had to be *told* (sometimes repeatedly) that fancy formatting--proportional fonts, hyphenation, right justification, single spacing--that looked so very appealing and "like a book" on their screen was NOT what an editor wanted. Once bought and edited, the layout to look like a book was what the *publisher* did, not the author. Fortunately, the professionals rather quickly figured out how to coerce WYSIWYGs into putting out manuscript format.

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DavidS
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:40 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:I think part of the discussion here is overlooking a couple of things...plus there are some assumptions running around.

The OP never specified what sort of writing he is planning to do. Fiction? Non-fiction? Academic papers? Something else?

On the assumption that were are talking fiction or non-fiction that is primarily text, and further assuming that what is written is going to be submitted for publication, then one gets into the issue of proper manuscript formatting. Things have changed over the years and (as I understand it) publishers are now willing to accept electronic submissions, but they will still want the material coded and/or formatted in certain ways. It's a pretty good bet that coding part of that will be "MS Word", since publishers are NOT going to want to deal with a myriad of different coding systems.
Actually at least two publishers I have dealt with require PDF for submissions.
Back in the day when *everything* was submitted on paper, there was a standard "manuscript format" that called for 1" margins, 10-pitch font, double spaced, ragged right, no hyphenation, with a running head of title, author last name, and page number. When this was done on typewriters, widows and orphans were avoided nearly at all costs (I do know of an exception to that for one particular story). It was the mark of the professional--or aspiring to professional--writer to stick to those standards.
I am glad that changed before I was born (in 1978). Even while it was still paper manuscript the formating rules were not that strict. Admittedly I only ever dealt with technical publications, not novels, and this could be the cause of the difference.
Once WYSIWYG "word processors" came into reasonably widespread use, beginning authors had to be *told* (sometimes repeatedly) that fancy formatting--proportional fonts, hyphenation, right justification, single spacing--that looked so very appealing and "like a book" on their screen was NOT what an editor wanted. Once bought and edited, the layout to look like a book was what the *publisher* did, not the author. Fortunately, the professionals rather quickly figured out how to coerce WYSIWYGs into putting out manuscript format.
Again I am glad that for what I have dealt with no publisher has such strange rules. I am guessing that these rules are only for novels? As technical, and other reference/informative, publications kind of have to be formated by the author to be correct.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:02 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:The OP never specified what sort of writing he is planning to do. Fiction? Non-fiction?
Actually, both. I'd like to write a novel, but I also have some places to publish regular articles like reviews, etc. Right now, I'm doing a little thing about Linux for people.

About keyboard, I need powered hub to avoid issues, right?

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:14 am

G.M.D. wrote: Actually, both. I'd like to write a novel, but I also have some places to publish regular articles like reviews, etc. Right now, I'm doing a little thing about Linux for people.

About keyboard, I need powered hub to avoid issues, right?
In most cases no, your Pi3 should be able to deal with a keyboard and mouse with no issues.

A basic no frills keyboard and mouse will be fine for any model of Pi (that has more than one USB port, for an A+ or a Pi0 you would need a hub to connect more than one USB peripheral).

If all of your USB peripherals draw more than 2A total then a powered Hub would be required.

If you are planning to use a USB powered portable hard drive then a powered hub is probably a good idea.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:37 am

DavidS wrote:Actually at least two publishers I have dealt with require PDF for submissions.
For scientific writing my experience has been submit PDF. Does PDF also work as a submission format for works of fiction?

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:14 am

ejolson wrote:
DavidS wrote:Actually at least two publishers I have dealt with require PDF for submissions.
For scientific writing my experience has been submit PDF. Does PDF also work as a submission format for works of fiction?
I do not know. I have never written a novel (though some call two of my Theses novels :) ).
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:59 am

I started with Wordstar on CPM and WordPerfect on early PCs.
My method as a student was to write "fat" copious passages containing all the important information and then go back and edit to make it fit the required word count. This involved a lot of rephrasing to avoid losing information.

This has carried over to my real world writing. I write with a deluge, almost stream of consciousness to the page, and then go back over it all moulding it to the finished work. Then read and re-read to adjust it for flow, link and sequence. I might end up losing 60% of the word count to make the finished work. Then copy edit chops it down even more :)

I really don't know how I would have done that with a typewriter. Or a quill even. Kudos to the low tech writers of yesteryear.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:22 am

For a minimalistic word processor aimed at writers you could also try FocusWriter

http://johnson-yip.com/2016/07/28/focus ... for-linux/

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:09 am

I have used my Pi3 for writing in Google Docs and LibreOffice Writer and it works fine. It is sometimes a bit laggy in Google Docs, but it is still usable. LibreOffice Writer works very well.

As far as keyboards are concerned, I like a firmer, linear keypress, and I'm not fond of loud, clicky keys that so many others seem to prefer, so I like Cherry MX Black switches. On my main computer I used to have a Deck Legend keyboard, which I really liked, but due to an unfortunate accident I had to replace it. The replacement is a MK Disco with KBT blacks that is working very well for me. The MK Disco is a TKL layout, which is nice for the extra desk space it provides.

I tried an even smaller Magicforce 68 key (60%) layout with Kailh black switches, and that was great, but I found I missed the dedicated F1-F12 keys too much. A friend of mine has the non-backlit version of the Magicforce 68 key with OUTEMU brown (tactile, non-click) switches, and that was also excellent. If you don't use F1-F12 much and want more desk space, take a look at the 68 key Magicforce keyboards. They are available with a variety of different mechanical switch types in backlit and non-backlit models. They have a solid, quality feel and are very affordable (the non-backlit models are less than forty bucks on Amazon).

G.M.D. wrote:That's probably the biggest reason why I want to keep desktop PC. Smaller one is a bigger screen. I use ThinkPad X220 which is a great laptop with pretty good keyboard, but I prefer to have more freedom with which keyboard I can use.
What makes you think you can't use external keyboards with a laptop? 80% of the time my laptop is under my monitor stand, closed and connected to a USB hub, mechanical keyboard and a Logitech G402 mouse. Oh, and a 27 inch monitor. Modern laptops are fast enough to be true desktop replacements now. And the price/performance ratio is close enough that you aren't even paying much of a premium for the portability.
Last edited by HawaiianPi on Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:53 am

One downside to using word processors is that for some reason the file formats change and often in such ways that you do not know if that file that you made can be opened in anything in 10 years to come. This is sometihng that has happened to me many times. Even with different versions of Word. Second, the version control is not very intuitive and understandable. Third they are not very light weight.

This is why I write with EMACS and pandoc. Then I use git to do version control. Benefits:
  • Plain text will always work and be usable in 10 years to come
  • Light weight. Show me a computer that cannot run EMACS.
  • Real time rendering to pdf in evince
  • Full control of formatting and typesetting with simple markdown that does not render text unreable by humans.
  • Easy to display equations, tables, odd fonts (think Tamil, Sanskrit and Arabic for example) and anything else.
  • Easy to integrate with git/github (backup)
  • Access on any platform any time anywhere.
  • Since the text is a sort of "meta-text" I can easily and rapidly use the same material for html/docx/pdf/latex without "loosing sometihng in the conversion". Kind of like flac for music archiving
  • syntax highlighting
  • Some would say that by using EMACS you get to carry title "condescending UNIX user". http://dilbert.com/strip/1995-06-24
Only area where LibreOffice is better: most other writers that may coauthor do not know how to use git or sometimes even simple text editors like notepad/gegit/nano. They also like to make comments (i.e little yellow post-it note like things in the text for others to read). Yes, in some things Libre is better, so I have that also for those moments.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:53 pm

HawaiianPi wrote:
G.M.D. wrote:That's probably the biggest reason why I want to keep desktop PC. Smaller one is a bigger screen. I use ThinkPad X220 which is a great laptop with pretty good keyboard, but I prefer to have more freedom with which keyboard I can use.
What makes you think you can't use external keyboards with a laptop? 80% of the time my laptop is under my monitor stand, closed and connected to a USB hub, mechanical keyboard and a Logitech G402 mouse. Oh, and a 27 inch monitor. Modern laptops are fast enough to be true desktop replacements now. And the price/performance ratio is close enough that you aren't even paying much of a premium for the portability.
I didn't say I think I can't use external keyboard (and other things) with a laptop. I just find it uncomfortable and I prefer to keep it as it is. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.
Used business laptops are pretty cheap and fast + solid at the same time, so I know that can be a good option, but just not for me.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:49 pm

DavidS wrote:
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Back in the day when *everything* was submitted on paper, there was a standard "manuscript format" that called for 1" margins, 10-pitch font, double spaced, ragged right, no hyphenation, with a running head of title, author last name, and page number. When this was done on typewriters, widows and orphans were avoided nearly at all costs (I do know of an exception to that for one particular story). It was the mark of the professional--or aspiring to professional--writer to stick to those standards.
I am glad that changed before I was born (in 1978). Even while it was still paper manuscript the formating rules were not that strict. Admittedly I only ever dealt with technical publications, not novels, and this could be the cause of the difference.
It was well after 1978 that that changed. Hard copy submissions were still the order of the day well into the 1990s. I would have to check with my wife to figure out the last time she submitted a story on paper. It was probably after 2000, and even when the publisher wanted electronic copy to set the work, they still wanted hardcopy initially.
Once WYSIWYG "word processors" came into reasonably widespread use, beginning authors had to be *told* (sometimes repeatedly) that fancy formatting--proportional fonts, hyphenation, right justification, single spacing--that looked so very appealing and "like a book" on their screen was NOT what an editor wanted. Once bought and edited, the layout to look like a book was what the *publisher* did, not the author. Fortunately, the professionals rather quickly figured out how to coerce WYSIWYGs into putting out manuscript format.
Again I am glad that for what I have dealt with no publisher has such strange rules. I am guessing that these rules are only for novels? As technical, and other reference/informative, publications kind of have to be formated by the author to be correct.
The rules were there for good reasons. The wide margins were to leave room for editing and markup to prepare for typesetting (old typesetters adage: Follow the copy even if it goes out the window). The way editors estimate word counts (regardless of what the author claims on the title page) is a formula based on line length, lines per page, and number of pages. Proportional fonts create havoc with that. The running head is in case of the not uncommon enough disaster of having a stack of manuscripts fall over and have to be sorted out and put in sequence.

As an aside...the first author to submit a typed manuscript was Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the name Mark Twain.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:14 pm

Pithagoros wrote:I started with Wordstar on CPM and WordPerfect on early PCs.
My method as a student was to write "fat" copious passages containing all the important information and then go back and edit to make it fit the required word count. This involved a lot of rephrasing to avoid losing information.

This has carried over to my real world writing. I write with a deluge, almost stream of consciousness to the page, and then go back over it all moulding it to the finished work. Then read and re-read to adjust it for flow, link and sequence. I might end up losing 60% of the word count to make the finished work. Then copy edit chops it down even more :)
My wife has the opposite problem. She will put in a short note about what has to happen and then go back and expand it. /shrug Writers vary. There is no One True Way to write. Teresa Neilsen Hayden has written extensively on that point; and so has Rudyard Kipling. Look up his poem 'In the Neolithic Age," which has the refrain, "There are nine-and-sixty ways of composing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right."
I really don't know how I would have done that with a typewriter. Or a quill even. Kudos to the low tech writers of yesteryear.
Someone once asked Isaac Asimov what he would do if he was given 6 months to live. His answer was, "Write faster." In practice, much of what my wife writes, at least in the initial draft, is pen on paper, which she then types into her computer. She prints hardcopy and makes notes, corrections, and expansions all over the manuscript. So it's a back-and-forth process for her.

Jane Austen had a sort of word processor ... it consisted of several strips of ivory, a few inches long by one inch wide, fastened together at one end like the blades of a Chinese fan. She could write a paragraph on each blade (with pencil, which could later be rubbed off), and then move the blades back and forth till she had the paragraphs in the order she wanted. The device is now in the museum that was her house.

If you think composing on a typewriter is hard, there was one SF/mystery author, Fredric Brown, whose "day job" had been as a Linotype operator. He wound up with his own Linotype and would compose on *that*, make the lead type, pull a proof copy and then send it out to have a professional typist type it up for submission. The problem being that printing from hot lead wasn't an acceptable submission form. It looked like it was tear sheets from a published work, and didn't allow the editor to make an accurate word-count as he could from a typed copy.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:05 pm

tpylkko wrote:One downside to using word processors is that for some reason the file formats change and often in such ways that you do not know if that file that you made can be opened in anything in 10 years to come. This is sometihng that has happened to me many times. Even with different versions of Word.
Most word processors give you a very long list of file formats that you can choose to save your text. Including plain old ascii text, there is no need to be bound to the proprietary format.

But if you have old WP5.1, Wordstar, Lotus or even Amstrad CPC LocoScript, then there are tools around to convert, at the very least recover the text.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:46 pm

Except the last time I was trying to save a Word document as HTML, from Word, there were lines of text missing all over the place.

I could perhaps forgive messing up any formatting, but dropping actual content is not acceptable.

I could live with that when my employer insists on using particular tools. Then it it his problem not mine.

But that and years of seeing incompatibilities between Word versions taught me that Word is not to be relied on for anything important.

Then comes Libre Office.

I swear I will not live long enough to fathom how to do anything with that mess.

I'd rather hack on HTML directly. Or give me markdown. Or LaTex.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:58 pm

Heater wrote:Except the last time I was trying to save a Word document as HTML, from Word, there were lines of text missing all over the place.

I could perhaps forgive messing up any formatting, but dropping actual content is not acceptable.

I could live with that when my employer insists on using particular tools. Then it it his problem not mine.

But that and years of seeing incompatibilities between Word versions taught me that Word is not to be relied on for anything important.

Then comes Libre Office.

I swear I will not live long enough to fathom how to do anything with that mess.

I'd rather hack on HTML directly. Or give me markdown. Or LaTex.
+1

Any more I write a plain text and then go back and add any formatting in HTML (including a < Head > section and enclosing entire document in < html > < / html > tags). Then just print that to PDF using the RISC OS PDF Printer from NetSurf.

Though I would think that most do not do things our way. Most actually like the over complexity of the modern Word Processors would be my guess.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:02 pm

Pithagoros wrote:
tpylkko wrote:One downside to using word processors is that for some reason the file formats change and often in such ways that you do not know if that file that you made can be opened in anything in 10 years to come. This is sometihng that has happened to me many times. Even with different versions of Word.
Most word processors give you a very long list of file formats that you can choose to save your text. Including plain old ascii text, there is no need to be bound to the proprietary format.

But if you have old WP5.1, Wordstar, Lotus or even Amstrad CPC LocoScript, then there are tools around to convert, at the very least recover the text.
Recovering the text is important. What program would you run on the Pi to recover a document made with LocoScript?

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:49 pm

Most word processors give you a very long list of file formats that you can choose to save your text. Including plain old ascii text, there is no need to be bound to the proprietary format.
In a way true. However, without pandoc plain text will have no typesetting and fotmatting. Using markdown/pandoc I can have the same text made into a nice looking pdf, html or docx file with formatting just by pressing one button. And because pandoc can output latex, then the sky is the limit since there is very little considering typsetting and formatting that you cannot do in latex. Were you to do it in a Word Proceesor, you would also not have syntax highlighting... So then the question becomes: yeah sure, whie you could do that (what you say), what is the benefit? EMACS uses like 20 MB RAM or something. To write with Word, Firefox and Zotero plugin in you need, what, 1 GB?

Also, Yes. I know that you can often some how get the text back from old formats like Word Perfect or whatever. But this almost always involves loosing formatting or some other complications. Like I said, I have had text be corrupted (lost equations and tables) when going from Word to Word even. From WordPerfect I wouldn't even dream that it would work without complications. That's why I think that using markdown/latex is probably a good idea in the long run. Saves time.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:28 pm

Pithagoros,
Most word processors give you a very long list of file formats that you can choose to save your text. Including plain old ascii text, there is no need to be bound to the proprietary format.
Well. Just there you have made the whole point of word processors like Word and Libre Office redundant.

If I am going to save my text in ASCII or even Unicode and throw away all the formatting why am I using these things in the first place?

If I want to share my writing, if I want to collaborate with others, if I want version control, if I want multiple output formats, it's better to use plain text with markup.

Word processors, like Word, are an artifact of the time when they invented the laser printer. Then people could go crazy with formatting and fonts and images etc.

Nobody prints stuff anymore.

Those that do still target the printed page are not using word processors (Correct me if I am wrong here).

In short, word processors are totally pointless.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:50 am

Heater wrote: Word processors, like Word, are an artifact of the time when they invented the laser printer. Then people could go crazy with formatting and fonts and images etc.
MS Word pre-dates the widespread use of laser printers. (I put it that way because, in the early 1980s I was working with a laser printer attached to a mainframe computer. It would print at about 220 pages per minute. It was rather....large. Look up the IBM 3800.)
Nobody prints stuff anymore.
I beg to differ.
Those that do still target the printed page are not using word processors (Correct me if I am wrong here).
I make a fair amount of use of LibreOffice....to format for printing.
In short, word processors are totally pointless.
The point is sharper than you think.

Now all of that said, whether I use a WYSIWYG or not depends on what I'm doing. I have just finished a long (as in years) delayed project to update a web page. To that, it was vi all the way. If I'm working in mySQL, my editor of choice is vi. But if I want formatted words on paper, it's LibreOffice.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:00 am

Heater wrote:Nobody prints stuff anymore.
Last I checked it was still possible to buy books printed on paper. Someone must be printing them.

Printed pages are high resolution and many can be spread out on a desk and looked at simultaneously. It is costly to spread out an equal number of tablet computers with suitably large screens and look at them simultaneously.

It is possible to quickly flip through the pages of a printed book to find a particular graph, equation, photograph or figure. It is difficult to use the search function on a computer to find anything other than words.

In the case of power outage, it's easier to read a book than a computer screen. Most tablets can be read in the dark, but charging them is difficult.

It is possible to jot down notes consisting of calculations and proofs of Fermat's last theorem in the margin of a printed book. Theoretically the same could be done with the stylus on a Microsoft surface; however, most book readers allow text-only annotations that disappear unless clicked on.

Printed books are not waterproof.
Last edited by ejolson on Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:02 am

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Heater wrote: Word processors, like Word, are an artifact of the time when they invented the laser printer. Then people could go crazy with formatting and fonts and images etc.
MS Word pre-dates the widespread use of laser printers. (I put it that way because, in the early 1980s I was working with a laser printer attached to a mainframe computer. It would print at about 220 pages per minute. It was rather....large. Look up the IBM 3800.)
Really? Where can I find a copy of MS-Word from 1976 or earlier?
Nobody prints stuff anymore.
I beg to differ.
Those that do still target the printed page are not using word processors (Correct me if I am wrong here).
I make a fair amount of use of LibreOffice....to format for printing.
In short, word processors are totally pointless.
The point is sharper than you think.

Now all of that said, whether I use a WYSIWYG or not depends on what I'm doing. I have just finished a long (as in years) delayed project to update a web page. To that, it was vi all the way. If I'm working in mySQL, my editor of choice is vi. But if I want formatted words on paper, it's LibreOffice.
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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:13 am

DavidS wrote: Really? Where can I find a copy of MS-Word from 1976 or earlier?
According to Wikipedia, Microsoft Word was released in 1983. The first mass-marketed laser printer was the Apple LaserWriter introduced in 1985.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:44 am

ejolson wrote:
DavidS wrote: Really? Where can I find a copy of MS-Word from 1976 or earlier?
According to Wikipedia, Microsoft Word was released in 1983. The first mass-marketed laser printer was the Apple LaserWriter introduced in 1985.
I think I still have some stuff I printed on one of those :-)

I got my first laser printer around 1990. HP LaserJet IIP. I had to replace that about ten years ago, and now the replacement has been replaced by a cheap networked colour duplex laser printer.

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Re: Raspberry pi3 as PC for writing - is it enough?

Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:09 am

tpylkko wrote:EMACS uses like 20 MB RAM or something. To write with Word, Firefox and Zotero plugin in you need, what, 1 GB?
I remember when EMACS was notorious for its voracious appetite for memory, with its name being rumored to stand for Eight Megabytes and Constantly Swapping, or Eats Memory and Constantly Swaps. What a difference a few decades makes ;) MS Word, on the other hand, is... a terrible answer to a question that should not have been asked.

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