Watch how 19th-century Genaille-Lucas calculating rulers work

Multiplying large numbers before calculators led to a number of ingenious inventions to make things easier, like these Genaille-Lucas rulers demonstrated by the fine folks at DONG.

Via manufacturer Creative Crafthouse:

In the days before calculators, methods of simplifying calculations were of much interest. In 1617 Napier also published a book describing a method to multiply, divide and extract square roots using a set of bars or rods. These became known as Napier's Bones. (avail on our website)

In the late 1800s, Henri Genaille, a French civil engineer, invented an improvement to Napier's Bones that eliminates the need to handle carries from one digit position to the next. The problem was posed by Edouard Lucas and thus the alternate name of Genaille-Lucas Rulers (or Rods).

There are also sets for division. You can get your own set online or print your own from these free files.

Genaille-Lucas Rulers (YouTube / DONG) Read the rest

Open a six-pack all at once with this indispensible gadget

No time to waste opening an entire six-pack one bottle at a time? Now there's finally a solution: Sixoverone, the hexa-opener you never knew you needed.

Here's another demo:

If you'd rather do it the old fashioned way, efficiency comes with practice.

SIXOVERONE (via Indiegogo) Read the rest

Take a look at the Gonzo Gizmo author's favorite tools

My guest on the Cool Tools Show podcast this week is Simon Quellen Field. Simon is a chemist and former Google software engineer and is the author of over a dozen books, including Gonzo Gizmos, Return of Gonzo Gizmos, Culinary Reactions, Why is Milk White, Elements Vault, Why There's Antifreeze In Your Toothpaste, Electronics for Artists and, most recently, Boom!: The Chemistry and History of Explosives. He's the author of the science toy website and several novels.

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Show notes:

Taylor Wharton LD10 Aluminum Liquid Dewar ($638) “I’m often asked to demonstrate scientific toys and things at different science conventions, like the Google Science Fair … and one of the things that they love when I show off is all of these fun things that you can do with liquid nitrogen. And, of course, it lasts a lot longer if you keep it in a big Dewar. So, I’ve got this thing, it’s about 2 feet tall, about 10 inches in diameter, And holds 10 liters of liquid nitrogen, which I get locally from a place called Nitroderm. And we do all kinds of fun things with it. Put some liquid nitrogen in a bowl and squirt some whipped cream out of a spray can into it, freeze it really hard. Kids pop it into their mouth and crunch on it and fog comes out their nose like a dragon.”

Mastercool 90066-B Vacuum Pump ($130) "I have a vacuum chamber, and this vacuum pump, this one does six cubic feet per minute, which is pretty good. Read the rest

Video reviews of useful tools

I started a Cool Tools video channel on YouTube a couple of months ago. Each video is usually less than two minutes long and has a hands-on review of a tool, such as a USB powered soldering iron, clippers that cut anything, and a self-centering drill bit. Here's a video for a spokeshave, which rounds off wood edges: Read the rest

Here are some of Xeni's favorite tools

We have hired an editor to edit the Cool Tools podcast. It costs us $300 a month. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $247 a month to the podcast. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have nice rewards for people who contribute!

Our guest on the Cool Tools show this week is Xeni Jardin. Xeni is my partner at Boing Boing. We've been friends for a really long time, and Xeni has been with me from the very beginning at Boing Boing. She is always coming up with really cool ideas for tools that she uses for cooking, for communicating, and she does a lot of traveling, and I'm happy she shared some of her favorites with Kevin Kelly and me.

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Show notes:

AmazonBasics High-Density Foam Roller ($19) "I work with a physical therapist, I had lots of surgeries and stuff, and when I travel, I get sore. I didn’t realize how cheap foam rollers on Amazon are, if you're just doing like the cheapo, basic, no kind of weird serrations, no crazy Space Age material, but just basically a 36-inch foam roller about six-inch diameter. I overnighted one of those things to myself here in Utah the day that I arrived. … I can stretch out everything that gets stiff, either from exerting myself on hiking trails, or just getting out there. Read the rest

Use these handy bits to drill out stripped screws and bolts

When a bolt or screw is stripped, I drill it out with this extractor set.

When working on old motorcycles, or just my old VW bus, I encounter a lot of stuck screws and bolts. Frequently prior mechanics have left fastners completely rounded off. When these things happen, I grab my drill.

These extractor bits both burnish the stripped head, and then screw into it and extract it. They are not simple to use, and it takes a very steady hand -- something I don't always have -- but slow and patient work generally produces good results.

Speed Out Extractor HSS Broken Bolt and Damaged Screw Extractor via Amazon Read the rest

One fantastic motorcycle-powered hair salon

If only I still had hair. Read the rest

Interview with Nick Bilton, author of new book about The Silk Road, American Kingpin

In this week's Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Nick Bilton. Nick is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of three books, including Hatching Twitter and his latest, American Kingpin, which chronicles the rise and fall of the Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Here's a bit from the interview:

Mark: I feel, in a lot of ways, the story of the Dread Pirate Roberts, aka Ross Ulbricht, is kind of like Breaking Bad.

Nick: Yeah, it's a kid who was the sweetest, nicest kid, who decided to build this website where you could buy and sell drugs, because he believed they should be legal and it spiraled out of control. Next thing you know he's running an empire that's making hundreds of millions of dollars, and ordering hits on people from the Internet, and selling guns and drugs and you name it in between.

Mark: And every three letter acronym government agency after him and competing with each other to get him.

Nick: Yeah, every single one. IRS, DHS, HSI, FBI, you name it.

Kevin: Sounds like a movie.

Mark: Yes. More than one of those agencies going rogue too. It's got everything. The way you tell it too, it's like a novel. The amount of research you must've put into this is incredible, because the conversations you have, there's stuff ... Kevin and I were saying, we follow this story, but it's like your other book, Hatching Twitter, it's being there ... Read the rest

Eri Gentry, founder of DIY biohacker lab, talks about her favorite tools

My colleague at Institute for the Future, Eri Gentry, is the guest on the Cool Tools Show this week. Eri is the founding president of BioCurious, the first hackerspace for biology. She is also co-founder of the emotional wellbeing site, My Happy Tools.

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Show notes:

"For my work at Institute for the Future we're often trying to distill these nebulous concepts about the future into images and into words that people can understand. It’s really important that we get the visual part down right, but most sites aren’t really great for visual inspiration. … but Niice is this incredible site that shows you really creative imagery and often a lot of original art from artists, which is great because sometimes it can be hard to access the people doing really interesting creative work. Niice is meant, I believe, for designers and for design firms to do premium mood boards. … The great thing about this site is it can make me associate new concepts actually that I hadn’t before. It’s a really neat way to think about the future visually."

Double eyelid tape ($12)

"Double eyelid tape is literally a small strip of adhesive that you place on your eyelid to create or change your crease. For those of us not blessed with pronounced eyelid creases, this product is amazing. Read the rest

Maker Update #31

This week on Maker Update: an autonomous beach-roving art bot, Kickstarter wants your ideas, a project that makes kits for other projects, GUIs for Raspberry Pi, stipple ceramics, and Donald Bell shows you why digital calipers are cool. Show notes here.

Read the rest

Robot Maker and YouTuber Simone Giertz's favorite tools

Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Simone Giertz. Simone is a Swedish native who now resides in San Francisco. Millions of people come to watch her build shitty robots on YouTube and she recently launched her own astronaut training program to get herself into space. Simone's videos have been featured on The Ellen Show, The Late Show, Mashable, Business Insider, Wired, Conan O'Brien, and more. Whilst most recently joining master builder Adam Savage's tested team.

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Show notes:

Dremel 4200 ($114) “I started building stuff about 3 years and I’m rediscovering everything that people have known for a long time. … Dremel tool kind of goes in the line of that … it blew my mind because I do a lot of aluminum fabrications. I make parts out of aluminum frames or customized parts that I already have and for that it's freakin' great because it's like having your own arm do it but at a much higher RPM. It's like a little pen. It's just such an accessible tool. You're just sitting there and you're cutting. It has the tiniest little cutter blades and it’s just nice. … It’s a super versatile tool and it takes up no space.”

Original Prusa i3 MK2S kit ($699)

"I am definitely not an authority in 3D printing. I am a total 3D printing novice. Read the rest

Maker Update video #28

My friend Donald Bell produces and hosts a weekly video show called The Maker Update. Each week in Maker Update, Donald will take a closer look at one of the tools from the archive of Cool Tools (a tool review site I run with Kevin Kelly. This week, Donald checks out a nifty plastic glue bottle. It's in the video above, and here is Donald's companion post for this episode so you can find out more about all the things Donald talks about. Read the rest

Myst's Robyn Miller talks about his favorite music-making tools

My guest on the Cool Tools Show week is Robyn Miller. Robyn co-founded Cyan Worlds in the late 1980s, where he designed and directed the landmark video games Myst and its sequel Riven. In 2010, he co-founded Zoo Break Gun Club LLC, with producer/filmmaker Mischa Jakupcak. ZBGC has produced several films and has projects in development for film, television and virtual reality. Read the rest

Favorite tools from the director of Creative Collisions at the San Jose Tech Museum

Over at Cool Tools, we interviewed Danny Haeg, director of Creative Collisions at the Tech Museum in San Jose, California. He moved here from Minnesota to jump into the simmering maker-melting-pot that is Silicon Valley.

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Show notes:

Allbirds ($95)

"I feel slightly irresponsible for advising people to buy $95 shoes. I didn't think I would do that either, until I put these on. Now I get it. I'm converted. Allbirds are very new and they're fantastic. ... They're not like technical running shoes or anything like that, they're sort of lounging shoes. They're all merino wool from New Zealand. They're so comfortable. … It's been the shoe I've been wearing every day since I got them, because I've just been going to work and doing my business. I just suggest people give it a shot and if they don't like them, they can send it back. It's free returns and all that stuff."

Cold Saw (varies), also TechShop membership

"I think this is my favorite tool of all time. I didn't even know about it until a few years ago. … It's slow, which is very perplexing. It's so slow that you can just see the individual teeth rolling around. It's like 100 RPM. It makes these perfectly smooth cuts. There's like a little burr that you can knock off with a file. It makes smooth cuts, it makes them square, it makes them fast, it's really safe. Read the rest

Cool Tools' complete 2016 holiday gift guide

There is still enough time to buy cool tools as gifts and have them arrive before Christmas. Here's Cool Tools' complete list of gift ideas for 2016. Read the rest

Check out Cool Tools' holiday gift guide

Besides being an editor at Boing Boing, I'm also an editor at Cool Tools. Cool Tools has an annual gift guide, and it's worth sharing. It's got felt guitar picks, stainless steel can insulators, mushroom coffee, hand-crank coffee grinders, cast aluminum kitty litter scoops, and much, much more. (I'm also sharing Boing Boing's gift guide with Cool Tools readers.)

Check out Cool Tools' gift guide here. Read the rest

David Pescovitz shares his favorite tools

Our guest on the Cool Tools Podcast this week is our own David Pescovitz, co-editor and managing partner of Boing Boing and a research director at Institute for the Future. (Image: Ransom and Mitchell)

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Show notes:

Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine ($499) "It's built like a tank. It looks like a big, heavy record player without a tone arm. You put a record on it and squirt some cleaning solution on it. Then you turn it on and the record spins. You scrub it gently with a goat hair brush. Then, you turn on the vacuum feature and it sucks up all the fluid and dirt in a couple revolutions. It's amazing, really, how clean it makes the record."

Polylined paper sleeves ($25)

"My son and I always joke that we can take a record that he's dug out of the dollar or five dollar bin, give it a good cleaning, put a new inner sleeve to replace whatever moldy thing is in there ... and it would be for sale at one of the hipster record stores in San Francisco Mission District for $25. … I buy these in bulk."

Zerodust Onzow stylus cleaner ($35)

"This is a luxury, admittedly, because they're like $35 and it comes from Japan … It's this little square plastic container with this lump of solidified gel. Read the rest

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