Sunday 17 September 2023


 So a few weeks back I picked up a TWSBI Echo from my local pen shop just to try something new.

I've been collecting pens for a while but for the most part I've been picking up two specific types of pens that are released in different color each year. While it makes for a nice looking display it's also something that doesn't really give a lot of verity in the way that those pens write. I've been thinking of picking up some different pends from other companies and the Eco is one of the first that I've grabbed aside from really inexpensive ones that I have played with.

The pen itself is a piston filled deal, so no ink cartridges to have to track, but you then are having to look into keeping bottles of ink around so that you can fill the thing up. The pen itself isn't that much bigger than the Safari that I usually have inked, but it is a little wider and thicker all the way around - not taller though. 

Writing was smooth, and after writing with it for a day I actually liked the feel of the pen enough to go pick up a second one so that I have a matched set for use in my bag, there is a bit of variance with the way each one writes - the orange pen is a touch dryer than the blue. That may come down to differences in how the specific inks flow in those specific pens or just the variance in the manufacturing of the pens. 

Either way, I'm quite happy with these for now, but I'll be keeping eyes out for other pens that might be worth adding into the collection. 

Thursday 24 August 2023

Something new added to the collection.

I've been collecting pens for many years now, mostly Lamy Safari and All-Star pens since I have a bit of a fondness for those specific pens after purchasing my first one many many years ago.

Today I grabbed something a little bit different. A Twsbi Eco. 

As much as I do like the Lamy pens I've been having a bit of a urge to try something different, and while there are a lot of options I tend to prefer things that are a little more chunky since my hands are north of meat hooks in a lot of respects. 

So far the pen is handling well, we will see how well it breaks in as I get more time in with it, but so far feels good. 

Saturday 19 August 2023

Thoughts on what hardware is "best'.

One thing that I'm asked from time to time when people are looking to purchase something is what piece of technology/equipment is "best.

Unfortunately the answer for that is not always clear. 

Sometimes there are cases where a specific piece of hardware is built much better than another, however even in a case where there is a huge difference in the quality of one device over another that would not make the more expensive product the best one for the person who's using it. 

Cameras are a good example of this. Regardless of how good the technology is a camera phone is always going to have shortcomings that a DSLR or other camera with a larger sensor and better quality lens would be able to overcome. However, most people are not wanting to be running around with a massive digital camera in their bag everywhere they go. As far as cameras go the best camera is the one that you have in your hand and will actually use.

That makes the cellphone cameras that most people are running around with in their pocket the best camera out there since it's the one that they will actually use.

As far as computers go you should be looking at what you need the computer to do and how you are going to be using it before you make a decision on what you are going to purchase. In  a lot of cases the software that you need to run is going to dictate a lot about what you are looking to purchase. If your software requires CUDA cores or some other hardware specific piece of technology purchasing a computer without that requirement is going to ensure that you have a bad time.

The biggest constraint that a lot of us are going to run into is our budget.  Not everybody has an unlimited budget, if we did this entire post would be moot as you would just go out and pick up the fastest of everything that was available. This is however the real world and not all of us have 10k to drop on a system.

The other thing that I would get most people to think about is if you need to be looking at a laptop, or if you are looking at a desktop system.

While I personally prefer a desktop system for my personal device work almost requires that I have a laptop to work from since I need to be mobile fairly often. For personal stuff that's not as much of a concern. Sticking with a desktop system is generally going to be a better value for performance and far easier to repair in the event that something goes wrong with the device. 

Afterall, if you break the display in some laptops you may as well go get a new one for what it's going to cost to replace the laptop display. My desktop display goes wrong I just go pick something up from the store to replace it, possibly something better than what was in place.

At the end of the day the decision about what hardware is best is going to boil down to your satisfaction with the device you wind up with. Everybody is going to have their own opinion but as long as you are happy with whatever device you wind up working on, and you fell that the price you paid was fair that's all that matters in the end doesn't it? 

Friday 18 August 2023

Ok so that didn't last long.

 Well the macOS machine was sent back earlier this week.

Nothing wrong with the machine as such but after setting things up and working with it for a while I just didn't get the same feeling that I have had with other machines that I have put in place. In the end the killer for the deal was that I kept having to go back to the desktop machine a lot for anything that I was trying to do. 

I'll bee keeping eyes open to see if there's something else that catches my eyes, but given what I can build good desktop machines for I don't know how much value there is in getting a laptop that's just going to restrict what I can do and that can't be upgraded over time. 

Saturday 12 August 2023

Gasp! I bought a MAC. Should I feel dirty?

 Well for the first time in my life I've actually gone out and purchased a laptop for myself. 

I've had work related hardware for most of my working career so I've never really had a huge reason to have a laptop that I personally own. However in the last little while it's started to become less convenient to not have access to some of my personal information while away from my desk. 

I know, I could toss it on the work machine but I really don't like mixing work and personal stuff together.


After a lot of thinking things through I wound up picking up a M2 MacBook Air for a personal device. 

The primary driver for this was the integration of Apple's different products, the way that devices can hand off tasks between the Phone, Laptop, and even Watch is so very slick.  One good example of this is that if I need directions I can start looking them up on the laptop in Apple Maps, and then when I jump in the car those locations are going to be ready and waiting for me in the car.

I'm sure that this can be done on the Windows side of things but it takes a lot more legwork to get there and I'm finding that my patience for fiddling around with things isn't where I'm wanting to invest my time. Apple's stuff so far is just working right out of the box.

From a hardware standpoint the build quality of the Apple's devices is generally good - I've had a number of Macbooks over the years through work and while they aren't perfect they are as well built as any of the comparable offerings from other Vendors. I'm also really looking forward to playing around with the M2 chip in this thing. We have a number of M1 and M2 devices in the office and they are consistently punching harder than they should based on the configuration of the device. 

Either way, time to play with this thing.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Social Media.....

I'm not a huge fan of social networking, blogging, and other types of over-sharing that permeates the internet for a number of reasons, the least of them being the lack of control that I have with the data that is provided to these platforms once it's handed over. Given the recent information coming up about Cambridge Anyalitica and how it's been using data that was handed over from Facebook only deepens that distrust.

The question that we should all be asking is how Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media platform is making money, since that's pretty much the entire point of any company that exists and I'm reasonably sure that the folks running Facebook are not going without some type of paycheck.

While Facebook does sell adds that's really not the product that they are selling - the product that they are selling is access to you and access to the information about you.

If you think about it between the mobile device in your pocket and your computer Facebook, and other social platforms can get access to information about;

  • Your educational information.
  • Your contact information
  • Your address
  • Your marital status.
  • A list of your friends, family, children and how they are related to you.
  • Your activities, products, and things that you are interested in.
  • What links you click on in your news feed.
  • Your physical location, and by extension of that where you are visiting.
When you look at this information on a single person it's interesting, but when you get hundreds or thousands of folks that you can track this type of information on it makes it really easy for Facebook or others to fire off adds that are scarily relevant to things that you are actually interested in. Where this gets really interesting is when you start mining this data to look for ways to try to influence that group of people. And this is where things start getting really kind of creepy.

As stated earlier Facebook is a company, but that company is a group of people trying to run things in a way to put money in their pockets. I would fully expect the data that I provide to Facebook to be used to do things that would make more money for them, and that's something that I accept as part and parcel of my use of their services.

Now where I start to have problems with this is when that data is handed off to a third party group without any way of me knowing who those people are or what they intend to use that data for. Realistically that data is the one thing that Facebook, or any other social platform, has that is of any value so thinking that they not be selling that information out to others or that only Facebook is the one doing this is a pretty silly point of view.

So while I have a problem with data about me or that I provide to a social media company being provided to third parties for "undisclosed" purposes I don't have any say in that matter once I thin the post button to provide that information to the public. This has led me to be rather cautious about what information I'm putting on any social media platform - including this one.

To be completely honest I would rather leave the whole social media thing entirely, however that's not practical for a number of reasons.

First of all if I don't maintain a profile on Facebook, or other sites like it, there is a chance that someone else might jump on there pretending to be me. While that's something that most people who know me would probably catch on there are a lot of people that don't know me well enough for me to be 100% sure that an imposer wouldn't be doing damage to my reputation (such as it is).

Secondly there are still some people that I don't talk to outside of the occasional comment on social media. And while I would love to move everybody over to something that's able to provide me with a secure way to communicate with others that's easier said than done. Between the different platforms that people us, and differing levels of technical ability it's not as simple as just telling someone to install What's App, Signal, or whatever the flavor of the month is for "secure" and "encrypted" communication between two people is.

The only good thing going on right now is that the current amount of coverage that we are seeing on this right now, and the attention that it's getting from lawmakers in a couple of different countries might help to get some more teeth into the controls around what these companies can do with our personal information. However, as long as this information exists it's going to have value and regardless of the teeth in place and the penalties for misuse of that data someone will eventually risk getting caught if the price is high enough.

The only way that we can get control over this is to understand the value of the data that we are providing and not allowing any one platform to go in and become so dominant that we can't survive without it.

Now if you will excuse me I'm going to go get some email addresses that I should have asked for several years back.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

A tale of headpones.

This is a tale of a couple of pairs of headphones, and some interesting outcomes based on a couple of purchases that I have made.

First off, let me be very clear, I'm not an audiophile. For a pair of headphones to sound bad to me they probably are going to rate as god awful for anybody who claims that title, so this is not so much about audio quality as much as it is about the construction of the things.

That being said I found myself needing a new pair of headphones a while back and after sniffing around online I settled on a set of headphones from Status Audio, specifically the HD One's. The claim here is that Status Audio works on a direct to consumer model and that by cutting out all the middlemen and marketing crap that they deliver headphones comparable to other much more expensive brands.

Seems legit.

The price was good and I thought that since they have a 30 day statisfaction garuntee I'd give them a try and tossed out an order for them and waited for delivery. When they arrived I pulled them out of the box, gave them a go, and they sounded fine. Given the coupons that I got and the free shipping (since they messed up on the shipping) the price came in around the 50$ mark. And that's where the problem came in.

While the headphones where good and sounded fine they really didn't have the build quality that I was hoping for. They where in fact very similar to some other headphones that I've come across at a number of other dollar store places over the past several years. In fact looking around on a number of sites I can see many other headphones that look very similar for a lot less money.

Now I don't know of the folks at Status are just picking up some inexpensive headphones, labeling them and sending them out at a decent markup, or if they have some secret sauce that they have figured out and they manufacturer that they are using just uses the same molds on a bunch of different products. Either way I can't get past the feeling that these things are going to snap in half while I'm trying to adjust them to my head.

If they where something that I picked up for 20$ or so I probably would not have had any complaints but for the price I was expecting something more robust. So, given that I had a 30 day guarantee on these I decided to take advantage of that and try something else.

That something else wound up being a set of Anker Soundbud Sports. They are quite a bit different but given the price at the time (25$) I thought it would be pretty hard to go wrong. After using them for several months I was pretty happy with them but earbuds like this don't generally fit in my ears well at all and these really didn't make much difference from others.

The quality is fine, they work well enough, and the battery life is fairly good considering that they are tiny little things and I was quite willing to keep running with them for as long as they would survive. I however wound up getting a bit of good luck in the form of a door prize that I won when a local retailer opened a new shop near my house.

That door prize was a set of Plantronics BackBeat 500 series headphones.

Now these things are quite a bit more than I would normally spend on a headset, simply because they don't tend to last for me and I'm cheap as hell. However after having these things for a while I'd seriously consider spending that money if I was looking at having to replace them. The sound is goog, battery runs for days and days, and if they go dead there's still the option to wire them in with a cable that came bundled with them.

I'm actually fairly familiar with the Plantronics brand from the headsets at work - and they hold up pretty well there considering that most of the people using them generally treat them like a rented mule.

Time will tell on this one, but I have the feeling that I'll stick with these headphones for a while, they don't have the issues with construction that the Status Audio ones do, but they have the convenience of Bluetooth so that I have one less wire hanging around to deal with.