20 February 2019

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Rock N Roller MultiCart R2 Micro

Instantly transforms into 8 different shapes

What I find most useful and unique about this adaptable rolling cart ($100) is that it folds to a relatively compact size that I can easily fit into a normal car while being able to unfold and expand to carry a large number of boxes.

I like it better than the common folding dollies that have a lower load capacity and have only two wheels that only operate in an upright position. Being able to put into a long horizontal position allows the Rock N Roller carts to carry unusual loads that might not stack in a stable fashion on a typical upright dolly.

-- Evan Goss 02/20/19

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010 — editors)

19 February 2019

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King Arthur Dough Whisk

Wire dough mixer

I try to bake by hand as much by hand as possible because it’s a nice contrast to working in front of a computer every day. But one part of baking I never used to enjoy was the mixing of the dough. At first, it gets all gummed up on the spoon or spatula. Then, once the dough comes together, it doesn’t seem as if you’re mixing the ingredients so much as pushing a big ball around the inside of the bowl.

For a year, I’d seen the dough whisk ($9 for 2) in the King Arthur catalog. I never ordered it because I thought the wire part looked a bit fragile. I finally decided to give one a try, figuring I’d send it back if I didn’t like it. Well, I’m never sending it back.

The whisk’s wire is extremely stiff. I’ve yet to encounter a dough it doesn’t slice through with ease. I don’t know how much thought went into designing the twists of the wire, but it’s amazingly efficient at bringing dough together. When I made a double batch recently, I was worried I might have given the whisk more than it could handle. Nope. Mixing took no more effort than a smaller batch.

Clean-up is a breeze: Only a little bit of dough adheres to the wire, which is easy to dislodge with a wipe of the fingers. After that, it goes into the dishwasher.

So far, I have the large model, but I’m planning to buy the smaller one to use in smaller mixing bowls. I suspect that once I also have the smaller one, I’ll never have to order another, unless it’s for a gift. I’ve seen similar-looking whisks on Amazon for a few dollars less, but I don’t know how well they’re constructed. King Arthur’s whisks have their logo on the wooden handles and feel very, very sturdy.

-- Tom Streeter 02/19/19

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010 — editors)

18 February 2019

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MMX Plus Juggling Balls

The ultimate mix of juggling ball and beanbag

Having the right weight in a juggling ball is extremely important.

You need a weighted ball. The bounce of the ball, how hard it is, and whether it’s likely to bounce is extremely important. You want a ball that has a dead bounce, that’s not going to bounce right off your hand, and that you can catch.

MMX Plus Juggling Balls are fantastic. They’re weighted and they’re sort of a cross between Hacky Sack and a ball. They’re squishy and they’re filled with beads. It’s a silicone kind of exterior, a thin exterior. It doesn’t hurt your hands. They don’t stick together either.

Whenever I walk by these, I can’t help but pick them up and use them for a few minutes. I think that’s why they’re so cool. I immediately got better when I started using these balls. I definitely would say these are worth it.

-- Mike Evans 02/18/19

(The review is from our podcast with Mike Evans. — editors)

17 February 2019

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News from the Future/Brave New Work/Russian Doll

Recomendo: issue no. 134

News from the Future
In addition to Recomendo, I also write a newsletter for Institute for the Future, called “News from the Future.” It comes out twice a week and each issue has four or five short news items that are signals of possible futures that await us. Subscribe here. — MF

New ways to work
I am not into management or business books, but this one is an exception: Brave New Work. It’s an intelligent and readable summary of the best practices (so far) in remaking what we used to call “work.” Aaron Dignan evaluates all the crazy ideas (open books, no bosses, etc.) to see which ones are effective in creating organizations that get us to do our best. He distills practical advice, too. — KK

Russian Doll on Netflix
In Russian Doll, a video game programmer finds herself in an endless loop of dying and repeating the same day. Each reboot requires her to dig deeper into her own existence, relationships, and trauma to figure out the purpose of the paranormal glitch and try to fix it. It is Groundhog Day meets Twilight Zone meets a life coaching session from hell. It’s great — I finished it in two days. — CD

Add Weather to your Google Calendar
I like using Google Calendar’s “month view” to plan my life, and I realized it would be helpful if I could see a weather forecast while I’m scheduling hikes and social outings. The easiest way I found to add a weather calendar was here. Now I have a two-week forecast always visible. — CD

Dark chocolate bars with cashew butter and vanilla bean
I bought these dark chocolate bars for my wife as a Christmas present, and now we’re hopelessly hooked. They’re a bit like peanut butter cups, but in bar form, and less sweet. A 4-pack runs $25, but if you order them via Amazon subscribe and save, it’ll cost you $21.25. — MF

Potent Quotes
Here are a few quotes that keep kicking me. — KK

“If you’re not ready to find exceptional things, you won’t discover them.” — Avi Loeb
“I don’t explain — I explore.” — Marshall McLuhan
“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.” — Sigmund Freud
“The genius is the one most like himself.” — Thelonious Monk
“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” —Salvador Dali

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 02/17/19

15 February 2019

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Tommy Honton, Experience Designer

Cool Tools Show 162: Tommy Honton

Our guest this week is Tommy Honton. Tommy is a Los Angeles-based experience designer who specializes in weaving interactivity and game mechanics into narrative storytelling. Across the United States, he’s produced interactive and immersive work for audience sizes ranging from 1 to 80,000. He’s also the co-creator and designer of the critically-acclaimed escape room Stash House and co-founder of the interactive exhibition Museum of Selfies. You can follow him on Twitter @angelalansburyd.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

trellogoogle
Scheduling system: Using Trello with Google Calendar
I live and die by my calendar. I struggled to find a way to organize tasks by project and deadlines along with my daily agenda and personal schedule that could fit in one space on my phone and computer. I finally found my rhythm with Google Calendar integrated with Trello. All my projects are on Trello and every deadline or milestone now appears automatically on my calendar which makes it easy to manage and schedule my entire life in one spot.

fieldnotes
Note taking systemUltra fine sharpie and Field Notes End Papers Edition
I take notes constantly. I prefer to keep everything digitally in the Google Drive ecosystem, but there’s something satisfying about using a good notebook and pen. Plus, in meetings, typing on a computer or phone can give off the appearance of being distracted or not paying attention. I prefer using ultra fine tip Sharpies as my typical writing tool in a durable notebook. I used to use pocket-sized Moleskines (they’re actually vegan which is important to me), but lately I’ve used Field Notes brand notebooks. My favorite is their End Papers version which is thinner and slimmer and fits in pockets very easily. Once I finish with a meeting, I always photograph the pages and mark them through so I know I have a digital copy. Then I’ll transcribe them or add notes in Google Keep which I’ll transfer over into a Google Doc sorted in Google Drive based on the project.

seriesguide
Consumed media listTrakt integrated with Series Guide
I like keeping track of all forms of entertainment I consume, not only because I like data for some reason, but it’s been practical when I’m trying to remember a show or something I’ve listened to or want to make notes on it. For media, the service Trakt is fantastic and I have it integrated with the app Series Guide on my phone since Trakt doesn’t have a first-party app. I wish they kept track of books, Podcasts, etc, but they don’t, so I just have a Google Sheets page where I keep track of that stuff manually. And, me being me, I have a sheet for escape rooms, immersive productions, LARPs, and other stuff that I have to do manually as well.

Sugru
ToolboxSugru, E6000 and Rustoleum multi-purpose clear paint
Creating tactile experiences means stuff is going to break, crack, tear, smear, etc. I’ve really learned to appreciate the magic of three things: Sugru which is a putty-like glue that cures into a hard rubber. E6000, a craft adhesive that bonds pretty much any material to any other material. And a good clear coat to protect or finish any surface to make it smooth and safe from UV damage, scratches, or peeling. I prefer Rustoleum brand’s clear paint version.

Also mentioned:

Stash House is a 90-minute escape room experience that plunges guests into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles’ criminal underworld. Coming face-to-face with Ray Jones, notorious criminal kingpin, players must navigate Ray’s test or risk the consequences. It is ranked 15th by the most experienced players in the world.

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $400 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! If you would like to make a one-time donation, you can do so using this link: https://paypal.me/cooltools.– MF

02/15/19

15 February 2019

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GarageMate

Open your garage with your iPhone or Android

GarageMate ($50) is compatible with all the major garage door openers. It comes with a simple Android or iPhone app. Suppose you’re going biking and you want to open the garage door and you don’t want to take your keys with you. You can just open up this app on your phone, press one button, and the garage door opens up. It’s just like magic. All you have to worry about is taking your phone, and it’s much more convenient.

-- Matt Cutts 02/15/19

(This was reviewed in our podcast interview with Matt Cutts. — editors)

ALL REVIEWS

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Timbermate

Superior wood filler

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Cable Tie Gun

Zip tie perfection

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Pocket Chain Saw

Hand-powered chain saw

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Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500

Best way to a paperless archive

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Madeline Ashby, Science Fiction Writer

Cool Tools Show 161: Madeline Ashby

See all the reviews

EDITOR'S FAVORITES

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Gingher Sewing Shears

Best sewing scissors

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Eneloop Batteries in bulk

Rechargeable battery tip

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CreateSpace

Self-publishing via Amazon

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Total Immersion Swimming

How to swim like a fish

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Nesco Food Dehydrator

Affordable dehydrator

See all the favorites

COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST

02/15/19

Cool Tools Show 162: Tommy Honton

Picks and shownotes
02/8/19

Cool Tools Show 161: Madeline Ashby

Picks and shownotes
02/1/19

Cool Tools Show 160: Steven Leckart

Picks and shownotes

WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017

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 Dawson 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.