Show & Tell Meetup

We are trying something new: a Cool Tools Show & Tell. If you love a cool tool that should be better known, come to a show-and-tell in my Pacifica studio (in the SF Bay Area) on the evening of Wednesday, Dec 4th. Bring the tool, demo how it is used, why it is superior, and how it changed your life. Bring a whole bucket of cool tools if you have that many. Sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Cool-Tools/Pacifica-CA/

The idea here is that sometimes reading about a tool is not enough. You need to see it in action. The other reason we are doing this is because something great happens when people meet up around things they are passionate about. Cool tools fans are cool people; good things will happen when they connect.

I’ve done a couple of Cool Tools show-and-tells at Foo Camp, and I have done hundreds of show-and-tells for the Quantified Self. This is the format we plan on using: Show us your tool, tell us how it works, and why it is better than anything else, and finally, let us know how it changed your behavior. Then we’ll do the next one. Don’t be shy, bring more than one tool.

If you don’t live in the SF area, find or start a Cool Tools show-and-tell in your area by checking this site — the Worldwide Cool Tools Show & Tell Meetup. We’ll try to run as many of these in different cities on the same night, Dec 4th. Of course, you can set up a Cool Tools meet any day you want, but this is a good start.

More than 6 years ago, the very first Quantified Self meetup was held in this same studio. (I noticed Tim Ferriss in the front row.) I am looking forward to meeting some new folks and new tools. (I’ll have some sample copies of the Cool Tools book for passing around. Also, I’ll send a copy of the book to anyone who organizes a Cool Tool meetup in the US with 10 or more participants showing up.)

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-- KK  



2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Low Cost Tools

In the days leading up to the holidays, we’ll be presenting a series of gift suggestions. Today: great gifts for under $10.

Swiss-Tech Utili-Key When I bring my keys I have no trouble getting through security on international and domestic flights. I was surprised to find the other little gizmos incorporated into this miniature thing — particularly the Philips screwdriver — are just as useful. (Our first Cool Tool review ever, from 2003!) $9


BlockLite The ultimate lightweight backpacking camp light. A tiny 6 LED chip sits atop a regular alkaline 9-volt battery which acts as body, handle, stand and power source. $9


Teeny Turner The small size and stubby shape of this cheap driver allows me to reach tight spaces and still apply considerable torque. $7


Casio F91W This $9 watch is the simplest and most utilitarian timepiece I have ever worn. It is easy to read, has an adequate (not blinding) illumination, is small, light and comfortable but also tough, and has a battery that will last up to 8 years (with many other reviewers noting that it lasts even longer). $9


The Love Glove looks like an oven mitt. The palm side is covered with rubber nubs. To use it, you simply pet your cat. The loose fur comes off and sticks to the glove. It’s easy to peel off. $6

-- Cool Tools  



 

Cool Tools Show & Tell Worldwide Meetup

Do you have a favorite tool that you’d like to let other people know about? Then come to the first Cool Tools Show & Tell Worldwide Meetup on December 4, 2013! Bring your favorite tool (hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites — and anything useful) and be prepared to talk about it and (if feasible) demonstrate it to other cool tools enthusiasts.

To lead a local Cool Tools Show & Tell, visit http://www.meetup.com/Cool-Tools/ and enter the name of the city or zip code of where you would like to host a meetup into the field in the upper right corner. Then, click on the community of your choice and RSVP.

If you are not yet a member of Meetup.com, you’ll be given the opportunity to sign up for a free account. Once you’ve joined your community and RSVP’d for the Cool Tools Worldwide Meetup date on Dec. 4, you can suggest a location for the event and begin inviting your friends.

Share on Facebook or Twitter or use your community URL (example: http://www.meetup.com/Cool-Tools/Boulder/)  to invite local friends via email. Otherwise, use http://www.meetup.com/cool-tools to spread the word to people around the world. Please consider videotaping your local meetup and uploading the videos for others to see. We will post links on the Cool Tools website.

Bonus! If you are in the United States would like to lead a local meetup and are able to host at least 10 other people, we would like to send you a complimentary copy of Kevin Kelly’s new book: Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities.

 



 

The Benefits of Paper

I am super excited by the new “Best of Cool Tools” book. It is one of the best things I’ve ever made. Seriously. Everything about it is great. I’ve been working on this for a decade. I really think that anyone who has enjoyed and been educated by this website over the past 10 years, will enjoy and be educated by this book even more so. I may be wrong, but I believe the Cool Tools book is a more highly evolved form of this website. It is particularly potent for those who don’t hang around on this blog, or are unlikely to ever visit it.

But I’ve found it hard to convey in mere words the benefits of this paper version to those who have not held the book in their lap. It has a physical grace and presence not easily captured. Yes, this site and the book are primarily about ideas rather than hardware, but somehow this book’s embodiment in dead-tree paper matters. It may be heresy for a Wired co-founder to say, but the Cool Tools book is better than the Cool Tools website.

Those are just my words, so with the help of my son, I’ve made a video to try to express what the book does. It also links it to the possibilities of the early Whole Earth Catalog, the main inspiration for Cool Tools.

The video is just 4 minutes. I hope it gives you a sense of how dense, and deep, and broad this book is. I am told that books pre-ordered now should be available in the first week of December (despite the date now showing on Amazon).

 

-- KK  

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities
$28

Available from Amazon



Giveaway! RHA MA450i earphones

Cool Tools is giving away a MA450i Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphone from RHA to one person who writes and submits a Cool Tool review between now and Thursday, October 10 at noon PST. It’s a $50 value. We’ll pick our favorite review (about any tool you love) and notify the person who wrote it.

Here’s the manufacturer’s description:

The MA450i is a high spec earphone that combines RHA’s renowned sound with seamless control of your music library. RHA’s signature technology delivers an impressively detailed, well-balanced sound experience; machined from solid aluminium and housing a 10mm driver, the RHA MA450i offers music-lovers effortless control without compromising on acoustics.

The inline remote and mic controls volume and track selection on your Apple device and allows calls to be answered with one click. Full call control and track selection is supported for Android and smartphone platforms. A choice of seven types of ear-tip combined with the unique aerophonic shape makes for a comfortable fit with superb noise isolation, while the reinforced fabric braided cable minimises tangling.

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.

 

RHA MA450i Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphone with Remote and Microphone
$50

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by RHA



 

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 12 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



Cool Tools is Looking for a Designer/Developer

We are looking for a designer/developer among our readers to help with a site re-design. Ideally, we’d like to find one person capable of doing both design and development, but we’d also consider an ace designer with code chops plus a programmer with design sensibilities.

At the moment we need someone to take our rough concept sketches and turn them into a fully functioning website.

Here are some of the technical skills/knowledge this person would need for the job:

  • Experience running WordPress sites with 300k monthly uniques
  • Web design
  • Experience designing for or working with Amazon Affiliates
  • Integration with Disqus
  • PHP
  • Security awareness
  • We’re hosting images on Amazon S3 and are in the process of moving to EC2, so we are looking for someone with systems administration experience in those areas.

Our tasks will be hard to do without ALL the above skills. This is not for novices. We know we don’t have all the answers and require someone who knows the right questions to ask us about what’s needed in the re-design.

This is a project with a deadline, starting immediately, paid hourly. If things work out, there would be ongoing development and co-design work. We will start with a trial task to see how we get along. You should have a solid portfolio of previous similar work, and ready personal references. If you possess these skills and would like to help us, send email to editor@cool-tools.org

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



 

Giveaway! Inventables $50 Gift Card

Cool Tools is giving away an Inventables $50 Gift Card to one person who writes and submits a Cool Tool review between now and Thursday, August 29 at noon PST. 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 gift code you can redeem at Inventables.)

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.

NOTE: If you got an error message when you submitted a review, rest assured that we received it. We’ve hopefully fixed the confirmation message.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



Be On the Cool Tools Show & Tell Podcast

I’m looking for two guests to join me on the Cool Tools Show & Tell video podcast. It’s a 30-minute Google Hangout where each guest shows and demonstrates (when feasible) 4 tools that he or she uses and loves. I’ve posted our most recent episode above.

If you’re interested in being on an upcoming episode send email to editor@cool-tools.org with “Show & Tell” in the subject line.