{ Phil Olin }

Musings of a geek.

Category: analog

InCoWriMo 2016

InCoWriMo or International Correspondence Writing Month, is almost here. For February, write one letter a day, every day, all month long. I participated last year and had a blast, and will be sending out letters again in February.

It is “vintage social media,” and I recommend taking part. Don’t expect an answer to every letter you write, but I’m sure some people will respond. I reply to every letter that comes in my mailbox.

Well Stamped InCoWriMo Letter

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I received this InCoWriMo letter yesterday from a writer in California. I love the collection of vintage postage stamps all over the envelope!

Old stamps have character and class that modern stamps just can’t touch, and this envelope is loaded with character. I’d have to say that the 6¢ red & blue Airmail stamp on the right is my favorite out of the bunch.

InCoWriMo Results

InCoWriMo is over. It was a blast. Over the month I wrote 41 letters, and received 27 letters (I do expect that a few will trickle in over the next month or so). Many of the letters I received were from new people, but some were replies from letters I sent, and my usual penpals.

I got to see new inks, papers, and some beautiful handwriting. A few international letters came in. I sent only a few international letters, Australia, Slovakia, Wales, and Canada, and received some from Australia, and the Netherlands. Most of my letters incoming and outgoing were domestic letters. Next year I’ll put my address up on the InCoWriMo website, this year I only shared it on the FPGeeks forum.

I expect I’ll keep writing to many of the people that wrote to me. I’ll respond to any letters I receive. Analog correspondence is much better than anything online.

The Notebook Search

I’m in search of a new notebook. My Arc notebook is almost finished and I don’t want to refill it for everyday usage. I love the Arc system, but it is too bulky for everyday carry. As a notebook system, it is fantastic. I love being able to easily swap pages, and there are no binder rings to bend. As an EDC journal though, I don’t like it. Recently, I’ve been looking at other journal/notebooks.

Rhodia web notebooks, Baron Fig Confidant, Midori Travelers Notebook, or a Tomoe River notebook. Prices range anywhere from $16 to $50. I’m kind of leaning towards the Midori because it is customizable, and I can put different inserts in the notebook, or even make my own.

But I also wouldn’t mind trying a notebook filled with beautiful Tomoe River paper, and the Baron Fig Confidant looks pretty nice also. Maybe I’ll order all three and try them out. I’ll end up using them for something anyways.

Pilot Vanishing Point in Copper

Pilot has released a new Limited Edition Vanishing Point fountain pen. This year’s color is copper. I think copper is a beautiful color, and the Vanishing Point looks fantastic in copper.

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While the pen looks fantastic, it is an expensive fountain pen, retailing around $200. As much as I’d love to have the pen, I can’t justify spending that kind of money on a pen. So for those of you that do pick it up, enjoy!

The Ink Journal

When I first bought my fountain pen, I started a small “ink review” notebook. I wasn’t happy with it though. I just wanted a simple page with a small sample of writing and if I liked or disliked the color.

I found such a page template online. It includes spaces for ink brand and name, pen and nib used, and a writing sample. Exactly what I wanted.

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I still have all the ink from the samples I ordered from Goulet Pens that I can put in the journal. The only ink that I’ve used and don’t have more of is the Lamy blue that came with my Safari. I really don’t care though, as I didn’t like the ink at all. It was a very boring and ugly blue.

Fountain Pen Ink

I ordered my first batch of ink samples for my Lamy Safari fountain pen. I placed an order for a few awesome blues, two greens and two reds. I’m eagerly awaiting filling my fountain pen with new colors. I ordered samples of Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki, Private Reserve Electric DC Blue, Noodler’s Baystate Blue, Diamine Oxblood, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite, Private Reserve Sherwood Green, and Private Reserve Speramint.

I really wanted to try the Diamine Sherwood Green, but it was out of stock at the time. I’m not sure which color I’m most excited to try as they are all pretty nice colors. I am slightly afraid of trying the Baystate Blue though. I’ve read plenty of horror stories about it staining everything, including the pen.

Now that the ink has arrived, Goulet Pens was fantastic, the order was placed on the 14th, arrived on the 17th, I immediately flushed out the rest of the Noodler’s black that was in my pen and cleaned the pen. I inked up the Kon-peki first, which is a very deep cerulean blue. I love it. It has nice shading and a deep saturated color. It’s an expensive ink, but I want a bottle on my desk. Up next will probably be the Diamine Oxblood.

Fountain Pens: A Different Writing Experience

I’ve never written with a fountain pen until recently. I picked up a Lamy Safari Fine point recently with a gift certificate (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have purchased it). I have to say that I’m very impressed with it. It’s easier to write with, the pen glides over the paper. No need to work the pen to get your words to appear on the paper.

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I bought a bottle of Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink to go with the Safari. Nothing special about it, it is just a basic black ink. I didn’t want anything too fancy to start with, just to make sure I liked the pen. Aside from the basic black ink, ink selections are amazing. So many unique colors. I just recently finished the cartridge that came with the pen, Lamy blue. Now my pen is filled with Noodler’s black in a converter.

There are disadvantages to a fountain pen. Maintenance, price, leaking ink, but for once I enjoy putting pen to paper again. I’ll see how long it lasts, it could be just due to getting a fancy new pen. I feel that the advantages of a fountain pen far outweigh the disadvantages. I’m eagerly looking forward to trying out some of the more unique ink colors.

eBooks, Or Damn I Wish This Shit Just Worked

When I was a kid, the local library hated me and loved me at the same time. I read. I read a lot. I’d go in weekly and come home with 12-20 books. Every week. Even when I was a teenager, I’d still read numerous quantities of books a week. The local library couldn’t keep books on the shelf for me. I was requesting books from neighboring libraries because our library didn’t have enough books for me.

Then I started college and just stopped reading. I was too busy studing (yes, I did study, just in case mom or dad end up reading this) or playing video games with my friends. In other words, I had better things to do than read books.

When ebooks were first introduced, I thought they were awesome. I could start reading again. I could quickly and easily get any book I wanted on my ebook reader. I managed to get the Barnes and Noble Nook when it was first released. Wow, was it a piece of shit. The unit that I managed to aquire went back to the store in 24 hours. It had hardware issues galore. Nothing worked right on it. After the Nook, I didn’t bother with any more ebook readers until I got an iPad.

I read some books on my original iPad, until I got tired of the weight. The original iPad is surprisingly heavy. It wasn’t comfortable to use for long periods. When I upgraded to an iPad 2 I read a few more. But I still found shortcomings. It always seemed to come down to the same thing. Ebooks. They are fundamentally broken by design.

Ebooks should be universal. It shouldn’t matter what device I own or use. If I buy, rent or borrow an ebook, I should be able to read it on any ereader. MP3s play on any MP3 player. Ebooks should be readable on any ereader. But instead publishers and distributors have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t figure that out. Hell, some authors can’t even figure out that people want their ebooks.

J.K. Rowlings, the author of the Harry Potter series, didn’t have ebooks until May of 2012. Just as a reminder, the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007.

But what really promted this post is the recent arrival of Oyster Books into the ebook world.

Oyster offers unlimited access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month, with new titles added all the time.

We created Oyster to evolve the way people read and to create more of the special moments that only books can offer. From anywhere a mobile device can go—a bustling subway car, a quiet coffee shop, or lost at sea with a Bengal tiger—our mission is to build the best reading experience, one that is both communal and personal, anytime, anywhere.

$10 a month with the first month free. Netflix for ebooks. I figured I’d at least try it out. I’m lazy, so I’ll pay for the convenience. Maybe it would get me reading more. I registered and downloaded the app on my iPad. It is a beautiful interface, and browsing books was nice. But a quick search revealed (Oh, you wanted to check for books before you sign up, too bad. Not currently possible.) that my favorite author wasn’t in their lineup. So I checked out a few other authors that I like and loaded up a book. I’m not sure who made the usability decisions on this app, but they should definitely be fired. To turn the page you have to swipe up. Really? Up? Not side to side, but up? Who thought that was a good idea?

I think this was the easiest decision to make. I canceled my account and deleted the app within 5 minutes of signing up. (Yes, I did check the settings for a different swipe option but didn’t find one.) Maybe this will push me to visit my local library more often with my iPad.

It’s 2013. How much longer do we have to deal with ebook bullshit before they become usable?

© 2017 Phil Olin

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