GRK R4 Multi-Purpose Screws

I rebuilt my back stairs using pressurized treated lumber. While I was buying the wood at Home Depots I noticed a display of serious looking screws and since I know from experience that fastening wet pressurized 2x12s and 4x4s can be a challenge I thought I would try these. The main selling point was the “Zero Stripping” star drive (aka Torx) head and the “Easy Start” tip. My tool is a Milwaukee 18 volt screwdriver, which performed flawlessly. Though sometimes the screws were a little hard to start, overall they worked well. None of the boards split and there was no stripping. Another interesting feature is what they call “CEE Thread”. This allowed the screw to act like a lag screw. I used the #10 R4 Multi-Purpose Screws, both the 3 1/8” and the 2 ½”. If you have a project that does not require much finesse, these are the screws for you.

-- Dean Raffaelli  

GRK R4 Multi-Purpose Screws
$12 – $15 per 100

Available from Amazon

Clean Sense DIB-1500R Electronic Bidet

I actually first found out about this bidet toilet seat through your Toto Washlet post from 2008! But Toto was way too expensive for me. I came across the Clean Sense DIB-1500R for a third of the price. It has all the same features the expensive ones have. Of course I was skeptical, but for the price I took a chance.

So far, it has been great, definitely exceeded my expectations. Now I admit, I don’t know what a Toto one is like, having never tried it, but this one does everything I need. It supplies warm water, and has adjustable pressure, really that’s all I need, all other features are a bonus. My favorite feature, which I don’t see too many of these have, is the user presets. My wife and I both have our settings set, that automatically adjust for each of us.

-- Jon Greer  

Clean Sense dib-1500R Bidet Seat Elongated with Remote Control

Available from Amazon


For someone who walks, jogs and runs quite a bit, the FlipBelt is a great way to carry your phone, listen to tunes, and keep your cords hidden under your clothing. Many people wear armbands to hold their phones while others try to hold them or stuff them in their pockets. The washable, elastic FlipBelt is a tube that holds your phone at waistline and you forget about it entirely. Have used it for a couple years now and it works perfect!

-- Tom OToole  


Available from Amazon

American Apparel Former Director of Marketing’s Favorite Tools

Ryan Holiday is a well respected marketing guru, media strategist and author. He spearheaded viral marketing campaigns as Director of Marketing for American Apparel and has produced several world renowned books on his marketing strategies and philosophy. The list of tools Ryan brings to the table this week emphasizes quality and simplicity above all else, priorities we can all get on board with. See some of Ryan’s books below to better understand how he’s leading the charge into a new age of advertising.

Some of Ryan’s books:

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

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

Commonplace book Prices vary

“It’s obviously a very old tool. Usually, you see them in writers like Erasmus or they were very popular in the 19th century. It’s basically a book where you write all your thoughts or ideas or inspirations down. You record them.”

Redwing boot $200-$370

“When I bought them and I’d had them for three or four years I wore the sole down. I just took them into the store and they sent it back to the factory and it came back two weeks later. It cost 50 bucks and they had a new sole on them and new laces and they were all polished and stuff.”

Beme Free

“It’s a video-sharing app but the camera is activated when you cover the motion sensor on the front of your iPhone. You don’t turn it on. You can’t see through the viewfinder what you’re filming. It’s just point and shoot. Once you do it, it automatically shares.”

Echo Bearcat WT189 Wheeled Trimmer $530

“It can basically cut anything. You could roll it into a bush and if you took it slowly enough the bush would just be destroyed afterwards.”


Smart PR for Artists & Entrepreneurs with Ryan Holiday $99

“Basically, I think the problem is most people see advertising as a conversion-oriented medium, like “Does this sell things for me right now?” I try to think of it as a performance medium… If you can knock it out of the park you can do something really interesting and cool. It becomes not an advertisement, it becomes a piece of content, which people share.”


Water bottle sling

Before I discovered this water bottle sling, I would sometimes shove a water bottle in the back pocket of my pants, which is a bad idea because it stretches the pocket and the bottle falls out easily.

I learned about these slings from my parents. They bought a couple of of them for hiking in the Arizona desert. They have a long (non-adjustable) strap that goes over your shoulder. The bottle fits in a pouch that also has a pocket that can hold a phone, money, or other small item. After trying one of my parents’ slings, I liked it so much that I bought my own. It is nice to have both hands free, yet have ready access to water. It’s easy to position the bottle in the front, side, or back of your body. It stays put, too. If it swung around and banged against my body with each step I would not use it.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Chicobag Bottle Sling

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Chicobag


If you are inundated with credit card offers, is the best way to stop them. It’s like the “Do Not Call” list for credit card offers.

About a year after I started college, I began getting credit card offers. On a bad day I’d receive up to four offers from various credit card companies. Having to deal with that much junk mail was a real annoyance, and I tended to throw the envelopes into a box and either shred them or burn them all at one time. One day, a year or so after I finished college, I was sitting in the lobby of my mechanic shop and reading the newspaper. That’s when I read a column extolling the virtues of, a service that claimed to get that pesky first-year-no-interest monkey off my back.

So that afternoon I went to the website and filled out the required info (name, address, SSN, and date of birth.) For roughly two weeks I still received the same volume of CC offers as before signing up. After a month, however, the flow of credit card offers had dramatically slowed. Within two months, I was getting NO offers. Fantastic!

My experience matched with’s confirmation page, which states “Your request will be completed within 5 business days. Although your request becomes effective with Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion within five business days of your request, you may not see an immediate reduction in the amount of offers you receive. This is because your name may have already been provided to some companies that have not yet mailed their offers to you. You may continue to receive certain firm offers for several months.”

Here’s how it works: Once you sign up for the service, they will then send your information to the companies that provide consumer credit reporting services (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion.) These companies will then take you off the mailing lists they distribute to credit card companies and you will stop receiving offers from those credit card companies. Simple as that.

The website states your request to opt-out of CC offers is good for five years, however this can change if you sign up for a service that sells your name and address to CC companies, or apply for a credit card. I noticed recently after purchasing a website domain and space to set up a friends’ commercial website, the credit card offers started pouring in again. I went back to and re-applied. I thought now would be an apropos moment to write a review of this great resource.

Finally, they do warn you that “while your name will be removed from the lists that Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion provide to businesses for the purpose of making you a firm offer of credit or insurance, you may continue to receive offers from sources that do not use Consumer Credit Reporting Companies to compile their lists.”

Great service, highly recommended.

-- Owen Kelly  

Homemade Softbox Light Made from Shower Cap

I recently had a very good experience shooting this short explanatory video with two standing professional softbox lights.

The experience got me thinking whether I could shoot a fairly good looking video with a home made DIY softbox light. This wonderful YouTube video showed me the way.

Here is the video I shot this evening using a homemade softbox light, covered with a white shower cap.

I didn’t use any fancy camcorder, either. The camcorder I used is a consumer Canon Vixia HF R300 camcorder — the lowest priced of the excellent Vixia line of camcorders from Canon

I’m pleased with result. Good skin tone colors. Here are some tips that might be helpful to you:

I mounted the clasp light on a stand that was about six feet from my head and about two feet higher than my head, pointing slightly down. I sat about three feet in front of the background to minimize shadows. (The farther away you are from your background, the less distinct the shadows.) To reduce the glare on my glasses, my friend John Pitt lowered the height of the camcorder until it was slightly lower than my eye level. Originally, glare on my glasses was a problem, but that technique minimized the problem.

John did some slight color correction in Final Cut Pro 7 to adjust the brightness of the lighting in this video.

If you’ll be shooting videos of this kind yourself, make sure your backdrop is sufficiently wide that it completely fills in the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of your camcorder. We had some problems with that in this video shoot, but John Pitt remedied that by using Final Cut Pro 7 to zoom into the video — which removed the unsightly left and right edges of the video field where the backdrop didn’t reach. It’s useful to also note that the camcorder we used to shoot this video shoots at 24 Mbps, which is a very nice data rate for a consumer camcorder. The higher the data rate the greater the detail you’ll see in your videos. To view this video in its best quality, choose the HD video screen quality choice from the bottom right of the YouTube video. You might also try casting this video to your television using a Chromecast.

Pretty good lighting for a DIY project, eh?


-- Phil Shapiro  

Chiffon Bath Mate White Shower Cap

Available from Amazon

Foot Log

I’ve used this product for about three months and have found it very helpful in easing discomfort related to plantar fasciitis (heel pain). Thanks to the Foot Log and stretches and exercises I learned from the previously reviewed Fixing Your Feet, I’m back to running after a two-month hiatus.

While the previously reviewed Surefoot Foot Rubz is a good product, the Foot Log is superior. It has more surface area and a variety of surfaces, and the edges are particularly helpful in working out my sore feet. The Surefoot Foot Rubz (or a lacrosse ball) is only better for travel, since it’s so much smaller.

-- Elon Schoenholz  

Foot Log

Available from Amazon

Twist Tie Roll with Cutter

About 5 years ago, I bought a box of 25 of these white twist-tie spools with cutters. Each spool contains a 60 feet long twist-tie. I find a reason to reach for one just about every other day, and I’ve dispersed them in drawers throughout my house. They’re much easier to use than the paper, poor-quality, often-too-short twist ties that come with many products (like garbage bags) that come in small squares and are perforated on the sides. They also work better than Scotch tape or twine for many light binding purposes, such as holding unwieldy wire hangers together for a trip back to the cleaners.

The ability to pull out and cut 10 or 20 inches instead of just a short segment, and have a strong binding means you can progressively tighten (and retighten) around something bulky and springy — such as thick, coiled coaxial or other electric cables — is highly handy and a sanity saver.

While twist-tie spools abound in automotive and hobby shops, they can drive you crazy if they aren’t packaged in a center-fed spool or lack a built-in cutter. Having several circles of the wire jump out and go everywhere, and realizing you don’t have scissors or needle-nose pliers at hand when you’ve got something under tension and can’t easily move, are two annoyances that these particular spools eliminate.

I prefer white over green and back, for both aesthetic and find-in-dim-spots purposes.

-- Ron Geraci  

Twist Tie Roll with Cutter (60-Feet)

Available from Amazon


I have used the UN-SKRU under-cabinet jar opener since 1979. It allows you to use two hands to open jars and bottles and it works very well.

The lid is jammed between a knurled steel post and a logarithmic spiral step which in effect automatically adjusts for different size lids. My wife really appreciates the ability to grip a large jar with two hands when opening it.

-- Larry Pajakowski  


Available from Amazon