I spent the day updating computers and phones and tablets and apps, all the while trying to remember that this was all oriented toward making my life better, somehow. Now I’m exhausted, and left to reflect on whether it really does.
Of course, iOS 7 is a big step forward, and one I suspect will actually do me more good than harm long term. I don’t know that I can say the same thing, though, for all my tools, some of which demand just as much or more time and attention. So, as I add a new experience with shiny new apps, I’m also looking today for what I can subtract, what I can be less dependent on, reducing the number of things that are allowed to disappoint me, and making some careful decisions about what I really need.
“The pursuit of truth, properly considered, shouldn’t stop short of insanity.”
“In every society, democratic or totalitarian, the sensible, grown-up thing to do is to commit to the long haul of sleazy conformity. The rewards are mostly guaranteed: if not freedom or happiness, then respectability and degree of security. What spoils it is the obstinate few who do otherwise – those, absurdly, who actually believe in the necessary fictions; enough to be moved and angered by the difference between what an organisation does in reality and what it says in public.”
Christopher Yates, on the factors which made Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning non-complicit, their relationship to mental health and mental abnormality and moral courage. A great read.
(Note: the article was written before Chelsea’s name and pronoun change was public, so it does refer to her as Bradley. Given when it was written, I don’t think its author is culpable in the same way people who still refuse to acknowledge Chelsea’s preference are).
The content is by itself reprehensible. But think about where it appeared: Medium, the Internet’s newest hot collaborative blogging platform for talking about your VC and Making Better Mistakes and whatever else can be copied from the new Seth Godin book. In a venue exclusively for the enfranchised, used primarily for the enfranchised to pontificate endlessly on what they’re not making, one of the fold comes in and tells a series of cheap parlor jokes. He’s got no sense of the repercussions of that kind of thing because those repercussions aren’t built into the community.
So, make today your day to blow the dust out of your RSS feeder or Tumblr follow list. Follow more interesting and representative communities. Follow places where people talk about important things. Follow places where people actually make things.
Please watch this important video on Fountain Pen Everyday Carry (EDC) by the incomprable sbrebrown. If you leave the house unprepared, you have only yourself to blame.
Stabilo makes another one of the old school chisel highlighters, not unlike the Staedtler Textsurfer. Still, a bunch of tiny design features make this highlighter a lot less useful. The barrel’s just a little too short to fit in my hand, the cap doesn’t post well at all, the lines of the highlighter are just a bit too thin to fit a full line (hence my staggering across the page), and it makes that annoying marker sound. Give it a miss.
The designers have done a nice job keeping this barrel largely unobtrusive: there’s plenty of writing for sure, but it basically fades into the background. The marker puts out a nice, unobtrusive florescent color, handles ballpoint ink pretty well, has a nice sharp writing point, and is super affordable: $1.65 for the body, and $2 for 3 (!) refills. This is likely the most inexpensive highlighter we reviewed so far, and is definitely a step up from anything you’d find at Staples.
So, what don’t I like about it? Using the highlighter makes a very clear noise. You can hear the drag of marker against paper, in a way you can’t hear on the Tombow or on some of the chisel highlighters. This noise, truth be told, drives me bonkers: it doesn’t provide helpful feedback, it’s loud (especially in really quiet environments like libraries, where you might be highlighting) and it really seems the purview of much worse equipment.
If you can deal with the noise (heck, some people might like that sort of thing), if you want something easy to refill or easy to lose, or if you highlight a lot, the Spotliter’s a great choice that will serve you well. Otherwise, you can do better.
Every kit has a place, in my book, for both the beautiful and the useful. Tombow’s Kay Coat dual point highlighter delivers on the former for sure, but really shines in its versatility and durability.
The black barrel is a nice change from all the transparent and bright yellow highlighter barrels I’ve got in my coffee mug, especially among the pen-shaped highlighters. Yes, there’s way too much writing going on here - just about all of which I can’t read. Still, the black and yellow play off each other nicely, and would make it easy to tell this one apart from other colors.
The marker’s two points are a broad chisel point on the clip end and a thin pen point on the other end. The chisel end is protected by a plastic sheath on the top and the bottom which is both attractive and pretty functional: it stays out of the way while still preserving that sharp chisel angle. The thin point is probably intended primarily for underlining, but I found I could actually write with it, in small doses, on page margins at about the width of a 0.7 ballpoint. Both caps post onto each other or can be left off entirely.
The ink in the pen is quite impressive. The color is florescent, but not sickly in the way that the Pilot FriXion looks on the page. Against ballpoint, there’s minimal blurring of the lines: not perfect, but some of the best I’ve seen from out-of-the-box highlighters.
Plus, the ink’s refillable. The refills are a little hard to find - here’s one at Writer’s Bloc - but they’re notable for their speed and no-mess design, like the Staedler but much faster. Each highlighter boasts the ability to be refilled five times, and each tank holds ten charges, bringing you to a little over twelve bucks for twelve fills - a deal you’re not gonna beat even with the generics at Office Max.
Even as a big fan of the big chisel highlighter, I still think there’s a lot of room for these pen shaped markers - in pencil cases, in bags, and in your pocket as you’re leaving the house. In this form factor, you can’t do better.