Why I chose MWC

MWC Vietnam watch. Black on black. MSRP $55 USD.

MWC Vietnam watch. Black on black. MSRP $55 USD.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am very particular on which products I choose to purchase. Things like quality, environmental impact, manufacturing location, and customer service all come into play along with smaller nuances.  So when I was searching for a new quartz wrist wrist watch (so I don’t beat up my antique mechanical one) after much research it came down to two watches.  The Bertucci A-1S and the MWC “Vietnam.”  I have a small wrist, so I needed something in the sub 40mm category.  The Bertucci is 36mm and the Vietnam is 33mm.  They both utilize the Miyota 2035 quartz movement, made in Japan.  The Bertucci is assembled in the US with a Chinese case and US strap (unsure on face and hands).  The MWC is entirely made in Japan.  Bertucci had accessible customer support, but getting information about the watch’s build was like pulling teeth – they just wanted me to go to their website.  The problem was, the website just said “Japan movement” and I wanted to know what one.  Eventually they did help and told me what it was.  MWC, on the other hand, was extremely helpful right from the first contact.  They were very quick to reply to email messages and were informative, forthright, and friendly.

Bertucci A-1S model 10004, black face and black strap. MSRP $90 USD.

Bertucci A-1S model 10004, black face and black strap. MSRP $90 USD.

I do have to say, the fact that Bertucci is an American company is a big plus (MWC is head-quarted in Sweden).  And I’ve heard they make a quality piece.  But the prices are high and it bothers me that the cases are made in China.  Also, functionally speaking, it was no better (given the same movement) as the MWC that was about half the price.  Aesthetics were an issue as well, with the Bertucci being a bit clunky despite it’s small 36mm width.

Both watches have lume.  The Bertucci uses swiss luminous on the hour markers and swiss super luminous on the hands.  Reviews have shown that the hour markers do not stay lit for very long and are effectively useless.  The MWC uses an unknown lume on it’s numbers and hands, but in my opinion it holds up pretty well.    Under a good charge it definitely is visible in the dark for 3-4 hours without issue.  Some say it lasts longer than that, but I haven’t tried.

In the end, I chose the amazing customer support, excellent build quality, Swedish company with Japanese manufacture as the winner and now sport an MWC “Vietnam” as my daily wear watch.  I couldn’t be happier.  It was fairly inexpensive, has been very reliable (I got it 2 months ago), and looks great.  The Miyota 2035 is quiet and feels very sturdy yet refined when setting it.  Now granted all my other watches have been inexpensive Timex and similar, but still, this is head and shoulders above that.  I will say, even though the Bertucci isn’t perfect, it has me intrigued enough that if I could afford it I’d get one just to try it out.  I just can’t see myself wearing it often with those huge strap tangs.

Note:  There are many on differences between the two like mineral glass on the Bertucci (recessed about 2mm to keep it from getting scratched) vs acrylic on the MWC etc, but those ended up not making a big difference in my decision making process.

Obligatory links:

Bertucci A-1S
MWC Vietnam

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The Clicky Keyboard

1994-clicky-model-m

IBM Model M PS/2 keyboard, circa 1994. Built by Lexmark in the USA.

Ever since I was a little kid, I had an infatuation with the “clicky” keyboard.  Anyone older than probably 25 that is into computers probably knows the keyboard I’m talking about.  IBM’s majestic “Model M.”  Technically there were some other older models that used this same “clicky” buckling spring actuation, but the M is the one most folks had their hands on.  The buckling spring actuation allows for the keystroke to be recognized by an audible click, a physical abrupt drop in the key, as well as the electronic signal being sent to the computer.  This allows for typists to be 100% sure they have actuated any given key.  The buckling spring also allows for the keyboardist to set their fingers on the keys without worry of accidental input.  The keys hold a fair amount of weight before being triggered, and when they are triggered, it is so overwhelmingly obvious that you are sure to not have any “extra” entries in your papers or code.

Now the issue.  These keyboards were only produced from the 80’s on into the mid to late 90’s.  This means that the newest keyboards are now 20 years old.  Finding one in good shape, or at all, can be a chore.  And because so many people love them, when you do find them they are typically selling for $50-$100.  They are also limited to the old PS/2 “keyboard/mouse connector” rather than using the more modern USB.  The good news is that these old keyboards typically still work, and should work for many more years – they last practically forever.  The even better news, if you want a brand new one you can get it from Unicomp.  While they aren’t technically the old IBM Model M, they are virtually identical.  Unicomp bought the rights from Lexmark (who had bought them from IBM) and now they make a reproduction keyboard.  What’s better, you can get them in USB format!  And you can even do custom keyboards with different labels, colors, and key amounts (101, 103, 104, 105 etc).  Just to make things even better, these keyboards are made here in the USA!  They sell these new keyboards for between $84 and $105 at the time of this writing.  A lot of money, but for a keyboard that will last 20+ years and be a joy the entire time – I think it’s worth it.  If my old 1994 IBM model M ever dies, I will be getting a Unicomp for sure.

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Raspberry Pi – 2 & 3, First and Second

Over the last few months I’ve set up and installed two Raspberry Pi’s.  The first install was at work where the school wanted to have “digital signage.”  I used a Raspberry Pi 2 running Raspbian and using the PiPresents application to run a slideshow, all connected on a big TV on a wall via HDMI.  There is no keyboard or mouse, so all commands are run via SSH.  The second install, just two days ago, I set up a Raspberry Pi 3, still running Raspbian, and this time using the Pi-Hole app to handle ad-blocking at the DNS level for a customer.  This installation is headless so it also needs SSH to run administrative commands.  Good stuff, I love these things.  Now I just need more Raspberry Pi uses so I can keep doing it 🙂

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Quadra 650 – “Quad Serve”

Apple Quadra 650 set up as webserver, circa 2004.

Apple Quadra 650 set up as webserver, circa 2004.

Stock Now (2004)
Processor 68040 @ 33 Mhz Overclocked 68040 @ 42 Mhz
Hard Drive 250 mb 2.1 gb
RAM 12 mb RAM 104 mb RAM
CD-Rom 2x CD 4x CD
Operation System Mac OS 7.6.1 Mac OS 8.1

The year was 2004.  I was given a 10 year old Apple Quadra 650 from one of my sister’s friends.  It was dirty.  It was heavy.  It was slow.  I decided that even though this machine was designed before the dawn of the internet, it would be a great idea to make this a little server – because, why not?  So I did.  With some upgrades (as described above in my table from my old website), this machine did handle a light HTML-based website with ease.  Of course, there was little to no load most of the time either.  After less than a year of running this machine as a server for HTML, IRC, and FTP, I decided to take it down and purchase some “real” webspace.  It was getting expensive (and very warm in my closet) running this 24/7.  Since then it has been in storage.  It really doesn’t have a good use (for me) anymore, and I have found it a new home, on a shelf on display in a classroom.  So this is my last “thank you” to the wonderful “Quad Serve,” the first computer I overclocked, my first server, and my first major overhaul/upgrade – thank you Quadra 650.

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My shaving experience

I’ve been shaving now for 15 years of my life.  For most of the first 14 years of shaving, I used a Gillete Sensor Excel twin blade “disposable head” razor.  My dad use to shave with the disposable BIC razors, so that is what I started with when I was learning.  So, these two options are all I knew until a year ago when my brother introduced me to the old style “safety razors,” aka “double edge” razors.  He bought me a Merkur handle and an assortment of 6 types of blades, a few blades of each type.  I tried them all over the last year and have loved the experience.  Some blades faired better than others.  The Lord Platinum blades did very well and were my favorite.  However, when I went to order those when I ran out of all my “sample” blades, I found many reviews stating that quality control was lacking on these and some blades were great while others were horrendous.  So, I started the search for the perfect blade.  After hours of research, combing through forums and reviews, I settled on the Astra Superior Platinum blades.  I read that they were good for a quick, easy shave.  So I ordered a pack of 5.  At $2.50 for 5 blades or $20 for 50 blades, they are very cost effective.  And I have to say quite honestly, they shave even better than the Lord blades did.  The easiest double edge shave I have ever had, and the most enjoyable of any razor I’ve used period.  I got mine from royalshave.com, but I’m sure they are available elsewhere.  RoyalShave.com did ship very swiftly and I like their website, so that is where I will be going next time I order more.  Which might be soon, I’d like to get a pack of 50 before I find out that I can’t find these awesome blades anymore!

And, because I care about these things, I found out where they are made.  It turns out they are owned by Gillete and are made in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Thank you comrades for the wonderful work on these blades!

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What do you EDC?

EDC is the acronym for “everyday carry.”  Most times this is referencing things in your pocket that you might carry.  Many people include things you wear as well.  For me, this means my EDC stuff includes: keys, pocket knife, wrist watch, and cellphone.  I suppose depending on how you interpret the term, I could also include my cross necklace that I never take off.  These are all things that regardless of where I am going or what I am doing, I have on my person.  Since I work in a school district, my pocket knife I bring to school is actually a small safety ceramic cutter made by Slice, it gets the job done most times but I miss having my normal pocket knives when this is all I can carry.

The reason I’m posting about this though is because it got me thinking about the types of EDC items.  For me it breaks down into two categories: those items that I have only one of, and those that I have options for.  My keys and cellphone I only have one of, so that is what I carry.  My cross necklace, I do technically have others, but always wear the same one.  But for pocket knives and watches I have options.  I’ve found that having 4 or 5 options is ideal.  My pocket knife collection includes blades ranging from 1.75″ to 3″ (plus the tiny ceramic one) and different styles.  Depending on what I’ll be doing that day I decide what to carry.  My watches include a dressy analog watch, an older Timex, and my normal everyday watch which is an old Fortis manual wind watch.  I’d like to add a quartz watch like a Bertucci A-1S as an everyday watch for when I’m splitting wood or working on cars etc so I don’t damage the Fortis.  Someday I’ll do that.  But at least my pocket knife collection is complete.  I see no need to purchase any more pocket knifes for the rest of my life, unless or until one goes missing or is damaged beyond repair.  I like that feeling.  I have five total and each one was very carefully selected for certain attributes and qualities.  None were horribly expensive either with the entire collection being worth only $125, or $25 per knife (though it isn’t evenly distributed like that).

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My version of the Shinola Runwell

I love the aesthetics of the Shinola Runwell Men’s Green Face.  However, it is quite pricey at $550 for a watch.  Sizing is reasonable on the small version (36mm) and ridiculous on the largest (47mm).  They are all the same price.  So I decided to use a brown strap and emulate the look with my new to me 1975 Fortis mechanical hand wind watch.  At 34mm it is close in size to the smallest of the Runwells and I think it looks great!  The strap came from clockworksynergy.com again, like last time.

Of course, the benefit to the Shinola is that not only does it look great, but it’s made here in the USA as well!

Left: 47mm Shinola Runwell Men's Green Face, Right: 34mm 1975 Fortis Mechanical Hand Wind w/Brown Nato

Left: 47mm Shinola Runwell Men’s Green Face, Right: 34mm 1975 Fortis Mechanical Hand Wind w/Brown Nato

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A new time piece

12 years ago, Christmas day 2003, my wife (then my girlfriend), game to me a Timex Carriage watch.  For the last 12 years I have worn said watch and it shows it’s wear.  After the band started to fail, and has been repaired, I decided I needed a new watch.  Being short of cash flow, and always interested in something different, I decided to go the used watch route.  In this case, very used.  I stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon where there are many manual wind watches from the early 1970’s to mid 1980’s being sold on eBay from India.  These watches are frequently cleaned and the dials repainted, then shipped out to the US.  I found a 1975 vintage Fortis watch, 17 jewel ST96 swiss movement, in great shape for $12.50 shipped to my door.  The band it came with was new, but garbage.  It broke when I tried putting it on and wasn’t going to be repairable.  So it is wearing the gray cloth strap I wrote about earlier.  Pretty slick, right?  And at 34mm case width it is the same width as my Timex and perfect for my slim 6.5″ circumference wrist.

** Edit **
I let it run out to see how long it’s power reserve is, 49 hours 20 minutes! Since I wind it every morning I have no concern about it running down on me now.

1975-fortis-1

1975 Fortis manual wind watch, swiss ST96 movement

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The perfect, comfy, watch band?

timex-cotton-strap

Timex Carriage with cotton strap

After my metal watch band broke on my 12 year old Timex Carriage, I needed a replacement.  I decided against metal due to the coldness in the winter.  And against nylon due to it’s plastic nature and the fact that it just isn’t environmentally friendly at all.  I finally found a band though, made of cotton!  Unfortunately, it is in limited supply because the company is no longer making them.  No matter, I got one and it is SUPER comfy and I think it looks great to boot!

When I ordered the strap from Amazon, it came in after just a few days.  Unfortunately they sent me a 20mm band instead of the 18mm I needed.  I emailed the company, Clockwork Synergy, directly and they resolved the issue by sending me the proper strap as well as a return envelope to send the wrong one back.  They were very friendly as well, so much so that I plan on buying another strap from them soon.  This time I think I might go with nylon anyway, because I really like the “Heavy Duty Nato” (sometimes known as “Zulu”) strap that they sell.

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Saddleback Leather – Sleeve Wallet

I’ve had back problems on and off for a while.  I’ve started going to a chiropractor, and she recommended that I remove the wallet from my back pocket.  It didn’t comfortably carry in the front pocket, so I got a new one that does.  The Saddleback Leather “Sleeve Wallet.”  I know I tagged this Made in USA, but this is actually made in Mexico.  Or at least mine was, they have a USA model now as well.  It holds “up to 12 cards,” though so far I only have three in mine since that is all I need.  I carry license, debit card, and one credit card.  Perfect!  And it fits just right in normal pants pockets without any bulging, even in dress slacks.

Saddleback Leather "Sleeve Wallet" - Picture courtesy of saddlebackleather.com

Saddleback Leather “Sleeve Wallet” – Picture courtesy of saddlebackleather.com

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