22 July 2018
Recomendo: issue no. 104
I use LinkedIn to get in touch with people for stories and interviews, but I don’t like using the built in messaging service (InMail). I’d rather email the person, but LinkedIn doesn’t provide email addresses (they want you to do everything in the confines of their walled garden). I use a Chrome extension called ContactOut which provides a pop-up with the person’s email address. It hasn’t failed me yet. — MF
Every now and then I try out a new pen but I keep returning to my trusty Pilot G2 Gel pens. Smooth, fine, dark, cheap to lose, pocketable. YMMV, but they are perfect for me. — KK
Who I am reading
When people ask me who I am paying attention to these days, my surprise answer is: VCs who write. I have little interest in finance, investments, or even in business in general, but today’s VCs have the right combination of idealized high overview and grounded detailed realism. I am following Benedict Evans, Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, Paul Graham for the big views. — KK
Cheap but good kitchen knife
This $16 8-inch Winco knife is the first knife I reach for when preparing food. It sharpens well, holds an edge, and is heavy. Read the Amazon reviews to learn how many people swear by this workhorse kitchen tool. — MF
Better than ever hiking app
I’ve had the AllTrails app for 4+ years now, but I’ve been using it more often since I moved from SF to San Jose. I needed to find local hiking routes and I love that I’m able to filter by elevation and distance, and route type (e.g., loop, out & back, point to point). Since it’s been around for a while now, there are a lot of reviews for each hike and that’s really helpful because I like to avoid any trails where I might run into a mountain cat. — CD
Sometimes my eyes deceive me when proofreading. I came across this blog post and now I’ve been double-checking long paragraphs by right clicking on them (using Chrome) and selecting Speech > Start Speaking. If it sounds off, it usually means I dropped a word. — CD
20 July 2018
Beware: There is a scam site that has stolen the name Cool Tools and is scamming customers on Facebook.
The site is a recent store on Shopify. They seem to advertise and sell cheap Chinese products like iPhone accessories via ads on Facebook. Their logo looks like this:
Within the last two days we have received two letters from very angry customers who googled “Cool Tools” and wrote to us with their complaints.
I recently ordered an item from your website for 24 dollars. I have had a person come to my door asking for an additional £20 customs charge. I believe this is for your item order #CT2085598. I have refused to pay this as I was not made aware at the time of purchase that there would be a customs charge of nearly double the price of the item. I would like to cancel this item. Please arrange that for me. I have tried to contact you and read your refund policy online but the links are not open to contact you on my phone anyway. I believe you advertised this item on my Facebook page. Please refund my money and let me know you have received this email. I will report what happens on my page.
When we informed them it was not our website, they replied:
Well it may not be your website. It may have come through to me on an ad in Facebook. The point is I have ordered a product from your company which I have paid 24 dollars for and I was not made aware that there would be a customs charge of double this. How do I cancel this order and get a refund please ?
Second letter, responding to our claim that it was not our website and we don’t sell anything:
Am I to believe that Cool Tools web site actually thinks they have the Legal Right to take money out of my bank account & keep it under the pretense that they have actually fulfilled their end of an agreement to sell me a product when they never had any intention of delivering said product to me? You people have basically stolen $24.04 from me and are now trying to jibber jabber jaw some BULL SHIT about how you are entitled to keep it by saying you don’t “sell anything” other than advice. You have Got to be kidding me. Trust me when I say that unless I receive my product or my money back immediately, I will spend the rest of my life making Your Life MISERABLE. Don’t think I can do it. Ha! You people are the Scum of the Earth & I will be fully justified in that effort. Any Judge, Lawyer, or average person would agree with me and more than likely join me in the effort to see you brought to Justice. I best be hearing from you very soon or count on looking over your shoulder but never knowing when or what’s coming. ASSHOLES!!!!!
These aren’t the only complaints. Checking the web yields negative reviews on TrustPilot: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/shopcooltools.com
We’ve been reviewing cool tools for 15 years, pointing interested buyers to Amazon, but we don’t sell anything ourselves. But I can understand customer’s confusion. We have contacted and filed a trademark infringement report to Shopify, but I doubt they will do anything. To add to the confusion, I think these fraudulent sales are being done through Facebook ads, under the name Cool Tools. We have of course tried to contact the owners behind this, but like the ripped off customers, we get no response. This could get worse before it gets better.
In the meantime, don’t buy from a Cool Tools ad on Facebook. If you have been ripped off by Shop Cool Tools, please tell Shopify.07/20/18
20 July 2018
Cool Tools Show 132: Danielle Baskin
Our guest this week is Danielle Baskin. Danielle is an entrepreneur, painter, and performance artist based in San Francisco. She’s created internet jokes, like Custom Avocados and Drone Sweaters. She’s also the founder of Inkwell Helmets, a custom bike helmet company, the co-founder of Your Boss, a voice-chat based productivity app, and has started many other companies.
This is an app that sends you to random destinations (cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, and more). It takes locations from Google Maps and selects a place for you within your own determined radius. I use this to make decisions for me to save mental bandwidth. I also use it to discover interesting places spontaneously, and to have unexpected experiences either locally or in new city.
This is a 360-degree camera with an infrared depth sensor that can capture interior spaces and turn them into high-fidelity 3D models. It’s meant for real estate tours, but I’ve been borrowing one to document abandoned spaces or soon-to-be-bulldozed buildings for virtual preservation.
Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine
This is an extremely useful vinyl die-cutter I’ve had for 6 years. I use it for so many projects: putting logos on fruit, making decals for my helmet company, making masks, custom stickers, labels, and signs. It also cuts paper and fabric — and if you swap the blade with a pen, it’s an automatic drawing tool.
This is a beautifully-designed single-page site builder, and host to many of my domains. I’m somewhat of a domain hoarder, but I try to put content on most of my sites. Carrd is great for quickly getting content online and making it look sleek, without spending the time custom-coding something — which is often unnecessary for certain projects and experimental ideas. Carrd also lets you export your code, if you wanted to turn the site into a larger project later on.
HP Latex 110 printer
I was actually a beta tester for it, so that’s why I have one. I can print my own custom Pantone colors on vinyl. It’s a vinyl and fabric printer.
I’m working on a peer-to-peer voice chat network for people with creative side projects. It’s an accountability network — a way to get a boss for a project when you otherwise wouldn’t have one.
We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $337 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! – MF07/20/18
20 July 2018
Bathtub hair stopper
I’ve used the TubShroom ($13) for almost two years now. It is, by far, the best tool I’ve used to prevent hair from clogging the bath tub drain. I’ve always had long, thick, dark hair and clogging shower stalls/bathtubs has been a perpetual problem I’ve dealt with…until now!
The design is very clever. The TubShroom sits inside your drain with the top half inch or so rising above tub-level. Water goes through the holes on the inner column of the TubShroom while leaving space to catch hair and gunk. And yes, like any other hair-catching tool, it must be manually emptied into the trash can periodically. But the process is the easiest and cleanest one I’ve had to do in my years of using various hair-collecting drain tools. I’ve tried all the others. The large plastic/metal covers with holes in them (or even worse, convex hills) get kicked around the tub and hair simply slides underneath them into the drain (especially if you have a tiled shower floor). And gathering up the hair that collects around the floor of your shower/tub is gross. The simple mesh strainers seem like a good idea, but they quickly get impregnated with soap scum that requires solid scrubbing to clean and get water through.
I don’t think the Amazon reviews are as high as they should be; it seems the top complaints are 1) the Tub Shroom not working in non-standard drains; and 2) that it needs to be emptied. To remedy this, make sure you have the metal “X” inside your drain that the tool sits on before purchasing. And as for emptying, I used to have to clean out other drain tools every time I showered to prevent myself from ending up in a puddle. With the Tub Shroom, I can now empty it every 4-5 showers, which is a vast improvement.07/20/18
19 July 2018
Keep soap clean and dry
This is the most satisfactory soap dish I’ve ever tried ($5). If positioned away from the corner of the basin, all of the soap residue drains into the sink basin – not onto the sides of the sink. Some residue does accumulate on the Soap Saver itself, so every month or so it has to be rinsed and wiped clean, but that’s the lesser of two evils. Overall, it reduces the amount of cleanup effort by 2/3 or more.
It’s superior to the spike-holder type of dish, which is hard to clean, sometimes sticking to the soap, and tends to skitter across the sink top when knocked. In contrast, this plastic soap dish stays put because it’s relatively heavy and because its descending downspout rests against the basin’s edge. (This stability is a plus the vendor oddly fails to tout.) To make sure the soap itself doesn’t slide around within the dish, I position one of its corners pointing down between the posts (not level, as shown in the vendor’s photo). This also improves drainage a bit.
I’d previously used liquid soap until someone gave me twenty bars of handmade hemp-oil soap. When I’ve washed my way through that, I think I’ll go back to liquid soap; but if you have a preference for solid soap (or if you too get such a gift), this Soap Saver is really handy.07/19/18
19 July 2018
Easily control water flow
This tool was recommended to me by a neighbor last summer who is Type 1 Diabetic and has mobility issues. This is a simple in-line shutoff valve ($6) that I have found very useful for both gardening and watering, as well as other situations where you need to remotely shut off the water rather than running back and forth to the tap. I have a large yard, but between flower beds and grass areas, a sprinkler system is not practical. I have only one outside tap, so by running a Y ($3) I can run hose in two directions. With the couplers you don’t have to drag hose all over the yard. By coupling with short 6′ hose lengths, I can water and move the hose without doing a lot of running. There are various other similar shutoff valves made of brass, so that is also worth looking at. Just a simple and cheap labor saving device, but at my age, everything helps.
COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST
WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
ABOUT COOL TOOLS
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.