Saturday, 28 January 2012

Review of my CoverUp Kindle cover

I wanted a leather (not PU) cover for my Kindle so that I could feel less stressed about taking it out and about. After a couple of false starts, I bought the Cover-Up Amazon Kindle 4 Leather Cover Case (Book Style) – Red
[Yes, there will be THE most hideous colour clash in my handbag if I move back to the pink baroque filofax, but let’s not go there… I’m using a black Cavendish filofax at the moment and my retina is surviving so far.]

CoverUp Kindle cover
So far I am happy with it. The Kindle slides in to the RHS (rather than being held in elastic straps at the corners) and there is also a small flap that tucks in at the top to hold the Kindle even more securely (although it’s quite a tight fit and I would be amazed if the Kindle could ever fall out without the flap). There are spaces around all the buttons and ports to allow easy access and the closure strap is on the LHS and so doesn’t interfere with the forward/reverse buttons on the RHS of the Kindle – something I hadn’t thought about until I read a few reviews.

The exterior is red leather and quite solid. The interior is lined with a self-striped fabric on the left and black leather on the right-hand side. The cover closes with a strap which has a magnetised press-stud and on the front there is the brand name embossed quite subtly in the leather. All the stitching is in a contrast cream colour (which is okay but not my preference – I would have preferred that it matched) and the whole cover seems very well made.

Strap closure on LHS so doesn't interfere with the buttons
And how am I getting on with the Kindle? I’ve already posted about it and haven’t much to add except that I am really enjoying being able to download free samples of books, allowing me to read a reasonable amount before choosing to buy (or not) and I am also loving downloading small things – like an introduction to a topic. These are usually free or just pence and I would never have bought them as small pamphlets and carried them around on the off-chance that I would have 5-10 minutes to look at them, but of course, that’s easy-peasy to do with the Kindle.
Being able to set the font size, style and spacing is also proving a delight as I have found a setting which is easy on the eye. In some of the (real) books I have, the font is quite small or the line-spacing quite tight and it has not been a pleasure to read these books. Weighty classics are often the worst offenders so it has been a boon to be able to get most of them for free/pence and be sure that I will be comfortable reading them.

All in all:
I’m glad I bought both this Kindle cover and the Kindle itself. I won’t be abandoning real books, but I am loving being able to read both weighty classics at a decent font size and little ‘quick and snappy’ things that I wouldn’t otherwise have ever read.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review of Ciak A5 DPP diary

[click on the pictures for an enlarged version]
I have bought Ciak diaries for the last few years. I buy the A5, day to page version and so far have always bought them with a red cover.
They were described on The Journal Shop site as having a leather cover, but the Ciak site (English version) says:

The daily diary is 15x21 cm with a day per page, it has 208 sheets (416 pages) and it is printed in one colour on recycled ivory paper 70 gms.. The languages printed are English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. The daily diary Ciak has a printed address book at the end of the book. The cover is in man-made leather, with a patented elastic horizontal closure in black colour and it is packed in a shrink wrap. The original Ciak has its logo embossed on the spine of the book.

I checked with The Journal Shop and they said that it was in fact bonded leather - very small pieces of leather bound together, but leather nonetheless.

The layout of the diary is as follows:
As usual, around the outside is an elastic band which is useful for holding a pen against the edge of the book. There is also a ribbon (which usually frays unless you tie a knot in the bottom of it).

Diary with elastic closure holding my biro and knotted page marker
Inside, the first page has a title space:

Then a page for personal information (in English and Italian). After that is a full calendar for 2012 on the LHS and 2013 on the RHS, followed by a month per page which includes holidays. Unfortunately, on common holiday days, this information completely fills the square for the day, so you’d better not plan to do anything then.

better not have any plans for Jan 1st...
After that is a world map with time zones across a double-spread, then international dialling codes (although not all countries as Malawi isn’t there). Then comes a series of pages on weights/measures and their conversions, international sizes, world temperatures and then the diary. At the end of the book there are 6 pages of graph paper (2.5mm x 2.5mm squares), 6 pages of notes, then 7 pages of address pages. The notes pages and the diary pages are feint ruled at 7.5mm. The paper is described thus: contains recycled post-consumer waste and FSC fibers. It is  produced with pH Neutral ECF fibers and it is Acid-Free.
[American spelling and Odd Capitalisation are from Ciak]

The diary is page per day (with none of the irritating sharing of weekends going on you get in other diaries), with the day and month in a variety of languages across the two pages.

biro showing through on LHS.
I have to say, after several years of buying these, that I have been disappointed with the quality of the diary in the last couple of years. The paper at 70 gms is too thin.  You can see in the picture above that the entry for the 19th has shown through to the 20th and I’m only writing in biro! Even Filofax paper isn’t that poor.

In comparison, the notebooks from Ciak (same size) have 100 gms paper, which holds fountain pen beautifully. The first diary I bought from Ciak had the same quality paper and I wish they hadn’t changed. It’s actually so poor now that if it is the same for 2013 I will buy another brand.

All in all:
It’s archival quality paper, but otherwise quite poor quality. Unless it improves I will spend my money elsewhere.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Tweaks to the filofax set-up

Hmm.. I have that feeling that my filofax set-up is not quite right, but I think I know why and since an ice-rink-like pavement has scuppered my plans for a run this morning I suddenly have a load of time I could use in trying to fix it!
What I think is the problem is the month to view, which I added to what had been a good set-up as a way of making my planning ahead easier than flicking through loads of pages of my filofax. But, I have almost missed some important things because I was only looking at the month to view and they weren’t in there. If I had flicked through the four pages of week to view instead of stared at the (evidently not detailed enough) month to view, I would have been fine.
The problem is ‘granularity’. What size of thing goes into the month to view? At the moment, only birthdays and holidays are marked, but then other things obviously needed logging too. The week to view logs pretty much everything. Maybe not fine detail of work because my work filofax does that. But pretty much everything else is in the week to view diary. That of course leaves it too cluttered to use it to plan the day, which is why I use a day per page diary too.
I think I will take out the month to view and chalk it up to experience.

Why else is my filofax irritating me?

It’s the paper.

No, I’m not about to rant (again) about the totally rubbish quality of the filofax paper. This is something entirely my own fault and a natural (but nonetheless annoying) clash of two of my character flaws attributes:
1) I hate waste
2) I have OCD-tendencies.

So, how are these clashing???

Because I am using a heap of paper in my ‘capture/notes’ section, to use it up (because I hate waste) but none of it matches (making my OCD-tendencies begin to squeal) – some of it is graph, some lined, some lined but by a different maker, some of it is old diary sheets turned upside down… you get the picture. Over time I have acquired a heap of such paper and so have a massive box of it to get through before buying new (matching) paper. It’s in the capture/notes section because it’s largely used for scrap – jotting down something in a hurry then transcribing it to a nice bit of paper, filed properly later, and my thriftiness thinks that using ‘proper paper’ for this when I have a box full of other paper is just wasteful. But, the section is right at the front of my filofax and grates on me every time I open it to jot something down.
What I might try though is to just use one type of scrap paper at a time, even if that means there’s only one or two sheets in there, until that particular ‘stock’ is used up, then move to the next one. I can’t imagine that I would need more than a single sheet in a day and I can always replenish when I get home. The fact that they don’t match the rest of my filofax isn’t so horrendous…

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Kindle has landed

Thank you for all the enabling positive comments while I was umming and awing over whether to get a Kindle! I went ahead and got one and it arrived on Monday.

So far, so good.

Good Points:
1. Size and weight
I got it because I have arthritis in my thumbs and holding a heavy book makes them ache like billy-o. I also wanted to be able to carry a number of things on a long journey without making my bag too heavy (my filofax, weighing in at 650g is taking care of that job…). At 170g (currently without a cover but more on that in a moment…) it is certainly lighter than almost any paperback I have on my shelves and doesn’t make my thumbs ache. As it doesn’t have a cover yet, I haven’t carried it around in my bag but even with a cover I doubt it will be as heavy as some of the paperbacks I have.

2. Being able to change the text size, font and spacing
What I am really enjoying at the moment, is downloading lots of freebie non-fiction books and flicking through them. By being able to fiddle with the settings and change the text size, font style and line spacing, I’ve found a combination such that I can speed-read much more easily than I would be able to on paper.

3. Cheap Classics
As well as freebie (or very cheap) non-fiction things, I’m enjoying being able to get many of the classics I’ve wanted to read, free, or for very little. Before I bought the Kindle, when I was still justifying getting one (as I have shelves of unread books), I made a small promise to myself to read big books and cheap classics on my Kindle – big books because of the arthritis issue, and cheap classics to justify the outlay (since it would cost a lot of money to buy the classics in paperback, but a fraction of that to get them as e-books, hence saving me at least £89!). At the moment I am reading Little Dorrit, which, if I bought it as a paperback would have >850 pages, so it’s covering both of those! I’ve downloaded a number of classics to it already, all of which were free or less than £1. As long as I do actually read them, I will have ‘paid back’ some of the investment.

Bad Points:
1. It’s not a book
I do love a proper book and although I’m enjoying using my Kindle, I’m not enjoying it the way I would if I were reading a real book where I can leaf back through to remind myself about a character or plot development etc. I think that will take a bit of getting used to. Maybe my memory will need to sharpen up since I can’t rely on being able to easily flick through a book.

2. Cover angst
I’ve bought two covers so far and both have gone back. The first was supposed to be a leather one but when it arrived, it was patently not, nor was it even the same design! The return of that has been extremely straightforward though. Then I ordered a second one which arrived this morning and although it is lovely, the front cover has a big crease in the leather, like the cover has been folded. So that’s going back too, but I will ask for a straight replacement since this one is leather, and fabric lined, not lined with synthetic leather (the smell of which is horrible to me). It’s been hard enough to read and not have either the feel or smell of the paper to enjoy, never mind having the smell and feel of synthetic leather putting me off. Hopefully a replacement cover will arrive soon and I can take the Kindle out and about.

3. Fretting
I know – this sounds like a weird one. But, if I drop a paperback, or it slides off my bed onto the floor because I fell asleep reading it, well, it’s a paperback and easily replaced (and probably not greatly damaged anyway). But if I drop my Kindle… well it’s another £89 if I break it. I’m hoping that with a cover on it I’ll feel less stressed about it getting damaged, but already I’ve almost put my laptop down on it because I didn’t really see it!

4. Time
I am now somewhat addicted to scanning through all the free classics that I’ve not read (and sometimes not heard of) disappearing down the rabbit-hole of ‘other people who bought this…’ then reading reviews and delighting in clicking on ‘buy now’ (when buy is a misnomer as they are free) then watching them download on to my Kindle. I realise I am now doing with my Kindle what I have always done with paperbacks – purchase/obtain more than I will read in a year. Time to turn the Wi Fi on my Kindle off and start actually reading!

All in all
I’m glad I bought it!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Paper, Pens and Ink is One today!

Well, a year ago I would never have predicted that my blog would even still be alive and kicking, never mind getting as many visitors as it does. This time last year, my first post felt like a lone voice, crying in the wilderness, wondering if I was the only one out there who felt like this…

Well, I am most glad that I am not! And to celebrate my year of blogging, here are five top fives about it:

The five top reasons I’m glad I started this blog:
First and foremost the fabulous community of like-minded people I have met through this blog (and through following others). I am in regular email contact with a number of people I wouldn’t have otherwise known and the support from them and from others is tremendous. Thank you!
2nd The realisation that actually, I’m not alone in my weird love of paper, pens and ink (and filofaxes).
3rd The fact that the blog makes me write something regularly. All too often I can get insular and start to wall myself in and writing the blog makes me look outside (and of course, any replies make me realise that someone is looking back).
4th The exchange of ideas and advice. Many of you have helped me with issues and offered some great solutions to things. Thank you!
5th Following the links to other sites that people leave (and disappearing down the wormhole of blog-land!)

And now for some numbers…

The five most popular posts in the last year were:
1st Book-o-fax – a staggering 1142 hits. This one surprised me. Not in so much as it was the top but that it had almost 50% more hits than the next most popular.
2nd Jade Finchley Goes to Work – 838 hits
3rd Personal or Pocket – 619 hits
4th The Writing Filofax – 558 hits
In general, the highest hit counts were on posts about how to use a filofax in different ways. I think that most of the traffic was thanks to being mentioned on the Web finds on Philofaxy! Thanks Philofaxy!

Five posts most commented on:
1st  Still no Finchley in Purple (the one that wasn’t to be) – 15 comments
2nd Another Filofax is on its way (except it wasn’t!) – 13 comments
3rd Traitorous thoughts – 12 comments
=4th New Filofax and Top Tabs – 11 comments
=4th Book-o-fax – 11 comments
=5th Turquoise Baroque is here – 10 comments
I find it interesting that the posts that were read the most don’t really overlap with the posts most commented on!

Top five referring sites:
1st Philofaxy (but of course!)
4th Stumbleupon

Top five countries reading:
These surprised me. Well, not that the US and the UK were first and second, but that Germany and Australia were so high. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect so many readers from there… Of course, the German traffic could be due to Filomaniac. Anyway, the scores on the doors are:

1st US (8095 hits)
2nd UK (7639 hits)
3rd Germany (1975 hits)
4th Australia (913 hits)
5th Ireland (887 hits)

Anyway, a big thank you to everyone who has read the blog and supported me over the last year. If it wasn’t for all of you, this would have withered on the vine.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Traitorous thoughts

I am passionate about books, paper, stationery… I am the kind of woman who whilst looking through a glossy magazine will get utterly distracted by the notebook on the desk in the photographs and wonder where it’s from, missing the point that the article is about a fabulous loft-conversion.
I have a drawer full of notebooks. I love to write by hand, using fountain pens and high quality paper. I adore books – I own far too many and relish the sight of their serried rows in a room I (genuinely!) call The Library.
So why am I thinking about getting a Kindle? Those who know me have heard me say that I didn’t think I would ever go for an eBook in comparison with holding The Real Thing in my hand. But, for the last few days, not only have I been reading about the relative virtues of the different eReaders, but I have been cruising the Kindle store, noting down books I could get, deciding which cover I might buy and looking forward to ordering it all (just waiting, in the slim hope they will be reduced in the January sales).

I am a traitor.

Well, I might be a traitor but I am also a reader who already has arthritis in her thumbs, a point which has been driven home to me this week as I have been reading a paperback that weighs 500g! Which has led me towards wondering whether when it comes to some of the mightier tomes, an eReader would be more manageable. Also, when I am travelling, it would be lighter to take with me than the several books I would normally pack.

Buying an eReader wouldn’t make me replace the books I have, nor prevent me from buying more, but then, who said it had to be either/or? After all, possessing a laptop has not stopped me in any way from handwriting anything.

Comments? Advice?