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.
Sanho Tree, Fellow at the Institute for Policy StudiesOur guest this week is Sanho Tree. Sanho is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies where he has directed its Drug Policy Project since 1998. The project works to end the domestic and international war on drugs and replace it with policies that promote public health and safety. Sanho is also a former military and diplomatic historian, and has worked for Harry Belafonte and edited CovertAction Quarterly, a magazine of investigative journalism. You can find him on Twitter @SanhoTree.
Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single pageShow notes:Magnetic soap holder ($2)
About 10 years ago in Boulder, Colorado, we stayed at these nice houses, the locals would house us. And the person who housed me was very, very wealthy. The house was basically an art museum, and my guest bathroom had this little soap holder that was like a marble pyramid with a long wire cantilevered over it and on the bottom of it was a magnet that stuck itself into a bar of soap. It just hung there beautifully and elegantly. I thought, I'll have to get one of these. So I go up and look it online and, of course, it's from a museum gift shop and it was 200 or 300 dollars. I typed in magnetic soap holder on eBay to see what might pop up. Sure enough they make these things in Asia. The beauty of this thing is that it's just a cheap little stainless steel-looking gizmo. It's got adhesive on it. You stick it to the wall next to your sink and it's got a little metal disc attached to a magnet. Kind of like a soda bottle cap. You shove that soda bottle cap type looking thing into your bar of nice soap. Your soap will then hang from this magnet and no more dissolving soap bars in your soap dish. This has saved me so many bars of soap.
Omega Paw Roll 'n Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box ($37)
It's not one of these $400 electric operated things that scoop your litter automatically, no, no, no. Imagine a kind of box-shaped litter box with a round opening that your cat goes into. The bottom quadrant of this box has a grill around it and the grill allows the clean litter that hasn't been clumped up to fall through. The clean litter is trapped in a reservoir and so when you tilt this box 90 degrees, or a little over 90 degrees, all the clumps of litter fall and roll over that grill and into a pull out tray that sits on top of the grill. It takes me about eight or nine seconds every morning to clean my litter box for two cats. For years, I was convinced my cats believed that the only reason I kept them around was that their purpose in life was to produce these magical golden nuggets that were so valuable because I spend every morning mining for them. My friends can't believe it and then I show them. It literally takes less than 10 seconds to clean a litter box.
"Deformable" LED lights ($10-40)
These are fantastic. They're incredibly bright and they're very cheap. They're called Deformable LED Lights. That's what you search for. They come in a range of 40 watts up to 200-300 watts. You can use them for wide open areas like garages. You can use them as grow lamps if you're into indoor gardening. Or just flooding the room with really soft bright light. There are two types. It's a regular floodlight type of thing except it's got these little three or four panels that fold out. On those wings are the LED diodes and sometimes they're bare, so they're incredibly bright and a little bit blinding if you're going to use it for a living room, but some of them also come with a white translucent cover so it softens the light. I love these things because you could adjust each of the flower petals, the fan blades at different angles. If you have a hard to light nook or something like that, you could really have some fun with this. It's a standard E26 or E27 socket. It'll work both in the U.S. and Europe. The price range is anywhere from 10 bucks to 40 bucks, but I always order mine straight from China because it's a lot cheaper that way.
Digital Luggage Scale ($3)
This is a tiny little digital luggage scale. For years, I used to use this one I bought like 20 years ago and it was the size of a brick literally. It used a bunch of double AA batteries and it weighed about a pound so it's not something you want to take with you inside your luggage. But now they have these tiny ones that literally fit in the palm of your hand and it weighs just an ounce or two and it's powered by a button battery the size of a quarter. Best of all, you can get it for $2.96 which includes shipping. It's going to take two or three weeks to arrive because you're ordering it from China, but still $2.96 is a pretty good price. They're so cheap that I put one of these in each of my suitcases so I'll always have it when I travel. I never have to pay the baggage fees again. It comes with a strap and it's got a little bayonet clip and you put it around your luggage handle so you can lift up the luggage and weight it that way. You can also weigh lots of other things. If I need to weigh my cats, for instance, to see how they're growing. I'll put them in a shopping bag, a paper bag, then use that to lift them up and wa-la.