Cursive Writing

I found the type of cursive I was taught as a kid. I am including it below as an image.

CursiveLetters
Figure 1. Cursive Letters

So now when I practice with a fountain pen, I try to make my letters look like this.

Also, I noticed when I used the DIY ink in my copper pen, it flowed too fast. So I added some gum of arabic to DIY ink and it slowed the speed to the page. This is still an experiment.

Have Pens. Now I Need Paper

The Tactile Turn copper and brass pens are both working great. They are nice and heavy.

I have been using them in a bullet journal and it works great.

Now I want to have paper to write letters, to have scratch paper for ideas and to draw diagrams. But I do not want the feathering and bleed through that happens when I have written on copy paper that goes in a laser jet printer.

So I saw this blog entry at Mountain of Ink.

From that blog’s pictures I chose to try HP Printer Paper, Premium32, 8.5x11, Letter, 32lb Paper, 100 Bright - 1 Pack / 250 Sheets. I will later write about how that goes.

eBook Conversion

Created Efficiently And Carefully

Convert your book into epub or kindle formats for distribution to all stores. EPUB is an industry standard and the kindle format can also be important because of the reach of Amazon for distribution.

Convert your completed manuscript and cover to various high quality eBook formats at a reasonable cost.

We strive to produce the best possible eBook conversions at competitive prices. First, we produce a base EPUB file. Then, we perform a suite of checks and tests, and makes the necessary changes for a quality eBook that renders properly across eReader devices.

Nonfiction are more difficult to convert due to have special formatting needs, such as block quotes, tables, images lists, etc.

Making eBooks from PDF files created with different fonts and page layout software by different designers creates an inherent challenge: conversions are almost never perfect. The only way to ensure a perfect conversion is to do a line-by-line proofreading of the converted file against the original.

While we perform a many quality checks on each book converted, we do not proofread line-by-line unless specifically requested by the customer. We highly recommend that eBooks created from printed originals be proofread line-by-line, because those conversions have much higher error rates. Line-by-line proofreading services involve an additional charge beyond our base conversion and Comprehensive Quality Check services.

Our Comprehensive Quality Checks

  • Check link, footnote, and Table of Contents functionality.

  • Review basic formatting.

  • Scan for character conversion and issues.

  • Evaluate images for quality.

  • Ensure tables render.

  • Ensure cover image renders properly.

  • Add client-supplied eBook ISBN.

  • Verify metadata is included in EPUB.

  • Review EPUB file in Adobe Digital Editions, on an iOS device.

  • Review the converted EPUB to Kindle format.

  • Validate with EPUB file checking tool (essential for distribution to resellers).

  • Fix any issues discovered during the processes listed above.

Turnaround

Typical turnaround is about three weeks from the time book materials are received to the time comprehensively checked EPUB and MOBI files are delivered. Proofreading adds to turnaround time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are eBooks read?

A: On an Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad/iPhone/iPad, Barnes & Noble Nook, Macs, PCs, and other eReaders and tablets.

Q: Can I see the EPUB file without a reading device?

A: You can download Adobe Digital Editions to your Mac or PC.

Q: How are eBooks made?

A: Simply put, we create an EPUB file from the source file. This file can be compared to a zipped mini-website. This becomes the master file and includes all the elements from the source file (images, text, etc.). We then open and edit this EPUB file in an specialized editor to ensure a quality eBook.

Q: How much does conversion cost?

A: A quote can be provided with the following information:

The source data The number of different books in the order Each title’s page count, trim size, and level of complexity Target file type (EPUB, MOBI for Kindle) Contact us for a quote.

Q: What kind of eBook files should we convert to?

A: Reflowable EPUB files have become the industry standard for eBooks. Amazon has its own format (MOBI). While the same EPUB file given to other sellers can also be given to Amazon, Amazon will do a further conversion into their format. Amazon often performs conversions for free, but their review and correction process is slow and problematic. The majority of our publishers ask us to handle the EPUB to MOBI conversion so that the file furnished to Amazon has been through quality assurance already and is ready for sale immediately.

Q: Can images be included in the eBook?

A: Yes, but the quality of the images will not match that of a printed book on eInk devices that only render in black and white. Images look fantastic on tablets like the iPad.

Q: Is note-linking and cross-reference linking available?

A: Yes. There are additional charges.

Q: Do we need a different ISBN for the eBook or can we use the same ISBN as the print book?

A: Yes, a different ISBN is required for the eBook.

Q: Do we need a different ISBN for each type of eBook file (EPUB, Kindle)?

A: Currently, no.

Q: What does DRM mean?

A: DRM is digital rights management—if DRM is provided, restrictions are placed to limit copying, printing, and sharing.

Q: Are eBooks protected with DRM?

A: Yes. Each vendor (Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) ensures that. If you sell from your own website, you will need to do your own DRM.

My Copper Metal Pen Arrived

My new Tactile Turn copper fountain pen came in today. Wow, I like it a lot.

CopperPen

It has a heft to it that works for my hands. It feels substantial. I filled it with ink and it immediately started writing. It writes well, although it puts out a little more ink than the TWSBI pens do.

I like the copper. I like the grooves the maker put into the pen. It gives it a grip. This pen should last a long time for me.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Mixing Fountain Pen Inks

After ruling out blueberry juice fountain pen ink (unless we’re in dire conditions), I decided to try easier available options.

I thought it would be fun to experiment with ink jet printer refills to see what I could get for fountain pens.

I wasn’t sure if these experiments would damage the fountain pen, given some of the misgivings of others about this idea online. But they did not backup their concerns with data. I wanted data. And, I did not want to ruin my TWSBI Eco fountain pen $31, which has been the best fountain pen I have ever tried (for me). So I thought that with a few non-recurring costs for a couple of cheap pens, I could test this with minimal risk to my nicer fountain pens. So I bought a few "test" pens to try this experiment with.

Experiments

I recorded my experiments. I even used a fountain pen friendly paper scratch pad from Rhodia to ensure the bleed, if any, was not from the paper but from the ink.

I ordered Aomya Refill Ink Kit for $9.99 USD.

It came with four 100 ml bottles of black, cyan, magenta and yellow. That is 40 ml of ink per $1. This is a bit cheaper than typical fountain pen ink, so I thought it worth trying in this experiment.

I looked on line, but could find no ready description of mixing such inks to get the color combination I wanted, so I set up an experiment.

Experiments
  1. Dark Blue Experiment: 8 ml of magenta and 8 ml of cyan produced a bottle full of this slightly purple blue ink. The result on the image below was from mixing half and half in the pen’s ink converter with a syringe for each color (that came with the kit of refill ink!).

  2. Lighter Blue Experiment : 25% magenta and 75% cyan gave a lighter blue than the 1st experiment.

  3. Red Experiment: 50% yellow and 50% magenta mixed in the pen converter provided a red I liked so much I made an entire little bottle of red after that.

  4. I added my Noodlers blue ink just so you could compare. I have found that the TWSBI fine nib is really nice. I had to order a Kaweco extra fine nib to compete with it.

  5. In-Between Blue Experiment: Looking for something darker than step two, but not as purple looking as step 1. By then I had run out of pens. I could have washed out the ink and dabbed each pen dry, but I didn’t feel like that so I just used some bamboo skewers I had for a barbecue that had a tip that had been ground down to resemble a pencil tip shape.

  6. Green Experiments. 1st I tried 50%/50% yellow and cyan, but seeing it was lighter than desired, I added 0.5 ml of magenta to darken it somewhat. So with 2 ml of cyan, 2 ml of yellow and 0.5 ml of magenta, I got a usable green.

  7. Optimal Blue Experiment: To get more Navy Blue without any purple tinge, I did an experiment with 5.25 ml of magenta and 9.75 ml of cyan to get a blue that is close enough to Navy Blue for me to use this for working pen purposes.

Experimental Data

Here are the results of my tests in a photo so you too can see what happened.

DIYinkExperimentResults
Figure 1. My Results

In smudge tests within 30 seconds of writing nothing smudged at all. That surprised me since sometimes fountain pen inks do not dry quite so quickly.

Conclusions

The syringes the kit included worked very well for keeping the ink off my skin and clothing. They also rinsed out easily when I was done.

My data indicates that these DIY ink mixtures using commercially available dye inks that are intended for other purposes works fine for my own requirements writing with fountain pens.

Unexpected test results included writing with bamboo meat skewers that are designed to be used for BBQ and thrown away.

NOTE: Although bamboo skewers can "work" in a pinch when no other pens are available, I don’t recommend bamboo skewers for normal writing instruments. You have to dip the tip into the ink regularly to continue to write. It is like a trip back in time.

Given I mostly use Navy blue fountain pen ink, I only tested red and green ink on a whim because I had the ingredients to make them.

With the data indicating this ink is smooth flowing and fast drying, I will use it for some applications.

Next Steps

Next, I intend to begin using my 35% magenta and 65% cyan mixture. So I will order 500 ml of cyan and 500 ml of magenta giving me 675 ml (500 ml of cyan all used, 175 ml of magenta used) of fountain pen ink for an ongoing cost of 20 ml of ink per dollar. This is better than 7 ml per bottle for 'normal' fountain pen ink I get from Noodlers and the 1.5 ml per dollar I would get from Montblanc blue ink. I am not disparaging any ink suppliers. I appreciate their products and still buy them. I also wanted to know about cheaper alternatives for projects that use up lots of ink.

Frankly, I still like some of the color options of fountain pen inks even if they do cost more.

This was an interesting experiment. I hope you can use the data to make your own choices.

Experiment Tools Used

  • Empty small bottles for new ink mixtures. At $13, these were great.

  • A $14 pen from Jinhao called chainmail

  • A $9 pen from Jinhao called Arrow Yellow. Do NOT buy this pen, by the way. The printed-on decoration wore off during my experiment. It was ugly in less than an hour. Wow! I guess that is what you get for $9.

  • A $9 pen from Jinhao called Arrow Steel

  • An unintended tool was a bag of BBQ bamboo skewers I had on-hand that I ended up using as a "pen" when my experimental mixtures exceeded the number of pens I was willing to test this DIY ink with. I used a skewer for green and blue inks.

Caution
I realized midway through the tests that if I knocked over any of these bottles of ink that my carpet would be ruined.

Microlearning

Microlearning can be effective in training employees. Yet, before the learning team goes off by themselves and spends the budget adding content, teams can use an iterative approach to test their ideas and concepts with the client or sponsor in rough form first.

Markdown or AsciiDoc can be used to create quick drafts/prototypes of content before all the expense is put into making the next level of detailed prototype with rapid learning development tools.

For example, I will show the asciidoc content of the storyboard. It is just a text file called storyboard.adoc. This prototype can be made really fast with just text and used to get feedback from the client/sponsor. It can be edited with any text editor like a phone, notepad++, Atom, etc, meaning it can be versioned to track the client/sponsor interactions and rolled back if necessary to an earlier version.

The text-based storyboard is quickly updated and copied to other tools as the next iteration of prototype development occurs.

You might wonder, "Why not just use MS Word for this storyboard?" Well, because Word embeds the images you may want to use in the rapid development tool. Word also adds cruft to the HTML that may require clean up before the copy/paste content can be used in the next iteration prototype.

For example, AsciiDoctor [1] turns this source…​

== Kinetic text-based animation video storyboard
**Goal**: Regulatory Compliance training for XYZ.

**Target**: 3.5 minutes

**Learning Objective**: Introduce the compliance mandate and build awareness.

---

=== Text Script Driving the Video (no audio)
// comment: Lorem ipsum is placeholder text commonly used in the graphic, print, and publishing industries for visual mockups.
// MotionDen is the tool for this asset

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

image::media/videoImage1.png[]

Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

image::media/infographic2.png[]

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

image::media/videoImage3.png[]
// comment: hand drawn graphics used in this prototype iteration

---

=== Scenario-based learning
Blah blah blah blah blah.

//branching scenario description goes here

---

=== SRT caption text

1

00:00:01,600 --> 00:00:04,200

English (US)

2

00:00:05,900 --> 00:00:07,999

This is a subtitle in American English

3

00:00:10,000 --> 00:00:14,000

Adding subtitles is very easy to do

---

=== Quiz Question
Key: **Bold** indicates the correct answer.

Question 1 - blah blah blah blah blah?

a. Minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation
b. **Deserunt mollit anim id est laborum**
c. Aliquip ex ea commodo consequat
d. Eiusmod tempor incididunt

into this draft. The rendered view looks better than just plain text, but no time was spent adding formatting for just a storyboard prototype. This saves time and money for the learning development team.

Note
I did not put the images in the media folder, so they show as a missing image icon.
rendered storyboard1
Figure 1. Rendered Storyboard

You can structure your storyboard however you like to fit your context.

Although not many rapid development tools yet use markdown or asciidoc, some are beginning to incorporate it. Worst case, you can copy and paste the content to the rapid development tool once the back and forth with the client/sponsor has led to agreement for the training.

Also if using voiceover, the script can be given to the voice talent to record the audio voiceover. If already in another rapid prototyping iteration and the voiceover is recorded, AsciiDoc allows easily adding the audio and the draft video too. The plain text syntax for that is audio::media/voiceover1.mp3, and adding the audio file to the media folder.

The biggest reason to use this approach is that the team can edit on the fly with the client/sponsor and re-render the storyboard in seconds. Clients/sponsors tend to enjoy this type of rapid prototyping immediate change to their feedback.


1. See https://asciidoctor.org/ for more detail about how to quickly render the plain text into formated HTML or PDF.

Emergency Preparedness with Mobile Devices

During a hurricane in Florida a few years back, I did not evacuate with my family but rode it out at home. The power died. The humidity was 100%. The loss of power meant the water well stopped working too. We had reserves of water. The more challenging issue was mobile phone battery power. I ended up going to the car to charge the phone battery.

During that hurricane, I learned that mobile phone batteries run out faster than you would like. If conditions are ideal, you can use your car to charge the mobile phone. If the car is not underwater or carried away. Our damage was localized, not area wide or state wide. The local cell towers still worked, sometimes better than other times, to call people and check on their health.

In good conditions, eBook readers have a battery charge that lasts for a month or so, and they offer good device storage for emergency plans as long as your property is not flooded and the roof is not ripped off.

We had wind damage that pulled down power lines and ripped them off the wall of the house, plus thousands of pounds of trees that fell down.

Anyway, about that same time I was asked to prepare an emergency plan for my church. Having done this before, long ago, with paper copies, I knew that paper got out of date much faster because it cost so much to produce and is harder to distribute to all the right people. Bits are easier to distribute than atoms.

So I made electronic emergency plans this time around. I made a PDF format, and epub format, and html pages.

Those members of the congregation under 50 years old seemed to like the electronic version better than having many pages of paper, although they were skeptical of eBooks until I told them about my experience in the hurricane, and charging in the car as a backup. Having a extra battery pack to charge the mobile device is a good idea for emergencies too.

The older members of the congregation had bigger concerns. Many did not have any mobile reader devices. With no smart phones, they could not read the ebook version. With no ebook eReaders (i.e. Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc.) they did not see how to access the content. Some looked at me strangely, expecting them to do these difficult things like use electronics.

So we ended up having to make paper copies for some with the electronic for others.

After the hurricane came by to test our emergency plans, we got into iterative revisions to apply all the lessons we learned for that type of emergency.

Then a few months later, we revised again after the county taught community organizations active shooter training.

Those with devices took my updated content various ways, most often emailed the epub or kindle file.

But the paper copies did not get remade each iteration, leaving configuration management issues for the church emergency plan.

We still have that issue today, years later.

Now I live in a different state, yet when showing people how to do genealogy using apps on their smart phone, I run into those that do not use phones at all apparently. They are nice people, and entirely focused on the face-to-face mode of interaction. Some they are on fixed income pensions and do not have a computer at home. For these I have to meet them at the church and use a common computer to help them do their genealogy work.

The future is here, it is just not evenly distributed.
— William Gibson

This quote applied to my efforts to help a non-profit organization prepare for emergencies and still applies today when doing things like helping people do genealogy work.

Glossary

epub

An ebook file format that uses the ".epub" file extension. The term is short for electronic publication and is sometimes styled ePub. EPUB is supported by many eReaders, and compatible software is available for most smartphones, tablets, and computers.

eBook

An electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer or hand-held device designed specifically for this purpose.

eReader

A dedicated software application (i.e. Kindle for iPhone) or hardware device (Kindle Paperwhite) for reading electronic versions of books.

The Nature of Lisp and Writing with Pollen

While studying about pollen (uses the Racket programming language) as a way to represent content possibly better than markdown or asciidoc, I ran across this article which provided the best introduction to Lisp that I have ever read.

The Nature of Lisp is great at making the understanding clear coming from an XML perspective.

It was surprisingly good.

It lead me to Matthew Butterick’s Pollen: the book is a program which is fascinating.

So I tried to learn it quick like I did markdown and asciidoc, but the way he does the tutorial is conceptual rather than by complex example like AsciiDoctor documentation.

I like the idea of the poly source that can be converted into any output like HTML, text, markdown, or asciidoc. I just have to spend more time absorbing the documentation and trying to apply it.

I have published books with both markdown and asciidoc and it goes pretty easily.

It seems pollen (and Scribble for Racket programming) do similar things to Asciidoctor asciidoc.

The challenge I have had is making asciidoc content into a complex web page with a TOC that links the contents. Asciidoctor makes a great one-page huge web page, but that is not what I want for a family history site.

You can see from my site about family history that it is all in one long page. Hmmmm. Pollen seems to have just what I want for the web rendering, and it seems I could get to books and pdf too. But I’ve gotten used to the ease of the asciidoctor-pdf gem app and really do not want to get into Latex.

So this got me wondering if I could build what pollen calls "poly" content and then process it to the various outputs.

The style of the docs if tough to slog through, however. I was expecting some example code and example rendered outputs so I could see how to put it together, but the pollen docs do not provide as many examples as Mr Haki’s Awesome Asciidoctor.

The examples in markdown and asciidoc help reverse engineer how it is made and help people new to it develop their own content in the likeness of the examples until they get it down and make their own.

There are a lot of similarities between pollen and asciidoctor. For now, I have more familiarity with asciidoctor and so I continue to use it as the source.

The pollen community is not as big as that for asciidoctor and that community is not as big as that for markdown. This leads to not having as many things available that others have already built.

I’m not a fan of Antora, however. It is too complex for my use cases. I want the minimum overhead to get my tasks done and it has too much for my taste.

Part of that minimum overhead is why I like continuous delivery so much with netlify + hugo + asciidoctor! It is so sweet because it is so fast and automated once setup is accomplished.

Now I just need more automated linters and scripts to check for everything that is possible to automate for writing content checks before they go to publish.

I like that pollen, markdown, and asciidoctor all let me write one sentence per line so I can use version control and diff apps to see what changed.

Anyway, I’m on to the next task.

Fountain Pens

I embarked on an experiment a few months ago to try using fountain pens. Did you know that in some countries they teach children to write with fountain pens?

For a few months, I have really enjoyed the way the fountain pens write. I had to reach way back into memory for how to write in cursive. I had to look up some letters, because I forgot how they should look in cursive. I’m improving on neatness.

There is something about having a tangible writing notebook and a fountain pen that feels nice. Interestingly, I do not have a cramped hand feeling after writing with a fountain pen that I tended to get with ball point pens.

I initially used a Pilot Metropolitan pen, but it was too small for my hand. It wrote well, but I wanted a bigger pen. Then I tried a TWSBI echo pens and liked it so much that I bought one for work and home. It has a nice sized ink well inside that lasts for more than a month for me. Now I’m trying an all metal pen from Kaweco that might survive drops and my occasional rough handling better. It comes next week. Yay.

I learned to use a glove when adding ink because the first time my spill on my hands took a week to wear off my skin.

I like the refillable fountain pens the best.

It may seem weird to really like how fountain pens write, but now that I have tried it, there is no going back.

How to Post

This is a post to remind myself how to post to my static site if I don’t post for a few months.

Steps
  1. Open terminal window and cd to the folder where the site source data is on my laptop.

  2. Type hugo new post/myfilename.adoc.

  3. Type open . to get the file view and go to content/post to find the new file.

  4. Open myfilename.adoc in a text editor.

  5. Remove the draft attribute in the header.

  6. Type out my content and save the file.

  7. git add . and git commit -m "new post".

  8. git push origin master to push to github.

  9. Wait a few minutes as netlify gets the github push and rebuilds the new static site.

  10. Check my website to see if it posted.