Marrying Fountain Pens and Paper with the Cloud

This is a guest post by Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D. You can find him on twitter @assistivetek and his blog assistivetek.blogpsot.com

As much as I enjoy my digital tools there is just something about using pen and paper that still feels just right! For the past couple of months, I have gotten back to using fountain pens in my work flow and have really enjoyed using a variety of fountain pens and ink colors that abound. The big question for me was just how could I integrate it with my workflow? You see for me to keep organized I generally keep everything in my iPhone and have been using Evernote for the past eight years. While this problem may seem insurmountable I did find a workflow that allows me to use my fountain pens and continue to use my Evernote account.

One of my favorite note taking tools is Evernote which I have been using for some time now. Evernote is a great way to capture ideas, notes, images, audio and store it on the web for easy access. Not too long ago, Evernote in collaboration with Moleskine came out with journals that allowed me to quickly move my handwritten notes to the cloud with full searching capabilities. The system is very easy to use and gave me the ability to continue to take notes using a fountain pen and paper. After writing my notes or tasks I can use Smart Stickers that come with the Evernote writing journals to quickly file my notes into the right notebook using the camera on my iPhone. The Smart Stickers are quite ingenious. Using the camera on my iPhone I can associate a sticker with a particular notebook. For example, if you associate the sticker that has a House icon on it with your Work notebook, then when you take a picture of that page that has the house sticker affixed, it automatically will file the note in your Work notebook. The Evernote system works great and one of the big advantages of this system is that you can easily search all your handwritten notes. Evernote will OCR all of your handwritten notes and make searching them very easy. Using the Evernote journal from Moleskine has allowed me to use my fountain pens and marry my need to keep my notes and to-do in the cloud.

While searching the web one day, I came across a relatively new solution that bridges the analog to digital world for note taking called Whitelines Link. Whitelines Link produces several different notepads with a grey background with whitelines, with a unique looking code on the four corners of each page. On the bottom of each page is a set of three icons in a box, which probably needs no introduction and includes one for Email, Evernote, and Dropbox. More about this a little later. The notebooks were designed this way so that when you write or draw on the page your words or drawings pop on the page. I have been using the Whitelines Link A5 Squared notebook for the last two months and have really enjoyed the experience. The Whitelines Link notebook is spiral bound so the pages lay flat and the paper quality is great for use with a pencil, gel pen or even a fountain pen. Once I have finished my page of notes - there is where the fun begins! First I decide what I want to do with my notes- am I going to send them to someone via email, or save them to my Evernote or Dropbox account? By ticking off one of the icons on the bottom of the page I can easily and automatically route the note without having to think about it. As a heavy user of Evernote this works great. When I'm done with my note, I simply tick off the Evernote icon and when I open the Whitelines Link app on my iPhone and take a picture of the note, the app using the codes on the corner of the page can senses where the note is and automatically routes it to my Evernote account for safe keeping. The Whitelines Link app is available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store and is free. I should mention that when you use the Whitelines Link app to capture your notes, the grey background and white lines disappear and all you are left with are your notes on a white background which really highlights your ideas! The ways to use Whitelines Link is only limited by your creativity. Whitelines Link notebooks are available on Amazon and are licensed to be used with Leuchtturm Whitelines Link Black Pocket Dots notebooks which are readily available in the United States. This is a great product and one that I know you will enjoy using.

If you enjoy using fountain pens to jot down ideas, journal, or for writing your to-do lists then you may want to consider bringing the analog to digital gap by using the Moleskine Evernote, Whitelines Link, or the Leuchtturm Whitelines Link Black Pocket Dots notebooks. All of the notebook solutions add a considerable value proposition and one that allowed me to continue to use fountain pens that are then married to my cloud based services!


Pen Profile : The Visconti Van Gogh Mini (Pre-2011)

Van Gogh is quoted to have once said,

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Creating a masterpiece is no small feat. Neither is being a world renown artist. However, the route to each of those achievements is taken in the same way - one stroke at a time, one step at a time.

It may be little, but every conscious decision toward your big dreams is one step closer to making them real.

Keeping inspired with a positive mental attitude is key in following through and pursuing your goals. A painting will not look like the finished product until months (possibly years) of labor are invested. If the artist is discouraged after a lack of daily progress, then the masterpiece will never be completed.

Having a miniature masterpiece at hand can help keep the creative juices flowing.

Let your dreams manifest through your hands with Visconti's Van Gogh collection of writing instruments. The original styles produced prior to 2011 feature colorful, swirling, translucent resin with chrome trims and the classic, Visconti arc clip. These unique resins pay tribute to the artist's post-impressionist painting style, brilliantly translated into pen form.

The original Van Gogh collection came in three sizes : an oversized "Maxi," the standard "Midi" and the petite "Mini." When they were replaced by the VanGogh Impressionist collection back in 2011, we obtained the last of the Van Gogh Mini pens from the distributor. As of this writing, only a few dozen new, old stock pens are left.

Pocket-Sized Paintings

The Van Gogh Mini fountain pen measures 4.875" long closed, 4.375" with cap removed, 5.5" long with cap posted on back end. It is not as small as a Kaweco Sport pen, which measures 4.13" long closed and 5.3" long with cap posted, but it is smaller than the newer Visconti Van Gogh Impressionist pens (5.5" closed, 6.23" with cap posted). 

The Van Gogh Mini has a screw open cap that posts securely to the back end while writing. The fountain pen arrives with a single, international-sized ink cartridge to start with, but it can also use the Kaweco Sport piston converter to fill using bottled ink (sold separately). The stainless steel nib is as smooth and reliable as you would expect a Visconti worth 3X the value.

A matching rollerball is also available in select styles. The Van Gogh Mini rollerball uses the same type of Schmidt capless rollerball refill that accompanies the Retro 51 Tornado Pen. All Van Gogh Mini pens arrive in highly presentable Visconti gift boxes.