Unfavinator

I’ve been favoriting tweets ever since I got on Twitter, often tweets with links in them where the aim is to get back to them when I have more time in order to read the links.

The result is that I ended up with hundreds of favorite tweets, to the extent that it became a mess and whenever I wanted to go back to a specific ‘favorited’ tweet invariably I wouldn’t be able to find it.

To solve this, I wanted to erase these tweets in bulk but Twitter itself doesn’t let you: you have to do it one by one. Having researched if there were any apps out there that could do this, I found none until I came across Unfavinator that solves the problem easily and effectively.

All you do, after you log in, is that you see the list of your favorite tweets which you can delete easily. I had some 800 favorites which I deleted in the space of a few minutes when it would have taken me hours to do so otherwise.

Now my favorite tab is clean and filled only with those tweets that really mean something.

-- Paul Grech  



Recipe Rock

I’ve had this recipe holder almost 1 year now and I use it almost every day! Sure, it works great when creating culinary perfection, but I am also a quilter and I use it for following quilt pattern instructions. I actually purchased 2 of them so I don’t have to keep moving one from the kitchen to the sewing studio.

-- RM Breuer  

Architec Recipe Rock
$10

Available from Amazon



Fineprint

I’ve used the Fineprint application almost since it first came out. I was always frustrated at printing “that” page from the Web. You know, the page that has 3 lines and is almost always worthless. Fineprint allows me to delete “that” page. Fineprint also lets me print several web pages on one sheet up paper. I can delete sensitive text. I can type on pages before I print. I can save as PDFs. I can….

I’ve saved, literally, tens of thousands of sheets of paper with this tool. It is essential.

-- David A. Bressman  

Fineprint
For Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP sp2 or higher
$50



Gum Eez-Thru Floss Threaders

These inexpensive nylon loops are the only effective way to floss under dental bridges. Just put a piece of floss through the loop and insert the end without the loop under the bridge. Move the floss back and forth under the bridge and then pull it through.

-- Walter Noiseux  

G-U-M Eez-Thru Floss Threaders
$4 / 25

Available from Amazon



Pentax K-50 Digital SLR Camera

I recently procured for myself a Pentax K-50 DSLR camera and have enjoyed it immensely. Being a new parent and also developing a keen interested in photography I knew I needed an upgrade from my usual point-and-shoot digital camera. I upgrade technology and equipment at a slower rate than many of my counterparts, partially because I operate on a modest teacher’s salary and income from odd contract work… also because I tend to get the most out of my equipment for as long as I can. I tend to purchase computers every 6 to 8 years instead of the usual 2-3. I enjoy point-and-shoot digital cameras simply because they have improved over each previous generation in quality and features greatly and usually only replace them when they break or become severely obsolete. This time around I decided to splurge and research DSLR brands and came to favor the Pentax K-50.

Canon and Nikon are the most favored brands, the Pentax seems to be the oddball in the bunch, but I can’t seem to fathom why. The Pentax K-50 is regarded as the most overlooked model of the mid-to-entry level DSLR group of products. I teach a digital photography class that is blessed with a set of Canon Rebel T3i’s and an older Nikon D70. While these are fine cameras I hesitated to go down the same route when it came to my choice for a personal camera. I choose the Pentax K-50 for two main reasons, firstly it is water-resistant and dust proof, a feature that is rare-to-nonexistent in the K-50’s price range. On YouYube you can find a video of a US soldier burying his Pentax DSL’s in dirt and dust and then washing them off under a shower, a solid testament if I ever saw one. The second reason is that the Pentax K-50 can use almost any Pentax lens and Pentax has used the same K-mount since the 1970’s. As most photographers know, taking great photos is more about the lens than the camera. I was able to find a great set of older prime lenses such as my favorite 50mm 1:2 for very little money. The Pentax K-50 DSLR came with a resistant AF lens. Many people sell their old Pentax film cameras with lenses and great bargains are everywhere. This is an awesome feature for anyone that wants to build a collection of lenses for different shooting conditions on a modest budget.

The Pentax K-50 is packed with great features that are rare on other entry level cameras such as focus peaking, which highlights areas of focus with white highlights so you can really have tight control over your depth of field. It has some really nice preset artistic image filters that allow you to shoot in B&W, add vignettes, shoot in HDR, etc. My favorite feature is the ability to shoot double exposures right in the camera, no Photoshop needed. The K-50 isn’t the best choice for shooting video, as it suffers from some rolling shutter issues, as many DSLR’s do… for video the camera needs to be held steady or used with a tripod for best results. The video samples I have shot do look good… crisp HD and looks great through my lenses and audio is good despite the lack of an external mic jack. If I was shooting a real video project I would use my trusty Zoom H2 audio recorder anyway. The K-50 sports a 16 Megapixel resolution which is more than enough for my purposes. It may have less resolution than some of its counterparts, but unless you are printing billboards it is more than sufficient.

Overall this is a very well featured camera with enough resolution to get the job done, it has backwards compatibility and comes in at a great price. It is compatible with Eyefi memory cards. The battery bay can take either rechargeable battery packs or with an adapter run on AA batteries, a great option when away from power sources. The K-50 is rugged, easy to use and fun. I couldn’t ask for more for the price. Did I mention it comes in a variety of colors, I choose the white on black model, who doesn’t want a camera that looks like a stormtrooper? No one, that’s who.

-- Seth Wilson  

Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens
$413

Available from Amazon



Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

I like the idea of grinding coffee by hand, but most of the hand crank grinders that I have tried have been hard to turn, hard to hold, inefficient in moving beans through (too wide and shallow for the unground bean bin), or otherwise awkward.

About a year ago I found this Japanese model that meets my concerns. It is a light, 11.2 oz., easy to turn conical burr coffee grinder. At about $45 it is not the cheapest but it is the easiest for me to use two or three times a day. It works so well for me that I bought a second one for grinding seeds (mostly fennel and flax, which I mix in with my morning oatmeal). This model is particularly useful for those with smaller hands (like me).

-- Lon Levy  

Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
$45

Available from Amazon



Stem Gem Strawberry Huller

It didn’t take me long to get the hang of the Stem Gem Strawberry Huller, and once I did, I was able remove the stem and core of strawberries much faster than I could with a knife.

To use it, you push the button on the back to extend the retractable Alien-esque jaws. The deeper you push the button, the more the jaws open. Then, plunge the jaws into the strawberry, twist, then pull. There you go, a cleanly cored berry. My kids fight over who gets to use it.

stem-gem

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller
$8

Available from Amazon



Chemex 6-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffee Maker

I have been using this tool for about a year. In combination with a food scale, Chemex bleached filters, a Capresso hot water kettle, great coffee (like Ruta Maya Dark Roast), and of course clean filtered water, Chemex makes consistent coffee with no bitter after taste. I watched > 10 videos on You Tube, taking the best features of each to come up with my Chemex specification for great coffee (see below). The key is to use good measurement tools to maintain day-to-day consistency and to ensure you are brewing at the correct temperature to avoid extraction of the bitter components of the coffee beans.

Chemex is superior because glass is easy to clean and does not hold odors like plastic or even stainless steel. The price is very reasonable for a tool that can produce a full body, full flavor, no bitter after taste cup of coffee!

How to make Chemex Coffee

I Equipment
– A Chemex 6 Cup Coffee Maker
– B Chemex Bonded Filter Squares (Oxygen cleansed)
– C Hario V60 Drip Scale / Timer
– D Kitchen Aid Coffee Grinder
– E Capresso H2O Pro Water Kettle

II Ingredients
– A Purified Water 56 ounces
– B Whole Coffee Beans 45 to 55 grams

III Procedure (Makes 30 ounces or 1 1/3 cup of coffee)
– A Boil Approximately 56 ounces of water in Capresso Kettle (212
F).
– B Place Chemex Filter in Chemex Coffee Maker
– i Open filter so that three layers of paper are on one side and one layer of paper is on the other side.
– ii Orient the three layer side toward the spout of the Chemex Coffee Maker.
– C Unplug the Capresso Kettle when the water reaches 212F
– D Wait 30 seconds.
– i Critical for dropping water temperature to 200F.
– E Thoroughly wet the Chemex Filter with the hot water.
– i This also warms the vessel.
– F Pour out the hot water from the Chemex Coffee Maker.
– i Carefully hold the three layer side of the filter out of
the way.
– ii Reposition the wetted filter.
– G Turn on the Hario Scale.
– H Place the Chemex Coffee Maker on the Hario Scale.
– I Tare the Hario Scale.
– J Grind the whole bean coffee on a Medium Coarse setting.
– i 10 seconds in Kitchen Aid Grinder.
– K Pour 50 grams of Medium Coarse Coffee into the wetted Chemex
Filter.
– i Gently shake the Chemex Coffee Maker to even out the
Coffee Grounds.
– L Make a small intention in the center of the grounds.
– M Tare the Hario Scale.
– N Carefully pour approximately 100 grams of hot water to wet
the coffee grounds thoroughly.
– i Start in the center indention, moving outward until
grounds are completely wet.
– O Allow the Coffee Grounds to “bloom” for 45 seconds.
– i Critical time.
– P Tare the Hario Scale.
– Q Start the main pour.
– i The main pour will total 887 grams of hot water.
– ii Gently pour starting at the edge and move in a circular
motion around the perimeter of the Chemex opening.
– iii Pour until the water is about half an inch from the top.
– iv Allow it to filter topping off occasionally until you
reach 887 grams.
– v Try to avoid “floaters” by sinking them carefully with
the pour.
– R Allow the water to filter through until the last few drops.
– S Remove the filter and place in the compost.
– T Pour the coffee.
– U Enjoy !
– V Place the optional Chemex glass top on the coffee maker to
help maintain temperature.

IV Notes
– A This procedure makes about 30 ounces of Coffee.
– B Grams of coffee can be adjusted to taste. I recommend using
the range 45 to 55 grams.
– C If the water filters very very slowly, the Grind is too fine.
Adjust to a coarser grind.
– D Time is critical to maintain water temperature within the
optimal range. Have all supplies available. Work steadily
without rushing and you’ll have no problems.
– E The scale is critical for consistency. Once you create the
perfect cup of coffee, you have the recipe.
– F This procedure was developed after observing several Chemex
videos on YouTube, combined with my own experimentation.

V Coffee (in order of preference)
– A List is limited as coffees taste different using the Chemex
method compared to my old Automatic Drip Coffee Maker. My old
database of Coffee preferences is obsolete. The Chemex
difference is in the elimination of the bitter after taste.
– B Ruta Maya Shade Grown Dark Roast
– i #1 with a bullet! $14.99 for 2.2lbs at Costco, great value
– C Columbia Caldas (Starbucks Reserve)
– i Excellent, but expensive
– D Ethiopia Medium Roast (Starbucks)
– i Excellent based on initial tasting.
– E Jamaica Blue Mountain (Starbucks Reserve)
– i I remember this tasting better in Jamaica
– ii Good coffee, but poor value for the price

-- Joe McGowan  

[Peter Schlumbohm, creator of the Chemex coffee maker, was quite a character. A Time Magazine article from November 1946 quoted him as saying, “with the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee.” – Mark Frauenfelder]

Chemex 6-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffee Maker
$47

Available from Amazon



 

iFixit Pro Magnetic Project Mat

My family members are prone to dropping their iPhones and cracking the screen. I’ve gotten pretty good at replacing the displays myself, saving a lot of money over the price Apple charges (not to mention not having to wait a week or more for Apple to complete the repair).

As you might imagine, the screws and clips in an iPhone are tiny. If one of drops to the floor, you will never find it again. I bought this iFixit Pro Magnetic Project Mat and it does a great job of keeping all the fasteners in place. It has a dry erase surface to take notes and a square grid pattern so you can organize the components in a way that makes sense.

This weekend I used it while replacing the battery in my daughter’s iPhone 5s (it wouldn’t hold a charge for more than an hour) and it worked beautifully. It has a non slip foam back, which keeps a nice grip on the table. Amazon sells a cheaper magnetic project mat, but I don’t know if it has the same kind of foam backing)

By the way, iFixit has a lot of great videos and PDF guides for repairing many different kinds of electronic gadgets.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

iFixit Pro Magnetic Project Mat
$25

Available from Amazon



Trendnet Powerline Power-to-Wireless Access Point

Our kitchen is a Wifi deadspot. I’ve tried using wireless extenders, but I think my walls have chicken wire in them, turning every room into a Faraday cage. This Trendnet Powerline power-to-wireless access point) is exactly what I was looking for.

Powerline is a sort-of standard for data networking over an existing electrical system. I already had a Powerline adapter (this one) that’s plugged into my router, so I simply plugged the Powerline wireless access point into an AC outlet in the kitchen and configured it up by plugging an Ethernet cable between it and my laptop. In a matter of minutes, our kitchen had Internet that is good enough for streaming HD video.

The Amazon reviews aren’t great for this, but I’ve had no problems with it whatsoever. Here’s a power-to-wirless adapter for the same price and a better Amazon rating (and also includes the Powerline adapter that you connect to your router), but I haven’t tried it.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

TRENDnet Powerline 200 AV Adapter Wireless Access Point, TPL-310AP
$50

Available from Amazon