Yearly Archives: 2012

Handicraft with Bleistift II 2

It took a while, but just before the year is over here’s the second Bleistift blog handicraft post.


Being old fashioned?

Not long ago I felt like a Luddite when I talked about radios in a workshop and my students told me that “radios are for old people” and that they don’t listen to the radio unless they are driving a car and there’s no other option…

The creeping feeling that I am too old fashioned didn’t get better when, just before Christmas, I saw an old friend I haven’t seen in many years. At one stage I took the X17 out of my shirt pocket to make a note of something when he let me know that paper notebooks are old fashioned and how surprised he is that I don’t make notes in my mobile phone. My counter argument was that I must be modern because he’s the one with the analogue watch1, but he said his watch is a quartz watch, so it is in fact modern, so me having a digital watch doesn’t cancel the old fashioned paper notebook out.


I guess stationery users are seen as being old fashioned…


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Not that my student or my friend would read my blog, but here’s a handicraft blog post to combine the old (stationery) with the new (well, not that new any more).

At work I tend to carry my diary with me2. If you have an NFC-enabled phone3 you can use ‘old-fashioned’ stationery to automate certain tasks, e.g. setting the phone to quiet/vibrate in meetings by putting the phone on your diary. The stationery is not actually necessary, but makes the whole experience more exciting and aesthetically pleasing.

How to do that? You need NFC tags and software that lets you set up the desired actions on your phone. The phone will notice when you put it on an NFC tag and will then do whatever you told it to do earlier.

You can buy NFC tags you can write information on. These tags are very useful for automating tasks as you can store the tasks directly on them – but these tags cost money. On the other hand you can use existing NFC tags, even read only ones, to automate tasks. The phone will then remember which tag is supposed to activate which action. In my example I am using my staff card from work. It comes with an NFC tag so that I can log on to printers or copiers. Now I use it to set my phone to quiet. I just need to store the card in my diary, tell the software that if it detects my staff card it should be quiet and whenever I put the phone on the diary, e.g. in meetings, I can be sure the phone will not make people spill their teas and coffees when it starts ringing.You could of course think of other tasks to launch, too, and attach the appropriate tag on selected stationery, e.g. play “Ode to Joy” when your phone comes close to your Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 or play “Big in Japan” when your phone is near the Tombow pencils.

The software used in my example is “AnyTAG NFC Launcher” for Android. If you have writeable NFC tags you could try “NFC Task Launcher”.

If you don’t want to spend money on NFC tags: some department stores use NFC tags for stock control, mainly for clothes, so you could keep those and reuse them on your stationery.

To be honest, I’m not sure I will keep that software installed. If I find out that battery life of my phone suffers I might stop using NFC tags to launch certain tasks.

  1. Yes, I know what that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says that humans are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. Well, I do think that they are – the watches that is …or maybe both. []
  2. My colleagues and I get them free from our employer []
  3. These phones have been around for six years now, so I’ll accept the argument that this is still old-fashioned, but it might be new to some… []

Jason Bourne and the Rotring 600 9

Today a guest post from Rares:

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)

I have recently watched The Bourne trilogy, after reading the books, and was surprised to see in “The Bourne Supremacy” a Rotring 600. Matt Damon (Jason Bourne in the movie) is making calls from a phone both, and uses the Rotring to take notes.

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)

The Rotring appears 3 times during the movie but only in this scene you can clearly see it.

Jason born with a Rotring 600 (Image © Universal Pictures)

The images in this blog post have been taken from the Bourne movies. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

A trip to the museum …and a new sharpener 16

Thank you for the anniversary comments. I was hoping to get this blog post out by 21 November, the third birthday of this blog, but unfortunately I didn’t find the time. Anyway here’s the first blog post in the fourth year of Bleistift.

The Cumberland Pencil Museum


The museum

Considering that I don’t live too far away from the Cumberland Pencil Museum, both the Museum and I are in North West England, it took me quite a while to get there – but this May my wife and I finally made the trip. The weather was fantastic and the Museum managed to convey a lot of information despite being rather small. Admission is £4 (~$6.40; €4.95), but comes with a ‘free’ souvenir pencil.

How pencils are made – temporary(?) mural outside the museum. Notice the “i” in weird.

There were explanations how pencils are made and you could admire historic pens and pencil and machines. I will only show one photo from inside the museum as I haven’t asked whether they permit the posting of photos taken in the museum on the web.

On exhibition: Cumberland pencils from the 1920s

There was a pencil labelling machine, too, but unfortunately it was broken at the time …I would have really liked to get some personalised pencils.  A subsequent enquiry regarding the pencil labelling machine was not as helpful as it could have been, so I decided not to chase this up further. Maybe the machine will work again if I go there again in the future.

The Pencil Museum Shop

Obviously I couldn’t resist stocking up on pencils in the museum shop. The shop’s selection is aimed at artists, but if you use pencils for office purposes you’ll also find nice products. Pencils are from Derwent, who are running the museum, but you can find pencil related items from other brands.

The Eisen 060 sharpener, top


The sharpener

One of the products I picked up in the museum is the Eisen 0601. I like this sharpener because the rounded corners make it “different” while still maintaining the classic wedge shape look2. I paid £1 (~$1.60; €1.25). This sharpener’s body and blade were both made in Baiersdorf near Nuremberg. The 060’s produced in the last three years still feature the blade made in Baiersdorf, like all Eisen sharpeners, but the body is now made in Taicang near Shanghai. Performance of this little sharpener is very good, too.

The Eisen 060 sharpener, bottom

Technical Information (adapted from Pencil Revolution)
Typewedge / blade
Shavings ReceptacleNone
Angle24° – 25°3
Markings“MADE IN GERMANY” (blade); Eisen logo plus “Made in Germany” (body)
Place of ManufactureBaiersdorf (Germany) and Taicang (China)

The Eisen 060, a Wopex and the Museum pencil



As this is a (belated) birthday blog post I am giving away an Eisen 060, some British-made Staedtler pencils and possible a few other small items I can find. I am happy to send the prizes to any country as long as Royal Mail doesn’t refuse to send them there. I will use to get a random number and the author of the corresponding comment will get the price (unless I am the author or the comment is definitely spam). To take part please leave a comment for this blog post before Friday, 30th September 2011, 23:59 UTC.


Prices: May 2012

Exchange rates: November 2012

I would like to thank Stephan Eisen for providing additional information regarding the Eisen 060.

  1. Eisen changed their web site. The pages are only available in German at the moment, so unfortunately all links to Eisen are to their German product page. []
  2. Eisen’s classic wedge sharpener is the 040. []
  3. I measured 25°, the official figure is 24° which is also the one I used for in the list of sharpeners []

Sharpening a Wopex …again 10

My previous experience with KUM sharpeners wasn’t very good. Some of the models I have are good, some are not so good and overall I usually prefer sharpeners from other brands.

You might remember that the Staedtler Wopex is a difficult pencil to sharpen. Nevertheless, I like it so much that on an average day it is my most used pencil. Even though sharpening it with a knife yields good results I thought I should try sharpening the Wopex in KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M, a sharpener I haven’t used in a while because of the unsightly marks it leaves at the base of the exposed graphite1. To my surprise I got fantastic results when I used it to sharpen a Wopex.

KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M and Staedtler's Wopex

I get best results if I align the Wopex with the top of the sharpener during the second step. If you have a Wopex and the Automatic Long Point 2M try them out. My Long Point sharpener performs much better than the dedicated Wopex sharpeners I have.

Pencil talk has a review of KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M.

  1. These marks are one of the reason why I prefer the Deli 0635 or the Eisen 402. []

La Matita 5

Episode: Le Ali della Sfinge / The Wings of the Sphinx (Image © RAI)

Commissario Montalbano, the famous detective from Sicily, is a keen user of the Staedtler Noris1. Even though he’s driving around in an old Fiat Tipo his home is fantastic and is furnished and and decorated with classic and vintage bits and bobs, just like the grand homes of the criminals he is visiting. The Noris is a suitable pencil for him to use as it is the archetypal European pencil – even though it is a surprising choice as it is clearly a branded item.

Episode: La Pista di Sabbia / The Track of Sand (Image © RAI)

PS: Does anyone know what those cards / brochures / journals are that most civil servants in this TV series seem to have pinned to their walls.

The images in this blog post have been taken from Episode Le Ali della Sfinge / The Wings of the Sphinx and episode La Pista di Sabbia / The Track of Sand of the RAI TV series Il commissario Montalbano. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. with and without eraser tip []