Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stadtler Tradition pencil seen on screen



Seen on the screen comes back. Now with a pencil, Tradition 110 from Staedtler. According to Staedtler website, the Tradition is a High-quality pencil for writing, drawing, and sketching has an unbelievably break-resistant through special lead formulation and super-bonded lead. The wood is from certified, sustainably managed forests (I don't know what to say about this, we all heard about VW). Well, who knows let's give them credit until proven wrong.
The pencil comes in 12 degrees of hardness

Made in Germany.


In the movie The Numbers Station (2013) a bunch of Staedtler Tradition pencils can be spotted, apparently, grade B. The movie is poor - ok-ish but I'm not going to make further comments on the movie quality.
The main actors are John Cusack and Malin Akerman.
Note: I want to mention if by chance you see in the rest of the post the name Tom Cusack it's the same actor John, it's just I like to call him Tom :). He looks like a Tom for me.
Now that Tom is out of the way:

Right in the first scenes when the two are in the bunker receiving/sending numbers the pencils can be spotted.
the numbers station 2013 pencil staedtler
With very good eye sight and zoom you can actually see Tradition B written on the pencil in the middle.

the numbers station 2013 pencil staedtler
In this first two images, John Cusack is picking up the pencil from the bunch and plays with it.

the numbers station 2013 pencil staedtler
In the picture above Malin Akerman is holding the pen, taking notes
the numbers station 2013 pencil staedtler
Spot the Staedtler.
Apparently, it is also good for holding your hair, not only for writing. Who knew?!

As I said before the movie is, how it is, but I have learned that Staedtler Tradition is good for playing when bored, good for writing, and good for holding your hair (if you have long hair)
Also, the movie made me aware that a number station is a real thing, not a made up bunker for John/Tom Cusack and Malin Akerman.

According to Wikipedia:
"A numbers station is a type of shortwave radio station characterized by unusual broadcasts, reading out lists of numbers or incomprehensible coded messages. The voices are often created by speech synthesis and are transmitted in a wide variety of languages. The voices are usually female, although sometimes men's or children's voices are used. Some voices are synthesized and created by machines; however, some stations used to have live readers. Many numbers stations went off the air due to the end of the Cold War in 1989, but many still operate and some have even continued operations but changed schedules and operators."

How does a number station work?
A number station provides a way to communicate in plain sight, transmitting a series of characters or numbers over radio waves. Everyone can listen to the transmission but only those who have the decrypter can understand the message.
The people decrypting needs a one time pad which is provided in advance.
More about one-time pad -The Laws of Cryptography

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review of Parker Urban Premium, a premium ballpoint?

As the name implies this is a review of a premium writing instrument from Parker. Or is it?
The review is for the Parker Urban Premium ballpoint. I can not comment on the fountain pen as I did not use it.
Parker is a big brand, known for their quality writing instruments. If you do a google search you will be surprised to find out that Parker is the supplier of fountain pens for the royal house of England.
This said I heave high expectations from any product with the brand Parker on it.
parker urban ballpoint color plum


The design of the pen.

It has a interesting design, inspired i think from a bullet, or a sexual device. I'll leave the design for you to judge. Let's call it "urban". It is classy and modern at the same time.
It's body is made entirely out of metal. The grip is a smooth shiny metal, thicker towards the middle of the pen. For my taste is a bit thick if you have high grip, as I have. I did not have problems with lack of grip, but I did not use the pen for extensive writing sessions. I use it for note taking, a few lines, a page maximum. So your millage may vary.
The barrel is made from a colored metal that has groves in it. My version is a plum - brownish color, which in certain light looks like a shiny brown/black. The pen comes in various colors.
The clip has the traditional  Parker arrow shape. It is a nice clip as it seams very secure and strong.
To advance the ballpoint you have to twist the pen. Because of my way of using pens, taking quick notes, I do not like this style of mechanism. I like push buttons on the top of the pen as it is more convenient.
The pen uses a standard Parker refill.
parker urban ballpoint color plum

The feel:

The grip is made out of polished metal. It has a substantial thickness at the top and tapers down to the tip. Because of this if you have a higher grip it can be uncomfortable if you have smaller hands. The polished metal grip is fine for me, but your experience might be different. As I said, I do not use the pen for long sessions of writing. In general the pen feels good in hand, it has a good weight to it. The ballpoint comes with a standard Parker refill size 1.0. I like the way it writes, it is very smooth and just glides over the paper. Because of the weight of the pen you do not need extra pressure to write, a founinpen grip is enough.
The pen looks rather well built but at a closer inspection it falls short in some places.
My first complaint about the construction regards the joint between the grip and the barrel. It has a slight wiggle. If you shake the pen in your hand you can also hear the movement of the joint. I consider this a minus, not because it is something you feel when writing but is something you  feel when you first touch the pen and hold it. As a expensive pen, with a body entirely made out of metal, made by a reputable and known writing instrument maker I consider this to be a short coming. In my opinion an expensive pen should look and feel expensive. But this does not feel accordingly. It feels rushed.
The other thing that annoys me is the twist of the pen. The twist is not smooth as it should. The feedback is a bit scratchy and it seems off somehow. I would liked a smoother and easier twisting mechanism. Maybe with time the action will improve.
parker urban grip metal

parker urban body and clip

Verdict:

The pen was 45 € which is a lot for a pen. At this price I do not think the pen is worth it, and I would not recommend it. It writes incredible I'll give it that but I think a Parker Jotter stainless steel would do it as good as the Urban. 
So I would say the Jotter is a better value.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The man who stares at goats, what does it teachs us about engaging terrorists

In this days when terrorists and Star Wars is mentioned on news feeds daily I think we should all take an example from Lyn Cassady, the character played by George Clooney in the movie The Man Who Stares at Goats.
Lyn Cassady is an ex-military man who was part of a special unit in which they were training in paranormal activity. He is traveling with a reporter Bob Wilton played by Ewan McGregor.
Lyn is constantly talking about his mental abilities and the possibilities of the mind while they are captured by a group of terrorists.
In the basement where they are held hostage Lyn explains to Bob that it does not matter that there are more terrorists and they have guns because they are Jedi "we are Jedi's Bob, we don't fight with guns we fight with our mind"
basement escape pen

Friday, August 21, 2015

Q&Q sport watch review 2nd update

q&q running watch 150 laps timingToday was a roller coaster. I thought I am the luckiest man alive, just to find I am just a regular Joe. This is the last update of the Q&Q sport watches because today was the end of it. Just 10 days before the second year of wearing it.
Why today was a roller coaster, and why I thought I am the luckiest man alive? Well The watch broke, actually the strap broke, and the warranty of the watch ends in just 10 days. Who else had this luck in life, a product needs replacing just 10 days before the end of the warranty. It usually happens just after it is out of warranty. But not today, today I need to buy a lottery ticket. Or do I?
q&q running watch 150 laps timingI went to the shop I bought the watch with the warranty to find out that the warranty does not cover the strap just the mechanism. I tried to explain that the strap is part of the watch and can not be replaced because is not a regular strap. I had no luck, apparently, the strap can be changed, but the bring it only on request, it takes a few months and it cost almost as much as the watch.

As I feared when I bought it the custom strap is a bad thing as it's not practical to change it if something happens. But to be fair, most of the sports watches use custom straps that are hard to replace in case of break down. So I can not be to upset on Q&Q. It's just a shame because I really liked it.

I have to find a new sports watch. I am thinking to get the Timex Marathon or the Casio Tough Solar WS200H.
Do you have any suggestions?

If curious about the watch without this glitch check the previous posts: Q&Q reviewQ&Q review update

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Vintage Lanco wrist watch


17 RUBIES INCABLOC, handwind lanco mechanical vintage wrist watchI have recently bought another watch from eBay, this time a Lanco mechanical hand wind wrist watch for which I paid 9 $, shipping included.
Lanco is a brand of Langendorf Watch Company, which was a large Swiss watch company founded in 1873. The Langendorf Watch Company was bought in 1965 by SSIH (Societe suisse pour l'industrie horlogere SA), a holding under which many other companies existed. In 1973 SSIH reached it's peak selling approx. 13.6 million timepieces, of which 70 percent where pin lever watches. The Japanese inexpensive quartz watches became the main rival of SSIH (quartz was a fearful competitor to the majority of mechanical watches). At the end of 70's the holding was in financial trouble. In 1983 the ASUAG and SSIH merged forming SMH (Swiss Corporation for microelectronics and watchmaking industries LTD). This created the largest watchmaking company. Both ASUAG and SSIH where holding companies, so the merger took a few years to implement. In 1998 the company changed the name to Swatch Group.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pentel Energel on the screen


Watching the tv series Better Call Saul, I spotted a Pentel Energel pen. For you that do not know, Better Call Saul is a sideshow of Breaking Bad, on AMC. It presents the background of Saul Goodman the lawyer in Breaking Bad, his efforts of creating a name for himself, establishing a legitimate practice,  and the interaction with different characters that made a mark in Breaking Bad. In the 6th episode, Mike is the star. His background as an ex cop is under the spotlight, how did he end up in Albuquerque, and what made him leave the uniform for the criminal life.
Seven episodes into the life of Saul Goodman and I can say is a great show. Give it a try, especially if you enjoyed Breaking Bad.
Back to the pen spot.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Partial eclipse of the sun


Today was a partial eclipse of the sun. Approximately 55% percent of the sun was covered by the moon, on my side of the Earth.
To see it I used some dated technology, the eclipse glasses that I have since 1999 eclipse. Unfortunately then the sky was cloudy and I did not see it. It was a total eclipse in '99.
But good things happen to those who wait. Even if it's not a total eclipse, it's still the first eclipse I observe.

The eclipse seen through the glasses with an old compact Fuji.



Share your eclipse pictures.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pelikan Erase, erasable pen

I don't understand why is there a need for a pen that can be erased instead of using a pencil, but for the sake of the test let's go on with the Pelikan erase


TEST #1: Writing
pelikan erase, erasable pen


Writing with the pen feels creamy, but the ink is not coming out with consistency. If you take a look at the picture above you can see numerous parts of the text where the pen skipped, or where the line density is different from normal.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Taking apart a Citizen watch

In the previous post, I was writing about a Citizen automatic 21 Jewels day and date watch that I bought on eBay for 11.5 dollars. The watch came with a small problem, the second's hand is not staying in place. At the moment, because the watch was not winded enough, I thought it was keeping horrible time. I found out later it is running very well.
So the only reasonable thing to do was open the watch and see what can be done. The first obstacle was removing the crown and stem to take out the mechanism. For that I didn't need tools, just a steel sheet to open the back, and a Rotring Tikky to press the stem release button. (see previous post)
I put the second's hand but it does not want to stay, it's a two-hand watch now. But this was not all. The manual date/day change was a bit scratchy, so I thought it just needs a few twists to loosen it. I did the day/date change while the hands of the watch were not in the correct position. This caused another problem. The most serious one.
The day/date can't be changed manually anymore. I decided to take the Citizen watch apart, even though I didn't open a watch before.

Step one, buy a set of watch screwdrivers. 
I bought the cheapest set in the world. Under 2 €.
cheap

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Citizen watch from Ebay

The Citizen automatic watch adventure started a couple of months ago when I was browsing on eBay for mechanical vintage watches. I was looking for old soviet watches when I came across a Citizen automatic 21 jewels "reconditioned".
The watch cost me 11.5 $ shipping included.
3 weeks later the watch arrived. It looked just like in pictures.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween to all of you that enjoy dressing up in weird, scary, sexy, or just grouse costumes. This year the by coincidence I was at Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle according to Bram Stroker) on Halloween night.
dracula castle halloween transilvania romania visit
photo source: www.bran-castle.com

It felt overwhelming, the tourist crowding in where similar to an ant's nest, you couldn't take a step into the castle without stepping on someone's toe. The good thing, I didn't step on Dracula's toes, so I live to see another day.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stitching pictures into a panorama


If you want to capture a whole scene in a single picture your digital camera might not be your first choice. Even if you have a wide lens it might not be enough for the entire scene. It is easier to take the phone out of the pocket, set it in panorama mode and just take the photo.
But there is an easy and simple way to do the same thing with your digital camera, even if the camera does not have the panorama function.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Download Youtube video or audio free

If you are searching for video or audio Youtube downloader check out DVD Video Soft. The programs are great and free. You can find there not just youtube to MP3 or Video converter but a lot of other programs.

Download mp3 format

If you want to download only the audio from Youtube the simplest solution is Free YouTube to MP3 Converter.
Download the software and install it, it is free.
After you install it go to Youtube, find the desired video and copy paste the link in Free YouTube to MP3 Converter. The software is able to save in different file formats and different quality settings. The only inconvenient are a few adds.
Another solution would be installing a software like Audacity, and recording the audio from the stream. The minus to this solution is the fact that you actually have to play the video and let Audacity record the audio (it's like copying cassette tapes)
There are online solution for converting a video stream to audio but not as good or fast as the program provided by DVD Soft.


Downloading video format

If you need the video as well then go for Free YouTube Download. It works the same way as the YouTube to MP3 Converter. Just copy paste the link into the program and when ready press Download.
Are there better free software out there ?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great small portable games



I'm a user and a big fan of portable apps. Just putting all the useful stuff on a thumb drive an having it everywhere you go is incredible. Between the useful programs, I have on the thumb drive I have also some great games. I sometimes kill time by playing the coolest and smallest games ever made. Being portable makes them more appealing. You don't need to be connected to the internet to enjoy all of the below games presented. You just need to have a thumb drive (nothing fancy).



Friday, August 15, 2014

Better ebook pc reading experience




For a good reading experience on the pc, you first need to find a pc reader software, preferably one that has a library management. To help you choose one or more, take a look at: Best ebook reader software for pc. You can use if you have the ebooks in .pdf or .rtf format, software already installed on the pc like Adobe Reader or Microsoft Word.

To make the experience of reading a book on the screen of the computer you need to make the reading as comfortable as possible for your eyes.


Zenith Z-19, photo by Ajmexio


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Best ebook reader software for pc

To enjoy the experience of reading books on the pc you need first to find a desktop ebook reader that suits your needs. Finding the perfect ebook reader is difficult. The feel of paper in the hands, or the smell, for many readers is something that can’t be replaced.




















The ebook readers for pc that made my list are:
Calibre
Adobe digital edition
Cool reader 3
Sumatra PDF reader

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bicycle commuting - part two


bicycle commuting urban
Photo by Tejvan Pettinger

What to wear and what to take on the commute:
You can wear business clothes on the commute, but you have to pace yourself to stay dry. If you have to carry things with you a backpack is not the best way to go. It is most likely to sweat a bit with the backpack. A courier or postman bag should be better. A rack on the bike would be the best option. If you can travel light, use a fanny pack or one of the cool running belts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

DIY Phone and Tablet Stand

I have planned for a long time to build a phone stand. I feel it is very practical: at home or at the office.
Because I was postponing the build of the stand for some time I chose the path of paper. My first origami project. I was ambitious at first but the final result was ... not so good. It was simple to make, it holds the phone in place, it did as was advertised, but after less than a week with the origami stand on my desk, I abandoned the idea of holding the phone with an A4 sheet of paper. I just wanted something more cool and solid.
(If you are interested in an origami stand you can find good tutorials on google and youtube)
Finally, I found the time and willingness to do it.


Prototype #1 is out :
phone tablet stand diy metal


Even though is not perfect I consider it awesome. I just love the metallic feel and look.

Characteristics:
- stands on a desk, table, or flat surface
- it can hold a phone or a tablet in portrait or landscape mode, or two phones in portrait mode
- it keeps the phone at a good angle, which allows you to see the screen without having to raise the phone from the desk

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bicycles and mustaches

A lot of things have changed in the bicycle industry over the course of history. Now you have bicycles for every type of riding you do, different frame sizes, no more one size will fit all. You get gears, a lot of them, less weight and aero performance but one thing that is still the same ...