01 July 2022
Show and Tell #320: Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez has had a career spanning business, design, and technology. He served as Intuit’s Chief Product & Design Officer, a Senior Partner at IDEO, and as a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers. He is a founding faculty member of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (aka “the d.school”). Over the last several years he has been an investor, advisor, and member of several corporate, startup, and nonprofit boards. He earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering and humanities with honors from Stanford University, and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. Among Diego’s accolades is a Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award. Fortune named him one of “The Smartest People in Tech” and Fast Company called his writing “a must-read for anyone who wants to incorporate design thinking into their work.” He holds multiple patents.07/1/22
26 June 2022
Recomendo: issue no. 311
Best foreign city travel tips
Author Dan Pink has mastered the art of delivering fantastic advice in 2 minutes or less. His latest Pinkcast is his 5 tips for optimizing travel to a foreign city. I concur with these 100% and do them myself. To save you 2 minutes here they are:
1. Go to the highest point in the city.
2. Buy a local newspaper.
3. Ride public transportation.
4. Go to McDonald’s (Seriously.)
5. Spend an hour in a grocery store.
But you’ll miss Dan’s humor and his persuasion if you don’t watch his pitch. — KK
Autocomplete data from all over the world
AnswerThePublic takes all the autocomplete data from search engines to report back what questions people are asking all over the world. You can test out the the search engine with 1-2 keywords, which is helpful for anyone doing market research or just nosy like me. You can use it twice a day for free without having to pay a monthly cost. — CD
What came first?
What came first: Watts Towers or The Beatles’ Abbey Road? The film Tom Jones or Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits? The Dream by Henri Rousseau or England’s Natural History Museum? This Google quiz asks questions like these (and shows relevant images) and challenges you to click what came first. A faster answer will yield a higher score. — MF
Face mask ear saver
I’m still wearing a face mask indoors. But my ears are paying the price, especially on long flights when the pressure of the loops against the back of my ears becomes painful. Last week I started using these Velcro face mask extender straps, which pull the loops away from the back of my ears. I should have bought these things two years ago. — MF
Free bank wire transfer
I use Paypal to send money to strangers (like on Ebay or Etsy); I use Venmo to pay friends; but if I need to send a lot of money (more than several thousand $$$) I use Zelle. Unlike Venmo which holds a reserve in your account that you replenish, Zelle is basically a bank to bank wire transfer – for free. But the interface is person to person. Still can’t do it internationally, but it is very handy for larger peer-to-peer payments in US. Easy to set up. — KK
This Spotify playlist comprises of 715 songs, handpicked by neuroscientists, and meant to elicit “frisson,“ which means a sudden feeling or sensation of excitement, emotion or thrill in French. Music that increases in loudness or has an abrupt entrance of a new voice or deviations from harmony can often induce “frisson.” Human screams also incite the same response. Which makes sense because one of the songs on the playlist made me increasingly uncomfortable. This article on Big Think will give more background on the ways we experience this profound emotional state. — CD
24 June 2022
Show and Tell #319: Robert Stephens
Our guest this week is Robert Stephens. Robert is the founder of The Geek Squad and former CTO of Best Buy. The Geek Squad will turn 30 in 2024 and employs over 24,000 people. His newest company launching soon, is ChainList, a platform for re-usable checklists and was inspired by CoolTools. A native of Chicago, he now lives in the Bay Area. Robert’s newest company, ChainList will enter public beta soon. It was inspired by his time building Geek Squad – which is still powered by checklists. Chainlist let’s you find, make, remix, and subscribe to checklists. With NFC and QR codes — you can even store this info onto physical objects like homes and equipment. Just like CoolTools, ChainList hopes to offer everyone access to useful processes.06/24/22
19 June 2022
Recomendo: issue no. 310
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Side-splitting party game
I played Ransom Notes with my family a couple of weeks ago and we laughed ourselves to tears. Each player grabs a handful of about 75 words printed on magnetic strips (they look like refrigerator magnets) from the inventory. Someone draws a card from the deck and reads the instructions. Example: “Tell someone you’ve clogged their toilet during a party.” Each player has to use their word magnets to form an answer on a small metal plate. Example, “I have elaborate booty chaos please not mad,” or “did dump tough disappear.” You are supposed to vote on the “best answer,” but we were too busy laughing hysterically to keep score. — MF
Beautifully-designed mood tracker
I stopped using mood tracking apps a while back, because I got better at recognizing slight mood shifts and anticipating my own needs in the moment — whether that’s asking for space, taking a screen break, or hugging my dog. But now I’m back on the mood tracking app bandwagon, because How We Feel is more than just a mood tracker — it’s created by scientists, therapists, designers and engineers, so not only does it help you find the right word for your feelings, it helps you understand the science behind emotions and provides strategies to regulate your mood with elegantly produced videos, and the analytics of your mood over time are displayed in beautifully-designed patterns and colors. It’s free and I believe it’s in beta, so it will only get better. — CD
The Spice Trail
Before oil, empires fought over gold. And before gold, empires fought over spice. There were six spices that opened up the Americas, and bound Asia and Europe together permanently. Kate Humble, a BBC host, journeys to the remote geographical sources of these 6 spices in her series The Spice Trail. The depth of her research and travels are astounding. I am in awe of how ignorant I was about these substances, and now I am grateful how intimate with them her travels made possible. There are 3 sessions available on YouTube: 1) Pepper and Cinnamon. 2) Nutmeg and Cloves. 3) Saffron and Vanilla. History + Travel + Food. Highly recommended. — KK
Simple sitting-posture correction
At least once a week, I move a tabletop mirror (similar to this one) onto my desk to help with my sitting posture. I keep it just to the right of me so it’s not distracting and I position it so that if I can see myself in it out of the corner of my eye, I know I’m sitting up straight. — CD
Touch tap the back of an iPhone
I only recently learned that you can configure an iPhone to perform an action by double- or triple-tapping the back. You can use it to take a screenshot or go to the home screen, for instance. I use it to open the camera app. Here’s how to do it. — MF
The best screw
One of our Cool Tools podcast guests, Jeff Waldman, author of Tools: The Ultimate Guide, turned me onto the best construction screw there is. It’s the GKR R4, used to bolt together wood framing, decking, or cabinets. As he describes in our Cool Tools Show-and-Tell video, the engineering in this tiny piece of metal is amazing. It is designed to be super easy to attach large pieces of wood together very securely very fast. In my experience the GKR R4 screws are stronger and faster than comparable screws. — KK
17 June 2022
Show and Tell #318: Brian Lam
Brian Lam is the Founding Editor of The Wirecutter.06/17/22
17 June 2022
This week for my Cool Tools video review I’m going to show you a fancy automatic center hole punch, great ...
This week for my Cool Tools video review I’m going to show you a fancy automatic center hole punch, great for marking and starting drill holes in metal and wood. I’ve got an Amazon link for this in the show notes, and if you pick one up you help to support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.
Here’s your typical brass handle center punch you can pick up for around $5. You push it into the material you want to drill and it makes a little divet for your drill to start in so it doesn’t wander around.
The trouble with these is that they get dull quick, and even out of the box they don’t leave much of a mark. I’ve also found that the round design just loves to roll off your workbench.
It got me wondering what a nice center punch would be like, so I did a little research and found this $30 option from Rennsteig. This is an all German-made tool. It has this nice, ergonomic handle that allows you to push down directly from the top. It also doesn’t roll all over the place, which I like.
The replaceable striking pin here is made from hardened tool steel with a Rockwell hardness rating of 58. The punch itself has a striking force of 60-130 Newtons. You can adjust the force by twisting the handle.
What this means, practically, is bigger, deeper marks in your material, and hopefully a substantially longer lasting pin — though you can order pin replacements for around $10 online.
Here’s the mark from a new $5 punch on the left, and the mark from the Rennsteig on the right. It’s a noticeable difference. Is it worth an extra $25? That really depends on how much you use it or how much these generic punches bother you.
Personally, I find it really satisfying to use and I’m glad I spent the extra for it. If you’re interested in picking one up too, using the Amazon link in the description helps me out, and the Cool Tools blog. And remember, you can find thousands of reader-recommended tools just like this at Cool-Tools.org.06/17/22
(This is a Cool Tools favorite from 2018 — editors)
Recomendo: issue no. 309
COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST
WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
19 January 2022
What’s in my … ? issue #136
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.
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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.