Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Planner For 2013

We're all pretty pre-occupied with the holidays right about now, but don't forget that the new year is looming on the horizon. 2012 is just about in the books already, and that means you need to think about 2013. Once the ball drops, your life resumes as usual, and that means you'll still need to keep track of it. You don't want to flip your calendar on January 1 only to find a chipboard backing or a friendly reminder to buy a replacement. You need to be ready!

If you already have a planner and just need to refill it, consider this that friendly reminder in advance. Manufacturers stop making new appointment book refills for a given year soon after that year begins. It's important to make sure you're taken care of for 2013. For those looking for a new planner or calendar, there are several things to think about before purchasing.

The first thing to determine is whether you want a calendar, appointment book, or organizer. Calendars tend to be stationary, sitting on your desk or mounted to the wall. Appointment books and organizers are both designed to be carried around, with organizers including additional features like a zipper enclosure, address book, scratch pad, pocket, business card slot or even a calculator. Organizers are also more likely to be refillable than appointment books.

The next thing to think about is how detailed your schedule needs to be. If you plan your day in fifteen minute increments, or need to add additional information to hourly appointments, buy a daily appointment book or desk calendar. Weekly planners still allow some space to list daily appointments and are considerably less expensive. Monthly planners only give you a small box per day, but allow you to view a whole month at a time.

That's the third thing to consider: do you take things day by day or do you like to have the whole week or month in front of you? If you've opted for a calendar, going daily gives you the satisfaction of tearing off or turning a page every day, while a desk pad livens up a workstation, giving you space to plan every day while viewing an entire month at a time.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Office Chairs with Free Returns

Buying office furniture can be fraught with tough decisions. Do you purchase more expensive higher quality furniture that will last longer? Do you purchase cheaper furniture that will need replacing sooner? Do you buy online to save money or in a store so you can sample the product? has solved all your chair buying problems by allowing free return shipping on select office chairs for a limited time. This is your chance to shop for chairs online with no risk! If your chair isn't as comfortable as you would have liked, you can send it back at no charge.

Rather than saving money online, many people shop for office furniture at big box stores only because they can sit in the chairs and get a feel for them before buying (sadly, racing chairs down the aisles is frowned upon at most retailers). Now you have a way to take advantage of online savings without having to worry about being saddled with an uncomfortable saddle.

The six qualifying chairs represent a variety of products from Basyx, from an Executive Leather Chair to a Mid-Back Work Chair with a Mesh Seating to a Guest Chair. Basyx is a division of Hon Furniture, offering the same Hon quality at lower prices. One of these chairs could very well be the one for you. If so, you'd better make sure to get it ordered. If not, the free return shipping means no harm done.

Update! The free returns policy now applies to all chairs!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Holiday Planning

Yes, it's November already. Yes, you have to start thinking about it. No, you shouldn't wait. The holiday season is approaching and you have to be ready for it.

You don't have to have gifts purchased for everybody on your list yet (although if you are looking, check out this selection of printers, digital cameras and mp3 player accessories), and you should definitely wait before you start blasting the Christmas music, but there are things you can do now to be prepared for the impending festivities. has created a holiday headquarters covering all of your seasonal needs. You'll find everything you need to package presents and cards such as tape, boxes, envelopes and labels. Make sure you're not caught without when it comes time to get that parcel in the mail. If you're planning a party for your office or your friends, you'll need enough plates, plastic cups, napkins and other party supplies to properly celebrate.

If your office is doing a Secret Santa exchange, do you need something for that special somebody that you vaguely recall seeing in the breakroom once? Check this page for cheap gift ideas that will still put a smile on someone's face.

Of course, will be rolling out some amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in two weeks. In the meantime, every week leading up to the big days, there will be big savings on different products to keep the spirit going.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Create Personal Space in an Open Office

If you work for one of a growing number of companies that have adopted an open office environment, someone nearby may be reading this blog post right now over your shoulder. That's not such a bad thing, but you may feel differently about your neighbor's glances when you work with sensitive information, or when you'd prefer to work without your performance being monitored. And if you're also someone who is easily distracted by chatter, music, or ringing phones, you're probably more challenged at times existing in your open office than performing your job.

Even extroverted individuals who love an open office need quiet, solitary moments on occasion – and not just in the restroom. Below are some suggestions for how open office inhabitants can attain a comfortable amount of privacy without resorting to eye poking or phone smashing.

  • Bring in plants. Place greenery on a variety of levels to create barriers, and enjoy some privacy without blocking out your coworkers entirely. Large plant containers can also provide some privacy.
  • Hang curtains or screens. Consider using transparent materials so light can pass through, and feel free to open and close these decorative blockades as needed.
  • Install room dividers. Panels come in a variety of heights, so walls don't have to seal you off from the rest of the room, and you can arrange individual panels into cubicles or something more area specific.
  • Arrange desks strategically. Bring together the best Tetris players in the office and have them figure out desk arrangements that make it harder for coworkers to stare at each other, while maintaining an open office setting.
  • Wear headphones. Your ears will sustain privacy from onlookers, but most importantly, you'll drown out distracting noises with your favorite music or sounds of ocean waves crashing on a Caribbean shoreline – whichever works best for you.
  • Add filters onto monitors. Privacy filters help protect sensitive information from being viewed on computer screens by unauthorized gazers.
  • Designate private workspaces. If your office still has a spare room where privacy seekers can temporarily relocate, establish that space as a leave-­me-­alone zone, and enforce rules that protect employee privacy.

So, there you have it. Feel free to turn around now and discuss these ideas with your neighbor so you can both come to an agreement about how to best create privacy – quickly. Do you already have some ideas for creating privacy in the office that you've successfully implemented? Please share your ideas with the rest of us!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Prepare for Back To School Preparation

Now that the 4th of July has officially come and gone it is time to get ready for the next big holiday, Labor Day.

Most adults love Labor Day. It is one of those great holidays in the US that almost all employers (except retail and food-service) treat as a holiday, so the hardware store is open and all the kids are getting butterflies in their stomach because of the impending math homework. This creates a perfect environment for getting things done. If you ever see a kid looking like they are having too much fun on Labor Day just find a Back To School Supplies List and wave it in their face. That face will turn a whiter-shade-of-pale in no time.

If you have any student going to Grade School you might not be able to pull off instilling the fear of God in their little hearts with the threat of school if they like to hang out with other little kids and eat paste. Once they get to 5th or 6th grade you should be able to work them a little harder. They'll have to do some math and memorize geography. Kids always hate that.

Back to school for kids in High School is probably the worst for everybody. The social cliques are the most defined they will ever be and expectations from Teachers and Parents are at all time high. If you are attempting to get your kids under control on Labor Day just remind them that first impressions are everything and that they need to pull off decent grades in High School if they are going to do anything positive with their life. If that doesn't get the Back to school butterflies in the stomach a fluttering I don't know what will.

If you have a College Student preparing for back to school and you want them out of your hair, just tell them that. They are probably a legal adult and you don't have any legal reason to keep them around any more.  You can remind them of that. You might feel obliged to buy some College and Dorm Supplies for them, but don't go overboard. College kids aren't going listen to anything you tell them, class attendance just became optional.

My personal favorite crowd to remind about back to school is the teachers.  I've never met a teacher who didn't put off projects until the summer when they would have free time and didn't plan well enough to get them done. So of course they won't have though about what back to school supplies they'll need for the classroom. They'll want to hang out and BBQ like the rest of the adults, but they can't enjoy themselves because they know they'll be under the same pressure as the kids in a matter of hours.

It is one of the few seasons that those of us 9 to 5 working stiffs really have it made. Unrelated, if you are one of those people who like to attempt to impress your friends with worthless knowledge you should learn the difference between Labor Day and Labour Day and celebrate both.

Staplers: Commonplace or Uncommonly Cool?

When you ask people about office supplies they'll usually talk about pens, post-its, and staplers. Everybody has their own take on pens and what qualities they value most. Conversations on post-its, or adhesive notes if you prefer, usually center about the color, regular vs. accordion fold, and brand name vs. generic. Ask somebody about their stapler and you'll usually get a blank stare.

With the exception of people who have gone out of their way to find a red Swingline stapler or have an electric stapler most people just have whatever is in their desk. Not everybody has a need for a Commercial Grade Stapler all the time, but maybe it is time to appreciate staplers and give them their just deserts (not desserts, sorry).

I'm not too proud to say that the stapler I keep at work is nothing more than the lowly Swingline 545 Economy Model (technically it's a 545xx, but that's a story for another day). When it is time to buy staplers I'm still of the mind that you should go for an all metal stapler. It is priced competitively to similar plastic model, although it is less ergonomic.

Recently, a Tumblr blog was setup as Brand Spirit where 100 objects were spray painted white and photographed so that people could compare how easily certain objects were identified when they lack all form of identification.  They do have a stapler that they label as a prime form of the Swingline brand.  I'm not sold though. Swingline has been building their 747 model, the classic stapler so classic they actually call it the Swingline 747 Classic Stapler.

Look at the silhouette of the Brand Spirit Swingline and the 747 Swingline and tell me which is the most "classic." I'm no expert, but the actual, unpainted, Swingline feels like the prime example of 50s function over form.  The Brand Spirit Swingline has the sloping back-end that might as well be painted avocado green to me. This could be a case of reinventing a product so it appears older and more classic than it actually it, so feel free to leave a comment and prove me wrong.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jetstream Premier by Uni-Ball

If there's one thing I'm pretty good at it's judging. Some of my friends have even told me to put away my judging finger. I guess my ability to make snap judgments, even when they are wrong, leads my interest in Judge Dredd and the Pope. Even if they make a decision that ends up being wrong... too bad, it was correct at the time.

Speaking of him (Judge Dredd, not the Pope), have you seen the trailer for the new Judge Dredd movie? For some reason they have left "Judge" out of the title. That doesn't make any sense it's like leaving "Warlord of Mars" off the title of a storied science fiction franchise.

That's not the point though. The point is I like to make snap judgments. One of the things I like to judge quickly are pens. If a pen feels light or has more girth than it needs I'm pretty quick to push it aside as an also ran. If you recall, the weight of the pen was featured heavily in my review of the InkJoy pen series. So when a Jetstream Premier from Uni-Ball crossed my desk the other day, I ripped open the packaging, dropped the pen in my pen cup and went about the rest of my day-to-day business. When I had a few moments to think, I went back and picked up the Uni-Ball Jetstream and it didn't pass my completely subjective size-to-weight ratio test (not a good sign). In the interest of fairness to the people at Uni-Ball I thought I'd give it a quick test run and see just how poorly it compared. I clicked the clicker and HOLY CUSS!

Much to my shock, the pen has an almost silent click. I don't know if you've ever sat in on a meeting with a obsessive-compulsive-pen-clicker and an anti-pen-click-stick-in-the-mud but the fireworks fly. This pen could potentially solve all the pen click-related problems that have been keeping the United Nations from actually making progress toward ending famine and getting Bono's plan for world peace off the ground.

I was sure that the silent click of the pen was just a gimmick and that it would be a standard ballpoint pen, but I was wrong again. The black ink from the Uni-Ball Jetstream surpassed the much loved InkJoy. The lines were smoother and darker. It had me intrigued... what else is there to know about this pen?

I went to Uni-Ball's page, since I had thrown away the packaging, to see what they had to say about their pen. They identified the silent action and smooth ink, but also touted its quick drying ink. As a right-handed person who writes small I rarely run into the problem with smearing ink when a portion has yet to properly dry. So I had to setup a test to give it a run through. I'll draw a circle with my right hand and immediately drag my left pointer finger through it to see how it smears. True to their word the Uni-Ball Jetstream Premier does dry faster than the competition. The difference between the Jestream and the InkJoy was almost negligible, but I'm sure it makes a difference to somebody. Just for the sake of argument I performed the same test with a Gel pen and they just got ink all over my finger.

Is the Uni-Ball Jetstream a nice pen? Most definitely.
Is the Uni-Ball Jetstream worth the premium price? Maybe if you are left handed or are a compulsive pen clicker, but not to me.

Monday, June 18, 2012 Racing

Any racing fans here? If so, you'll have something to watch for at Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350. If not, you now have a reason to tune in as will be a featured sponsor on one of the cars! We haven't been this excited about auto racing since Sharpie stopped sponsoring the race in Bristol.

Remembering The Good Old Days

Thanks to 3M, will be riding with Greg Biffle in the #16 3M Ford at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. True to the mascot, the logo will be near the trunk.

For anybody jumping into the sport, here's a quick primer- is particularly excited to be sponsoring Greg Biffle's car as he's one of the fastest-rising drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Biffle is currently in third place in the point standings with one win and eight top-five finishes. If you're skeptical about the prospect of watching cars drive in a circle for three hours, you're in luck: it's a road course!

Infineon Raceway Layout

Yes, this will require drivers to turn right and yes, they can handle it.

To celebrate, is offering 16% off 3M products from now through June 28. This is a great opportunity to replenish your supply of Scotch Tape, add a dry erase board to your office, or load up on Post-It Notes for communication, art or political reasons.

Head here to take advantage of the promotional offer and make sure to tune in on Sunday!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Comic Books and Furniture and Stuff

Have you seen The Avengers movie? It is so hot right now it could fry an egg on the sidewalk. Some people might think that it would be a boon to local comic book shops, but oddly enough, no. I have heard that many comic book shops are selling out of Infinity Gauntlet books though (if you don't know, don't ask). Anybody who thought that this movie might spur on the comic book frenzy of the mid 90's was sadly mistaken. All the comic geeks out there will still have to explain who The Badger and The Tick are to the non geeks. Feel free to share your jokes about the Ottoman Empress and the Ottoman Empire with me because nobody else will get them.

It's funny because an Ottoman is a piece of furniture.

If you are lucky you might be able to engage in a conversation about how the movie adaption of the Avengers isn't exactly the same as the comic book Avengers or the comic book Ultimates, but finding a middle ground that tends more towards the old Jack Kirby and Stan Lee adventures.

You could also attempt to engage those more economically minded with a conversation about the estimated $160 billion worth of damage the alien invaders would have caused to Manhattan. You could talk to people about the implications this has on the Marvel Universe and how it doesn't matter to Bruce Wayne because he lives in Gotham which is like New York but it exists in a different universe. Maybe you'll want to talk about Damage Control if you just want to prove your chops in annals of fandom.

But what about the human face on all that destruction? Those poor people will need to rebuild their homes and offices from a veritably pile of rubble. From what I remember it was mostly high rise office buildings that were getting thrashed by the Chitauri which means somebody is going to need a whole lot of new furniture for their office.

Luckily, is having a super powered sale on furniture.  You knew I couldn't keep up with all that comic book talk for too long did you?  This is an office supplies blog after all. You have probably all purchased office supplies online before but you've probably never thought about buying office furniture there as well. Let me drop some science on you my friend, it's more affordable than you think. When you can find bargains on furniture like this you'll easily be saving scads of money.

Yes, when you buy something like a desk or a chair online you might end up paying a bit more for shipping than if you picked up that same item at a big box retailer, but you'll save money on those products in the long run. Plus, they will be delivered to your building and nobody has to bother with trying to figure out how to haul a desk in the trunk of a Prius or carry it on the train and/or bus.

So when you are recovering from the next super villain attack and on a budget (assuming Tony Stark isn't fronting all the cash for your operation), don't forget to price out your furniture online. You'll save time and money over looking elsewhere for the same product.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How To Not Touch Touchscreens

Since the advent of the LCD screen, one of the traditional commandments has always been never to touch the surface. Contact with the screen can distort images, ruin pixels and wear out a pristine monitor quickly. This still applies to standard desktop and laptop monitors, so if you like to take the hands-on approach in your computing affairs, stop reading and get a screen protector pronto.

As we proceed into the age of smartphones and touchpads, those of us used to the “no touching” rule find ourselves in a foreign, backwards world where touching the screen is not only acceptable, it appears to be necessary to use the device. All the new toys use capacitive screens, which require something conductive in order to work... such as a human finger. It's madness, I tell you.

Capacitive screens are protected from the aforementioned dangers, of course, but that doesn't mean it's always pleasant to use fingers to touch them. Screen smudging is an issue, fingers may not always be clean and jobs may demand a stylus for better accuracy. Most PDA styli don't work since they aren't conductive. It's a problem that had gotten so bad that folks in South Korea started using sausages once they discovered, through what had to be some fantastic trial & error experimentation, that they somehow worked. Thankfully, Targus has a conductive stylus on the market now.

Making a conductive stylus is more complex, so they aren't cheap and only recommended for those who either need the accuracy of a stylus or dislike sausage.

If you're only worried about screen smudging or just can't stand the thought of making direct contact with an LCD screen, try 3M's Screen Protector Film. It can be cut to the size of your phone and reduces smudging while keeping the device fully functional. You can feel better touching this with your fingers or, if you still prefer, your favorite encased meat.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Whiteboard Tower Defense

It was recently brought to my attention that an artist/game developer was bringing his own unique brand of physical gaming into the world.  Rather that just create a project and move on he decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to try and get this project moving a little faster (if he could turn a profit, I'm sure nobody would be crying).

If you've ever played a Tower Defense game you get the general scheme of things here.  Create a path, setup towers, enemies approach your defense system and wipe you out as they exit the screen. Doodle Defense takes the tried and true formula and just changes the medium you play it in.  Rather than using your fingers or a mouse you use dry erase markers on a whiteboard. If you are interested in the tech that powers this game, good on you, it isn't very interesting.

The demonstration videos and photos aren't very clear or useful, but here's what I could glean from it. You have to use a red, blue, green, and black marker so you'll have to make sure you have a package of all four color dry erase markers.  I saw that at least two different types of markers were used, both Quartet dry erase markers and Sanford Expo dry erase markers.  I couldn't tell what kind of whiteboards were used.  I couldn't see the brand or attempt to divine the size of the boards.  I assume it'll all depend on how close you keep your projector to the board.  The source code for the game is available if you want to try to build your own rig, but that's too much effort for me.

So I just went looking to see if any other whiteboard games were available and found Whiteboard Tower Defense.

This is really just a standard Tower Defense game and the only reason that "whiteboard" is in the name is to excuse the poor art quality in my opinion.  You can see in the screenshot that somebody took a photo of the whiteboard in their office and used that as the backdrop for the game.  They even left the Quartet logo in place on this game's backdrop so you know they have a Quartet whiteboard.

I doubt that Quartet officially sanctioned this game, but whatever.  That's for the lawyers to fight about.

Who Cares About Vintage Erasers?

Apparently somebody does.

Sometime ago I bookmarked Less than 100g, a self described "blog dedicated to tiny & beautiful stuff." The idea for the blog is novel enough.  Showcase things that the author finds that are both small and cool. They ran an issue (they call every blog posting an issue) dedicated to a collection of vintage erasers that was featured on another website.  So of course I had to visit the original page.

I get liking little things, and I get collecting things, but old erasers?  That's something I just can't get behind.  Some of the erasers don't even look very old.  The octagon erasers are odd and earn points for being interesting, but what's so special about a Pink Pearl?  I mean I guess the logo printed on the eraser has changed a little since it's current introduction and the eraser most readily available is a 100 instead of a 101.

Is there any monetary value to be gained by collecting old erasers? Is there a market for antique erasers?  Is anybody out there really jonesing for a chunk of disposable rubber that is the exact same as what they used as a child? Wouldn't that mean you enjoyed using the eraser?  To go further down the rabbit hole, what people usually erase are mistakes, so if you enjoyed erasing you must have enjoyed making mistakes.  If that is the case, then you are clearly a confused individual. If you are collecting erasers because you are a hoarder, then you've got other problems.  With the wide variety of erasers available today, just throw out your old ones and get something new.

Me?  I prefer a pen.  Sure I make mistakes, but as the kids are fond of saying, YOLO. Just give me a normal pen and a notebook.  If I screw up badly, I'll scratch it out and use the next page.  If it's not to bad, I'll just edit and continue on.  It is a lot easier when I don't have to worry about keeping an eraser on hand at all times.

Friday, March 9, 2012

InkJoy Pen Review

I'll admit to you from the start that I'm a gel pen aficionado and I've never really had much time for standard ballpoint pens. I recently had a collection of PaperMate's InkJoy pens fall across my desk so I proclaimed "game on" and gave them a proper run through.

I have to say that an InkJoy ballpoint pen is the best ballpoint pen I've ever been fortunate enough to use. There isn't the usual harsh dragging or slow ball rolling or gritty grind I usually experience. I dug through my desk to find a couple of other ballpoints to make sure I wasn't just confusing myself, but my findings backed me up. These InkJoy is the smoothest ballpoint pen I've ever used.

Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. The InkJoy 100 is your base model pen. It comes as a standard stick pen with a cap or in a retractable version. Either way you are going to get an extremely basic plastic tube surrounded with plastic bits. As cheap as this pen feels and as little as it costs you are still getting the full advantage of the InkJoy system so your pen will produce great lines. The InkJoy 100 is the only version of the InkJoy line available in the stick format. All other InkJoy pens are the retractable format.

The InkJoy 500 is the real workhorse of the InkJoy family. The smoked semi gloss is replaced with a matte finish and a rugged looking rubberized grip that is reminiscent of a tire tread has been added. The plastic clip from the 100 series has been replaced with an actual metal clip. These are welcome upgrades as that bit of rubber helps to keep your pen in place and the metal pen clip isn't going to break off after repeated use. I'm sure we've all had hundreds of the plastic clips break, but I've only ever broken a metal clip with some severe pen related trauma.

Visually you can immediately see that additional chrome accents have been added to the plunger and the tip of the InkJoy 550. You can't see it from the photo, but an additional thin piece of rubber runs along the back side of the pen to keep it from slipping when it is in your hand and meets with another rubberized portion at the back. The back rubber doesn't really do anything because your hand shouldn't be making contact with the back side of your pen (maybe it is aesthetics, or it helps to keep the rubber strip in place). Although the rubber appears to be thinner than the 500 in practice, it is negligible as the rubber on a pen is never designed for softness but for grip. The 550 has a glossy barrel with a slight ergonomic curve while the 500 has a matte barrel with an exaggerated bump.

When you first lift the InkJoy 700 you'll be pleasantly surprised that it has a bit of heft. Some people prefer pens to be like basketball shoes and be as light as possible, but I think a pen with a little weight helps so I don't have to apply as much downward pressure. Since I'm naturally curious (and it hasn't killed me yet) I went and took apart the pen to see just where the weight was added. I was glad to discover that the tip of the pen, previously a chrome piece of plastic, was replaced with an actual piece of metal. This means that all the extra weight is properly positioned to help you draw easier and smoother.

The InkJoy 700 is clearly positioned as the executive version of the InkJoy series. It throws out almost all ergonomics to give it a slender hourglass figure with a high gloss finish. It has a full chrome plunger instead of a chrome wrapped plunger and then even included a slightly nicer spring in the pen to make sure every click is tight and strong. As nice as the black InkJoy 700 is I recommend that you give the InkJoy 700 in white a look as well. They will look great next to your white iPhone and when you buy the complete pack it comes with 1 red, 1 blue and 2 black pens.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trace Element Sharpie

One of my most perverse office supply obsessions is the standard Sharpie. If I visit somebody's house or apartment and they don't have any Sharpies I make sure that they receive a gift of Sharpies within a few months. Nothing fancy, just the standard fine tip black Sharpie marker that is readily available for around a dollar.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I took note when Sanford released pens and then liquid pencils under the Sharpie brand name. The other day I noticed that Sharpie is now selling a "Trace Element Certified Marker" and I had to figure out what this new kind of sharpie was. At roughly four times the price of a standard Sharpie the description says that it is great for nuclear energy and aerospace. If anybody says a product is ideal for nukes and astronauts alike I sit up and take notice.

You might be asking yourself, do I need a Trace Element Ink Certified Marker? Well if you have to ask yourself the answer is probably no. The only reason you'll ever need one of these markers is if you'd want to prove without a doubt that something written with this marker was written by the person who says they wrote it.

Here's how it works. The marker's ink contains a very specific chloride signature that only a few other markers in the world contain. Each marker comes with paper work identifying which chloride signature it contains. So if you ever have a question about who wrote something using one of these markers, you can just haul your sample to a laser ablation machine and have it analyzed. If the trace elements of chloride in the sample detected by the machine match the paper work you'll have an excellent idea exactly who wrote it and when it was written.

I'm not an expert in the subject but my quick googling makes it look like Rolls Royce and General Electric both require their technicians to use ink with easily identifiable trace elements when performing work. Does your profession require you to use trace element certified ink? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clear Acrylic Office Supplies

Just last week I took notice of the clear acrylic stapler from Kantek and thought it was the bees knees. Shortly after that one of my coworkers let me know that Kantek has a whole line of clear acrylic office Supplies. Most of them aren't very interesting but I'm pulling out all the stops here with my list of the top ten clear acrylic office supplies.

#10. Paper Towel Dispenser

I'll admit a paper towel dispenser isn't very glamorous, but hey it is number 10 right?  It'll only get better from here.  There aren't going to be many people who need this, but those who do appreciate it.  Because the towel holder is clear you can easily see, from any angle how many paper towels you have.  You can also easily see if the dispenser is starting to gather dust and gunk at the bottom that you'll need to clean out.  A black dispenser would hide all the dirt.

#9 Glove Box Holder
This product earns its place on the list just for being a product with good reviews.  A box that holds boxes.  Seems obtuse?  Well it is, but people who need it, need it.

#8 Letter/Paper Sorter
Ever thought you lost some paperwork because it was hidden by the large opaque potions of plastic on your sorter?  Well lose them no more.  If you happen to attach a Post-It note to a Quarterly Report you'll be able to see it slightly better than if it was hidden behind a black or brown chunk of plastic.

#7 Double Letter Tray
File this under useful!  So far the products here have not been universally usable.  I'd consider them niche products, but the standard In/Out paper file is a universal necessity.  When crafted from clear acrylic it is a universal nicety as well.

#6 Paperclip Holder
Okay, so I know this is a pretty terrible photo.  The manufacturer removed the background of the photo without replacing it with something realistic.  But everybody needs a paper clip holder, and most of the paper clip holders just look like little cups.  This is a cool looking object, but the lack of magnet means it has to be dropped down at #7.  Without a magnet in your paperclip holder it means you'll be throwing paperclips around like a chimpanzee throws you-know-what.

#5 Business Card Holder
So in all fairness the Paperclip holder should be above this business card holder because I don't actually know anybody who keeps a stash of their own business cards on their desk.  I wanted to punish the paperclip holder so that maybe next time it would include a magnet.  I don't like this business card holder very much, but it does match the set.

#4 Monitor Stand
What is there to say about the functionality and design of a monitor stand?  Not much.  It raises your monitor to a level that is more ergonomic so you don't have to use your neck if you don't want to.  The real feat here is that it's a wide stance monitor stand with only supports on the left and right.  Acrylic can do amazing things when used in a thick slice.  One reviewer of this product noted that it can hold much larger and heavier things than listed, but that kind of activity is a at-your-own-risk kind of thing.

#3 Tape Dispenser
This is the product that launched a thousand ships... or at least inspired one blog posting. What is there to say about this except that is is a near perfect application of acrylic in office supplies?

#2 Stapler
The clear acrylic stapler earns its position as the second greatest clear acrylic product not because it is a great product or because it is better than all the other products but because it is a true oddity.  I imagine a trust of marketing gurus crowded around a drafting table brainstorming about what product they could possibly sell to go along their other clear acrylic office accessories.  All the important bits of the stapler are still metal, but they are wrapped in clear acrylic.  A perfect shoehorning of materials onto an object.

#1 AcryLight Letter Tray System
Up to this point all the acrylic products have just been straight bits that have been cut, glued, and occasionally ground into shapes that just work.  The folks at AcryLight have taken it one step further.  In order to create the letter tray pictured above you'll need to purchase two AcryLight Letter Trays and one set of AcryLight Connectors (yes everything is sold separately). As I was saying these are just straight slabs of acrylic glued together, they have actually molded the acrylic so that your papers sit on a concave shelf so they aren't going to just fly out.  You'll still be able to remove them, but a slight incline of your desk isn't going to dump all your paperwork about.  Sure the AcryLight system might be a little on the pricey side, but can you really put a price on style?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Modernize Your Office

Let's face it, your office is pretty boring. You've got your affordable but well-meaning office chair (probably fake leather) sitting behind your desk of ugly but utilitarian office supplies perched atop your extremely durable, neutral colored, easily maintained carpet. BORING!

Here's three quick products that will give your office a quick makeover and wow your coworkers.

Unless you own your business you are at the mercy of whatever flooring is installed in your building. You aren't going to get away with ripping up the carpet in your office and replacing it all, but you can put down a great looking chair mat. You can buy a couple and really spruce things up. Anji Mountain Bamboo Mats come in a variety of shapes and shades. They are made of bamboo, so you know you aren't deforesting South America to make them either.

Most of the stuff on your desk isn't replaceable. You've got your computer equipment and your phone and various other things. If your office is like mine most of the stuff on your desk wasn't purchased for looks, but for low cost at high quantity. Fortunately, this cool modern tape dispenser is affordable and has looks that kill. The standard tape dispenser hasn't really changed since scotch tape was first introduced.

I can't in good conscience recommend a cool office desk chair because everybody likes a different kind of chair and you'll be sitting in it more than you ever care to truly admit. So comfort is way more important than looks. However, you've got to have a couple chairs when visitors stop by or when people are waiting for you. It doesn't matter much about how comfortable they are. The chairs will be empty most of the time anyway so why not get something that looks cool. These red chairs are the peak of modern design and in red leather you'll know everybody will enjoy looking at them even if they don't enjoy sitting in them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Toby Keith - Plastics Enthusiast

If you have attended a social gathering where a certain portion of the clientele were of the Country or Western persuasion you probably were privileged enough to have "Red Solo Cup" played on the Jukebox or iPod stereo. Toby Keith has taken a break from his usual patriotic musical stylings to branch off into the highly lucrative market of writing catchy corporate jingles.
Sure the track "Red Solo Cup" isn't actually brought to you by Solo Cup Company, but the manufacturer certainly didn't attempt to distance itself from the song. Following in their footsteps, I will make sure I don't distance myself from the marketing opportunity either.  Red Solo cups are certainly meant to be filled up, and whether or not you decide to have a party while using them is up to you.  I prefer to bring out the cups when I have a picnic but that's just me.

I didn't take the time to actually listen to the song, but I do recall that it was played once in the background while I was attempting to watch some college football at a local drinking establishment. I had to do a quick Google search of the lyrics and even though Mr. Keith goes out of his way to espouse the many finer points of the Red Solo Cup he also decides to make a wise crack about how the cups do have a tendency to split down the side if not cared for properly. Now I haven't seen his tax returns, but I'm fairly sure that if it was a problem serious enough to merit a line in a song he probably could afford to purchase some another receptacle for his friends and family to drink out of.

But what does this fairly benign tune about friendly gatherings and a country singer's preferred drinking utility have to do with office supplies? First, I would like to point out that you can purchase the Red Solo Cups at a fairly good discount from office supply stores. Second, about two thirds of the way through the song he mentions using a Sharpie to clearly label his cup. He seems to think a clearly labeled cup might lead to getting to know one of the "ladies" a little better. If a clearly written label is important you should probably supply your guests with a white permanent label they can write on and attach to their cups. I happen to believe that the primary purpose of labeling any cup would be to avoid any confusion when 4 or more identical Red Solo Cups are placed on a table.

Sharpies- Important Labeling Tool for Party Goers

Have the Dixie Chicks recorded Blue Solo Cup in response? Are the Dixie Chicks even still around?