Leuchtturm1917 as a BuJo, vs Muji’s spiral notebook, and other BuJo-related thoughts.

I’ve been using the Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebook as my bullet journal for more than four months now. I feel that’s enough time for an objective and thorough review.

Leuchtturm1917 A5 Hardcover in Berry.
Leuchtturm1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted Ruling in Berry. AKA, my current BuJo.

But first, a bit of context.

I had loved using Muji’s A5 double-ring notebooks as my bullet journal. Loved it so much, in fact, that I would go through 2-3 notebooks a year. It wasn’t economical and it was a pain to have to transfer notes so often. Obviously 70 sheets wasn’t enough.

Muji Recycle Paper Double-ring Dot Grid Notebook - A5
Muji’s Recycled High-Quality Paper Ring Dot A5 Notebook. Aside from being a mouthful, they’re BuJo #s 1 to 3. I kind of miss that cover. It worked great as a canvas.

And so I found myself in need of a new notebook that had more pages. Leuchtturm1917 often came up as a recommendation, so I decided to give it a try.

Now in order for my review to make sense, it’s important I establish the way I… bullet my journal. BuJo notebook reviews tend to be subjective as the whole bullet journal system is open to interpretation.

So how do I use my BuJo? In a word, UTILITARIAN.

I do not use it for art. I do not use it for journaling. I don’t even use it for long-term planning (at least, not much). My bullet journal is a series of daily to-do lists. Whatever I list there then gets scheduled into my Outlook calendar. I may have the occasional text like notes and minutes dumped in there, usually out of convenience.

If you use your BuJo in a similar way, then you’ll be able to make the most out of this review.

That established, let’s start off with the good points shall we?

The Positives

  • LOTS of pages. This was the primary reason why I switched from Muji in the first place. At 249 pages, that’s more than 3.5x the writing space Muji ever offered. I started on this notebook on the 1st of October last year, and I’m still on page 104–just a little over 40%.
  • Numbered pages. All the sheets are pre-paginated. No need to manually write down the page number! And what a time-saver for indices!
Leuchtturm1917 Numbered Pages.
Leuchtturm1917 numbered pages. All that pre-paginated glory.
  • Dotted or Dot-grid Ruling. The Leuchtturm1917 comes in four possible paper rulings:
    • Ruled (your average notebook)
    • Squared (that math notebook you never used properly)
    • Plain (aaarrrrrrrtttttttt), and
    • Dotted (the queen to rule them all).

    Dotted is my ruling of choice. It isn’t as common in other brands so I’m quite pleased Leuchtturm1917 offers it.

  • Sturdy Packaging. The notebook comes in a hardcover which means it can deal with a bit of wear and tear. I didn’t know how important this was to me until my older Muji cardboard covers started to fray at the corners.
  • Elastic enclosure band. Same as Muji, there’s a simple band that helps keep the pages in place. Leuchtturm1917’s seems to be sturdier though.
  • Stickers for labeling and archiving. Someone had once asked how was I going to tell my three Muji bullet journals apart. I don’t have an answer to that yet, but for Leuchtturm1917 at least, it comes with sticker labels for the cover and spine.
  • Colors. Available in 21 colors, there’s a lot of room for personalization. As I love pink I had my pick between the colors “New Pink” and “Berry”.

The Negatives

  • $$$.  Leuchtturm1917 is expensive, there’s no going around about it. One of their selling points is how it, “stands for premium quality in more than 50 countries.
    $20 for a notebook is definitely a premium. Locally, its priced at P1,200 (almost $23) at National Bookstore.
  • Limited availability.  Even though its available locally, stocks are limited especially the dot grid kind. It’s so bad, actually, that I had to get family to buy mine from the US.
  • Table of contents (ToC). This is one of the most subjective points in this review. The way I use my BuJo requires an index rather than a ToC, so I find the three pages Leuchtturm1917 dedicated to the latter useless.

    Leuchtturm1917 Table of Contents
    Leuchtturm1917’s table of contents, of which it has three pages for, when all I wanted was a good old index page.
  • You can’t tear off pages. The pages are thread-bound, so if you detach a page you may end up ruining the notebook’s binding. The notebook does come with 8 perforated and detachable sheets, but I’ve already used all of them up.

Neutral, but possibly important, points

  • Gusseted pocket. If you’re like me and don’t know what “gusseted” means, I’ll save you that Google trip and tell you it’s an inner pocket. The pocket contains: stickers, an information booklet, and a thank you note (aww). I can imagine this pocket would be useful for art journalers to keep scraps in, but I haven’t found a use for it yet.
  • Thin paper. Fountain pen users beware! The paper, while smooth, is very thin. Like I-can-almost-read-what-I-wrote-in-the-back-level of thin. It won’t be able to handle fountain pens, heavier inks, and most especially paints. I just use ballpoint pens so this isn’t a deal-breaker for me.
  • Two bookmarks. I just need one bookmark–to tell me where’s my most recent page–so I find the second bookmark excessive. Your usage may vary.

In Conclusion

For my utilitarian purposes, the Leuchtturm1917 makes for a pretty great bullet journal. My biggest gripe is the lack of an index, but I can live with it.

The cost hurts. But considering the Muji notebooks I was using weren’t that cheap either, I can justify the price. Your budget may vary and there are definitely a lot of cheaper alternatives out there.

There’s also an official Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal, a collaboration with the original BuJo designer. It costs around $5 more, and from what I’ve seen the changes aren’t worth it. About the only advantage is that it uses a proper index rather than a table of contents–my biggest gripe, but not worth the extra dollars.

I’ve gotten a few recommendations around other notebooks, particularly cheaper ones, but as I’m not even halfway through I’m in no hurry to test them. Realistically, I’m likely to stick with the Leuchtturm1917 unless it runs out of stock again.


Udacity CS101: Intro to Computer Science, a review

I’ve been trying to learn how to code in Python for a while now. Of all the beginner resources I’ve tried, Udacity’s Intro to Computer Science (UD CS101) has been my favorite.

To clarify: I’m not learning Python with the intention of becoming a software developer. Rather, I like analyzing data, and I hear Python can help with that. R too, but Python is 1: recommended for beginners, and 2: has more applications outside of big data.

I do have some programming experience, though never anything formal, never to this depth, and never in Python.



UD CS101’s premise is for you to create “The Next Google” by teaching you how to build your own search engine.

The self-paced course is broken down into 7 modules*. Each module introduces a new concept to help improve on your search engine.

Each module contains:

  • Videos. Here the instructor explains the theory behind the concepts and demonstrates how to use them on the search engine.
  • Q&As. These help nail down the concepts. These aren’t too difficult and are usually similar to the demonstrations.
  • Problem sets. These are machine problems that build on the concepts you’ve learned so far and are more challenging than the Q&As.

At the end of the course you would have built a search engine with a similar algorithm to AltaVista–what was once the #1 search engine in the 90s before Google took over.

For your class project you then build a mini social network based on the concepts you learned from the course.

*As of writing Udacity has revamped their classrooms so this modular approach may no longer apply.


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On the bookshelves this second week of November

Once a week I make a trip to the local bookstore.

I never go there to buy anything. Sometimes I leave my wallet behind, so I can avoid making an impulse buy. I just browse, browse, and browse the aisles.

Sometimes I talk to the sales staff, and ask if they’re carrying a new book I’ve heard about. Or if they have the so-and-so book of an author or series they’re already carrying. Or to ask why they decided to change their display this month.

It hurts a bit to read about Neil Gaiman’s librarians as I don’t have those. I don’t have any book gurus to recommend me books and encourage my reading. The bookstore sales staff are probably the closest I can get. Public libraries are hard to come by where I live, and even the few ones that exist are in a pretty dismal state.

But I’m happy with what I have. The bookstore to me is what the library must have been to the young Neil: A solace. A happy place. I never schedule my trips there, and yet I always end up going mid-week, either on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Always right when I feel like the corporate world is going to gobble me up then spit me out. It’s my hump day reward.

It must be what retail therapy is like, except I don’t have to spend for anything.

When I was making my rounds last week, I thought it’d be interesting to share the books that caught my eye. If others manage to discover a great book through my book haunts then I’d be so happy to be of service! The books below are my finds, along with what it was about them that sparked my interest:

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Microsoft DAT206x: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel Review

You never actually analyze and visualize data, but this course is worth taking as it’s a good introduction to using Power Pivot and Power Query–both of which are useful for managing large amounts of data in Excel. Just make sure you manage your expectations.

Update: To follow my progress in this program, check the Microsoft Professional Program tag.



For those who are following this blog for my data science updates, it might be of interest to you that I am still working on Microsoft’s Professional Program for Data Science  (on beta). I have recently completed my second course, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel.

This was my gateway course to the program. Excel enthusiasts at work had recommended it as a good introduction to PowerPivot, and it was only later that I found out the course was part of a larger data science program.

My primary purpose for taking the course was increasing my proficiency in Excel. I currently manage a large-scale project with an equally large-scale tracking spreadsheet. The spreadsheet easily gets out of hand due to the sheer number of assets involved and because it pulls data regularly from multiple data sources. I was hoping the course would help me clean up the data and make it sustainable to maintain in the long run.

Because of this, I’m reviewing the course from a more practical Can I use this at work? perspective rather than its relation (or lack of) to data science.

It took me about a month to complete, starting September 2016. You can follow my progress in the MS Data Science Program by using my tag Microsoft Professional Program.

Continue reading “Microsoft DAT206x: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel Review”

Microsoft DAT101x Data Science Orientation Review

At $25 (beta price), this orientation course is overpriced for what it offers.

Update: To follow my progress in this program, check the Microsoft Professional Program tag.


I’ve mentioned in my Getting Started with Data Science tips that I’m currently taking the Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science.

The program is still in beta, so:

1. Microsoft needs the feedback, and

2. Potential students would want to know if the program will be worth their time, money, and effort.

The program is pretty extensive, so I thought it best to break my reviews by course as I take them. This review is on the orientation course, DAT101x Data Science Orientation.

For context, I took the course around late September 2016, and got my certificate early October.


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