Imperial 80: tonnes of more than adequate

$5. Gummed up, a few missing keys, incl. spacebar (so I repurposed the tab bar), no ribbon cover. Bought it anyway, as something to repair.

Seems to work pretty well now, but the whole experience is heavy. The wide carriage is … very wide. Can take paper 18 inches wide. That’s like A3 in landscape. (Or, of course, A2 in portrait.)

character set from the Imperial 80

A small sample

The platen is a bit hard and does not grip the paper well, but a couple of sheets at a time does help. Am working on that.

Had a look at a few examples of 80s online and the ribbon cover is so square I thought I might flange one together out of MDF. Chamfer and sand it a bit and paint it black to match the trim.

Serial number is 7F16976, which according to the typewriter database, makes it a 1968, from the first year of the model. With a carriage like that, it takes up a vast amount of room and weighs a great deal. Not sure what to do with it now. Does not really work well enough to pass it on to someone else. Anyway, at $5 (that’s about £2.50) it provided a few challenges and a bit of entertainment. It’s nice getting things to work.

Oh, and a note about ribbons. Imperials like this take an unusual spool, in that it has a big cylindrical space in the middle, and your typical spools won’t swap onto a machine like this. This one did not come with spools, only the big fat cylinders they sit on — but Fullmark’s universal ribbon — like sold here — comes with a spool whose centre can be popped out and then it fits. (Also sold as Pelikan, I think.) And they’re cheap enough, too! Of course, in this case they cost more than the machine … but I had one kicking around, so that was all good.

Some random images.

The nameplate and the missing tab key


Impression and ribbon select use levers tucked away under the sides — a neat solution.


The wide platen means you have to allocate it vast amounts of desk space.


The keyboard, showing the missing tab and z keys. The tab bar was actually repurposed as the more necessary space bar.


The view from the side. This is a large machine, and I suspect would have been quite nice to use when new.


One of the Fullmark/Pelikan spools — working perfectly.


And here we have the final product, with the faked-up spool cover and tab bar and z key, though the latter was a very quick and dirty fix. I’ve gone for a two-tone look, rather than trying to match the colour. With the platen, keys and eraser table black, I thought a black spool cover would work. Does it? Not sure if it’s better than nothing — but I’ve never liked incomplete machines.


front view of the machine with ribbon cover

Curve on the tab bar is suboptimal, but it’ll do.


Not perfect, but not bad.


Good enough.


it's just a photo of an old typewriter and you're really not missing out on anything if you asre relying on alt text instead of seeing the image, I can tell you

Just another view.

Imperial! Empire! What next?

Browsers and tracking

Just some monkeying around with, the browser privacy testing tool. Installs are pretty vanilla.

Older and less full-featured browsers tend not to work with the website — hence lots of ‘no result’ (NR) in the table. Text browsers (lynx, links, links2, w3m and so on) have not been tested for this reason.

This is just one tool, and who’s to say it is definitive? Apologies for the crappy table formatting.

Summary: Mostly the result is is yes yes yes no no. Firefox gives that only in private mode, as does Midori. Edge really is poor, though I must stress this is vanilla installs, and no doubt messing with options can improve the situation.

Browser Is your browser blocking tracking ads? Is your browser blocking invisible trackers? Does your blocker stop trackers that are included in the so-called “acceptable ads” whitelist? Does your browser unblock 3rd parties that promise to honor Do Not Track? Does your browser protect from fingerprinting?
Brave Version 1.5.115 Chromium: 80.0.3987.149 (Official Build) (64-bit) (Win 10)

❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint

Chrome Version 80.0.3987.149 (Official Build) (64-bit) (Win 10)

❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint

Firefox (private window) 74.0 64-bit (Win 10) ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Firefox 74.0 64-bit (Win 10)  partial protection  partial protection ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Microsoft Edge 44.18362.449.0 (Win 10) ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Web (Epiphany) 3.8.2 on Cygwin on Win 10 NR NR NR NR NR
Midori V7.0 on Linux (private browsing mode) ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Midori V7.0 on Linux  partial protection  partial protection ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Firefox 74.0 64-bit (Linux)  partial protection  partial protection ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Firefox 74.0 (private window) 64-bit (Linux) ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Netsurf 3.6 on Linux NR NR NR NR NR
Web on Linux ❌ your browser has a unique fingerprint
Dillo 3.0.5 on Linux NR NR NR NR NR
Tor 9.0.5 on Linux  ⚠ partial protection
Internet Explorer 11.719.18362.0 on Win 10 NR NR NR NR NR
Konqueror 5.0.97 on Cygwin on Win 10 NR NR NR NR NR
Qupzilla 1.8.9 on Cygwin on Win 10 NR NR NR NR NR
Pale Moon Win 10 Not listed


What do I think? Many have said much, but … Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth are admirable leads, and the supporting cast is well drawn and often amusing. Young Mr Elliot is rather a cardboard threat — theoretical rather than really of concern, a bit schematic and lacking in screen time — but the book is mostly quite, though quietly, effective. Anne, though put upon, is not a martyr or pathetic or too subservient, making her more interesting than, say, Miss Price in Mansfield Park. If the central event of the narrative is rather obvious from the start, and rather long in coming, that’s made less of a sin by the congeniality of the ride.

A moddy, pinky-grey cover with a man fishing in the surf at Lyme

Penguin, 1961; cost me a fortune as you can see

The introduction of my copy suggests that the writing was curtailed by Austen’s final illness, and that her method of repeated rewriting would have beefed up the villain’s part. I suppose we’ll never know; but I would rate this very highly nonetheless. The character portraits and the opportunity to simply hang out at the edge of the proceedings are enough.

Not one for fans of suspense, action, hysterical emotion.

The movie with Amanda Root is quite good, too.

This edition also contains the (possibly hagiographic) A memoir of Jane Austen by J E Austin-Leigh.


Adding GMX email to Alpine

I want to read a secondary account from Alpine. Below lets me do that — though not send email from it… If we go here,, we can get the info.

First, activate it in account settings by logging on through the web portal at To do that:

  1. Log in
  2. Go to email tab
  3. Click ‘Settings’ — bottom left of screen, at least on my version
  4. Click POP3 & IMAP on the menu on the left
  5. Check ‘Enable access to this account via POP3 and IMAP’ and hit ‘Save’

Open in another tab, and:

  1. Go to IMAP Server Data
  2. Keep this window open
  3. Open Alpine

Now, I have Alpine set up to send from Gmail, so I am only going to set up the extra collection. Other posts and resources on the internet talk about sending email from Alpine. This post includes some settings in the Config menu that you should use.

  1. In Alpine main menu, go (S)etup then co(L)lections then (A)dd collection
  2. Nickname — GMX, most likely
  3. Server details from the page we opened above — this is the incoming server:
  4. Hit Enter — it should ask for your password; it may or may ask if you want it saved, depending on whether you’ve set Alpine up to do so
  5. Leave other fields blank
  6. Ctrl+x to save, y to exit and save changes
  7. Use $ to shuffle collection order
  8. Exit to main menu
  9. Go to folder (L)ist
  10. Choose the mail account and folder you want and bingo!

Not bad.

Note that this only sets up to read email from GMX. If I go to send and email or reply to one in the GMX folder, Alpine uses the defined sending server, which I have set up to be Gmail. This can be overcome by using profiles, which I can’t be bothered with. If and when I set that up, that will be another post.


Another post


Note to self: Web interface to IP phone — setting phone books, screen savers and so on

Phone: Cisco IP phone SPA540G

From inside the business (on same network as the phone):

  1. Press the button that looks like a page with a folded corner, (actually, Unicode character ‘EMPTY NOTE’ (U+1F5C5), , which may not be in this font).
  2. Use the big button with arrows to arrow down to ‘Network’ and hit Select (left-hand button under LCD screen)
  3. Note current IP address — 123.456.789.000 or whatever.
  4. Type that into a browser URL bar, hit return and bookmark it.
  5. Bingo, manage the phone from the computer.

Not sure if the IP changes if phone is rebooted. I don’t think so.

If it does not work, lower down in the menu that gives the IP address is the option to ‘Enable Web Server’. May need to set to ‘Yes’.

Interesting options:

In ‘Phone’ tab you can enable screen saver, and choose a picture or the date and time., and how long before it kicks in. You can upload your own picture … go here:

The ‘Personal Directory’ menu allows easy entry of your phonebook, much easier than using the handset. Entries are text fields of the form:

n=First Second;p=1234567890

where First Second are names and 1234567890 is the phone number.

You can view your call history, and a bunch of other stuff.

OK, making a custom picture:

  1. Go to the link above; do what it says. In other words, use say MSPAINT.EXE to create a canvas 128 wide and 48 pixels high. Or resize an existing image.
  2. Put the picture into that canvas “If using the image as a background picture, the content of the image should be limited to 95×37 pixels and positioned in the upper-left corner”. Because the screensaver uses the background picture, that goes for the screensaver too.
  3. Save as a binary (1 bit per pixel) BMP image. In MSPAINT.EXE, that’s a ‘Monochrome bitmap’ in the file save dialog.
  4. Put the image on a website from which it can be downloaded without a password or login — something like; I used my tilde page. Note that https does not seem to work — but a lot of https sites can be addressed using http, so it might work anyway if you drop the s. (That’s what I did.)
  5. Check that the image is there by typing its full address into your web browser and seeing if it appears. If you get a forbidden 403 error, you might have to log into the website and change the permissions on the image; for example: $ chmod a+r phone.bmp. That allows anybody to see it.
  6. Go to the phone’s IP address and log in as Admin — if you need a password and/or username, it might be ‘admin’.
  7. On the ‘Phone’ tab is a text field called ‘BMP Picture Download URL:’ Put the address of the image, including the image itself, eg, into that field.
  8. If using it as your logo, choose ‘BMP Picture’ in the select logo box.
  9. If using it as your background, choose ‘BMP Picture’ in the ‘Select Background Picture’ box.
  10. If using it as a screensaver, select ‘yes’ in ‘Screen Saver Enable’ and select ‘Background Picture’ in ‘Screen Saver Icon:’. Note that this means your screensaver is not independent of your background! It will be the background!


  • Monochrome is pretty limited — you may want to experiment with inverting the image, posterising, thresholding, etc, just to see if it helps. ImageJ is useful for that, but you might need to use some other tool (like MSPAINT.EXE) to then save it as a monochrome bitmap.
  • If you change the image on the website, it will not update on the phone until you update the phone configuration. 
  • Seems to work pretty well.
  • If you change the image but do not give it a new name, the phone may not reload it when you ask it to update, so you might need to change its name as well. YMMV.
  • My phone reverted the next day — it could be the business controls the configuration centrally. Oh well.


Phone it in!

Well, it was a dollar (plus fees and charges)

Bought this one off the web solely because it was cheap. (I know, I know, everyone else in the world would have to be paid to take it.) It’s a big plastic 1960s Remington with very few identifying marks. This is the picture from the auction house website, and you can see why no one else bid on it — look at the platen, especially the right-hand end! And if you look closely, you can also see that the pawl that drives the cog that feeds the paper (left side of platen) is sort of flopping around where it shouldn’t be.

Photo of Remington 24.

Remington as seen on auction site. Note angle of platen.

It went for $1, the minimum bid. With the auctioneer’s fee, that pushed it up to an extravagant $1.23, and I was kind enough to pay $1.25 (5c is our smallest coin in Australia). I bought it from loose change kept in my car ashtray.

Screen shot from auction house website.

The purchase price — $1. Plus 23% auctioneer’s fee.

So the first thing was to open it up and blow some air through it and do some typical little cleaning things to see what state it was in. All the bits were there, so I started sticking it together. Found a bit of a bolt that would do as a hinge pin for the clamp on the right that holds down the platen end, and used some thin sheet steel and superglue to fix the paper feed, the bracket for which had snapped. That has not proved a permanent fix; still working on it. A few other things needed little fixes, so here it is on its side with some glue drying.

Photo odf the machine out of the case and on its side.

Bodgy repairs on the worthless typewriter.

Amazingly, my messing around seemed to work pretty well. But there was another issue — a tricky one. The ‘t’ and ‘u’ were not hitting the paper flush. The only way I could fix that was to use a soldering iron to heat up the little typebar and adjust its angle. I did that for ‘t’ because it was completely unusable (just printed a little + shape, the top third of the lowercase ‘t’). The ‘u’ is kind of usable, so I left it for now. The character set is shown below — ‘t’ and ‘u’ are not perfect, but good enough for now. Everything else is quite nice. Only vaguely interesting feature is the incongruous italic cent sign. The numerals are not quite lining but not quite old style. The typeface overall is not very modulated and rather dull to my eye, especially the uppercase letters.

Scan of the character set

Remington 24 type specimen; not bad, but far from perfect.

The plastic case is very bulky. Here is a picture of the machine, probably a Remington 24, alongside a Remington 17. The underlying mechanism is pretty much the same, but the plastic machine is much wider — there is a lot of air in the case, whereas getting the mechanism out of the 17’s metal outer case is really difficult because of the tight fit. But that’s another post


The plastic 24 is much wider than the metal 17, though the underlying mechanism is almost the same. $5 Remington Rand 17 on the left, $1.23 Remington (Sperry-Rand) 24 on the right.

The machine is now quite usable for everyday typing. The platen is rather hard, and I’ve tried a variety of chemicals to soften it but nothing has worked. It’s in good condition — complete, black, no chips or cracks — but hard as a rock. Full stops just punch little holes and the paper tends to slip.

I can’t say I like the later Remington keytops.

There were lots of dirty counters and bowls, but that’s no great issue.

Keys 3 r . / and = look like a different shade of white on the plastic, as if replaced from another machine.

Serial number is: NJ174841. There are no NJ machines on the typewriter database, but I would guess that makes it about 1969. I read somewhere on the interweb that these were made in Italy; not really sure. The database lists Remington Rand 24(D)’s as ‘NG’ prefix, which is close to NJ, and NG174XXX is listed as 1969.

So there it is. A somewhat mysterious plastic paperweight.

More weight.

Windows 7 and my Logitech USB headset

Plugged it into the machine but it did not show up in device manager or anywhere. Couldn’t see the headset as an option in Zoom or Skype or anywhere else. What’s the deal? And where the hell is the model number printed on the unit?

It looks like the Clear Chat Pro, but that page no longer exists on the Logitech website.

Seems to be something here:–Getting-Started-ClearChat-Pro-USB

Nope. Windows does not recognise it like it is supposed to.

OK, Windows is running in VirtualBox, so let’s create a few USB filters and reboot.

  1. Shutdown the VM.
  2. In the VirtualBox manager, went to USB and create a new filter, with the headphones plugged into the host, and choose the headphones as attached to that filter.
  3. Leaving them plugged in, started the guest.
  4. On getting the desktop, it did find the drivers and install them.

Yep, that works. Plug the thing into the host computer before starting the guest, and the filter sees tat the USB device is passed streight through on boot of the guest, and then Windows finds the device and installs the drivers required. Good.

Same did not work for Lumens DC-160.


Oh well.

Gmail forgetting 2 factor authentication: Firefox

So you log into gmail (or something else, whatever) through Firefox and it wants 2 factor authentication (2FA). You do it, it sends you something to your phone and you’re in. On the way, you check the ‘don’t ask again on this device’ box.

But it does ask again next time.

What might be happening is that you’re set to clear cookies after each session.

You and either change that setting of make gmail (and any other sites that behave the same way) an exception.

  1. Click the three horizontal lines at the top right that open the menu. ☰
  2. Choose “Preferences’.
  3. Search for (or drill through the ‘Privacy & Security’ menu) to ‘Cookies and Site Data’.
  4. Is ‘Delete cookies and site data when Firefox is closed’ checked? You can either uncheck it or…
  5. Click on ‘Manage Permissions’.
  6. Paste the main part of the URL that is the problem — the website domain bit, eg — into the box and click ‘Allow’.
  7. Do this with any others you like — eg wordpress.
  8. Click ‘Save Changes’.

Should be done. The same dialogue lets you block or accept for session.

The dialogue box in Firefox to add accept exceptions to cookie handling

Something like this should show up.



Coffee stains in my LaTeX

You need this package.

Download it now from We all know a printout is not trustworthy unless it has a couple of coffee stains on it, gained while sitting in a position of importance on your desk for some time. The stain means it was on the top of the pile and therefore acts as a seal of quality.

This package saves you from actually having to get up and get a coffee.

For example:


Picture of a coffee stain

The big one — three-quarters of a circle, plus a few extra splotches





A sort of ‘crescent moon’ coffee stain


And so on. Now your world is complete.


The Brother AX-10 is a fairly bare-bones machine as electronic (as distinct from electric) typewriters go. It lacks the fancy, word-processery add-ons that more expensive machines have. No spell check, no justification or centring, no LCD to let you edit your words before you print them. No bold or underline, except for manually underlining using the underscore character.  It is really closer to being an electric typewriter; a direct replacement for a manual, rather than something with a lot of extra features.

Sure, you get a few extra. characters — like <, >, plus/minus, section symbol and paragraph symbol, and degree; and pitch control (10 or 12). And if you use a correctable ribbon you can liftoff! But that’s about it. It had the advantage over an electric machine that you can type a few characters while the carriage is returning and they’ll come out properly when it gets back to the start of the line. And it has a repeattttttttttt key that repeats the last keystroke.

The key feel is a bit mushy, and sometimes I am not sure I’ve hit it. The letters appear quite low down on the platen and the daisy wheel obscures them, so it is not easy to see what you last typed.

On the whole, I would struggle. to recommend the AX-10. In general I think Brother make pretty good gear — I’ve talked about the EP-44 a few times. But this thing is a bare-bones machine, and while it does the job and may well have been good value for money when new, it has a few little flaws, as noted, that would, if I wanted such a machine, lead me to choose something else.

Having said that, it does have the advantage that the ribbons are still widely available and not too expensive, which one cannot say about most electric/electronic machines that use non-standard spools and ribbons; many are now effectively impossible to find, rendering the machines quite useless. This is not so of the Brother — not yet — and it seems likely that ammunition will be available for quite a while yet, which is pretty important!

The look is of course boring. Two tone at least adds some variety, and then a third colour for the keytops — it’s not beige all over — and the construction feels reasonably robust for a machine of this type. At least it does not feel like the platen knobs will break off in your hand, and the same cannot be said of (for example) Nakajima machines like the AX-60 (no relation), which probably feels more responsive under the fingers but is a bland beige and feels more delicate — indeed, the bail-lift-knob-wheel-thingy was broken on mine, and when you open it up you can see just how little plastic was holding it all together.

Ser: C 61212293


OK. This one was $5, which is about right these days. Would be perfectly useful if you wanted to address the odd envelope or fill out some forms that are not available electronically. Hits hard enough to use with carbons and multipart forms, so could do that too. Those are getting rarer of course. These kind of machines lack the interest and portability of a true manual but also the assistive technology (eg a dictionary) of a word processor (like the higher-end products from Brother, Nakajima, Panasonic et al) or computer.

On the other hand, you can’t surf the internet on it, which could make it a useful productivity tool for the easily distracted!


Here’s a bunch of pictures. Unsorted, just bunged in, sorry…