Recomendo

Seek/Crisis Text Line/Travel Packing List

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Recomendo: issue no. 162

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Identify nature app
There is utility and pleasure in being able to identify wild creatures and plants. But it’s a steep learning curve. The fastest way I found to learn is via the iOS app Seek, which will identify flowers, plants, fungi, animals, bugs instantly. It’s kind of magical. You point your phone at the specimen and it tells you the species about 95% of the time (in North America). The other 5% it can often identify the family. Someone called it Shazam for nature. The app is patient; you can keep asking it to ID the same thing you asked about before and it will will answer again with no judgement. Seek is free; it was developed by folks who did iNaturalist, an app that uses crowdsourcing to identify species, but Seek uses machine learning to render the ID instantly. I’ve been impressed by how well this magic works. Kids and teachers love it. It gives them a superpower to name everything around them.  — KK

Free confidential crisis line
If you’re in the United States and need someone to talk to you can text 741741 any hour of the day and be connected with a crisis counselor (For Canada text 686868, and for UK text 85258). My sister-in-law volunteers for the Crisis Text Line, and she said counselors go through continuous training and are always supervised by mental health professionals. I tested it out to make sure it works and the first text was automated, but I was connected with a live person in less than 2 minutes. I hope I don’t need it, but I’m relieved to know that it’s there. For more info check out their website: crisistextline.org. — CD

My travel packing list
Here’s the latest version of my travel packing list. It’s a PDF that can be edited in Adobe Illustrator (because I don’t expect anyone to pack the same things I do). As you can see, my list is broken down into sublists of different bags: charger bag, meds bag, tool bag, etc. I keep the stuff in these excellent Japanese mesh zipper bags . Now I don’t forget important things any more like I used to. I recommend that you make a similar packing list for yourself. — MF

Easiest way to make coffee
I’ve tried a great many different coffee makers, from a stovetop espresso machine to the Aeropress. But when I visited my parents last weekend and used their 12 oz Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee and Tea Maker ($15), I decided it was my favorite because it was so easy to use and clean, and it makes delicious coffee. I bought one for myself, and now everyone else in the family is using it to make coffee (and tea). — MF

Cheaper than insurance
Sometimes you can purchase a prescription drug yourself for less money than paying your insurance co-pay. And when you buy, drug prices vary wildly between retailers. Go to GoodRx website to find the cheapest source for a drug, including online pharmacies. They also supply coupons at steeply discounted prices, up to 80% off (their biz model).  It’s free, no account or personal info required. — KK

Easiest way to make a transparent png
I have Photoshop and I’ve taught myself multiple times how to make a transparent png, but then in a pinch I always forget. So now I just go to this website (Online PNG tools) to quickly convert images into transparent pngs. It’s so simple and fast and I don’t have to use any brain power. — CD

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 09/1/19