Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesdaya weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Well Appointed Desk
Whichever pen is regularly in your hand, you will likely need a refill from those listed here. There is an endless amount of Googling required when searching for refills or at least trying to determine compatibility. This post from Ana at the Desk goes a long way towards solving this problem, and is destined to be a classic:
The Epic Pen Refill Guide

Asian Efficiency
This continues a four-part series by Mike Schmitz for AE on the principles and systems of quick capture in the context of a GTD based workflow. A nice integration of nvALT, which is a super fast plain text search and entry Mac application that also supports Markdown. Part 1 is well worth reading also:
Quick Capture, Part 2: nvALT

SBRE Brown YouTube Channel
One of the more experienced fountain pen reviewers out there, and perhaps one of the most prolific as well, presenting us with regular high quality video of various pens, inks and many other things in action. Take it from Stephen, if you’re thinking of doing some reviews yourself – Do it! (whilst reading that, imagine 2 very pointed fingers in your direction straight down the barrel of a HD Webcam). Words from a master that suggest forgoing the second thoughts and writing about what you enjoy – its your duty:
Why aren’t you doing reviews?

The Fountain Pen Quest
With the Nock Co on-line store finally open, no doubt there will be more reviews and views of customers to come, however I thought this was a nice first look of some index cards I will certainly be trying out for myself. Pictures do speak a thousand words, and Ray has put up a great gallery which will give you an excellent idea of what to expect:
Quick Look: Nockco 3 X 5 Dot Dash Note Cards

Whilst at FPQ, also check out Ray’s post looking at the remaining pen cases from Nock Co.’s Kickstarter project, having reviewed The Hightower back in May (a model I have also been enjoying using on a daily basis). No doubt much of this inventory is going up…then down, in Nock Co.’s on-line store:
Review: The rest of the Nock Co Kickstarter Pen Cases

Serious Eats
If you read my previous post, you will know I have a keen interest in learning more about this manual coffee brewing caper. Nick Cho describes many of the principles and processes involved with this method of brewing:
Coffee Science: How To Make the Best Pourover Coffee at Home

Barista Guild of America
A short video (4:46) produced by the author of the article above, demonstrating those very brewing principles. Everyone who watches these videos screenshots the key captions and brew ratios etc right!…er…right?
Kalita Wave Coffee Brewing: Intensive with Nick Cho

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Now that’s a pen. Ian Hedley’s great review of a gorgeous Franklin-Christoph, with yes, that is correct – 20 different nib options. I’m all for choices though I’m thinking perhaps that’s a paralysing one for some:
Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic fountain pen review

Mac Sparky
David Sparks is back with another Field Guide. Although currently for pre-order on the iBooks Store (AUD $11.99) with a release date of 21 July 2014, I’m sure this guide to preparing and giving great presentations will be every bit as good as the previous four Field Guides (of which I own two, Paperless and Markdown):
New MacSparky Field Guide: Presentations

~ PD.

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Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Gentleman Stationer
I posted a few thoughts on some of the pen cases from Nock Co. myself, but a trilogy it was not. A great three-part “mega” series on these very products:
Nock Co. Three Part Mega Review: All the Cases, Part I
Nock Co. Mega Review: All the Cases, Part II
Nock Co. Mega Review Part III: Hightower and Brasstown

David Smith
Although I personally tend to seek out cafes to try when travelling, here is a nice in-room option if that is your thing (thankfully in Australia, kettle not required):
My Travel Coffee Kit

The Clicky Post
Although not unique to this AL Sport stone washed version, I have often thought about the shape of my Kaweco Sport and Ice Sport models in the same way:

Almost like you’re not sure whether it is “attractive” or not, but it draws you in and definitely has a beauty all it’s own.

In any event, some great images (and review) demonstrating a masterstroke (in my opinion) of pen body design and finish:
Kaweco Al Sport Fountain Pen Stonewashed Edition

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Ahh…of course. The Retro 51 Tornado – a long time Pen Addict Podcast staple. A great review by Ian (as usual), which also reminds me I must seek out the Schmidt P8126 refill and given it a spin in my own Stealth model:
Retro 51 Tornado rollerball review

Macsparky
A reminder of times gone by and what the future might bring. My solution to solving the Rubik’s cube as a kid was unfortunately the pull apart and reassemble method:
Inconceivable

Asian Efficiency
It’s all about the OmniFocus 2 for Mac upgrade recently, and I have no hesitation in recommending the update if you currently use this task management programme. I much prefer the new interface, however perhaps this may come from using the iOS versions exclusively for 18 months prior to purchasing the Mac version.

In any event, for those who were not involved in the Beta testing (let’s face it, if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this blog) and OmniFocus 2 is all new to you, I found this 13 minute video from AE immensely helpful to point out the key changes, and the drag and drop workaround is a nice touch – definitely worth a look:
The Differences Between OmniFocus 1 and OmniFocus 2 for Mac

Simplicity Bliss
Speaking of OmniFocus, a nice round-up of a number of reviews and guides out there to help you on your way:
The Big OmniFocus 2 For Mac Round-Up

In Use – Rhodia No. 12 Ruled Notepad

Anyone with half an interest in pens and paper probably owns at least one Rhodia notepad, however my own usage has always involved the No. 16 size (14.8 x 21cm) and up. However on a recent trip to a local bookstore, my lovely wife recognised the familiar orange Rhodia cover, purchased a ruled No.12 notepad for AUD $4.95, and surprised me with this little pocket gem when she returned home. A win for me, as I had another notepad in my drawer, sans the guilt of buying yet another item of stationery.

I was keen to see how a notepad of this sized fitted my usual workflow.

Look and Feel

The Rhodia No. 12 is a small notepad (8.5 x 12cm or 3.3 x 4.7in) containing 80 sheets of acid free 80gsm paper. As with other Rhodia products, it is made in France to the same high quality usually associated with products bearing this name. Each sheet has micro-perforations across the top for easy removal, and everything is held together by a single reinforced staple.

Rhodia12_Cover

Rhodia12_Back

It is available with a black cover or the classic Rhodia orange, in the usual paper variants of Dot Pad, Graph or Lined paper.

Performance

As expected, writing is the smooth enjoyable experience reminiscent of the larger Rhodia variants. One of the real advantages of the paper used in Rhodia notepads is that pretty much all pen types and of course pencils, are well received by the paper. I often use gel ink or fountain pens, and it is a real joy to know that a quick note taken will be captured the way I intended – crisp and clear with no feathering or bleed, and will generally be dry by the time the cover is closed or the page is torn out. At the outside, fountain pen drying time was less than 10 seconds, most often closer to 5, with liquid or gel ink around 3 seconds or less.

Rhodia12_Note_1Rhodia12_Note_2

Although the size of the No. 12 puts it in the same use category (for me) as index cards, where it really shines is in allowing me to bypass such appalling paper as your standard Post It notes. Although my own use case rarely requires me to actually stick or post one of these notes, given their prevalence in the office and ease of scribbling a quick note for someone, they remain in widespread use by all – myself included. Despite the ongoing use of these tacky (yes I went there) pieces of yellow, I have always loathed the paper, the sticky strip on the reverse side, and the fact that when I write on them my pen invariably skips or doesn’t work on the top third where the glue resides underneath. Thank you Rhodia No.12.

The perforation across the top works flawlessly when tearing off each note, a Rhodia feature I found to be a godsend when undertaking InCoWriMo earlier in the year, with all correspondence for that challenge being written on No.16 Dot Pad. It is also nice to have both sides of each page lined, as occasionally the size dictates a second page for a single note.

Use Case

I must admit I don’t purchase many notebooks this size, however this may now change as I have become accustomed to having this little Rhodia with me and put into use for a good many tasks.

It has clearly become a superior option to the dreaded office Post It note referred to above, providing a much nicer writing experience, and removes the need to fold the notes in half to avoid the sticky portion clinging to everything in its immediate vicinity. Here we are talking short notes for colleagues, phone numbers, ideas “filed” in to my Nock Co. Maryapple for later processing, or quick lists if I am going out to the shops in my lunch break.

Rhodia12_MaryappleRhodia12_Maryapple_Close

Rhodia12_GrindersSpeaking of the Maryapple, as this notepad has become more entrenched in my workflow, I have found this case to be a perfect home for the No 12. When carrying between the office and home, my standard Maryapple case formation now consists of 2 Field Notes and a few index cards on one side and the Rhodia No. 12 in the other. With the cover folded back, the lip across the top fold keeps the notebook perfectly above the top of the case pocket. The more I use the Maryapple, the more uses I find for it, and the more I like it.

When sitting on my desk at home, the size of the No. 12 notes again suit quick lists if I’m heading out to the shops; as reference markers in books or magazines (with notes); for notes on my coffee grinders containing coffee type and grind information; and even a few quick sketches if the notepad was closest to hand when an idea struck.

Conclusion

One aspect of this Rhodia No. 12 Notepad which surprised me a little was seeing just how many more notes I have written since adding it to my workflow. Clearly not having a decent notebook of this size in the past decreased the amount of notes I produced this way – never a good thing! This has certainly changed now, and I can see the No. 12 being put to good use for some time to come. I am still using my Field Notes heavily, which will continue, as the two serve distinctly different purposes – the Field Notes unsuited to producing a quick tear out note of this kind.

Things I would change? Probably going for the Dot Grid option, particularly as many notes I write on a notepad of this size are oriented diagonally corner to corner; perhaps a 40 page option would be nice, as writing certainly becomes more comfortable without the large drop from the page to whatever surface it may be resting on, however this is taken care of soon enough by simply writing more notes!

By now it should be fairly clear I am rather taken by the No. 12 sized offering from Rhodia. Having used the No. 16 Dot Grid pads extensively for some time now, the question was never going to be about the paper, but the uses I may or may not have for the size. Over the past few weeks any doubts about when or where I may use notes of this size have certainly been put to rest, with the answer being anywhere and everywhere, which I must admit was a pleasant surprise.

At less than the cost of a cup of good single origin filter coffee, the Rhodia No. 12 is fantastic value for money. If you are a long time Rhodia user of the larger sized notebooks, you may be surprised by how often this smaller size comes in handy. For someone wishing to test out Rhodia paper and see what all the fuss is about without having to purchase a larger size? Perfect.

Me? I’m off to pick up a few No. 12 Dot Grids to leave lying around wherever I might need them.

In Use – Nock Co. Pen Cases

The guys at Nock Co. have certainly had their work cut out fulfilling the orders of over 2000 backers since the Kickstarter funding goal was reached at the end of October last year. As a backer of the “All the Cases” level (one of each case manufactured), my order was shipped towards the end of the process, however was well worth the wait.

For a little background, Nock Co. are Brad Dowdy from The Pen Addict blog and podcast, and Jeffrey Bruckwicki. From my original post last October about the project:

Brad has teamed up with Jeffrey Bruckwicki of Old Fourth Tailoring to design and manufacture pen cases (all hand-made in the USA), and in a nice touch, we see notebook case integration into some of the designs as well. The two appear to be a great fit (pardon the tailoring pun), and have created some fantastic designs which you really should check out for yourself, as any attempt at describing the products to you in words will not do the cases justice.

After posting one final update in late October on the progress of the Kickstarter funding drive, it was a case of waiting patiently for the goods to arrive.

NockCo_LabelUpon receiving the cases (seven in total) last week, I immediately filled The Brasstown, a zippered case with a six pen internal “tongue” rollout which emerges from the centre of the case; The Maryapple, a bifold notebook case, and both Chimneytop cases (more of a traditional type pen/pencil case shape).

As far as the construction and materials are concerned, these are high quality cases, made with 1000D nylon, lined with pack cloth (unless otherwise stated) to provide a nice protective housing for those precious pens, the closures finished with YKK zippers. The design of the cases and materials used ensure each keep their shape, yet are pliable enough to be tucked into the corner of a bag or backpack with no problems.

There is no question they are built to last and to be used – not sit on a shelf or in a drawer. These are your favourite denim jeans, not a tuxedo to be kept for special occasions. This is freedom for the pens you might otherwise have to leave at home – get out and use them.

How have the cases themselves performed? Pretty well so far.

The Brasstown

Probably my favourite case of the lot. Design genius, catering for up to six pens, each within their own pocket, in an internal pen roll. There is also room for pens, pencils, spare inks, erasers etc in “general population” within the main barrel of the case. It is nice and compact when closed, however unfurls to provide a nice open display of the six pens in the rollout section. For me? This case provides both protection for any pens I would prefer not to have banging around together, however is equally useful to house whichever pens are in high rotation at the time, providing easy organisation and convenient access, ensuring I never have to dig around looking for a specific pen.

The Brasstown
The Brasstown (above and right)

NockCo_Brasstown_2

The centre roll accommodates all pen sizes, with the shorter and clipless Kaweco Sport disappearing down inside its pocket, however is easily extracted by simply sliding my thumb up the front material of the pocket and popping it out the top. All other clipped pens will simply sit securely in the pockets suspended by their clips in the usual manner. I can see this being my most used case, as it is the simplest way to carry my pens to and from work, knowing I have the six in the roll, along with any others (currently a further six disposable gel ink/rollerballs and a USB stick) in the main barrel of the case. As you can see from the image, my colour of choice was the Steel Exterior/Blue Jay interior combination.

The Maryapple

The Maryapple - interior
The Maryapple – interior

The bifold notebook case that is the Maryapple was also put to immediate use, given my usual practice of carrying two Field Notes notebooks along with the pens in my messenger style bag to and from the office. Why protect a Field Notes notebook? Are they not meant to be bruised and battered, showing the scars of heavy use, and then retired once full? Absolutely, and for myself, this will continue to be the case when carrying one in my pocket, however more often than not they are in my bag whilst commuting, and this is a great way of keeping them together.

Why two? One is used as a general catch-all for notes, ideas and numbers etc. The other is my coffee notebook, containing my roasting and tasting notes, along with any other coffee related information (blog post ideas, beans to try etc). Although my roasting is obviously all done at home, a good deal of tasting is done when out and about, or through my Aeropress brewing which occurs at the office.

The Maryapple - exterior
The Maryapple – exterior

Although two notebooks is generally my limit, this case would comfortably hold four Field Notes sized (approximately 9x13cm) books (two each side), or a couple of notebooks on one side, and a few pens in the other.

I made a similarly conservative colour choice here, going with the Midnight Exterior/Foliage Interior.

The Chimneytop(s)

The Chimneytop mini (L) and standard (R)
The Chimneytop mini (L) and standard (R)

These pop-up cases are my everything else cases, with the orange mini containing my Palomino pencil sharpener, a J. Herbin ink cartridge tin containing a selection of cartridges, and a screen cleaning cloth should my phone or iPad mini require it. I love the size of the mini, as it sits in my bag taking up essentially no room, however I can be sure of where those bits and pieces are should they be required.

The standard size Chimneytop currently houses my master store of ink cartridges, which, although sitting in my desk drawer, is a nice way of keeping them together.

Both Chimneytop cases are unlined, which to me is not a problem, for if they were to be used for pens, they would be those pens you would be happy to have all in together, and if this were acceptable, I don’t believe the lack of lining would be a concern.

Conclusion

Whichever way you look at them, Nock Co. cases are high quality, highly functional products that fit a specific niche in the market perfectly. I have often looked at other pen cases, however never really found anything to suit. More rigid leather pen holders seemed a little over the top, whereas the Nock Co. products provide a level of protection and functionality that I believe are unsurpassed, and they look pretty good too (though I acknowledge opinion on the aesthetics of such products is a highly subjective matter).

I am certainly spoiled for choice, having received one of each case manufactured, and believe me, they will all be put to good use. The remaining cases? Most likely to be filled as my pen collection grows, and of course backing the All Cases level was simply an investment in the future scale of both my pens and their cases – very wise!

I’d highly recommend considering these cases if you or your pen collection desire (or need) them. With the Nock Co. online store yet to open (sign up to be notified when that occurs here), there will be a short wait, however as I can attest – it will be worth it, and your pens will thank you.