22 June 2017


Slow Motion Reality [Maker Update #39]

A roundup of the best maker projects of the week

This week on Maker Update: Maui Makers, slow motion frames, the launch of Maker Share, zip-tie lamps, rocker switch walls, magnetic wristbands, and a cheap way to brand wood. This week’s featured Cool Tool is the MagnoGrip magnetic wristband. (Show notes)

Have you ever held screws or nails in your mouth as a way to keep them nearby while working on a project? This week for my tool review I’m going to show you a better solution. This is the MagnoGrip, it’s a $14 magnetic wristband available on Amazon. I found it on the Cool Tools blog. And if you pick one up using the link in the description you help to support my videos and the Cool Tools Blog.

This is a low-tech but useful tool. It just velcros around your wrist and includes embedded magnets to hold whatever odds and ends you need to have handy. The magnets aren’t super strong, but just strong enough to hold a handful of nails or screws. I imagine if the were much stronger it might actually be a liability.

It’s a durable design, made from thick 1680 ballistic polyester. So having screws and nails rub against it over and over shouldn’t be a problem. The inside that touches your wrist has this nice, breathable padding.

The original Cool Tools review of this comes from Sue Bettenhausen, who recommended it for nails and pins, putting together her son’s bike, hanging pictures, or shortening pants. I also see several Amazon reviews from people using these while doing car repairs to prevent bolts from falling into the engine.

The wristband comes in a few colors, but red seems like it provides the best contrast so screws and nails don’t just blend in.

-- Donald Bell 06/22/17

22 June 2017


Bulk Pregnancy Tests

Fast and accurate pregnancy test for a fraction of the usual cost

People don’t generally learn of the existence of cheap bulk pregnancy tests until they are trying to get pregnant. I wish I’d been given a pack of these when I first started having sex. At $7.50 for a pack of 20 (instead of $10 for one at a drugstore), you can put your mind at ease instantly, for a less than fifty cents. Why not make it part of your monthly self care routine?

These would be especially useful for those using the seasonal pill, injection, IUD, or other forms of birth control that alter your cycles, and for people with irregular cycles (which is most of us, at times). You hear stories of people on the pill finding out they’re going to have a baby in three months, because they just didn’t think it was possible. Don’t let it happen to you. Knowledge is power. The sooner you know about a pregnancy the more options you have, and the better you can take care of the health of your offspring if you choose to carry.

-- Reanna Alder 06/22/17

21 June 2017


Interview with Tim Ferriss, Author of Four #1 NYT/WSJ Bestsellers

Cool Tools Show 077: Tim Ferriss

Please consider supporting the Cool Tools Show podcast on Patreon! – MF

Our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week is Tim Ferriss. Tim was listed as one of Fast Company‘s “Most Innovative Business People” and one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.” He’s an early-stage technology investor and advisor (Uber, Facebook, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of four #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (reviewed on Cool Tools). He is the host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, which has exceeded 150 million downloads and has been selected for “Best of iTunes” three years running.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page
Tim’s Tools:
Nau Vice II Blazer ($280)
“It is a jacket that I roll up to travel with constantly. What makes it unique is a number of different factors. You can roll it up and throw it on a black t-shirt and you look like you’re ready for a business dinner or a formal or semi-formal occasion, so it saves me the trouble of packing a lot of collared shirts, for instance. … Plenty of pockets, but there are lapels so you can get away with murder. You can wear it in a light rain or you could wear it at a nice dinner. It is an incredibly flexible piece of clothing. … The fabric blends that are used tend not to wrinkle, number one. Two, it has folds and pockets and lapels that for whatever reason, make any wrinkles less noticeable. …I get it down to about a roll that is 10 inches in length and about three to four inches in diameter.”
Logitech Ultra-Portable keyboard ($34)
“In my bag of tricks. I have a Logitech bluetooth keyboard and just to put this in perspective, it is slightly larger than say a paperback book, like a 5 x 8 inch trim paperback book. It is narrow enough that I will very often stick it into a journal to protect it and it’s probably the width of eight to ten paperback pages. And it holds a charge very, very well so I use this often times if I have any issue with my laptop. I can pair it to my iPhone, which is a larger-sized iPhone and balance the iPhone or lean it against a glass of iced tea and I can get any writing done that I need to get done. Also, if I feel like taking a day trip, but not taking this backpack, which is one of my main pieces of luggage and stuffed full of stuff, it’s kind of heavy, I can take the keyboard and my iPhone and head off to some coffee shop say ten to 15 minutes away without carrying all of my gear with me.”
Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs ($4)
“[Max silicone earplugs] unlike foam earplugs are not inserted into the ear canal and then left to expand. These are effectively smeared over the ear opening and you have in all caps – DO NOT INSERT, JUST COVER EAR OPENING. These I found through swimmers in fact and they are very waxy and almost look like candies … some type of caramel, but they’re white colored and I find them to block sound much more effectively than any type of foam ear plug … I definitely reuse these. I would say if I had to guesstimate, I would say four to five nights and then they start to lose their adherence, because they get less tacky over time. The most important feature or benefit that I don’t want to overlook is that as someone who tends to rotate from back to side, so I sleep on my back and on my side, foam earplugs will very often hurt. They’ll get pushed into your ear when you roll onto your side. That is not the case with these.”
Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($40)
“Most of [travel pillows] are very uninspiring and even less effective for helping me sleep. What I found is not only does [this pillow] help me sleep if I’m sitting upright, but it’s also very, very helpful for getting to sleep when I’m laying prone, whether it’s on an airplane or even a hotel room, if the pillows are of dubious quality. … It’s self expanding, so you can think of it almost like a sponge-like material that you can compress down and then when you release it, it inflates or I should say rather expands automatically. … It is a horseshoe-shaped, if you imagine a horseshoe being hung around the back of your neck, that is the shape. It can clip in the front and the design is such that there’s a ridge that supports basically the occipital area at the base of the skull. … It’s the most comfortable neck pillow that I have found.”
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.31.28 PM
Apnea Trainer ($3)
“So another app that I use a lot when I’m traveling and I use it at home as well is called Apnea Trainer and I don’t use it for it’s tended use. I have an off-label use. Apnea Trainer is used by people who are training for free diving and want to improve their breath hold times. There are different types of tempos that you can use for different types of training, so there is Pranayama breathing. There is the apnea breathing which would say be a ratio of inhale, hold, exhale or inhale, hold, exhale, hold. … What I found is that if I only have, say five to ten minutes and I don’t have time for my usual morning meditation, which I like to do, that five to ten minutes of breathing training with a voice that will countdown for you is very much grounding for the rest of the day.”

Yellowtec iXm microphone
“This is a microphone that can capture just tremendous quality of audio. It automatically equalizes and it has playback buttons on the side. It all records to an SD card that’s inserted in the bottom and it’s battery powered so that you can take it on the road. Everything is contained and housed in this one unit, that then goes in a tiny zip-up bag, so this just lives really inside my backpack, so if I don’t have a chance to bring more gear or don’t want to bring more gear, I can use this anytime, anywhere and shizam.

Kevin’s Tools:
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.31.11 PM
myTracks (FREE)
“What it does is it makes a GPS log for our travel, wherever you’re going and the important thing is it does it without having to have cellular service somewhere because in these foreign countries, I don’t normally turn my cell phone service off, but it’s still getting GPS signals and just with that information, is enough to create a GPS log of a journey. The advantage to that is one, you have a record of your journey and you can import into Google Earth just with a KML format, but more importantly, if you have a camera that has a clock as they all do these days, you can synchronize your clock to the local time and you’ll have a way to time stamp and geotag your photographs.”

Cheap compact umbrella with top spray painted silver to reflect the sun, keeping it cooler
“I just had an ordinary cheap, black, really compact umbrella that I carry in my little camera bag all the time and I spray painted the top of it silver so that it reflects the light and it makes it a little bit cooler on the inside, because just with a black umbrella, it tends to absorb that infrared and reradiate it back down on your head. By having a silver reflective layer, it bounces at least 60% of that back into the sky and it’s a lot cooler. There are versions of the silver umbrella that are extremely lightweight. They’re not as collapsible as the ones I have, but they’re made for hiking. I think there’s called the Silver Dome if I’m not mistaken and they weigh only a few ounces, and people out west, if you’re climbing even into high altitudes, a lot of the long-distance hikers now carry an umbrella, portable shade and they walk along under the shade. Shade follows them and it really makes a huge difference when you’re backpacking because you can really work up a sweat in a hat. It doesn’t allow your head to cool off, but the umbrella does.


21 June 2017


One-string Canjo

Easily build a one-string canjo (tin banjo) instrument

I like to make my own musical instruments. I thought I take a look at what you can get for cheap online. I found this one string “Canjo” and had it shipped to me. I was pleasantly surprised! Within 20 minutes I had assembled and tuned it. It’s fretted diatonically like a dulcimer, making it very easy to play by ear. An excellent website I follow called Cigar Box Guitar has a bunch of songs to learn. Great starter project for young and old. Really fun to play too.

-- Kent Barnes 06/21/17

20 June 2017


Celestron Mini 8×21 Binoculars

$13 mini-binocs

(This is a Cool Tools favorite from 2003 – MF)

I just bought four pair of some nifty Celestron 8x21s for an incredible $12 each! They are compact and very light weight. The eye relief is great, and while they ain’t Swarovskis, they do the job just fine. And best of all, I don’t worry about losing them or getting them scratched. My advice is to buy a bunch and keep them in every car, backpack, etc.

-- Paul Saffo 06/20/17

(KK: I did just what Paul Saffo suggested. I got me a couple of these. They are small mini-binocs about 6 inches square — the size of your palm. They are as sharp as my other mid-price pairs, but much handier. I really like them. And for $12 (as long as the bargain runs), they are unbeatable. — editors)

20 June 2017


Tool of Titans

Best self-betterment tips

This is the most dog-eared book I own. It is a massive whack on the side of the head. Nearly every one of its 670 pages contains a mind grenade, some aha or reminder of an aha. Self-improvement expert Tim Ferriss has been deconstructing the best practices of successful people in his wildly popular podcast series, and in this book he heroically distills those hundreds of hours into short powerful stand-alone paragraphs. Tim then adds his own comments based on his experience as a human guinea pig willing to try any improvement hack at least once. The result is a crowded, overflowing Whole Earth Catalog of self betterment. Browse anywhere and you’ll be rewarded with hard-worn practical advice to increase your achievement in three categories: healthy, wealthy and wise. I was surprised by how much actionable insight there are in this tome. And I keep returning to it to find more.

-- KK 06/20/17


Joe De Sena

Do you have any quotes you live your life by or think of often?

“It could always be worse.”


Pavel Tsatsouline

“ … when you are a leader, people are going to mimic your behavior, at a minimum .... It’s a guarantee. So here’s the key piece of advice, this is all he said: ‘Calm is contagious.’”


Chade-Meng Tan

Take One Breath a Day

I may be the laziest mindfulness instructor in the world because I tell my students that all they need to commit is one mindful breath a day. Just one. Breathe in and breathe out mindfully, and your commitment for the day is fulfilled. Everything else is a bonus.


Coach Sommer

If the commitment is to a long-term goal and not to a series of smaller intermediate goals, then only one decision needs to be made and adhered to. Clear, simple, straightforward. Much easier to maintain than having to make small decision after small decision to stay the course when dealing with each step along the way. This provides far too many opportunities to inadvertently drift from your chosen goal. The single decision is one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox.  


Productivity tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)

For each item, ask yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” “Will moving this forward make all the other to-dos unimportant or easier to knock off later?” Put another way: “What, if done, will make all the rest easier or irrelevant?”


Tony Robbins

Is there a quote that guides your life?

“It’s a belief: Life is always happening for us, not to us. It’s our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.”

The best investment he’s ever made?

Buffet told him, “ Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life … There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it, because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom. … It’s those skill sets that really make that happen.”


Casey Neistat

“What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.”


Peter Thiel

“So if you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months?”


Seth Godin

If you generate enough bad ideas, a few good ones tend to show up

“People who have trouble coming up with good ideas, if they’re telling the truth, will tell you they don’t have many bad ideas. But people who have plenty of good ideas, if they’re telling the truth, will say they have even more bad ideas. So the goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Try sitting at a different table

“Everyone who can hear this has more power than they think they do. The question is, what are you going to do with that power?”

First, ten people

“The blog post I point people to the most is called ‘First, Ten,’ and it is a simple theory of marketing that says: tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.”


James Altucher

“Here’s magic trick: If you can’t come with 10 ideas, come up with 20 ideas … You are putting too much pressure on yourself. Perfectionism is the ENEMY of the idea muscle … it’s your brain trying to protect you from harm, from coming up with an idea that is embarrassing and stupid and could cause you to suffer pain. The way you shut this off is by forcing the brain to come up with bad ideas.”

The world doesn’t need your explanation. On saying “No”:

“I don’t give explanations anymore, and I’ll catch myself when I start giving explanations like ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I have a doctor’s appointment that day. I’m really sick. I broke my leg over the weekend’ or something. I just say, ‘I can’t do it. I hope everything is well.’”


Justin Boreta

Do you live your life by any quotes?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” — Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967


Best advice ever received? “The question I ask whenever I’m straining for extended periods is, “What would this look like if it were easy?” — Tim Ferris


How to earn your freedom

It comes from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, when the Charlie Sheen character—a promising big shot in the stock market—is telling his girlfriend about his dreams.

“I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m 30 and get out of this racket,” he says, “ I’ll be able to ride my motercycle across China.”

When I first saw this scene on video a few years ago, I nearly fell of my seat in astonishment. After all, Charlie Sheen or anyone else could work for 8 months as a toilet cleaner and have enough money to ride a motorcycle across China.


Astro Teller

The benefits of thinking 10X versus 10%

“When you go after a moonshot—something that’s 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger—a number of things happen …. First of all, when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself. For me, [take asteroid mining as an example]. I don’t have a lot of asteroid mining competition out there, or prospecting. Or take human longevity, trying to add 40 years in health lifespan with HLI. There are not a lot of companies out there [attempting this]. The second thing is, when you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently. I’ll give you my favorite example: Tesla. How did Elon start Tesla and build from scratch the safest, most extraordinary car, not even in America, but I think in the world/ It’s by not having a legacy from the past to drag into the present. That’s important. The third thing is when you try to go 10 times bigger versus 10% bigger, it’s typically not 100 times harder, but the reward is 100 times more.”


B.J. Novak

The importance of the “blue sky” period

For 2 to 4 weeks, the writers’ room banter was each person asking, “What if …?” over and over again. Crazy scenarios were encouraged, not penalized. Every idea, no matter what, was valid during this period. The idea generation and filtering/editing stages were entirely separate. As B.J. explained, “To me, everything is idea and execution and, if you separate idea and execution, you don’t put too much pressure on either of them.”


BJ Miller

“Don’t believe everything you think.”

This was BJ’s answer to “what would you put on a billboard?” He wasn’t sure of the source but attributed it to a bumper sticker.


Conquering Fear = Defining Fear

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’” — Seneca


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iNeibo Silicone Travel Bottles

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Kaboost Booster Seat for Dining

Stays attached even when chair is moved

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Cool Tools Show 077: Tim Ferriss

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Cool Tools Show 076: Nick Bilton

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Cool Tools Show 075: Eri Gentry

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23 February 2017



We Refreshed Our Website

If you read Cool Tools via RSS (which is the way Kevin and I read blogs) then you probably don’t realize we updated our website design today. We took your feedback seriously and tried our best to simplify the design and make it more legible.

I’m sure we got some things wrong. If you find a mistake or have suggestions about our current iteration, please let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Cool Tools and being part of the community.

If I’ve still got your attention, I’d like to remind you that Cool Tools runs reviews written by our readers. Please recommend a tool you love.


Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.

One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.

When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.

We recently posted a short history of Cool Tools which included current stats as of April 2008. This explains both the genesis of this site, and the tools we use to operate it.

13632766_602152159944472_101382480_oKevin Kelly started Cool Tools in 2000 as an email list, then as a blog since 2003. He edited all reviews through 2006. He writes the occasional review, oversees the design and editorial direction of this site, and made a book version of Cool Tools. If you have a question about the website in general his email is kk {at} kk.org.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

13898183_602421513250870_1391167760_oClaudia Dawson runs the Cool Tool website, posting items daily, maintaining software, measuring analytics, managing ads, and in general keeping the site alive. If you have a concern about the operation or status of this site contact her email is cl {at} kk.org.