Our guest on the Cool Tools podcast this week is Anita Sarkeesian. Anita is a media critic and the host of Feminist Frequency Radio. She has a new book called History vs Women, which she wrote with Ebony Adams.
For years, I’ve kept a tomahawk on hand. It accompanies me into the bush, lives next to my side of the bed when we’re staying in sketchy areas for protection, and has traveled with me to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain, across Canada and the United States. As I live in a 40-foot RV, I consider it to be as vital a piece of safety gear as the fire extinguishers we keep in the front and rear of the vehicle.
A good tomahawk can be used to quickly breach walls, doors or windows – an important ability to have, if we ever find ourselves trapped in our rig in a way that keeps us from its only door and two escape windows. I tell anyone who asks me about it to keep one in their emergency preparedness kit or bugout bag: during Hurricane Harvey, some folks were only able to avoid flood waters by getting to their roof through a hole cut in it with an axe. Others weren’t so lucky. What I’m getting at is while a tomahawk or axe is often seen as a weapon – some are, by design – they can also be used as a safety tool which, once you have one, you’ll find countless uses for.
So, today for show and tell, I want to talk about my new tomahawk.
Last month, Daniel Winkler of Winkler Knives gifted me a Medic Axe—one of the new designs that he’s recently churned out. It’s a simple piece of cutlery, but damned if it isn’t a piece of art. Read the rest
I keep an Opinel No. 8 pocket knife in most of my jackets. This one has been with me for years.
I buy Opinel No. 8 pocket knives for a lot of reasons. They are elegant in their simplicity. The carbon steel blade is excellent, stays sharp and develops a lovely patina. The handle is a simple piece of wood that fits well in your hand. The locking neck ring is pretty ingenious, and down right fool-proof if you use it.
Best of all, they are cheap and I don't mind losing them when I've forgotten to remove one on its way to the airport. The "No.8" 3.35in blade, perfect for most of my camping needs, is not allowed to board a plane on my person. Frequently, like last weekend, the heroic defenders of democracy that are the TSA just let me pass thru, but on occasion they will confiscate it.
I've had this blade since 2012. The patina started out by stabbing a lemon, but over the years has taken on a life of its own. While the ink on the side of the handle has slightly worn off, this knife just keeps getting better.
I hope I don't lose this one, it has ranged from Baja to Canada.
You can decorate, carve or otherwise modify the handle to your liking.
My Cool Tools podcast guest this week is Scotty Allen. Scotty is a nomadic engineer, entrepreneur, adventurer and storyteller who orbits around San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. He runs a YouTube channel Strange Parts, a travel adventure show for geeks where he goes on adventures ranging from building his own iPhone in China to trying to make a manhole cover in India.
“So one of the things that I have gotten an outsized amount of value from over the past year has been this microscope that I bought here in the electronics markets in China. It's a no-brand-name microscope that I got from a little tiny microscope booth in the market, and it's really been this incredibly high-leverage tool for me, and I didn't realize how much I was missing out until I bought it. It's been really great for doing detail work. And I use it for really small soldering work on iPhones and related circuit boards … It's a binocular microscope. It's not super high magnification, but because it's binocular you get depth of field, and so you can really see well. So you can look through the microscope and work underneath it with tweezers or a soldering iron or other tools and in great depth see what you're doing."
"Frame.io is an online tool that I use for collaborating on the videos I'm making. Read the rest
My guest on the Cool Tools podcast this week is Kevin Rose. Kevin is a serial entrepreneur and product builder, having founded the social news site Digg in 2004. Later Kevin pursued a career in venture investing, investing in companies like Medium, Ripple, and Blue Bottle Coffee while at Google Ventures and is now investing at True Ventures.
Peloton Bike ($1,995)
“I had taken a couple stationary bike classes and the ones that you actually have to go in person, but then I had a buddy of mine, that was like you don’t understand, these classes are a lot of fun, they really motivate you, you can do it your house, and for me that just sounded like, okay, I’ll give it a shot, and I went and tried it at a friend’s house, and I got hooked, purchased one, and for a geek it's awesome because you get all the really detailed analytics on the screen there post workout, and then it's all live streaming classes, so like when you're in a class the instructors will call you out by name sometimes, and there's all different types of instructors depending on your music style and likes, so I've just found it to be a great way — if you have an extra half hour — to just jump on for 20 minutes and get a work out in." [Note: True Ventures, the venture capital firm Kevin Rose works for, is an investor in Peloton.]
"I've been into habit tracking apps, but they always kind of fall off, but as a data junkie, and kind of a geek, I really like to see and be held to certain habits, so I like to see like completion rate, and progress indicators, and little charts and graphs. Read the rest
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).
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 SciToys.com and several novels.
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.”
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:
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.
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
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.
If only I still had hair. Read the rest
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
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.
"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
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.
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
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