New Filofax Shoulder Bag

I had never considered buying a Filofax bag until recently.

I spotted a Filofax bag on offer in their sale. It was still quite expensive but I had a discount voucher that I could use so it brought the price down a more sensible price.

So this is the Filofax Architect Portrait Courier, it’s rather smart don’t you think?

It came in it’s own dust bag which I keep it in when I’m not using it.

It’s bigger than I thought it would be. It has two main pockets which are very generous in size. Turning the bag over there is another slip pocket which will take an iPad or similar full size tablet. There is a grab handle at the top, and also a strap for looping the bag over a wheeled suit case handle.

The woven shoulder strap is very generous in width and it is also quite long too but it has a metal buckle to adjust the length.

Now in terms of what will fit inside.  The smaller front pocket has a variety of slots for pens and cards but still has enough room for other small items too, including a personal size Filofax!

The leather flap has a zip pocket in it as well, plenty big enough for your smart phone or similar. The flap closes with a magnetic fastener in the middle.

The slim pocket on the back can take an iPad easily, it has a velcro tab at the top to hold it closed too.

The main pocket can take an A4 Filofax or an A4 size zipped conference folder easily. I’ve also tried it for size with my 10″ Netbook PC, and it slides in easily with space to spare. In the photo is an A5 Zip Holborn, that goes in sideways with plenty of room too. I think the biggest size of PC you could fit in would be a 11.6″ display one, such as a MacBook Air or a similar sized Chromebook.

A large ring size personal Filofax as shown here also fits inside the front pocket easily.

As you might be able to see on the detail of the front flap it is made of leather and textile lined inside. But the leather is a smooth finish and a pebbled finish in two distinctive panels.

Being a vertical format bag compared to the horizontal format of most messenger bags I find it retains it’s rigidity a lot better.

I’m very pleased with it, grab one for the man in your life for Christmas….


Apple iPod

The iPod has been a great invention. It was the first Apple product I/we owned. It was Philip my son who first made me aware of the iPod, he showed me the advert for the 1st generation iPod, it almost seemed to be too good to be true. A small device that you could slip in your pocket that could hold hundreds of CDs. I sat trying to work out how much storage space I would need for my full CD collection, which at the time was about 200 CD’s.

Before the iPod came into our lives I had been using a CD Walkman to play my music CDs on journeys and around the house. But it was limited in battery life and by how many CDs you could carry.

Sony CD Walkman

Sony Discman

Before the CD I had a Sony Walkman, this was back in about 1983, at the time I lived and worked in Cyprus and I used to record audio tapes instead of writing letters and posted them back and forth in the mail. It sounds old fashioned but it was great getting tapes from friends and loved ones. I forget the exact model number, but I bought a Sony recoding Walkman which had a built in radio and a single speaker on the back and a built in microphone too, so it was quite a versatile device.

So anyway the Apple iPod, Philip was still at school when the first one came out, he was originally going to buy the 5Gb model, but me being me I offered to give him the difference in money to buy the 10Gb model.

iTunes was also a big improvement over Windows media player at the time. I was using that on my PC before I got my own iPod. I discovered Smart Play Lists and that has been quite a bonus for me, they present music to me that I’ve not listened too for a while and that means I listen to a lot more tracks rather than buy new ones all the time.


My own first iPod was a third generation 20 Gb model, not exactly a classic but it got me started. There were a few issues with this model, mainly battery life and also the battery charging indication, because it doesn’t control the charging very well, the battery would get overcharged and this in turn would limit the life of the battery. I have changed the battery on mine at least twice, a strong set of finger nails and good eye sight is all you need to get the back off to change it!

Eventually along came the iPod Touch in Philip bought a 32Gb 1st gen model and sold his original iPod.

I also upgraded my iPod to a newer model with a colour screen and a 60 Gb drive. Compared to my previous one it was a massive improvement on the user interface and battery life too. I still use this one in the car, it holds all of my music collection and I just synchronise it every few months.

I also bought an iPod touch in 2010 although I have used it for a lot of other things as well as listening to music. Alison now uses it for listening to BBC Radio 4 in the kitchen!

Alison joined the club with an iPod Nano, she listens to dozens of podcasts rather than music. I’ve recently started using this as it is so compact and light in your pockets.

Her mini disc player/recorder still works, but interfacing it to anything is a pain

Philip replaced the iPod Touch with an iPhone 4 which he has recently passed on to me

iPhone 4 with iOS7

iPhone 4 with iOS7

Alison now has my iPod Touch, it has replaced the 1st generation iPod Touch which still works but it is a bit limited in what you can do with it now, which reminds me of my Psion organisers really!

With wireless syncing of devices to our iMacs and iCloud we no longer need to connect the latest devices to our computers every few days, just a charger by the side of the bed or in the kitchen is fine.

Over 30 years of portable music devices since the Sony Walkman through to my iPhone, the technology has got better, but one thing hasn’t changed… the music I listen to. Steely Dan and a the rest of my music collection.

Living With Linux

Linux is an open source operating system that appeared back in the 1990’s possibly earlier. I’ve been using Linux in one form or another off and on since about 1993. In the early days it was just a command line system much like MS-DOS was around about that time before the days of Windows 3.1… yes computers haven’t always had a graphical user interface!

Back in the 1990’s I used Linux to run my amateur radio packet radio mailbox system a fairly niche application but at the time given the technology available it worked well and it supported all the different protocols I needed. I ran the mailbox until late 2003 and then due to a decline in users on the system coupled with a change to our house layout I closed the system down and more or less forgot about Linux. During my year off work in 2004/2005 I revisited Linux, by this time using Ubuntu with a full graphical user interface. Wow.. this is so much easier to install and use compared to the old systems I had been using.

I had bought an old PC with a small size hard disk fitted and I used it as a bit of an experimental machine, learn by my mistakes. If it went wrong then there was nothing in terms of data I was going to miss. So it was a great work horse to rediscover things on.

When we moved to France I had a big clear out of old PC’s that had been cluttering up the garage, I find it difficult to get rid of old working things! But I managed to rationalise what to keep and what to recycle, removing the hard drives and any memory and then cycling what was left.

Having cut my teeth on my old desktop machine and learnt how to set up Ubuntu  I thought time to look at the remainder of the old machines we had. All Windows XP machines, all getting a little old and slower and slower. I picked the worse culprit… a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop we had bought this machine in early 2005, but by 2009 it had almost become unusable on a daily basis, 20 minute plus boot times and running at a snails pace afterwards. We had both bought small lighter netbooks so the Dell sat in it’s carry case not doing anything.

I pulled it out and cleared any wanted data off it. Dropped an Ubuntu CD in to the drive and rebooted the machine. Tested it out first Wifi worked, Bluetooth worked, the trackpad and keyboard all worked so I carried on and did a full install of Ubuntu clearing the hard drive completely. The machine was instantly transformed in to a useable machine again. I don’t carry it around alot it tends to sit in our lounge and I use it whilst watching TV, but I use it on our longer trips back to UK, the bigger screen helps when editing documents. As you might expect the battery life isn’t anything to boast about, but the machine all works.

I’ve recently installed Ubuntu on another redundant desktop machine, this one was a bit more powerful, this time I installed it as a dual boot system, retaining XP on the machine and adding Ubuntu. When the machine starts you choose which operating system you want to use and off you go. All of my previous installs have been a complete install over the top of the previous operating system.

Getting Started

So how do you get running with Ubuntu?  Well you need a PC obviously, ideally not your main machine, if you are a beginner then anything under 10 years old will be suitable It needs to have at least 5GB of free space on the hard drive if you are going to dual boot the system, 500MB of memory is the minimum recommended specification to run Ubuntu comfortably, more helps of course.

Download the software from the Ubuntu site, it’s free, but you can make a small donation if you wish. You can then create a bootable CD or USB drive The USB memory key needs to be about 4GB in size to work.

Put the CD in or plug in the USB memory key and start up the machine, if it boots in to the existing operating system you might need to start again and go in to the BIOS settings (F10 typically) to make sure that booting from CD or USB is enabled.

Wait a short while for Ubuntu to load and then you will be offered the chance to run Ubuntu or install it.

You will be running it from the CD if you pick the first option, it might be a little slow but it will give you some confidence that the machine is working and all the interfaces are working before you take the big leap and install Ubuntu.

So are there any disadvantages to using Ubuntu? Nothing really I can do most things without any issues, the installation includes things like Thunderbird, Firebox, Libre Office and a loads of other applications. Other applications are easy to install from the software centre. With the Dell I have a reasonable amount of memory installed (2 GB) and a reasonable size hard drive (only 80 GB) but if you have something bigger or more powerful naturally you will benefit.  Plugging in my digital camera I was able to download the pictures off of it without needing to add any additional software.  I can send emails and browse the web in exactly the same way as any other machine in the house.

The user interface is a little different, but with a few tweaks to the system it becomes second nature and you don’t have to remember or think ‘oh this is Ubuntu, how do I do this’ you just use the machine in much the same way as I do my iMac or a Windows XP machine.

I added some more memory to the desktop machine I recently converted to dual boot and it’s a very handy machine to have along side my iMac I use XP for a few legacy systems which I’m still in the process of getting working on Ubuntu. But the Ubuntu side of the machine is working well and it’s very quick.

If you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet you should give it a try…

Old School Drawing Tools!

I loved technical drawing at school. In my training I spent a couple of months in the drawing office updating building plans and the like. I remembered the other day my Rotring pens and stencils

I discovered them in one of my cupboards along with the drawing arm attachment. I bought all of these when I was working in Cyprus about 30 years ago. Surprisingly the ink hadn’t gone solid! I put some ink in one of the pens and gave it a try… it worked.

I was a little rusty as you can see about how to get the spacing right on the letters, but it was fun trying them out again.

I can remember in the late 1980’s using these stencils to label some Filofax dividers… none of your fancy labelling machines!

Last night I did a quick search for Rotring drawing instruments, the Isograph 2000 pens are still available, but gosh I was surprised at the price, they don’t appear to sell the same ‘8 pen set’ I have.  They don’t appear to still make the A2 drawing arm attachment, but mine still all fits together ok.

Protopage Update

This was originally posted in June 2011, but with the recent announcement of the demise of Google reader and iGoogle having already disappeared, then Protopage is an excellent alternative. I’ve no connection with the firm, I’m just a long standing very satisfied user of Protopage.

I guess a lot of people use something like Google Reader or iGoogle. I’ve used both in the past, but back in about 2004/5 I came across Protopage and I’ve not used anything else since. It’s a free ad supported service.

I have Protopage set as my home page in every browser on all my machines around the house. Why? Well I then have all my feeds and bookmarks on every machine, without having to copy bookmarks across or using the sync capability of modern browsers. I can also use the mobile version of Protopage on my iPod Touch.

And here’s what mine looks like: [Click on the photo to see it full size]

Of course it’s infinitely variable in terms of layout, mine is built up over many years, I do change things around every so often, but it generally stays like this.

So I have bookmarks as well as RSS feeds grouped together in to topic areas, news feeds in the center, a weather feed for Thouars. A Flickr feed for new photos as they pop up.

Along the top you will see other tabs for different pages again grouped by interest/topic. You can shuffle your panes (widgets) between tabs just by dropping them on the tab, then going to that tab and moving the widget to where you want.

Each tab can be set up as a number of columns or free form. Each widget you can resize too or have them automatically minimise, although with my big iMac I don’t need to do that so much.

In the top right hand corner there is a drop down of different search engines, these can be configured a lot as well. So I have Google (UK), Amazon UK, Amazon France, Ebay(UK), Wikipedia etc etc.

Here is my Weather tab, which also has my travel book marks and world times. The ‘Weather Station’ is in fact part of a web page that I feed on to the page and then using the x y off set I exclude the parts of the original original webpage I don’t want to see. The weather station is at Bewl Water Sailing Club in Kent, not far from where we used to live. I need to find a similar feed for here! If you click on that link you will see the page in full. [Click on the photo to see it full size]

Here are some of my settings screens so you can see how I’ve got it set up. This is the news feed . Other common formats for most feed addresses are as follows:
Wordpress –
Blogger –


This is the Flickr Feed:


This is the settings for the overall Protopage

If you haven’t tried it give Protopage a try, it’s free, it works on every browser and OS I’ve used it on and I do use quite a few !

You can see how I use one of my Protopage tabs to monitor a large number of blogs for new posts for a twice weekly feature on the blog Philofaxy which is a guest post I wrote for the Well Planned Life blog


Music in 2012

Here is a list of the top 25 tracks I listened to in 2012… at my desk, in the car or just wandering around on my iPod. Quite a varied list…yes no?

Name Artist Album Year Plays Last Played
Sunlight Moon Bruce Hornsby Spirit Trail 1998 63 19/12/2012
Sorrow Pink Floyd Pulse 1995 60 18/12/2012
Hole in My Pocket Sheryl Crow C’mon, C’mon 2002 55 18/12/2012
Aja Steely Dan Aja 1977 55 22/10/2012
Lady With A Fan (Live) Bruce Hornsby Here Come The Noise Makers 2000 52 01/12/2012
Life Des’ree Supernatural 1998 52 17/12/2012
Heathaze Genesis Duke 1980 52 20/12/2012
Listen To The Music The Doobie Brothers Listen To The Music 2000 51 22/10/2012
Something In The Way She Moves James Taylor Greatest Hits 51 22/10/2012
Ramblin’ Man Lemon Jelly Lost Horizons 2002 51 29/12/2012
Addicted To Love Robert Palmer Addictions, Vol. 1 1989 51 22/10/2012
It’s Only Love Stevie Nicks Trouble In Shangri La 2001 51 21/12/2012
Rudy Supertramp Crime Of The Century 1974 51 22/10/2012
Highwire The Rolling Stones Flashpoint (Live) 1998 50 22/11/2012
Fire And Rain James Taylor Greatest Hits 49 06/10/2012
Children Say Level 42 The Ultimate Collection 2002 49 13/11/2012
Ventura Highway America History: America’s Greatest Hits 1973 48 03/11/2012
Across The River Bruce Hornsby A Night On The Town 1990 47 05/11/2012
Mexico James Taylor Greatest Hits 47 23/10/2012
Ain’t No Sunshine Lighthouse Family Notting Hill 1999 47 01/12/2012
Clocks Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head 2002 46 08/11/2012
Hotel California The Eagles Hotel California 1976 46 19/11/2012
Arose Thomas Newman American Beauty (Original Motion Picture Score) 2000 46 17/12/2012
You Gotta Be Des’ree Supernatural 1998 45 13/11/2012
It Comes And It Goes Dido Safe Trip Home 2008 45 21/12/2012

What are you listening to?

My month in pictures

I was reminded today that I don’t really share many of my photographs on line these days.

In the past I have been an active contributor to DeviantArt and a few other sites, but I have never really found a site I have got on well with for one reason or another.

So I have decided to do a post on here each month of a selection of my pictures from the last month with some text explaining the background to them.

Be warned though some months I do take lots of photos of either houses for LTPS or photos of Filofax organisers for Philofaxy!

I hope you enjoy this new regular feature.

Philofaxy All Stars Guest Post – Susan – Philofaxy Web Finds as Organizational Tool

Philofaxy Web Finds is a great feature.  Recently, we learned how Steve manages to put the web finds together.  There’s quite a science to it!  Come Saturdays, and now mid-week as well, readers across the world sit down with their cup of coffee/tea and settle in for a relaxing reading of posts and a viewing of videos of all things Filofax.  Readers read each post, one by one, savoring all of the planner goodness.

I don’t do this.  Yes, you read that right—I do not sit down to read all of the Philofaxy Web Finds posts (gasp!).  Rather, I use the list as an organizational tool to update my Favorite Places links, my Google Reader feeds, and to catch up on any posts created on new blogs.

So what’s my system?  Let me explain…

Normally, when new posts appear in Google Reader, I browse through the list and star (save) anything that appeals to me.  For the most part, I save anything that is Filofax/planner/productivity related.  For anything else, I save only those posts that appeal to me (for whatever reason).  I apologize for this, because here I’m admitting that I don’t read every post that is published on every blog.  I just can’t.  There are so many wonderful blogs out there and I would love to read every post from every one.  But the reality is that there just isn’t enough time (I barely have the time to keep up with the posts that I want to get to).  I do have a few “favorite” blogs—they aren’t my favorites because they are necessarily better than others, rather they are favorites because I have read them from their inception (back when there were only a few Filofax-related blogs) and I have so much emotion invested in them that I just can’t skip any posts.  And of course, I never skip a Philofaxy post.

A few times a day I’ll open up Google Reader and save anything that I want to read later.  When I have time (usually on my lunch break), I’ll read through my saved posts.


Philofaxy items are always read first, mainly because by the time I get to them, my friends in Europe and beyond have already read the post and commented.  If the opportunity presents itself, I want to be able to comment before everyone has moved on to the next post.  From there, I usually head to the oldest post first and continue up the list until I run out of time.  The process then starts again when I have time.

For anything I want to comment on, I email myself the post.  Having set up a filter in Gmail, anything that is sent from Google Reader automatically gets a label of “Review.”

Using the various Gmail stars, I know what needs to be answered (red exclamation point) versus looked at (orange arrows) versus updated (yellow exclamation point).


When I get time (usually later that evening or the next morning while I have coffee) I will post my comment, subscribe to the post via email for any follow-up comments that may appear, and then delete the email once I’ve done so.  This way, I rid my inbox of virtual clutter.

It may take me a long time to get through my list, and while I would love to be able to get completely caught up from time to time, I know that it’s not realistic—I very rarely get caught up, and even when I do, it’s only a few hours before my list starts growing again.

When I know I will be travelling, I will save any unread articles to the Instapaper iPad app.  This app allows you to save an article or blog post so that you can read it off-line at a later time.  Since I don’t have wireless for my iPad on the go, this comes in handy.  And when I’ll be travelling for a few hours, it allows me to catch up on all those unread blog posts.  I have a folder where I keep anything I want to comment on, and when I have wifi again, I will do so.

With Web Finds, however, the process is different.  As soon as I see the post, I email it to myself.  When I have time, I go through the web finds posts and pick out any blog that is currently not on my list (lately there are usually three of four each week).  I don’t read the highlighted post.  Rather, I look at the entire blog to determine if it really is (for the most part) Filofax or planner or organization related, or if the main purpose of the blog is something else entirely that just happened to have a post or two on those subjects.  If it is indeed a related blog, I add it to both Google Reader and my Favorite Places list on my blog.  If not, I won’t do anything with it at that point (sometimes a blog will reappear in Web Finds because more and more posts are subject related—at that point, I will add the blog to both places).  If and when a blog gets added to Google Reader, the last 10 posts will appear as unread.  I will go through and save anything that catches my fancy.  So eventually the post that was originally highlighted in Web Finds will be read.  From there, all future posts will be part of the blog post saving/reading system as described above.

After I have added the new blogs to my lists, I go back to the Web Finds post and watch the videos.  Getting through them all may take a day or two, and if they’re longer than 5 minutes, I often skip through so that I can get a taste for the entire video rather than only being able to watch the first 5 minutes—I hate to stop mid-video.

Since so many blogs get started and fizzle out after a while, I do need to weed through my list every now and then.  Currently this is done on an annual basis.  Every year (usually at the start of the year), I will go through the Favorite Places list on my blog.  I will look at each and every blog (skipping those I know update frequently) and remove any that have been shut down or have not posted within the last year.  Yes, I may remove blogs that have relevant content, but chances are, if they haven’t been updated in a year, it’s pretty much a dead blog.  This wouldn’t matter so much if there weren’t so many blogs to begin with.  But seeing as I’m adding to the list every week, I need a system for weeding out old content, as good as it may be.  And since the Favorite Places list corresponds to what I subscribe to via Google Reader, this weeding process also allows me to unsubscribe from dead blogs, keeping my Reader list to only relevant blogs.  Again, it’s ridding myself of electronic clutter, which to me, is just as important as ridding myself of physical clutter—if I don’t see it, I don’t have to think about it, allowing me to eliminate it from my mind so that I can concentrate on more important (and active) things.

I hope I have described my Web Finds and general blog reading system without causing too much confusion.  Please let me know if you have questions regarding my Web Finds process.

Thank you to Steve for hosting my babbling guest post!