Tomato Shark tears through tomatoes

I have dozens of tools and gadgets in my kitchen. Years working in the restaurant and catering world left me with an inventory of items that I bought for this job or that party.

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Hugo's Amazing Tape: Resuable tape sticks only to itself

I was introduced to Hugo's Amazing Tape several years ago by a colleague. He uses the tape to keep board game boxes closed for storage, and it has quite a following in the board game and collectible card game community.

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Idiot-proof wake-up alarm: Screaming Meanie

When I travel I often use earplugs at night (E.A.R foam are my preferred brand) to mute the sounds of strange places and get a good night’s sleep. Only problem is, the pathetic “eep eep” sound of a typical travel alarm cannot penetrate the earplugs. For years I have searched for a truly heavy-duty portable alarm, and finally found a good candidate at the Petro Truck Stop in Kingman, Arizona: The Screaming Meanie.

Also available from online sources, the Screaming Meanie is not a clock. It is a countdown timer. You set the number of hours and minutes between now and the time you want to wake up. You can also set the volume, either to “loud” or “frighteningly loud.” In case 110 decibels is not enough (“loud enough to wake the dead!”), they have a 220 decibel version too!

When you start the Screaming Meanie the alarm is ON by default. This eliminates my habit of waking up five or six times just to check whether I set my travel alarm correctly. You just know this thing is going to work. You can’t possibly sleep through it because while the 10 and 5-minute warnings can be turned off with one button, it takes 3 buttons pushed simultaneously to silence the final alarm. My only quibble is that it should be smaller (it is a rounded plastic block, 1″ by 2.25″ by 5.25″) but hey, it was designed for truckers. -- Charles Platt

Screaming Meanie ($25)

Cuissential SlickFroth: Fast milk frother

I often mix stuff into my coffee: cream, coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides, taurine, even some resistant starches like inulin as part of my low carb life. Previoius to getting the slickfroth, I had to choose between a small hand blender or a spoon. I did not expect much (you know, a battery powered small toy) but I have found that this device works much better than I expected as a mini-handblender for liquids and powders. While it will not chop up the contents of thick smoothies, it will mix liquids together or powders into liquids very well. It offers a very useful tool in-between a hand blender (over-kill for many situations) and just mixing with a spoon (often not adequate). -- Dale Simpson

Kuissential SlickFroth 2.0 ($18)

Cool Tools Show 008: Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens

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Cool Tools Show 007: Lloyd Kahn, Editor-in-Chief of Shelter Publications

On the latest episode of the Ask Cool Tools Show, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Lloyd Kahn, editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. He shared with us many useful tips, ranging from how to get the most out of your camera lenses, to alternative activities for the senior surfer.

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Swiss Army knife in a credit-card shape


This small, flat, semi-translucent plastic card contains a sharp blade, an even sharper pair of scissors, a file, a tweezers, a toothpick, and a pen. They all slide into the card, and come free of it for independent use. The whole kit is the size of a credit card, and about three times as thick. It lays flat in my pocket and weighs very little. I use it daily. It prompts a smile most every time I do, and it’s a good conversation piece. Highly recommended and undeservedly under-popular. -- Gru

Victorinox SwissCard ($25)

What the director of marketing at American Apparel carries on business trips


I asked my friend Ryan Holiday, director of marketing at American Apparel and author of The Obstacle Is The Way, to take photos and write about the stuff he takes on trips. Take a look at Cool Tools.

Useful kitchen tools from the previous homeowner

Author of the new book, Borg Like Me, Gareth Branwyn tells Cool Tools about the set of household tools he inherited from the former occupants of his house that have proven their usefulness and longevity over the years. In this episode of the Cool Tools Show he talks about what makes these tools so special and how we all can prepare to pass on our household’s best suited tools to the next generation of homeowners.

Golden Mean Calipers

calipers

I absolutely love these things and have used them for a couple of years. I enjoy wandering around with my kids and having them put it up to just about everything. (“Dad! this has a golden mean in it as well!” — I’ll never get tired hearing that). You can also use them to bring some simple relational beauty and balance into anything physical that you make.

You can go to this website for some very well made ones (and a little pricey) or just download some plans for a few bucks and make your own. -- Eric Warner

Golden Mean Calipers ($35)

The tools Tim Jenison used to make Tim's Vermeer


Tim Jenison, Founder of NewTek and star of Tim's Vermeer, a critically acclaimed documentary about his discovery of a possible tool used by hyper-realist painters throughout history, takes Kevin Kelly and me behind the curtain to see what tools made this investigation possible.

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Inkssentials Craft Sheet


From online discussions and reviews, it seems that nearly everyone who buys one of these non-stick, heat-resistant worksheets has the same initial reaction: “I paid $14 for THIS?” Quickly, that skepticism turns to appreciation, if not outright tool evangelism. I am one such skeptic. For too long, I’ve taken the “self-healing” billing of my cutting mat far too literally, subjecting it to paints, glues, epoxies, clay, heat — all sorts of indignities from which it never heals. Besides cutting, every other crafting/hobby activity should happen on some other surface, and for me, I now don’t want to use anything but one of these heavy duty (5 mil) PTFE (Teflon) sheets.

The Craft Sheet first seems rather fragile and insubstantial, but it’s virtually indestructible. Almost nothing sticks to it. And besides it acting as a protective surface, you can also use it for techniques like low-brow paper marbling (mix some paints on the sheet and swirl paper through it). To clean the sheet, you just wipe with a rag – good as new. You can buy direct from sealersupply.com for cheaper (and larger sizes), but you’ll have to pay for shipping. -- Gareth Branwyn

Ranger 15-Inch-by-18-Inch Inkssentials Craft Sheet: $14

Bike commuter super transformer bag full of stuff

Check out all the stuff that Long Now Foundation Director of Operations Laura Welcher brings with her on her daily bike commute in the San Francisco Bay Area. There's an awful lot in her bag, but it makes sense!

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Favorite apps and tools of Creative Good founder Mark Hurst


Mark Hurst, CEO and founder of Creative Good, is our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week. Our highly productive discussion yields tips on how to properly rinse your text, type more efficiently, and learn Mandarin Chinese in your spare time.

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Vacuum stainless-steel coffee press


For French press coffee geeks who also happen to be klutzes like me, no more broken carafes with this bad boy. I’ve had mine for years and it is still like brand new. Also for whatever reason, the plunger mesh is MUCH tougher than on the Bodum products and does not shred nearly as easily. Next time you smash your carafe on your Bodum just buy one of these. -- A.T. Salzman

Thermos 34-Ounce Vacuum Insulated Stainless-Steel Gourmet Coffee Press: $40