14 January 2018

Confraternity of Christian Mothers - Internet Safety - Hahn/Voboril

Not to fear, you are in the right place, we will have the material from the talk posted here shortly.  We are just making some final edits and adjustments.  Thank-you for your patience.

St. Michael Fighting the Dragon
Albrecht Durer

29 May 2017

Visconti Australis Opera Master LE

It took me a while to find ANY information on this fountain pen.  Originally, when I saw it for sale, I thought it was a fake.  It was, in fact part of a 3 pen Limited Edition offering for Visconti's Australian market.  

The Australis was limited to 150 pens.
The body is made of black lucite with rose gold accents.
The filling system is Visconti's double power reserve.
The nib is 18k gold (mine is a medium).

My Australis was shipped from Australia as NOS (New Old Stock).  The box was not in very good condition, it was falling apart, and had me worried.  The pen (and accompanying letter opener) were in perfect condition.  I was struck by the size of the pen.  It is Opera Master size, and as you can see below, that makes it on the "oversized" end of things.

I love the rose gold accents.  Sometimes, rose gold looks more brass than gold, but I think they did an excellent job here.  The letter opener matches very well.

Some of my Viscontis have poor lettering on the clip, This one had sharp lettering that stood out with even black filling.

It does have the "my pen" system, where you can replace the end bit on the pens, but they all have gold or silver accents and they just don't work as well as the one that came with it.  My one complaint, is that the magnet is very week on this one, and the logo seems to rotate every time I use it.

Like the other Opera Masters, it follows the squaring the circle concept.  It really does make for a comfortable pen, and a great looker.  I actually enjoy it more than the Waterman Exception.

The nib is lovely, and the writing experience was superb.  Visconti nibs run wet and wide.  This is no different.  I will say I prefer their gold nibs to their palladium nibs.

From left to right, Pelikan M805, Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog, Noodler's Neponset, Visconti Australis, and MontBlanc 149.  It's a BIG pen.

In the Visconti line-up, it is the biggest among the popular ones.

Australis Opera Master on Top, Homo Sapiens in the Middle, Opera on the bottom.

In conclusion, I love the pen.  I have had it now for six months and it is almost always inked, with MontBlanc Lavender Purple. It is a big luxury pen, but it can be had for a decent price and it really does deliver.  I did not find it over-weight or over-sized in a bad way.  I do not post the cap when I use it, that would make it way to big.  There are other Opera Masters I would love to have, but if this is the only one I am every able to acquire, I will be content with it.

31 July 2016

The Signature Pen

When I first started looking for and defining my signature pen, several people asked me, "Well, which of your pens is your favorite", or "Which pen do you use the most" almost always ending with "use THAT as your signature pen".  I have a lot of pens, so I can definitely see why someone could question my need for another. So, at the risk of sounding pedantic, I am looking for a pen whose main job is to be used for my signature... not a pen that IS my signature piece.  As horrible as it sounds, I don't know that I could make one of my current pens into a signature pen, because it would feel like I was picking a favorite child or something... gosh I hope my actual children never read this ... I love you guys :-)

I am not a famous author... or a famous... anything... for that matter, nor am I just that vain.  I have used fountain pens for over 20 years, but have only recently gotten back into calligraphy.  While the broader pens make up most of my stable, I have never really gotten into crisp italics because they do not work with my cursive, I blame Zaner-Bloser.

Enter the epic Pilot Parallels.

These little pens are what made me dig out my dip pens.  They are certainly not a replacement for dip pens, but they are sweet little things.  BUT, their greatest act was making my signature look awesome... so maybe I am a little bit vain.

I have spent the better part of the last decade as an educator, so signing my name is a common occurrence, and I did not really feel like it would be wise to carry around a Pilot Parallel all day.  I can tell you what pens I used to sign our marriage certificate, birth certificates, Baptismal records, love letters to my Wife, letters to friends (particularly after they have past), and so, as I thought about having a pen that would be used to provide uniformity to my signature and link the things I have signed, I did want it to have some presence.

While I have many pens, and have more than I should inked at any given time, I do not have any that serve only one purpose; even the pen that is filled with Iron Gall ink is not relegated to only address envelopes,  it gets a turn to stretch its legs.  For this reason, I did not want an italic nib.  I decided on a classy stub.

I toyed with a custom pen, I looked at several brands that had factory stub nibs, and (probably influenced by my recent love affair with the London Fog) I decided I wanted a Visconti to fill the void.  I was almost swayed by a few beautiful MontBlancs, and an older Pelikan.

So, whilst browsing Chatterley Luxuries to find a moderately priced stub nib, I came across the Visconti-Chatterley Desert Opera 10th Anniversary Limited Edition ST Fountain Pen.  I really do love the Desert Springs material in the Divina, so this was not a hard sell.

I messaged back and forth with Bryant about what I wanted with the pen, and he said he would find the prettiest one he had.  As an afterthought, I sent a messaged him and told him that if no7 was nice, I would love to have it.  The response I got from Bryant was wonderful... He said that when he went back to see if they had no7, his wife had already picked out the one that she thought had the best pattern, and it happened to be no7!  What are the odds.

The shipping was prompt, the pen had been tested and wrote beautifully.  I was really surprised by two things, the first was the blue enamel in the clip and the second was how well the stub wrote.  My experience, even with higher end brands, has been that when you get larger than a medium nib, they are prone to at least a little baby's bottom.... this had none.

It is a cartridge/converter, but I am not horrible bothered by that.  I felt a little better about putting Noodler's Liberty's Elysium in it because it is much easier to clean out.  Also, it is the nicest converter I have ever used.  It screws into the pen, and it aesthetically very pleasing, with the silver trim and subtle branding.

The packaging is always nice from Visconti, a grey lacquered box.  

The silver grip does not get slippery for me... although as you can see... it attracts fingerprints like nothing else.  

The desert springs material is GORGEOUS!!!  I wish I could take a picture that really captured it.  

In conclusion, I found a pen that not only suits my vanity and makes my signature beautiful, but is one that I genuinely like to write with.  The price was great, and fit in my budget from other pens I had to sell.  It is not my favorite pen, but I have no problem keeping it constantly inked and it will keep a place in my pen pouch.  I was not disappointed in the least, but I still enjoy using a regular nib for general writing... I am not saying that this is the only stub nib I will ever buy, but even if it is, I am happy I have this one.

Na Zdraví!

29 June 2016

Visconti London Fog --- Get Excited

So, got this in today from Appelboom. This is not a review yet. I have only had it for an hour. I will say this is the first pen I have ever gotten that looks better in person than the stock photos. Enjoy the eye-candy!!! These are not done with the good camera.... those will come with a review.

05 November 2015

Fiber Networks Demystified

Just to be clear, I am a Sys Admin.  I am NOT a Fiber specialist, or a Fiber installer, etc.  It used to be that fiber networking was something we dealt with after it was installed.  We might buy specific hardware, or have it provided for us.  For most sys-admins and network techs, fiber was a magic place that worked, and worked well.  If it broke.... we had bad days.  The reality is, fiber networking is not that complicated.  There are, believe it or not, more standards for copper cable than there are for fiber.  We only use a few standards for either one.... so stop getting freaked out.

In the beginning there was OM1.  This orange, 62.5µm cable has been a part of most major installs since the mid 70's.  It is fragile, has limited range, and limited modal bandwidth.  It DOES, however, still have 3 times the max distance of CAT 5, 5e, 6,or 7.  My biggest problem with old OM1 (Old Military 1) is that it is much more fragile than the other cable types.

We then moved to 50µm cable for LED driven optical networks.  It was great.  It doubled the max distance for data transmissions, it's more durable, it has double the modal bandwidth of OM1.  What it did not do, was efficiently transport laser optics, because like the OM1 fiber, it had imperfections in the core of the fiber, so you have to use a conditioning cable at launch.

Enter OM3 and OM4, laser Optimized and laser Enhanced fiber.  These two are designed to be more efficient with laser optics, but will also carry LED optics more effectively.

Why not that Single Mode Fiber.... that goes farther.  Sure.  It does...  9µm single mode cable is capable of something like 80km.   Single mode fiber is different from multimode fiber in the way light travels along the fiber.

 The question, then, is what you are in need of, and if you are going beyond 1100m.  Single mode fiber has even fewer standards than multimode.  

Max Range
1310 nm
10 km
1550 nm
40 km
1550 nm
80 km

Multimode has a few more options.

Ethernet Standards
1 Gb/s 
Cat 5/5e/6/7
10 Gb/s
Cat 6 (unshielded)
Cat 7/6 (shielded)
40 Gb/s
100 Gb/s

To be honest, pick your speed, pick your distance, and you will have your standard and cable.  In my opinion, if you are running 1Gb, use SX optics, if you are running 10Gb, run SR.... done.

I mentioned different fiber cables before.  I need to be clear.  Even though OM3 and OM4 are optimized for laser, they will still run your SX network.  OM3 and OM4 are backwards compatible.

You might want to click on this chart to view the larger version....

The 2 big rules are:

1) Don't Mix and Match.  You can do that with CAT-whatever, you can't with fiber.

2) Keep it clean.  We are talking about glass and light... even the grease from your hands will get you dirty packets..

Also, as an aside.  Be nice to the next guy, or gal, that works on your fiber.  Stop using ST cable connectors.  They are stupid, and my fat fingers can't use them in tight spaces.  You have other options.

In short.  Don't make yourself crazy.  It will all work out.  

I have compiled everything into a "Fiber Demystified Cheat Sheet"  Use it... enjoy it.  If you find mistakes, leave a comment bellow!

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Tomas Voboril and while I endeavored to keep the information up to date and correct, I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the cheat sheet or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will I be liable for any loss or damage, including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website. Always check with your Vendor, Systems Admin, and Installer before making major decisions. 

09 October 2015

Top Five Giveaway Fountain Pens

This weeks Friday Top Five is Giveaway Fountain Pens.  I am doing this one before the Top Five Starter Fountain Pens for 2 reasons:

1) I have found that a lot of people will be introduced to fountain pens by someone else and don't usually just go out and pick up the hobby (of course there are exceptions... I decided in high school that I was going to write with fountain pens without anyone encouraging the hobby.)

2) I just bought a bunch of fountain pens to give away, so the idea is on my mind...

My guidelines for a giveaway fountain pen are dependent upon whether or not I will be around the pen as they start to use it, and how much time I have to tinker with it before I give it away.

If I am going to be around, I don't mind giving away a piston filler, or cartridge converter, because I have bottles of ink they can refill from.  If I do not have time to tinker, than I am not going to give away a really cheap pen that might not start writing well out of the box.

#5 The Hero 616

The Hero 616 is cheap, really cheap.  It is a replica of the old Parker '51.  Apparently some parts are interchangeable, but I haven't tried.  I usually buy these in a pack of 10 from China, because I have to work on them before I give them away.  Some of them won't work, but most of them can be put into use with a little bit of micro-mesh, a razor, and some shellac.  This tends to be one of the last ones I give away, but if I have been using my Parker '51, then I give these away so they look like the pen I have been using.

  • Holds  enough ink to get a starter by for a while
  • Has built in converter
  • Does not dry out quickly
  • Classic Look
  • Comes in several colors
  • Poor build quality
  • Stiff nibs that need work
  • Can leak

#4  The Platinum Preppy

The Platinum Preppy is one of those quintessential give away pens.  These pens can be bought from any major vendor.  They will take Platinum's proprietary cartridge, their converter, or can be converted to an eye-dropper.  Some people prefer the Platinum Plaisir, but I like these.  Most of mine are converted to eye droppers, but then if they break or come unscrewed... it is a BIG mess.  

  • Holds a decent amount of ink
  • Will take Cartridge or Converter or Eye-dropper
  • Does not dry out quickly
  • Clear demonstrator
  • Comes in several colors
  • Decent Nib
  • Cheap plastic can break
  • Can leak
  • Looks very "kiddy"
#3 The Dollar 717iT

No, the Dollar Pen does not cost just a Dollar.  The Company's name is Dollar.  This pen comes from Pakistan, and generally can be purchased from eBay for just a few dollars.  It is a piston filler, has a decent nib, and comes in several colors.

  • Holds a decent amount of ink
  • Piston Filler
  • Comes in several colors
  • Will only take bottled ink
  • Can leak around the section
  • Not always easy to get
#2 Pilot 78g

The Pilot 78g is one of my favorite pens, not just to giveaway, but as part of my every day carry pens.  These have surprisingly good nibs, normally have decent flow, and look nice.  They are not always available in the U.S., and when they are they are 10-15$

  • Has built in converter, but can also take cartridge
  • Great Nib
  • Classic Look
  • Comes in 3 colors

  • Hard to find in U.S.
  • Not as cheap as other options
  • Painted on gold bands will wear away
  • Does not hold a lot of ink
#1 Pilot V-Pen

The Pilot V-Pen is sold as the Varsity in the U.S., but I like the styling of the V-Pen better, and since my last name is Voboril, it's just better.  These are disposable fountain pens, and they are really pretty amazing.  No they can not be refilled, but the nibs are very smooth, they are super cheap, and they never ever dry out.  I have never had a hard start or even a skip, that I can remember.

  • Holds a lot of ink
  • Does not dry out, period.
  • Great Nib, smooth as butter
  • Comes in several colors

  • Disposable
  • Disposable
  • Disposable
I give away more Pilot V-Pens than any other.  When someone is ready to move up to a starter pen, I usually help them with that too.  To me, a starter pen is the gateway to the fountain pen world.  If someone picks up a $400 pen, or sometimes even a $30 pen as their first fountain pen, they will be hesitant to use it all the time.  These pens are pens you use every day, and if you loose it, or break it, you don't sweat about it.

29 September 2015

Pelikan M805 Blue/Black

There are few brands that I drool over more than Pelikan.  So it was very exciting when I received this pen in the mail from Rolfe at Missing-Pen.de.  First, I have to say, if you are looking for a Pelikan, I can not recommend Missing Pen enough.  Rolfe is a joy to work with and his service is prompt and thorough.  I was also treated with some of his store exclusive Diamine Ink "Racing Green"  More on that later.

I have had this pen long enough now to get my thoughts together about it.  I would have posted sooner, but we have had a lot going on.  I guess the first thing to answer is "Why the M805 in Blue?"  I can not afford a M1000 at this point, and I was nearly about to go for the M800 in red several years ago when I first started looking at getting one of these, but the blue just.... strikes my fancy.

My understanding is that the Pelican with its Baby has often been used as a symbol of Christianity because the Pelican will pierce it's own chest and feed its young blood if food is in short supply, which can be referenced to Christ, having His side pierced for all of us. For more reading on that: The Symbolism of the Pelican.

Engraving on the front of a Catholic Alter

I don't know if that was the intention of Pelikan, but I like the idea that it was.  There are plenty of luxury fountain pen companies, so the idea that one might be a bit more noble, impresses me.  I may just be coming up with excuses to like Pelikan more, but I think it's nice to be able to put my finger on some of the intangibles.... and I already like the brand.

And, seriously, there are plenty of reasons to like the brand.  I enjoy all the details.  The motif of the pelican moves on to the clip where the eye and bill are represented.  That slight swoop at the end makes it a very functional clip too.

The pattern is also very interesting.  I like the Stresemann pattern.  It is different and interesting.  There are very small imperfections in some of the blue strips, but I like it, it makes mine unique.  The Pelikan website has a better explanation of the history of the man behind the pattern:

The foreign minister of the Weimar Republic, Gustav Stresemann (1879- 1929), was honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1926: Together with his French colleague Aristide Briand, he was acknowleged for his reconciliatory work between the nations after World War I. Besides his impressive political career, Stresemann also became famous for the creation of a new kind of suit that was still sufficiently formal for official presentations and yet comfortable enough for his work at the office. Stresemann liked to wear suits with thin stripes, and, as life sometimes goes, a legend developed … and suddenly, people called the striped fountain pens from Pelikan -- that were just then starting their global tour of success around the world -- by the name of "Stresemann“.
Both the suits and the pens still carry that name to this day. 

Being part of the Souverän series of pens, the 805 has a piston filling system.  The differential screw piston filler is really one of the things that made Pelikan famous. 

From: http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/pelikan-fountain-pen-guide/
Pelikan’s fountain pen was revolutionary in the sense that it had a piston mechanism that consisted of  differential threads. This mechanism was invented by the Hungarian engineer Theodor Kovács and filed in 1921 and patented in 1923. Using two threads with different telescope thread leads, the piston moves much faster than with a single thread. This not only allowed for a quicker charging by simply turning a knob, but it also increased the capacity considerably. On top of that, the use of cork prevented the fountain pen from leaking. Pelikan bought the patent for this invention in 1927 from Kovács since he failed to create a working fountain pen with his Croatian business partners. Pelikan later substituted the cork with plastic as seen below, because cork dries out over time and decreases in volume, causing the fountain pen to leak.

That is a beautiful nib.  I realize I am gushing about this pen, so it may be surprising that I had a small, short lived disappointment.  I am not sure if mine just needed some break in time, or it had slight baby's bottom, or what, but I did have some skipping and hard starts until I had ran about 2 fills through it.  I have heard that Pelikans sometimes need breaking in, so I was not too stressed... but I still think it should have written perfect out of the gate.

Other than that small hiccup, it has been a wonderful nib.  It is a European Medium.  I have found it true to my idea of medium.  It is, of course, wider than a Pilot, or Sailor, etc.  It does not really seem any wider than my Montblanc M, or my Lamy M.

It is an 18k gold nib, plated with rhodium.  It is not a particularly soft nib, but it certainly is not a nail.  It's nice.

I have other German pens, but these three are my German Knights.  If I put the Lamy 2000 right next to the Montblanc 149 they would seem in more stark comparison; the Pelikan M805 is a nice balance between the two.

I do realize it would be more appropriate to compare the Pelikan M805 to the Montblanc 146, but I don't have a MB 146, I DO have a MB 149.  I really want a Pelikan M1000 now, but it will have to wait, besides the M805 is really the perfect size for daily use.  The two companies have a history together, too.   There was even a time that Pelikan made the ink for Montblanc and Montblanc made the nibs for Pelikan.

This is not my best handwriting, but someone had commented that the Pelikan sizes run a bit broad compared to others.  I can agree with this.

As I was taking the pictures for this post, my 7 year old reminded me that we had gotten TWO new pens.  It is true, I also purchased a new pen for my wife.  Neon Coral Lamy Safari, the limited edition color for 2014.

In conclusion, I am smitten.  I love the pen. I love the nib, the size, the color, the whole brand.  If you have ever been on the fence about Pelikan... come on in, the water is fine.  I can also recommend Rolfe Thiel with Missing-Pen (http://stores.ebay.com/missing-pen)  He is a joy to work with, has excellent service, and phenomenal prices.

My expectations have been exceeded, and that is a rarity.  I am not often blown away.