Moshi Moshi Manual Cellphone Handset

Native Union MM02.jpeg

In these days of the ubiquitous cellphone, it can be rare to use a “normal” phone, even if you spend most of your days desk bound. As much as I love my iPhone, when I’m sitting in my office I miss using my desk phone with its comfortable handset and easy to dial keypad. Additionally, as someone who likes to listen to music when I work, an incoming call on my iPhone means unplugging it from the cradle, a minor annoyance.

Native Union has solved my problem with a series of handsets that allow you to take calls using a traditional handset attached to your cellphone. I picked up the MM02, a fairly basic corded model featuring a cradle, that I have really come to appreciate (they make a cordless Bluetooth version, but it is significantly more expensive).

The handset connects to the iPhone via the 3.5mm socket on the top of the phone, leaving you free to rest the iPhone in the charging cradle, audio device etc. The handset is reassuringly solid, with a pleasant, matte plastic feel to it, and the well built cradle sits happily on a desk. There is an answering button in the centre of the handset that makes it easy to pick up calls, but one downside is that there is no keypad on the handset, so although you can dial out you need to use the keypad on your mobile handset itself, and that can be a bit fiddly. If you’re flying a desk like me, you may find that you make your outgoing calls on your desk phone anyway.

I’ve had the MM02 handset for around 6-months now and find it a delight to use. At the time of purchase it seemed to be the only accessory of its type. Overall, a very handy piece of kit, especially if you’re a desk-bound cellphone user.

-- Alan Arthur  

[Although the reviewer notes that he used the handset solely in conjunction with his cellphone, this handset can be used with any product containing a 3.5 mm socket including a laptop or iPad thereby making Skype or Google Voice calling a little bit more traditional and comfortable on unwieldy devices. --OH]

Native Union Moshi Moshi 02 Handset
$44
Available from Amazon

Native Union Moshi Moshi 01H Handset (without a cradle)
Available in a variety of colors
$29

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Native Union

Sample Excerpts:

Native Union MM01H ).jpeg
Native Union makes an even simpler retro model, the MM01H, that comes in a variety of colors while being a bit more affordable for those who don’t need a desktop cradle.




303 Aerospace Protectant

303-aerospace-protectant-950ml-lg.jpeg

Back in the early 1970′s Armorall was introduced and quickly adopted by car owners and others who wanted to keep plastic components looking their best and lasting as long as possible. 303 Aerospace Protectant is the professional-grade version of this kind of product, and I have yet to find anything better.

Predominantly sold to aerospace and marine users, it’s widely available online and at marine supply stores. It does not gloss up plastic, doesn’t leave gummy residue, and actually does work to extend plastic life. The proof for me has come in the fact that I am one of the few owners of a Porsche 924/944/968-series cars whose dash has not cracked over time: my car’s almost 19 years old now and all the treated plastic and rubber components are doing just great.

-- John Etnier  

303 Aerospace Protectant
$15

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by 303-Products Material Safety and Data Sheet: MSDS (PDF)



Tangleteezer

Tangle Teezer Original Professional Detangling Brush.jpeg

I’ve used this fantastic hair detangler for a year now. This is not a typical tool that many people might obsess about, but I have a lot of very fine, very long hair. There’s a lot of it, and this brush has made it much more manageable! It used to take me half an hour on a good day to comb through my hair after I had washed it. Now it takes me about seven minutes, and it doesn’t pull out my hair like other models. This thing looks like a horse’s curry comb but made out of plastic.

I bought one on the recommendation of my expensive London hairdresser and have raved about it ever since. I recently bought five as gifts for friends, and every person I gave it to has gone out and bought it for other people. I have tried everything on the market for detangling long hair for the past thirty years: combs, special brushes, hair treatments, and this brush is the only solution I can call incredible.

This is a cool tool. It is one simple gadget that has made a everyday life a little less painful and a little bit simpler.

-- Anne Hitchcock  

Tangleteezer
$10

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Tangleteezer



 

Quantified Self Tool Contest

quantifiedself1.png

Self-trackers use tools like body weight scales to record and examine their lives in numbers. Recent developments in self-tracking technology has encouraged a renaissance of personal science and experimentation; all kinds of personal dimensions can be tracked — from mood, to sleep, to location, etc. Those pioneers figuring out how to quantify their life are part of the Quantified Self movement, tracked by our sister site, Quantified Self. The first Quantified Self Conference will take place in a few weeks and it promises to be a seminal event.

Although the Conference (May 28 and 29, in Mountain View, CA) is almost sold out, Cool Tools will award one free ticket (valued at $399) as a prize this coming week for the best suggestion of a quantified self-tracking tool.

In particular, we are looking for the best self-tracking hardware (we will still accept reviews of software but you are going to have to really convince us why it’s better than the copious competition). For inspiration, the following is a list of potential reviews we would be interested in: Ant+ enabled scales or tools, a better calorie counter, a wireless vitals monitor, an improved sleep tracker, an updated energy consumption monitor, productivity tools, etc.

If you don’t have any self-tracking tools to review but are still interested in winning a ticket to the conference send us a review of a tool you think should qualify you and explain why.

As usual, we are looking for the following in a review:

1) a succinct narrative description of what the tool/tip/fix is,
2) how it changed your behavior,
3) why Cool Tools should run it,
4) why it is superior, and
5) why we should believe you.

Submissions will be accepted for one week until Friday, May 20th. Reviews can be submitted through email to editor@cool-tools.org or through this link.

– Oliver Hulland, Editor, Cool Tools

 



Black Rapid RS-4 Camera Strap

rs4-04.jpeg

I’ve been shooting photographs for years and the common neck strap has always given me nothing but neck pain. My father though he had found a solution with a neoprene neck strap, but eventually it had the same shortcomings as its predecessor.

One day, while attending a convention, a friend pulled a Black Rapid strap out of his bag. Within an hour I had found and purchased one for myself. The strap slips easily over one shoulder and allows your camera to hang comfortably at your side with no strain on your neck.
RS4tw.jpeg
The camera attaches to the strap through a custom tripod mount and a carabiner connecting kit that allows the camera to be brought up to shooting position without having to shift the strap (the metal connection slides across the fabric strap). This makes it easy to swing your camera up and shoot in a simple fluid motion, and return the camera back down to your side the same way. Another benefit of this connection method is that it reduces strain on the camera body when shooting with large lenses that have tripod collars.
RS4 Connector.jpeg
The straps are sturdy, well built and come in a variety of sizes and styles including the RS-DR-1 which can hold two SLRs at once, although that’s really more for the professional photographer.

-- Tim Edwards  

Black Rapid Rs-4 Camera Strap
$53

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Black Rapid



Swiss Army Replacement Pen

file_34.jpeg

Recently, the previously reviewed Derringer Wallet Pen caught my eye. The fellow recommending it said he found it really handy, and that he always had something to write with since he’d started carrying this pen.

I got my ruler out to see if it would clip into my wallet and found that the 4″ long stainless steel Derringer wallet pen would protrude from my 3.88″ wallet. That is unlike the pen I’ve already got in my wallet, which is almost invisible unless you know it’s there. I use — and have done so for many years — a Swiss Army Knife pen refill, Victorinox model number 30422.

It costs $2.95. It’s a replacement pen for the one that comes as original equipment in Swiss Army Knives. 91mm (2.75″) long, with a gray, curved top that fits snugly into the body of a Swiss Army Knife, these handy little pens come in blue or black ink. There’s also an even smaller (2″ long) version that fits the smaller, key-chain size knives. I don’t recommend it because it’s very difficult to grasp and write with.

Now, you are not going to want to copy out Moby Dick with my little pen, but for quick notes, sudden flights of fancy or inspiration, phone numbers, and the like, you can’t beat it. And I always have a pen. So often no one does, and I don’t think I do, until I realize hey, I do have one. People smirk and scoff but they’re very glad when they see it writes just fine. A life-saver.

Joseph Stirt

Years ago, I lost my Swiss Army knife and when I went to replace it, I found a model I hadn’t seen before. Instead of the toothpick, this one had a retractable ballpoint pen!

A pen? I’m excited about a pen?
Victorinox Swiss Army Signature Pocket Knife.jpeg
Yes. After years and years with this (and having to replace it when I went to the airport and forgot to take the knife off my keychain), the pen is the tool I use the most. I have a Fisher Space Bullet pen but it’s not always in my pocket. The Swiss Army knife is.

The pen is small and not very comfortable but always-there trumps comfort in this case. I use the pen often, but not for long, so the ink lasts a very long time. Refills are available, if a bit hard to find.

The model with the pen is not available everywhere, so you may need to search around a bit. It’s also a bit of a conversation piece — hardly anyone has seen it before and they always want one.

– Moe Rubenzahl

 

Swiss Army Replacement Ball Point Pen
Blue Ink
$4
Available from Swiss Knife Shop

Swiss Army Signature Pocket Knife (w/ pen)
$20

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Victorinox



Kroil

IMG_0933.jpg

Kroil is an extremely effective penetrating lubricant. Almost every professional machine shop I’ve been in has a bottle of this sitting prominently beside the workbench. I first saw it about 8 years ago, and asked the mechanic why he used it. His words are the same I now say to those who ask me: It will unstick ANYTHING.

I frequently take apart antique machinery or general equipment. There is almost always rust, grime, burned grease, metal shavings, and the wear of decades that prevent me from separating bolts from nuts, pins from holes, or keeping sliding surfaces from doing anything BUT sliding. I’ve used every possible penetrating lubricant on the market. Some worked OK, but nothing really was “magic” until I found Kroil. Not many products make me laugh with glee. But the satisfying twist of an otherwise impossible-to-remove bolt or the turn of a shaft that was rusted solid now make me smile because of this little orange can.

Kroil doesn’t work instantly. It takes between a few minutes and a few days (for extremely large bearing surfaces) to work its magic. I once let it sit for a week on a 300 pound flywheel that was being very stubborn, and it came right off.

Kroil is not for general lubrication purposes. It’s very thin (which is part of how it works) and is not very sticky. But that’s not the reason I use it; I use it to get things apart. Kroil has a weird creeping capability, it finds its way up and across metal surfaces like some sort of strange science fiction amoeba. After I use Kroil to separate things, I’ll typically clean them completely (dip in mineral spirits) air-blast to remove residue, and then re-oil with a more permanent lubricant. The Kroil won’t hurt anything if it stays, but I like to get a thicker material in everywhere to avoid having to fix the problem again in a few years.

It’s somewhat hard to find in a retail setting. I’ve never seen it in a hardware store, but that doesn’t mean some don’t carry it. (The label on my bottle says “For industrial use only – not for retail sale” which is somewhat antiquated.) I typically get it directly from kanolabs.com, though eBay also might have some good deals. There are now several variants of Kroil including graphite and silicone, but I stick with the old-fashioned stuff since I haven’t read the data enough on the other mixtures to figure out if it’s worth changing.

If someone asked me what critical items I’d want for my toolbox, this would be among them. It comes at an even higher value than general-purpose sprays like WD-40. Simply put, Kroil is the most useful lubricant I know of.

-- John Todd  

Kroil Penetrating Oil
$10

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Kano

Material Safety and Data Sheet: Kroil MSDS (PDF)

Sample Excerpts:

A recent example of when I have used Kroil came when I bought an Ideal #3 Stencil machine on eBay, which is used for cutting out cardboard or paper letters and numbers for making paint stencils. I purchased the machine for $40, which is about 1/5th the normal price, because the machine was rusty and jammed.
IMG_0936.JPG
I took the risk because I knew Kroil would work. Indeed, when I opened up the box, the rust was pretty severe. All of the vertical punch letters were rusted in place, and the dial didn’t even spin at all to change letters. I liberally dosed all of the moving component interface areas I could see with Kroil, and then started to take it apart. After an hour or so of time, I was able to get all of the moving components back into fully operational condition after slowly working them through a few gritty and then progressively smoother cycles with the Kroil finding its way into the nooks and crannies.
IMG_0937.JPG
Even the central shaft which was frozen solid with several hundred pounds of turning force, after two hours or so I was able to feel a little movement, and after another hour and some huffing and puffing I was able to get the assembly off the shaft.




Tuffcoat Work Gloves

Tuff Gloves.jpeg

I was left about a dozen pairs of these rubber dipped kevlar gloves by the former owner of my house. Good thing, too! I’ve removed 4 crabapple trees, buried electrical cable, dug up hundreds of ferns, trimmed pine trees and done yardwork for the whole neighborhood. And these gloves look exactly like they did on day one.

That’s not to say they’re pretty, because they’re surely not, but they can stand up to all kinds of abuse and not seem any worse for the wear. The rubber is flexible enough to grip small objects like nails and screws yet plenty sturdy for sharp thorns and other pokey things. The yellow kevlar mesh on the top makes the gloves feel light and breathable. The gloves pull on and off very easily and they hug the wrists so not much dirt gets inside of them.

The colors may not be pretty but they help make them more visible when you’re looking for a pair in your crowded garage or basement. I gave away a few pairs before I realized how valuable they are. Now I just tell other people about them!

-- Matt O'Hara  

Sperian KV300 TuffCoat Cut Resistant Gloves
$7

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Sperian

[Note: To those with latex allergies, Sperian makes a nitrile version of this glove which leads me to believe that these may contain latex (in the palm area). Additionally, for those looking for free shipping Amazon sells what looks to be a similar unbranded pair for $8. --OH]



Clever Coffee Dripper

Clever_Coffee_Dripper4_1 WEB.jpeg

I’ve used this manual drip cone for a year now. It adds yet another twist to the seemingly simple task of brewing coffee. I’ve used the previously reviewed Melitta cone as well as everything from the previously reviewed Aeropress to a French Press.

This drip cone is, well, clever. It combines the ease and cleanliness of drip brewing with the long extraction of french press brewing. The difference is a spring loaded stopper on the bottom of the cone. To brew coffee you add a paper filter, coffee and hot water. Instead of placing the cone over your cup immediately, the spring loaded stopper keeps the coffee inside until you place the cone on a mug to lift up the stopper and drain your brew.

This difference allows you to directly control the immersion time of the brew to your taste. The result is a wonderfully rich and full cup of coffee. Previous versions were lacking one key feature: a lid, and required you to place a plate or saucer over the cone to keep the coffee hot while it brewed. The newer version is perfect with a built in lid.

I didn’t think I needed yet another tool for brewing coffee, but I’m hooked on the Clever Dripper now.

–Tim Hollosy

The Clever Coffee Dripper works like the other previously reviewed cone filter drip coffee makers except for one variation: it also acts as an immersion brewer. A simple gasket on the bottom of the Dripper enables the brewer to immerse the water and coffee together for as long as they would like before they begin the process of filtering.

In my opinion being able to control immersion makes for a superior cup of coffee compared to other available methods. I used the previously reviewed Aeropress for several years, and find that I prefer the Clever Coffee Dripper for my daily coffee ritual. I even prefer the cups that I have made to the cups that come out of the sophisticated (not to mention expensive) Clover machines, but that could be my own desire for strong coffee not being met by the barista who uses the machine.

There are different opinions about the amount of coffee, immersion time, amount of water, and water temperature that make the ideal cup of coffee. I find that I prefer a very strong cup, and use less water then recommended per gram of coffee, and immerse the coffee and water together a bit longer than recommended on Sweet Marias. A scale + grinder + clever dripper can get you brewing amazing coffee at a very affordable price point with the added bonus of complete user control over the brewing process.

–Aaron S

 

[Note: Sweet Maria's has put together a tip sheet (PDF) for using the clever coffee dripper that explains some of the chemistry behind extraction. -- OH]

Clever Coffee Dripper
$22

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Handy Brew



Vic Firth Pump and Grind Pepper Mill

318NTJ54B2L._SS500_.jpeg

I never go anywhere without my portable pepper mill. I have one stashed in my desk and another in the glove box, and still another couple in the kitchen. Trader Joe’s sells an outstanding disposable model for a couple bucks, but by far my favorite is the thumb-operated pump mill made by Vic Firth.

The sleek designed cylindrical metal and glass device stands 5-1/2-inches tall, and you can tell from its weight that it’s a serious tool. Fill the tube with peppercorns, push the plunger, and presto! Delicious, calorie-free pepper.

Here’s the thing about pepper. It improves just about everything: Steamed vegetables, salads, brown rice, popcorn (try it!), cheese, meat. Whatever you’re eating, it will get a real pick-me-up from fresh ground pepper. The stuff that comes out of ordinary pepper shakers bears no relation to pepper, and it might as well be cardboard.

I don’t go anywhere without my pocket pepper mill. My husband cracks wise that I should have a holster for my pepper mill. Not a bad idea! My son’s girlfriend has even taken to calling me “Pepper Mom”.

-- Andee Beck Althoff  

Vic Firth Pump and Grind Pepper Mill
$18

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Vic Firth Gourmet