26 September 2016


Champion Mens Elite SmartTemp Boxer Briefs

No more thigh chafing while hiking

I’ve been using these for about 3 years now and I love them. I’m a 71 year old male, weigh 200lb, hike 3 times a week, 4 to 8 miles. These are stretchy “bike short” like, and moisture wicking. Great for the hot and sweaty hiking here in Hawaii. They also keep one’s “personal parts” securely yet comfortably in place. Really improved my hiking experience!

They go down your legs a little from the crotch so if your thighs are rubbing they protect the skin from chafing. I tried “Glide” but that didn’t work for me. I did try the COSTCO knock offs and Haines version of these, but both of those rode up on my thigh and Haines just fell apart. I buy them at COSTCO but I see Amazon and Target have them too.

These are a Cotton/Polyester/Spandex Blend. For some reason they make you look good too. My “Dear Wife” likes it when I walk around the house in them. Much sexier then the “Whitie Tighties” apparently. Ain’t life just grand!

09/26/16 -- Rob

25 September 2016


Google Feud/Nippies/Fakespot/Splash

Recomendo: issue no. 9

Google Feud is a game that challenges you to guess the top ten Google autocompletes for a particular word or term. For instance, the game might prompt you with “my friend is addicted to” and you have to fill in the rest of the query. (FYI, the top ten autocompletes for this example are weed, her phone, drugs, coke, pills, drama, oxycodone, crack, anime, and alcohol.) — MF

Over the years, I’ve had to buy a variety of bras for different types of dresses and tops (racerback, backless, strapless, etc.), but the most useful purchase I’ve made has been Nippies. I’ve had these for a couple years now. They are washable, reusable and so comfortable I forget I have them on. — CL

Before buying something on Amazon, enter the URL for the product at fakespot.com. This free service will analyze how many shill reviewers have rated a product, and award a “Fakespot Grade” from A to F. A low grade doesn’t necessarily mean a product is bad, it just means you shouldn’t take the reviews and user ratings into consideration when making your decision to buy something. — MF

I’m trying out Splash, a cool free experimental photo search engine from 500Pixels. You sketch the rough contours of a photo you seek in color, and it will display two dozen images that “match” your sketch. The match is mostly in color, mood, and rough shapes, but it does present you with some interesting images, all licensable. — KK

A long time ago, after a bad breakup I read If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasi. By the time I had finished the book, it was covered in notes and dog-eared pages, and I felt healed and ready to move on. Now, as a newlywed, I am enjoying listening to If the Buddha Married on Audible. So many great insights and communication tips. — CL

All my dress shirts are now “Non-Iron” cotton material. I don’t know how this stuff works, but the ones I clumsily fold into my luggage, will unwrinkle shortly after I put them on. I use Non-Iron Oxford shirts from Land’s End and L.L. Bean, but most clothing brands seem to carry them. Eagle brand Non-Iron shirts are popular on Amazon. — KK

Want to get our next Recomendo a week early in your inbox? Sign up for next Sunday newsletter here.

09/25/16 -- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Lamar

23 September 2016


Black Diamond Telekneesis Kneepad

Articulated design moves with you and ensures full patellar coverage

Before retirement, my job frequently required me kneel and crawl, often on pavement or gravel. Being taller than average, I was also prone to banging my knees on my desk. The Black Diamond Telekneesis kneepads put an end to these distractions. Telekneesis kneepads are a hard shell design thin enough to wear under pants and comfortable enough to wear 12 hours at a stretch. Once adjusted, they stay in place all day. They’re about 3/8” thick and won’t show under most trousers. Durability seems excellent. After 3 years of daily wear my pair shows some pilling on the fabric lining. The elastic straps still stretch. The shells have a few superficial scrapes that remind me what a good investment these are.

09/23/16 -- Bob Kegel

22 September 2016


Submit a review for a chance get a $50 Amazon Card

Tell us about a tool you love

We are going to award a $50 Amazon gift card to the writer of our favorite review between now and Friday, September 30, Noon PT.

Here’s the form to submit your review.

Here are some guidelines for writing a review for Cool Tools:

We’re looking for recommendations of things that you have used for at least six months.

A Cool Tools review should answer the following questions:

How long have you used it?

What does it enable you to do (what are the benefits, rather than the features)?

How this tool has changed your behavior?

Why do you think this tool is superior to others (and why should readers believe you)?

Where can readers buy the same one you use?

If possible, include a photo of the tool in use, that would be great.

If you are involved in the invention, creation, or distribution of a tool, please do not send us a review.

The Whole Earth Review guidelines (written by Kevin) for reviews went like this: “Write your review. Then write us a letter explaining why we should devote space to your item. Throw away your review and send us the letter.” Replace “letter” with “email.”

(Image from What is this mystery tool?)

09/22/16 -- Mark Frauenfelder

22 September 2016


1TB Ultra Portable External Hard Drive

Portable backup drive

I’ve been using these Western Digital 1TB drives for years. They connect to a computer through a single USB cable, which handles power and data. They weigh about five-and-a-half ounces, which is less than my iPhone 6 Plus. They are small enough (4.3 x 3.2 x 0.6 inches) to carry in a travel bag without even knowing they are there.

I use a Mac utility called SuperDuper to make a bootable clone of my desktop hard drive, and sometimes take it with me when I travel (not often, because it would be bad to lose it and expose all my information to whoever found it). I have three other My Passport 1TB drives. One of them is called “media” and it stores my photos, videos, and music. I keep it on my desktop. The other is called “backup media,” and it’s connected in another part of my house through the USB port on a Wi-Fi range extender. It gets backed up every night via SuperDuper. And then I have a drive called “Time Machine” which is an Apple Time Machine backup of the files on my desktop computer’s hard drive. (I also have a personal cloud storage device and offsite backup – call me paranoid, but I like knowing my files won’t go into a black hole.)

When I upgrade to a new computer, it’s easy to plug in the backup drive, boot from it, then use SuperDuper to clone the internal drive.

09/22/16 -- Mark Frauenfelder

21 September 2016


Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil

Food won't stick to it

Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil is a tool that has been in my cooking tool box for more years than I can remember. While this specialty product has limited applications, I have so far found three highly satisfying uses; roasting vegetables, reheating pizza, and covering a cheese topped casserole for baking.

In all cases the foil eliminates a significant frustration, making it a delight to use. Roasted vegetables are a staple of my diet. (I particularly like to slow-roast sweet potatoes at 375° for 45 min. on each side. Try it!) Roasting vegetables enhances their flavor by converting starches to sugars, but charred melted sugar can be tough to remove from a pan, and if you line a pan with standard foil it will usually tear when removing the vegetables. Not so with the non-stick foil; tilt the pan and the vegetable will slide off.

I also like to make pizza, but reheating leftover slices unenviably results in sticky melted cheese oozing onto the pan, and with standard foil you end up with torn-off foil fragments attached to your slice. Yuk! Use this non-stick foil and your slices are guaranteed to be foil-free.

My third use of this foil is somewhat less compelling; having cheese stick to a foil casserole cover is far from a disaster. However, my frugal nature hates to delegate any cheese to the trash can. How non-stick is this? 100%! Nothing sticks to it! This is perhaps why there are no competing products; I can’t image another product being better than this.

Just for kicks I tried woodworking glue and Liquid Nails. No problem, they just peeled off. As far as the safety of the product is concerned, the Reynolds website states that the coating “is a proprietary food-safe coating that is … safe for food contact.” and that it “does not contain Teflon or PTFE …”. I’ll leave that for you to interpret.

What about costs? The Reynolds non-stick foil is roughly the same price per sq. ft. as Reynolds standard weight “sticky” foil when both are purchased in a 75 sq. ft. roll. However, if you buy Reynolds standard foil in a 200 sq. ft. roll, which I find a reasonable size, the price per sq. ft. drops in half, and if you buy a store brand of standard foil the cost difference is even greater. However, even with a cost of this foil at least double that of standard foil, with my sparingly use its utility far outweighs its premium price. Additionally, an added bonus is that this foil is “heavy duty”, and while Reynolds doesn’t specify thicknesses, it seems to be equivalent to their standard heavy duty foil.

Not often does a tool perform its designate task with perfection, but this tool does, and at an affordable price. Try out a roll!

09/21/16 -- Dave King


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Universal USB smart charger with 4-foot power cord

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Remove the old stickers and gummy adhesive from glass surfaces

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Do-pretty-much everything shears

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Organize your recipes, make meal plans, and create grocery lists

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Announcements: 09/6/16


CargoRAXX – unrecommended

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.

One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.

When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.

We recently posted a short history of Cool Tools which included current stats as of April 2008. This explains both the genesis of this site, and the tools we use to operate it.

13632766_602152159944472_101382480_oKevin Kelly started Cool Tools in 2000 as an email list, then as a blog since 2003. He edited all reviews through 2006. He writes the occasional review, oversees the design and editorial direction of this site, and made a book version of Cool Tools. If you have a question about the website in general his email is kk {at} kk.org.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

13898183_602421513250870_1391167760_oClaudia Lamar runs the Cool Tool website, posting items daily, maintaining software, measuring analytics, managing ads, and in general keeping the site alive. If you have a concern about the operation or status of this site contact her email is cl {at} kk.org.