<![CDATA[Swedish Pixels]]> http://swedishpixels.com Swedish Pixels sv-se social@hertze.com Copyright 2018 2018-12-22T19:01:14+01:00 <![CDATA[Alfie 1.5]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/alfie-1-5 http://swedishpixels.com/archive/alfie-1-5 I recently bumped my little diary generator script Alfie to version 1.5. New in this version is the option to generate diary content in A6 format, as well as an option for rendering one day on two pages. Wouldn’t it be sweet if I somehow could find the energy to research how to make this script run on a web server with an PHP/HTML front, so I could make it into a web service?

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2018-09-15T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[A short review of the Filofax Heritage]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/a-short-review-of-the-filofax-heritage http://swedishpixels.com/archive/a-short-review-of-the-filofax-heritage For the first time in many years I was intrigued by a new release by Filofax. While their Classic Croc certainly looked nice, I have never been a fan of printed (and painted) leather. This time, with the Heritage line, curiosity was peaked enough for me to order a binder in personal size. What follows is a short review of it.

I find the overall design understated and sublimely elegant. It has a very compact profile, with tabs sticking out ever so slightly beyond the covers when closed. There is no strap to hold it shut, which works surprisingly well.

The entire cover seems to be made of two pieces of buffalo leather, glued and sewn together. While the outer leather is nicely pebbled, the inner surface is very smooth. The juxtaposition of the two feels luxurious. The raw edges around the binder have been finished with rubber-like edge dye, which is not my favorite thing. In my experience it tends to chafe in an unattractive manner over the years. As a matter of fact, my binder arrived with a little bit of chafing at one spot. Good thing I had some edge dye leftovers sitting on a shelf. The stitching is nice and even in a slightly contrasting color. The cover doesn’t have any pockets, but the supplied leather flyleaf actually consists of a clever slip pocket.

The rings (as I understand are of the PXR type, thus replaceable) are nice and tight. They are circular in shape (as opposed to oval) and measures a mere 23 millimeters in internal diameter. In my opinion, they are on the smaller side of useful, but they do work.

My gripe with this binder lies with the design of the leather flyleaf. The holes in the flyleaf are very small, so that the friction between the soft leather and the metal rings cause it to stick. This will probably improve with use, but why on earth did they not make the holes bigger to begin with? Surely, this would have been evident in their testing? Also, the pen loop attached to the flyleaf is next to useless. Filofax chose to go with a rather cheap-feeling elastic textile material, attached to the front and back of the flyleaf, arching over the edge. Firstly, this loop cannot take even the smallest of pens without pulling the soft buffalo leather and deforming the flyleaf in a most unattractive manner. Secondly, I am certain the elastic of this pen loop will blow out after a period of use. This is a pity, since the binder obviously was designed to take considerable wear and tear. I have solved it for now, by simply clipping my pen to the flyleaf itself. I suppose you could just clip it to the pen loop too, but then the pen dangles too much in my opinion. I am also contemplating how difficult it would be to replace the elastic with a full leather pen loop. Not that hard at all, I reckon.

All in all, this is a very nice binder. Coming from a world of Gillio’s, Van der Speks and Il Bisontes, it is fantastic value for money. More importantly, together with their previous release, the Classic Croc, the Heritage line promises a return to quality binders from Filofax, which makes me very happy indeed.

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2016-09-02T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[The Il Bisonte Insider – a brief review of a highly opinionated binder]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/the-il-bisonte-insider http://swedishpixels.com/archive/the-il-bisonte-insider I am going to start by saying that I absolutely adore this binder. It is not perfect and it most likely is too rudimentary for a lot of people, but it might just be a perfect match for me.

I ordered mine directly from the Il Bisonte web site, which at the moment only carries it in regular size (equal to the Filofax personal size) and only in black and cognac. I have no idea if they will be available in other colors or sizes again. I purchased one in a cognac color, which turned out to be a gorgeous bridle-tan sort of medium brown, with orange undertones. The leather is very soft, with a decent amount of pull-up character, meaning it will lighten where distressed. It marks rather easily, but scratches rubbs out quickly. I even spilled red wine on mine, but after having blotted it with wet paper the stains are completely gone. When new, it smells ever so faintly of old urinal, just as the leather used in Hard Graft products. I wonder if this is a characteristic of a particular tannery.

The rings are a soft gold tone, with an inside diameter of 26 millimeters at the widest point. They are marked “Full Time”, but I have not been able to find out if that is the actual make, or just some sort of rebranding. They are operating smoothly, with no gaps whatsoever.

There is one full length pocket and three smaller pockets on the inside left flap. Two of these smaller ones are obviously meant for credit cards and such. On the right side, there is a generous zipped pocket. Instead of a pen loop it has a pen pouch on the inside of the right flap. This pouch easily accommodates a fairly large pen, such as a Pilot Capless Decimo, my favorite binder pen. The binder is stamped with the Il Bisonte logo both at the cover and the inner back. The latter debossing also informs us that the binder is designed by Wanny di Filippo, the iconic founder of the Il Bisonte brand, sometimes referred to as the Santa Claus of fashion.

The edges of the binder are left unfinished, the pockets unlined. When opened, it lies completely flat. It closes with the entire right flap folding over the right edge of the inserts, snapping shut against the left flap with two sturdy poppers. The brass colored zipper and poppers complements the leather very well and it creates a very rugged impression. It is obvious that this binder is meant to age well.

I think the major issues people will have with this binder are due the extreme floppiness and the relative lack of functional pockets.

The binder is mostly unstructured and it might even be more flimsy than the outer jacket of a Gillio Mia Cara. When you hold it open in one hand, the leather folds over your hand like a piece of thick felt. In spite of this I still find it possible to write in it standing up, with only my left hand supporting the binder and inserts.

Compared to other binders, this one does not offer much pocket-wise. I do not find the two credit card pockets very functional. The cards stick out half-way from the soft cover, clashing against the rings when you close it. If I was the kind of person that used my binder as a wallet I would have to look elsewhere. Also, I must admit I miss a full-length back pocket for larger pieces of paper. The Gillio range in binders have spoilt me in that regard.

I also have a minor gripe with the backing plate used. From the outside of the binder the plate is slightly convex along the middle, but has a concave portion at both ends, sort of like a spoon. I am sure all sorts of design tradeoffs went into the decision to use this kind of plate, but I have not seen it in other binders and it does lead to some weird creasing. I would much prefer the entire spine to be rounded.

This binder does not perform well when stuffed full. Then, the right flap is almost too short for it to close properly—at least if you have a bulkier pen in the pen pouch. I have found it works well if you leave it at 90 percent capacity, which probably is better for the rings anyway. Then, there is just about room to add a second pen loop, attached to the rings.

Despite these quirks, I find this to be a fabulous binder, made with careful attention to detail and from the highest quality materials. I much prefer this leather to the more recent Epoca leathers I have seen and even to the black Janet leather I have in a Van der Spek binder from last year. Time will tell if this opinionated design will permanently displace the comforting practicality of a more conventional one.

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2016-07-22T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[A big, black and beautiful binder from Van der Spek]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/big-black-binder-from-vds http://swedishpixels.com/archive/big-black-binder-from-vds I finally got around to ordering my first binder from Van der Spek and was lucky enough to have it arrive just in time for Christmas. I’ve used it for a few weeks now and thought I would publish my thoughts on it. I’ve mainly used binders from Gillio for the past few years, so for better and for worse I can’t help comparing this new binder with my Compagnas and my Mia Caras.

I ordered a custom Standard binder with 30 millimeter rings in black Janet leather1 and with Bontex rather than cardboard stiffener. I added a plain leather flyleaf as well. This is my first binder with such large rings and I was fully prepared to find a gargantuan monster when I opened the delivery box. Imagine my relief when I found that those extra five millimeters (as compared with my earlier 25 millimeter rings) didn’t add much bulk at all.

The craftsmanship of this binder is top notch. The new-leather smell is absolute heaven and it actually smells more of “real” leather than my Gillios or items from Hardgraft. The corners on this binder are more rounded than on the Compagnas or Mia Caras, which I think contributes to a more conventional look. The binder also has a squishy feeling to it—more so than I had expected. It seems Van der Spek always adds a little foam padding to their binders, regardless of your choice of stiffening. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this.

While I chose the default layout for the left side of the binder, I added a gusseted full-height pocket on the right side, covered by extra wide ring protectors. This is a design I shamelessly stole from the Filofax Winchester model. The Van der Speks executed the design beautifully, and it really works. The ring protector locks the contents of the pocket in place when the binder is closed, without neither poppers nor zipper. No parts that will break. I considered adding a back pocket too, but in the end opted not to.

The pen loop is excellent, lined with elastic band all the way around, which makes it easy to slide quite large pens in. The pockets are lined with silk, while Gillio uses some kind of synthetic leather-like fabric. I actually prefer Gillio’s solution.

Van der Spek uses Krause rings, which are excellent. These large rings weren’t quite as tight as my previous 25-millimeter Krause rings, but we’re taking gaps of tenths of a millimeter here. It seems plausible that big rings are harder to get just right, since the larger circumference will amplify small imperfections where the tines are welded to the plates.

All in all I love this binder. My only quibble would be the following: On my Gillio Compagnas, the leather flyleaf acts as a page lifter, pushing pages towards the middle of the rings when I close it. Sadly, this doesn’t work at all with this Van der Spek binder. The ring protectors presses the flyleaf against the large rings and catches it, instead of letting it move freely. It’s a real pity and I’m wondering if making the holes on the flyleaf more pill-shaped would help with this. If possible, I might purchase such a custom flyleaf in the future to test this hypothesis.


  1. I’m told the Janet leather is a vegetably tanned leather produced in Italy. 

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2016-01-01T00:00:00+01:00
<![CDATA[The week-on-four-pages diary format revisited]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/week-on-four-pages-revisited http://swedishpixels.com/archive/week-on-four-pages-revisited For many years my favourite diary layout has been the week-on-two-pages, which I’ve made myself since 2012. One problem with this variant is the limited space allotted to each day, which I mostly worked around by adding a blank page as needed. I once tried a week-on-four-pages layout, but quickly realised it made my weeks too fragmented. Even though I added indicators to give you a sense of how far each week had progressed, it didn’t work for me to have my work-week split up by a turn of the page. I just couldn’t get enough of a bird’s eye perspective of the days ahead of me.

For 2016, I’m trying a hybrid of my previous designs—a week-on-four-pages layout, but where I’ve kept the work week (Monday through the Friday) on one spread and the weekend on the next. This means there’s plenty of room for notes, task lists och whatever I need. There is even room for a nice quote each week and a little reminder to try to tone my gratitude muscle. I’ve kept the progress indicators, just because I find them fancy.

This new layout of course makes the diary twice as thick as before. Good thing then that I just ordered a binder with 30 millimetre rings.

Download it and have a look. As always, the PDF is intended to be duplex printed and then cut down to size and punched.

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2015-12-26T00:00:00+01:00
<![CDATA[Thoughts on the medium Mia Cara from Gillio]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/thoughts-on-the-medium-mia-cara-from-gillio http://swedishpixels.com/archive/thoughts-on-the-medium-mia-cara-from-gillio A while ago I suspended my better judgement and ordered a medium Mia Cara in Epoca Gold from Gillio. I had a few minor quibbles with the item originally sent to me2, but Gillio happily indulged me and let me have it exchanged. This is my eighth binder from Gillio, although only six are still in my possession.

This binder is large (of course), but not ridiculously so. I only ever think about it when I place it next to a more conventional binder in personal size. I actually do not need all the additional storage, but all that leather gives me a warm and luxurious feeling. While my A5 Mia Cara is too floppy to be used away from a desk (not even my lap is sufficient), this medium sized one can actually be held open with one hand. As a matter of fact, it does not open completely flat—at least not straight out of the box. The pen compartment works surprisingly well with my favorite binder pen, a Pilot Capless Décimo.

The leather on this binder looks and feels exactly like the one on the medium Compagna I owned briefly. When I compare it to my original 2012 medium Compagna, my 2013 slim Compagna or my A5 Compagna (all in Epocha Gold), it feels thicker, squishier and more waxy to the touch. It is also a little lighter and more uniform in color. To my surprise, I found it remarkably resistant to scratching and marking.

I understand that leather differ from batch to batch and I’ve seen indications of some batches to be more sought after than others, like the batch of gold Compagnas shipped with a leather pull-tag. I wonder if this is a real difference, or if it is a result of comparing new leathers to aged leathers. It might of course also be a psychological scarcity effect, where a limited supply of a particular batch in combination with the opinions of a few increases the perceived value of it among all of us. I believe the difference is real, however. It becomes really obvious when I compare this binder to my older ones. I wonder if this change in leather is a conscious decision on Gillo’s part, or if it simply is one of these things in life that just happen.

The popper on the outer jacket of this binder is higher in profile than on my older binders, which in combination with softer leather makes it lift a little at the edges when I open it. The rings are ok, but show the slightest of gaps in two places. I wonder what make of rings Gillio uses these days. Something other than Krause, I presume.

I’m so happy to see that the closure strap was constructed as on my original medium Compagna, with a thinner piece of leather folded over and sown to a second thin piece of leather. I never quite liked the version with two leather straps sown together and finished with leather gum.

This binder needs page (sheet) lifters to work, which is not the case with any of my previous binders, not even my A5 Mia Cara. This seems to be a compounding effect of the construction (two pieces of leather moving against each other), the size and the finish of the leather. I could not find any page lifter for personal-size binders to purchase, so I bought a cheap plastic binder and cut my own3. They work like magic.


  1. It had a minor mark and a popper where the top plate was not firmly attached. I was assured these issues were all considered within the boundaries of normal, but I know myself well enough to see that they would be like small splinters in my mind, festering and eventually turning into putrid boils. 

  2. I bought a binder with frosted translucent plastic of approximately one millimeter thickness. The plastic was not quite flat, so I used the slight curvature in my favor, making the lifter arch slightly from the rings and out towards the opposite edge. My Rapesco punch was strong enough to handle the plastic. Ideally, the holes should be bigger, but they seem to work well enough. 

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2015-10-26T00:00:00+01:00
<![CDATA[Calendar inserts for 2016]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/calendar-inserts-2016 http://swedishpixels.com/archive/calendar-inserts-2016 Admittedly a little late to the game, I’ve finally rendered and uploaded calendar inserts for 2016 in pocket, personal and A5 formats. As usual, they’re available both in Swedish (with holidays) and English (without holidays).

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2015-10-23T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[Kopparhatten]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/kopparhatten http://swedishpixels.com/archive/kopparhatten Frames captured at Kopparhatten, Söderåsens nationalpark. The last one is a bit underexposed, because that forrest really was too dark for an 100 ISO film. Poor planning.

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2014-10-01T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[Diary inserts for 2015]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/diary-inserts-2015 http://swedishpixels.com/archive/diary-inserts-2015 I’ve updated this page with diary inserts for 2015 in Swedish end English, for pocket, personal and A5 formats. I’ve changed the typeface to Robert Slimbach’s Cronos Pro, but other than that they look the same. This is the format I keep coming back to myself.

You’re always welcome to download Alfie from Github and generate your own diaries. It can make a few more variants than the one I just posted.

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2014-09-22T00:00:00+02:00
<![CDATA[Black & white]]> http://swedishpixels.com/archive/black-and-white http://swedishpixels.com/archive/black-and-white 2014-09-21T00:00:00+02:00