Inflatable travel pillow for sleeping on planes


I spent a few days in beautiful Victoria, Canada last week. What a fantastic city! One of the highlights of my trip was spending some time with Andrew and Christina, two of the principles at Robazzo, a one-stop-shop eco design studio. They do everything from logos to large architectural installations:

On the flight home, the guy sitting next to me had a small pouch in his lap. Before the plane took off, he unfolded it and blew on a valve a few times to inflate what turned out to be a travel pillow. He slept the entire time. I have a travel pillow, but it is bulky so I don't usually bring it with me. This inflatable pillow looks perfect. After looking around I think I found the one the guy was using. It's $6 if you use coupon code QZJWYQLF. I bought two (one for my wife), and the discount worked for just one pillow. Read the rest

Short documentary about the evolution of Photoshop

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I'm much more comfortable with Adobe Illustrator than Photoshop, but I enjoyed this short video about Photoshop users talking about the powerful image editing application.

For over two decades, Photoshop has been an essential part of the digital artist's toolset. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, we've taken a look back at Photoshop's history: from the rise of desktop publishing and digital photography, to the evolution of Photoshop's tool palette and its sometimes controversial but necessary role in modern photojournalism.

We interview early adopters and pioneering artists such as Bert Monroy, Chris Orwig, and Douglas Kirkland, as well as the people responsible for guiding Photoshop's development: John Nack, Russell Brown, and current product manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes. Konrad Eek and Sean Adams also explain what life was like before Photoshop and how this beguiling tool has democratized design and darkroom photography.

Read the rest

The two objects are traveling in exactly the same manner

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Clifford Pickover says, "Reality shatter. The two objects are traveling in exactly the same manner. Watch when it turns gray."

And this:

[via] Read the rest

Even by Chris Christie standards, his lie about Trump's birtherism is a whopper

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JAKE TAPPER: “Well, just as a point of fact, again, Donald Trump did not accept when Barack Obama released his birth certificate in 2011. He kept up this whole birther thing until Friday. That’s five years. But we only have a little time left. So, I want to ask you…”

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-N.J.): “No, but, Jake, that’s just not true. It’s not true that he kept it up for five years.”

TAPPER: “Sure, he did.”

CHRISTIE: “It’s simply not true.”

TAPPER: “It is true.”

CHRISTIE: “It wasn’t like he was talking — no, Jake, it wasn’t like — it wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then.”

— Exchange on CNN”s “State of the Union,” Sept. 18, 2016

Washington Post, gives Christie "Four Pinochios." It says, "This will possibly be our shortest fact check ever."

Read the rest

Tim O'Reilly shares his favorite books, running shoes, and a cure for colds

Image of Tim O'Reilly by takeshi honma

Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Tim O'Reilly on the Cool Tools podcast.

Our guest this week is Tim O'Reilly. He's the founder of O'Reilly Media, a company the spreads the knowledge of innovators through technology books, online services, magazines, research, and tech conferences.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Unix regular expressions

"This is an enormous power - you can write scripts that allow you to do magic with text."

Amazon Echo's Alexa

"Whoever did the design work on Alexa did it brilliantly."

Gan Mao Ling and Black Elderberry

"If you feel like you are coming down with a cold, take these in combination. I have found it incredibly reliable in knocking out colds."

Also: Astragalus Supreme as an immune system booster, and Juvenon ("I felt like it took 10 years off my life, in a good way, making me 10 years younger. I take a generic version called Anti-Aging LX")

Altra Men's Instinct 3.5 Running Shoe

"Running shoes with a really wide toe box. It's a bit like running barefoot inside the shoe."

"These books have become part of my mental toolchest:"

The Way of Life, According to Laotzu translated by Witter Bynner.

"My personal religious philosophy, stressing the rightness of what is, if only we can accept it. Most people who know me have heard me quote from this book. 'Seeing as how nothing is outside the vast, wide-meshed net of heaven, who is there to say just how it is cast?'" (From Books That Have Shaped How I Think)

The Meaning of Culture, John Cowper Powys

“This book is a part of my regular mental toolbox. Read the rest

Google announces new travel planning app: Google Trips


I use TripIt for travel planning, but I'm going to give the new Google Trips a try. It stores your travel plans offline, so you don't need to have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to find directions or access your itinerary.

When I installed it, it scanned my gmail and did a great job of finding my upcoming flight, restaurant, and hotel reservations.

Google Trips makes exploring the world easier by organizing your essential info in one place and making it available even offline. Get activity suggestions based on what’s nearby, customizeable day plans, and your travel reservations from Gmail.

AUTOMATIC TRIP ORGANIZATION Your travel reservations are automatically gathered from Gmail and organized into individual trips. Each trip contains day plans, things to do, food and drink suggestions, and more.

BUNDLED RESERVATIONS See your flight, hotel, rental car, and restaurant bookings in one place without having to search for them individually.

DAY PLANS For several hundred of the world’s top places, find popular day plans organized on a map that you can customize based on your interests and available time.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS Find out when you’re near popular attractions (and whether they’re open) as well as reviews and ratings from other travelers.

THINGS TO DO Every trip contains ideas for things to do automatically organized into useful categories like Top Spots and Indoors or Outdoors. For many of the world’s top places, you’ll get curated local suggestions and travel tips.

OFFLINE ACCESS No Internet? No problem. Google Trips is available offline, so you’ll always have access to your info.

Read the rest

Prosecutors and defense lawyers agree - Chris Christie knew about bridge lane closures as they happened

Image: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has vehemently denied knowing anything about his staff's scheme to punish a local mayor by ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013. But today, prosecutors in the trial against two former Christie staffers charged with closing the lanes said Christie knew about it all along.

Via NYT:

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office said that two of the alleged co-conspirators in the case, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had bragged to the governor about the lane closings, and that they had been done to “mess” with the mayor of Fort Lee because he had declined entreaties to endorse the governor’s re-election.

The prosecutor, Vikas Khanna, instantly advised the jury that they should not consider the actions of “others” or wonder why they were not charged.

The details of the plot that Mr. Khanna laid out were largely familiar by now: that one of the defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent an email in August 2013 saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” after confirming that the mayor of that borough would not endorse Mr. Christie. A month later, two of three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down, and the other defendant, Mr. Baroni, the highest ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge, studiously ignored the mayor as he pleaded by text, email and a handwritten letter for the agency to reopen the lanes.

Read the rest

Recomendo picks: Readables/Hopper/Amazon Kickstarted projects


You'll never miss Cool Tools Lab's Recomendo newsletter if you sign up for the newsletter here. Readables:

Books related to my new book The Inevitable that I have found useful:

Magic and Loss by Virginia Heffernan: Treats the digital world as a great work of art. The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos: Best book to date on artificial intelligence. Machines of Loving Grace by John Markoff: Best book to date on robots. Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock: Why predicting is hard and how to get better at it. Pogue’s Basics by David Pogue: Extremely practical tips for techno-literacy. — Kevin Kelly


I’m a big Welcome to Night Vale fan, a community news podcast about a fictional town plagued by paranormal and spooky events. Besides listening to the podcast, I prioritized my Facebook feed to see their absurd status updates first. They always make me smile. Example: “Scientists discover a new species of spider on the back of your shirt. ‘Oh wow. It’s crazy big. Good luck,’ their press release reads.” — Claudia Lamar


When it comes to airplane food, I agree with Anthony Bourdain: it’s better to go hungry. But I don’t like going hungry so I pack snacks with me. One of my favorites is the Graze Bar. It’s a tasty, chewy stick of grass fed beef containing no sugar, gluten, or MSG. — Mark Frauenfelder

Travel tip:

Hopper is a smartphone app that predicts when airfare to a desired destination will be the cheapest. Read the rest

Short history of comic book lettering


There was no one like Artie Simek (1916-1975), who lettered most of Marvel's Silver Age titles. This terrific short documentary about comic book lettering makes me want to pull out my Ames Lettering Guide and nib pen. Read the rest

Now you can order the Echo Dot from any web browser


When Amazon released the Echo Dot, the mini-me version of the Echo, the only way you could by it was through an Amazon Echo. It was $90 and almost always on backorder. But Amazon just announced the 2nd Generation Echo Dot, and it's available to anyone for $50. After seeing how much my parents use and enjoy their Echo ($179), I was about to buy one, but the Dot is a lot cheaper and it seems to do everything the Echo can do. The thing it doesn't have is the Echo's full size speaker, but you can connect a speaker to the Dot via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable. I just preordered one. Read the rest

NYPD: We can't tell you how much cash we seize because it would break our computers

Image: Wikipedia

New York City councilmember Ritchie Torres wants to know how much cash NYPD seizes every from citizens every year using using civil asset forfeiture, so he introduced legislation requiring annual reports from NYPD. But NYPD said at a hearing that the bill shouldn't be allowed to pass because NYPD's computers will crash if they attempt to generate the reports. Sounds legit!

Via Village Voice

"Attempts to perform the types of searches envisioned in the bill will lead to system crashes and significant delays during the intake and release process," said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner, while testifying in front of the council's Public Safety Committee. "The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year."

When asked by councilmember Dan Garodnick whether the NYPD had come to the hearing with any sort of accounting for how much money it has seized from New Yorkers this past year, the NYPD higher-ups testifying simply answered "no."

[via] Read the rest

Obnoxious prankster puts out people's cigarettes with fire extinguisher


Rémi Gaillard is a former shoe store salesman who has become the "seventeenth most subscribed comedian on YouTube," according to Wikipedia. Read the rest

127,891 people have signed a petition to keep kratom legal

Image: Wikipedia

Kratom is a mildly psychoactive plant that has been used in Asia for centuries to treat pain, fatigue, depression,and anxiety. In the US it has shown promise as a way to help people who are addicted to opiates. The DEA recently announced that it is going to make kratom a Schedule I drug, which will make it very difficult for researchers to study any potential medical uses it might have.

From The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association:

In Southeast Asia, kratom has long been used for the management of pain and opium withdrawal. In the West, kratom is increasingly being used by individuals for the self-management of pain or withdrawal from opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. It is these aspects of kratom pharmacology that have received the most scientific attention. Although to our knowledge, no well-controlled clinical studies on the effects of kratom on humans have been published, there is evidence that kratom, kratom extracts, and molecules isolated from kratom can alleviate various forms of pain in animal models.

In response to the DEA's decision, 127,891 people have signed a White House petition to keep kratom off Schedule I. The White House is now required to respond within 60 days. Read the rest

Rhino apes goat

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[via] Read the rest

Engineer designs tools to perform DIY operation on himself

Image: Wikipedia

Fifteen years ago Graham Smith of Liverpool had a bowel operation. The internal nylon stitches in his abdomen caused him pain. "For 15 years I have been hunched over and leaning to the left," he told The BBC. In 2011, Smith, a specialist engineer, told his hospital that he could actually see the stitches as "a small lump of nylon protruding from my abdomen." Eventually the hospital agreed to remove the stitches, but it cancelled the operation twice. Frustrated, Smith decided to design his own titanium operating tools and he performed the surgery on himself.

From The Telegraph:

"I didn't make the decision lightly - I was desperate, but I had to take control of it and I was not prepared to sit and die on a waiting list.

"I'm a specialist engineer. I do jobs people can't do, but I'm not a surgeon so don't try this at at home.

"There was a bit of blood and it stung a bit but I was confident in what I was doing."

A spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons told The Telegraph that DIY surgery was not advisable. Read the rest

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Kit for $10


This chain reaction kit is on sale at Amazon for just $10 right now. It has parts and instructions to build a bunch of different Rube Goldbergian machines.

Design and build 10 amazing moving machines - teach your bricks new tricks. Comes with 80 page instructions, 33 LEGO pieces, instructions for 10 modules, 6 plastic balls, string, paper ramps and other components.

Read the rest

Sculpting a hand from clay

From clay to hand

I don't know anything about the sculptor, but it is fascinating to watch them make a block of clay look like a human hand. Read the rest

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