26 May 2017
Most commonly used bits for phones, laptops and other electronics
This is a Cool Tools reader favorite from 2015 – MF
This a driver kit that comes with a small magnetized screw driver handle. It has bits that are very specific to opening up modern electronics, laptops, cellphones, and cameras routers. I often find I want to open these things up because there’s something small that’s broken that’s really easy to fix.
I had a collection of weird tiny screwdrivers that were easy to lose and the bits were low quality. Something would go wrong — either they wouldn’t fit or they would strip, but these iFixit ones are just fantastic. They are incredibly well tempered and they have all the weird star shapes that you need to get basically anything open.
Just last week my son was out in the back yard. He had been doing some gardening. He had his cheap RadioShack camera and he was taking some pictures of the plants as they were growing to make a stop motion video. He tripped over something and went sprawling and the camera crashed to the ground and cracked open about a half centimeter. And I thought to myself “that will actually pop back together.”
One component was sticking out but I had to get it open and it turned out they have some sort of weird proprietary screw, but it the iFixit had the right bit for it. Open up the camera, shove the component back in. Snapped it shut, done! 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.05/26/17
(This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast. See all of Clive's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder — editors)
25 May 2017
Powerful task manager
I have been using the task manager, Remember the Milk, since 2009 — the somewhat early days of web 2.0 “free” to-do apps. The free version sufficed for a few years, but when I started using a smartphone, it wasn’t long before I decided to upgrade to enable continuous syncing between the browser and iPhone apps.
I’ve tested Todoist, Do, Wunderlist, and probably others, but have always come back to Remember the Milk (RTM) for a number of reasons:
- I don’t have to use the mouse; within the app, browsing, searching, and adding complex tasks can be accomplished using the built-in key commands and smart-add language.
- It integrates with Quicksilver for Mac, allowing me to quickly add tasks without leaving whatever app I’m in, and if I’m not at my laptop I can email new tasks to the app (I set up an IFTT button on my phone which accomplishes this even faster than opening the RTM mobile app).
- I can subscribe to my task feed in Google Calendar — anything dated now appears in my calendar.
- Any search, from simple to advanced, can be saved as a smart list. My own “Today” smart list functions as I want it to, which is slightly different than the app’s built-in Today list: it shows tasks that might be overdue by only a day, tasks due tomorrow, and un-dated tasks marked with high priority.
Now the app does much more than keep my tasks organized; I file everything that isn’t an actual file here: links to articles to read, gift ideas, birthdays, web bookmarks, line items to add to my cv, project ideas, packing lists (which can be archived when not in use), etc. The one piece of missing functionality now feels entirely intentional: you can’t save attachments. For some this would be a deal-breaker, but I appreciate the separation of thoughts and digital clutter. This is task-making and note-taking (in plain text!) only, and it does both of these jobs exceedingly well. Now I don’t have to remember where I saved anything — anything worth recalling later I add here.05/25/17
24 May 2017
The Perfect Summer Robot
This week on Maker Update, Kitty Grabs Gold, a beer cooler that follows you, the Circuit Playground Express, Adafruit and Microsoft, Other Machine Co. and Bre Pettis, Tinkercad Lego export, a great kit for gadget and toy hacking, and Maker Faires. Our featured Cool Tool is the iFixit Electronics Tool Kit.
Check out the show notes.05/24/17
24 May 2017
A guiding philosophy of type
Here’s a reader favorite from 2003. – MF
For a long while I’ve been looking for an expert who could guide me through the complex world of typography. I didn’t need another artsy typographical design book. I wanted a reliable friend who could introduce me to the philosophy of type and then also practically guide me through the jungle of fonts to ones that work best. Mr. Bringhurst is that guru. Under his apprentice I understood for the first time how to architecturally shape a page with text, as if I were building a house. I figured out when to kern, or not. Now I find myself drawn back to his study every time I need to craft a book, a webpage, or format a report. The wisdom and experience in this book is astounding. It’s for anyone who makes words visible. That’s all of us. The book is regularly updated. Blessings on Bringhurst.05/24/17
23 May 2017
Our simplified site
If you read Cool Tools via RSS (which is the way Kevin and I read blogs) then you probably don’t realize we updated our website design today. We took your feedback seriously and tried our best to simplify the design and make it more legible.
I’m sure we got some things wrong. If you find a mistake or have suggestions about our current iteration, please let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading Cool Tools and being part of the community.
If I’ve still got your attention, I’d like to remind you that Cool Tools runs reviews written by our readers. Please recommend a tool you love.05/23/17
23 May 2017
Air Blower/Fast Fire Starter for Charcoal Grills, Tailgating, Campfires, Fire Pits, Fireplaces, Wood Stoves
We are lucky enough to live in an 1880s cottage in San Francisco, and we have a great wood burning fireplace. Recently I purchased a FiAir battery powered blower. This device has turned out to be quite good at fanning the dying embers into a hot flaming fire again. Using three AAA batteries, it seems to last for a long time, in fact, I have not run the batteries low after at least three dozen extended uses. The only downside it works too well and makes the fire very hot for your hand holding the blower. I have added a hack, the inner cardboard tube center from the paper towel (slips right over the nozzle) to keep my hand farther away from the heat.05/23/17
Recomendo: issue no. 43
Universal wrench for metal metal PVC locknuts, couplings nuts and toilet supply nuts
Airtight seal keeps food fresh and safe from ants
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23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
This appears to be a shill review. Many thanks to Cool Tools reader Matthew Connor for looking into this. He wrote:
Meaghan Hollywood works for CargoRAXX. Meaghan Hollywood put a review up quasi-anonymously on Amazon. A similarly worded review is now anonymously on KK.org.
On Amazon there are two reviews for the product (https://www.amazon.com/CargoRAXX-S1A-Interior-Management-System/dp/B01A6X4MBS). Neither is attributed by name but the one from January 18th, 2016 refers to “my Tahoe” and read similar to the KK.org review. Let us suppose the author is, in fact, the same person.
Clicking on the name for the review – merely “Amazon Customer” brings up their profile (https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CF94IIWSAE00/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp). This profile contains one Wish List on the left side. Clicking on it revels – the name of “Amazon Customer” – it is Meaghan Hollywood.
Ok. I believe at this point the author of the KK review and the author of at least one of the two reviews on Amazon are in fact the same person and that person’s name is Meaghan Hollywood.
Here’s the kicker, CargoRAXX has a website with a blog feature – their blogger’s name is Meaghan Hollywood. (http://cargoraxx.com/5-reasons-re-organize-suv/)
ABOUT COOL TOOLS
Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.
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