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Author Topic: Writing Technology
Wolfe_boy
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No, not How to Write About Technology, but what technology do you use to write? While I realize that the tech doesn't make the writer, nor do the shoes make the basketball player, I'm always intrigued by what everyone writes on. Call me a tech geek, if you like. Let's get a general rundown here....

I write either on my work laptop (crappy Dell) using MS Word 2003, or, more often, I write at home on my iMac G5, using either Word 2004 for Mac, or Nisus Writer Express. I tend to edit a first draft on paper, with a pen, whereas second drafts and other revisions take place on the computer.

Jayson Merryfield

[This message has been edited by Wolfe_boy (edited August 29, 2007).]


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Robert Nowall
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The Microsoft Works Word Processor program that came with both of my Hewlett Packard tower computers. "Because it's there."

I did, a few years back, discard the keyboard that came with this second computer and got me an "ergonomic" keyboard. I think it helped improve my production---certainly it made my wrists feel better.


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arriki
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WordPerfect 5.1 because it never messes up in all the years I've owned it!

It's getting harder because the program does not recognize USB ports for a printer connection. Still, HP manages to come up at least one printer that still has such. It can access USB for memory sticks since I'm running 5.1 through Windows.

I bought WordPerfect 12 because it has a simulation of 5.1 in case 5.1 become unusable. That way I can access all my files.

Love 5.1. It seems there are a lot of people who do. The world keeps accommodating us.

I have a notebook computer but rarely use it for writing. A base station on a desk is where I work with bookshelves of references and notebooks of writing notes beside me.


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Matt Lust
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Microsoft OneNote for organization of online research materials.

Microsoft Word for writing simply for cross-compatability issues (Yes I realize alot of other things are compatible with Word but I'm lazy)

Long hand for plotting and intial draft writing of some scences.


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annepin
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Microsoft Word for Windows XP on my Sony Vaio "craptop", which is missing keys and is clogged with cat hair (if I leave it open the cats sleep on the keyboard). Recently, I've started to use my husband's old Dell, since I'm constantly worried the laptop will die.

I back up all my stuff using Jungle Disk, a (free) program I highly recommend (it uploads your files to an account you create in Amazon Web Services--all for cents a gigabyte!) You can set it to upload selected files regularly. I use it to back up everything-documents, photos, music, etc.

I have stacks and stacks of notebooks and loose bits of paper where I jot down plot ideas, character sheets, maps, misc notes, etc. Once I finish a first draft I print it out, read, and make notes in the margin. Then I go back to the computer and crank out a second draft. I do most writing exercises long-hand as well.

[This message has been edited by annepin (edited August 29, 2007).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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MSWord 2003 on my 2 HP desktops and in my HP Laptop. I'm not very techno-savvy. I'd like to learn, but have no time, and no brain capacity -- I loose IQ points every time I hiccup.
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TaleSpinner
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Like Matt I use MS Word because almost everyone has it. I've used it for technical writing since DOS days so it's familiar.

I also have New Novelist (http://www.newnovelist.com/). I bought it mainly for the database capability which makes it easy to organize notes on characters, location and structure - index cards for writers on a hard disk, basically. It also has a writing tutor that will guide you through standard story types like love, revenge, coming of age and puzzle, instructive if you want to see how a formula story works. The software is stable, quick and reasonably easy to use. But it has one big, big problem: it can't print and format for submissions. You have to export to a word processor and then mess with fonts, line spacing and so on. So I don't use it :-( When I've written enough short stories to feel confident of tackling something larger I will probably use its database, but continue to actually write in Word.

I carry a Levenger Pocket Briefcase absolutely everywhere (http://www.levenger.com/PAGETEMPLATES/NAVIGATION/Preview.asp?Params=category=11-76%7Clevel=2-3%7Cpageid=100%7CSpecial=fef%7CLnk=txt). It holds a few blank 3 x 5 index cards for notes which I write with a fountain pen (usually a Parker) because the look and feel of the pen, gold nib and ink is an aesthetic pleasure. The notes go straight into the laptop. If I can read them. If they're not smudged.

Also, I have several dictionaries on the laptop because I travel a lot, can't write without a dictionary and refuse to lug around a decent paper one, and the lookup is faster than paper. I have Oxford for British English, and Longman's which is slower to start up but has more detail on word usage. There's Webster's for American English, and finally WordWeb Pro (http://wordweb.info/users/) which is excellent for fast synonyms and anagrams. (A friend said to me once, 'Pat, you know more words than I'll ever know. Why the dictionary on the laptop?' To which I replied, 'How d'ya think I learned all these dang words, man?')

It all runs on an HP Pavillion laptop with a wide, 1280 x 800 display so there's lots of real estate for several windows. It will show two documents side by side, both readable. Just.

Cheers,
Pat

P.S. And I do regular backups to CD and a memory stick and the other computer. I don't think one should ever think technology and writing without thinking backups.

[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited August 29, 2007).]


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rstegman
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I prefer Wordperfect 5.1, but this computer does not have it on here. With this computer, I write in NOTEPAD, and then plop it into wordperfect 2003 for spell checks. (I like my magic to actually work.......)

I could NEVER write without the computer. I went through school before home computers and my writing attempt were at best blow by blow outlines. At worst, outlines....

I learned to write when I gained the ability to cut and paste, and fill in, in between. IN fact my first story was basically partial scenes of where I wanted the story to go, and then I expanded the sentances into some action, then filled in some discription, then expanded the action and then the discription, merging the ends and beginings of the scenes until I had my first completed story.
I now write begining to end, but making corrections while writing are key.
The vary thought of retyping ten pages on a typewriter because I changed two sentances, is beyond anything I could ever accept....


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I am destiny
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I have a Dell lap top that I love. It is all mine and only used for writing. It has MS word what ever one is used by XP. It is so nice!!!! Although I have a external key board and mouse, I hate my touch pad. It messes everything up.....

I am such a faster typist and writer now. I love my black keyboard.
~Destiny


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The G-Bus Man
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I write on my computer, specifically because I can type at over 90 words per minute under favorable conditions as opposed to maybe 15-20 with a pen and paper - plus, my hand doesn't get sore every 30 minutes.
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JeffBarton
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I use MS Word 2003 on a 2.8GHz Pentium machine with 2GB RAM...

and ya know, I get the same productivity I got on a 1981 IBM PC using WordStar. That was a big step up from a typewriter or longhand. I'm now among those who really need a word processor.

The big difference between 1981 and now comes from the web as a research tool and as a means to contact a community such as this where I can learn and improve from the discussions and critiques.


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WouldBe
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I'll agree with Jeff completely. I had the same productivity on a 4 MHz "luggable" with Wordstar (and later WordPerfect for DOS).

Even though the poor hardware folks double the speed of computers every year, the software folks fritter it away with bloated operating systems and applications. (I've been a software engineer for over 25 years, so I have license to say this.)

A couple of years ago, I rescued a novel I had written from that very computer. (It still boots from time to time.) The tricky bit was that I had to remember a password from the 1980's to open the WordPerfect file. Why I thought I needed a password, I'll never know. The other tricky bit was getting the file off the computer. Strangely, they stopped putting 8-inch floppies on modern computers.


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Pyre Dynasty
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Wordperfect 9, sometimes an old Netscape Composer. Once in a while I use this really cool stick that leaves black liquid on this white sheet made of wood pulp.

I was looking in a textbook today and it said look at the poem above, and the poem was three pages before, and I realized that we have changed our writing style. We don't think in pages, we are now writing scrolls not books.


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wrenbird
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Anyone ever heard of a Quickpad Pro? I LOVE it. It's basically a barebones laptop for a writer. It has a full size keyboard, a 16 line at a time screen, and (of course) a word processor.
There is a USB cable which I connect right into my computer, and then I open my document, set the cursor to the place in my text, and hit send file. Everything I typed on the Quickpad swiftly transfers right into my file, instantly formatting. I love it.
It's perfect for writing on the go because it is lightweight and take four AA batteries. Or you can plug it in with an AC adapter. I never have to fight my husband for the computer. And it was about 1/4 the price of the cheapest laptop.
I also love it because it forces me to write new text, and not get distracted going back and tweaking what I wrote yesterday. I think they are worth looking into.

P.S. I don't work for Quickpad, nor does anyone in my family.


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RMatthewWare
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Both on my mac and my laptop I use Word. The keyboard that comes with the new iMac just terribly sucks, so I bought a full-sized laptop style keyboard (with the short keys that you barely have to tap). It makes my hands hurt much less than the old hunk of junk.

I tend to write more on the laptop now. I can sit on my couch, or in a comfortable chair, prop my feet up, and write. And, with the laptop, I'm away from the internet, which always tends to distract me (including well-intentioned writer's forums).

On the laptop, I have no blog, no email, no celebrity gossip sites (okay, I don't really go to those), and no writer's forum that, while helpful, can also keep me from writing.


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darklight
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I have always used the latest MS Word for my writing. Has any one got the new Windows Vista, or tried a trial copy of the MS Word?

I'd advise you not to. I bought a new laptop a few days ago. It had a trial copy of MS Word 2007. I hated it. Everything has changed and I couldn't work it. Since Vista wouldn't let me install my Works Suit software, after owning the machine six hours, I decided it would have to go back. Hence yesterday, I spent the day searching for a laptop with Windows XP. I found one eventually, and have now installed my software.

I can start writing again.


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dee_boncci
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Mostly, I use MS Word 98 on an old Gateway PC from circa 1996 (the one no one else wants to use). Occasionally, I'll use a newer Word on a newer machine.

I do a fair amout of drafting by hand, with a Bic pen and a notebook or journal. Transcribing to the computer amounts to a first revision. From there, almost all editing/rework is done by marking up printed copies.


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stevenrushing
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For those of you on Macs that are using Word or other "normal" word processors, I really urge you to stop! Just say no to word processors that were made to process words rather than those that are made to create fiction.

I would suggest you check out either Scrivener, or Avenir. Both are excellent creative writing programs, and both come with free trials that you can download and super demo readme files that show how they work.

Scrivener also has links to other Mac writing software, in case you don't like Scrivener. It is one of the things that I like about the developer behind Scrivener, that he (yeah, one person!) understands the need for a program dedicated to creative writing, and links to all the major players on the mac side, in case his program doesn't do it for you.

The link is http://literatureandlatte.com/links.html for links to all the creative writing programs he suggests.

One last time, I would suggest looking into Scrivener, or Avenir. =)


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luapc
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I use Word 97, and sometimes curse it, but can't imagine working without a word processor or computer. I'm older than a lot of the writers here, so I know from experience what it's like to try to write with a typewriter and carbon paper, as well as to write by hand, only to have to transcribe it later. Before I started using computers and word processors, I hated writing. Now the method of the writing doesn't get in the way of my creativity, and I enjoy it a lot more.

Like most things involving technology, whatever a writer uses is a tool. If the tool fits, a writer gets comfortable with it, and uses it, whether it's a computer and a program, or pen and paper. If it doesn't, they change to some other tool, or quit all together. I think the most important thing is to find what works for you as a writer and allows you to be creative without having to fight whatever tools you use.


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RMatthewWare
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quote:
Has any one got the new Windows Vista, or tried a trial copy of the MS Word? I'd advise you not to.

I've heard the new version of Word for Vista is supposed to be very cool. That said, when it comes to new versions of Windows, its good to wait until the first service pack comes out (that's nerd-speak for the first BIG update, which could take a year). Microsoft knows Vista has bugs, but it helps them keep going if they have a rolling income to pay to fix them. Oh, and if you switch to Vista, you might as well buy a new computer, it won't work well on the old ones. And don't buy Vista Basic. It doesn't do anything.

I have a friend in IT that tried to install a demo of the new Word on my Windows XP laptop and it simply wouldn't install. You have to have everything up to date for this stuff to work.


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meg.stout
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I write on a laptop using whatever word processing software (I'm not picky). I sit a largish book on my lap to keep my lap cooler and to prevent my blocking the fan vents. I've got a power cord and internet cable that can be pulled to reach any of the chairs in my living room (alas, the laptop I use requires wires). It is good if I can have a table near by for concerned family to place offerings of food and drink. In addition, I find it useful to have a chair in front of me to place notes and phone/pda and to lay down the laptop when concerned family insists that I get up to sleep, eat, etc.

I find it is also useful to drag the folder that contains the segments of my work onto the "frequently used" bar or whatever it is called. And I love my USB stick (since my laptop is unable to print my fiction on printers without the aid of a more family-friendly computer).

Another technology thing I use (with readers who are willing to read chapters as I produce them) is a blog. I create a post for each chapter (5-10 page chapters) with a 'trivia' blurb (historical fictin) that doesn't give away plot in my opinion. Then as folks reply I get the e-mail updates from the blog software so I know there's something to read. I use tinyurl.com to make the blog links sufficiently tiny so they don't get split (etc).

I do sometimes write with pen(cil) and paper, but I invariably find that I end up editing as I type it into the computer - sometimes massively.


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Marzo
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I use my iBook G4, and a program called Mori. (Which, Stevenrushing, is something like a cross between Scrivener and Avenir...though Scrivener looks like it has a few productivity tools that Mori doesn't, so I might check it out.)

For a big edit, though, I like to have a hard copy in hand so I can take a pen to it, and edit away from the distraction of the internet.


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jdt
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I use MS Word 97 and OpenOffice.org pretty much interchangeably. OpenOffice can open and save lots of different formats, including Microsoft's. And it's free. You can download it from, oddly enough, www.openoffice.org.

It has word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, plus other goodies.

I only use MS Word at home because I bought it years ago. It makes my boss happy at work because, again, it's free and there's a small learning curve involved in switching.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary

Joe


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Lynda
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I use Microsoft Word, but I've found that my finished text will have odd glitches in it (sentences where part of the line shows up in the paragraph above, or where part of the line breaks to the line below, or odd spaces appear between lines - those are just some of the joys of working with Word). There's a trick to using Word and avoiding the glitches, something my daughter taught me. Every ten saves, change the name of the file. If you don't do that, then the code gets messed up and you get all these glitches.

I back up to my laptop (we have a wireless network in the house) and to a memory stick as well, and I back up FREQUENTLY (having been burned by losing a novel to a computer crash years ago). So when I save, I'll save it as "Now and Forever 8_30_07" for about ten saves. Once I'm past those, I'll change the date (if it's another day) or add a letter to the end "Now and Forever 8_30_07a". I also have an external hard drive where I back up my entire "My Documents" every few days in case my desk top computer decides to crash (it's been acting up lately).

One writing software I like is "Write It Now" which you can order online for about $34 US. It's from Scotland, so you need to reset the langauge to US English (unless you want to write in UK English). I use this more for keeping track of characters, spells, props, locations, etc., because it has a nifty file system that makes sense to my illogical mind (I'm filing challenged. . .). I wrote in it for a while, but it's just easier for me to work in Word. But to keep track of characters and remember what color their eyes are, etc., what their personality characteristics are, etc., WIN is really good! And Writer's Digest gave it a very good review in their writing software comparison article a couple of issues ago.

Hope this helps!

Lynda


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meg.stout
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Googled {Mori Scrivener Avenir} and found this post (products for OS-X):

http://megami.vox.com/library/post/creative-writing-software-on-os-x-1.html

Also found this list of products, for what it's worth:

http://www.specficworld.com/resources/software.aspx

Word does me fine, but it was interesting seeing her list and getting her comments.

OK, nothing to do with technology, but I just want to play with UBB codes:

My (lame) website

[This message has been edited by meg.stout (edited August 30, 2007).]


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JeanneT
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quote:
I use Microsoft Word, but I've found that my finished text will have odd glitches in it (sentences where part of the line shows up in the paragraph above, or where part of the line breaks to the line below, or odd spaces appear between lines - those are just some of the joys of working with Word). There's a trick to using Word and avoiding the glitches, something my daughter taught me. Every ten saves, change the name of the file. If you don't do that, then the code gets messed up and you get all these glitches.
I've never gotten glitches in my Word files after using it for years. Maybe there's a problem with your Word install, corrupted or something. In my experience that is not a normal part of using Word.

I used to complain a lot that Word wasn't author friendly, but I have tried close to every author software out there that is PC compatible and frankly none even come close to replacing Word.

As someone famous once said, "What's in a name?" I don't care if it's called Word Processor or Author Software as long as it does the job for me.


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Robert Nowall
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I've gotta add...when I use Microsoft Works, the ultimate point it to produce a printed manuscript. I'm an oldfashioned guy, who prefers to submit the oldfashioned way, through the mail. (Also, it's my job, sorting the mail.)

In my Internet Fan Fiction days I sent things out through the emails, as attatched HTML files. (Of course, it wasn't a matter of rejection...some site people would refuse to put something up (usually for content), but there was no rejection as such.)


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darklight
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quote:
I use Microsoft Word, but I've found that my finished text will have odd glitches in it (sentences where part of the line shows up in the paragraph above, or where part of the line breaks to the line below, or odd spaces appear between lines - those are just some of the joys of working with Word). There's a trick to using Word and avoiding the glitches, something my daughter taught me. Every ten saves, change the name of the file. If you don't do that, then the code gets messed up and you get all these glitches.

I used to get this problem but it wasn't my copy of Word, I have installed it on many computers and its works fine on all but one. It was my computer at fault, now I've gotten a new one, I'm having no problems with Word.


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DeepDreamer
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I can't write on my desktop. It's connected to the internet which is too much temptation when I need to write.

I use an HP Pavilion laptop, which came with Vista and a trial version of MS Word. Vista and the new version of MS Word look nice. But I'm not shelling out an extra $100+ for a prettied-up version of Word. I use Open Office, a wireless keyboard (so I can pound on the keys to my heart's content and not be afraid of messing up my computer - the battery investment is worth it for me) and iTunes for my must-have music soundtrack. I've got the cables so I can hook up my computer so my TV is the screen. It's nice to be able to sit back on the couch with my keyboard on my lap and just type away.

I also am in the process of going through all my old notebooks and looseleaf paper and getting all my ideas organized digitally. My goal is to have all my worldbuilding info written up as articles on my personal private wiki, hosted through www.wikidot.com. That'll take awhile; the stack of notebooks still looms high. But I'll get there!


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WouldBe
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I still like my Royal, but I've had to update it. I've added a robot arm that lifts the ribbon and inserts a small piece of another ribbon, in case I need to type in red. I had a shop in India make me some Bookman Old Style overlays for the striker pads, so the Royal is now multi-fonted. Only problem: the extra weight of the overlays tends to make everything bold. Another robot arm swings in a tiny white eraser sheet in case I want to overstrike a mistake. (It happens.) I've added sound-deadening stabilizers so that Desdemona can get her sleep. (My cat.) I recently added a third robot arm that automatically cuts the paper every 11 1/2 inches, so I can use the cheaper roll paper. The only problem now is, no one manufactures ribbons for the Royal. I guess I'll have to give in. I'll call those folks in India and have them make me some custom ribbons. That's going to cost me.
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Robert Nowall
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Try the Internet before you give up. I bought those "one size fits all" ribbons at the big office supply store, and mentioned it once somewhere else. I was steered towards some suppliers that had them for sale---I forget where to buy, but I know I can bring up Google and find a place somewhere.
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