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.
5 tips for optimizing travel/Answer the Public/What came first?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 worldAnswerThePublic 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
Chill-inducing musicThis 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