Category Archives: Reviews

Noodler’s Ink – A Review of Black Swan in Australian Roses

Thanks to the iPen subscription box, I’ve recently become fascinated by fountain pens. I never thought they were a very practical option as opposed to a good old ballpoint, and they’re not when the pen in question is being carried around in the bottom of your purse for months on end. But as a desk pen, and one that is used to create magnificent plots and deep characters, I’ve found they’re excellent.

But of course a fountain pen requires ink, and I recently went shopping for some online. While there are many factors to consider (including how waterproof they are) I was mostly concerned with color and price.  (Enthusiasts are gasping right now. )

On my starving artist budget, I decided to try Noodler’s Ink. It’s pretty cheap ($12.50 for a 3 ounce bottle) and comes in tons of colors.

Passing up Heart of Darkness, Bad Belted Kingfisher,  and Dragon’s Napalm (yes, those are actual color names and they’re awesome!) I settled for Black Swan in Australian Roses.

First, I was delighted with the artwork on the box and the bottle. This doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the ink itself, but it was definitely entertaining! Also,  a 3 ounce bottle is pretty sizable. That’s a lot of ink!

I just love the color of this ink! The name is quite appropriate, as it comes out as a blend of almost-black and a deep wine.

This paper is not made specifically for fountain pens, but it’s a nice smooth paper that works well regardless. Writing on paper that is more textured and absorbent doesn’t create an effect quite as pleasant, since the ink really soaks in.

Black Swan in Australian Roses has been such a pleasure to write with that I’ve already had to refill my pen. Fortunately, I know I’ll be able to do that many times over!

The one downside I’ve noticed is that the ink is rather strong smelling. It’s an odor that reminds me of rubbing alcohol mixed with paint. I’m only really aware of it when I’m doing a lengthy bit of writing and I’m right over the page. I don’t mind the smell, but I think it’s worth mentioning since I haven’t noticed this with other inks.

Overall, I highly recommend this ink. Your results may be different depending on your pen, nib, and paper, but for creative writing by hand it’s lovely.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – A Review

I’ve only had my new computer for a few days.  And I feel like I can’t quite use the term “computer.”  After all, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is basically just a tablet with a keyboard.  So that can’t really be a machine that replaces your laptop, can it?

I’ve been searching for a new laptop for awhile, but I’m a very thrifty person.  I have to ensure that I have the absolute best bang for my buck, as well as something that is truly going to make a difference for me.  Buying a new version of the exact same laptop didn’t really make sense.

What first turned me on to the Surface was the keyboard.  I was at Best Buy in the laptop section, just testing out every single keyboard before I even looked at the processor speed or the RAM.  As a freelance writer, I’m sometimes doing up to 10,000 words per day, so I need something that really feels great under my fingertips.  The suedey feel of the Surface’s keyboard case, plus the fact that it’s small but not cramped, really did it for me.

Next, I was concerned about the memory.  The Surface just doesn’t have it when you compare it to a regular laptop.  But a quick look at my current hard drive, which was mostly full of documents, revealed that I don’t use that much space anyway.  Plus, I always work out of Dropbox so that I’m backed up no matter what.  There’s also a microSD slot on the side that allows you to nearly double the memory if you need to (or swap out different cards for different projects, as I think I will be doing).

For a tablet to replace your laptop, it has to be really….lapable.  I have a beautiful desk that I very much enjoy, but I also really like curling up on the couch or in the recliner while I work.  I was concerned that the kickstand on the back of the Surface in conjunction with a keyboard held on by magnets just wasn’t going to cut it.  I read another review that promised it would, and it turns out that guy was correct.  This computer fits wonderfully on my lap, is not floppy, and of course doesn’t get hot.  Big bonus!

I’ve read in other reviews that some folks don’t like the Surface Connect charging cable because it comes out too easily.  Personally, I love it!  I would much rather the cord pop out than dig in and cause damage when my dog gets tangled up in the charging cable.  (Yes, I’ve had something along these lines happen before, although I might have been the one tangled in the cable.)

There’s a lot that I have yet to learn about the Surface.  I’ve been too busy using it for work to do a lot of tinkering.  But from what I’ve experienced so far, it’s great.  The surface pen is handy.  The device switches easily from tablet mode to keyboard mode.  It’s very light compared to the boat anchor I was using before.  Setup was fast and simple.  The battery life is amazing compared to the two-to-three hours my laptop was capable of.  Also, I’ve been a Windows fan since I was a kid, so having a tablet with a system I’m familiar with is huge for me.

Overall, I’m really crazy about this computer and I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar computing situation.  If you are a graphic designer or a gamer, then I don’t know what to tell you.  I write, surf the web, and stream Pandora.  For me, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was worth the investment!

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