What’s Been Happening at Stamphacks

I’ve totally abandoned the idea of making the larger Scott size pages. I liked the idea, but it was so limiting in terms of binder and paper choices.

The 2022 Ukraine pages are done, so now I can focus on the Community US Stamp album.

While working on this album I discovered a few things:My choice of font (Source Sans 3), seems to be very finicky. On some printers it looks great, on other printers it looks horrible. The font depends on your printer driver, and which PDF viewing app you use to print, and which setting you pick. The output looked great for me on my Brother laser printer. But when I printed in on my Epson Inkjet, it looked horrible. Then I used Foxit Reader on my Mac and it helped a little. Then I used Foxit Reader and tried the “best” setting on the Epson printer driver and suddenly things looked almost as good as the laser printer.

This is making me change things. Since I am redoing all the pages to make them match the new format, I changed fonts. Going forward all pages will be available in Source Sans 3 and in Neue Haas Unica. You pick which font you want.

And for people printing double-sided pages to put into page protectors, there will be a “double-sided” PDF available. You can slide these into a page protector, or use some glassine interleaves in your albums.

I want to finish all the pages and release them all at once, so this is going to take a little bit.

On a personal note, I have stopped using cover stock/cardstock. I can’t get the rollers of the printer to grab this paper reliably and feed it through the printer. So, I was getting inconsistent results. Sometimes everything would be skewed ever so slightly left or right, and other times things would be a little lower or higher on the page than I expected.

So, I just bought some 28 lb (70 lb text) paper and use that. So far, so good.


The Best Quality Print Output

I’m extremely picky about the quality of the pages that I print, and I thought I would pass on some tips and tricks I have discovered.

First tip is paper quality.

If you’re on a laser printer, your options for paper are limitless. You can print on almost anything and it will look crisp and clean. But if you’re printing on thicker paper, make sure you set your printer driver to the thicker or thickest setting for paper type. This will make the fuser a LOT hotter and will make sure the toner sticks to the page. I’ve printed on cardstock with the default settings and have been able to scratch the toner off the page. Of course, using a hotter setting will cause the paper to curl more when it comes out of the printer.

Inkjet printers can be a bit trickier. You need a coated paper so the ink doesn’t bleed into the paper fiber and feather, giving your text a slightly fuzzy look. There are lots of paper that specifically says “Inkjet” on it, and will usually give you good results. But I have used paper that says it’s for inkjet and laser, and the inkjet results have been less than stellar on it.

Something else I discovered today is that, on an inkjet, when you print something out and choose “Black and White” or “Greyscale” in your print dialog, things look a lot better, because the printer then only uses the black ink cartridge.

I have an Epson EcoTank ET-2750, and when I print without the “Black and White” setting, the text and stamp images have an ever so slight blue hue to them. The “Black and White” page is just super dark black. The difference to my eyes was pretty dramatic.

But I am picky.

Something else I learned today is that a lot of “tank” printers will use pigmented ink for the black color and dye inks for the other colors. Well, pigmented inks don’t absorb into the page. They stay on top of the page. So, paper you thought you couldn’t use on an inkjet, such as 100% cotton paper, might work just fine if you print in black and white or greyscale.

And the last thing that can affect print quality is the PDF viewer you are using. I’m on a Mac and always used Preview to print my PDFs. Well, for some reason, Preview stopped printing the images on my stamp pages. So, I installed Foxit PDF Reader. That printed the images, and I thought the text looked better. I reported the problem to Apple and forgot about it. Well, Apple has issued 3 updates to MacOS since I reported the problem, so I gave Preview another try tonight. And it printed the images and the text quality looked just as good as Foxit PDF Reader.

Get some paper, some PDF readers and experiment to see what looks best for you.


The Planets Are In Alignment Today

  1. The 2021 Ukrainian Stamp Arrived
  2. I have all the stamp mount sizes I need
  3. MICHEL assigned catalog numbers to all the 2021 stamps
  4. My wife is working bingo tonight

Time to hack some pages when work is over!


A Story of the Ukrainian Spirit

As you probably know from my previous posts, my 2021 Ukrainian stamps have not arrived yet.

I have been working with the seller (who I totally trust), and we agreed that if I did not get my stamps by the end of February, he would send me a new set.

So here we are, one week before the end of the month and no stamps. And then the Fire Nation, I mean, Putin attacked. At this point, I don’t care about the stamps any more. I want the guy and his wife to be safe. He lives in Kyiv. I just want to know that the guy is OK.

I sit down a half hour ago to send him an email which I assume he won’t get, but I have to try.

And I get an email from him. He tells me that he and his wife fled Kyiv last night and are heading West. He was emailing me to tell me my stamps arrived at JFK Airport this morning.

This guy is in a war zone, fleeing for his life, but he still takes time out to check my order and let me know that it finally arrived.

I have no words…

So when this mess is over, and you need Ukrainian stamps, buy them from BeeUkrainian on eBay.


How I Am Setting Up My Albums

I thought people might be interested in how I am setting up my albums now.

For binders, I am using the Avery Frame View Heavy Duty Binder:

I buy binders with 1″ binder rings because I find them easier to deal with.

I print all my pages double sided and put them in Staples Heavyweight Sheet Protectors.

Staples Heavyweight Sheet Protectors, Clear, 200/Box (34846) | Staples

Though I have used different paper in the past, I am currently using HP 40 lb Project Paper. : HP Heavyweight Project Paper | Matte Inkjet & Laser | 8.5x11 |  250 Sheets : Office Products

I’m printing my pages out on my Epson EcoTank ET-2750 printer. I also have a Brother HL-3170CDW color laser printer, which I love. But when you print on thicker paper in the laser printer, you need to tell the driver that you’re using thicker paper, which cranks up the heat on the drum. This really causes the paper to curl.

I always thought the laser printer produced crisper and clearer output than the inkjet, but the Inkjet pages were nice and flat. Then I discovered Colorlock paper. The HP 40 lb paper gives me output just as crisp and clean and the laser printer.

I’ll try to post some pictures of the actual album I have put together after Christmas is over.


WordPress Stay of Execution

Due to a great Black Friday deal on web hosting at my existing provider, I upgraded my plan to allow greater resource utilization. WordPress, you get a break until I can find the time to redesign the site.


WordPress on the Chopping Block Again

Despite my various attempts to optimize my site, I am unable to get resource utilization down to an acceptable level for my web hosting provider.

So, I have 48 hours to do something about it, or my site will be taken down. I’ve eliminated everything except the high I/O usage, which happens once or twice a day for only a minute or so. Problem is, I can’t get good detailed logs to figure out exactly what’s going on.

So, stand by to see what happens.


Breathing a Sigh of Relief

I got resource utilization down to reasonable levels for my hosting provider. So, the pressure is off to get the site moved off WordPress ASAP.

I still want to do it, but now I can take the time to do it properly and not rush to do it and do a half-baked job.

For the curious, if appears the Jetpack plugin for WordPress was one of the culprits.

I did the following things:

  1. I blocked a bunch of questionable bots using the Wordfence firewall.
  2. I switched from webcron to cron for WordPress.

Both of those things helped a little, but didn’t help enough to get to me to where I needed to be.

When I checked my logs I saw a LOT of calls back to So, on a whim, I disabled Jetpack. And within 15 minutes, I was no longer maxing out my CPU allotment. But I was still over my php script limit for the day. Another day, and everything seemed to be back to normal.


Accelerating the Removal of WordPress

My site is using an unusually high amount of resources, and my hosting provider wants to charge a lot more for my hosting now.

I don’t think this is because Ukrainian stamp collecting has suddenly become insanely popular. It’s because bots are trying to attack the site since it’s WordPress.

I have several options available, but they all cost more than I am willing to pay. So, the best course of action is to abandon WordPress. In the future, you will see a completely new website. I just need to work out the details on how people can sign up to get updates to the site.

WordPress has been a great platform, but it has a pretty big attack surface. There are some great tools now that let you maintain static websites easily. I think that’s the way to go.

Stay tuned for updates.


Dealing With Mounts

When you’re bored on Easter morning, then you go nuts on your blog.

Some tips on dealing with stamp mounts this morning…

Cutting stamp mounts with scissors is not a good idea. It’s almost impossible to get a good straight cut. Showgard sells a mount guillotine, which is expensive. You can use a hobby knife and a ruler to get a straight edge. But the most convenient thing I have found is to use a Fiskars SureCut Portable Trimmer with Recycled Cutline.

This is only $13.95 on Amazon, and has served me well for 5 years now.

Glueing mounts to pages is something else I have “hacked.” The back of the mount has a moisture activated glue that will stick to the page. This has 2 slight issues: the moisture used to activate the glue might get into the mount and get on the stamp, and the paper you’re mounting the stamp to might curl.

My local stamp store recommends people use an Uhu/Elmers glue stick to mount my stamps. They are 100% moisture free and have a very high pH, so they’re acid-free. And they won’t curl your page.

I used this method for years with outstanding success. But I wanted something easier to use. So, I discovered these: Tombow Mono Adhesive Dispenser.

You just flip up the tab on the bottom, run it along the length of the page, and then push your mount on the page.