Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't Confuse Your Markers

While attending a meeting and dutifully creating a multitude of Venn Diagrams on our white board I noticed a different marker among our usual colored markers.  It was one of the nice chunky Pilot BeGreen markers with replaceable ink cartridges when they go dry.  I immediately recognized it (they are hard to miss) but I confused it with a different Pilot BeGreen marker I already have.

Notice the similarities?  Notice the differences?  There aren't a lot.  One marker (top) is a permanent marker and the other is a white board marker.  They are no doubt easy to confuse, but you'll want to make sure you don't confuse them so your cost/benefit analysis chart isn't permanently emblazoned on your dry erase board.

Just because the white board marker is easy to confuse with the permanent marker doesn't automatically mean you should avoid purchasing these markers.  I have had the same black Pilot BeGreen marker for several years now and it still writes as good as the day I first unwrapped it.  I've used some of the cheap black permanent markers on many occasions and sometimes they are great, and sometimes they are awful.

Here you can see the chisel tip version of the refillable marker.  Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like the photo of the marker I posted above, only it was taken with fancy photography equipment.  It is a straight ahead glossy photo shoot.

The marketing gurus at Pilot made sure their imagery for their permanent markers and their didn't look as similar as they do in real life.  Note the different placement of the cap, and the greatly decreased shininess of the photo and you can see it was even at a slight angle to give it a little more depth.

Of course, different styles of marker photo shoots doesn't mean everything is intentional.  It might be just two different freelance marker photographers (I assume somebody has to do it).  Of course the Permanent Marker Refill and Dry Erase Marker Refill are different products, but they look suspiciously similar.  What are the chances you could put a permanent refill in the dry erase marker or a dry erase refill in the permanent marker?  Is anybody who has both markers willing to experiment and possibly ruin one or both markers in the name of science?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Retractable Dry Erase Marker Takeapart

If you are a dedicated reader you might remember my previous post Retractable Dry Erase Marker: From Skepticism to Joy from April of this year.  I'm pleased to report that after several additional months of usage my enjoyment of BIC's Great Erase marker held strong.  Unfortunately, it started to get lighter and lighter.  I first assumed that this was the work of a co-worker who was playing with my marker in an attempt to get it to dry out, but soon came to the realization that it was more than that.

After my marker had transitioned from black to gray to an illegibly light gray color, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.  I needed to see why this marker had decided to go belly up in what seemed like a relatively short time, and tore it apart.

BIC Dry Erase Marker Whole and Pieces

The marker has a good weight and a solid feel so I assumed there would be a fair amount of ink included.  Unfortunately as I remove the felt portion of the marker I was disappointed to find it actually was not designed to hold much ink at all.  When compared to the typical tank style dry erase marker you can easily see why I was disappointed.  Those markers are just ink ink and more ink with a little plastic holding it together.  This marker is plastic, plastic, and more plastic with a little ink in the middle.

Knowing what I know now would I purchase these markers if given the option?   The jury is still out.  The marker does a great job of delivering strong, thin lines, and it works extremely well, but given the extra cost of the marker and the relatively small amount of ink in the reservoir it's a tough decision.  If you have a tight office supply budget these markers probably aren't for you, but if you are the kind of office who values convenience and usability over cost then it's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Office Supply Spaceships

Some people in some offices (not you or me), have a little bit to much free time, and a few too many office supplies.  So they go about building stuff.  We've covered the construction of guns previously, but here we are talking strictly decoration.  So without further ado, I present to you the Office Supply X-Wing.

If you, like me, have spent some time with some supplies you know what most of those supplies are.  The only one that threw me for a loop was the purple rectangle behind the cockpit (it is a group of unused staples).  So if you want to build one of these for yourself I've collected your shopping list below.  I went for the absolute cheapest things available (though pricing may change) so it might not be the same color as shown above.

So for $10.75 you can build your self a funky little X-Wing model.  If you can convince your boss that you need these office supplies as part of a larger order of other things you can probably sneak it in for free.  Or for about $20 you can buy yourself a real officially licensed X-Wing model.  Of course you'd probably get fired if you were building that at work.

If you are more into Star Trek than Star Wars there are similar plans for building models of the Enterprise from Office Supplies.  One version that relies heavily on Paper Clips and another that relies on Binder Clips.  So decide if you prefer the Rebel Alliance or the Ferengi Alliance and get to building you office supply hoarders.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Kids Don't Need Expensive Toys

Kids don't need expensive toys- they just want Office Supplies.  If I had a dime for every time I heard a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent talk about how their most cherished youngling preferred the box or the wrapping paper to the actual gift, I would have a good sized jar of dimes.  You might be shocked to realize that boxes are office supplies and paper is an office supply.  Whoa, did I just blow your mind?  Welcome to the future my friend.

One intrepid blogger in an attempt to encourage his kids to discover wonder in the world (and all that kind of stuff they talk about in the Baby Einstein commercials) recently found that one of his kids took a shining to an old adding machine.

Feel free to click through and read about how kids who don't care about arithmetic use and abuse an adding machine, but the long and short of it is that kids love paper.  They loved paper so much that he bought his kid another dozen rolls of paper from Amazon.  Bravo to him for not just buying his child another Batman action figure, but if he really, really loved that kid he would have bought him 100 rolls of paper.

I'm not advocating that all parents go out and purchase a box of adding paper to prove their unending love, but I am telling those parents that their children will love them more when they buy them more paper.  Take a good look at your kid, or a photo of your kid, or a photo of your boss's kid.  Is that kid adorable?  Do you want that kid to be happy?  Do you want that kid to love you more than any other adult?  Then don't walk, don't run, but click through and buy 100 rolls of recycled paper.  The lovefest will last until the paper runs out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Post-It Prank

What do you do when you have a some neon yellow Post-it Notes, a Sharpie, some free time and access to a fire alarm?  Why play a prank of course.

Of course, a prank like this is probably against dozens of building and fire codes, but it is amusing none the less.  Of course, no adult would ever actually confuse a fire alarm with a candy dispenser, but it wouldn't stop some buzz-kill from removing the post-its.

If you want to go for a real fire warning prank that is generally harmless, go and buy a half dozen or so Fire Extinguisher signs and mount them around your office (preferably with a permanent adhesive) pointing to places and things that are obviously not Fire Extinguishers.  Point at a plant.  Point at a computer.  Put it above a table where it can point at a glass (half full) of water.  The possibilities are endless and endlessly infuriating for any building manager.  When you can buy a Fire Extinguisher sign for three dollars, why not go hog wild?
Of course, if you do decide to pull off any of the pranks here, you do so under your own free will.  I won't be held liable in the court of law for anything you do.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Notecards

Today Woot posted a notecard primer for those of you unfamiliar with notecards. Their guide, titled Sean University: Notecards, is intended for those of you headed off into the exciting world of Buisnessy Enterpriseness Buzzword Management. The same rules apply to those of you heading back to school wondering just what these notecard things are that your new teacher is requiring you to use. You should head to Woot and read the entire post, but just in case you are running low on time, here is the Reader's Digest version.

#1. You should only use 3x5 sized notecards. If what you need to convey doesn't fit on said notecard size and shape you need to rewrite it.

#2. If you were not sure what a notecard looks like, they included a diagram.
#3 When asked the serious question: "I’ve got to give a speech about notecards to executives of a notecard company. Can I write notes about notecards on notecards, or will that tear a hole in the very fabric of the very thing we know as reality????" they attempted to give a humorous answer. The correct answer the preceding question is "no."

Woot, however, neglected to answer the most important question: "Where can I buy notecards?" The correct answer is "everywhere." They sell notecards everywhere. I've seen them at Dollar Stores and at Grocery Stores. They sell them at Drug Stores, Convenience Shops, and Department Stores. Of course they also sell them at the Big Box Office Supply Retailers, but none of those places will give you the kind of variety you'll want if you are a notecard aficionado. After just a quick check I found 28 different kinds of 3x5 notecards available (commonly called index cards in the industry). There are cards that come with a color coded bar for organization, cards that come in neon colors if you want to blind your grandmother, and cards that come printer ready if you hate reading your handwriting. My favorite is the cards that come with a pen and specially modified binder clip.
Notecards with Binder Clip and Pen

Yes, you saw that right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a pack of notecards with a specially manufactured binder clip that allows you to keep a pen attached to your notecards. Most people carry around a grip of notecards held together with a rubber band. They'll throw a pen in the rubber band to keep it from flying away, but you've got a pretty good chance that the whole thing will end up as a mess in the bottom of your bag. With Oxford's customized binder clip solution, you'll keep your notecards and your pen held together securely until you need them.

Of course, feel free to mod this setup with your favorite notecards and your favorite pen.