Lots of links..

Today: a collection of links. Most of them have already been posted on the Bleistift Facebook page, but since most blog readers don’t look at the Facebook page I’ll repost them here.

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5 years Bleistift – behind the scenes

It’s been five years since Bleistift’s first blog post. Time flies.

Today: a little look behind the scenes – from a web point of view.

Comments and Spam

Visitor numbers have been fairly constant over the years. Bleistift gets about 100 to 150 visitors a day. My guess is that many of them are actually not people, but spam bots …but it’s difficult to say exactly how many are real, human visitors and how many are not. Many spam comments have been left, but over the years there have also been nearly 1500 real comments. WordPress’ Plugin ‘Akismet’ is pretty good at sorting out spam, which means that real comments don’t end up in the spam folder very often. The spam comments Bleistift gets often contain links to web sites selling fake watches or medicine, but some don’t seem to contain links at all or they contain links to unsuspicious looking web sites. I guess some of these comments that don’t make sense, but that don’t link to any medicine,fake watch, etc. websites are designed to probe the spam filter of blogs without giving away who sent them. I think Kevin’s guest review of the Dahle 133 is worth being mentioned here. It’s probably the blog post most ‘attacked’ by spam or the one where spam comments are most difficult to detect by the system – recently it received about 50 spam contents on that blog post that were so ‘good’ that the Akismet plugin didn’t recognise them as definite spam.

Visitors

The origin of the visitors hasn’t changed a lot over the years. You can see this in the table below, which contrasts where the visitors from the last month came from and how that compares to visitors overall since the start of the blog. This information is recorded using Google Analytics. This is a lazy solution and it would be better if I wouldn’t use a third party tool for that. Maybe one day I’ll switch. I probably don’t even have to mention that the best blog around, Lexikaliker, does this the way it should be done, i.e. without third party tools.

October 2014
 
All time
 
United States30%United States33%
Germany12%Germany11%
United Kingdom10%United Kingdom11%
Canada5%Canada5%
France4%France4%
Australia3%Australia3%
South Korea3%Spain2%
Spain2%Italy2%
Italy2%South Korea2%
Netherlands2%India2%

When it come to the web sites that send visitors to Bleistift not too much has changed either. Pen Addict was always the site that refers most visitors. If there is ever a spike in visitor numbers I can be sure that this means the Pen Addict has included Bleistift in their Ink Links.

October 2014
 
All time
 
The Pen Addict15%The Pen Addict24%
Pencil Revolution11%Pencil Revolution9%
Lexikaliker7%Pencil Talk9%
Contrapuntalism4%Lexikaliker5%
Pencil Case Blog3%Dave's Mechanical Pencils5%
Pencils and other things3%Contrapuntalism2%
Pencil Talk2%Stationery Traffic1%
Just another pen2%Notebook Stories1%
Scribomechanica2%Pencil Wrap (defunct)1%
Blackwing Pages1%Notebook loves pen (defunct)1%

 

WordPress

The blog software I’m using is WordPress. It’s quite nice, but some things are not as nice as with other blog software. One example: Another blog software shows links to other blogs by date of the last post and with the name of the latest article. I did install a plugin, so that WordPress behaves in a similar way, but this solution is not that elegant – it takes a very long time for this information to be displayed when you visit Bleistift.

Bleistift is hosted a server I rent. This means it does cost money and I have to update the software myself, but the advantage is that the visitors don’t have to see advertising. Speaking of updating, I should really get round to changing the template so that it’s responsive and looks good on a mobile device …but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon.

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A Viking invasion

The Vikings are coming

No one expects a Viking invasion1

…and when it’s coming there’s no escape.

Luckily I, Langskæg2, got invaded by the trading, not the raiding kind of Viking, thanks to Henrik’s generosity. You might know Henrik, who is from Denmark, from his comments on different stationery blogs.

How a full blown Viking invasion looks like.

How a full blown Viking invasion looks like.

Viking outside Denmark

Unfortunately Viking is one of those brands that is not very well known outside its home country. I hope that will change in the future. From my point of view Viking got most exposure in the English speaking stationery world when their products where released as past of the 2012 Rad and Hungry Denmark kit and the 2014 Rad and Hungry Denmark kit and booster pack. Rad and Hungry are also currently working with Viking to release their own notebooks and pencils, how exciting is that…

 

Viking’s history – a round trip from Denmark to Sweden and back

The Viking brand was registered in 1913 and the first pencils were produced 100 years ago, in 19143, when the Danish matchstick factory H. E. Gosch started making pencils. The pencil branch of the matchstick factory was the brainchild of Folmer Preisler, who married the daughter of the matchstick factory’s owner. The beginning wasn’t easy, but after the two World Wars Viking was doing well. Their problems only started in the early 1970s, when a Swedish competitor bought the matchstick factory which, at that time, was still Viking’s parent. Just some context: At that time the Swedish matchstick maker Svenska Tändsticksaktiebolaget had a monopoly in Europe and many other parts of the world – when I was a kid these were the only matchsticks you could get (they had a monopoly in Germany from 1930 until 1983). After being taken over the Danish pencil factories closed down – the new owner was not interest in pencils. Later Viking ended up with Esselte, who used to own Dymo and who still owns Leitz. In 2010 Viking became Danish again when it was bought by Creas. Since Creas took over they started moving production back to Denmark or as close to Denmark as possible. They also put an emphasis on simple, good design and environmentally friendly production.

 

My Vikings

I’m really excited about trying out the new Vikings I have received from Henrik. The ones I have used so far, from Rad and Hungry, were very nice writers! A while ago I decided to produce shorter blog posts in the future, to make them less boring, so I won’t talk about the Viking stationery now but will write more about the them in a future blog post.

 


I’d like to thank Henrik for all the nice Viking stationery I have received. He’s not linked to Viking, doesn’t work in stationery and paid for the goods out of his own pocket.

Nearly all of the information in the Viking history paragraph was taken from Viking’s web site.

You can see more Viking products on their Danish web site.

 

  1. Their chief weapon is surprise… surprise and fear… fear and surprise… Their two weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency… Their three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency… and an almost fanatical devotion to stationery… Their four… no… Amongst their weapons… Amongst their weaponry …are such elements as fear, surprise… I’ll better leave that now and continue the blog post… []
  2. the viking name given to be by Henrik []
  3. To commemorate the 100th anniversary Viking has released the Viking 100, a fountain pen (top right in the picture). []
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Tachikawa School G for Manga 0.2 ~ 0.5

It’s fountain pen day – time for another fountain pen related post.

 

The pen

This time: the Tachikawa fountain pen, model School G for Manga. It comes with an extremely fine nib which for line widths from 0.2 mm to 0.5 mm. If you think that’s fine -  Tachikawa offers an even finer nib as well as version of this pen with sepia coloured ink. Just to help avoid confusion: Tachikawa also has a reputation for making very good flexible nibs for dip pens, one of them is called the G nib, but that’s a different nib. Tachikawa School G for Manga 0.2 ~ 0.5

 

The price

I got my Tachikawa pen a few months ago from Fudepens, together with the Pentel Ain Click eraser I wrote about earlier this year and other products. As far as I know Fudepens is only selling the 0.2-0.5 mm version, which costs €7 (~$8.70; £5.50), not the versions with other nibs or ink colours.

 

The ink

The pen comes with a adivce on a little yellow piece of paper. One of the recommendations suggests using the pen at least once a week. The implication is the “special quick-dry ink” might otherwise clog up the feed. The ink is really black, similar to Indian ink, which is probably why it is easier to clog up the pen.

Tachikawa School G for Manga 0.2 ~ 0.5

Writing  & line width

As you might have expected – a fountain pen with such a fine nib is rather scratchy. As mentioned earlier the body of the pen suggests a line width of 0.2 mm to 0.5 mm, but when I writing without applying much pressure the line width is not even as wide as that I get from my Faber-Castell Ecco Pigment 0.1 mm fine liner pen. You can vary line width by applying more pressure, but you have to use quiet a bit of pressure (at least with the pen I got) to get a line of ~0.5 mm – so much pressure that you have to write slowly to control the line.

 

Conclusion

An interesting fountain pen if you want a very fine line. It does produce a very clear line that is easy to see, despite being so exceptionally thin, thanks to it’s blackness. In comparison other black pens, like the Faber-Castell Ecco Pigment 0.1 mm look grey-ish, even though that is not easy to see on my photo, where I compared them on a Black n’Red Polynote A7.

Compared to other pens

Compared to other pens


I would like to thank Fudepens.com for the Tachikawa School G for Manga fountain pen, which I got sent for free. I don’t think the fact that I didn’t pay for the pen influenced my opinion of this pen in any way.

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2x Staedtler

Just a quick note – actually: two.

 

First: It looks as if Staedtler will release a new sharpener next year. What makes it really interesting is the article number: 501 180. The article number of their current rotary (i.e. hand crank) sharpener starts with 501. …and number 180 is associated with another, very nice product from Staedtler. Franken Bleistift

 

Second: I came across this article: The coloured pencil’s 180th birthday – a Franconian invention used around the world.1
Unfortunately the original article is in German, but here’s a link to the Bing translation and to the Google translation. The article talks about Johann Sebastian Staedtler’s coloured pencil breakthrough in 1834.

 

 

 

  1. With such a title I couldn’t resist displaying my Franconian pencil logo again. []
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