Category Archives: Blogging Tools

Blogging Tools: Notebooks (Again)~Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Greetings All,

Sorry this is so late. As soon as Spring Break came around I hauled a** home for the last few days to see my family (and Grams, who just arrived from Mexico). It’s great seeing the family, but at the same time there’s nothing better than sleeping in my own bed. I’ve been thinking about blog maintenance again now that the Spring Quarter’s about to start, and so have come to the decision that I will make some of my serial posts more of a monthly thing than biweekly. Other changes might be on their way, but for now, I’ll move on to today’s Blogging Tool Post.

Given that already did a Blogging Notebook post a while ago, I just want to introduce this notebook to you and not go into too much detail. For a while now, I’ve wanted a traveler style notebook, and after a long time of searching I’ve finally found that one. It’s called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, and is actually becoming quite popular. (Just look at all the pictures on Flickr!)

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This is mine. I have three notebooks in it, and attached a charm from an old jacket to the bookmark attached to the leather cover. As you can see, I’ve already got a few scuffs on it.

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 I also got the pocket insert and currently have it packed with an inspiration sheet (taken from WordPress’s 365’s of Writing guide–thanks WordPress!), post-it tabs, washi tape, and other things.

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The first notebook, which came with the Midori leather cover, is my journal, the second one is a lines notebook (a Moleskine cashier I shaved down to size), and the third one is the Midori weekly planner insert I ordered online.

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Yep, the more I use it, the more I love it. What kind of notebook do you use?

Blogging Tool #6: A Separate Monitor

Greeting and Salutations,

Now that I am finally (almost) free from the clutches of Finals Week, I am able to upload this long awaited Blogging Tool post. This time, I wanted to point out another one of my most recent additions: an extended monitor. I just started using one this year, and have to say, I have no idea how I managed to go without one. The one I am using at the moment is actually borrowed from my best friend, who just had it lying around the apartment, and, after tripping over it for the hundredth time, I finally realized to put it to good use. However, since it’s an older model it does not have an HDMI port, and so, I had to get an adaptor. (Which was best since I have a Mac now.)

Now, I don’t want to make this post as long as the other ones because, aside from cost and one more appliance hooked up to an outlet, there really isn’t much to argue against a monitor. In today’s world, things happen much more quickly. (Goodbye analog.) So, a monitor allows for further multitasking. I, for example, use mine to either do research on the side, look at other blogs and reply to my own, and watch shows online, among other things. Also, this beats having to get a second computer! In fact, my sister just updated my Macbook with OS X Mavericks and it is awesome! Now, a monitor plays much more of a role than simply an extended screen. It actually is very similar to having two computers at hand.

How many of you already use a monitor, or are planning to get one? I’m saving up to get a nicer, more modern one, but that’s slow goings. Still, Sony knows how to build good stuff, this one works amazingly!

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ImageMy adaptor.

Well, have a wonderful day everyone! Let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestion for future posts. Thanks!

Blogging Tool #5: Pens (Part II), Adding Color to Your Notebook!

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Hello Everyone,

Sorry this is so late. Today’s Blogging Tool will have to be something simple, given that I have to be at court later today. (Fighting against a red light ticket that’s not even mine, yay.) Wish me luck won’t you?

But anyway, on to more brighter matters. (Literally speaking, no pun intended.) Today, I wanted to post about a few pens in my collection that I like to use to add color to my notes and schedules. Sadly, there will be no video this time, just a picture of how they write at the end. Hopefully, I can make another one for a future Tool post.

Well, enjoy!

Pilot Petit: these come in a variety of colors, and when capped are just a tad bit over 3 inches. I found these in a Maido shop in San Francisco last year, and bought these two and a green one. These can be turned into eye-droppers by sealing up the ink chambers with silicone grease. But, I prefer just using the cartridges because I don’t use these as much as I used to. (I tend to switch pens on a whim.) Still, they’re really portable, colorful, and rather cheap. (Each cost me about three dollars, and a pack of five cartridges was about the same.)

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Bic 4-Color: though I’m not a huge fan of rollerball pens, I do like this one because it comes with four colors. It’s great for planners, for example, and quick note taking.

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Stabilo Point 88 Pens: felt tip pens with 0.4 fine tips, which also come in various colors. I also got these in San Francisco several months ago. I loved the vibrancy of the inks, but the only downside to them is that they bleed through thinner and cheaper papers, like binder paper.

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The Lamy Safari: this pen I got in January. Lamy is a German brand, and this is one of the most popular fountain pens, especially around students. This is because it is pretty economic (and pretty, in a militaristic kind of way), has one of the smoothest nibs around, and is made out of thick matte plastic that feels very sturdy, and the metal clip doesn’t budge very easily once attached. I got a converter for it so I can load it with any ink I want, and currently it’s Waterman’s Tender Purple.

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Lastly: writing samples

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Have a great day everyone!

Blogging Tool #4: Pens (Part I)

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Hello Everyone,

I hope you’re all having a good night. I originally wanted to have this post up yesterday afternoon, but things got a bit complicated (as they usually do). In this case, I was figuring out how to work iMovie in order to make a video for this post. The good news is that I figured it out, and the better news is that I have uploaded it to youtube and will be posting a link right after this.

Today’s tool is none other than the pen. Of course, many of us prefer to type, but again, you’re not always going to have your laptop with you twenty-four-seven. This goes along with your notebook, which you use to write down notes (duh, I’m a bit embarrassed with this sentence), ideas, and other things for your blog. However, just like the right notebook is necessary for creative productions, there is also the right pen. Each pen is different (again, I know, duh), and because of that (and the fact that we are all different) we all have our preferred kind. For example, my favorites are gel and rollerballs. Also, most recently, fountain pens. So, I thought it would be fun to also do a series of posts on pens, and the kind I have in my legion (yes legion) of pens. For today, I am focusing on my newest fountain pen, a couple gel pens, and a smooth rollerball. Enjoy!

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These two are Uni-ball Signos, gel of course, and write with blue/black and purple/black ink. One great aspect of gel ink pens is that they are very smooth. Which I love, because I don’t like using pens that require extra force to write as they slow me down (ex: Bic ballpoints). However, the downside to them is that they can be a tad expensive (depending on the store and brand) and mostly, they run out of ink a lot faster than normal ballpoint and even rollerball pens. But they’re really nice.

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This one, also a Uni-ball pen, is a rollerball and so, writes incredibly smooth. It has a large store of ink as well. A downside to these, though, is that they can bleed through cheaper paper, and some even take a while to fully dry. On Moleskine paper for example, I have had to wait a few seconds for the ink to dry before turning the page.

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 Now, for my latest acquisition. This is the black, dot design, Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen. As some of you may know, I have recently become a fountain pen collector, and even posted about the Cross Bailey I purchased a couple months ago. I love it, but since it is a more expensive pen, I thought it wrong to carry it around with me and run the risk of dropping, and even losing it. So, I ended up buying a couple other pens (the other I will post about on another date). This Metropolitan is one of them, as it is about 18 dollars (as opposed to 45), and easily replaceable in the worst case scenario. (Though, I hope this never comes because I love this baby.) The Metropolitan has an incredibly smooth nib, and aside from cartridges, it can also be loaded with ink. One neat thing about this pen is that not only does it come nicely packaged, with a sample cartridge, and is made out of metal (the body has a nice matte finish), but it also comes with a converter.

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Here, you can see the converter, which, unlike the usual twist type, is the kind you squeeze (while the tip and half of the grip is submerged in ink) and release. As you can see from the picture before this, I have a bottle of Waterman Tender Purple Ink. I bought this ink at the same time as the Metropolitan, so now I have the converter filled with it. (Which, on a side note, is a really beautiful purple, not dark or muddy, but a bright true purple.) On the downside, however, 18 dollars is still a high price, though understandable for a fountain pen. (And, a bit shocking–in a good way–compared to others fountain pens that are more expensive and cheaply made.) Another thing is that the converter it comes with can only hold a small amount of ink so you may have to load it every night if you write a lot during the day. Because of this, I carry two fountain pens with me, and a couple more traditional types. (The Uni-balls for now.)

The reason I chose to use fountain pens, also, is because not only can I load them with many kinds of inks, but some of these inks are also waterproof. I am a stickler for inks, and especially dislike those that cannot withstand severe water damage. I try to use only waterproof when writing in my notebooks, and when writing letters, because I don’t want to loose the notes or entries further down the road. (And I’m not being paranoid here, but realistic. I’m a major klutz and have lost notebooks, homework, and even a video game console to water.)

All in all, having the right pen with you when writing notes can not only make writing a tad more pleasant, but fun as well. In fact, ergonomically speaking, If you use a pen that drags on the page, or is scratchy, and so, slows you down, eventually you’re going to develop a cramp in your wrist and fingers. Any writer can attest to this. (In fact, I have a slight cramp now, and I’m typing!)

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little post and have a wonderful night! Till next time.

Blogging Tool #3: The Blogger’s Notebook (Part I)

“If you spend your time scribbling down in notebooks, things are given to you.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

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Hello All,

I hope this week is treating you well. I know this post is a bit late, and for that I apologize. I have actually been thinking a lot about his one and though that’s not excuse, I hope you take it anyway. Well, today’s blogging tool is none other than the Writer’s Notebook. Or, in this case, the Blogger’s Notebook. A great way, if not the greatest, at fighting blogger’s block. (I know, writer’s block sounds better.)

I know I’ve written about keeping a journal in the past, and I will do so again (this time seriously) because I really do consider it a necessity for any writer, artist, blogger, and creative person. A journal is the greatest source of writing material because it is where everything we think, find interesting, notice, etc., goes (to die . . . just kidding). Also, you can use any kind! (My current one is a Moleskine gifted to me by a friend.)

When I first started this blog, I would have long gaps between posts. One of the reasons, or the main reason actually, was because I had no idea what to write about. I would sit before the computer, pumped up for a blog post, and, just as I pulled up WordPress, would feel all that energy jump out of my body and hit the window, hard. My mind blank, I would stare at the computer screen and with numb fingers, typed up some crappy dribble that should never have seen the light of day.

But it did. This was because I had no foundation for the post. Then it hit me, I had the best source of material at hand: my journal. Flipping through the pages I would find quotes, short and long entries, excerpts from novels, pictures, movie tickets, you name it. All of these serve as starting fodder for a post. All you have to do is pull out your own notebook (not mine, of course, or else’s I’d be wondering how you got it and who I’d need to call to get it back), read through your notes, maybe annotate a few, and finally arrive to one that speaks to you or inspires you in some way.

For now, my blogging journal is combined with my personal journal, because as I travel light, I do not want to carry around several notebooks at once. (I am using the terms journal and notebook interchangeably. There’s no difference between the two here.) In it, I have sections divided for blogging, personal notes, and class notes, and anything I think is serious material I mark with a metal paper clip. However, once this journal is done I plan to have a separate one for blogging, so as not to have to dig through the pages for what I need. (More on how to achieve this in part two.)

Granted, for those on the go, keeping a journal can be very difficult, and so it can be simpler writing a note in one’s phone or tablet or even laptop. However, for many (myself included) there is a noticeable difference between writing by hand and typing something down on an electronic device. In my case, there is a switch in my brain when I write, where my brain suddenly becomes more focused, tunes all noise out, and so makes me organize the jumble in my head. Also, I tend to remember what I write down, even long quotes. When I type or make a note in my phone, however, I do not remember as much as I do otherwise, and everything is still jumbled because I can almost type as fast as my brain can formulate coherent thoughts. And, since I can do this, at least a quarter of what I type is misspelled, or gibberish at a glance because my brain’s autocorrect function didn’t have time to kick in. This is similar to taking notes in class, how many of you remember more of what you write down in class (or even at a meeting) than of what you type?

Another benefit of keeping a physical notebook is that you aren’t restrained by a battery or need of a power outlet. Again, typing out a note is easier, but what if your device is low on battery? There have been times when I didn’t have my notebook, and decided to write a note on Evernote (which I am using to compose this post, so I’m not saying apps are bad at all) only to discover that my phone was low on battery and there was no sight of a power outlet anywhere. By the time I finally charge it, the thought’s gone (to die . . . seriously). So yes, to keep this from getting longer than it already is, I will say once more that a notebook is a necessity for creative expression, and will even show you guys a page from my Moleskine:

     These are actually the brainstorm/outline pages for this post! (Note: my notes aren’t usually this neat, but more in the legible only to me range.)
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Have a great night everyone!

Blogging Tool #2: Rock On, Despite the Noise!

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Hello All!

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, especially since we’ve been having a nice constant stream of rain these last couple days. It’s this kind of weather that makes me lazy to do anything but stay in bed with my books and video games. (And laptop for blogging, of course.) How about you guys, doing anything fun despite the rain?

Well, last Sunday I wrote about cameras as great blogging tools; this time, as you can see from the picture above, I am writing about headphones. Now, I do know that probably the majority of bloggers already have headphones or earphones at least, so bare with me if you do. And in fact, please let me know what kind you use, when you use them, and any other kind of feedback that might prove insightful.

A few things to consider:

A Few Positives:

  1. Headphones are more comfortable in the long run. They do not agitate the inside of your ears, unlike earphones.
  2. They’re great for blocking out noisy roommates, family members and even neighbors with music (or Netflix, as I am doing at the moment.)
  3. They’re not as fragile as earphones, and good ones even come with adaptors and speakers so you can Skype or talk to people on the phone while you’re on the go. Hell, with the speaker function, you can do a podcast for your blog or save some auditory notes! (Granted, earphones have this feature too.)

A Few Negatives:

  1. The good ones can be a bit pricey.
  2. They’re definitely bulkier than earphones.
  3. When you first break them in, they can be a bit heavy (if you’re not used to them) and can be a bit tight on the head.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I like to travel light. And so, I have always used earphones because of their portability. However, I’ve also been through my fair share of them, and this is because, after a while, they agitate the inside of my ears. After some internal debate, I finally decided to get a decent pair of headphones, ones that are sturdy and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. After a bit of trial and error, I finally landed on the Urbanears, which are in the $60 price range (as opposed to the other nicer, over $100 dollar ones). These are really good quality, and are very comfortable to wear. The only issue I had was the color, I thought they’d be a darker purple like on the box, but that’s okay. The color has started to grow on me. But I’ll stop here because this isn’t a sales pitch, and wish you all a wonderful day and week!

Until next time!

PS: New mail post on my snailmail blog! Check it out when you have the time.