Quo Vadis ME Journal Review

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A lot has been written lately about the demise of the analog world relative to handwritten cards, letters and note taking. Common lore today would have us believe the ubiquitous smartphone with all its apps for list making, tablets with write on screens and other technology advancements to record our thoughts have taken over. [hyperbole alert] I’m confident I own more than the average of 13.8 internet connected devices in every home in the world but I refuse to relinquish my pen and paper analog community. I suspect if you’re reading my musings we’re in the same camp.

The digital and analog worlds seem so different in application so merging them seems like telling the Republicans to get along with the Democrats. When Quo Vadis announced their new product called the ME Journal or Multimedia Enhanced Journal it got my attention. They’ve done a very respectable job marrying the analog and digital frontiers. I was able to spend a little time exploring the ME journal and I present to you my impressions.

Overall without Band

  • Available in two sizes
  • – Large (6 1/4 x 9 1/4″)
  • – Pocket (4 x 6 3/8″)
  • Available in black, red and raspberry covers.
  • 80 Sheets (160 Pages)
  • 85g Ivory colored acid free and PH Neutral paper
  • Line Spacing 5.5mm
  • Large $23.00
  • Pocket $16.00

We start out with a great journal. I’m pretty sure the ancestral search of the ME Journal will lead you back to the well-established and loved Habana line of journals from Quo Vadis. I have carried a Habana daily for my life journaling and always loved it. Sunny @ Exaclair did bring to my attention the ME Journal does not have the inside cover back pocket like the Habana. Thanks Sunny for the catch.

It takes fountain pen ink very well on the wonderful Clairfontaine paper. The binding is sewn and sits reasonably flat for comfortable writing and the covers are protective and attractive. Included is a pocket on the inside back cover for notes and receipts and a bookmark ribbon.

Book OpenLay FlatThe subtle differences I see from the Habana are the embossed QR code and ME Journal title on the front cover and of course the QR codes printed at the bottom of each page.

EmbossingQR Code in open bookWhat is So Special?

Starting with an already great paper journal product Quo Vadis has partnered with Stkr.it, an app development company that has used this concept in other hobbies to match digital media with hard goods such as scrapbooks, cards, gifts etc.

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At printing time Quo Vadis adds a QR code at the bottom of each page (two per sheet). If you’re not familiar with a QR code it’s a small square box printed with a lot of smaller back or white boxes jumbled together

You’re starting to see them everywhere now as a marketing tool. Stkr.it has developed the app for your smartphone (Android or iOS) that let you attach photos, video, audio, documents or any other file in your digital world to each page of the ME Journal.

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Some of the ideas for the ME Journal include:

  • Travel journal
  • Family history book
  • Personal diary
  • Baby book
  • Wine journal
  • Cookbook

Take a travel journal for instance. You could write your thoughts and memories on the pages then attach a picture of where you visited or a menu from a favorite restaurant you ate at. Cool right?

How it Works

After you have downloaded the app to your smartphone just open up the app and tap the SCAN CODE button. Turn your journal to any page and hold your smartphone about 3” above the QR code on the page.

APP Scan QR CodeThe app will see the QR code and automatically scan it. If a file is already attached to that page the app will display the library view with a thumbnail of the file you have previously attached to that page.

APP Library ViewThe library function is also available from your desktop or laptop at  if you prefer the bigger screen. A brand new page is scanned the same way except instead of the seeing the library view after the QR code is scanned you see a screen of buttons

APP Menu After Scan

And you choose what type of file you want to attach to the page. When you press the appropriate button the app will give you a choice to create a new file like taking a picture or recording a voice memo or the app can take you to the associated library on your smartphone for files that you’ve already saved. In the latter choice you select the file you want to attach to the page and that file is loaded to your ME journal library for future enjoyment.

I also learned from Sunny you can attach files from your desktop or laptop using your web browser and the www.mymejournal.com website. Each QR Code has a unique set of 10 letters. This is the code associated with the page. If you log into www.mymejournal.com you will see a CREATE button on the top toolbar. If you enter the 10 letter code into the box that pops up it will allow you to directly add any files you have saved on your desktop or laptop to your library and you can then access it from anywhere!.  Thanks again Sunny for the education.

The only addition I hope to see in future versions is the ability to attach multiple files to a single page.  Today you can only attach a single file to a page unless you purchase more QR code stickers from Stkr.it. I’m not positive I really need that function but I think I want the ability to attach multiple pictures or maybe a voice recording and a picture to a single page

Conclusion

I think it’s a great idea. I probably won’t use it for all my journaling but I certainly have some ideas for it. A Habana journal is the same price so if you already enjoy the Quo Vadis line and the excellent Clairfontaine paper you can’t go wrong. Should the QR code thing not work out like you expected or the novelty factor wears off you still have an excellent journal. Way to go Quo Vadis!

Do you combine any of your analog and your digital worlds?

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Today’s Wit and Wisdom

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller.

He Can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

“Miss Whack, I’d like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday.”

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it’s okay, he knows the bank Manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral. The frog says, “Sure. I have this,” and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she’ll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, “There’s a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral.” She holds up the tiny pink elephant. “I mean, what in the world is this?”. The bank manager looks back at her and says.

“It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan, his old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

(You’re already singing in in your head aren’t you?)

Masterstroke Pens Airfoil Click Review

I love the Kickstarter machine pen movement of 2014. So many great products coming from talented entrepreneurial machine shops and design firms. They are taking chances and listening to their customers to make a great product greater. After a successful Kickstarter campaign Grant Takara over at Masterstroke Pens recently granted me the opportunity to review his next venture, the Click Airfoil. I offer you the diary of our time together.

The Pen:Opener2Masterstroke Pen Airfoil Click

  • 5.63” long
  • ½” at the widest diameter
  • 35.4 g with ink refill

OpenerPackaging

Packaging is carried over from the original design which I think was a good choice. A two piece box with foam insert that has a fitted cut out for the pen, including finger reliefs. Branding on the outside of the box is prominent. Makes for a great gift presentation. Well done in any price range of pens.

PackagingOverall Appearance

It’s a cool looking pen, I think most would agree. I’m not a big aviation enthusiast so I was oblivious to so many of the design elements. I did some research reading on the Masterstroke website to learn more about the design. I find it ingenious how subtle design hints attribute themselves to planes and things that fly. Granted, most don’t make it a better writer but they don’t take away from it either and whether you’re a person that likes things that fly or not, the conversation fodder is unique.

Ergonomics

Grant took a little heat on the first design for being hard to hold for long periods of time. I didn’t get to sample the first pen but after working with him I know he took the input to heart and the refinements paid off in his latest offering. The Airfoil Click retains a lot of the coolness factor and aviation design elements but it’s a kinder feel to the web between our index finger and thumb. There is a lot more material between the tip and clip now. It’s rounded and smooth with a good balance for my conventional grip and larger hands.

The three ridges near the writing end give your fingers a good feel to position your grip without a lot of fumbling around or when picking up the pen in a dimly lit environment.

SectionConstruction and Quality

The Airfoil Click came to me with tight tolerances, a smooth finish without being slippery and a really smooth click mechanism. The knock will be familiar to many of us machined pen fans and that’s a good thing, no redesign needed of an established high end component.

Threads for the barrel are well cut and exceptionally smooth. The two sections of the body start easy every time with none of the annoying squeals or roughness of fresh cut threads in metal that can sometimes try too hard to match too tight.

Knock and ClipAll apartClip

The clip has good angles and curves with the right amount of spring tension. It tapers down thinner at the bottom to match the cut outs in the body so you can tell the cap was made for this pen and not just plucked from a parts bin. Nice touch.

The clip is ornamented with the company logo and the name airfoil in white print. Tastefully done.

Clip close upWriting

The team at Masterstroke has learned that pen people are particular about our refills. The Airfoil Click accepts a wide variety of the popular entries including:

  • Pilot G2
  • Uniball Signo 207
  • Mont Blanc
  • Schmidt Safety Ceramic Roller 888

I’m sure others in the G2 format fit as well. (Photo credits and property of Masterstroke)

Compatible refillsMy writer came with the Schmidt Safety Ceramic Roller 888. I’m a Schmidt fan but had never used the ceramic roller before. I was impressed with its smooth and consistent flow with no skips or missed starts. If you haven’t tried one add it to your want to try list.

Conclusion

Keep an eye out for this one on Kickstarter and at Masterstrokepens.com. I’m impressed Grant took a chance on his passionate design then continues to refine it based on customer feedback.

The Aviation theme is cool, any other themed design pens that pique your interest?

Remember: Write something nice……

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New Pen Blog Search Pennaquod.net

In my reviews I like to provide other perspectives from my pen blogging colleagues that have reviewed the same product. I think multiple perspectives add positively to our knowledge base. Google is my search engine of choice but as most of you have probably experienced I get a little bug eyed after reviewing the first 3 billion hits. To the rescue for the pen world is Ian over at Pens! Paper! Pencils! who has created a Google search engine portal that searches just pen blogs. Head on over to http://pennaquod.net and give it a try. Most of the major players are participating and I’ve already used it a couple of times with good success. Thanks Ian for all the effort in bringing Pennaquod to life.

Remember….Write Something Nice……

Kaweco Elite – Pen Review

Kaweco continues to impress me with their more traditional sized offerings. I love their SPORT line, of which I own several and I recently reviewed the Allrounder which was a great first experience with the full size line. The Elite is named appropriately as it sits near the top of the Kaweco Fountain pen food chain. My recent time with it left a big smile on my face so I present to you my experience with it.

The Pen:

openerKaweco Elite Fountain Pen

  • Acrylic Construction
  • Broad Steel Nib
  • High Gloss Black with a Chrome Cap
  • $150.00
  • 5.4” capped
  • 5.2” uncapped
  • 6.9” Posted
  • Weight 37.8g with ink

apartOverall Appearance

The Elite is my second full size Kaweco and I’m equally pleased with it. The octagonal barrel is turned from a solid block of acrylic that’s been hand polished to a high gloss black. The cap is chrome plated and gives a striking contrast to the black main body. The section is the same black lacquer acrylic and is tastefully separated from the barrel with a chrome ring.

The tail of the pen has some subtle but cool looking knurling that helps transition the end of the barrel from eight sided to a round profile. The top and the bottom of the pen are capped with the Kaweco button and branding is typical refined Kaweco printing on the cap.

Ergonomics

I like big pens so the Elite and I get along very well here at 5.2” uncapped and unposted. The bigger size is hidden well with a creatively engineered cap that sits very deep. Adding only .2” to the uncapped pen when it’s installed. The cap does post but it’s shallow and stretches the pen to almost 7” which is a bit cumbersome for my grip. The overall design of the pen makes it very comfortable for all but the largest of hands using it unposted.

The section is slightly concave allowing your fingers to rest comfortably without a lot of looking or feeling around if you carry a conventional grip. Cap threads are short and out of the way. The cap is round and sits as flush as could be expected with an eight sided barrel. The flush fit requires a small step down for the cap threads area on the barrel leading into the section. This may be designed for aesthetics purposes but it helps the threads disappear from your grip and feel when writing with the Elite

sectionConstruction and Quality

This is not an entry level pen and it shows. Level of finish and fitment are superb. I can’t see any micro scratches in the surface. The threads are well cut and the cap threads start immediately. Likewise for the section threads to separate the section from the barrel. Clip is tight, printing is consistent and aligned. Nothing to poke at here.

Cap

The cap is chrome plated with a beautiful mirror finish. Threads are an excellent match to their mate on the body of the pen. Printing is an attractive black script with Kaweco Elite Germany printed near the top. The cap is topped with a black acrylic top hat and the Kaweco signature crown button on the very top.

cap2Clip

The clip is well designed and just the right amount of curve for my taste to show a pleasing compliment to the aesthetics of the pen without taking away any functionality of the clip. Tension is good as are the entrance and exit ramps so attaching the Elite to clothing or folders just works.

capFilling System

The Elite uses international ink cartridges of which my test drive was performed with Kaweco’s excellent ink in this format. A converter is available at extra cost which I think should be included at this price range but that’s a minor nit pick.

Converter

At $3.00 from Jet Pens the standard Kaweco converter is a worthy add that is compatible with the Elite. It does not come included.

Nib

Kaweco calls the Elite’s nib their 250. It’s almost identical in size to a universal size #6. It’s well-proportioned for a bigger size pen. Tines were in good alignment right out of the box and Kaweco does a good job with tasteful ornamentation on the nib without it being gaudy or tacky.

nibWriting

The Elite is a smooth writer without being oil on glass slippery. You feel the paper and it’s a pleasant experience. I would consider the Elite a dry writer which I didn’t think I liked until I spent a little time with this one. I remain a wet nib kind of guy but I consciously reached for the Elite several times when I had to write out a quick note that I needed to dry quickly without worrying about a puddle of ink. Usually that would have been the duty of a gel or even a ghastly ballpoint but the Elite stepped right up to the task. The argument can be made that drier writers don’t let the shading of ink really stand out. For some, me included, that’s ok as I never grasp the allure of shading ink and the Elite lets the full color of the ink stand out wonderfully.

Cost and Value

At $150 the Elite would not be considered entry level. This is an odd price point where not a lot of popular pens reside. Maybe the Pilot Vanishing Point is the exception. The aesthetics and quality of the workmanship of the pen is there. I think Kaweco could throw in a converter at this level of coin but for the money you get a German quality pen that has some wow with is chrome cap and piano black lacquer finished body. A great writer with a great company standing behind it.

Conclusion

I like Kaweco’s traditional size pens. This is the second one I’ve spent time with and I was not disappointed. If I were shopping in the $150 range I would not hesitate to put the Elite in my top tier of final choices.

Other Reviews:

Do you have a favorite pen in this price range?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Grail Pens – I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours

opener I have read many articles and spent a substantial percentage of my discretionary income on grail products for my various hobbies over the years. Grail is defined as

  • 1. in medieval legend the cup or platter used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received Christ’s blood at the Cross. Quests for it undertaken by medieval knights are described in versions of the Arthurian legends written from the early 13th century onward.
  • 2. a thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after.

    I don’t really know what definition one means but I have frequently been consumed with definition number two. I guess a grail item could also be something with great sentimental value or for other reasons you would never part with it. There is also that sought after and pursued item that is the subject of this grail pen post.
  • I looked at several other dictionary versions and never saw any reference to monetary value. Now granted the nicer things are usually more expensive or they could be grail by definition of availability. That Esterbrook with a nib that is one of three ever produced I guess would qualify as grail. We all know that with any product supply and demand can drive price as much as, or maybe more than, raw material costs. The great marketing machine.

    My tenure with fountain pens had me searching for the answer to what makes a grail pen and how do I go about owning one. I’m not big on flashy and precious metals (ok maybe titanium) so diamond encrusted, bejeweled or no matter how limited the edition those never appealed to me. To build upon my research and maybe my frustrations as well I never found anyone that admitted or claimed that a $500 pen writes 10 times better than a $50 pen. A parallel to another hobby of mine is a $50 knife cuts my finger just as fast as a $500 knife. So I kept searching.

    My first try at grail was a Pelikan M200. A well respected common pen that cost an insane amount of money to me at the time. I was never impressed and sold it about a year later after in sat dormant for 8 months. Next up, with similar results, was a Sailor 1911 from a popular nibmeister. By all accounts and reputation a great pen but we just didn’t hit it off. It experienced a similar fate as my first Pelikan finding a new home. So I kept searching.

    My first success was an Edison 76. I read and heard much praise about Brian Gray and his Edison line so I took the plunge and searched through the dizzying array of material options and barrel styles to land on a custom 76 with no clip and engraved with my name. Not the smartest move for resale value but I wanted it to be mine. We hit it off right out of the box and this one rarely leaves my rotation. Not an expensive pen by some standards but I still have not found a dollar value attached to the grail. I found my grail and then wondered what was next. Can I have more than one grail pen? I certainly was not done looking and learning.

    edison 76

    Soon I gave Pelikan another try with an M1000. Then a Bronze Age Homo Sapien. Both throwing my previous insane amount of money for a pen definition out the window. They are nice pens and I have kept them but I go back to my 76 more and more. More pens followed and some left my roost just because they never got used. My second grail arrived about a year ago, a Bexley Poseidon Magnum II. I eyed the original Magnum but it was at a time when the money was too much of stretch so when the series II came out I kicked myself for missing the original and grabbed a series II. I have a few other Bexleys but this one really speaks to me and I’m not sure why. The Poseidon is a pretty pen but aesthetically speaking I have prettier pens. Only the 76 compares to the joy I experience writing with the Poseidon.

    Poseidon Magnum

    I bought both of the pens with my hard earned money. I own less expensive pens that I enjoy and more expensive pens that I enjoy but overall these are my favorites that I get the most enjoyment writing with. They fit my hand, they work with me, they wait for me and we dance the nib ink paper foxtrot perfectly together.

    The only lesson I will volunteer is don’t attach money to your quest for your grail pen. It may end up being your most expensive pen but it’s not the only criteria to really love a pen. I do wonder if my 76 and my Poseidon are truly my grail pens now that I own them. “a thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after”

    I would love to hear what your grail pen is and why. Do you already own it?

    Remember…..Write something nice….

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