Archive for the 'moleskine' Category
You’d think that South by Southwest Interactive 2008 would be the most wired place in the country. However, the wireless continues to reach max capacity and completely fold under the pressure during the most popular panels. My T-Mobile service on my Blackberry is also in SOS mode about 75% of the time. What does that mean?
It means that my trusty pocket Moleskine notebook has become note taking device, chatpad, and general capture apparatus. Talk about analog multitasking.
So I promised I’d report back after some heavy use of the new Classic Rhodia Stapled 3 X 4 3/4 notebooks. I’ve been using Rhodia’s orange pocket notebook, pictured here, for about 2 weeks straight now. I can safely say that after a solid fortnight in my pocket, this little Rhodia is not only a convenience but also a workhorse. It travels in my front pants pocket with my Blackberry, and it currently shows no signs of wear other than some creasing near the top staple (these notebooks are bound with two stables along the spine).
The distinctive orange color helps me keep track of where I left my notebook laying around. The small pocket size isn’t noticeable until you need it, like I did the other day when I was wandering around in Ikea. It beats the bulk of a pocket Moleskine by a mile. The plastic cover holds up well even in sweaty basketball shorts in the middle of a Texas heatwave. That’s something I can’t say for my grubby (kinda dampened) Moleskine cahier.
I still use pocket Moleskines for journaling and poetry. I think I would be willing to switch to Rhodia entirely if I could get my hands on a svelte Rhodia ePure notebook, a promising soft cover replacement for my Moleskine journals.
House’s Jennifer Morrison has been tapped to star in The Murder of Princess Diana, a Lifetime movie based on the Noel Botham book that theorized that Di’s fatal car crash was the dirty work of a conspiracy. Morrison will play an American journalist who witnesses the tunnel crash and starts her own investigation after becoming suspicious of the “official” take on what happened.
In the photo, any Moleskine fan will quickly notice she’s jotting down important journalistic notes in a pocket Moleskine reporter notebook, complete with snappy elastic closure. Wonder if JMo prefers plain, squared, or ruled?
I’m a longtime Moleskine devotee, and I haven’t ever found any brand of notebook that’s as useful for jotting notes on the go. However, when I saw this new type of Rhodia classic stapled notebook on Rhodia Drive, I new I had to give them a try. Rhodia has eliminated two of my biggest problems with the Moleskine Cahier – the lack of durability in the paper cover (something that wouldn’t have been an issue if they hadn’t discontinued the Volant line) and the size of the pocket version.
The covers on the Moleskine cahiers are fine if you’re simply storing them in a briefcase or a bag. However, if you keep the cahier in a pants pocket or change bags a lot, the cover wears out extremely fast, especially if you don’t fill it fast enough to need a new one quickly. Rhodia solved this problem by adopting a thin plastic-coated cover for their smallest pocket notebook.
Also, the size of the cahiers is continually an issue for me because I prefer to carry them in my pants pockets, and the Moleskine cahier is just slightly too large to fit comfortably when seated. The Rhodia stapled pocket notebook measures 3 X 4 3/4 inches, making it an even more compact solution than a hipster PDA. This is the absolute perfect size for carrying around in a front pants pocket.
Are there any cons to the Rhodia version of the cahier? None of the pages are perforated, so they’re not as convenient for tearing out notes. I’m not sure how much of an issue this will be for me since I don’t think I’ve ever torn out a note from my Moleskine cahiers the entire time I’ve been using them. Of course the Rhodia pads also lack the back pocket, but the cahier’s back pocket (really just a flap) was so flimsy that using it practically destroyed it anyway.
All in all, it looks like this version of the classic Rhodia stapled pad (available in black or classic Rhodia orange) is a big improvement on the Moleskine cahier for on the go notetaking. I’ll report back after a few weeks of test-driving. You can see more photos of the Rhodia pad compared to various Moleskines, or you can snag your own from Ship the Web here.
For those doing GTD, the use for the 64-page pocket sized Cahier is readily apparent – the size and format of the book make it ideal for capturing notes, lists, to do items and contact information on the go. The last 16 of those 64 pages are even perforated for easy
rippin’ and dippin’ tearing and sharing of your own must-share jots. If you currently use a hipster PDA for these tasks but you’re unsatisfied with the format for whatever reason, a slim Cahier is available for casual encounters in the Buff (try not to stare) or a more classy rendezvous in basic Moleskine black. The well known and loved pocket has been a bit bastardized to keep the bulk to a minimum – instead of the full pocket, you only get a small flap on the inside of the back cover. Treat it tenderly if you don’t want your unmentionable receipts flapping in the wind.
What’s the point? These Moleskines lack the impressive page counts of their fatter yet still pocket-sized cousins and may seem less durable because they lack the hard cover. The answer? Simplicity. Most people misunderstand the Cahier because they expect it to be something it’s not – a full-blown durable journal and keepsake-quality book. If you look at it for what it IS, a classed-up sheaf of tiny, high quality loose leaf scrap paper with the brand-name cache of Evian water and Montblanc pens, it’s a damn sane way to take down personal notes on the side while you’re expanding on broader business plans in a larger notebook.
Index cards are great, but let’s just face it – they make you look like a crazy person. The Moleskine Cahier is fountain pen friendly, classy, and conveniently fits in your pockets without dragging your pants down your hips (face the facts – you have to carry a lot more crap than just your notebook). It’s flexible, discreet, and it will begin to wear right about the time you’ve reached the last page anyway.
Factor in the fact that these books come in convenient packages of three, and you’ve got yourself a winning portable companion to your journaling system as well as a powerful GTD tool.
The ultimate productivity showdown
Despite my long standing pocket Moleskine fan status and usage, I’d longingly read many a review and quite a few raves about the Levenger shirt pocket briefcase, an overpriced index card holder that promises to usher you into a new social status along with the ultimate in productivity. When I found that particular item on sale at Levenger for $29.95 just before Christmas, I decided to pick one up as an early Christmas present to myself.
Now, three months later and having test driven both systems for task tracking, note jotting and writing, I present the ultimate productivity showdown.
Pocketability is one of the obvious criteria here. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never really been happy with the size of either of these tools. I live in Texas, where you need a jacket or an overcoat approximately twice a year. I also work in an office, and cargo pants aren’t exactly business casual. This almost always necessitates that I carry my paper of choice in my front pants pocket, along with my Blackberry, keys, Leatherman Micra, and pen. Real estate is an issue.
While both claim to fit easily in a pocket, the pocket Moleskine definitely wins in this category. Measuring 3.5″W x 5.5″H versus the pocket briefcase’s 3¾”W x 6″H, the Moleskine’s compact form and snappy elastic strap create the most pocketable package. Both feel great in your hand if you prefer carrying around your notetaking bundle. However, if you want to shove it in a front pants pocket, you’re likely to be more uncomfortable with the pocket briefcase. The extra length makes a huge difference.
Winner: Pocket Moleskine
Creating your mobile workspace
When you’re carrying a tool designed to let you be creative, get work done, and spread out your thoughts and ideas on a cafe table or while walking, it’s important that that tool lets you completely create a mobile workspace. The Levenger pocket briefcase stands out in this category. They call it a briefcase for a reason – the open writing area, the secure internal middle pocket and the outer pocket allow you to sort, store, and organize your cards. There’s always one available for quick writing, and you can stow receipts, business cards and other scraps inside.
The pocket Moleskine does, of course, feature the famous rear pocket. However, the Moleskine pocket is flimsy, and real use will quickly wear it out to the point of requiring repair. Anything you store in it will significantly affect the size and shape of the book. The pocket briefcase is softer and has more room (actually a bonus in this area) so it’s more forgiving of “stuffing.”
In terms of creating a truly mobile workspace, the pocket briefcase is the best bet. The sortability and reorganization capability beat out the linear format of the pocket Moleskine.
Winner: Levenger Pocket Briefcase
Tools for writers
I write. Work-related articles, blog posts, emails, fiction, poetry. Whatever tool I use has to be great for jotting down everything from phone numbers, addresses and grocery lists as well as story ideas, article outlines and even entire pieces of flash fiction. This is one place where I had trouble picking a clear winner. The Moleskine is great for keeping a running list of random ideas that you can always go back to later for inspiration. The pocket briefcase would start to get too full if you kept every card in your stack where you jotted down a story idea. However, a fine point pen and a few “inspiration” cards that you go back to time and again might fix that problem.
Outlining a story is much more satisfying with index cards. Laying out plots and subplots, rearranging and stacking them can really help get ideas flowing.
Lots of times a mobile workspace means collaborating with others. It can even mean giving a kid something to do while you’re waiting for the movie to start, handing off a jotted-down URL to a friend, or giving others cards to work with. With a Moleskine, you usually wouldn’t want to tear out pages (they’re not perforated or easily torn). In order to collaborate with others, you’d have to pass off your whole book (of ideas, personal thoughts, lists, work-related items) to someone else, which I’m not always comfortable doing.
Winner: Levenger Pocket Briefcase
For my needs, the Levenger Pocket Briefcase is the best tool for the job. Moleskine still rules the land for paper-based planners, journaling, and writing longer articles or fiction (if you do your writing longhand).
It’s the beginning of the month, and we all know what that means – another exciting package in the mail from the good folks at Pencil Things. This month I received a California Republic Golden Bear 2B, a Mongol Trio, and a rare Faber-Castell Autograph HB, no longer in production. I must admit that I sharpened and tested the Autograph before reading the description, and I was just marveling at how inky and smooth it was when I realized I’d just sharpened away a collector’s item. Oh well! It was fun to use. I also received a special addition to my pack of pencils this month – a 5X5 orange Rhodia pad emblazoned with pencilthings.com. It was pretty cool since I’d just been considering picking up a Rhodia pad the other day. I like the pad, but I’m still a Moleskine loyalist all the way.
I was also able to make a trip down to Paradise Pen last weekend to pick up a yellow Lamy Safari rollerball, and I noticed a flyer for the Austin Fountain Pen Society. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! Apparently they coordinate meetings and other events on Fountain Pen Network. I hope to be able to make the meeting on September 10th.
In other news, Backpack has added a calendar feature, something I had almost given up hope of seeing from 37signals. Combined with notes, to do’s, images, shared writeboards, SMS reminders, and killer mobile access on my Blackberry, I can run nearly my entire life with my Blackberry + Moleskine + pen + pencil. Backpack remains the best $5 per month that I spend.
Yesterday I had the fun of accompanying Amber to Jerry’s Art-O-Rama. This Austin art supply store proved to be a secret treasure trove of cool pencils and varied Moleskines. I’ve read many positive reviews of the Mars Lumograph, but I’d never seen one “in the wild.” Jerry’s had bins and bins of open stock, so I picked up several. It is indeed an exceptional pencil. I haven’t used it for very long, and this might be blasphemous, but I think I may like it better than the California Republic Palomino HB. It still makes a smooth, dark line, but it doesn’t seem as “smudgy” as the Palomino, something I’ve come to notice about that particular pencil after a long stint of using it in my pocket Moleskine.
I was also pleased to find a Kum Automatic Long Point Sharpener, pictured above, as well as a squared pocket reporter Moleskine – two items I thought I was going to have to order online.
As I’ve neared the end of my current pocket Moleskine (the regular squared pocket size) I’ve really started thinking about which version I’d like to go with for my next one. I think the reporter is going to do it. Though it doesn’t lend itself to writing on both sides of the page as easily as the traditional book format, I think this may actually be a benefit. Because I put everything in my Moleskine, from private journal-type thoughts to grocery lists and recipes, it’s nice to be able to flip back pages I don’t want to share and start on a fresh one. I’m also considering the PigPogPDA Moleskine hack designed specifically for the reporter style Mole.
All in all, an excellent productivity pr0n shopping trip.