I’ve been using this stylus like crazy and I am in love! It’s a touch sensitive stylus for drawing and painting on the iPad which works incredibly well. Because of its touch-sensitive capabilities, this is the first stylus that allows me to think of the iPad as tool for serious illustration. I love my Wacom tablet, but using this is a completely different and, in some ways, a much more direct way to connect to my work… especially once I’d found the right drawing app. I suggest Procreate, which is designed to take advantage of the Pogo Connect.
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I like the Exergen TemporalScanner because with a gentle stroke of the forehead, I can get a person’s temperatureaccurately and almost instantly — without having to stick something in their ear, mouth, or any other orifice. I can even check a child’s temperature while they sleep. It’s very easy to use — but do read the instructions to get the right swipe motion.
The device takes 1,000 readings per second, selects the most accurate among them, and adjusts for room temperature to give you the temperature of the temporal artery (near the temple) — which is an earlier signal of disease than rectal temperature. This temporal artery thermometer is more accurate than ear thermometers and is less affected by the sources of error that can make oral or underarm temperatures misleading. (However, for many purposes, temperature precision isn’t that important. Just knowing whether there is a fever or not is far more important than knowing the temp within a few tenths of a degree. And often fever is helpful, anyway.) But accurate thermometer readings can bring great peace of mind.
I use one of these at our home and carry one with me everywhere in my pediatrician doctor’s bag. -- Alan Greene, MD
Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer $31
I use soft pencils and I bear down hard when I write. As a result, I have to resharpen the pencils frequently. A few years ago I came across this pocket-size two-hole pencil sharpener and now swear by it. It produces very sharp points and does so efficiently.
Hole 1 shaves just the pencil’s wood casing , exposing (but barely touching) the graphite. You are left with a cylinder of graphite sticking out of the pencil tip, as shown below.
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I use my iPhone to shoot video because the quality is excellent and I like the many different inexpensive video apps available for the iPhone (such as stop motion apps). I also like being able to email iPhone videos or upload them to YouTube directly from my phone instead of having to first transfer them to a computer.
The main drawback with using the iPhone to shoot video is that you can’t put it on a tripod — you have to hold it in your hand or precariously lean it against something. The best iPhone mounting solution I’ve found so far is the Glif, a tiny hard-rubber clip with a metal 1/4″-20 thread that attaches to any tripod mount. Simply slide the iPhone into the Glif’s slot and you’re ready to go. (The Glif was one of the first breakaway hits on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, taking in almost $130,000 more than its $10,000 goal in late 2010.)
The Glif has one other function: it’s a “kickstand” that lets you use your iPhone as a mini-display on your desktop or airplane fold down tray.
If you want to use the Glif when you’re on the move, pay the extra $10 for the Glif Plus, which includes a separate plastic piece that locks your iPhone onto the Glif so there’s no chance of it falling off. - Mark
Every cyclist should have a flat kit to enable them to deal with a flat tire. Most kits include simple levers to get the tire off the rim and a set of patches for repairing holes. The Lunar Levers combine these two needs into one. The levers themselves are better designed to help you remove and remount a tire than standard levers. Ingeniously, the levers store the patch kit inside inside the levers themselves, snapping together, forming a single unit, saving space. -- Michael Pusateri
Planet Bike Lunar Levers and Bike Tire Patch Kit Combo
Balance bikes teach balance before pedaling. Learning to pedal is easy if you know how to balance. Learning balance is fairly easy, too. But learning them concurrently is hard. With a balance bike instead of a trike or a standard bike with training wheels, it’s much easier for a child to learn the balance, steering dynamics and handling required to ride a bike. My son, at 2 1/2, can go at least a mile on his Skuut bike, and is learning all the skills he’ll need, so that when I get him a normal bicycle, with pedals, he won’t need training wheels.
The design of a balance bike is brilliant -- it’s actually similar to the design of the first bicycles (velocipedes) that had no drivetrains. The particular brand of a running or balance bike for kids is not of much concern. Cool Tools previously featured the Likeabike, which was imported from Europe and lovingly crafted, but notably expensive. You can find cheap $50 metal balance bikes these days, but we use the current wooden standard Skuut which is good enough quality for $85. -- Elon Schoenholz
Skuut Balance Bike $63
Last summer I tried some carrot soup that tasted like buttered toffee. It had been made in a pressure cooker, which heats water vapor above boiling temperature, greatly reducing normal cooking times. I told my parents I was going to get a pressure cooker, and they recommended the $90 Fagor multicooker, because unlike most pressure cookers it has an electric browning feature, which lets you brown beef, fish, or chicken right in the pot before you pressure cook it, greatly improving the flavor.
The Fagor is also a slow cooker and a rice cooker. Because it is so versatile, I use it almost every day. The throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-push-a-button approach has broadened my cooking horizons. I’ve made rib roast in the slow cooker that had my in-laws coming back for thirds. I’ve made mouth-watering chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomato pesto, basil and goat cheese in a matter of minutes. I’ve made salmon with spinach and lemon sauce, fennel and Italian sausage, creamy risotto, and spicy Bolognese sauce. Thanks to an online army of pressure-cooker devotees, I’ll never run out of recipes.
The only negative thing about the Fagor is that the user interface doesn’t make it clear when it is cooking. A couple of times I’ve set the timer and forgotten to press the start button, only to find out twenty minutes later that it never started. I’ve learned not to do that. -- Mark
Fagor Stainless-Steel 3-in-1 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
This clever little tool forms clamps from stainless steel wire. As a commercial pilot in Alaska, I have used this many times over the years in emergency situations. I often operate in remote areas, away from any kind of support. You have to take care of yourself if something goes awry. Fuel lines, brake lines, air ducts seem to let go at the least opportune time. My Beach Truck used in commercial fishing has benefitted from a beachside radiator hose repair using the ClampTite. The hot water system made of Pex tubing in my log cabin has a few wire clamps on it because I didn’t want to endure a leak while flying 160 miles to the nearest hardware store.
The fact that you can customize the size of the clamp to fit pretty much anything makes it invaluable. With a few feet of wire you can quickly replace hose clamps for quick fixes. The tool is tiny, compared to most in my tool bag, and the stainless safety wire that it uses to form the clamp is something I always have on hand anyhow, because it has a million uses as well. -- David McRae
$30 for aluminum model, $70 for stainless steel and bronze
Available from Amazon
The Weller Pyropen is one of the best portable soldering irons out there. I like them because I get almost an hour and half of heat, and I can move around — no cords. So, while I have an electric soldering station, I almost exclusively end up using this Weller, even when I’m near the station. I just find it easier. So, you switch it on, it lights the butane up, and it makes this cool high-pitched scream. And when it glows red, it's very hot. It heats up faster than an electric; it will reach full heat in about 30 seconds. I love these things.
Note: According to a spokesman at the manufacturer, the Weller Portasol (PS100), previously reviewed on Cool Tools here, and the Weller Pyropen are nearly identical products. The Portasol is about half the price and has a slightly hotter max temperature and is made in Japan. The Pyropen is currently made in Ireland. Both are considered the same high professional quality. --KK
Use this 3M material, called Tegaderm, for applying dressing over a bleeding injury. It’s much better than adhesive tape or a big band-aid. Tegaderm is an air-permeable plastic film, as thin as cling film, but stronger and with an adhesive. I’ve found it adheres perfectly and because it is so thin it’s unnoticeable, especially on joints. You don’t even remember it’s on. Because of its thinness Tegaderm works really great under clothing. It’s breathable, too, and won’t come off in water. And since it is transparent, the dressing is not as visible, and you can see what’s going on underneath. It comes in sterile packaging about the size of a playing card, so you can apply it right over the injury, with the option to include some gauze underneath at first. I’ve cut smaller pieces for finger cuts, but I’ve found that waterproof bandaids work better for this.
Nexcare Tegaderm Waterproof Dressing
Know of a better tool, or need a recommendation? Submit a review or request!
We’ve always used a standard, run-of-the-mill garlic press, probably just because it was what was in the drawer. It only used half the clove. It was a pain to clean. And stinky hands were hard to avoid. It’s a device whose engineering is outdated.
We were downtown recently, just having finished brunch, and decided to walk around the square. Just a couple of doors down we have a cute little kitchen store. It’s always a fun place to cruise, and as I’m checking out, with a brand-spanking new garlic press in my hand, there at the register is a box labeled Garlic Twist. It was the same price as the garlic press so I swapped.
This thing is awesome. Give the cloves a whack with the bottom of the press (it’s nice, sturdy acrylic). Remove the outer layer and toss them in the garlic twist. Slip the lid on and twist the top and bottom in opposite directions. Stop twisting when the garlic is the desired consistency. It works equally well with a single clove or a handful.
The package says you can also do ginger or olives or cherries. I haven’t tried that, but it should work just as well.
This book is a tome of body science for yoga teachers with over 1000 pages in the second edition. I purchased it a few months ago. While I’ve skimmed the entire volume, I’ve spent the most time on the appendix related to balance in yoga postures.
Most yoga instructors can tell you a handful of things that improve balance such as a gazing point, engaged muscles of the standing leg, and mental concentration. Mel Robin has written 80 pages on this subject. He covers gravitational effects on yoga postures; aspects of mechanical metastability; generating counter-torque when falling; balance sensors, and neural repatterning among many, many other topics. This one section alone has changed the way I practice balancing asanas and how I teach them to my students.
With the recent publication of William Broad’s controversial book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards it’s more important than ever for yoga teachers to understand if and how science backs up claims related to the medical benefits of yoga. Robin’s book does just that. It looks at the science behind the asanas.
I understand that he is working on his newest edition…
A Handbook for Yogasana Teachers
Last year I replaced my old-looking but perfectly functional programmable thermostat with a better looking, WiFi-equipped model. The remote aspect of it was good. We could set “away” temps, and restore normal temps on our way back home. And the programmable part was always good – cool at night, not working so hard when we’re at work, etc.
But even though the thing was from a “major name”, it was a true PITA. While it worked most of the time, any time we wanted to tweak things, ugh. It was miserable. Then Nest came out with their Learning Thermostat.
I recently put one in and it’s well beyond what I was hoping the other might be. Superbly easy installation and activation, beautiful to look at, and as user-friendly as anything can be. It’s still in learning mode which basically means it is figuring out our daily schedules. But so far they’ve thought of everything, and this has given me complete confidence in its long term purpose.
Nest also provides apps that allow you to control your thermostat from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You can also track energy usage history, etc. At $249 it’s a lot more than other thermostats, and so maybe not suited for everyone’s budget. But I’ll say it’s more than suitable for any home. It’s a beautifully designed and exceptionally functional thermostat that continues to do its job very well.
I often make my own beer at a local brew-it-yourself taproom (props to The Brew Kettle). The bottles we use are 22-ounces, so drinking one is almost like drinking two. Often times I'll end up drinking more than I wanted or drinking none at all (oh, the horror).
Stumbled across the Hermetus Bottle Opener and Sealer while looking for a Father's Day gift for my dad. Bought one for him, a couple guys in the brew group, and myself. To create an airtight seal simply slip it over the top of the bottle. It works perfectly.
Drank half a bottle one night then sealed it and put it in the fridge. Drank remaining half the second night, and it tasted the same and still had a nice head on it. I love the simplicity of the design!
It's many a graduate's dream -- pay your way as you travel around the world. I lived the dream myself when I was younger, so I know it is possible. Since then I've been tracking this subject faithfully, and have read through scores of books and websites offering how-to advice on the dream. They won't hurt, but this fantastic book -- now in its 14th edition! -- is really the only one that will give you much help before you leave.
Most of these kind of books are a bunch of hand-waving generalities, or out of date particulars; this one is very specific and very current. It is massively researched, with tons of incoming gossip on where the easily-gotten jobs are this year, and what to do about paperwork and visas in that particular place, and how to land the job, and what you should expect, and letters from those who just did it. It's all very helpful, practical and inspiring. But don't get your hopes too high. There are really only two kinds of dependable quick jobs to be found "around the world": 1) In the service industry in Europe -- working at hotels, resorts, bars, camps for other tourists; and 2) teaching English in Asia. For most kids, that'll be enough. There are hundreds of exceptions to these two, and this book will do its best to point you to them, but they are far fewer, and more dependent on chance. But even that skill -- cultivating chance -- is tackled with great intelligence in this meaty book, which I can't recommend too much.
The author Susan Griffith is very prolific and at the center of a number of other related ongoing books, also recommended. Teaching English Abroad, Your Gap Year, and Summer Jobs Worldwide.