02 November 2014

Reader Under The Spotlight - Alan

Today I would like to introduce you to Alan. 

Hello everyone.  My name is Alan and I teach business at several universities as a free-lance instructor.  I have always had a fondness for stationery, particularly smaller format items.  I have had cheap 6-ring North American standard (5x3") pocket and personal sized binders since the 1960s.  

1. When did you buy your first organiser and what was it?

As I said in my introduction, I have used 6 ring binders since I was a teenager, but an organizer, per se, probably dates back to the mid-1970s. It was probably some North American brand.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

In the past I have had organizers by Rolodex, Day Timer, Day Runner, and probably a few more.  In addition to my Filofaxes, I have a Coach, Daines & Hathaway, Lloyd Baker, Collins, Microfiles, and several Franklin Quests.  

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

That is like asking which is your favourite child!  I love almost all of them.  I have more Kensingtons than any other model - I love its feel and compactness.  However, it is hard to imagine any organizer tantalizing one's senses more than a well-used Kendal.  A well-maintain vintage Winchester, Argyll, or Durham is a thing of beauty as well.  My prize vintage items are a Balmoral (10CLFJ 5/4) and a 3KL Slimline.

4. How many Filofax or other brands of organisers do you own?

The answer to that question is probably gross, so I won't say any more.  Let's just say my Filonumber is probably higher than yours.

5. What is the oldest organiser in your collection?

I have about 25 from the Winchester era.  The oldest is probably one of (1) the Balmoral I already mentioned, (2) a 5CLF7/8, or possibly (3) one of the 0L7/8 storage binders I bought in London in 1987.

6. What do you use your organisers for?

Several things:
I have about 15 slimlines and one of these will be my current wallet at all times.  I change these every few weeks.  My wallet also has my portable appointment calendar.  My appointments are also in a Tan York Director Deskfax that stays on my desk.

I use many of my binders for teaching.  I almost always have my PowerPoint lecture slides printed and in a personal.  Larger pages like readings or instructor's manuals that would be impossible to read reduced to fit on personal will be in either an A5 or Deskfax - often a matching model.  For example, in the statistics course I'm teaching, my two lecture binders are Personal Kendals and the Instructor's Manual is in an A5 Kendal.

7. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

Customizability, flexibility and the leather!

8. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

I would love to see A5s with the features and quality of Winchesters.  I have a few Statesman B5 Deskfaxes, but it would be nice to have an A5 option.  There are times I want or need enormous rings, and for this I have some Franklin Quests with 1.5" rings.  But I would also like to see an A5 with rings under 20mm, even as small as 15mm.
I also covet a Pocket Holborn without a clasp strap or closure.

9. How do you carry your Filofax?

In my jacket pocket, occasionally in my briefcase.

10. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

I would say the Holborn, both due to the versatile pockets and the quality and feel of the leather.  I have a slimline and two personals.

11. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax or other brand of organiser? Which model?

When Laywines had their Spring sale this year, I bought a BNIB York Director Deskfax for $225.  I later found out that the clerk made a mistake and I should have been charged substantially more.  Peter is a very nice fellow.  If you shop there, say Alan sent you.  (I owe him!)

12. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?

Tip:  Cut dividers for Personals 7"x3.75" (178x95mm), but align the holes correctly for the bottom edge.  This creates dividers that stick 1/4" (6.5mm) out at the top.  This way, tabs don't get in the way of pens.
Hack:  Tabless tabs - one of my few uses for washi tape.  I tape over the edge of an important page with a bright, contrasty washi tape.  It makes the page easy to find, and protects the edge from constant use.

13. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

The people, and the sharing of information and ideas.  

14. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

I have lost comments that I had typed in that disappeared after I logged in.  I'm not a fan of the Facebook platform, as I don't think it is well suited for a useful discussion board. Once something is a week or two old, you'll never find it again, unless you bookmarked the permalink.

15. What was the last music track you downloaded or bought?

I haven't added to collection in a while.  It was probably either one of the Crossroads Music Festivals or an AC/DC album.  (I don't download.)

16. Have you ever attended a Philofaxy meet-up? if not do you intend to one day? 

I organized a Toronto one in June 2013.  There are several of us that get together every few months.  Susan Stanway and Suzie Legrow are regulars.  Elise Seitz joined us recently.

17. What was the last movie you watched?

On the flight home on vacation:  Charade, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.  I love older movies.  I don't name my Filofaxes, but my kid leather 3KL could/should be called Audrey Hepburn: Slim, Sleek, Elegant and Gorgeous!

18. What was the last book you read?

Michael Lewis's Flash Boys.  The main character, Brad Katsuyama, graduated from Business at Wilfrid Laurier, one of the places that I teach.  I suspect one of Roger Martin's books is next.

Thank you Alan. And if you would like to appear in this feature please contact philofaxy at gmail dot com


  1. Where is your picture, Alan? Inquiring minds want to know!

    1. There is one of me at the meetup:


  2. Alan, you have a very impressive collection on Flickr. Completely agree with your love of the Balmoral 10CLF/J, I think it is one of the best organisers they ever designed. I really wish they would bring back some of those earlier greats, I'm sure they would sell out.

    I don't suppose in any of your older inserts, you have the sheet from the UK Data Set, which has the flight durations from London to all the major worldwide cities? If so, I'd really appreciate a scanned copy. It would save a lot of research and typing! Thanks. Paul

    1. This might help Paul: http://www.flight-durations.com
      I've checked my old UK data and International data sets and that sheet isn't in either of them.

      The full scan is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/temps-perdu/sets/72157645851468994/

    2. I have a Lefax storage container with older inserts. I should scan and post pictures of them.

    3. Paul, at the present time, I only have one picture on flickr. Are you confusing me with gmax? I love his photostream, along with Stephen Duffy's and J. Mark Bertrand's.

    4. Steve, thanks for the link to the old sheets, they were really useful. And I've now bookmarked the website with the flight durations.

      Alan, you're probably right, I was confusing it with Gmax's flickr photos, which as you say, are delightful. If you ever get time to scan some of the old Lefax leaves, it would be wonderful to see them.

    5. Paul: Two thinks on my To Do List, are to scan old leaves and to populate my flickr.

    6. Glad you've enjoyed the photos Gentlemen.
      And thanks for sharing your answers Alan.

  3. I want to be Alan when I grow up.

    1. I wish I was a kid again, so I could be Karine! :-)

  4. Love the washi tape hack - great idea. I've been tables in my Compact to save space and avoid the pen loops, but this might work, too.

    Thanks for sharing!