Paper & Notebooks


Paper Engineering

Paper Engineering Darth Vader

Paper Engineering Darth Vader (Image © HackSpace magazine)

Well, the title ‘paper engineering’ certainly got my attention1 when I visited the raspberrypi.org website during my lunch break.

You can read more about paper engineering in HackSpace Issue 6, available for £4 or free as a pdf download.

Paper Engineering Paper Automaton (Image © HackSpace magazine)

Paper Engineering Paper Automaton (Image © HackSpace magazine)

If you like this kind of stuff, have a look at this Raspberry Pi related blog post or this micro:bit related blog post.


The images in this blog post have been taken from HackSpace issue 6. 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. A wiki I started in 2006 was initially a collection of cut out sheets from a German comic magazine. []

A Stationery Christmas 6

Now that the holiday period is coming to an end and things are returning to normal I thought I share my Stationery Christmas with you.

Hobonichi Techo

I mentioned previously that I would like to try the bigger A5 sized Hobonichi Techo this year, the Cousin. I ordered the A6 version, again, but changed my mind and it was too late to change the order. Luckily I was able to sell my A6 Techo on eBay without losing too much money. Even more lucky, my wife was looking for a Christmas gift for me and The Journal Shop had a Black Friday event, so the Cousin was available for a good price. Not cheaper than when ordering from Japan, but this way was saving time and hassle with customs. For a little bit extra you could even get a cover with the Techo. I picked the Hazelnut cover, not only because it looked good on the photos, also (to a smaller extent) because I really like hazelnuts. The Blue Gingham cover would have been my next choice.

One complaint I have is that the Hobonichi should have been packed a bit better. The corners of the diary look as if it fell down at some stage. They look worse than the corners of by Avec from previous years which all have been used for six months each.

The cover itself looks good but more shiny than expected. It is still fairly gender-neutral, less than expected. It reminds me a bit of the stationery that chains like Paperchase use to target female customers.

First impression:

With the Hazelnut cover, the Cousin isn’t much bigger than the A6 version with a zipped cover. The big zipped cover was one of the reasons why I often took my A6 Techo out of the cover when I took it to a meeting at work – the cover was just so bulky compared to the diary.

The Techo usually spends most of the time on my desk at home or at work, so the size itself is not a problem. The Cousin comes with additional weekly pages: One week per double pages. So far I found this a useful addition. I will see how the A5 Cousin holds up. My hope is that I can write down more useful, work-related information during the day as there is more space. Whether I can then easily find what I have written down is another matter, we will see.

In case you wonder why I don’t use my new Staedtler 925 15 with the Hobonichi: the rubber grip is too difficult to put through the cover’s closing loops.

Funnily enough Brad Dowdy seems to have switched to a Cousin, too, this year. You can hear his first impression in The Pen Addict Podcast #289, around 44 minutes in.

 

Surprise

We also got a surprise parcel with Christmas gifts from friends from Singapore.

Fun fact: In the Nineties and earlier Noughties these friends and I were running the biggest Gameboy web site on the planet: EAGB.net. At that time, I had several limited edition Gameboys and accessories the day after they were released in Japan (at least when the postal service was quick, which it often was).

The gift they sent to my wife was a Japanese magazine that came with a Pikachu case. The magazine itself is described as a “trend magazine for business person” and includes information about stationery. I thought I share some of the stationery items shown there with you.

The zeit Vektor folder seems interesting. I assume it can be stored vertically in your drawer for easy access, but you can also just take it with you.

Orgel On, the tape measure that seems to play a melody is probably more of a gimmick, but the masking tape for closing and opening envelopes seems like a good idea. There have been many pencils as dice products, so they don’t get me too excited, the novelty has worn off, but the colourful Rhodia cases look beautiful.

Non Stationery

Other, unrelated, things I found out during the holidays and found very exciting:

The Dutch have caffeine free Coke Zero. How cool is that‽

..and Munich’s Develey brand is selling a sauce in Germany that tastes very similar to McDonald’s sauce on  the Big Tasty. I am quite sure that when I was still living in Germany the McDonald’s sauces there were made by Develey, so this one might even be made in the same factory as the real one.


The images from Dime magazine have been taken from the September 2017 issue. I believe that their use falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Hobonichi Techo 2018 9

It’s been extremely quiet on my blog recently as my day job has been keeping me overwhelmingly busy.

To prove that I’m still alive I thought I show you what the postman brought yesterday.

It has (again) been an expensive luxury: after import fees, import handling and shipping has been added the final bill was eye-watering. In the end the cost of the actual diary was nearly exactly 30% of the total cost of getting it from Japan to the UK.

 


The Confidant’s Secret

Today: a quick look at Baron Fig’s Confidant.

The Confidant and the Bleistiftverlängerer

Background

Like many people, I found out about Baron Fig’s 2013 Kickstarter from The Pen Addict podcast (it was episode 71). Back then the notebook didn’t have a name yet.

After the Kickstarter goal was reached the notebooks were sent out, got very good reviews and luckily Baron Fig kept making them post-Kickstarter and even created more products, becoming the Baron Fig company you see today.

Some of the early good reviews can be found at The Pen Addict (2014), Woodclinched (2014)The Well-Appointed Desk (2015) and even Cult of Mac (2014).

The European Perspective

I don’t think there’s is much I can add to the existing reviews in terms of new information, so instead I want to give you the European perspective on this notebook.

Importing and Shipping

The Baron Fig is difficult to get on this side of the pond. I haven’t found a shop selling it in the UK, but luckily shipping from the States is actually quite cheap. Postage for the $12 Confidant Pocket, for example, is only $2.95. This seems to be achieved by sending the notebooks through Germany (Field Notes send their notebooks through Sweden). The problem in the UK is that the moment you spend more than £15 you have to pay VAT1, which usually goes hand in hand with a hefty surcharge, how expensive depends on the carrier. When I was still living in Germany I was less often hit by these charges, but I don’t know whether this is still the case. The point here is that depending on which country you live in there might be unwanted extra charges if you order from the States.

The Count in Disguise

$12 (+$2.95) for a notebook, roughly A6 size2,3 is not cheap, but once you look at this notebook’s competitors the price seems quite reasonable.

The Confidant on previous cloth bound notebooks

Cloth bound notebooks sell for a premium. They’re somehow even more expensive than leather bound notebooks. The closest competitor for the Confidant is probably the Linen Bound Notebook from the late Count’s4 Graf von Faber-Castell5 series, which you can see in this previous blog post.

The GvFC notebook and the Confidant

In fact, they are so similar, the Confidant is basically a version of the linen bound GvFC notebook with rounded edges and perforated pages (that’s where the title of this blog post comes in). I’m not sure whether this is accidental or a result of Baron Fig’s Kickstarter approach of  ‘asking people all over the world what they like in a notebook’. The GvFC notebook has been around for a while6, so some of the people asked might have suggested features based on the GvFC item.

In terms of similarities: both, the Confidant and the GvFC notebook are cloth bound and probably7 use 100g/m2 paper. I have mentioned two of the differences already: the Confidant has rounded edges and perforated edges. Other differences are: the Confidant has more paper to choose from (dot grid, blank, ruled), the GvFC notebook has more colours to choose from (five different linen colours), the bookmark is different (width and colour) and most importantly: the price is different – quite different.

 ConfidantGvFC
A4 / plus$22£30 (~$39)
A5 / flagship$18£25 (~$32)
A6 7 pocket$12£20 (~$26)

My experience

My Confidant is well made, but not as well made as the Graf von Faber-Castell notebook. Inside: mine has some materials/bubbles under the paper inside the lid, making it uneven. Outside: the cloth isn’t tight around the spine and some pages were not separated properly, as you can see in the video below. Stephen from Pencil Talk had the same problem with his Flagship (A5) Confidant8.

One way of looking at his would be to say that it shouldn’t happen to a small notebook that costs $12, but on the other hand, the similar GvFC notebook costs more than twice that amount, so the Confidant still seems good value for money.

First I thought my notebook doesn’t lie flat, a problem also described by Discover Analog, but then I realised that the Baron Fig description of ‘Opens Flat’9 refers to the pages being flat enough to write on, it doesn’t mean that the covers should lie flat on the table.

One more thing to mention about the paper: Andi Talarico from Baron Fig told me that the Vanguard and the Work/Play II use Baron Fig’s new upgraded paper, while the Confidant is still using the previous paper.

The Paper

Graphite Performance

Let’s have a look at the paper in terms of graphite performance.

As part of this comparison I have only compared the paper to Field Notes paper10.

To find more about how the paper is tested, please check the Ingersoll post.

The violin plots show that this is a great paper: It produces very dark lines of graphite (the violin plot for the Confidant’s paper ends very low) while the paper is quite light and bright (the violin plot starts quite high).

The confidant sample used for the violin plot

Violin plots, Confidant on the left

Ink Performance

Most of my inks are quite well behaved. Not surprisingly the paper dealt well with ink.

So I thought I take some of my slightly less well-behaved inks out, in this case, a waterproof ink, just because waterproof ink often goes deeper into the paper. The images below show that the waterproof ink didn’t bleed through and the reverse side of the paper was unaffected (open images in a new tab to see the high-res version).

Conclusion

To sum this blog post up in a few words: Quality control could be better. The paper is excellent. The notebook isn’t cheap, but good value for money compared to similar notebooks.

 

 


Price and exchange rates: June 2017

I would like to thank Andi Talarico from Baron Fig for the review sample I used for this boig post.

  1. ..but sometimes customs forget to charge you []
  2. The Confidants are all a bit smaller than the equivalent A paper size []
  3. ..reminds me of the Lichtenberg drawing from this blog post. []
  4. Usual disclaimer as mentioned in previous blog posts: He is not really a count. According to Part 2, Section 1, Article 109(2) of the Weimar Constitution privileges based on birth or social status and titles of nobility were abolished in the Weimar Republic in 1919. Graf (Count) is just part of his surname. In reality no one seems to care about this rule though. []
  5. Abbreviated: GvFC for easier reading. []
  6. I am not sure when it came out. I got my first one in 2010 []
  7. I am not 100% sure. The Baron Fig Kickstarter mentioned 100g/m2 paper, but in an email I got from Baron Fig they mention 90g/m2 paper. []
  8. Mine is the Pocket one (A6). []
  9. Found at the bottom of this page. []
  10. ..as they are the paper samples I have redone after discovering the colour base paper shift issue discussed in the Black Ice post. []