Author Howard Rheingold [Cool Tools Show #003]

Howard Rheingold is a critic, writer, teacher, and artist; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony, virtual communities, digital media and learning, and online co-learning. He joins the Cool Tools podcast this week to discuss how his budding interest in woodworking has enriched his creative projects and led him to amass a whole new arsenal of cool tools. In this episode, Howard shows us a thorough list of must-haves for any beginner in woodworking or circuit tinkering, as well as some quality-of-life items to cultivate a healthy working environment.

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Show notes:

Howard’s Etsy Page

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





6′ x 8′ Tuff Shed: ~$2,000.00 (See website for exact pricing.)
“I’ve got a six by eight foot shed installed. They broke it down into parts and moved it through my narrow garden gate and installed and painted it, all level and nice, for two thousand dollars for an eight by six foot shed. You’ll be amazed at the amount of stuff I’ve been able to cram in there.”


Makita Compound Miter Saw: $449.00-$796.00
“I’ve got a Makita compound miter saw, which is invaluable. Compound means you can move it in an angle in the horizontal plane, but you can also move it at angles in the vertical plane to make bevels. That’s very useful especially if you get a blade with more teeth on it so that you can make finer cuts.”


Survivair S-Series Half Mask respirator mask: $27

“The respirator I’m using is the Survivair, S. Series Half Mask Respirator. Cost me thirty bucks and I figure it’s worth it to not have to worry about my lungs.”


Jet 10-inch lathe: $419 – $521

“I have a Jet mini-lathe. Again, I took a wood turning class and the teacher recommended it. It’s a 10-inch, which enables me to work in a pretty small space.”


Rikon 8-inch grinder: $140


Wolverine Grinding Jig: $92

“By the way, if you get a lathe you have to get a grinder, I found out, because your tools get dull very quickly, so I’ve got a Rikon eight-inch grinder and at the recommendation of my wood turning teacher. I got the Wolverine grinding jig with it.”


Uvex Bionic Face Shield: $42 – $54


Roker Wireless portable bluetooth speaker: $23

“I just put on Spotify or my iTunes, click ‘Library,’ start playing it on my iPhone, and then just turn on my speaker and turn on Bluetooth and, bang! It’s pretty substantial.”


Spoonflower Fabrics: See website for pricing.

“If you go to Spoonflower.com you can upload any image and they’ll send you fabric.”


Copy Paste Pro: Free

“Copy Paste Pro will remember up to the last two hundred things that I either cut or copied to my clipboard. The clipboard, by the way, Ted Nelson calls “the abominable hidey hole.”


Radio Shack Wire Wrapping Tool: $3 – $13

“It wraps wire around a pin and makes just as good an electrical connection — and just as good a mechanical connection — as soldering does. You put a little shrink wrap on it and it can be quite robust if you’re not going to move it around too much.”


Adafruit Perma-Proto Breadboard: $7.00

Mark: “Adafruit makes these really great printed circuit boards that have the same letter and numbering system as a solderless breadboard”


Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils: $23/doz.

“One thing that Boing Boing turned me onto are Blackwing pencils. I’ve got those out in the shed. I’ve got them in my sketchbook here in the office.”


Felco Pruners: $54 – $63

“I use them for cutting up anything that’s basically smaller than your thumb and there’s a lot of it in my garden. If you’ve got fruit trees or you’ve got bushes or blackberries or ivy, anything like that you’ll use it a lot.”



Paper Clay: $12/16 oz.

“It’s mostly paper but it’s also got a little bit of clay in it. You don’t need to bake it. It takes a couple of days to dry and after it dried you can sand it and paint it or put something more substantial over it and it’s very, very lightweight which is a good reason for using it.”

 



ROK Straps

They are way better than bungee cords. I use them to secure a bag to my motorcycle when touring. There are no hooks to scratch anything or “bend loose” as they secures with a loop in the strap itself. They are easy to use: attach, buckle, tighten.

When I first saw them at a motorcycle show, I thought yes, they are cool, but they are kind of pricey. I put it on my Christmas list and have used them this past riding season including several multi day trips. I now think they are easily worth it. They have uses beyond the motorcycle world… think anywhere a bungee would be used.

They offer several sizes for different applications. I use the model that adjusts between 18″ and 60′. It’s one-inch wide.

rok2

-- Ted VanderWall  

ROK Straps 18 to 60″ Adjustable
$22 for a twin pack

Available from Amazon



Author and Wired columnist Clive Thompson [Cool Tools Show #002]

In this entertaining second installment of the Cool Tools podcast, Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, discusses the problem with laptop calculators, a surprising use for uncommonly bad tools, and what we all can do to stop stock photos from ruining the internet… all while introducing us to some terrific cool tools. (Listen to episode 001 with guest David Pogue here.)

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

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Show notes:

Clive’s website

Clive’s Wired column, “Only You Can Overthrow the Tyranny of Awful Stock Photos

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

soulver
Soulver: $12-18
“The guys who made Soulver decided to create a calculator that actually didn’t try and look like an old calculator, and as a result it’s way more fun to use. You can type in semi-regular expressions like ‘this times that minus this’ and you can take a result from one column and drag it down into another so you can do dynamic addition and subtraction.”


dymoDymo DYM12966 Plastic Label Embosser: $14.84
“This is actually a sub-par labeler, but it’s fantastic for art projects!”


ifixitiFixit 26 Bit Driver Kit: $20
“I only use it once a month but whenever I use it it’s the only thing that will fix whatever stupid little electronic thing has fallen apart.”


live-scribeLivescribe Pen: $130 – $200
“I’ve been using this for five years and it has been incredibly transformative of my note taking as a reporter. I use it in face to face situations and it allows me to be as comprehensive or un-comprehensive as I want with my written notes.”

 



David Pogue of Yahoo Tech [Cool Tools Show #001]

In this inaugural episode of The Cool Tools show, we pick the brain of guest David Pogue, founder of Yahoo Tech, for some lesser-known tips, tools, and life hacks. We move from discussing productivity apps, to office products, to kitchen appliances.

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

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

busycal
BusyCal for Mac: $50
“One of my favorite things about BusyCal is that on any other month-view calendar today’s date is where it would fall if it were on a wall calendar, which might be on the bottom row, but by definition you’re looking at a calendar to plan ahead. BusyCal has the option of having today’s date be at the top of the calendar even if it’s the last week of the month. It’s a perpetually scrolling month view and it makes so much sense, so you’re always looking ahead.”


evernote
Evernote
: Free or $5-$10/month Subscription (Click here to get one month of Evernote Premium for free.


bose15
Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones
: $279
“They’re so comfortable, they cut the noise a lot and you listen to your music in great style and great sound. However, I also keep a spare because they have to be charged and sometimes they’re dead.”


nomad-key
Nomad Charge Key and Charge Card
: $29
“It’s a tiny rubberized two inch strip and can go on your keychain. One end slides into your USB jack. The other end slides into your iPhone.”


spark
Spark
for Mac: Free
“A really great macro program. I don’t use the dock ever. I open everything with keystrokes: ‘control w’ for Microsoft word, ‘control b’ for BusyCal, ‘control e’ for Evernote etcetera, and then I’ve set up the escape key (top left right across from the backspace key) to be the left handed delete key, and it is life-changing.[I've bolded this because it is a great tip! - Mark]


adobe-voice
Adobe Voice for iPad: Free
“It hearkens back to the old days of  Mac Paint or HyperCard, or simple tools with infinite possibilities.”


seal
Anchor TrueSeal Food Storage
: $23
“My fridge looks like a commercial, it’s so organized and beautiful.”


chop2pot
Chop2Pot
: $14
“It’s a cutting board that folds in thirds so once you’re done cutting the thing you fold up the wings and make a chute so the food slides into your bowl without falling off.”


snuglet
Snuglet: $12-$19
“This tiny little liner for the MagSafe jack, which through some miracle of physics, amplifies the magnetic grip of the power plug so that it does not fall out unless you really kick it or trip on it.”

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



Ladder Hooks

Our recording studio is a cable-rich environment, and we struggled to find a tidy yet accessible storage solution. These hooks are awesome; the screw is fat enough to anchor securely, while the body is slim enough to make hooking the cables over it painless and fast. We installed twenty of these puppies two months ago, and an unexpected consequence is that the studio is tidier more often because people are more willing to put cables back after use because the hooks are so easy to use.

-- Mark Gilbert  

Ladder Hooks
$5/pair

Available from Amazon



Swiss Army Spirit Multitool Plus Ratchet

Over the years of buying many multitools, I realize there is no “perfect” multitool. But the Victorinox Spirit (plus ratchet) comes close. Victorinox is known for making precise tools, and the Spirit is no exception. I bought the Spirit in 2010. Since then, it has proven to be an invaluable accessory in my everyday carry. With ergonomics in mind, the Spirit is designed with curved handles, and you can access other its tools without exposing the pliers. It can be open with a flick of the wrist, allowing for quick deployment of the blunt nose pliers.

Unlike most other multitools, the Spirit optionally comes with a bit set and ratchet.

The only thing I dislike about the Spirit is the fixed pair of scissors it comes with. Unlike traditional Swiss Army scissors, the one that comes with the Spirit lacks mobility. You wouldn’t be able to cut very fast nor large using scissors from the Spirit. Another complaint most people have is with the “butter” blade. Most people prefer a pointed style blade, and that can be easily solved just by purchasing the Spirit X (but it doesn’t come with a ratchet and bit set).

Finished with beautiful stainless steel, the Spirit is certainly my multitool of choice. It’s not as customizable or rugged as a Leatherman, but the Spirit works for my needs. So far, it has not rusted, or failed on me while on the job as an all-around handyman.

-- Jefferson Deng  

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit Plus Ratchet
$110

Available from Amazon



Shredder scissors

What’s handy when you need to shred credit card receipts, or yet another unsolicited credit card offer? A pair of multi-bladed scissors. These scissors have five blades on each side and will neatly crosscut a page to prevent identity theft. They use no electricity and fit in a drawer, which is more than you can say for an electric shredder.

-- Amy Porges  

Multi Blade Shredding Scissor
$17

Available from Amazon



Gerber EAB Pocket Knife

I originally purchased the Gerber EAB a couple of years ago in an attempt to shelter my nicer pocket knives from the abuse of opening and breaking down cardboard boxes at work; cardboard dulls blades quickly. Of course, it’s also great at all the other miscellaneous tasks suited to pocket knives.

The EAB (exchange-a-blade) is essentially a standard utility knife redesigned to be an every day carry knife. There are plenty of utility knives on the market that have been designed to opened up like a folding pocket knife, but this is the only one I’ve found that is small enough and light enough to carry in my pocket every day. It’s just under 2.5″ in the closed position, and weighs about 2 oz.

The clip is wide enough to serve as a money clip, but it’s also stable and deep enough to ride well in a pocket without wiggling loose. The blade itself is reversible, and when it wears out it’s replaceable with inexpensive standard utility knife blades (which sell for about a dollar). The EAB has a nail nick for opening with a thumbnail, but it’s also opened easily enough with one hand by using the set screw as a thumb stud. A liner lock keeps the blade from closing on your finger when it’s in use.

Overall, the EAB has been a workhorse of a knife, and has earned a permanent place in my pocket. I haven’t lost mine yet, but when I do it’s cheap enough that I won’t hesitate to replace it. And I love that I don’t have to sharpen the blades — I either flip them around, or just replace with a fresh one.

-- Brendon Connelly  

Gerber EAB Pocket Knife
$12

Available from Amazon



Square Shopping Pail

Four-gallon rigid-plastic square buckets can often be found for free (although sold online for $5 and up). Try local restaurants, as they often buy frozen fruit or other foods in these containers. I’ve found these to be super useful for carrying groceries. For several years, they’ve been my regular totes. Unlike canvas or other sacks, these can’t leak, stain, or tip over easily in the car. They have a handle. You can load them up with heavy bottles or cans and still easily carry two pails. If there’s a spill, they rinse out. Not in use, they stack. In the store, a nested pair fits on the lower level of the shopping cart. I shop fairly often, so I usually don’t need more than fits in two pails, but one can always drop a couple cloth bags into a pail, for additional carry space, using the pails for the heavier items.

On car trips, they make efficient use of space, packed with rainy-weather gear or various other categories of supplies. They are easy to move around when rearranging things or carrying to and from the car.

They often come with square lids, a little fussy to snap on and off, but not necessary for shopping. With a lid on, the container is weatherproof for use outdoors. I’ve camped with a small tent, and stored things in these buckets outside the tent.

My suggestion is to get some for free.

-- Lynn Nadeau  

4-Gallon Square Pail
$7



Isopropyl Alcohol Liquid Cleaner 99.9%

By now most people have had the unfortunate experience of getting their phones wet and had to wait while it sits in a bag of rice to see if it survived — if you haven’t, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! The best thing to do when this happens is immediately take the battery out of your phone and put it in a bag of rice and wait a few days to see if it will be able to dry out enough to function again.

Recently I dropped my iPhone in a swimming pool and found out the hard way you need a special tool called a Pentalobe screwdriver to remove the battery cover, since I didn’t have one the current and water mixed causing the circuit board to start corroding.

But you still have hope. With a little patience and this video you will be able to take your iPhone apart and scrub the board with a toothbrush and some isopropyl alcohol (90% or better) to remove the corrosion. For a few extra bucks I opted for the purest Isopropyl I could find (99.9%), which has a faster drying time and less residue than the diluted stuff available at most pharmacies.

-- David Dale  

99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol Liquid Cleaner
$5.95 / 100 ml Bottle

Available from Amazon