Category Archives: review

Make Watching Your Digital Movies Easier

If you are like me you are stuck between in two worlds.  The physical world and the coming digital age.  I’m not speaking metaphorically.  I’m talking about my movie collection.

I want to share with you about a couple of resources I have come across recently that have helped me step into the future of managing my movie collection.  Over the course of the last decade, I have spent money on most of the major e-commerce platforms purchasing movies and music.  I have half of my purchased music collection in iTunes and half on Google Play.  I can’t help with the music today, but I have a killer solution for your movies.  It is Movies Anywhere and it is amazing.

Movies Anywhere is available on the web and both mobile platforms – iOS (Apple/iPhone) and Android (Google).  It is a place where all of your movie purchases from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Vudu all live together!  One app that syncs all those purchases you made years ago that you forgot about – in one place.  It is amazing.  No ads, no mess.  Just your movies.  It takes about a minute to get your accounts synced up and it is done.   Finally all of those Disney movies you have purchased with the digital code in the box that you never knew what to do with – now has a place to live.

And if you need help filling out your digital movie collection then I have another resource for you.  I don’t buy a ton of movies, but when I do, I want to spend as little as possible.   I came across JustWatch a couple of weeks ago.  It is a website that compares the various digital platforms and helps you see the best place to purchase or rent them.  Pair that with the Movies Anywhere app and you don’t have to have tons of random apps floating around your phone just so you can watch the videos you have purchased.

Fountain Pen Ink – Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot

What is Astorquiza Rot?  I don’t know…ok, I didn’t know.  I googled it.  According to the Pen Addict review, “Astorquiza Rot is named after Claudia Astorquiza who introduced Robert Oster inks internationally. “Rot” is German for red (I feel really dumb that I didn’t know that).”  I would encourage you to check out their fantastic review for a more in-depth review of the ink.  This was my first experience using a Robert Oster ink which I was excited to try.  Having heard the name and the meteoric rise in the last few years of the brand I wanted to get my hands on their products.  I picked up a handful samples of Robert Oster inks from Goulet Pens and can’t wait to try them out.

Using my usual set up (left-handed on a standard paper notebook) I have been using this ink for a couple of weeks.  I love the color.  It is a rich and deep red that is almost a blood red to my eyes.  Using a TWSBI Eco with an Extra Fine nib it is a quick drying ink that doesn’t feather noticeably.  It looks great without looking like it belongs in a Crayola crayon box.  It seems like a more refined red which has its place just like my much loved Sheaffer Skrip Red.   In summation – I really enjoy this ink and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on all the other Oster inks soon.

Google Pixel 2 – My Experience

In October I was due for a cell phone upgrade and after some research, I settled on the Google Pixel 2.  Using it every day for the last two months I have some observations.  I really like this phone.  It is the best phone that I have had ever, but it should be.  It isn’t perfect, but it is very good.  The Pixel 2 had the best features available for this price point (around $650).  Below are the aspects that bring me the most joy and frustration:

  • Camera – This camera is amazing.  Seriously.  It is so much better than anything I have ever used before.  It doesn’t have a ton of control options which is good because I would just screw those up.  I just take the picture and Google’s magic makes it looks great.  If you don’t want to learn how to take great photos, but want to have amazing photos – get this phone.
  • Phone Size – I had hoped that this would enable me to go back to using a phone with one hand, it has not.  For me, the phone feels a little too big to use comfortably one-handed.  I do LOVE that I can put it in my pocket and I can forget it is there!  It is nice having a phone that doesn’t take up so much space in my life.
  • Squeeze to Activate Google Assistant – I have enjoyed this feature, but it hasn’t been a game changer.  It is nice not having to yell, “Ok Google.”  But it still seems like I can only get a successful interaction about 80%, which is better than anything I have had with Siri, but not enough to make me it a go-to option.
  • 5 Inch Screen – Having come from the Nexus 6p which had a 5.7-inch screen, I was concerned about the smaller Pixel 2 screen size.  The older I get and worst my vision gets the more I want to have the luxury of the larger screen.  It hasn’t ruined my experience, but it is one of thing first things that I think about when reflecting on this phone.  Apart from the size, this is a good looking screen.  Google has offered some more options for ramping up the color saturation so some of the early complaints you will find in initial reviews aren’t an issue at this point.
  • Headphone Jack – At this point, if you are reading this you should know that it doesn’t have a headphone jack.  I get it.  It is terrible that it doesn’t have it.  You only notice it when you need it…which is ironically when you need it.  The adapters are cheap enough, but the fact that they don’t include some cheap USB-C headphones is frustrating.  I would suggest you order 2 or 3 extra adapters when you order your phone and have them already attached to connectors you need in your life (car, favorite headphones, office, etc).
  • Operating System & Apps – Android is a fun OS and most of your favorite apps are available on Google Play.  But “most” isn’t “all.”  Some of the more trendy productivity apps are iPhone exclusive and don’t seem to be moving to Google/Android anytime soon.

Fountain Pen Ink – Noodler’s Georgia Peach

I came across Noodler’s Georgia Peach when looking on JetPens.com Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Inks, page an essential resource for us lefthanded writers.  Having lived in Georgia for my entire life I was immediately drawn to the name.  The color is fantastic.  It is a solid pinkish color, but it readable which is a problem with some colors like this. 

Almost all of my writing is done in my Muji Notebook which is my every day carry and cheap copy paper.  I was using a Lamy Safari with a fine nib.  The drying time wasn’t as quick as I had hoped it would be, but it wasn’t unusable.  It is just really dicey as a lefty side-writer.  Overall I would recommend this to a righty, but for those of us left-handers, I think this is a pass.

Pen Review: Retro 51 Tornado Slim

I have been hearing about Retro 51 pens now for over a year on the Pen Addict podcast. Myke, one of the host, is always raving about his love for Retro 51 Tornado pens. About a week ago I finally decided to order one – Tornado Slim Electron.

It uses the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 black ink which is kind of a mix of rollerball and ballpoint pen ink (you can learn more about it here – a great blog post about the ink).  And I will say that it is a wonderful pen.  The turning mechanism to get the pen ready to write is tactilely fantastic.  The ink is smooth and dark, but dries quickly and writes on just about any surface.

My only issue with the pen is, do I really need a $25 rollerball pen?  At the end of the day, that is what this decision comes down to.  I really love this pen.  It is an A+ pen.  It isn’t a question of IF it is a better writing experience than the pens anyone will pick up at Office Depot.  And yes that even includes my beloved Energel!  It is a question of, “Am I someone who needs a $25 rollerball pen?”  If you can afford one, by all means, get one.  It is really a dream to write with.  But if you can’t, don’t feel like you are cheating yourself.  It is more an issue of do I need and will use this pen enough to purchase a $25 rollerball pen.

My Favorite: Pen (you can get at your favorite Office Supply Store)

Listen, I get it.  You have been waiting for me to write this.  I have had countless friends, Tom, Jack, David, and others, hounding me wanting to know what I think the best inexpensive pen you can buy from most office supply stores.  So I’m going to tell you.

The best you can get!

The Pentel Energel Needle Tip in .5 is my go-to pen.  It is cheap enough so I don’t mind giving them away or losing one, but a great writer on any paper.  Surprise, surprise my favorite feature is the almost instant drying time. #leftyproblems  But it isn’t just how fast it drys.  Pentel’s blue ink is one of the most vibrant I have seen (apart from some Fountain Pen inks, I’m looking at you Noodlers Baystate Blue!).  I have been pleased with all of the colors I have used, Black, Blue, Red, and Green.  Although I have seen some bleed through on the green with some types of paper.  Pentel gives you plenty of options in style, pen tip (Classic or Needle tip), and width of the line (from .38 to 1.0).   You can learn more than you care to know about them at a great blog post at JetPens.

I would also add an honorable mention to the Uni-Ball Signo RT1 .38 for my favorite micro gel pen.  You can’t get this style in stores in the U.S. (sorry Tennessee).  I discovered both of these and more from Brad’s Pen Addict list of Top 5 Pens.  It is really the place to go if you want to start exploring some other options.  The Signo RT1 gives an incredibly thin line (I write small!) and looks stylish and distinct.

So to recap.  Throw out your terrible Pilot G2.  I know they are everywhere but so is trash and I don’t see you picking that up and writing with it!  Spend $5 on a 3 pack of the Energel pens.  If you don’t love them, mail them to me!  I will gladly use them.

Fountain Pen Ink – Sheaffer Skrip Red

Sheaffer Skrip Red or Sheaffer Red is an ink I heard about from the Pen Addict Podcast when they had Mike Matteson from Inkdependance.  He is an established and thorough ink reviewer.  He knows his stuff. On the podcast, he was asked what his favorite Red ink is and he said Sheaffer Skrip Red.  It is a little surprising considering how many varieties of red inks their are to settle on a relatively commonplace ink.

Sheaffer Skrip Red in Lamy Safari

I got a sample from Goulet Pens and put it in my Lamy Safari with a Fine nib. I have to agree with Mike, this is a great color.  It is vibrant without being so “red,” that you can’t use it in day to day use. It is just a fantastic color.  The drying time is a little bit of an issue. Being a lefty stinks when it comes to most inks.  That isn’t Sheaffer Red’s problem, probably more of my writing style.
I would absolutely recommend it.  Again, go check out Mike’s post about it to get a fuller idea about what it looks like and how it handles on different types of paper.

Fountain Pen Ink – J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche

When I got my first TWSBI Eco (Extra Fine) I decided that I needed to have a real bottle of ink to have a real experience of “fountain penning.”  After looking around JetPens for a while, I settled on the J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche.  It wasn’t because I loved the color. The truth is it was because I didn’t want to spend $10+ on an ink that I would probably never finish using!  I’m a little bit of cheapskate.  I settled on the smaller bottle and got to writing.

On the website the color didn’t blow me away, but it had a fast drying time which is my top priority as a lefty writer.  I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by the color.  It isn’t washed out like the swab on the JetPen’s website led me to believe.  It is a solid and consistent turquoise blue.  It handles great on my go-to notebook (Muji Notebook) and on copy paper without much feathering or show-through on the other side of the page.  Here is a great review from Matt at the PenHabit.  He is extremely thorough and gives you tons of visual samples of the ink on paper.  If you are looking for a solid ink that is economic and will work on just about any paper I can’t say enough good things about the Bleu Pervenche.

Fountain Pen Ink – Diamine Orange

Let me begin by saying that my habit for pens has gotten worse.  After listening to and dabbing in some cheaper fountain pens, I took the plunge into the lower end the fountain pen world.  Specifically, I got couple of TWSBI Ecos (Extra Fine) and a Lamy Safari (Fine).  I’m a lefty and primarily use a “Side-writer” position for writing.  So I am prone to smearing and smudging naturally.  Almost all of my writing is done in my Muji Notebook which is my everyday carry and cheap copy paper.  The Muji Notebook is a recycled paper so I’m sure that has some bearing on my results with various pens and inks.

Awesome color…terrible drying time.

I recently got some new ink samples from Goulet Pens to see what fit my writing style and fancy.  So I’m going to take some time and let you know what I have thought about those inks.  I’m not a professional anything and surely not a professional ink reviewer.  I recommend Matt at Inkdependence if you want great reviews.  But I’ll sure what I experience.

First up is Diamine Orange.  What a great shade of orange and what a mess when it comes to drying time!  I recently inked up my Twsbi Eco Extra Fine and was stoked to see how this orange ink looked.  I was immediately impressed.  It is a great shade of “orangey” orange.  But using it has proved to be disappointing.  My disappointment is all about the drying time.  Jetpen’s great post on Fast Drying Fountain Pen Inks warned me about their slow drying time, but I tried it anyway and got results that corroborated their evidence.  It handles the paper well, no feathering that I can see, but it drys slowly (10-15 seconds) which is a deal breaker for me.  Here is the best qualified review I have found for it so maybe that will help you if you are thinking about it.

 

The Quest for Productivity: Part II

It has been a couple of since I began The Quest for Productivity!  Since then, I have tried out two productivity systems. I settled on two systems to test drive and really invest some time in:  Doit.im & Todoist.

You can read great reviews about them here:

Doit.im Review (Appstorm)

Todoist Review (Appstorm)

 

My requirements were (and still are):

  • Great interface (fun and easy to use)
  • Mobile Apps that aren’t gimped versions of main app
  • Affordable
  • Multi-platform (iOS, Android, Mac, and web)
  • Not build just for teams

Doit.im:

I very much like fact that Doit.im is unapologetic about it’s GTD (Getting Things Done) integration. If it is in the book by David Allen, then you can do it with this app. The interface is VERY similar to Things (by Cultured Code) if you have worked with that on the Mac platform. It looks great and has plenty of features and is reasonably priced (for only $20 you get all the features available). My frustration came in not the app, but in GTD, which it is build on. GTD has about two extra steps that I don’t find as helpful as some people might. I don’t need to have every action be location based and I am not as concerned with the priority of something.  If I put it on my to-do list, then it is a priority.

Todoist:

Todoist has a sub-par name, but is a great system. It can be a simple to-do list or a more full featured system for just about anyone. It has all the usual features of quality offerings and delivers them in a helpful and simple set up.  One of my complaints, is that you don’t have access to make notes for an individual task or item without being a Premium subscriber.  But that is still only $29 for a year which is worth it. And they offer a free month trial after you set up your account.

 

Verdict:

I have settled on Todoist. It helps me get task out of my head and onto my list. It isn’t too much to deal with when I am in a rush, but it allows me plenty of options to get it in the right place in my life.