20 August 2017


Kurzgesagt/Hvper/Steelcase Gesture Chair

Recomendo: issue no. 56

One page internet
Every day I get the entire internet compressed into a single page. My first stop is Hvper, which is a super aggregator that collects the top headlines of every news source out there into ONE single page. I see what’s at the top of mind in the both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, plus HuffPo and Fox News, plus Al Jazeera and the Drudge Report. Plus Reddit, Digg, BuzzNews, Twitter, CNN, ABC, Verge, Wired, and on and on. All of it! The whole news media landscape in a one-page dashboard. Each headline is clickable directly to the source. It is fast, clean (no ads!), free and magical. Must read. — KK

Explainer videos
I love good explainer videos. The best are made by Kurzgesagt. Their 5-minute videos are stunningly animated and cover topics such as automation, genetic engineering, gamma ray bursts, and ebola. They often leave me in awe about our universe. — MF

Best seat
I was having some back pain and pinched nerves, so Kevin bought this Steelcase Gesture Chair for my work desk. Those issues are non-existent now. So many different ways to position and sit in it. It’s so comfortable I have to set reminders throughout the day to get up or else I never would. — CD

Fast life
Just as I zip through podcasts at 1.5x speed, I recently learned I can speed up YouTube videos too. So now I go through twice as many tutorials. Just click on the gear-circle at the bottom right corner of the YouTube frame, and in the pop-up menu select Speed and your choice up to 2x. — KK

Stylish shower cap
Some days I skip out on washing my hair. After my reserve of complimentary hotel shower caps ran out, I needed to buy own. These are cheap and long-lasting, but the prints are what sold me — nostalgic and fun. Reminds me of my grandmother in Mexico. — CD

Great sketching pen
My friend Bob Knetzger is a toy inventor. He uses Paper Mate Flair felt-tip pens to sketch out his designs. I bought a dozen for $7 and was reminded why I liked them so much in the 1970s. The lines are smooth and you can vary the line weight by changing the angle between the pen and paper. — MF


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-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 08/20/17

18 August 2017


Door Ease Lube Stick

Unsticks sticky doors, windows, and drawers

Door Ease is a stick of wax for unsticking drawers. I inherited an old stick of it when I moved into a house. The previous owners left it behind. One day I had a sticky drawer and I thought, “Wait, I have the technology!” so I went downstairs and got my Door Ease and it hasn’t stuck since.

-- Gareth Branwyn 08/18/17

(This review was excerpted from our Cool Tools Show podcast interview with Gareth. Listen to it here. — editors)

17 August 2017


Maker Update: Self-Centering Drill Bits

The best DIY projects of the week

In Donald Bell’s latest Maker Update video, he looks at acoustic levitation, an Arduino made by Sony, a new kit by Anouk Wipprecht, self-centering drill bits, and a turning old monitors into a video wall. See show notes here.

From the video transcript:

For this week’s Cool Tools review we’re going to take a look at this self-centering drill bit set from Bosch. Great for makers and DIY home repairs. I wish I’d bought these years ago. This set cost me around $23, and if you want the same one, clicking the Amazon link in the show notes helps to support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

If you’ve ever tried to attach some pre-drilled piece of hardware to something — a hinge, a latch, a coat hook — you’re probably familiar with the challenge of placing the hardware, marking where the holes need to be, and then carefully drilling. But if your pilot holes are just a little off — even in just one hole, the whole placement of the hardware will shift. It bugs the crap out of me.

A self-centering drill bit makes this process foolproof. The bit has a spring-loaded collar that sits into the hardware you’re attaching and keeps the drill bit dead-center. So long as your hardware doesn’t shift, the holes will be perfectly center.

This set from Bosch comes with three common bit sizes — a #6, #8 and #10. They’re also a quick change design that can just drop into an impact driver, making it easy to drill and screw with the same tool.

I will say that if you’re only using this occasionally, you could spend less and just get the smallest size. That will give you a centered pilot hole that you can expand with any regular drill bit. That said, for bigger projects, having the right size bit keeps you from having to drill the same hole twice.

-- Mark Frauenfelder 08/17/17

17 August 2017


Daiso Dollar Tools

Tools for a buck-and-a-half

Who knew? Daiso, the Japanese dollar store, sells a small selection of new tools for $1.50 each. Yes, they are obviously not high quality, but for a leather punch, or bronze brush, or mini-screwdrivers, the quality is sufficient.  Here are some of my recent purchases from a local Daiso store. Each one cost $1.50 which is garage-sale prices for new.

Five Chisels — These are small, but sharp. Short pencil size.  Can do detail work in wood.

Fluorescent Blackboard Marker — Writes on glass, hard and soft surfaces, washes off with water.

Precision Screwdrivers — Small gauge screwdrivers for the screws found in gadgets, and eyeglasses. Has a nice rotating thumb pressure tab. Half are philips, half slotted.

White Cable Ties — 170 small ones (about 3 inches). Often all you need for the cables and cords around your desk.

Green Cable Ties — Long (12 inches, 30 cm) and green. Can be used in the garden to tie up staked plants, or bundle branches, etc.

Long Driver Bit– Dual-ended philips shaft extension for electric drill.

Large Leather Punch — Makes an 8 mm hole.

Leather Punches — Two smaller punches, for 4 mm and 5 mm holes, about what you need for a leather belt.

Wire Brushes – Three: Bronze, Stainless steel and nylon.

Silicone Collapsing Funnel — Easy to store. Easy to clean.

Garden Shears — For small hands.

Paint Knife — Use this for mixing epoxies, or applying gels.

Draw knife – Technically it is a hand scythe, but it would work as a draw knife.

Silicone Spatula —  For pastes, grouts, filler, paints — no stick!

Rubber Hammer — Small rubber headed hammer. One side is softer.

You can buy some Daiso items online — via links provided — but only in bulk quantities.

-- KK 08/17/17

16 August 2017


Rob Reid, Bestselling Sci-Fi Author

Cool Tools Show 085: Rob Reid

Our guest this week is Rob Reid. Rob is the New York Times bestselling author of novels including Year Zero and the freshly-released After On. A longtime entrepreneur, he founded Listen.com, which created the Rhapsody music service. Years ago he was a Fulbright scholar in Cairo, and he still speaks better Arabic than you’d think.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

“[Trint] is a transcribing service. … So what happens is you upload your conversation … you hit a button and it thinks for a few minutes, and it transcribes it voice-to-text…And then you click anywhere in that transcript, and it starts playing at precisely that moment… [It’s] dynamically linked to the conversation. You click on a word, and it starts playing there. And you cross words out. Like for instance, let’s say somebody “um-ed” a few times, or they stammered, or they said something and they didn’t like the way they started and they said it again. You cross out that stuff that wasn’t meant to be there. And it’s not professional editing quality, but you hit the play button and it skips that stuff, so you end up getting a very, very, very rough cut of what your editor might create.”

Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder ($350)
“This thing is very rugged. It’s a beautiful piece of industrial design. It’s got a very nice heft to it. It will take up to six inputs with four XLR jacks … basically you can patch in four microphones of any arbitrary quality that you happen to have access to. It takes SD cards, so you can go up to 128 gigs and have gazillions of hours of capacity. The battery life is good. It’s about 20 hours on a few AAs, which is neat … I’ve been lucky enough to conduct six of the seven interviews I’ve done so far face-to-face … and so being able to field produce and get out there and bring a couple microphones with me and this tiny but magnificent piece of electronics and get something that is near-studio quality is very, very precious for me. It’s about the size of a guitar pedal or a chunky glasses case. It’s really, really portable.”

“So instead of using the built-in Apple player, which I think is okay-ish at best, I use something called Downcast … It allows you to listen up to 3X speed with a lot of granularity as to how fast it is. … I’m sure others have come up with a term. I call it “fast listening.” And it is particularly important to me as a podcaster right now because I have this need to listen to lots of stuff, but I think it can be valuable for anybody. … We need our downtime and our zen space and time to just reflect, but we all have many hours of stuff to do each week where our brain is way too engaged to allow true creative thought or deep relaxation, yet nowhere near enough engaged to be anything other than bored, whether it’s doing dishes, packing, walking the dog, exercising, walking through airports, the whole bit.”

After On
About After On ($19)
“After On is my second work of fiction … and this new book is set in the world that I know so well. It’s set in an imaginary start-up, set in present-day San Francisco. So it’s very much about the entrepreneurial world and the way that we do entrepreneurship and start-ups today in Silicon Valley, but at the center of the story is a rather diabolical social media company called Flutter, and it kind of embodies everything that’s wrong with social media dialed up by maybe about 20%. And this’ll sound like a spoiler but it’s really not, because you’ll see it coming from page one, but about midway through the book Flutter attains consciousness. But rather than going all Skynet and trying to kill us all, it takes on its character from that which it is, which is a social network, so it basically becomes a hyper-empowered, super-intelligent 14-year-old brat.”


16 August 2017


Self-Grip Self-Adhering Tape and Bandage

Flexible, secure, easy to administer

[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 – MF]

A sprained ankle on the trail or a weak knee in sports needs a really firm bandage that won’t move in strenuous activity. That’s what a self-grip bandage does. I’ve been amazed at how firm a purchase this tape can make against itself. It holds itself together much tighter than a velcro grip (and far better than any Ace bandage), yet is quite smooth against your skin (it only sticks to itself). In fact it is so steadfast that unwrapping can be a challenge. It even adheres (to itself) under water. Comes in colors, too.

-- KK 08/16/17


img 08/15/17

Wacaco Minipresso GR

Hand operated, no batteries, portable espresso

img 08/14/17

Maker Update: Bobbleheads & Burrs

Pivot blade allows easy burr removal from iron pipe, copper and PVC tubing

img 08/14/17

Semi-rigid Endoscope Inspection Camera

Small camera mounted to a bendable semi-rigid cable

img 08/11/17

Autoseal Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Drinks stay hot up to 5 hours and cold up to 12 hours

See all the reviews


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Canon Printer Tech Support phone Number 1-800-304-0103

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There are tons of functioning Air Dyne bikes out there that just need a new console to bring them back …

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Never-fail sharp tweezers

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Smart Move Tape

Clearest box labeling

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Classic puzzle in great package

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Nesco Food Dehydrator

Affordable dehydrator

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Ortlieb Dry Bags

Heavy-duty waterproof bags

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Cool Tools Show 085: Rob Reid

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 084: Adam Rubin

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 083: Rich Roat

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017



CargoRAXX – unrecommended

This appears to be a shill review. Many thanks to Cool Tools reader Matthew Connor for looking into this. He wrote:

Meaghan Hollywood works for CargoRAXX. Meaghan Hollywood put a review up quasi-anonymously on Amazon. A similarly worded review is now anonymously on KK.org.

On Amazon there are two reviews for the product (https://www.amazon.com/CargoRAXX-S1A-Interior-Management-System/dp/B01A6X4MBS). Neither is attributed by name but the one from January 18th, 2016 refers to “my Tahoe” and read similar to the KK.org review. Let us suppose the author is, in fact, the same person.

Clicking on the name for the review – merely “Amazon Customer” brings up their profile (https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CF94IIWSAE00/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp). This profile contains one Wish List on the left side. Clicking on it revels – the name of “Amazon Customer” – it is Meaghan Hollywood.

Ok. I believe at this point the author of the KK review and the author of at least one of the two reviews on Amazon are in fact the same person and that person’s name is Meaghan Hollywood.

Here’s the kicker, CargoRAXX has a website with a blog feature – their blogger’s name is Meaghan Hollywood. (http://cargoraxx.com/5-reasons-re-organize-suv/)


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.