Pocket Notebooks & Fountain Pen Comparison

All of my recent pen orders arrived, and I decided to try all of them out on the three most popular (and affordable) pocket notebooks.

Click on any photo to go to its Flickr page with alternate sizes, comments, etc. I apologize for the strange lighting; these were taken late at night and I did not have my normal light setup available.

First, the pens:


From left to right: Sharpie Pen, Pilot G6 Black, G6 Blue, Lamy Safari (Medium Nib), Pilot Varsity Black, Varsity Blue, Platinum Preppy Black, Preppy Blue, Preppy Red. All are fountain pens except for the G6s and the Sharpie.

Second, the pocket-sized notebooks:

Pocket Notebooks

Field Notes, Moleskine Cahier Pocket Red, and a Doane Paper Utility Notebook. Any of these will run around $10 for three.

Pen samples in the Field Notes notebook:

Field Notes Sample

Checking for bleedthrough:

Field Notes Bleedthrough

Only the Pilot Varsity Black has significant bleed through the paper.

Next, the Moleskine notebook:

Moleskine Sample

The Moleskine paper is a cream color and “feels” smoother than the paper in the Field Notes and Doane notebooks, but the Lamy Safari doesn’t flow as well on it. I’ve read that Moleskine uses a coated paper, which would explain it.

Checking for bleedthrough:

Moleskine Bleedthrough

Only the Pilot Varsity Black bleeds through on the Moleskine as well.

Finally, the Doane Paper Utility Notebook:

Doane Paper Sample

And a bleedthrough check:

Doane Paper Bleedthrough

No significant bleedthrough at all, even with the Pilot Varsity pen that was a problem on the other two notebooks.

My first fountain pens were the Pilot Varsity disposables that I picked up a few months ago. I got the Lamy Safari (with medium nib) about a week ago, and the Platinum Preppys arrived yesterday. I’m a little dissapointed in the performance of the Lamy cartridge ink on the coated Moleskine paper (since I have quite a few Moleskines), but will be getting a converter soon that lets me try some Noodler’s Black ink to see how that works.

The Platinum Preppy pens are really nice for the price ($3 each at JetPens), and feel/flow better than the Pilot Varsity models. I won’t be buying any more Varsitys once these are empty.

The Pilot G6s (a fatter version of the G2) were included for comparison. I have a bunch of them and like them for “general pen use”. I do not like the Sharpie Pen at all and included it because I had one on my desk.

The paper on the Field Notes and Doane Paper notebooks felt more “scratchy” than the Moleskine; I attribute this to their non-coated paper.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these notebooks; which one is best for you will depend on what you intend to use it for and your preferences about paper and paper color. Choice of pens is even more of a personal preference; use what you like!

Update: I’ll be glad to review any notebooks or writing instruments that companies want to send my way.

Second Update: Notebook Stories has named me their Notebook Addict of the Week.

My first proper fountain pen arrives

Last weekend, I ordered a Lamy Safari medium-nib fountain pen, and it arrived on Thursday. This is the first “real” FP I’ve owned, not counting the Pilot Varsity disposables I bought to try out a few months ago.

The verdict – so far, I love it. There’s just something about writing with a fountain pen on quality paper that can never be captured with a ballpoint or gel pen.

Right now I’m just using the blue cartridge ink, but I have a bottle of Noodler’s Black that is awaiting my purchase of a bottled ink converter/adapter and the arrival of another Safari (this time, an orangle one) from eBay.

I’ve also got three Platinum Preppy disposable/refillable FPs on the way from JetPens, but the USPS seems confused right now as to if they actually delivered them or not.

Goodbye, iPhone

In June of 2007, my wife surprised me with an iPhone. My manager at work at the time approved expensing the monthly cost (which runs $65-70), and I put the phone to good use.

With recent budget cuts at the office, my current manager informed me that I can no longer expense the phone, as it’s 3-4 times more expensive than everyone else’s phones (which are covered under the company “umbrella” account and use a pool of shared minutes).

So, I ordered another AT&T phone through work, picking the Samsung a237 as it appeared to be the best “freebie” phone offered. At the same time, I bought a Motorola F3 off eBay for $32.

The a237 arrived mid-last-week, and the F3 arrived the next day. I moved the SIM card over and everything works great. I’ve got a “just-a-phone” with awesome battery life, and no extra features I don’t need. I don’t want a camera, lots of text messaging, Java games, or anything like that. I just need a phone, and the F3 is superior at just being a phone with limited text messaging.

My iPhone contract is up in June, so I’ll pay the monthly bill myself for the next two months, and then cancel the contract after that. Will probably sell the phone to a coworker. I’ve loved having it, and it’s been very useful at times, but I just can’t justify paying $70/month given the amount that I actually use it for things other than being a telephone.

Pens, Paper, and Notebooks Oh My

I am a pen, notebook, and organizational junkie.

Here’s my current collection of Moleskine notebooks:
My Moleskine Notebooks

My normal pen of choice is the Pilot G2 gel pen, in either 0.7mm (“Medium”) or 1.0mm (“Bold”) widths. I also like the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens, and bought a pack of Sharpie Pens today to try them out.

I also ordered a Lamy Safari fountain pen to try out something a little nicer than the Pilot disposables.

The Doane Paper concept looks great; I’m surprised nobody has come up with the idea before.

Update: My Doane Paper notebooks have come in; will do a comparison of them with the Field Notes and Moleskine equivalents with multiple pens next week (probably with the Lamy Safari, the Pilot Varsity, a Pilot G2, and the Sharpie Pen).

Second Update: Notebook Stories has named me their Notebook Addict of the Week.

M1 Garand arrived

After a long (83 days) wait, my M1 Garand finally arrived this morning from the CMP.

I ordered a “Field Grade” Springfield Armory rifle, and requested a WW2-vintage serial number if possible. What I received this morning exceeded my expectations.







First, the serial number is 3,477,7xx. This puts the date of manufacture in February of 1945.

Second, the gun is definitely a loaner that we got back from Greece, as they refinished all of their guns black (instead of the original “greenish” parkerizing).

Third, the stock appears to be a new replacement, as it has no dings, scrapes, dents, or any markings whatsoever. It’s also only got a thin oil finish, and is still rather dry and dusty. I’ve ordered some “Tom’s 1/3 Mix Military Gunstock Wax and will make that a weekend project soon.

Tonight I’ll do a basic dissasembly, clean it if needed, and fill out a Garand data sheet on all of the components.

Home Mac desktop upgrades finished

Tonight I upgraded my Mac Mini here at home with a new hard drive and went from 3G to 4G of RAM.

The old disk was a 120G, 5400rpm and 8M of cache. The new disk is a Western Digital “Scorpio Black” 250G, 7200rpm and 16M of cache.

The RAM upgrade swapped a 2G SODIMM in place of an existing 1G. It adds 1G of memory, but only around 350M of that is usable due to x86 chipset limitations and address space. I figured I might as well max out the system while I had it open, and the memory was only $20.

So far I’ve noticed that boot time was a lot quicker, and applications seem to launch a lot faster. Will run some actual disk tests once I finish tweaking some Time Machine backups.

Update: XBench disk scores have almost doubled compared to the original internal drive.

Google Server and the Gigabyte GA-9IVDP

Today, this CNET article talks about the servers that Google uses in their modular datacenters.

This picture shows that the motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-9IVDP:

This post on Datacenter Knowledge has video footage of the example server.

Some Google searches reveal this forum thread where someone talks about receiving a system built out of this same motherboard as part of his Google signing bonus.

Has Google been using the same model of servers for the past three years, or were they showing off an older revision?

I can understand how they’d still be using them if a large order of a custom design was done with Gigabyte, as that model (the GA-9IVDP) uses a custom power supply (it only supplies 12V instead of 12V and 5V) and does not appear to be for sale to the general public.

This article from 2006 mentions Google having talks with Asustek, Gigabyte, and MSI for the manufacture of 4-way boards. It also talks about a large order that Google previously placed with Gigabyte; I’m guessing that the motherboard shown off today is from that earlier two-way order and is not the cutting edge of what they’re deploying now.

This site claims that the current version of the Google Search Appliance is built around the same basic motherboard and setup.