05 August 2022

Paul Saffo, Technology Forecaster

Show and Tell #325: Paul Saffo

Paul Saffo is a technology forecaster based in Silicon Valley. An Adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, Saffo teaches courses on the future of engineering and the impact of technological change on the future.

01:17 – Boker DW-1 knife
07:46 – Gfeller Moleskine Cover
18:06 – Climbers chalk bag
21:52 – Travel first aid kit


03 August 2022

Remote Jobs/Intl. Real Estate/Shorter Zoom Calls

Issue #11

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Remote Job Boards
If you’re not running your own business, we mentioned DynamiteJobs.com in an earlier newsletter as a place to look for remote-only positions. If you’re not finding a good match yet there for your skill set, this article lists other places to find a remote job with an established company. 

A Lopsided Real Estate Market
The median price of existing homes in the USA and Canada keeps hitting new highs. At $416,000 in June (and US$566K in urban Canada), that level is far beyond the means of many. Internationally though it’s a different story. The European average is $218,000. Where I was in Bulgaria in June, you could buy a two-bedroom condo in a ski town or Plovdiv for under $60K or a house in the countryside for about the same. The median is under $100K in Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador.

A Better Online Translator?
Mark F. and I have both gotten good results from Deepl.com for translation, especially Portuguese and Spanish respectively for where we’re living part of the time. While Google Translate is great for pointing at signs and menus to get a general idea, Deepl seems to provide translations that are closer to what you would get from a native speaker. The free version will do for most, but a paid subscription offers more languages and features.

Time for Shorter Video Calls?

Zoom video calls became so popular during the pandemic that the company quickly joined the list of brands like Kleenex, Jacuzzi, or Chapstick that are synonymous with the whole product category. The free tier limit for a call dropped to 40 minutes at the end of June though, so you’ll need to wrap up before then or find an alternative to continue the face-to-face without fees.


31 July 2022

BuySide/The Video Archives Podcast/The Microdose

Recomendo: issue no. 316

Second-best gear reviewer
The best place to research what gear to buy is still the Wirecutter (now owned by The New York Times). I comfortably rely on their recommendations all the time. But The Wall Street Journal wants in on this game so they have a new site called BuySide. Their gear reviews are not as broad, deep or as well-researched as the Wirecutter, but they are often a good second opinion. — KK
The Video Archives Podcast
In 1983, Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery worked at the Video Archives movie rental store in Manhattan Beach, California. Nearly 40 years later, Tarantino and Avery have teamed up to host The Video Archives Podcast, where they talk about their favorite cult movies of the era. It’s a blast listening to these hardcore film fans reminisce about the films they loved growing up, and they have some great stories to share. — MF
Stay up-to-date on the realm of Psychedelics
I’ve been taking psychedelics in a therapeutic setting for almost two years now, and it is important for me to know what other participants are experiencing or what neuroscience researchers are finding in clinical settings. Thankfully, Michael Pollan and the U.C. Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics puts out a free and twice-weekly newsletter covering this new field. The Microdose reports on the new developments as they happen in business, research, and culture and keeps me in the know on this burgeoning world of psychedelic therapy. — CD
Outdoor clogs
We remove shoes in our house so we need super easy-to-slip-on clogs for going in and out. Cheap knock-offs of Crocs are what we have settled on, stashed outside each door. The Amoji Garden Clogs ($25) look better than Crocs, are extremely comfy, washup in water instantly, and are lightweight enough to double as camp shoes. — KK
Quiet, powerful fan
The Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme+ Stand Fan is the best (and most expensive fan) I’ve ever owned. I appreciate the weighted base that keeps it stable and the remote control so I can turn it off and on from bed. It’s quieter than other fans even though it’s powerful. — MF
Listen to intimate money therapy sessions
A podcast about financial management would have never sounded interesting to me, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast with Ramit Sethi. In each episode he sits with a couple at odds in their relationship with money. His humor and no B.S. approach quickly helps to uncover the underlying emotions entangled. My husband and I listen to this podcast together, which prompts us to discuss money — always in a new way. — CD

29 July 2022

A.J. Jacobs, Author

Show and Tell #324: A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written four New York Times bestsellers that combine memoir, science, humor and a dash of self-help. Among his books are The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All. He has given several TED talks that have amassed over 10 million views. His latest book is “The Puzzler,” which Booklist called “ridiculously entertaining,” and The New York Times called “A romp, both fun and funny.” He was the answer to 1 Down in the March 8, 2014 New York Times crossword puzzle. He is owner of the world’s hardest and most time-consuming puzzle ever made.

02:55 – Stave Puzzles
06:56 – Liberty Puzzles
10:05 – Ground News
12:26 – Kevin recommends Upstract
14:26 – Askhole conversation cards
25:11 – Stretch belt
27:55 – Bonus – stretchy shirts from Mizzen and Main
29:54 – AJ Jacobs’s new book The Puzzler


28 July 2022

Pry Bar Tips and Tricks

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #127

* Talk to me. Tell me a story. Share me a tip.
* Support my work by buying my tips books (Vol. 1Vol. 2).
* Take out an Unclassified in this newsletter to reach fellow makers.
Pry Bar Tips and Tricks
Image from Family HandymanImage from Family Handyman
Through an article in Family Handyman on pry bar tricks, I learned of something called an inflatable pry bar. Maybe this is a tool common to others, but I’d never heard of it, and now I think I need one in my life.
Beginner’s Tips for Using an Oscillating Multi-Tool
I recently broke down and bought my first oscillating multi-tool. If you’re also new to this strange-looking type of tool, here are 20 basic tips for getting more out of it. I especially agree with the tip about buying cheap accessories first, finding out which ones you use most often, and then investing in better quality versions. That’s what I did. Here’s a follow-up video on sharpening multi-tool blades. And the Project Farm video he refers to on the best multi-tool blades (TL;DR: Get the EZARC blades, $7.60 each in pack of 3).
Great Collection of Sewing Tips
I am working on a special project that has me going through the archives of Makezine.com. In doing so, I’m unearthing some gems, like all of the sewing tips that were posted over the years by Haley Pierson-Cox and others. Sewing is one of those foundational DIY skills that everyone should at least know the basics of (both hand and machine sewing).
Using a Hobby Polishing/Sanding Tool to Smooth 3D Prints
I have long been a huge fan of the Mr. Hobby Polisher Pro sanding tool. This is a simple (and a bit overpriced) battery-operated disc polisher/sander sold to the hobby market for sanding off sprue material and finishing models. It’s basically an electric toothbrush with a sanding disc head. The Polisher Pro comes with 3 sheets of sanding pads in 600, 800, and 1000-grit. There are 45 pads in all. I’ve had my tool for several years now, use it often in game modeling, and still have plenty of pads left. There are also replacement sanding pads available on Amazon (and there are pads available in other grits). This video introduces a use I hadn’t thought of: sanding layer lines and joins in resin and FDM 3D prints. The video doesn’t have a lot of content beyond that basic idea, but I was happy to discover another use for a tool I already own. I know many will say: Just use a Dremel tool! You can if you have a mini Dremel, but for modeling, this tool is better sized and not as aggressive as a Dremel. And, don’t be like the guy in the video. Always wear a mask when sanding resin and plastic.
The Creative Process in a Nutshell
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This might be OK
6. This is awesome

This was posted on film/theater director Marcus Romer’s Twitter feed. This is a riff (to put it kindly) of an original list by Kazu Kibuishi. I like the above saltier expression of the idea, but your mileage may vary.
TOYS! Carhartt Work Shirts
For years, I’ve seen other people wearing Carhartt work shirts and for some reason never thought of buying one myself. I recently bought two, one in charcoal and one in denim blue. Man, do I like these shirts! Super well-made, comfortable, nice fabric, rugged, and good looking. And I love the pencil/pen slit in the right pocket. I think these shirt will be my go-to garment forever more. Carhartt work shirts are also available in women’s sizes.
Shop Talk
I got the following message from reader John Baglio. I don’t recall such a playlist crossing my transom, but it sounds great. If this rings anyone else’s bells, please message me.

“I was just thinking back over some of the better engineering videos I’ve seen in the past, and I was thinking of a playlist that I thought I saw in one of your newsletters. It was done by an engineer who I think was either Russian or Israeli and it was a whole series of pieces of wisdom for people fabricating parts. One of the things that I remember him saying was design captive hardware whenever possible. I was wondering if you might remember what that playlist was. If so, is there a way you could either send it to me or posted in one of your upcoming newsletters? I remember it being chock-full of amazing advice for fabricating parts.”

24 July 2022

The Prompt Book/PlayPhrase/Things you are allowed to do

Recomendo: issue no. 315

Your first prompt book
Everyone will soon have access to an AI image generator, like DALL·E, Midjourney, or Google Imagen. You will tell this tool what to create and it will make an imaginative piece of art, either a painting or a photograph. With a generator you can make art even if you are “not an artist.” The key human skill is in how you construct the prompt you give the AI. The Prompt Book is a free PDF e-book that provides smart instructions, great tips, and fabulous examples of how best to prompt the AI. It was produced with DALL·E in mind, but it’s guidance can be used with any recent AI image generator. This is the first of what I predict will be many prompt books in the future. — KK

Play with phrases
PlayPhrase.me is a fun distraction to play with for a bit. The intention of the site is to help teach how to apply phrases in English. You type in any phrase and it will play you scenes in movies and television where your words have been spoken. You can even download the clips. You can view 5 phrases per search, but anything past that requires a $3 per month Patreon sponsorship. — CD 

Things you are allowed to do
Milan Cvitkovic’s long list of “things you’re allowed to do,” is chock-full of fun and surprising tips and suggestions. Here are a few:Write on a post-it note affixed to a greeting card rather than on the greeting card itself, so the recipient can throw away the post-it and reuse your cardCold contact people. Yes, even famous people. Just make sure you have something to say.Learn how professionals email by reading leaked emails [from Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sunny Balwani, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.].— MF

Great binoculars
Great binoculars are a joy to use. In the last few years there’s been a quiet revolution in optics so that you can now get thousand-dollar quality lenses for several hundred dollars. My favorite pair are the Athlon Midas ($225), which are amazingly bright, with an extremely wide view, and relatively small build. These are 8×42 (standard birder strength) but can also focus close for viewing butterflies, dragonflies, etc. If you have not looked through some contemporary binoculars, borrow one to be surprised. — KK

Archive of visualized concepts
The Archivve is a collection of Jack Butcher‘s Visualize Value content that you can filter and search. Ideas and concepts need to anchor themselves within me visually to become absorbed. Images help to pivot the way I think. And these minimalistic, yet striking visuals are fun and enlightening and wise. — CD

+6.0 reading glasses
I normally wear +3.0 reading glasses but I bought this inexpensive 5-pack of +6.0 glasses to see tiny things, like markings on electronic components, fine print, splinters, and so on. I kept the small “+6.00” label affixed to the upper left corner of the lens so I don’t get them mixed up with my regular glasses. — MF



Derek Sivers, Author

Show and Tell #323: Derek Sivers


Lineage and the Nobility of a Trade

Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales – Issue #126


Charles Platt, Author

Show and Tell #322: Charles Platt

See all the reviews


img 05/25/09

SunRun PPA

Zero Down Solar Panels

img 12/31/04


Hole expander

img 03/15/10

Corrective Swim Goggles

Cheap underwater clarity

img 09/12/03

Snorkel Hot Tub

Wood powered hot tub

img 11/15/04


Kindling splitter

See all the favorites



Show and Tell #325: Paul Saffo

Picks and shownotes

Show and Tell #324: A.J. Jacobs

Picks and shownotes

Show and Tell #323: Derek Sivers

Picks and shownotes

19 January 2022


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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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.

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