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

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:

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

2013 Gift Guide and Wishlist

Everywhere you look at the moment there are numerous Christmas gift guides, from software to hardware, tools and trinkets, things to eat, drink, watch or listen to. Oh, and everything in between. It is the time of year for it after all.

Writing a gift guide that doubles as a wishlist (Wishguide?), there is always a chance someone close to me may read it and … I think you get the idea. Why create a list if I can’t cross off a few items for myself along the way?

Outlined below are groups of items aligning with the categories in which I post on this site. Hopefully there is something here that interests you, or perhaps will suit someone you are buying for. Away we go…


A difficult category to easily slot products into, however a check of my Goodreads “To Read” bookshelf reveals a couple of titles.

On Writing by Stephen King | $11.83 Kindle Edition |

A favourite author of mine through my late teens and early twenties, and widely acknowledged as one of the best. I have seen many positive reviews of this insight into the creative writing process from such a master of fiction. The Goodreads description:

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it – fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell | $9.99 Kindle Edition |

I must admit to knowing less about this particular offering from Gladwell, however enjoyed immensely his work titled Blink. Whether or not you agree with what he has to say (and many don’t), there is little doubt your own thoughts will be challenged by Gladwell’s books. Again, a little background from Goodreads:

David and Goliath draws on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science, psychology and on Malcolm Gladwell’s unparalleled ability to make the connections others miss. It’s a brilliant, illuminating book that overturns conventional thinking about power and advantage.


There are any number of things I could list here, however the focus is on my system for tracking tasks and projects.

Omnifocus for Mac | $84.99 AUD Mac App Store |

Omnifocus is the ultimate App for personal productivity and task management. I have been using Omnifocus for both iPhone and iPad over the past year or so without the “Godfather” – that is, Omnifocus for Mac.
The overall App count on our new Mac mini is slowly building (especially after the recent Black Friday App store sales), however at $84.99 AUD, Omnifocus for Mac is a significant investment that will certainly be made – I simply haven’t done so yet.

Omnifocus Premium Posts | $67.00 Asian Efficiency Store |

What I believe would be the perfect companion to the above recommendation comes from Aaron and Thanh at Asian Efficiency. Honestly, with the exception of reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, you need look no further for some fantastic advice on productivity in general, and more specifically, Omnifocus. The resources (most of which are completely free) these guys have put together to improve how you use Omnifocus are superb. Access to the Premium Posts which includes bonus content can be purchased for $67.00 through the Asian Efficiency Store.


Porlex Hand Grinder | $65.00 AUD |

Why a hand grinder? Apart from the obvious convenience when used for travel, I plan on purchasing a hand grinder to use when brewing single origin coffees at home. Much of my brewing is done with the Hario V60, and I often use this in the evenings, with the electric grinder not a great option when some in the household are asleep.

I have also researched a little into the Hario Skerton model as well, however a couple of reviews seem to suggest the Porlex may shade the Hario in performance. Another plus being the Porlex is sold through my green bean supplier Ministry Grounds, and it may not be too difficult to accidentally click “add to cart” at some point in one my future orders.

Hario Scales | $61.00 AUD |

As I mentioned above, much of my home coffee brewing these days is done with the V60, requiring a fairly accurate ratio of water to coffee, as determined by weight.

Although the digital scales I currently use are adequate, there is one major problem in that the auto-off interval is too short. Not so great when aiming for a specific target weight to have the scales go blank and obviously reset to zero when turned back on. I have managed to get around this by constantly pressing and releasing the scales in between pours to keep them “active”, however this is obviously less than ideal.

The inbuilt timer on the Hario model will also come in very handy.


Kaweco Ice Sport Fountain Pen | $24.95 AUD |

A fountain pen was always going to make this list. For years I have used my faithful Mont Blanc Meisterstuck, however given its value (both sentimental and material), I have always been a little nervous carrying and using it as an everyday pen. Obviously my preference for an everyday pen still runs towards something I enjoy using, which is likely to be a fountain pen.

The choice here, a Kaweco Ice Sport in green. Something that is great value for money, has excellent build quality, and in my opinion looks pretty good too. At this price point, my mind would be at ease including this in my everyday carry.

Noodlers Ink – Apache Sunset | $22.95 AUD |

For many years I have relied on the Mont Blanc Black and Blue-Black inks in my fountain pen. In recent times this pen has been increasingly used for reviewing and marking up documents, where a different colour is useful to easily see any markings or notations on the page (standard white copy paper with black text).

Why not go bright with a colour that will really stand out! This particular Noodlers Ink is a brilliant, rich orange – somehow I don’t think it will be hard to see my notes written in Apache Sunset.

Twelve South Hi-Rise Stand for iPhone / iPad mini | $34.95 AUD |

Twelve South produce high quality accessories for Apple products, and are available in the Apple Stores or on-line.

This particular stand, which requires a small amount of assembly, accommodates a Lightning charger and is adjustable to allow for having a case on your iPhone or iPad. This is a stylish way of lifting the device up off the desk – very handy for using my iPad mini as a second screen whilst sitting at my Mac, and makes a perfect hands-free face time accessory.

Bonus Item

Yamazaki 12 Yr Old Japanese Whisky | $130.00 AUD |

This one is a bolt from the blue. I am certainly no expert on golden liquid of the single malt variety, however scotch has always been my drink of choice – to the tune of relaxing with one or two on weekends my maximum intake.

There has been a bit of a buzz around Japanese whisky for a little while now, and I am keen to sample what is on offer. Why this particular maker? No specific reason, however why not start at the beginning, with Japan’s first malt whisky distillery. Australian site World of Whisky provides a little background:

Yamazaki is a Japanese whisky distillery located in Shimamoto, Osaka, owned by Suntory. In 1923, Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory and the father of Japanese whisky, built Japan’s first malt whisky distillery in the Vale of Yamazaki. Using copper pot stills, the Yamazaki distillery was the first of its kind outside of Scotland. The distillery’s location on the outskirts of Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto offered pure waters, diversity of climate and high humidity—the ideal environment for the maturation of good whisky.

The taste? Described as initially dry and herbal, becoming fruitier with smoke. According to this article in Gear Patrol, I may be onto a good thing. Cheers!


That concludes the Gift Guide / Wishlist for this year, and provides a little more insight into my interests and spare time pursuits. If there is nothing specifically on the list that interests you, hopefully it has at least provided a few areas to look into for similar products closer to the mark.

Most of all, best wishes to you, valuable reader. I truly appreciate the time you take to come and read these posts.

Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year to you and your family.

Doing Your Best Work in the Shower

English: Shower

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your best creative work that is. Somewhere between soap and rinse you will often find a solution to the creative roadblock that has been in place all day, or perhaps even all week. I find this to be an extremely common occurrence.

Much has been written about the phenomenon of creative ideas occurring when we are undertaking anything but the actual work itself. There are both differing views and at times outright disagreement on the neurological mechanisms behind it, as seen in the comments below a post written by Leo Widrich on Buffer. Whatever the view on the mechanism behind this phenomenon – it exists, and is a powerful, if unintentional way of moving forward on solving a creative problem.

So, if we know this exists, how to harness the power? Featured on 99u, a book review of Brian Eno: His Music and The Vertical Sound of Color, outlines some of the techniques Eno successfully used in overcoming blocks in the creative process. Whilst some of these techniques are deliberate ways to stimulate creativity, in my view, none is more important than this one:

The point about working is not to produce great stuff all the time, but to remain ready for when you can.

Simply applying the same techniques (though well worth a try) of someone as successful as musician and producer Eno (U2, Talking Heads), will most likely not provide you with the same creative rewards, which is why the sentiment above is so important.

A great idea is worthless unless it is remembered or recorded, something eloquently put in the tag line of Field Notes notebooks:

I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.

Whether or not your best ideas come in the shower, or even while running, get them down as quickly as you can and solve many a problem seemingly without “thinking” about it. Move your projects forward, around the barriers that seem so impenetrable, without having to brute force your way through, using up vital resources and time.

Granted, there are times when a deadline will be rapidly approaching and a solution will need to be finalised, with the time for relaxing in the shower waiting for the next breakthrough having come and gone. In times like these I have found it useful to consider past ideas, reviewing notes captured on similar problems or even unrelated ones for possible inspiration. Again, record the ideas, and in addition, keep the ideas!



So our brain has done its job, subconsciously exploring all possible options and avenues available, placing a great idea front and centre – what next?

Capture it by any means available to you. Pen and paper, whiteboard, digital device, Hipster PDA, tell Siri if you have to. Just get it down somehow. How do I capture these ideas? A few different ways:

  • Moleskine Cahier Notebook – this is the idea book, the spark file, with cross referenced pages indexed for future retrieval
  • Drafts app – can be used simply as a digital version of a piece of paper, or is capable of more complex functions. This app will quickly grab any idea or text entry, which can then be ‘sent to’ or ‘opened in’ just about any app you can imagine
  • 3×5 index cards – a stack of these are kept in the top drawer of my office desk. Once the idea is captured, the card is placed in the pocket at the back of the Moleskine notebook for processing at a later time. Any post it note or scrap of paper also substitutes well here, and I have also recently commenced using a Field Notes notebook in this particular area of my workflow.
  • Omnifocus – for any ideas that I know are part of a larger project, or will be one themselves, I use the Omnifocus inbox as the first port of call, as all of these will end up here eventually

I have never been a fan of the notebook on the bedside table, in the bathroom, or the whiteboard in the shower, as I find constantly looking at an empty page or board that is meant for “great ideas” has the opposite effect. The tools are simply required to be close at hand when you need them. Not for when you think you should use them.



To any of you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD), I have obviously skipped the processing of the notes and ideas, however that aspect is beyond the scope of this post. As I have mentioned above, there are times when it is very useful to be able to go back and review previous ideas, even if unrelated to the problem at hand. Personally, I store these notes and ideas in:

  • Evernote – I use a free account which allows searching of both notes and tags
  • Moleskine Cahier Notebook – as mentioned above. The key in using this for both capture and storage is the index page, cross referenced to related pages; a copy of the index is also scanned and stored in Evernote, allowing a better overview across multiple books
  • Plain Text File – this is used also when at my office desk for ideas that will remain in the digital realm at the office, often stored in the project folder with any associated reference material

The most powerful form of capture and storage for me? Probably capturing in Drafts and utilising the ‘send to’ feature, where I can send the idea to Evernote, my work email account, or to another app to be fleshed out further should that be required.

Putting these ideas into a more cohesive project and action type framework occurs in Omnifocus, however again this is for a separate Processing post.


Irrespective of when or where they occur, these ideas will come to you. If you are at least somewhat prepared to capture and store them, they will not be lost to the ravages of time or distraction.

The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory (Chinese Proverb)

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