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Switching to

I have moved Pens and Planes to I tried to keep the RSS feed should the same but I wasn’t able to, so here is the new RSS feed just in case.

For those who aren’t familiar with Blot, it’s a static-site generator that uses it’s own folder in Dropbox to store everything related to your blog and then creates the site on Blot’s servers. Creating a new post is as simple as placing a file, whether it’s a .txt file, .md file, Word document, bookmark or image in Blot’s folder. Editing a post is as simple as editing the file in Dropbox, using your app of choice that can access Dropbox files.

That simplicity, especially editing a post, is the biggest reason I decided to move the site over to Blot. Publishing to WordPress from iOS is easy enough (all my posts are written on my iPhone and/or iPad), but since I like to keep a copy of all my posts, editing or updating a post meant editing it through the WordPress app as well as the copy I kept in Ulysses. With Blot, I just have to edit the Dropbox file, which makes the editing and updating process quicker and easier.

The only downside I’ve seen with the move to Blot, is that post comments use Disqus, which I have never been a fan of. There is something about the Disqus service that I’ve never liked the feel of, though I’ve never been able to exactly pinpoint what that something is. I have disabled comments for now, partially due to my personal preference against Disqus and partially due to not getting a lot of post comments. If you would prefer to have the ability to comment on posts, I will gladly put my personal feelings aside and enable commenting with Disqus. I would love to hear your thoughts on Disqus, so please let me know via email or Twitter.

The lack of posts here is something I plan on changing. Moving to Blot isn’t going to magically write more blog posts for this site, but I hope that the simplicity of posting and editing with Blot helps remove some of the friction with my previous setup and thus encourage me to write more.

Many thanks to David Merfield and Thomas Hall for their help with figuring things out, running scripts on my WordPress Export, and getting the site up and running.

30 March 2018

Papermate InkJoy Gel Review

I know I’m not alone in doing this, but I have a habit of walking down the pen aisle whenever I go to a big-box store in the hopes that they have something new. I do this knowing that I am setting myself up for disappointment because nothing new or interesting will be found. I had seen the Papermate InkJoy Gel in (insert name here) big-box retailer many times and my initial thought was pretty much That pen is going to suck.” My thoughts were based on Papermate including the pen in their InkJoy line of pens and previous bad experience with the other pens in the InkJoy line. A few weeks after the InkJoy Gel started appearing in stores, I started to hear that the pens were actually pretty nice, so I decided to pick up a pack up and give them a shot.

The design of the pen is nothing special. It’s a basic design that has office supply room pen written all over it. The body of the pen is mostly colored rubberized-plastic with a colored transparent clip and plastic portion where the name of the pen is. Like most pens found in big-box stores, the exterior of the pen is colored to match the ink color, though the click-mechanism is silver colored plastic on all the InkJoy Gel pens. The barrel is a straight cylinder except with no taper, except for the nose of the pen where the refill tip extends.

The clip, if you can it a clip, is nothing more than a stiff, rounded piece of plastic that sticks up from the barrel like a design afterthought. There is a noticeable gap between the clip and the barrel which really affects the functionality of the clip.It is near worthless when clipped to the average shirt pocket, and isn’t much better when clipped to a pair of shorts or jeans. There’s no resistance at all either clipping to or removing from the shirt pocket, nor does it make the snapping sound of the clip hitting the barrel that is common when removing clipped pens from pockets. It does prevent the pen from falling to one side of your shirt pocket and it serves as a roller stopper, so I guess it does do the job but it’s still think it’s a poor design.

Here's the gap between the clip and barrel.Here's the gap between the clip and barrel.

What makes the InkJoy Gel really shine is the refill. The refill is one of the smoothest and wettest gel refills I have used. I would say the refill feels and behaves more like a rollerball than a typical gel pen, especially the .7mm version. The .7mm lays down a thick line and feels more like a Schmidt P8127 than a .7mm Pilot G2 or Signo 207/307. The .5mm is definitely my favorite and lays down a noticeably thinner line than the .7mm refill. I have not experienced any hard starts, skips, or blobbing with either the .5 or the .7mm version. The best thing about the InkJoy Gel refill is that it is the same size as the Pentel EnerGel refill, which means that it can be used in a number of different pens.

InkJoy Gel on the left, EnerGel on the right.InkJoy Gel on the left, EnerGel on the right.

The InkJoy Gel is a good pen but leaves a lot to be desired in the looks department. Looks aren’t everything though, and the way the pen writes more than makes up for it’s basic looks. The refill being the same size as the Pentel EnerGel means it can be used in other pens, I’ve got a .5mm Slate (blue black) refill my in Big i Design Ti Arto. Don’t make the mistake I did in ignoring the InkJoy Gel based on who it was made by and by the way it looked, pick up a pack and give them a shot.

15 May 2017 · inkjoy · papermate · Posts · review

Sunderland Mk1 Now Available

Quick update: I know it’s been a while since I’ve had a new post on the site. Between work, a new addition to the family, and life in general, I was starting to feel a little burned out and decided to devote as much free time to family as I could. Things are settling down at home, the kids are getting are ready to go back to preschool and school, and I’m hoping this will give me more time to do some writing. Anywho, on to the reason for the post.

Sunderland Machine Works just announced that their online shop is now open. If you’re not familiar, the Sunderland Mk1 is a machined pen with an innovative design that hides the threads for the cap under the grip of the pen and that accepts Pilot G2 and Montblanc refills that launched on Kickstarter last year. From their blog post:

We are proud to introduce the Sunderland Machine Works website and store! Home of the innovative and exceptionally crafted Sunderland mk1 pen.

We have limited stock remaining of the first run mk1 pens - so get one quick while they last! More are currently in production and along with this new run we will be adding some exciting new color choices.

I am a huge fan of the Sunderland Mk1, I have both the black and nickel plated versions and I am interested to see what new colors they are going to introduce. I think the pen would look absolutely stunning in blue or red. If you missed out on the Kickstarter last year, are wanting to pick up another pen, or if this is your first time hearing about the pen, head over to Sunderland Machine Works’ site.

I haven’t been compensated in any way for this post. I am simply a happy customer spreading the word.

23 August 2016 · Kickstarter · Mk1 · Montblanc · Pilot · Posts · Sunderland

Karas Pen Co. Render K v2 Review

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Karas Kustoms/Karas Pen Co. and the Render K is probably my favorite model. As I stated in my review of the original and G2 models of the Render K, I love this pen, so I got excited when I heard about a new v2 version of the Render K. I had planned to do an in-depth review of the new version and then Mike Dudek of The Clicky Post posted this video review that covers all the changes between the old kustoms models and the new v2 model. So instead of rehashing everything Mike covered in the video, I’m simply going to share some thoughts on the new Render K v2. One thing I wanted to clarify from the video is that the plug removal tool is not included with a pen purchase. It is available for purchase separately and it is included with the Fountain K or Render K conversion kits. The Render K v2 does come with the aluminum plug installed and with the black spacer for use with Parker style and Schmidt P8126/8127 refills. I really like the look of the contrast between the body of the pen and the grip section (unless you have a silver/silver or black/black combo), which means you can create some really interesting color combos.

v2 on the left and right, v1 in the middlev2 on the left and right, v1 in the middle

The pen feels ever so slightly lighter than the Render K G2. The only way it is readily noticeable is if you were to handle each pen together or in close succession. The balance of the pen hasn’t changed and you can’t tell that the aluminum spacer that Mike talks about in the video is installed.

v1 on the left, v2 on the rightv1 on the left, v2 on the right

This is probably the most refill friendly pen that Karas makes as it accepts the Pilot G2 size refills, Parker ballpoint style refills, and the Schmidt P8126/8127 refills. The Render K v2 will not accept the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and this was a conscious decision on Karas’ part and I don’t think it hurts the pen in anyway. I checked and the Uniball Signo 207/307 refills will fit, as will Pentel Energel refills, though there was a slight gap between the tip of the Energel and the grip section which may cause some clicking as you write.

Render K v2 takes a great design and improves upon it, which is how it should be with a v2 of anything. I love the v1 Render K, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love the v2 Render K as well. If you want to pick up a Render K v2 for yourself or any other Karas pen, head over to their website.

19 May 2016 · Karas · Kustoms · Posts · Render K · v2

Mobile Blogging with WordPress

The move to WordPress went very smoothly. The only minor hiccup I had was the images still pointed to Squarespace, so I had to download them and upload them to WordPress which took less time than expected thanks to bulk upload and then replace the images in the article. It wasn’t a difficult thing to do, it was just time consuming. The only other semi-major editing I had to do was to change any in-post links to Pens and Planes articles since the URL format changed.1 The main reason for my switch to WordPress was the ability to manage every aspect of the site from my iPhone and iPad, not just publish posts like I was doing with Squarespace. I was able to get the new site for Pens and Planes, as well as Thoughts Aloft up and running entirely from my iPhone and iPad. This would have been impossible with Squarespace. If I need to make any changes to a page, I make the changes to that sheet in Ulysses2, and copy/paste the changes in the WordPress app. Another reason for the switch was I wanted to be able to take advantage of the WordPress publishing integrations that Workflow has (WordPress Publishing is currently in beta testing3 for Ulysses, which will eliminate my need for the Publishing Workflow below). I knew that the workflows I was previously using would change or be not be needed altogether. I wouldn’t have to convert my markdown to Rich Text, I could export the markdown directly from Ulysses to Workflow to publish or copy the markdown or HTML to the clipboard and paste it in the WordPress app. I have enabled Markdown editing for both sites, and I like that it doesn’t disable HTML editing.4

Switching to WordPress was something I had been considering for a while, and I’m glad I made the switch.

  1. They seemed to link to the appropriate page but I didn’t want to take a chance of them breaking at some point in the future.

  2. I like having an offline copy of everything that’s on the site.

  3. Minus Thoughts Aloft displaying as the name for Pens and Planes, WordPress Publishing has been working flawlessly for me. The developers of Ulysses said an occasional screenshot and talk of the beta is fine.

  4. To make the Pen Hacks page here, I copied the HTML (the captions for the images are encoded in the HTML) from the blog post and pasted it on the Pen Hacks page.

13 May 2016 · Posts · Ulysses · WordPress · Workflow

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