Interview with Ron Hale-Evans, author of Mind Performance Hacks


Our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week is Ron Hale-Evans, the open source software blog, Planeta Diego: Linux Y Software Libre, once described Ron as "writer by profession, game designer by vocation and psychologist by training." He’s the primary author of the 2006 book Mind Performance Hacks and co-author of its 2011 spiritual successor Mindhacker.

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Show notes:

WhiteCoat Clipboard ($31)

"The WhiteCoat Clipboard [are] folding clipboards and they're all medical editions of one sort of another and, one morning a few years ago for some reason, I woke up with the idea that I just had to have a folding clipboard to fit in my bag. I searched for folding clipboard on Amazon and 'The WhiteCoat Clipboard' was pretty much it. It folds up so it will fit into a doctor's or nurse's coat pocket. ... You can put stickers on it or decorate it in some other way, but I keep mine plain, because it's kind of fun to look at. … It's also good for when you just throw it in your bag, if you have notes in it, they don't get all creased and crumpled, because the folder protects it."

Alphasmart Neo - Handheld ($27, used)

“It's kind of like a calculator screen, but bigger. It's just great, you just type in it all day and then at the end of the day, you plug it into your laptop or whatever via USB and it pretends it's a keyboard, and it essentially simulates typing into whatever document you got open and it dumps it that way. Read the rest

Mushroom coffee, Voodoo Floss, and more – Tim Ferriss's favorite tools


This week, Kevin Kelly spoke with author Tim Ferriss for the Cool Tools podcast. Kevin had a great time chatting with Tim about his favorite tools, including a microphone with a built-in recorder, a food-expiration app, sports injury tape, and mushroom coffee.

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

Interview with Brian Brushwood of Scam School


Brian Brushwood is is the creator and host of over 400 episodes of Discovery’s Scam School, with over one million subscribers on YouTube. In 2015, his first full season of Hacking the System debuted on the National Geographic Channel (now available on Netflix). Brian has performed thousands of live stage shows (appearing in every state in the continental US), headlined 3 years at Universal Orlando, and recorded two Billboard #1 comedy albums with his “Night Attack” co-host, Justin Robert Young.

Read the rest

Dan Benjamin's favorite pencil, microphone, blender, and standing desk


Dan Benjamin is a podcaster, writer, software developer, and ex-corporate stooge. He is the founder of 5by5, a podcast network where he hosts a handful of shows. He is the author of and, and has written for A List Apart and O’Reilly. Dan lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their children.

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Show notes:

Staedtler Mars Mechanical Pencil ($6) and Sharpener

"This could be called an architect's pencil or a draftsman's pencil or a lead holder is the name that I've always used for it. ... What's nice about it is it's lightweight ... but it's got that nice metal grippiness to it. ... Instead of being like a regular mechanical pencil where you click the end of it and it advances the lead millimeter by millimeter out, this thing you can control. When you press down the button end of it, as much lead as you would like to slide out can slide out. ... A supplemental item is the Mars Rotary Action Lead Pointer and Tub, which allows you to put the lead holder in there. It presets how much of a point you want based on these two little holes that you adjust it to, and then you spin it. ... I encourage people to write and draw with a pencil. It's the most fun thing in the world."

Telefunken M82 Dynamic Microphone ($399)

"This is my microphone of choice these days. Read the rest

Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired, shares his four favorite tools


Chris Anderson is the CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones. From 2001 through 2012 he was Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine. Before Wired he was with The Economist for seven years in London, Hong Kong and New York. He’s the author of the New York Times bestselling books The Long Tail, and Free, as well as Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. His background is in science. He started with studying physics and doing research at Los Alamos, culminating in six years at the two leading scientific journals, Nature and Science. Chris is also the founder of the site Geekdad. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and five children.

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Show notes:

Carvey CNC Machine ($2,000)

CNC machines are subtractive. 3D printers add plastic but CNC machines cut it away. … The Carvey is the first one that really feels like it belongs in my workshop, on my desktop. It's beautiful. It's quiet, it's got a cover, hydraulic hinges, etc. … It's the perfect replacement for a laser cutter in that it does 2D quite easily. It can actually do limited 3D, which is to say give depth to stuff. … Think of it right now as the kind of thing you would use for carving wood, plastics of various sorts.

Cricut Explore Air Machine ($250)

The Cricut is a CNC paper cutter and plotter. Read the rest

Joshua Schacter, creator of Delicious, shares his four favorite tools


Over at Cool Tools, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Joshua Schachter, the creator of the social bookmarking site, Delicious, the creator of GeoURL, and the co-creator of Memepool. He's a fascinating person!

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Show notes:

Othermill ($2,199)

"It's basically a 3-D remover. The examples it comes with are mostly targeted around designed PCB, PC boards, so it comes with copper-clad boards, and you etch away and drill through the places where circuits would, chips would go in, parts would go in, and be soldered to ... It's not too expensive, it's easy to machine .. Other Machine has made software that's actually pretty good if you have 2-D shapes you want to cut out of materials, it can go directly from SVG to machine, and when I'm in a hurry I often do that. It's a tiny CNC machine, but it is a real CNC machine, so it's not dumbed-down in any particular way.

Extruded aluminum rail, 80-20 (price varies)

"80-20 is a series of rail used for industrial and scientific use. It's pretty inexpensive. You can get pieces of it on Amazon. Basically, they're long slots of aluminum with a channel in them so that you can easily bolt, unbolt, rearrange the parts. The nice thing about aluminum is you can actually cut it on woodworking tools. .. [and] it's not irreplaceably expensive, so you don't feel too bad when you mess with it, change it up a bit."

VacMaster VP122 ($690)

"A vacuum chamber sealer is often used for sous vide in professional kitchens. Read the rest

I'm Flash Forward podcaster Rose Eveleth, and here are my favorite tools


Rose Eveleth is a journalist who covers how humans tangle with science and technology. She's the host and producer of Flash Forward, a podcast about the future, and has covered everything from fake tumbleweed farms to sexist prosthetics. Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Rose about her favorite tools on the Cool Tools podcast.

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Show notes:

Top Tracker, FREE

"This is a time tracking tool. Basically, you can tell it projects and you can start and stop tracking. ... It's also useful because it serves to delineate tasks that I'm doing where I have to be very conscious about, "Okay, now I'm going to do this." I have to type it in and I have to push the start button and then, I push the stop button when I'm done. It's a nice way to keep myself focused on a single task. ... I've been using Top Tracker now for about six months and I really like it, so that is my recommendation."


"I was trying to think of a technology that I use a lot, because of the podcast, I often think about, "What are surprising technologies that people forget about a lot of the time?" One of the things that I have inside of me that I use everyday to keep me safe and healthy is an IUD. ... I do a lot of reporting on bio hacking and people who put magnets under their skin. Read the rest

Magician/Inventor Rick Lax tells us his four favorite tools

Rick Lax created the TV show “Wizard Wars” and has written several books on deception. He’s a non-practicing lawyer, a former MENSA member, and now spends his time creating tricks for other magicians and for Penguin Magic, the biggest magic retailer in the world.

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Show Notes:

Facebook (as a marketing tool)

"I became a mayor of Facebook overnight and I’m still trying to process exactly how it happened … I’ve treated Facebook marketing like an experiment … If you google, “How to make a good Facebook video? How to make a viral video?” 12 different people are going to tell you 12 different things, so I just put enough videos up where I can experiment and I can see for myself what’s working and what’s not working … What I found out is that is not actually a factor in the video’s success, and I do this because I look at my most popular videos. I see what days are they posted, what time are they posted, and that has not been a factor … All the content creators who are doing so well on YouTube, they say, “Well, why should I go over to Facebook if I’m not going to get paid for it?” That’s really left a window in Facebook for new content creators like me, so I was able to just sneak in there and have a tremendous success as everyone else is boycotting."


"Everyone says everything is fake … It’s frustrating because I’m not actually doing camera tricks. Read the rest

Why everyone needs a weaponized spatula


In the latest episode of the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Andrew Leonard about some of his favorite tools. Read the rest

Why Ziya Tong likes the CocoJack


The most recent guest on the Cool Tools Show (hosted by Kevin Kelly and me) is Ziya Tong, host and producer of the television program Daily Planet, Canada's daily science show, which airs on Discovery Canada. Before that, Ziya was host and field producer for Wired Science, produced in conjunction with Wired Magazine and NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS. She is on the board of WWF Canada and the founder of Black Sheep. She's a fan of the CocoJack coconut opening tool, which you can read about below. Read the rest

WATCH: The most Russian tool of all time: the knife-flask shovel

After doing some digging, why not relax with some charcuterie and vodka? A knife acts as a cap for a handle flask on this clever Russian shovel.

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John Edgar Park, producer at Disney Research, shares his favorite tools

Over at Cool Tools we interviewed my good friend John Edgar Park, who is one of the most interesting people I know. When he is not combing the streets for street sweeper blades to turn into picklocks, or practicing impossible yoga positions, or roasting his own coffee, he's doing secret things at the research wing of Disney Imagineering. Kevin Kelly and I asked him to tell us about some of his favorite tools, which you can learn about in this episode of the Cool Tools Show, and by reading the show notes (Why not subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode?) Read the rest

Recommendation for a grip strengthener

Over at the relaunched, I asked readers to recommend a good grip strengthener. Read the rest

Tonka criminals attempt to crack ATM with backhoe

It takes certain hubris to commit a crime with a 7-ton, 20 mph max speed vehicle. On January 4 in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, unknown suspects tried to smash open a Bank of America ATM with a Caterpillar 420D. A similar incident happened a few days prior in Bessemer City, NC. (They should probably design the ATMs to look like giant pigs.)

In late February, a Rochester, New York, man was arrested after he dug a 40-foot-long, 12-foot-deep hole in a rural road at night using an excavator, apparently for fun. Read the rest

Hose clamps are a billion-dollar business

One of the most versatile tools and fasteners is the humble hose clamp, invented in 1921 and marketed as the Jubilee Clip. Besides their intended uses in plumbing and automotive, they can be used to fix an exhaust, fasten parts on a bike, and make DIY camera parts. I've used them in prototyping: for instance, quickly holding together parts for a rainwater pump.

Who knew that hose clamps were such big business? Not one, but two reports recently came out on this growing segment: "Global Hose Clamps Market Size, Trends, Forecasts, Market Research Report 2015" and "Global Hose Clamps Industry Report 2015". They both make for exciting reading, through of course, not as gratifying as the masterwork, "The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China". Read the rest

Stanley Tripod Flashlight: Portable, hands-free LED lighting

I replaced my D battery Mag-Light with this small LED light that only needs AA batteries. I get whiter light, longer life, and more intensity. Tripod lights have always been great tools (I work at Amazon, so I see a lot of gear). The problem with the traditional ones is they get very hot, use lot of battery power, and burn out fast. Stanley’s tripod light – the first LED version – takes all the advantages of LED and combines it with the convenience of a fold up stand.

I have already used it for a variety of household projects since I bought it last year. The best use has been to install dimmers. Usually I’d have to do this during the day or ask my wife to hold the flashlight. With the tripod light, I can now do it by myself at any time. -- Jason Goldberger Read the rest

The $6 "Fantastic" ice scraper is fantastic

I bought the "Fantastic" Ice Scraper I have now in 1982 at a gas station in Wisconsin. It’s such a superior scraper that I’ve been careful to make sure it transferred from disposed-of vehicle to replacement vehicle four times since then. The thin, stiff, but mildly conforming brass blade slides easily between ice and glass and does so without scratching because brass is softer than glass. Oh, yeah, it still costs $2. Important: don’t use it to hack at the ice because you may deform the brass blade, after which it won’t slide between ice and glass well at all. – Jeff Morrow

Brass blade is the real deal. I’ve given these to friends and family because they are so much better than the crappy plastic ones. Brass is soft enough to not damage the glass. The blade is thin and not really sharp to the touch, but is great on ice. The plastic scrapers get dull pretty quickly and then just skip over really tough ice. – Scott Christensen

Had one of these for years and it was the best I have ever used. You just have to be careful about hitting the rubber gasket with it – it will cut. That is the reason the blade is not as wide as the blade holder. – Jim Sheafer Fantastic Ice Scraper with Brass Blade ($6) Read the rest

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