Uni 0.5mm Kuru Toga Roulette

kuru-toga-1

I have primarily used mechanical pencils for my note taking more than a decade now, and there are two particular kinds that really stand out in my memory. The older Pentel model that I first really grew to like, and the modern Uni Kuru Toga pencils made by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.

I have used no less than four different designs of the Kuru Toga (and a number of colours of each) but all of the Kuru Toga pencils share the same important feature – the lead automatically rotates as you use it.

kuru-toga-2

Long term users of mechanical pencils will surely know the biggest problem is that the point of the lead becomes flattened on the edge that is drawing the line. The trick is to manually rotate the pencil in your hand as you write to avoid getting uneven lines. Here’s where the Kuru Toga’s rotating lead mechanism comes in handy – it does all the work for you so that all you need to do is write.

The version I’m currently using is the Kuru Toga Roulette 0.5 mm with 2B NanoDia Lead* – and it is by far the best of an already fine bunch.

kuru-toga-3

Pros

  • A true innovation in pencil technology
  • High quality black plastic components
  • High quality painted metal grip
  • High quality silver coloured trimmings

Cons

  • Not easy to get in the UK
  • Not super cheap at $16 + tax + shipping

* Mitsubishi actually produce leads specifically designed for the Kuru Toga. I have not tried them out yet though.

Goodbye, Pokéject

When Windows Phone 7 first came out, I immediately started looking to use the new development tools to create an application. Pokémon Black and White were out around the same time, so I figured creating a Pokédex-like application would be a good idea.

pokeject

Unfortunately, not much over a year later The Pokémon Company International went after a number of the Pokémon apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. They asked Apple, Google and Microsoft to remove the offending applications from their respective stores. My app was included*.

Eventually, The Pokémon Company International released their official Pokédex applications for both the Nintendo 3DS and iOS. (at time of writing, there is no official app for Windows.)

pokedex-ios

The Pokédex app for iOS has a different focus from my app, aiming directly at listing out all the information rather than focusing on checking off the list (though you can use it this way using tagging). This is great, as the information contained in the application far outweighs the data I managed to collect for use in Pokéject. Including some rather cool 3D models.

pokedex-3ds

Personally, I believe the 3DS version to be a lot weaker – the user interface is pretty horrible looking, and I found it a lot harder to navigate. The biggest complaint is the lack of ‘multi-tasking’ on the 3DS. I would like to be able to check off my Pokédex as I play my game. This isn’t possible when both are applications on the same machine.

I thought about reviving Pokéject as web application, going as far as porting a large amount of the source code over to ASP.NET – however I recently started using the iOS version – which contains much more data – and decided it would not be worth the time investment.

So this is the end of the Pokéject project. It’s been fun, but the official versions contain way more information, I suggest people use them moving forward.

* A recent check shows that there are still a number of Pokédex apps in the Windows Phone store, though the most popular and best presented ones were removed long ago.

iPad is all about the apps

Apple iPad mini

I recently acquired an iPad mini for a reasonable price. I had been thinking for a while that if I had any iOS device it would have to be an iPad – simply for the apps. Having an iPhone would involve a major investment into an ecosystem that I have no interest of using. The iPhone is great for both the Apple and Google ecosystems, however am invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, and I already have my computing needs pretty much set.

Here are the devices I tend to use on a daily basis:

  • Surface – main computer
  • Laptop – development
  • Lumia – portable device
  • Xbox – entertainment

In addition to these, I do also have a couple of extra ‘dedicated’ devices:

  • Nintendo DS – Pokémon
  • Kindle – reading

So where does the iPad fit in? I see it as one of these extra devices, in the same league as the DS and the Kindle. What’s this devices dedicated purpose? Running apps that Windows doesn’t have*.

  • iPad – apps

Here are some examples of the apps I’ve installed so far, that don’t exist on Windows:

What am I specifically not using it for? No email, calendar or contacts – this is already on my Windows machines. No music or photos – I already use Xbox and SkyDrive for this stuff. No social networking – I get notifications for Facebook and Twitter on my Windows machines already. I simply do not need another device with these features.

Do I think I have too many devices now? Well no, not really. I’m ok with the amount of stuff I have – though I’m always looking to reduce things. To me, having an iPad is significantly more useful than having something like a microwave.

* Interestingly, since getting the iPad I’ve already been thinking about a time when I don’t need to have it, and all the apps I want are on Windows. That’s the dream.