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The End of an Era 6

This week I’ve been throwing a few things from my office away: stuff, mainly student assignments, that I don’t need to keep anymore.

I’m what they call a senior lecturer here in the UK, according to Wikipedia that’s an ‘associate professor’ elsewhere, and for that reason I’m involved in marking student work. Old assignments used to get stored centrally, but a few  years ago management decided that we should store them in our office1. We only need to keep them for a few years, then we can get rid of them. During my clear out session I came across some of the last type written feedback sheets I made.

Yes, the assignment is to programme a pencil museum (using PHP, AJAX and MySQL). Parts are pixelated for privacy

Our feedback sheets used to be spaced just right for typewriters2 and used carbonless copy paper. They have since been replaced with new feedback sheets that don’t leave space for feedback.

The real feedback is on the pages with code, this is just for the cover page

To celebrate the end of the typewriter friendly era in my place of work I thought I show you how these sheets looked like (cropped for privacy reasons). I sometimes used them with a portable typewriter I bought second hand in the 1980s, but most times feedback was handwritten.

  1. You might think that means we have less space, but management also took our printers and our waste bins away, so that gave as a cubic metre of extra space back. []
  2. but unfortunately no one else I knew seemed to make use of this feature, or if they did it was before my time, i.e. before I joined in 2001. []

Andreas Dorau’s Pencil 7

If you are from France or the German speaking countries you might have heard of Andreas Dorau. He was in the German charts in 1981 with a NDW song (also released in the UK) and in 1996 he made it into the French charts with Girls in Love.

Well, this week he finally made his wish come true and made it into the German album charts (#56), for the first time, with his album “Die Liebe und der Ärger der Anderen”. One of the songs, “Du stehst auf meiner Liste”, even features a pencil, paper, and erasing.

Congratulations!

PS: If you don’t know the songs, they both have a sad ending. In the 1981 song “Fred vom Jupiter” the womanising alien has to fly back to Jupiter because all the earth men are jealous and the 1996 song “Girls i Love” has an even sadder ending.

PPS: eSyringe has a series of videos of Andreas Dorau live in Tokyo. 


Microsoft’s Pen

In the sixteen years I’ve been with my current employer my computer has been replaced a few times, but this is the first time the new hardware1 came with a pen. The new pen even has an eraser at the end.

I guess there will be even fewer chances of marking student assignments with pen and writing feedback with pen or typewriter (our feedback forms used to be spaced just right for use with typewriters, a remainder of the past).  Let’s see whether I’ll like using this pen as much as my analogue pens -I doubt I will2.

  1. Of course not the latest model, but the one from a few years ago, with the smallest RAM and storage configuration on the market []
  2. Maybe because this is quite a low spec piece of hardware the line you draw doesn’t seem to follow the tip if you move fast []

Kenji’s Cat Pencil 2

Earlier this week I had to go to Preton’s1 city centre where I made two discoveries.

Helix Oxford

The Oxford series from Helix (which belongs to France’s Maped, with most or all products made in China) seems to have launched a new vintage range which is available in WH Smith stores.

Kenji

I also discovered what seems to be a local Muji copy: Kenji. The outside looks like Japan’s Muji, but the goods they sell seem to be at least halfway (if not further) between Muji and Denmark’s Tiger stores. When I asked the employee he said the store opened last October.

I assumed this is a bigger chain, but when I visited their web site I was suprised to see that there are only two shops, one in Preston and one in Bury (together Preston and Bury have 200,000 inhabitants). Even more surprising when keeping in mind that despite being small they have a large selection of items, seem to be good value for money, and their web site looks rather good, too.

 

The DS-508

I couldn’t resist and bought a novelty mechanical pencil for £0.80 (~$1; €0.90). It’s the DS-508 from D&S点石. Despite being from a Chinese company the pencil is labelled in Japanese. The push button is the cat’s tail.

 

Like another Chinese mechanical pencil reviewed in the past, the M&G m9, this pencil has a sliding cone. You need about 0.8N for the cone to slide, which means that the sliding mechanism won’t work for most users – unless you hold the pencil nearly vertically. To refill leads you remove the tail of the cat. There is no  eraser.

The jaws of the ratchet mechanism that holds the lead are even metal, so this pencil should last a while before breaking down. For a novelty mechanical pencil, and especially when keeping the price in mind this pencil is surprisingly good.


Please excuse the poor quality of the photos, this blog post only contains mobile phone photos.

Price and exchange rates: June 2017

I have added the DS-508 to my sliding sleeve table.

  1. where I live []

Ninety-Nine 7

Well, who would have thought that Apple will one day make a pencil case. As far as I can tell their £29 pencil case was released earlier this month. Before you start wondering how you can use it for your pen collection: It can only hold one pen – the £99 Apple pencil.

Time to turn this into a ‘lucky bag’ blog post1. In the UK the Apple pencil is £99, in the USA it’s $99, so let’s stay with the theme of 99 and look at how to say2 this number in different languages:

90 9 (English)

9+90 (German)

9 10 9 (Mandarin, Japanese, Korean)

4 20 10 9 (French)

10 100 1 10 (Roman Numerals)

 

  1. An expression I got from Gunther and like. []
  2. or how to write it, in the case of Roman Numerals []