A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
Like the previously recommended SciHub, Libgen (Library Genesis) is a shadow library offering free scientific papers online. But in addition to journal articles, this Russian-based site also offers magazine articles, books, and especially full textbooks often required for school. I use it to find scientific papers. Scientific and academic information is often very hard to get, especially in the developing world, so Libgen is extremely valuable everywhere, despite the fact that US-based publishers consider it a pirate site they are trying to take down. I was disappointed my own books were not included in Libgen; I’d be thrilled if they were. — KK
Laugh out loud caricatures
Watch sidewalk artists in Waikiki draw extreme caricatures of customers, and their customer’s hysterical reactions. The drawings are much more exaggerated than typical caricatures yet they look uncannily like the subjects. I was laughing along with the people who bravely sat for the drawings. A guaranteed mood lifter. — MF
What haven't I done yet? Why? — This question helps you identify unfinished tasks and understand the reasons behind your procrastination.
What's stopping me from doing this? — This question assists in identifying obstacles and excuses, allowing you to address them and move forward.
What is making me frustrated or discontent? — This question encourages reflection on your sources of stress so that you can address those issues head on.
Procrastination often feels like an invisible hurdle I can’t jump over, but once I get clarity on what my obstacles are, the path becomes clear to me and I can get it done. — CD
If you need to hear how to pronounce a foreign word try the website Forvo. It can pronounce words you enter in the Romance languages, German, Russian and Japanese. If you are unsure of the proper English pronunciation it can do that too. — KK
No more mosquitoes
I’m fighting a war against mosquitoes. So far, the best weapon in my arsenal is the Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller. It looks like an insulated beverage bottle. It uses butane cartridges to heat a small paper mat treated with an odorless repellent. It’s advertised to keep mosquitoes away from a 15-foot radius, and I’ve found that to be true. I’ve seen zero mosquitoes since I started using it. The downside is that the butane bottles and pads are expensive — a 300-hour supply is about $100. But it’s worth it, because now I can sit in my backyard without being attacked. — MF
100+ useful websites
Alex Kurtev, writer of the Rabbit Ideas newsletter, has compiled a list of 100+ lesser known but useful websites. I’m not done exploring all of them, but thanks to the list I discovered a search engine for PDFs and free ebooks called PDF Drive, and WikiArt, a visual art encyclopedia where you can search artworks by genre, media and style. — CD