Friday, April 29, 2011

The Big Day

The big day is upon us. Today our future King marries the future Queen. It’s pretty big news in my part of the world. For many the interest and popularity in the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton  is not necessarily evidence of support for the monarchy but rather support for a seemingly nice couple tying the knot, an excuse for a celebration, some excitement, pomp and ceremony, a distraction from recent disasters and difficult times, etc.

Lots of people are joining in the celebrations in all sorts of ways. Like many ladies, Mrs Dave will be wearing a tiara and veil at work today. Well, the tiara is a little worse for wear because it broke and last night I was dispatched to the shopping mall to buy another one. All the dollar stores, department stores, etc. had been stripped bare. No tiaras  or crowns to be found anywhere, so it was super-glue to the rescue. Equally I have heard that it is impossible to hire a wedding gown from any source – genuine wedding hire companies or fancy dress stores. Apparently many ladies are even digging their dresses out of the storage chest. “Wills and Kate Dress Up Wedding Parties” are all the rage, but Mrs Dave will be home, glued to the TV, champagne in hand. Local watering holes are also joining in the festive occasion with promotions such as half price drinks for all ladies in wedding dresses, beauty pageants for the best wedding dress, sluttiest hottest bride, etc.
So, what’s this got to do with mechanical pencils? Well, in the good old days, there’s no doubt we would have had plenty of royal wedding souvenir pencils to buy. You can see various examples of such items in this blog in previous posts such as Royal Tour Pencils, Royal Coronation Pencils and more.
I haven’t gone looking for Wills and Kate souvenir pencils, but have you seen any? Would you buy one? I haven’t had a poll for ages, so, vote in the poll.

Edit - The voting on the poll was 17 x Yes and 41 x No.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Good Old Days

These days leads come in plastic. I'm far too young to have been around then, but back in the good old days, when life was slower and simpler, before everything came in plastic, lead refills came in...well...lots of different things.

Like glass tubes with stoppers.

Conway Stewart and Eversharp glass tubes - note the square leads.
Also there were all sorts of metal and wood tubes and containers.

Various metal tubes and containers

Special leads in heavy duty metal containers
Of course the claim of extra thin would be laughed at today. More like "thick for strength".

Moving on we have a variety of wooden tubes and containers

I really like these slotted wooden type holders.

Scripto's in wooden holders

0.036" = 0.9mm = 'Extra Thin Lead'
Wooden tubes for politicians?
Of course there were also just plain old cardboard boxes

and of course cardboard tubes
Gonna get that Road Runner

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

iPhone Pocket Sketches Notebook

iPhone Pocket Sketches Notebook

Picture the group of tech-savvy folk at the cafĂ©, enjoying their cappuccino and witty repartee when suddenly a light bulb goes off. Ah-ha, a great new idea for an iPhone app! But how to capture the moment and develop it just that little further whilst it’s still fresh in the head and surrounded by inspirational people all eager to assist? Well thanks to Pocket Sketches, the new iPhone sketchbooks are at the ready - a small notebook with a real life size iPhone screen template printed on the page so you can draw and layout exactly how your app will display on an iPhone screen.

Light card cover with 16 pages stapled in.

The paper is printed with faint gridlines, with iPhone template superimposed on one side.

At 89 x 141mm overall size, the notebook is a little smaller than A6.

Well, I don’t actually have an iPhone, and I’m not a tech designer guy, so I just used it as a normal sort of notebook. It worked OK.

Inside front cover. A place to put your contact details so if lost the nice person can return it to you...or at least know whose app idea they are stealing.

Inside rear cover – just look at how much money my app is going to make for me!

The notebook isn’t particularly robust or durable, but then I imagine it is not intended to have a long life. It’s to replace serviettes, hamburger bags, used envelopes and all those other bits of scrap paper that get pressed into service when inspiration suddenly strikes. I haven't really had any expereince with highly specialised notebooks before so this was a novel experience for me, and it seems a really good idea for those in the mobile app industry.

To be honest I’m a little surprised the folk at Pocket Sketches sent me some samples, but for me the notebook was such a specialised and unusual concept that I was happy to accept and put a mini review on the blog. Being tech savvy folk they even included a little sheet suggesting keywords and links to put in the review to help their search engine results ranking.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Rotring Rapid Pro 2mm Mechanical Pencil

Rotring Rapid Pro 2mm Mechanical Pencil

One of the comments on the recently published Rotring Rapid Pro mechanical pencil review was essentially asking about the differences between the 0.5/0.7mm and the 2mm Rapid Pro mechanical pencils. That’s a good question, and not something really covered in the review, so I will attempt to address it here. In a nut shell, there’s not much difference.

All three lead size models of the Rapid Pro are essentially stylistically and mechanically the same. The only differences are at the ends of the pencils. Lets start at the top.

rotring rapid pro end caps
As you can see the push top buttons have different ends on them. On the 0.5/0.7mm models there is a hole through which you can see the eraser underneath. On the 2mm version there is a black plastic end piece. There is a hole in the black plastic too, you just can’t see it in the photograph. The top button on the 2mm version doubles as a lead sharpener so you stick your lead in through the hole in black plastic, twist and sharpen. I’m not really a 2mm lead user, but the sharpener seems reasonable compared to other integral sharpeners I have tried. Remember the 2mm Rapid Pro is a push top ratchet mechanism mechanical pencil just like the 0.5/0.7mm versions. It is not a traditional clutch pencil with jaws.

rotring rapid pro top buttons
If you pull the top buttons off you can see the difference in shape, and that the 2mm version doesn’t have an eraser. Also, the 2mm lead chamber is only big enough to hold one stick of lead at a time so there are no spares. You are writing with the only piece of lead in the pencil.

Now to the other end of the pencil. With lead sleeve retracted the tips look almost identical.

rotring rapid pro pencil tips
Of course the 0.5/0.7mm versions then have a retractable sliding sleeve whereas with the 2mm version the lead just comes straight out.

rotring rapid pro pencil lead sleeves

So, there we have it. Not much difference at all.