22 March 2019
Best garden hose nozzle
As an avid gardener, I do a lot of hand watering. Nozzles, as a whole, are awful. The levers are hard to hold down, they leak terribly, they don’t last long, and their spray patterns are useless.
Then I got a <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0001L0DFA/cooltools-20″>Bon-Aire nozzle (I didn’t buy it, the company sent it to me.) I was like, oh sure, another nozzle. Rather use my thumb</a>, thank you.
I’m pretty sure the first time I used it I was hooked, and I’ve had it for 3 years. It’s fashioned like a fire hose nozzle, and that’s the beauty. Easy to hold, spray patterns are perfect, turns on and off in either direction, and works smooth as glass.
I have nothing to do with the company, just think this nozzle is outstanding all around. Full disclosure: I’m a staff home & garden writer at the Orange County Register03/22/19
(Update: Some commenters have pointed out that this model is made of aluminum. A stainless steel model is also available for $34. Also, for anyone experiencing a leaky hose these rubber washers offer a quick fix.--OH
This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010 — editors)
22 March 2019
Cool Tools Show 167: Om Malik
Our guest this week is Om Malik. Om is a partner at early stage venture firm, True Ventures. Prior to becoming an investor, he started GigaOm, a technology blog and covered technology and its impact for over two decades. Om loves technology, its possibilities and writes about its impact on his blog, Om.co. He can be found @om on Twitter and Instagram.
TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen ($55)
I use a fountain pen and a notebook to write most of my thoughts, notes from interviews, whenever I meet companies. The reason I do that, I find the process slows me down a little, makes me think, and I like the way the fountain pen’s nib makes the noise when it moves across paper. I feel a tactile connection with the words which are coming into my ears, into my brain, and then out into this piece of paper. The pen I use it’s a Taiwanese made pen, and it’s TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen. It is a piston filler, a piston filler is a way of filling ink into the fountain pen. The reason I use it is because it’s actually a really well-made fountain pen, it has a steel nib. So if you put too much pressure on it, it doesn’t bend as easily. More importantly, it’s a very well made high quality pen. I have used it for close to two and a half years and I’ve never had a problem with it. It is a demonstrator pen witness since it’s transparent so you can actually see the ink. So you know the ink sloshing around in the container makes the whole feeling more organic, that the pen becomes almost a living thing, and that’s what I love about it.
Muji Organic Cotton Mix-Pile Sneaker-in Socks ($5)
My other favorite tool is the Muji Organic Cotton Mix-Pile Sneaker-In Socks. These are sneaker socks made for wearing with sneakers, and I have tried many different versions of these socks which come up to your ankles. They are basically made for people who wear sneakers, however, I like to wear proper Italian made leather shoes but I don’t like wearing long socks. I want to show some of my ankle and I feel like I’m a little bit Italian — not really, but I just like the way they look and I just love the quality of Muji. I would say I have washed these socks about 50 times and they still are exactly the same the day I bought them. For a $5 pair of socks, I have never met any product that good which is like it’s 50 washes, even the best socks lose shape, they lose the shine, they become dull, they stretch. But these are just perfect, the elastic is great, the fabric has softened a little bit but there are still no holes in those socks. I just wonder how they have done it? There must be some magic there.
Dsptch Heavy Braided Camera Strap ($108)
Dispatch is a local San Francisco store, and I constantly kept changing cameras and I needed an easy way to find a camera strap which I could just replace like move from one camera and put on the other without having to mess about. The guys from Dispatch made this great system in which you basically buy a strap and number, depending on the number of cameras you have, you get ties for those cameras. The strap just plugs into that tie, and when you want to use a different camera, you take off the strap and put it on to the other camera which has the same camera tie. It’s just a braided nylon cordura kind of material. It’s very strong and the tie and the plug are also super well designed and extremely strong. I have a very heavy camera and that has never been an issue to use that, but it also is handmade, it’s made in San Francisco. It’s almost like a net kind of a braid and it’s just so beautiful and so elegant.
Corpus Natural Deodorant Sticks ($22)
I like this brand of deodorant sticks called Corpus. It’s a natural deodorant, it doesn’t have any artificial ingredients, and the reason I know about them, to be honest, is because the company was founded by the founder of another brand which I like called Baxter, Baxter of California makes men’s products. Shaving creams and beard oil and stuff like that, and he sold the company then he started this new company called Corpus, and I found them just way better than the Baxter products. The Baxter products have a slightly alcoholic feel to them and you can feel like there is something artificial about it. Whereas these ones just feel so much more natural, they’re like almost invisible, and the scent on the deodorant sticks is pretty low key and pretty muted and I just like it for that reason. Now I’ve been using it for about six months and no allergic reactions, none of that stuff and I just feel if we use less artificial things in our lives, the better we are. There’s no logical reason to use one deodorant stick versus the other except personal choice for me, this one just clicked with me. I will recommend that people should try their product because it’s such a high quality product.
I’m currently working on a book called Third Eye, which is a book about camera culture, and the idea is how iPhone and Instagram have normalized the idea of cameras everywhere. What is the social impact of cameras everywhere? I’m writing this book for Harper Business and it’s essentially the way I’m writing it. It’s narrative essays which delve into various aspects of the camera culture. Everything from the birth of the camera phone all the way to the Kardashians and into the future, what AR might look like because of this omnipresent third eye called the camera.
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.– MF03/22/19
21 March 2019
Accurately transfer hole patterns to wood, metal, or plastic
I’m an amateur maker-of-things — metal, mostly, but some wood and plastic stuff, too. I am pretty terrible at measuring things accurately, especially with metal, when reproduction of patterns down to a few thousandths of an inch is important. Because of this lack of skill, I rely heavily on computerized generation of patterns (using CNC tools) or… I cheat.
One of my favorite ways to cheat are blind hole spotters. I am a big believer in using existing patterns to make other patterns, and a number of years ago I was introduced to this way of copying holes in materials much easier. Blind hole spotters are little slugs of metal that come in a variety of diameters in a set. The pin part fits snugly in an existing drill hole and stops without going all the way through because of a ring near the “top” of the pin, and there is a sharp pointy bit that then protrudes above the surface of the piece you’re reproducing. Place the blank material on top of these sharp pointy spikes, and then give a firm tap with a hammer. This results in a blank with tiny marks perfectly centered where you need to drill new holes. This is really useful on a car, a cabinet, or some other heavy/fixed piece of stuff that is hard to easily measure. Reasonably cheap, lasts a lifetime, and makes me smug every time I use them to save huge amounts of time and frustration – what else can you ask of a tool?03/21/19
20 March 2019
Non-fired sculpting clay
Sugru is a soft moldable material that reminds me of Fimo clay. But unlike Fimo, it does not have to be heated to cure. It air drys and is rubbery and sticks to anything. I used it to make a new button for my utility knife when the plastic one broke. I made bumpers for my cell phone. I put some on my tools so they would not roll off the table. I am still discovering ways to use the product.
— Philip Lipton
This stuff comes in tiny pouches of different primary colors. You knead a bit with your hands until soft, then you apply it where you would like an additional grip, or stop, or section of repair. It’s pretty sticky, can be worked like clay, but dries into a hard rubber. The photo shows a paring knife handle that was falling apart from years of dishwasher use. I coated the outside with Sugru and it now it feels great and is dishwasher proof. See Sugru’s website for other ways it can be used.
(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010 — editors)
19 March 2019
Essential money managing guide
This is the best user-guide to personal finance I’ve found, and I’ve probably read them all. It is certainly the sanest and most level-headed. There are no get rich quick schemes here, just plenty of ways to get rich slowly. Indeed, Get Rich Slowly was the name of author’s very popular personal finance blog, which led to this book. J.D. Roth takes the great investing advice of Andrew Tobias in The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, and he summarizes the life-earning wisdom in the previously reviewed (and still recommended) book Five Rituals of Wealth and he includes the needed crystalization of priorities found in Your Money or Your Life, and financial motivations from Suze Orman and the Millionaire Next Door and then adds key insights and tips from hundreds of other lesser-known money gurus.
Basically, Roth has read every book and blog on money managing, investing, saving, and earning and digests and integrates all this hard-won knowledge into an amazing selection of smart, practical ideas for today. I could hardly turn a page without learning a solid investing tip or two, or a clever way to save a few hundred dollars, or an example of something I already knew, but was looking for a vivid way to teach my kids. I like the fact that Roth emphasizes the value of sharing whatever wealth you have, and keeps returning to the long view.
I would not call this an inspirational book (plenty of those on the shelves), nor even a memorable book like the ones mentioned above. Rather it is what is advertised: a day-to-day operating manual for your money. Specific details, sources, methods, tricks. Dip into it when you are stuck, check it before trying something new, re-read it when you think you know it all. I’ve done pretty well financially, and if you were to ask me my practical advice — like what to do tomorrow — I would simply give you this book. It’s slow, but true.03/19/19
Because you earn pre-tax dollars but spend after-tax dollars, a penny saved is actually more than a penny earned. Depending on your tax bracket, you might have to earn $111 , $133, or even $150 to put $100 in your pocket. So if you re in the 25% tax bracket, saving $750 a year is like giving yourself a $1,000 raise!
Destroy Existing Debt
After you've stopped using credit and created an emergency fund, then go after your existing debt. Attack it with vigor, throw whatever you can at it. The best way to do this is to use a technique called the debt snowball, which lets you build and maintain debt-destroying momentum. Here's the basic method: Make a list of your debts in the order you want to destroy them. (You'll learn a couple of good ways to prioritize debts in a moment.) Set aside a certain amount of money to pay toward debts each month ($500, say). Make the minimum payment on all debts except the first one on your list. Throw every other penny at the first debt on the list. But here's the key to making the debt snowball work: After you've destroyed your first debt, you'll find you've freed up a bit of cash; because one of your debts is gone, you have one less monthly payment. You could take this money and use it for something else, but you re going to do something smarter: keep paying the same total amount, $500 in our example, toward the debt every month.
Destroying low-balance debt first
If you've tried following the highest-interest-rate-first advice and still struggle with debt, there's another way. In his book, The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey advocates an approach to the debt snowball that tackles accounts with low balances first. (Ramsey didn't invent this method, but he's popularized it over the past decade.) With this version of the debt snowball, you ignore interest rates when determining the order in which you'll pay off your debts. All you look at is how much you owe, organizing the debts from smallest balance to largest balance.
That's not to say you shouldn't try this method: If it works for you, use it! But if you struggle, consider the next method, which is the one that helped me succeed. It might help you to have a visual representation of your debt-paying progress. Try this: take a piece of graph paper and block off squares to represent your debt. (You might use one square for every $ 100, say.) When you make a payment, mark off a square and give yourself a pat on the back. (If you re a geek, build yourself an Excel spreadsheet that does something similar.) These little progress reports are cheesy, but they can keep you on track.
This method may not be as quick as paying your high-interest debt first, but it provides tremendous psychological reinforcement. You get some quick wins checking creditors off your list that encourage you to keep at it. Dave Ramsey calls this behavior modification over math, and he's right: the most important thing when paying off your debts is to, well, pay off your debts; the order in which you do so is irrelevant. Critics of this approach argue that the math doesn't make sense, and they're right: If you use this method, you will pay more interest than if you had the discipline to pay off your debts based on interest rate. But humans are complex psychological creatures, not adding machines. We usually know what we ought to do, but that doesn't mean we always do it. If we were adding machines and always made the best choices, we wouldn't get into debt in the first place!
Protecting Yourself with Parallel CDs
With a CD, one of the biggest risks is that you'll need to pull your money out before it matures. When you do this, you pay a penalty. The site FiveCentNickel.com suggests that you can decrease this risk with parallel CDs: http://tinyurl.com/parallel-CDs. here's how it works: Let's say you have $5,000 you'd like to put into CDs. Instead of opening a single CD and putting that whole amount in it, you'd open multiple CDs, all with the same maturation date. You could open five CDs of $1,000 each, say, or open two with $1,000 and one with $3,000. This gives you a buffer in case you need to get at the moneyearly. If you need $500 for an emergency, for example, you can break just a single $1,000 CD. That way you don't pay a penalty on the rest of the money you have in CDs, and the penalty will be smaller than what you would have paid if you'd put the whole $5,000 in a single CD.
Pay Yourself First
If you're living paycheck to paycheck, saving may seem impossible. You have to pay for things like rent, a car payment, groceries, and maybe even student loans. You'd like to save, but at the end of the month, there's no money left to set aside. And that's the problem: Most people try to save something out of what s left over instead of saving first. One of the best ways to build wealth is to set aside a portion of your income for savings before you pay your bills, buy groceries, or do anything else with yourmoney. Here are three reasons to pay yourself first: It makes you the priority. You're telling yourself that you are more important than the electric company or the landlord. think of the money you put into savings as a down payment on your future. It encourages sound financial habits. Most people spend their money in the following order: bills, fun, savings. But if you bump savings to the front of that list, you can set money aside before you come up with reasons to spend it. That way, since the money is no longer in your checking account to tempt you, you end up spending less.
Targeted Savings Accounts
Most people work toward several financial goals at once, but keep their money clumped together in a single account. With that setup, it's easy to forget how much you've saved for each goal and to borrowmoney from one goal to pay for something else. In The Six-Day Financial Makeover (St. Martin's Press, 2006), Robert Pagliarini advocates targeted saving through what he calls purpose-driven investing: Purpose-Driven Investing [lets us think] of each of our goals as a separate basket. Each of our baskets represents a single goal with a clear purpose that we can see and grow. What does this mean in the real world? It means that we have a single investment account for every goal.
If you want to try targeted saving, ask your bank or credit union if you can give your accounts nicknames. My credit union let me name my new savings account Nintendo Wii when I decided to save for that goal. And my accounts at the online bank ING Direct are named for the things I'm saving for, as you can see in the following image:
Ramit Sethi popularized the concept of conscious spending in his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich (Workman Publishing, 2009). The idea is to spend with intent, deliberately deciding where to directyour money instead of spending impulsively. Sethi argues that it's okay to spend $5,000 a year on shoes if that spending is aligned with your goals and values and you've made a conscious choice to spend this way.
As a general rule, you shouldn't borrow money to buy things that are likely to decrease in value. That means you shouldn't buy your new plasma TV on credit next week, it'll be worth less than you paid for it. Nor should you go into debt to buy food, clothes, or computers. But many experts say that it's okay to take on reasonable debt to pay for a handful of things that are likely to increase in value. This good debt includes an affordable mortgage on your home, student loans to pay for education, and loans to start a new business. Car loans are borderline: they generally carry low interest rates, but as you well know, cars lose value the moment you drive them off the lot.
(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010 — editors)
18 March 2019
Stretches upper and lower back, shoulders, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and shins
I have chronic back pain and osteoporosis and use a CoreStretch ($75) (in conjunction with a Spine-Worx) to reduce spinal compression and decrease pain. I’ve used it for about 8 years and it seems to be working beautifully; I have much less pain and haven’t needed to visit a chiropractor since using it.
I’m a pharmacist and researched other options thoroughly before choosing this. An inversion table may be a superior device for stretching the spine…but it’s also huge, ugly, unwieldy, and expensive. This costs less than a chiro visit, and I can easily tuck it behind my bedroom door. I’m also not fond of that “full head” feeling you get with an inversion table when the blood pressure increases in the brain. This is just bending over; your cranial blood pressure is largely unaffected.
It’s well built, and there really isn’t much that could go wrong with it. It still looks like new after years of use. It’s simple to use: sit down (I use the edge of my bed) and put the padded bar on your lap, tucked up next to your torso. Adjust the length of the handles so that your arms are comfortably stretched when you grasp them. Grab hold and gently lean forward; your whole spine will get a nice stretch. I usually stretch gently from one side to another, making a shallow “U” that’s only about a foot wide, trying to go just slightly deeper with each pass.
There is a whole range of suggested positions you can use to stretch different areas and muscle groups. I only use it for a minute or two, then move onto the Spine-Worx for a few minutes. This regimen works well, as evidenced by much less pain, and the fact that my spine has stopped shrinking (a potential problem with osteoporosis). When I use it, I generally have a pain-free day. Your mileage may vary, of course…but if you’re looking for a spinal stretcher that won’t break the bank, this is worth a try. If you’ve wondered whether an inversion table might help you, but haven’t got the room or money for one, you might give this a try!03/18/19
Cool Tools Show 166: Mark Stramaglia
Remove pet hair easily from couches, beds, comforters, blankets and more
COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST
WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
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