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Forum: On DIY disc-bound covers (with links)


I made something the other day that y'all might be interested in. It was a stiff cover for a circa/rolla notebook.

It actually started life as one of those brown/gray pressed-paper pieces that's used as packing materials. This one was keeping some refrigerator display stickers flat, and had been shrinkwrapped for years. I tossed the stickers and the wrap and grabbed it, thinking it would be good for a notebook cover. Anyway, you get the same kind of thing on the back of gummed legal pads, but they do come in varying thicknesses.

This particular bit of board was too thick to fit into my 5-lb rolla punch, but I hacked it a little to make it fit. This is the important bit.

Review: Cross Roadster Gel Pen

Cross Roadster, closed

In the past couple of years, I've become far more intimate with my writing tools. The act of putting words on paper has become more of a visceral experience, something that I look forward to doing (as opposed to something I'm forced to do). Given my semi-recent hobby of restoring vintage fountain pens, it isn't hard to guess that I'm usually found with a pen in hand that's more than six decades old, sporting a gold nib, and laying down a beautiful wet layer or Waterman's or Noodler's ink. Frankly, I've grown tired of most modern pen designs which are generally contrived to look like all others or to evoke Star Trek in some way. (Think of the recent crop of G2 lookalikes, for example.) Which is why I'm surprised to declare that one of the pens in my current stable is not a fountain pen at all, but a modern gel roller.

I should preface this by saying that not everybody enjoys writing with a wide-barreled pen. I certainly do, although many of my acquaintance think slimmer is better. I find that a wider pen allows me to write a little looser and doesn't require the firm hold that might aggravate carpal tunnel. Make no mistake: the Cross Roadster is definitely a fat pen, about as fat as most people could comfortably use.

I found the Roadster at my local Staples and fell in love with it right away. It's a thick, fairly stubby pen just under 4.5" long; however, with its cap posted it turns into a meaty 5.75". Vaguely bullet-shaped, with a long brushed chrome cap and a sturdy and beautifully-coloured barrel that's well-rounded at its base, it certainly has a look all its own.

Zentangles : A Review

In my pursuit to find fun and new ways to express my creativity on paper, I stumbled across a new art-form called Zentangles. A zentangle is a method of creating images from imaginative patterns. You start by dividing off sections of a small piece of paper and then you draw repetitive doodles and designs within each section. (These are known as tangles). Each doodle and design has its own special and unique name and of course, you're welcome to make up your own tangles. When you are done filling in each space with a different design, you've completed a unique piece of art.

The Zentangle website provides extensive information on the benefits of this art form, where they came from, and how to get started with one of their kits. In my haste to start utilizing this simple-yet-elegant art-form, I ordered one of their Zentangle Kits for $49 USD. Each kit comes with 34 tiles (pre-cut pieces of thick, watercolor paper), 2 Sakura Micron pens, pencils and a sharpener, an instructional book and DVD, a 20-sided dice, and a small Legend that contains 20 tangles to get you all started with.

Forum: In the UK: Atoma/Adoc versus Circa/Rollabind

Okay, I know I'm not the first person to be stuck on this decision. I think I need some user experience to help me out with my problem!

First, and potentially most important: has anyone used the Circa/Rollabind punch with A4 paper? I know it won't fit perfectly, but is it close enough to be functional? Oh, and do A4 papers noticeably stick out of letter-sized covers?

Second, has anyone printed directly on to the Atoma or Adoc paper? It mentions on both the Manufactum (Atoma) and Pegasus National (Adoc) websites that the paper is suitable for inkjet and laser printing. I can see myself offsetting the cost of the £85 Atoma hole punch by buying pre-punched paper and printing on to it, but I'm afraid the paper will jam, etc.

Third, how do people's experiences with paper quality from the different suppliers compare? I think other posters have suggested that Rollabind paper is of somewhat lesser quality than Circa. Does anyone have a similar comparison between Atoma and Adoc paper - or better yet, all four paper types?

Fourth, can anyone compare the strength/durability of the smurf types? That is, to my eye the Atoma/Adoc smurf type seems almost zipper-like and probably holds the paper in place well but might cause more folding/bending of the paper when it's removed and replaced. The Circa/Rollabind seems easier for replacement and removal, but maybe a bit less secure. I haven't seen either system in use, so I'm happy to be corrected by someone with some experience of both!

Thanks for your help!!

Forum: New paper organizer software - "Plans Unfolding"

Hi All,

Some of you might be interested in free software I released ("Plans Unfolding") for creating convenient, pocket-sized paper organizers. Using LaTeX as a typesetting engine, a high quality PDF file is generated of 16 mini-pages, which is then printed on both sides of a sheet of letter paper and folded to create a small booklet that can fit in your pocket. The Windows interface directly supports several types of standard pages (List, Text, Calendars, Contacts, etc.) and maintains all user data between sessions. It also provides page types not seen in conventional organizers, such as a Vigenere Cipher page for on-the-go encrypted text and an Astronomy page with a calculated planisphere of current star/planet/moon locations along with other astronomical data. Beyond this, custom user-designed pages can be easily written in LaTeX script and shared in the Plans Unfolding forum and image galleries.

If you'd like more information, the Plans Unfolding home page is at http://www.plansunfolding.com/.


[Updated: Minor edits, inserted photograph -- DJ]

A Digital Diatribe

iPod TouchThere's a corner of hell reserved for time management gadgets, and I've visited it often these past few months. Conceptually, the ability to manage appointments and to-do lists is so simplistic that 40 years of programming should have made this a no-brainer by now.

The scenario: I want the ability to keep my calendars and tasks in sync between my home, work and mobile gadget. Adding an item to one should propagate it to the others. I should be able to add simple notes, get access to info almost anywhere, and take advantage of the domain to copy and paste data from multiple digital sources. Now, don't get me wrong: I love me my paper planner, but there's only so much you can stuff in it at a time.

Forum: Finding Planners

I've been on the hunt for a new planner, and found this site. I'm very excited about creating my own system. However, I've hit a snag. I'm having a really hard time finding any 3-ring classic sized binders. I've tried both Wal-Mart and Target, and looked around on different office store websites. I keep finding 6 and 7 ring binders and it seems like all binder systems are FC based these days, even at Wal-Mart! I thought I'd be in planner heaven since it's back to school time, but no such luck.

The main reason I'm even considering a diy solution is because I love the 1 week in 2 pages view -- VERTICAL. I haven't been able to find many choices.

So, has anyone seen any 3 ring systems lately? Ideally, I'd like to find one that comes with tabbed dividers and such that I can reuse.

Review: Zen to done; or GTD, the easy way

I will admit that I am possibly the last person in the world to read this e-book. It has been out for some time and got quite some attention on the web, as I found out this week. But still, for those last few who have been in the same cave as I was in until recently, here is a review of the best e-book I have read in a while: Zen to done.

The book was written by Leo Babuta, the same person who writes the Zen Habits blog. The book is intended as an alternative for Getting things done from David Allen, and indeed also takes many ideas from this and other systems. I have also read that book, but found it a bit overwhelming to implement although it has some great concepts in it. Zen to done seems to understand my problems with GTD and give helpful ideas on how to fix them.

Mac Meltdown


Greetings! Well, I guess I have to eat crow. I've bragged about how good my Mac is for years, but I finally had a problem. Now, to be fair, my Macs have held up remarkably well. My first Mac laptop lasted for over five years before it died and that was only because I poured a Pepsi in it by accident. So I thought that my new Mac Powerbook would last almost until the cosmos implodes back in on itself. It seemed reasonable, given my history with them. But this time...well, you'll see.

I was having some trouble connecting to the internet and I was playing Slap In The Face. You know, when you phone one tech support person and they can't solve your problem and they get tired of trying, so they suggest that maybe it's somebody else's fault, slap you in the face and run away giggling. It's their favorite game. It goes like this: