For July 2004


July 2nd, 2004 

Spaghetti Pen

 I got my new digital pen to replace my broken one yesterday, and spent some time getting used to it. It is a less expensive model, thinner in form. More like a thin Bic ballpoint pen in feel that the thick crayon of the previous pen that came with my Wacom Intuos 2 digital tablet.

One thing I noticed right off was the incredible control over line thickness. I remember that from when I first got the tablet. I could press down with various levels of pressure and get different thicknesses of line. It was like working with a real felt tip pen. That quickly went away, as I remember, leaving me with but one line: thick, and then, recently, a pen that would not ever shut off, a pen always 'on'. Always drawing. Broken.

I also noticed the pack of replacement teflon nibs for the pens. Now I had originally thought that there was no way to replace the nib in my old pen, but I was wrong. If, somehow, it was possible to grasp teflon (!) then the nib can simply be pulled out like a thorn, and a new nip inserted down the well of the pen tip. Complicating the problem of grabbing a nib made of a substance designed to be ultimately slippery, was also the issue that the nib had been ground down to almost nothing, leaving nothing left much to grab even if it were possible. I tried tweezers, and needlenose pliers and much more.

Then I used...a razor blade knife. An Exacto blade. I gently cajolled the teflon nib from my old pen, as a test (I did not want to ruin my brand new pen!) by digging in the blade, just a bit, and using that purchase into the teflon to extract the remaining nib. It worked!

Next I put in a new nib from the replacement pack. It was a tiny, thin stick of teflon, that easly slipped into the pen. But the pen was still broken, always on, and thus useless to me. I used the Exacto again, and removed the nib.

And that is when it hit me. The teflon nibs were exactly -EXACTLY- the diameter of a single strand of Barilla brand Italian spaghetti. And, this gave me a wild idea.

I ran downstairs to the kitchen and took a strand of spaghetti, and returned to my room. I broke off a length slightly longer than the overly short teflon nibs, and inserted into my old, broken pen. And you know what? THE PEN WORKS NOW!

Seriously. Oh, it cannot do any fine linework, it can only do the thick, standard lines devoid of pressure sensitivity that I have been used to for the past several months...but it works otherwise. Perfectly, for basic, normal functions, such as standard line work, coloring, and erasing. Grunt work.

Which is why, now, I have two pens in service. 

One is my brand new pen, which can still do pressure sensitive work. It has not lost that apparently fragile capacity yet. And I intend that it keep that capacity for a long time to come.

My plan is to use the new pen only for times when I want to do special, calligraphic, beautiful lines...for alien text, or fine eye details, or for graphic flourishes. But for the grunt work, I will continue to use my old pen, now made functional only because of a length of Barilla spaghetti inserted into the shaft, a dried pasta nib.

I did today's page entirely with that spaghetti nib. I painted digitally with real spaghetti.

And get this: the spaghetti nib is just as good, if not superior, in feel to the fancy teflon nibs. It glides perfectly over the digital tablet, and if anything, has a better, more 'pen and paper' like feel. I have yet to see any erosion of the spaghetti either, it seems durable.

Of course, there is every possibility that the spaghetti may crack or pulverize in the shaft, and if that happens, I am screwed...I cannot imagine how I would get the remaining microscopic pieces out of the shaft. There is no tool I can use. Sandra offers that I should boil the pen in that case, and suck out the pasta.

I don't think so. Homey don't play that.

But, for now, at least, I have a very servicible pasta-based digital pen that acts as a workhorse to lenghthen the life of my delicate, pressure sensitive new pen. At least for a while, anyway. I like the idea of being able to save my old pen, and to preserve the delicate and easily lost pressure sensitivity of my new pen, to be used for special effects and circumstances.

I would never had thought of using spaghetti save for the pack of replacement nibs that came with the new pen, and the fact that having a new pen in hand gave me the freedom to...experiment...with my old pen by taking an Exacto blade to it (shudder).

So, if any of you out there have digital now have a very good replacement for nibs in a pinch. Just use a high quality spaghetti, like imported Barilla, I should think, because if the strand should crumble, I would think the pen would be utterly lost to repair.




July 21st, 2004 

Server Down

 The hard drive on the server that holds Otakuworld, the Unicorn Jelly Forums, and also acts as our mailserver bit the big one. Stephen has been working very hard to put everything back together, and even drove all the way home with the server box from up north to repair it. Now, with a new hard drive, he is laboring to replace as much of the files from backup as he can, as well as save as much material from the dead hard drive too.

It looks like it will probably be still a little time before the forums come back, but we do have mail now, and Otakuworld is up. Bit by bit. As it were.




By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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