Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Mail: Rhodia Drive Anniversary Giveaway Prize

Back just before Thanksgiving, I had a very happy mail day.  Stephanie over at Rhodia Drive (one of my favorite blogs, even BEFORE the giveaway) held a giveaway to celebrate the third anniversary of her blog, and I actually won one of the prizes!  

The prizes were supplied by the fine folks at Exaclair, makers of excellent European paper and pen products. This particular prize package included a Rhodia dot grid Webnotebook, a package of multicolored Exacompta index cards, and a small folio just right for tucking the cards into.

All these products are new to me, so I'll be posting reviews of the Webnotebook and the cards very soon!  (The folio is nice, and well made, but it's just a folio -- so not much reviewing there!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

George Herbert on Thanksgiving: Calligraphy Practice

Wanting to get some calligraphy practice in, and wanting a quote relevant to this time of year, I happened upon this beautiful quote by the English poet George Herbert.  I was just playing around with it, and interested mainly in practicing the letters, so the line breaks are not where they need to be.  Still, I was pleased with the way it turned out.

(Moon Palace Sumi Ink, Mitchell Elbow Copperplate Nib, Rhodia paper)

It's a little early still, but Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine

The minute the news came out about the Evernote Smart Notebook, I knew I was going to have to have one.  And I was very pleasantly surprised by this great notebook.  It has already become one of my daily companions.

Made by Moleskine, the styling of this notebook is exquisite.  The eye-catching cover is embossed with various life and productivity symbols (including the iconic Evernote elephant right in the center), and it's definitely been a topic of conversation with everyone who has seen my notebook.  The lime green ribbon marker and elastic closure are perfect touches as well.

 (Turns out that it's really hard to get a picture that captures all the details of this notebook, including the beautiful embossing on the front.  So I tweaked the photo to bring the embossing details out.)

The paper is typical Moleskine notebook paper, which is to say: smooth and beautiful, but average in how it deals with various pens.  Wet-writing pens, including fountain pens, are always going to bleed through this paper, but there doesn't seem to be excessive amounts of feathering with it.

(I wrote the beginnings of this post in the notebook.  Seemed appropriate, somehow!)

The thing that makes this notebook worth the money is the included stickers and built-in tagging system.  In my testing, they work perfectly to help categorize pages in the notebook as they are uploaded to your Evernote account.  Here's how they work:  First you choose a sticker that suits the particular category of your writing.  (If none of the pre-assigned sticker categories do it for you, the categories can be easily reassigned inside the Evernote mobile app.)  I used the "work" sticker and reassigned it to my Evernote "Blog" notebook with a "pens" tag.  Then I took a picture of the page with a sticker on it.  I have to say that the "page camera" option in the Evernote app does not take beautiful pictures, as a rule.  For getting information into your Evernote account, it's good enough, though.  Perhaps the page camera will improve with later versions of the software.

Now here's the insanely cool part.  The minute I uploaded these pictures to my Evernote account, the system used the sticker to automatically put the picture into the correct notebook, along with the associated tag.  It's a completely seamless process, and it works REALLY well.  Now I have handwritten pages in the cloud, as well as in a physical notebook, which is a comforting thing from an OCD standpoint.

(It's kind of fun to stick the little stickers on the page.  They can go anywhere on the page and still work, supposedly, but I thought they needed to go in the top right corner.  Don't ask me why.)

This got me to wondering... do the stickers and the automatic tagging process work with pages from an ordinary notebook?  Interestingly (and understandably, for the sake of Evernote's and Moleskine's bottom line), the answer is no.  In my tests, pictures of pages from other notebooks went into my normal default Evernote notebook, even with the sticker present.  There is evidently a special code built into the pages of the Moleskine notebook -- it seems to be the pattern of dots that constitute the lines on the page (both in the ruled and grid versions).  I must point out that the company says as much in their promotional materials, and it is indeed true.

(The ribbon bookmark is a much prettier green and is much more striking than my crappy picture suggests.)

All in all, I can highly recommend these notebooks.  Right now, they appear to be available only from Moleskine (via their website).  The notebooks are not cheap, but for what they do and how they are made, I think they are well worth the price.  In addition, the notebook comes with 3 free months of Evernote Premium.  If you are already a premium subscriber, as I am, the code that is pasted in the back of the notebook simply extends your existing subscription by 3 months.  This is a pretty good value, and definitely defrays some of the cost of the notebook.

In short, fans of Moleskines and Evernote should take the next natural step and combine the two to help with capturing anything and everything that can be put on a page.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Field Notes Colors Subscription Begins

A few days ago I received a small but bulky package in the mail, and here's what was inside:

A family portrait, of sorts.

These notebooks are simply some of the best.  Also great are the free pen (I love Field Notes pens because they are traditional, no-frills ballpoints that JUST WRITE) and the button tied to the "Traveling Salesman" theme of the current notebooks (on the right in the picture).  All told, a very happy mail day, and I will be reviewing the TS notebooks soon.

Anyone else get these notebooks in the mail recently?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

JetPens Order: Happiness!

I recently placed an order from the incomparable JetPens.  I ordered some pens that caught my eye and ones that I wanted to try out.  I also ordered a pack of green ink cartridges for my Pilot Parallel Pen.  Here's a picture of the loot!

From left to right:
Pentel Vicuna ballpoint, 0.7 mm, black body and ink
Zebra Sarasa Clip, 0.7 mm, brown ink (This pen is amazing -- it's like writing with liquid chocolate.)
Uniball Signo 0.38 mm, bordeaux black (The ink of this pen is essentially a reddish-black.  Or a blackish red.  Either way, it's an interesting color!)
Uniball Signo 0.38 mm, green-black (Same as above, but in green.  I REALLY like this color of ink.)
Zebra SL-F1 mini ballpoint pen, 0.7 mm, navy body, black ink
Pentel TRFS Tradio mini fountain pen, M nib, black body, refillable
Platinum Preppy fountain pen, F nib, refillable

It may take me a little while, but I plan to post reviews of all of these great pens!