Hacking Steiner PDFs

Ok, in case you don’t know, there’s an awesome site known as stampalbums.com.  A gentleman by the name of Bill Steiner sells album pages as PDFs for almost every country in the Scott Catalog.

But, unlike me, Bill only provides PDFs for you to download and print.  But what if you wanted to modify these pages in some way?

If you want to do minor edits and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars and software, you can use either Libreoffice or Scribus to edit the PDFs.  What you choose to use, really depending on your needs.

Let’s go over the pros and cons of each solution

LibreOffice Draw

If you want to edit the text of the Steiner Pages, LibreOffice is your best bet.  However there is one drawback: centering of text.  Let me demonstrate by showing you this screenshot of a file opened in Libreoffice.  This is Bill Steiner’s Ukraine 2013 supplement, page 1:

LIbreofficeOk, there are a few things you should notice about this picture.  Tree Leaves and Fruit is outlined in blue, because I clicked inside the text to edit it.  Here is where you’ll have some work to do:

  1. The text “Tree Leaves and Fruit” is not centered inside the box it is in
  2. The font in the upper left hand corner (Helvetica) is italicized

So, here is where the problem comes in.  The font is shown italicized, because you don’t have the font installed that Bill used when he designed the page.  At least I don’t.

The other problem is that, since the text is not centered inside the text box, it is no longer centered on the page.  Depending on which page you edit, this is sometimes more noticeable than on other pages..  So, if you’re as anal retentive as I am when it comes to this stuff, you need to clean it up by shrinking the text box and re-centering everything.

Before:

beforeAfter:

afterThe difference in this example is small, but for some of the text on these pages it can look pretty bad.  But, if you want to edit text and use one of these free tools. Libreoffice is the only way to go.

Which, of course, will let you do other fancy stuff, if you want:

fancy

Scribus

Now, if you’re planning to do something like get rid of the border and don’t feel like editing and re-centering a ton of text, then Scribus may be the way to go.

Here’s the same page opened in Scribus:

scribusThe reason why the whole thing is pink, is because I selected it.  Scribus keeps the whole page grouped.  Press Shift+CTRL+G to ungroup it:

ungroupedSo, notice the box around each individual letter?  That’s because Scribus imports each letter individually, rather than one text box.

So, what do you get from this?

Well, you lose the ability to edit the text, but the text stays right where Bill Steiner put it.  So, everything is still centered.

The only thing this is horribly useful for is removing the border without having to recenter all the text on the page:

bordergoneUseful if you’re going to print on someone else’s pages that have a border already.

If there are other free ways to open and edit these files, please let me know and I will add to this page.

Doctor Who Stamp Pages Are Here!

So, we’re very big Doctor Who fans in my house.  When Royal Mail released Doctor Who stamps in March of last year, I immediately ordered a set and went about creating some stamp pages.

I was originally going to include Stanley Gibbons catalog numbers on my pages, but my communications went south and the whole thing got delayed because of it.

So I removed the catalog numbers and redid the pages, and here they are!

The pages are designed for Doctor Who fans as well as stamp collectors, so some pages are pretty heavy on the descriptions.

And here are the files:

US Letter PDF:  Doctor-Who

A4 PDF:  Doctor-Who-A4

Scribus Files you can edit yourself:  Scribus Files

And here is a screen shot of one of the pages:

Doctor-Who-A4-page005

Doctor Who Stamp Pages

So, everyone in my family is a pretty big Doctor Who fan.

I went and ordered the Doctor Who stamps royal mail issued. I’m almost done the pages for these stamps. I hope to post these pages for public consumption some time this week. I have Stanley Gibbons catalog numbers on the pages, and am awaiting feedback from them on my ability to publicly distribute their catalog number on my pages.

Hopefully they’ll get back to me and I can post the pages.

A mini review of the Nakedbinder Classic Binder

In my continuous attempts to hack the perfect stamp album, I am always on a quest to find the perfect binder to onto the album.

Well, today, my shipment of binders from nakedbinder.com came in.  So I thought I should write something up.  I’m going to be doing a lot of comparison to the Bindertek Barrister Binder, so you might want to read up on my review of that binder first, which I posted on stampcommunity.org

According to nakedbinder.com, their binders are:

Recycled: We use only board that is100% post consumer waste and 100% recycled.

FSC Certified: Nearly all of our materials are FSC certified.

Stronger: Our binders have been tested to 250,000 flexes without fail, making them perhaps the strongest 3-ring binder in the world.

No Plastics: Naked Binder does not use plastics, vinyl or other toxins in manufacturing or shipping so everything is easily returned to the recycling stream. This takes pressure off of your waste management system, landfills and reduces the need for new production of virgin resources.

Recyclable: Our binders are 100% recyclable.

Innovating: We constantly test new materials to craft the most environmentally safe products that last longer, work better and look great.

Local: All of our products are made in the USA, minimizing world wide travel to get to you. Our manufacturing plant is in Des Moines IA.

The Outside

The binders themselves are similar to Bindertek binders, since they are made from one piece that is folded at the hinges, and are coated in tight paper.  I ordered the fern binder, which looks like this:

The binder is pretty flexible and tends to sit open when stood up, though it’s not as stiff as the Bindertek binder:

Like the Bindertek, there is pull ring in the spine, but it is not metal reinforced.  This is probably done to keep the binder recyclable.

The binder also does not have the metal edge on the bottom of the binder to protect it from damage.  Not a big deal for me personally.

The Inside

When you open up the binder, you see a nice black interior,  and a set of back mounted D rings.

To open the rings, you need to pull on the top and bottom handle.  The rings do not open very smoothly.

The rings are also the cheaper type rings (the same ones that Mystic chose to use)

Though the rings are D rings, I prefer the “ball and socket” type closing rings, such as these:

Pricing

The binder that I bought, the Fern Classic Binder with 1.5″ rings cost $9.00, which is a pretty good price.  If I had bought the actual naked binder, the price would have come down to $7.50.  The snag I ran into was shipping.  Shipping was going to cost $12.00.  By comparison, the Bindertek binder costs $12.00 and the shipping is $6.30.  So, to take advantage of the cheaper price of the nakedbinder, you’ll need to buy more than one.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the nakedbinder is a much better binder than what you get at your typical office supply chain.  It looks nicer, and I think it’s more durable.  It’s not quite as nice as the Bindertek binder, but it is recycled, and is a better deal if you buy more than one of them.

I made some album pages for the Flags Of Our Nation Coil Stamps

I’ve given up on trying to find an album that makes me happy for stamps 2001-present.  So, I decided to start hacking something together myself.  Here is my first attempt.  I made pages for the Flags Of Our Nation Coil Stamps.  Hopefully someone will find them useful.

PDFs can be found here:  Flags Of Our Nation PDFs

Scribus Source Files With Images and Fonts can be found here:  Flags Of Our Nation

You can see a sample page here: