Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Graphgear 500 used by Gerard Butler in the movie Greenland

In the movie Greenland starring Gerard Butler, right in the starting scene you can see a glimpse of a GraphGear 500 used for a brief moment by the star of the movie.

The movie starts with John Garrity (Gerard Butler) as an engineer on a construction site looking over some designs and taking some notes with a Pentel GraphGear 500 mechanical pencil. It is a disaster movie, a comet is going to hit earth and, and a few selected people are notified to go to a shelter.

This is the first and last time the pencil appears in the movie, but I am sure the pencil survived the comet and is still working today.

In the rest of the movie, you can see the trip to the shelter and all the misfortunes that happen on the way.

I do not know if the crew chose with a reason the Graphgear 500 over its bigger brother 1000 (braking issues) or it was just what they had lying around. Either way I think this is a solid choice, in case of a disaster, to have such a good mechanical pencil.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Computer keyboards

Related to writing instruments but in a different category, typing is the most common method of writing for most people. So in a way, keyboards are part of the writing instruments we use on a daily basis. My first experience with a keyboard was with a vintage mechanical Compaq leaf spring. At that time membrane keyboards were everywhere on the market and for me were much cooler looking (mine was an old, big and noisy hunk of metal and plastic), some of them had multimedia keys or even short travel. So I put the keyboard in a bin and went out and bought the first of a series of crap membrane keyboards.

Recently seeing a surge in mechanical keyboard popularity I made the leap back to the mechanical side and bought a mechanical keyboard, the cheapest I could find, as I was unsure if it will be something that I will appreciate or even enjoy using. I was also skeptical about the noise mechanical keyboards make. Apparently after a certain age you are not as sensible to loud noises :), so I have to say I like it very much, even though it is a blue switch keyboard which is known for making lots of noise. Also, the board itself being a cheap one is hollow and amplifies the noises generated by the clicks and the keys bottoming out, and resonates a bin, "ping" which is a bit distracting. It is especially true for when I keep the feet up, and is less noticeable if the entire back is on the table and I put something between the table and the keyboard.

After using it for some time, I realized what crap of a keyboard I am working with every day. So I took it to work. I have to say, my colleagues were not so impressed by the clicks the keyboard makes, even though I took the time to explain how much cooler mechanical keyboards are and how better they feel to the fingers. So, long story short, I took it back home and went back to the membrane keyboard I was using until that point, because the blue switches were a bit overwhelming for an office environment. 

Because the feel of a rubber dome is so different* from a mechanical keyboard, I was curious if this makes any kind of impact in my typing ability.

Do mechanical keyboards have an effect on your typing speed?

* Many people refer to mechanical keyboards being mushy. It is hard to describe in words but, a rubber dome is like pressing on a sponge, while a mechanical keyboard has a very crisp feel, and you can feel the end of the travel very abruptly. Also, a blue or brown switch as a distinctive bump when the key registers (before bottoming out), and offers a very crisp sensation when the button hits the tactile bump and when it bottoms out.

I tested my typing speed on the following setups:

T-Dagger Bermuda blue switch mechanical keyboard / Rubber dome keyboard Dell KB1421 / Dell Laptop Latitude series 5501

I did 12 typing tests with all the aforementioned keyboards, and taking out from the average the slowest and fastest session. I did the testing using 10Fastfingers.com, top 200 English words.

  The detailed results are:

T-Dagger blue switches

Dell KB1421 membrane

Laptop Dell Latitude













I am accustomed to all the keyboards, and type of them almost daily. At this speed, I would be cataloged as an average or just above average typist. Of course, the "real" typing speed varies based on the complexity of the text, how familiar you are with the language you are typing in, the length of the text etc.

As you can see in the typing speed on all keyboards is rather similar, the mechanical having the highest average typing speed and the top typing speed (70 words per minute / 76 words per minute), followed closely by the membrane with an average of 69 WPM and a top speed of 75. Last place goes to the laptop switch keyboard that only offered me an average speed of 67 WPM and a max of 70 WPM.

Even though the speed doesn't vary much between keyboards, the typing feel and colleague's liking (or better said disliking) might.
To better explain this, I made this graph, where the vertical axis represents the satisfaction factor and on the horizontal axis the keyboards types are enumerated.

If you do not value being liked or having friends for that matter, you should go and buy a mechanical keyboard. For the rest of you, just keep using the keyboard you have, as it doesn't make much of a difference for most of you.

Monday, May 16, 2022

New colors for the Rotring 500 and 600 in 2022

Rotring now offers the infamous Rotring 600 and Rotring 500 mechanical pencils in new colors. The Rotring 600 featured on the cover of the catalog is now available also in: white, gold, and rose gold. I think the white one especially stands out with a very clean and professional look.

The Rotring 600 3 in 1 has received 2 new colors, the royal blue and the dark green. Until now it could be purchased in black and silver.

Rotring hasn't forgotten about the little brother, the 500 which was available only in black. Now it can be purchased in pink, royal blue, and dark green. Compared to the 600 the 500 still keeps the grip section, the clip, the lead hardness indicator and cap in the standard back color. Probably a cost saving decision, to keep the pencil affordable. Even so, the pencil looks rather nice, I especially am intrigued by the green / black version.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Faber Castell Grip 2001 pencil

This Faber Castell Grip 2001 pencil is part of a range of products that Faber Castell has put on the market under the Grip name. The characteristic of the pencil are the doted patches of rubber that offer comport and "grip" to the user. The pencil is on the higher side of pricing, being a step up from the competition's classical pencils. It has a triangular shape that is great for comfort, it has a cool metal gray color and dotted black grip patches as implied by the name. At the top it has a black eraser which gives the entire pencil a very slick and modern look, at least in the one I have, because the pencil can be found without an eraser.

It has a unique look and feel that I enjoy. The pencil is made in Germany and has a very premium feel when you pick it up. I've got the HB version, which corresponds to the US 2 1/2. The pencil comes sharpened and has a very nice pointy tip. It has a total length from tip to eraser of 18.5.

The cost of a pencil without the eraser is about 0.7 - 0.8 Eur while the eraser version comes just above the 1.1 Eur mark (0.76 - 1.2 USD).

The Faber Castell website, states that they produce over 2 billion pencils per year, and are taking great care of the woods used to produce these pencils and the labor workforce involved in their operations, and 82% of the energy used is from renewable sources. So let's take into account information like this when buying a pencil.

How does the Faber Castell Grip 2001 performs?

In the end the most important is how the pencil writes, how does it feel when the lead hits the paper.

The pencil writes well, it has a bit of a harder composition that you can feel while writing with it. It offers a bit of feedback, it is not as smooth as a mechanical pencil lead, for example. Because it is a harder, it saves you from resharpening it very often, in retaining the tip quite well. At the same time, it is not producing the darkest line possible. Compared with a generic pencil it did better, and compared with the mechanical pencil leads from Rotring it produced a similar line.

In the smudge test it performed very well, it was almost smudge free which is great.

The pencil erases just fine, and with a single pass over the writing, the result was satisfactory. Usually the attached eraser is not on par with standard erasers, and this is no exception. The quality makes it ok for when you are in a pickle, but a block eraser will offer much nicer results.

In the end the pencil performed well, it will offer better results compared with a generic brand, but it will not

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Bast everyday ink, Koh I Noor Black Ink

The Koh I Noor brand is mostly known for the mechanical and clutch pencils it offers. Today, instead of a pencil, I am testing the black color fountain pen ink. I have an older post about the blue ink, you can read it here.

This is the cheapest or better said the most economical / affordable ink on the market, because cheap will make you wonder if it is any good, or will it ruin my precious fountin pen etc. The ink is addressed to students and comes in a basic plastic bottle of 50 grams. Produced in the Czech Republic, the bottle comes as is, no cardboard box.

The bottle has a basic design, nothing special. You can tell right away, just from looking at the package, that this is a no fuss ink. It cost about half what the Pelikan 4001 60 ml costs. Probably a lot of the savings are done by replacing the more expensive and better looking glass ink well with a plastic container. Also, it is offered in a bigger container compared to the more standard 30 ml ink bottles, thus making it a good every day for most students. 

But is it worth using this ink if you are not a student anymore? Does it perform well?

The ink performs well on every day paper, without fathering or showing throw the thinner paper, while still having a nice saturated black look. The ink is not very wet and dries rather quickly. Thus, it can be used even with broader nibs on cheap paper. For the testing purpose I used the Faber Castell Loom with Fine nib.

The ink is not water-resistant and washes out rather easily. I've placed a water droplet on the paper and waited for it to dry. The text smudged a bit, but it is still in a decent shape.
I keep talking and comparing with the price of the Pelikan, because the Pelikan is a well known and used ink, that has a lot of reputation behind its name, and it is an affordable ink as well.

I did a quick comparison with the Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black, and it holds its ground well. I would say that the difference between the inks is minimal and nobody will know if you are using one or the other, probably not even you.

It is a hair wetter than the Pelinkan which dries almost instantly. So if you like the Pelikan but you or your pen would like it to have a bit of wetness, try the Koh I Noor.

My conclusion
If you want an everyday ink, to use on all kinds of paper, it is a perfect contender with its availability (for me at least, it can be bought at every stationery shop), for the good performance it has and of course I can't ignore the great price it is available at. I would go so far to say that it is the best ink you can use as a daily workhorse.

On the other hand, if you are interested in a more refined experience when using your awesome fountain pens, probably you will get more joy using a higher end ink, that comes in a nicer refined glass bottle.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Faber Castell Poly Matic mechanical pencil

After a long intermission, in which I had a more busy schedule and a lot of procrastination and excuses, I read the book Atomic Habits and I started reading The Power of Habit. Now I am trying to apply the principles from the books to my life. Apparently when setting better daily habits I forgot about adding the blog as a daily or weekly activity :) Now I am back and want to share with you my opinions on the recently acquired Faber Castell Poly Matic, mechanical pencil. 

I saw this pencil available in local stores only recently and at first look I liked it a lot. The design is very nice and modern. This is a general writing mechanical pencil, t is not intended for drafting. The Poly Matic had an automatic lead advancement as well as a traditional push to advance system, and it has a retractable tip. The automatic lead advancement works ok. The push isn't that satisfying, even if it works perfectly, but there is no click to it.

I bought the 0.7 mm version. The Poly Matic pencil comes with 0.5 mm lead, and it can be bought as a ball pen. It has a plastic body that is the star of the show. The body is a very smooth and satin like plastic that is a joy to the fingers. It is quite chunky at the back and slims down to a perfect fit around the grip area. For extra comfort, it has some circular grooves in the grip section for extra comfort. Even though it has a triangular shape, it is very subtle and pleasant in hand. I have the black or better said dark gray color which looks impressive. The finish is mate and gives it a premium look. The pencil of course comes in other colors, some of them quite bold.

The only shiny parts on the pencil are the tip of the pencil, the clip and a small ring that delimits the pencil from the eraser.

The clip of the pencil is curvy, shiny and very strong.

To refill the pencil, you have to pull out the eraser unit, and this is how you get access. The Eraser unit is  quite big, and to extend the eraser you have to rotate it. The erasers protrude one or  two mm even when it is retracted all the way.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Narcos, pens and fountain pens

I am a big fan of the Narcos series and during this long winter break, I had time to watch Narcos Mexico, the third and final season. After 6 seasons of Narcos 3 in the original series where the action takes place in Colombia and the Narcos Mexico, will make a recap of the pens shown on the movie. There were many pens and pencils.

In the original series, first and second season, the action revolves around the MedellĂ­n Cartel, and mostly around Pablo Escobar. In the third season the action is shifted in a post Escobar Colombia, to a rival cartel, the Cali cartel.

Murphy and Pena the DEA agents which are trying to take down the Medellin cartel.

Looks very much like a Parker Jotter.

The second one not very clear.

A possible silver gold Parker IM ball point

In the third season, the action has shifted from Pablo to the Cali cartel. In episode 3 of the third series there is an insert with president Nixon, signing the act in which American banks have to announce all transactions over 10k $.

The act seems to be signed with a Parker 75 
The Cali cartel is being controlled is represented by Miguel
He is writing with a Parker Urban Premium

Narcos Mexico, which followed the original Narcos starts with a Parker Jotter used by the director of the newspaper La Voz

A typewriter, a notebook and a Parker. Great setup.
Season 3 of Narcos Mexico, Benjamin, the leader of the Tijuana cartel, receives a gift for his 40th birthday. It is a fountain pen that is supposed to be used by three presidents. It doesn't specify which presidents used it but still a cool gift.

It is not a clear image, it could be an Aurora Talentum. All this just before an intense moment, where in a club Chapo is trying to get them (a lot of shooting involved)
If you haven't seen the TV series, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is very good and even if you think things or characters will not live up to the previous season, you will be in for a treat.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Koh-I-Noor 5219, 2 mm clutch pencil with metal grip section

koh i noor mechanical pencil 2 mm lead

I do not think that many people still use clutch pencils, but for those of you who still enjoy them, Koh-I-Noor has you covered with a wide range of clutch mechanical pencils. I have reviewed several of them, at the end of the post there are links to the other pencils.

The Koh-I-Noor 5219 is a typical clutch mechanism, meaning it has the jaws that keep the lead and by releasing them you slide the lead in or out. The pencil comes in five different colors, red, blue, green, purple and yellow.

The construction of the pencil is a mix of metal and plastic. As you can see, it has a shiny metal tip and a knurled grip. The rest of the barrel is made out of plastic, with Koh-I-Noor painted on and the model number 5219.

koh i noor 5219 pencil with metal grip and clip

This particular model features a strong clip  that has stamped on the brand. And as any Koh-I-Noor clutch pencil in the push button, it has a basic sharpener.

blue koh i noor mechanical pencil

This is not the best mechanical pencil you can get from Koh-I-Noor. It has a more modern look but, it is not built at the same quality standards as his brothers and sisters. The knurling on the grip is very shallow. I wouldn't say it is bad, but I think it could have been better. Even so, the comfort during longer writing sessions is superior compared to the vintage styled pencils from Koh-I-Noor which tend to slip in hand due to the fine painted metal.

koh i noor 2 mm pencil metal grip

The jaws that hold the lead, are not perfectly aligned, at least on the model I have. One of them doesn't close all the way, leaving a gap between it and the lead. It doesn't affect the writing in any way as the lead is firmly gripped, but if you care about small details like this it will bug you a lot. I do not know if this a more common problem, or I was unlucky.

2 mm lead pencil jaws

Also, the guts of the pencil don't scream confidence, as the lead tube is made out of a soft plastic. I am not saying that this will not hold well over time. I am sure it will, but I would have liked to see a bit more metal in the pencil.

disassembled koh i noor mechanical pencil