Last Copies

If you are reading this blog, then you probably have a copy of the Cool Tools book. If you do, you know that it both extremely handy and very inspiring. You can find some rave reviews in the press on our book page. The most common praise points to how diverse its interests are; it has something for everyone. Cool Tools, the book, is especially aspirational for a young person. It opens up a world of possibility they were probably not aware of. In other words, Cool Tools is a great gift. Even better it is a meta-gift, in that it also contains a thousand gift ideas within its pages.

Unfortunately, last year at this holiday time, Cool Tools sold out. Right before Christmas none could be found on Amazon or in bookstores. We did another printing since then, but we don’t intend to print anymore. This was a one-cycle project. After the current pile is sold, there will be no more.

I don’t imagine there will be many copies left after the new year, so if you’d like to give the Cool Tools book away as a gift to the young people in your life, or to anyone who likes to make things or make things happen, or, to yourself, I highly recommend you reserve one now on Amazon. The delights of this immense book are hard to describe but almost everyone who has received one is wowed.

Amazon discounts the $40 book deeply, but variably. It currently sells it for $27, a great bargain.

 



Cool Tools 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Mark’s Pick’s

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, we’ll be presenting a series of gift suggestions. This week: Cool Tools editor Mark Frauenfelder’s favorite tool reviews from recent years.


Bialetti Stovetop Percolator ($28)
 “I originally bought this classic Italian coffee maker for camping, but the coffee was so good I use it every day. It is so simple to use and the result is superb.” — Angus Miller


Golden Mean Calipers ($35)
 “Aside from just wandering around with my kids and having them put it up to just about everything (‘Dad! this has a golden mean in it as well!’ — I’ll never get tired hearing that) you can also use them to bring some simple relational beauty and balance into anything physical that you make.” — Eric Warner


Fagor 3-in-1 Multicooker ($100)
“The Fagor is also a slow cooker and a rice cooker. Because it is so versatile, I use it almost every day. The throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-push-a-button approach has broadened my cooking horizons. I’ve made rib roast in the slow cooker that had my in-laws coming back for thirds.” — Mark Frauenfelder


Victorinox Swiss Army Manager Pocket Knife ($25)
“This has been in my pocket for nearly 2 years. This compact tool has all the useful stuff you expect from the line of Swiss Army knives: blade, scissors, tweezers, file, bottle opener, and separate flat-head & Phillips-head screwdrivers. What makes it a must-have is the retractable ballpoint pen.” — Sean Singh


Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press ($36)
“I’ve used this tool for about 10 years and it’s still going strong. It’s probably the best garlic press in the world. It’s constructed very robustly from stainless steel; it has an unusual lever-action which is far superior to the one-to-one action of most garlic presses; it opens up easily and is trivial to clean.” — Stuart Wray

Want more gift ideas? Take a look at our other 2014 Holiday Gift Guide and 2013 Holiday Gift Guide posts.

 



 

Cool Tools 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for $10 or less

In the weeks leading up to the holidays, we’ll be presenting a series of gift suggestions selected from the pages of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities (which itself makes a great gift). This week: great gifts for under $10.


Giottos Rocket Blaster ($10)
“This rubber rocket doesn’t provide as much pressure as Dust-Off, but it exhales a forceful-enough blast for dusting photo/electronic gear, and standing upright on its base sidelines as playful desk dressing/stress-relief toy.”


Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors ($8)
“A silly looking and cheap tool that is surprisingly useful. It will cut fairly heavy material, has a bottle opener, screwdriver, and will come apart so you can use it as an awl or hole punch in an emergency.

Photon Microlight II.jpeg
Photon Microlight II ($9)
 “This is a very handy little light that is small enough to carry around in your pocket on a keychain. It weighs only 4.8-grams and the LED “bulb” is very bright for its size, more than adequate for finding your way around in a dark spot, reading a map, finding key holes, etc, with a simple thumb press on the button”


Fantastic Ice Scraper ($4)
 “It’s been my go-to ice removal device. I now keep one in the kitchen for cleaning counter tops, glass tables, stove tops and any other hard surface that needs an occasional scrape down. I also keep one in the garage for general scraping and cleaning.”

rowan
Rowan LT-36 Clip-On Tuner ($10) Update! in the comments, Slideguy says the Rowan is a better $10 tuner than the Snark: “There are lots of good headstock tuners on the market now, and the the Snark has a big drawback besides short battery life. The display is too dim to be used in daylight. Even Snark recognized the problem and came out with an improved display on their SN-8. But the Rowin LT-36 has a bright display that changes colors when you get your tuning just right. It’s smaller, lighter, and has longer battery life. I sell guitars for a living, and always have one of these in my pocket to tweak an instrument before I hand it to a customer.”

Want more $10 gift ideas? Take a look at our 2013 Low Cost Gift Guide

 



 

WATCH: Kevin Kelly at XOXO conference


In October Kevin Kelly spoke at XOXO about making things, experimenting, traveling, and discovering and using cool tools.
kk
Kevin is wearing the pink turban.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



 

Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur, Seth Godin [Cool Tools Show #13]

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

Seth Godin enlightens us this week with an unexpected assortment of tools that will have you exploring the deepest recesses of your subconscious while, at the same time, enriching your hobbies and lifestyle.

Show Notes:

Strikingly Free or Subscription

“I started using this tool and it turns out it’s a simple bounded web development tool that is all plug and play. It only lets you build a one page website, but it’s hard for me to imagine a website being ten times more beautiful than what you can build with Strikingly…”

 

Wired Magazine Entire Collection

“…every once in a while I’ll take down an issue. This is the behemoth issue from December 1999. It is more than four hundred and fifteen pages long and what’s fascinating about it is the combination of breathless enthusiasm combined with sometimes not particularly long-lasting technology and what I find useful about that is it helps to not take myself so damn seriously…”

 

One Lucky Duck

“Sometimes I would drive twenty miles out of my way to get a single brownie and then drive home and I’m sure there’s no biochemical reason why it makes me feel taller, better, faster and able to jump and run higher, but it does and it’s been interesting to sort of hack my own mental physical barrier…”

Penguin Magic

“I think it’s a great site to go to because the way the site works is every single trick is demonstrated in a high production value video so it’s basically a magic show you can watch whenever you want to and the only way to find out how it’s done is to buy it.”

 



Blogger and Author, David McRaney [Cool Tools Show 010]

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

Blogger and author David McRaney introduces us to some lesser known creative solutions to life’s tiny nuisances that will help you untangle your wad of keys, opt for a better YouTube experience, and explore the future of musical experimentation.

Show Notes:

David’s Blog, You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

You Are Now Less Dumb by David McRaney

Here are David’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Keysmart $20

“You don’t have a big wad of keys and they just swing out like a pocket knife and go into the door and you twist it, open a door and then swing it back in. It’s all nice and tight and compact and I like it. ”

Hercules Stands Wallmount Guitar Hanger  $15

“You may have seen something like this in a guitar store. That’s how I started looking for it because I used to have all my guitars around my house and my basses on stands and it only takes two or three and suddenly a whole side of your room is taken up by the stuff. ”

Source Audio SA115 Hot Hand 3 Wireless Adapter $150

“The way I was first introduced to this is there’s a band called Pinn Panelle and they had a video where they did a live cover of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites“…and the bass player was able to make the dubstep bass sound by using this controller…His name is Nathan Navarro and he’s got some really face melting bass solos that he’s created using this device and his album even comes with tablature for his solos.”

AlienTube Free

“Everyone knows that YouTube comments are the worst place on the internet. They are so horrible. I hope that if some sort of extraterrestrial intelligence is scanning our database of knowledge that they don’t ever see the YouTube comments. But usually Reddit comments about a video are pretty good and sometimes really amazing things can be in a Reddit thread…”

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



Giveaway! One-Year Membership to TripIt Pro

Cool Tools is giving away a one-year membership to the TripIt Pro (a travel organizing service, which we reviewed here) to one person who writes and submits a Cool Tool review between now and Thursday, September 18 at noon PST. It’s a $40 value. We’ll pick our favorite review (about any tool you love) and notify the person who wrote it. (I won’t send the physical card — just the redeemable gift code.)

If you write a review and you don’t win the gift card, don’t despair — if we like it we will run it here on Cool Tools. We pay $25 for each review we run. Please use our Submit a Tool form to send us your review.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

TripIt Pro
$40/year



 

Bestselling Author and Journalist, AJ Jacobs [Cool Tools Show #009]

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes | RSS | Transcript |Download MP3

This week AJ Jacobs, bestselling author and journalist, shows us how he rids himself of life’s common nuisances and hazards like an untied shoe, a noisy environment, or a half hour wasted in traffic so he can focus on larger pursuits, like bringing the world together in one great big family reunion. AJ reminds us that we are all cousins and encourages all of us to explore just how we are related by hitting up some of his favorite genealogy resources. Oh, and we’re all officially invited to The Global Family Reunion on June 6th, 2015. Don’t forget the potato salad!

Show Notes:

AJ’s Website

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs

AJ’s recent project, The Global Family Reunion

Here are AJ’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Lock Laces $8

“…they are as tight as your regular shoe laces and they cost about ten bucks. I haven’t tied my shoelaces in about a year…”

Surefire EP4 Sonic Defender Ear Protection $9-$46

“They’re great because they reduce noise a lot and they are molded to your ear so they kind of look like a seashell and they stick into the folds of your ear so it’s hard to lose them, which I found was a problem with a lot of earplugs.”

Geni Free or $100/yr subscription

“It’s a lot easier to search how people are related. So if I put in the name Albert Einstein and it’ll search and tell me ‘Albert Einstein is my fourth cousin’s aunt’s uncle’s brother’s sister’s fourth niece.’ It’ll show you the exact track of how you’re related to everyone in the world.”

WikiTree Free

“It’s very much the Wikipedia model, so you can get someone who says Jimi Hendrix is Paul Revere’s son, but the idea is that the community will then correct it. Instead of having one set of eyes on it you’ve got thousands of sets of eyes trying to correct these things and add documentation and I do think it’s getting more and more accurate. There are some branches that require serious leaps of faith and are not documented, but I do think it’s getting better.”

FamilySearch Free

“I always thought genealogy was this staid and dusty pursuit but now it’s gone through this fascinating revolution and actually we are going to have a family tree of the entire world, all seven billion people probably in like five years, maybe ten.”

Waze Free

“I did an experiment a couple of weeks ago where I was in a car with Waze and my friend was in another car and this friend had Waze but refused to believe that Waze had the best directions, so she ignored them and she paid the price! She was about fifteen minutes behind us.”

 



 

Founder of Geek Squad, Robert Stephens [Cool Tools Show #008]

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3

Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, lets us know how his analog tools and hobbies even out the frantic pace of modern, wired life. His high-tech offerings are especially reflective of his desire to use cutting-edge inventions as tools for personal development. From the whimsical to practical, ancient technology to barely breaking innovations, there’s something in this week’s show for just about everyone.

Show Notes:

A book about building Cob ovens, recommended by Robert:

Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer

Here are Robert’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:

Flower Press ($17) or DIY

“They say you should stop and smell the roses. I would add to that that I think you should grab them and press them between books for a while!”

 

Watercolor Tin DIY (prices vary) (Use Fimo air-dry clay [$5] for paint reservoirs)

“People have started taking old Altoids mint tins and squirting tubes of watercolor in them and they sell these little paintbrushes at the art store. I was in London a few weeks ago and I was staying in a nice hotel with nice stationary. I pulled out my little tin and I painted a picture of The Ritz hotel while sitting having a coffee and popped a flower I had pressed in there and mailed it to my daughter who was back home.”

Cob Oven DIY

“A Cob is a ten thousand year old technology…. And six feet under just about anywhere on earth is some mixture of sand and clay so it’s safe to use. Clay doesn’t dry in thirty minutes like concrete so it’s very forgiving. And so it’s very natural and it’s all local materials.”

NomadPlus ($39)

“You do is you take your iPhone charging cube and it slides over it like a jacket and it gives you a battery pack, making it about the size of the iPad cube. When you’re on the road you can plug your phone into this and it’s a little battery juice pack.”

Tile ($20)

“Basically it’s a Bluetooth low energy tracking device. I put on on my key-chain. I put one in my car, just toss it in the armrest, and I put one in my backpack. And  whenever it comes within range of my iPhone using Bluetooth low energy, they talk to each other and the phone records where the phone’s location is and therefore it knows when the last time you saw your car.”

Eidetic (Free or $2 for Pro versi)on

“I really like it because I think this is the idea of augmentation. Using technology to help us be more human and personal and one of the things I’m trying to do is exercise that muscle of memory and this is the best one I’ve seen yet. ”

Below are some of Robert’s bonus tool picks that we didn’t have time to discuss this time. Enjoy!

Blaze $200

Crofflr $5

Genius Scan (Free or $7 for Pro version)

Listen to previous episodes of the Cool Tools Show.

 



 

Make 12 Cool Parent-Child Projects

projects

Next week (August 4 and 5) my 11-year-old daughter Jane and I are conducting a free 2-day live video workshop produced by CreativeLive. We’ll show you how to make 12 cool projects, ranging from electronic musical instruments to balloon videocameras.

You can watch the live video of the workshop for free, or if you live in the SF Bay Area, you can come into the studio and participate with me and Jane. (If you want to come into the studio and have a 9- to 13-year-old, let me know in the comments.)

Here’s the link to RSVP to the free live class, and to learn more about the class: http://cr8.lv/markfdiy

Please forward this link to anyone who might be interested. Thanks!