giveaway


Seven years, 23 YouTube subscribers and a giveaway 42

Well, time flies. It’s already seven years since Bleistift started with its first blog post.

As done in in previous recent anniversary posts here’s a quick behind the scenes look and some of my thoughts about the blog.

This time I will mainly focus on Bleistift’s YouTube videos1, the first one which first appeared just a bit more than a year ago, in September 2015.

 

Video Quality

The videos are easy in a sense that they don’t require as much background work as blog posts, but the video image quality isn’t very good, mainly because of the lack of space in our home and the lack of light (because the windows are quite small). I could set it up nicely somewhere on the floor in a corner, with some lights, but there’s usually not enough time for that. Blog posts on the other hand can be started and interrupted as often as I like, because there is no set up time, so it’s easier to find a few minutes here and there to work on a blog post. Plus you don’t notice our kid making noise in the background. Something you do notice this in the videos.

No wonder there’s no space in our home, have a look at new home sizes around the world2.

CountrySize in square metres
UK76
Germany109
Denmark137
USA201

Both issues, size and light, apply equally to taking photos, but with photos you can compensate for the poor light by exposing longer and the lack of space isn’t too bad as you can just put things on the window sill for close ups etc.

I hope to improve the quality of future videos. You might have noticed that for the last video (sharpening with a hard disk) I was wearing a coat. That was because I did that vide in the garage. Don’t expect too much though, for the foreseeable future there won’t be enough time to set the videos up nicely.

 

The most disliked Bleistift video so far: The Kuru Toga video

It seems as if the Kuru Toga is are always a source of controversy. The idea of rotating the lead wasn’t new, see Schmidt’s patent, and the implementation, i.e. Kuru Toga’s mechanism, doesn’t work for me, probably because I don’t use enough pressure when writing. This blog presents my personal opinion, but some people seem to get upset if you say that this pen doesn’t work for everyone as advertised.

The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

Keeping this in mind it’s no wonder that my Kuru Toga video has twice as many dislikes as likes (2 dislikes, 1 like).

Well, I am sure it’s great if you write Kanjis, but they are officially selling the pen in the West, I am not importing a pen not to be sold in the west, so I think it’s only fair to point this out and to show what leads to the pen not performing as advertised. I’m not saying it’s a bad pen, I’m just disappointed that it doesn’t work for me. I don’t doubt it works well for others (unlike the uni-ball air. I have three of the broad type now, but with the best will: the uni-ball air doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do).

 

The most popular video: Refilling pencils? Why??

I also don’t get why some videos are popular while others aren’t.

The DelGuard pen force test, the first video and therefore online for the longest time, is not very popular (about 11 views per week overall), even though I find this test exciting. Also: getting the force to display correctly and in sync with the video wasn’t easy. I think the idea was good and the fact that a few weeks after my video Zebra, the company behind the DelGuard, made a Japanese video with similar elements shows that it’s useful in conveying how the pen works.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of interest though, because the blog post about the DelGuard only got one comment, despite the effort that went into trying to produce an accurate diagram that shows how much pressure can be applied before the lead breaks when extended how far.

What force is needed to break a lead of what length.

How much force is needed to break a lead extended a certain length in the DelGuard.

In comparison the refilling a mechanical pencil video is quite meaningless, but is much more popular (about 35 views per week overall).

The lesson here is that my audience doesn’t like complicated stuff. No point in writing things down that no one wants to read anyway. You might have noticed that I am now trying to keep blog posts simple. It doesn’t always work as blog posts tend to end up more complicated than first planned – but I’m working on it.

 

Using bloggers to sell products

Something else I noticed is that since I started seven years ago there are more and more companies that want their products being advertised by bloggers, but they don’t provide a sample (so small bloggers are supposed to basically just relay a marketing message for a product you don’t know).
I have linked to many Kickstarter projects I found interesting, even though I didn’t get anything free from these campaigns, on the contrary I spent money to buy/back the product. Bloggers do that because they get excited about these products. What has changed is that now companies just sent you their press releases without any additional information. Unlike them I don’t earn money from this, it costs me money, like it does for many other non-commercial blogs. I do get some benefits from this blog: The two most expensive things I got in these seven years was (Number 1) being invited to Insights X followed by (Number 2) a Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil, worth £46 (~$57; €53). I guess you could count these ‘benefits’ against he cost of the server, but there still wouldn’t be any money left.
Because of the non-commercial nature of this blog I am quite unhappy when companies misuse non-commercial blogs, e.g. like Book Block did. I found the idea great so there was no need to promise me anything to get me to post about it, so why tell me they’ll send a notebook and make me design it when they won’t send it, even after repeated email exchanges about this? This is even more frustrating as they did send samples to the big blogs, like Desk of Adam, Gentleman Stationer, Pentorium, Woodclinched (I think Andy said he got one), but small blogs get like mine get told they’ll send a sample, but then they can’t be bothered to keep their word.

Well, a while ago Paper Oh told me on Instagram they want to send me a notebook. Let’s see what will happen.

I know many other examples that shall not be named where other companies use bloggers not only for input, but to do important tasks that are part of product development or creation and after the work is done the bloggers then get ignored or don’t even get to see the final product, even though it is sold for a cheap price, i.e. is available. I have not been treated like this, but it is a shame that the small bloggers sometimes do get misused in this way.

It didn’t used to be like this and it is a shame that it is like this now.

Giveaway

Well, since this is an anniversary post there’s also a giveaway.

The winner will get a surprise package that contains at least one item from each of the following categories

  • wood cased pencils
  • mechanical pencils
  • sharpeners
  • erasers
  • fountain pen

I think it’s definitely worth taking part!

Why? Look at this previous giveaway: The pens from the previous giveaway are currently selling for £68 + £44 = £112 (~$139; €131), the RRP is even higher, but there were only 30 comments, so on average every commenter won more than £3 (even though that’s no consolidation for those who didn’t win).

…and the best things is that I don’t make you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and don’t make you write a poem either. All you need to do is post a comment here. The giveaway will be open for one week, until Monday, 28 November 2016, 23:59:59 Zulu time (GMT). If you don’t know what to write, just write “I would like to win” or something like that…

 

  1. which have 23 YouTube subscribers by now, in case you wonder about the title of this blog post. []
  2. Figures taken from The Telegraph and ShrinkThatFootprint []

Giveaway 25

To celebrate the 200th blog post of Bleistift: a (small) giveaway.

If you can tell me the link1 between the two items in the photo you will receive a small prize.

Giveaway

What’s the link between these two items?

Giveaway rules: The first correct answer wins. I’m happy to send the small prize to any country as Royal Mail is delivering to that country.

 

Franken BleistiftAnother cause for celebration2 is the fact that today is Franconia Day (Tag der Franken). Franconia is home to the well-known stationery manufacturers Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Schwan-Stabilo, Eisen, Möbius & Ruppert, KUM and others.

  1. There might be links I’m not aware of. The winning link is the one I’m thinking of. []
  2. Except the giveaway 8^) []

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
MaterialMagnesium-alloy
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

 

Giveaway

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 random.org 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 []

Reidinger magnetic pencil & giveaway 10

You might recognise the name Reidinger from Lexkaliker’s blog. He wrote about their “Pencil Configurator” in one of his previous blog posts. Despite their pencil configurator, Reidinger is not really a pencil manufacturer but is selling pencils, including carpenter pencils, and folding rules as promotional gifts.

The magnet

Good it's not a CRT...

One of their products is a magnetic pencil, which I got sent by Mr Lorber earlier this month, together with some of Reidinger’s crystal pencils1. It is a black wood pencil with a neodymium magnet at the end. Unlike Viarco’s or Lexikaliker’s version the magnet is hidden by a metal sleeve and is not directly visible. A metal disc is available and comes with one of the magnetic pencil sets, for sticking to non-metallic surfaces so that the pencil can be placed there. The disc is however not magnetic. A quick attempt to magnetise the disc using the magnetic pencil was unsuccessful (I was hoping to magnetise the disc to be able to use it for Eberhard Faber’s Microtomic or General’s Kimberly pencils). You might know that neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets available and I have to say it is pretty amazing how much these pencils “stick” and what you can do with them: if you can connect two pencils at the end you can swing them around, which is pretty fun.

The pencil

Don't need the metal disc here...

The pencil itself is very good. It lays down a very dark line, is easy to erase and sharpen and is quite smooth, similar to a good pencil, like the Staedtler Tradition or Noris, but short of an excellent pencils, like the Faber-Castell Castell 9000, the Tombow Mono 100 or the Staedtler Mars Lumograph.

After talking to Mrs Morse from Reidinger I found out that many of their pencils are manufactured in Eastern Europe and are made using lime wood2 and was told that the quality of the materials has  been certified by TÜV. I am however not sure where exactly the magnetic pencils and the crystal pencils are made. I know that some of the other crystal pencils available are made in China, but to my surprise there seem to be several factories making black wood crystal pencils as Mrs Morse confirmed that their pencils are not from China. Last year my wife bought some crystal pencils from The Pen Shop. They are in her office at the moment – so I cannot check now, but I should have a look and compare them to the ones from Reidinger…

Magnetic and Crystal Pencils

Giveaway

As these magnetic pencils are promotional gifts you cannot buy them individually. I believe you have to buy at least 288 for an order, but since Mr Lorber sent me several of them I am happy to give away a pack of three crystal pencils with Swarovski elements and a magnetic pencil with a metal disc. 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 random.org to get a random number and the author of the corresponding article will get the price (unless I am the author or the comment is definitely spam). To take part please leave your comments at this blog post before Sunday, 4th September 2011, 23:59 UTC.



I would like to thank

  • Mr Lorber for sending me these pencils and
  • Mrs Morse from Reidinger for providing me with more information about Reidinger’s pencils.
  • Sean from The Blackwing Pages for the Eberhard Faber Microtomic and the General’s Kimberly pencils I tried to use with the metal disc.

Related information:

 

 

  1. using Swarovski elements []
  2. American English: Linden wood []