Kickstarter: Qwerkywriter

Qwerkywriter

Even typewriter lovers among us occasionally have to use a modern-day computer. Why not experience the beauty and feel of a vintage typewriter while you pound out your emails or Twitter missives? That’s where the new Kickstarter Project, the Qwerkywriter comes in. Its a USB keyboard (though there are plans for a Bluetooth adaptation if they exceed funding) that has a 88-key mechanical keyboard with the classic good-looks of a vintage glass-key typewriter. The “paper feed” doubles as a tablet stand for your iPad or Android tablet.

At the $289/$299 funding level, you can receive this unique keyboard. The developer is about a third of the way to his funding goal so if you’d like to see this project come to fruition, support it today. The funding period end July 3.

Qwerkywriter with tablet

A Digital Solution to an Analog Problem

Scribd

I love books. Like a sickness. Sometimes I read good literature and sometimes I devour trashy, pulp novels. I can’t pass up a good coffee table book of art, illustration or design. My house is overrun with books. My teeny, tiny house is stacked two deep in some place with books. My favorite weekend activity is to scour the shelves at the secondhand book shop for a gem. The first step is to admit I have a problem. “My name is Ana and I’m a bookaholic.”

I’ve tried to embrace using the iPad or Kindle or what-have-you to buy books from Amazon et al, but even digital books get pricey.

And then, Scribd stepped into my email this weekend with an offer I could not refuse. Scribd is a digital subscription service like Netflix, but for ebooks. For $8.99 per month, I can read as many of the over 400,000 books in its library on any Apple or Android device or on a Kindle Fire. I did some cursory checks for my favorite authors. Some were listed, some were not. In some cases, a few of an author’s books were available but not the most recent. But there were lots of options, available for immediate download. Unlike my local library where the ebooks are slurped up at alarming rates and I’m left #322 on the next-to-read list so that I can read a particular book about 6 years from now.

I was offered a free month’s trial to use Scribd. Books are read in the Scribd app but the app can also be use to browse and download other books. The “books similar to” options provided decent direction to discover new books as well.

Oyster Books

I also decided to do some research to see if other services were offering a book subscription service and found Oyster. Currently Oyster books are only available on the iOS platform and the monthly subscription fee is $9.99 but their library seems a little larger.

I went ahead and started a free subscription with Oyster as well to compare the two services. The interface for browsing and book discovery on Oyster is a little more aesthetically pleasing than Scribd but both are similar with a search option or a browse by category. Oyster offers more esoteric sub-categories like, within Science Fiction, they’ve divided books into categories like “Utopian Dreams” or “Genetic Engineering”.

Both services have recently received access to the Simon & Schuster catalog which added 10,000 titles and lots of reading options. Both services have business and economic books, young adult fiction, a large cache of mysteries and popular fiction, classics and more. Either option will have something in their collection you want to read.

I did a search for a few specific authors: Stephen King (equally represented by both services, David Sedaris (only one book available at both services “Children Playing..”), Seth Godin (more books available through Oyster), George R. R. Martin (only one short story in an anthology, available from both) and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a knitting humorist and Oyster had all her books but Scribd only had two available). As you can see, lots of breadth in both services.

I really wanted to compare the actual reading experience, which is a make-or-break for me. In general, both experiences sync across devices — from iPhone to iPad pretty smoothly. The only notable difference is that the Oyster reading environment requires users to swipe up to move through pages, more like a PDF or Word document rather than across like the iBooks or Kindle does. Neither has the faux page-turning animation, ability to adjust line spacing or margins that the Kindle and iBooks app allow. Both services feature sans serif or serif font choices and reading white-on-black, black-on-white or a sepia look. Both have highlighting and annotation options. Except for the swiping being a little counter-intuitive on Oyster, they are both perfectly adequate.

Both services offer the option to link with friends via Facebook and other services though, for me, I prefer to just read and not network. Since both services are fairly new, it might not be a big deal to anyone else either. Its really all about the books.

That said, I think both services are neck-in-neck to win my subscription fee loyalty. Both seem like great ways to feed my voracious book appetite without cluttering up my house any further.

If you have an Android device or Kindle tablet, I recommend that you start with Scribd as Oyster does not yet have support for the Android platform. If you decide to try Oyster, please use this link and I’ll get a credit for recommending it.

Have you considered or do you read ebooks? I like having a book with me at all times on my phone for those waiting-in-line moments. Do you?

Cartolina iPhone Cases (and more)

Cartolina Bee iPhone Case

Cartolina is well-known for its fabulous vintage illustration paper goods but they also take these images and apply them to other goods as well like iPhone hard shell cases which I think is brilliant.

Cartolina also makes an array of notepads that might work as flat stationery sheets at 5.5×8.5 for some folks. Each pad has 60 sheets and the designs range from floral to porcine. $8 each.

Cartolina Menswear iPhone case

Cartolina Notepad

 

Get Organized: Todoist Next

Todoist Next screenshots

Today, Todoist upgraded its platform with web-, mobile-, browser- and desktop-based versions of the app and an all-new, streamlined look. They are definitely setting themselves to compete with Wunderlist. The new version offers free collaboration and what appears to be extensive functionality, especially with the collaboration tools and could give Basecamp a run for its money for small teams.

The regular apps and web interface are free. The premium account ($29/yr) offers additional features including adding notes and file attachments, task search, color-coded labels, email or text task reminders, automatic backup and synchronization with iCal. I think the premium version will be the way to go since being able to add text, images and URLs to a task would make things so much simpler. The price per year is less than Wunderlist which is $49/yr for collaboration but Wunderlist allows notes and images in the free version but there’s no indication in a list or sub-list that a photo or note is associated with the item. So it works… sort of. I certainly don’t think I’ll miss the wood grain if I switch.

I waffle between loving the cross-platform convenience of digital to-do lists and missing its paper counterparts and physically crossing things off, adding details and saving the completed lists. Being able to add a task on my phone, then review it or deal with it when I’m parked in front of my computer has a lot of appeal though paper could do the same thing.

This app seems like its is the best of all possible to-do list apps, sleek, streamlined and upgradeable for a small fee. Would you or have you tried any of these digital to-do lists?

10 Ways to Declutter your Desk

Kinfolk editor Nathan Williams' desktop computer at home along the Oregon coast via Hear Black.

Kinfolk editor Nathan Williams’ desktop computer at home along the Oregon coast via Hear Black.

There are ten great (if sometimes obvious) tips for keeping a clear desk and a clear head over on Remodelista. Clean, sort, organize and manage your time are things we all need to be reminded about occasionally. I’m particularly fond of the advice to use Unroll.me to remove your name from slews of subscription emails and SelfControl to forcibly block sites from yourself for certain windows of time (hello, Pinterest!) for we of little self-control.

(via Remodelista)

Link Love: Heart-Stealing Pens, Paper & Inks

Pen Buying Process

Pen Buying Process by Andrew Tan of Drewscape/Wibble Wibble

Pencils:

Notebooks & Paper:

Ink:

Pens:

Misc:

Vector Scouts: Power to the Pen Tool

 

vector scouts field kit

I work in Adobe Illustrator a lot and the pen tool which allows me to work with bezier curves uses a fountain pen nib as its icon. WHAM! Both of my worlds collide. When I saw the Vector Scouts Field Kit from Vector Mill, its seemed like an obvious match. The set includes a Moleskine Cahier printed with the Vector Scout logo — bezier curve lines and the iconic, graphic pen nib —  and wrapped with a decorative, paper band. There is also a matching sticker and embroidered patch in the kit, all for $20. Most of the products sold by Vector Mill are icons, patterns and brushes to be used in Illustrator but anyone who wields a vector pen tool might appreciate the “Field Kit.”

(via Vector Mill)

Link Love: Holiday Mail and More

USPS Holiday Post Deadlines

Letter Writing and Postal Follies:

Neil Gaiman and his Lamy 2000

Pen & Ink:

Notebooks & Paper:

Misc:

Holiday Cheer: Office Style

holiday red desk

Do you string fairy lights across your cubicle wall or put a tree on your desk to get into the spirit of the season? If not, maybe its time to put a little holiday cheer in the office? Hang some decorations from your bulletin board or wall.

free Santa Claus stationery

Maybe download some printable stationery “From the Desk of Santa Claus” to write your lists and notes?

wreath over desk

Hang a wreath or a stocking from your chair or on the wall in your office?

Holiday Desktop Wallpaper

Or for an understated sense of holiday cheer, download a desktop wallpaper and tune into a holiday radio station or Spofity playlist and sing along to a little Bing?

Wireless Speakers (and other sound options)

speakers

As the holidays swiftly approach, I’ve noticed a plethora of ads (televised, paper and digital) for wireless speakers. This seems like the go-to gift this holiday season — something to plus-up an existing digital device like a phone, tablet, laptop, etc. There are lots of options from the colorful Jambox by Jawbone to the descriptive, if uninspiringly-named, Sony Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. There’s also the Bose SoundLink Mini which has a pleasing design look as well as the respectability of the Bose brand name behind it. All three of these device come in around $200. The Jambox offers three sizes that range in price from $149 to $299; the model comparable to the SoundLink and Sony model selling for $179.

The Sonos Play1 is also a wireless speaker but without the built-in rechargeable batteries of the other models.

I currently own a Tivoli Model One which I keep in the kitchen to listen to NPR or  I use the auxiliary port to plug in an iPod. It has extremely good sound quality for such a small device. Tivoli now offers a bluetooth version of the Model One for $260.

I think anyone of these speaker units would be a great desk accessory. Both the Jambox and the Sony Speaker include built-in microphones to double as a device for conference calls. If you intend to use a wireless speaker in your home or office exclusively, the Sonos or Tivoli models might work well though neither have a built-in mic either. While I prefer the understated looks of the SoundLink Mini (and I already own the stunning Tivoli Model One), I would be inclined to purchase a device with a built-in mic, especially for in-office use.

Do you use wireless speakers? Have you tried any of these devices? Are you adding wireless speakers to your holiday wish list?

 

Link Love: Notebooks, Scanners and Places to Go

Notebooks:

Places to Visit:

Pens:

 

long point sharpener

Pencils:

Ink:

Misc: