Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Flex Nib Comparison: Noodler's Ahab, Pilot Falcon SEF, Noodler's Neponset, Stipula Splash, Omas Ogiva Alba 14k EF

Everyone's going nuts over flex pens lately, and manufacturers are starting to take notice. There have been several flex pens to be released in the last couple of years, so I wanted to compare some of the most popular ones to see what really makes them different from each other. Rather than make an hour-long video going over every detail, I focus strictly on how these five pens actually write, using Noodler's Black ink on a Rhodia dot pad:

(1:20) Noodler's Ahab
(3:09) Pilot Falcon soft extra-fine
(5:00) Noodlers Neponset
(8:00) Stipula Splash (V-flex)
(10:24) Omas Ogiva Alba 14k extra-fine extra-flessibile

If you're doing a double-take there, I definitely wrote "Noadler's Ahob". These pens can make your handwriting look cool, but they don't help you spell any better.

In the video, the Neponset railroaded a bit and the Splash fussed at me when I flexed it all the way out, and both of these instances are not incredibly uncommon, though they were a bit on the extreme-end of what I normally see. This vid was a one-shot take so you're getting to see the good, the bad, and the ugly :)

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Write On, 
Brian Goulet

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Matchup #23: Pilot Prera with PR Orange Crush

It's beginning to look a lot like...pumpkin pie! Everyone's jumping the gun on Christmas this year, forgetting that one of the most magnificent feast days of the year is just around the corner. To celebrate Thanksgiving, our very own Caitlin drew up this delectable pie, and I can practically smell it. Madigan did a great job with this writing sample, and yeah, we must have pie.

The Pilot Prera here has a medium nib, which is slightly finer than most European medium nibs. The Prera is a demonstrator pen with a stainless steel nib, available with a fine or medium nib. One of the coolest things about the Prera is the clear grip, which allows you to see a wonderful ink and pen matchup like this. Its nib is actually interchangeable with the Pilot Plumix, too, if you wanted to do a little hack to get an italic on there. The pen writes with a  fair degree of smoothness, not buttery but not scratchy. It's light, seals well, and is well-balanced posted or unposted.

Private Reserve Orange Crush is an underrated ink, and we're glad to be able to feature it here. It's clearly orange, with some nice shading when you lay it down heavy.

We're glad to be able to feature this set for Monday Matchup, and we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Of course, for me, it'd be better with a pumpkin cake ;)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Sunday, November 23, 2014

GouletPens.com Website Issues

As many of you have probably seen, there are some issues with our new site at GouletPens.com. This blog post is an effort to address some of the recurring issues that you're all seeing and give some context as to what's happening. We're receiving a lot of the same emails and questions and wanted to address them here so you're not left in the dark!

Firstly, allow me to give some context, it is definitely not our intention to make your life harder, quite the opposite. What we're experiencing right now is the pain of a big technical move, and those of you in the programming field know exactly what we're talking about. Websites are amazingly complicated, and despite our best efforts of a year and a half of planning, things are acting kooky. There are some aspects of our site that we knew weren't going to be perfect at launch, but most of the issues we're seeing were not even issues until we launched. Many things worked perfectly in testing, and then broke at launch or soon after. We are working nearly around-the-clock to get to the root of all our issues.

The Biggest Issues Right Now

Here are the biggest bugs we're experiencing right now:

  1. Missing products - This weekend something (I wish I could be more specific) happened that is making large groups of our products completely disappear from our site. This is a critical issue and we're trying to get it resolved. We haven't discontinued anything or are out-of-stock of entire brands, it's just some bug that's causing this and we need to squash it!
  2. Mobile limitations - We're missing search filters, there are some category navigations that are misbehaving, and some formatting issues. These seem to be worst on Android devices and some iPads (particularly 1st Gen). Some enhancements should be rolled out in the next day or so, more to come as time progresses.
  3. Checkout/shipping issues - Some of you aren't able to select a shipping method and proceed to checkout. The best thing to do here is to try to log in to your "My Account" page and confirm that your addresses are set up properly. Make sure there's a phone number and valid address there. There's also a bug that you can't change your shipping method after it's selected for the first time.
  4. Login issues - A feature on our new site is increased security, and a consequence of the site move was that some of your passwords needed to be changed (increased in complexity). This meant you couldn't login, and the issue arose when a whole other bug that affected our email responder caused a delay in the automatic emails that were to go out to anyone requesting to change their password. There's a 72-hour window of using the email link to change the password, and the email delay meant that some of the emails didn't go out until after the 72-hour window had closed! Confusing for sure. So if you received an error that says "Missing or invalid parameter: confirmationCode Unknown or expired confirmationCode.", that's what happened. The email delay was fixed on Thursday 11/20 in the evening, so you should be able to reset your password now.
  5. Missing package sets - On our old site we had package sets that spanned different products like pens, ink, and paper all rolled together into a single product. We loved it, you loved it, and it is something we just weren't able to implement on our new site in time for launch. This was a huge disappointment for us, and we're 100% working to get it back. It's probably not going to happen for a couple of months, unfortunately. Bummer all the way, I know. 
  6. Wishlist issues 
    1. There's a default limit of 20 items currently, and we're seeing if we can raise that. 
    2. Some of you have experienced trouble with adding or deleting items from your wish list, and we're hoping to roll out a fix for these later this week. 
    3. Missing wish list items- there could be several reasons for this. Some of our products are configured differently on the new site than they were on the old one, and might not have mapped over properly, which would explain they they're not there anymore. If it's a package set then it wouldn't be there anymore (see point 5 above). It also might just be a random bug, we're really working on ironing out our wish list right now.
  7. Search features acting weird - When you drill down into some of the 'facets' of the search on the left-sidebar (like color, nib size, etc), the displayed results are not narrowing down properly, or it doesn't show you what you selected. When you do a search in the searchbar at the top left of the site, the first page of search results display fine, but subsequent pages are just random products. Oy! And to top it all off, there's a default of 15 items displayed per page, and that's not really helping things out. 
  8. In/out of stock notification - We're missing a notification on the category pages that show you if a product is out of stock, and that's annoying. You also don't have the ability to select an option (like nib size on a pen) in the Quick Look view and add it to your cart, or add out-of-stock items to your wish list.
  9. Other random display issues - Certain browser/device combos are doing crazy things, sometimes images get stretched, just odd stuff. We're trying to figure this out but it's tough because of the sheer number of devices, browsers and browser versions there are out there. It's really important when you're having an issue for us to know what device you're using and what browser and version you're on so we can pass that along to our developers.
  10. No order comments box at checkout- we know this is a big deal, SO many of you leave us order comments for special requests, feedback, or just friendly notes, and that's missing on our new site. We really miss this, and it's definitely something we're working to bring back. 

This is not by any means an all-inclusive list of the bugs we have, it's just some of the bigger issues that we're getting a LOT of feedback about. The thing that's important for me to get across here is that many, many of the issues you're seeing are not intentional, but bugs we're trying to fix. Rachel and I are just absolutely despondent right now about how many of you are honestly just struggling with our new site, and are feeling let down. We are working hard than every before (and that's pretty hard normally) to fix all of the issues on our new site, and we are asking big favors of you right now to hang in there with us as we trying to fix all of these things.

The analogy we have is that our old site was like a cozy apartment that we'd made feel like home, but was simply too small and outdated for us to be cozy for much longer. We've just moved now into a bigger house in a nicer location, and we have a lot still packed up in boxes. Our furniture doesn't fit right, there aren't any pictures on the wall, and the walls got all dinged up from the move! It's going to take time for us to patch everything up and get settled in to our new place, and once that happens it'll be better in the long run.

The Trust Bank

Our company's second value is "Trust is our currency", and we've been depositing trust into your 'trust banks' for the last 5 years with our service, website, and education. Right now we're asking for some trust withdrawals from you, because we know how crazy and unusable our new site is for some of you. Please understand this is not a permanent state, and we are working every single day to address all of your issues. 

Hang in there with us, and please feel free to leave comments below regarding issues you're seeing and I'll do my best to address each of them. Better yet, please email website@gouletpens.com with your specific issue (please include screenshots, device type, browser version, anything you can) so we can get those all logged in.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

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