Noteshelf 3.0, now with zoom

The iPad Noteshelf app, which I wrote a quick review of before, has had an update.

Changes that I noticed:

  1. There is now a zoom function which makes an awful lot of difference for writing. The first and second pictures in the gallery above show this in practice. It’s now far easier to write legibly, which was one of the issues that keyboard-based note apps were superior on. Granted that you do need to have reasonable handwriting but it doesn’t have to be that good to be legible. Another bonus is that it’s now sort of possible to write text with your finger, though I’d still definitely advise a stylus.

  2. The stickers are now higher resolution – before, they were a bit blocky when placed on a page.

  3. Higher resolution output – exporting a page now produces an image that’s 736×924, rather than the previous size of 552×693.

  4. There is a date stamp on the pages, at the bottom, now. I’m not sure whether this is created date or modified date; this is a little hard to test as I only got the update today.

  5. There’s a new optional “shelf” theme (the “shelf” is the notebook selection screen) which is a brownish grey chipboard or plastic surface rather than the original wood. It also affects the top bar and the pen drawer. I can’t say that this was something that I’d really been interested in, but it’s there and it’s optional.

None of these are enormous leaps, but they do improve the experience of using it, as well as the final output, which is what you want from software updates. I am still looking forward to a few other features – adjustable alpha values for ink for highlighting and drawing, cut and paste of areas – but the basic concept is sound, and it seems as if the developer appreciates this and is playing to the strengths of the app, polishing existing functions and adding things that complement them.

Rohrer & Klingner Salix

R&K ink bottles - 1 Since I first discovered that there were inks apart from black Quink, blue Quink and red biro, I have been fond of blue black inks, despite the problem of them rarely actually being blue or black. For instance, Waterman Blue Black, which is one of the most used, dries to be a distinct turquoise, which is sort of vaguely blueish I suppose but has no connection to the name at all. (Quink Blue Black is apparently identical to it nowadays, incidentally, due to companies being consolidated – I certainly can’t see any difference.)

I first tried Rohrer & Klingner inks when I saw that they had an purple iron-gall ink called Scabiosa, which is rather an unpleasant name for a nice ink that behaves much like J Herbin Poussière de Lune but with more shading and permanence. I don’t hear an awful lot about R&K inks on the net, but the three that I’ve tried so far seem to be good performers – all fairly dry so you do need a fairly wet pen.

R&K Salix vs some other inks - 1 Anyway, Salix. As you can see from the pictures in this post I tested it first with a Lamy 2000 with a broad nib, which was loaded with Lamy Blue Black when the Salix arrived. It behaves very much like Lamy BB – I’ve read that it is “drier” but I can’t see that myself. It flows well and consistently.

As an iron gall ink, just like Lamy BB, it doesn’t feather or bleed even on this relatively cheap paper, and shades significantly. Drying time is good and fast, there is no smearing and it is extremely waterproof. (Soaking the paper in water and swooshing it around a bit just resulted in the paper tearing rather than the ink.)

R&K Salix vs some other inks - 2 The major difference between it and the Lamy BB is that it’s noticeably more blue, though not really blue in comparison to blue inks. (Lamy BB simply is not blue when it dries, I’m sorry. At least it’s not turquoise.) I prefer either dark or muted blues, myself, so that’s fine for me, but if you’re looking for an iron gall Waterman Blue this is not it. It’s quite similar to Pelikan Blue Black in colour; it reminded me a bit of J Herbin Bleu Nuit, a little greyer.

I then tried it with a glass dip pen, and the results were much less distinct. The dip pen tends to produce a quite thick line of ink, and when thick layers of iron gall ink dry, they go a dark black regardless of what other colours are present, so the comparison is not that useful, but I made it anyway. I also threw in some Pelikan BB and some Diamine Registrar’s Ink too.

So far I’m fond of this ink – respectable colour but with enough shading to stop it being boring, more vibrant on the page than the Lamy BB (which does get a bit dull to look at after a while) and with all the handy qualities of other iron gall inks, waterproofness, no feathering etc. I think I’ll keep it in the 2000 B for a while, or at least until I get some my next bottle of ink.

Diamine Majestic Blue ink

majestic blue nano pagemajestic blue ciak journal I have had some believable recommendations for Diamine Majestic Blue, so I decided to try a bottle. You can see the results to the right, there; the full page is with a Lamy 2000 B nib, as part of my NaNoWriMo effort, and the other is part the same pen and also another Lamy 2000 with an M nib.

The colour of this ink is extremely pleasant – and this is speaking as somebody who doesn’t generally like blue inks. It’s distinguished, vibrant and noticeable without being garish. The ink has a lovely metallic reddish sheen as it dries, too, which shows when the light is at certain angles. It flows extremely well, generously and reliably.

It would be pretty much a perfect ink if it wasn’t for the fact that it smears not only just after it has been written with, but for literally days afterwards, even with a dry finger. For my NaNoWriMo I was writing on 90gsm Oxford paper, which is relatively “shiny” though not amazingly so; no other ink I used had that problem to anywhere near that degree. I did try it on several other papers, for example my Habana journal, with the same result. The ink seems to sit on top of the paper forever instead of properly drying and settling in.

I’m afraid I can’t use an ink that smears to that degree. You can see the smearing on the NaNoWriMo page – that wasn’t due to any sort of effort on my part, just opening and closing the book, moving my hand across it occasionally while counting words perhaps. It’s a shame, since apart from this smeariness it’s pretty much perfect, with a gorgeous colour and a lovely feel when writing. I may experiment in the future with diluting it, which might possibly help the smearing issue.