Flexi Freedom Retractable Cord Dog Leash

First off, this leash is incredibly comfortable to hold. You wouldn’t think so by looking at it but I have walked, run, skied and bushwhacked with it in every season and you hardly know it’s there. Part of it is the soft rubber coating on the handle but it’s mostly the moulded shape that snugs right into your palm.

Next, it is very strong. When my 65 lb male Samoyed goes after a squirrel, the half inch wide, spring loaded belt pays out until it reaches the end and whammo: full stop, no problem. I haven’t cracked the case to see how the end of the belt attaches to the reel but it has stood up to this punishment nearly every day for several years now. Of course, this also speaks to how the spring-loaded, stainless steel D clip is fastened to the dog end of the belt: it’s looped through, folded back and crimped with a plastic clamshell. 

The leash has an elegant locking-mechanism that works reliably and intuitively by pushing a button with your thumb and then engaging a switch. This locks the belt at whatever length you want, and yep, it holds firm when charging dog meets end of leash. The belt is released just by pushing the switch again. Both setting and releasing the length are easy to do with one gloved hand.

When you run, walk or ski with your dog, the reel constantly pays out and retrieves slack (unless you’ve set the lock) so the belt rarely gets tangled the way other leashes can. This adjusts for both human arm swinging as well as for various dog movements. I sometimes clip the Flexi onto my belt, which frees up both hands for hiking or ski poles, or for carrying stuff.

Finally, it is almost completely silent. Impressive that in all seasons, with the belt getting wet, dirty and freezing, it has not developed the slightest squeak.

-- Tam Stewart  

Flexi Freedom Retractable Cord Dog Leash
$17

Available from Amazon



Unroll.me

I’m on a lot of mailing lists that I did not subscribe to. And every day I get added to a half dozen or more unwanted lists. These spamlike subscriptions are usually from PR flaks who want me to write about their clients. It’s almost always for things I don’t care about (like an insurance company announcing the appointment of a new regional vice president). It’s annoying to sort through this garbage in order to find email I care about.

Then I discovered Unroll.me, a free mailing list management service that works with Gmail, Google Apps, and Yahoo Mail. It does a great (but not perfect) job of finding the mailing lists you are subscribed to and presenting them as a list, allowing you to instantly unsubscribe to them by clicking with your mouse. As of today, I have used Unroll.me to unsubscribe to 1,601 mailing lists. It’s a dream come true.

What about the mailing lists that I actually signed up for and like? Unroll.me is great for dealing with those, too. Instead of receiving the newsletters one-at-a-time in my inbox, I’ve added my 114 mailing list subscriptions to a “Rollup.” This is a daily digest prepared by Unroll.me that contains email from the subscriptions I care about (my bank, my health insurance provider, Audible.com, my kids’ school, James Altucher’s essays, etc.) You can click on any of the items in the Rollup email to see the full email.

Here’s what the Rollup looks like:

rollup

Unroll.me is something I would happily pay money for. It is free, but you need to pay with a tweet or a Facebook like.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Unroll.me
Free



Looney Pyramids

Looney Pyramids (formerly known as “Icehouse Pyramids”) are a system of plastic board game playing pieces. They come in a variety of colors (10 are commonly available) and 3 sizes and are sold in sets. The pieces can be used like a deck of cards for boardgames with the rules for over 300 games utilizing them already published online.

The publishers, Looney Labs, also greatly encourage their fans and customers to create their own games using the pieces. I have created a few myself and entered design contests that are fan run and intended to expand the Pyramid game world. As a means for creating your own boardgame or just a versatile system to playing hundreds of games, they are a fantastic investment of your entertainment dollar.

-- Sam Zitin  

Looney IceDice
$15

Available from Amazon



Ryobi Cordless Finish Sander

This sander is in every Home Depot in the country and it is average for its primary intended job. But it is excellent as a super-scrubber for tough cleaning jobs: bathtub rings, crusted on pot and pans, outdoor grills, and camping gear.

Ryobi sells kitchen-type nylon scrubby pads in increasing levels of roughness from light duty to heavy duty, that just stick on. The sander is small enough to get into pot and pans but big enough for quick cleaning of very wide expanses. It is a go-to tool for tough cleaning. When used with a lithium battery it will last longer than I can and it shares batteries with the rest of the Ryobi tool line.

-- Steve Murray  

Ryobi One + 18 Volt Corner Cat P400
$35

Available from Amazon



Pre-Threaded Sewing Kits

When I find these as promotions or as hotel amenities, I nab them right away and keep them in my desk at work. It is awkward enough to try to stitch up a torn piece of clothing while in my office, but it is much worse if I have to spend the first few minutes bumbling around, attempting to guide thread through a needle with the help of my bad eyes. I save the needles for later home use.

-- Peter Harle  

Singer Sew-Quik Threaded Hand Needle Kit
$3

Available from Amazon



Nite Ize Gear Tie

I saw these in a trekking shop in Kathmandu last March, then found the 6″ version here in Japan when I returned. I’ve tried any number of rubber bands, cheap twist ties, and clamps in an attempt to organize all the cords and cables for the electronics gear I travel with and nothing has come close to the convenience and heavy-duty feel of these rubberized gear ties. I immediately ordered an assortment pack of 3″, 6″, and 12″ ties in various colors. Since they hold their shape so well they can be used as makeshift phone and tablet stands, as well.

-- Steve Shucart  

Nite Ize Gear Tie – Assorted 16 Pack
$30

Available from Amazon



Plast-aid

Kevin Stempien

I’ve used this two-part acrylic repair product for 5+ years. It bonds chemically to PVC and some other plastics. What sets this product apart from the rest is its fast cure time and its ability to bond to most plastics.

You mix the liquid with the powder and it will start off thin like paint, then thicken to a glue, paste, putty, then finally rock solid in about 15 minutes. It is also able to be tinted with a few drops of acrylic paint.

The demo that convinced me was a quarter stuck to a PVC pipe that could be bent with pliers without the Plast-Aid releasing.

-- Kevin Stempien  

Plast-Aid
$19

Available from Amazon



 

Creative Instigator, Mark Krawczuk [Cool Tools Show Episode # 25]

Mark Krawczuk is a self-professed Creative Instigator with many interesting and exciting projects in various stages of development, like the Lost Horizon Night Market and Mason Project. Be sure to check out some of Mark’s posts here on the Cool Tools website, like this one, which was referenced in today’s episode of the Cool Tools Show.

Links to some of Mark’s projects:

Everyhere Logistics

Lost Horizon Night Market

Mason Project

Show Notes:

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

 Slack $0-$99/mo & Threadable $3/mo

“Whenever you’re trying to organize a big group of people, there’s always conversations happening. But just using an email list there winds up being a lot of chatter, and so I found the combination of Slack and Threadable really, really great.”

 

inRoute $4

“The thing that I really liked about inRoute, is that it gives you a number of different options to tell you things like elevation, and curviness, and it also gives you the temperature, and the windiness across your entire route…So if you are doing any road trips, it’s really nice to get that extra level of information.”

Minimal Folio $3

“Minimal Folio is a portfolio app. It lets you put a bunch of images together, but not necessarily navigate it in a linear way. It’s set up in terms of columns, so you can drag images into different columns, and then you can navigate either down a column or across columns. If I want to quickly jump from one element to another, I don’t have to go through all of my visuals. I just slide across the different columns.”

REI 

“I bought a pair of shoes, and they were great, but the heels wore out a lot sooner than I expected them to. I wasn’t 100% satisfied, so I walked into REI, showed them the shoes, and told them my story. They were like, ‘Well if you’re not 100% satisfied, we should do something about that. Do you want your money back or do you want a new pair of shoes?’