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.)
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)
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."
"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
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.
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
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.
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 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 baconmethod.com and hivelogic.com, and has written for A List Apart and O’Reilly. Dan lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their children.
"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 ($(removed))
"This is my microphone of choice these days. Read the rest
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.
Carvey CNC Machine ($(removed),000)
CNC machines are subtractive. 3D printers add plastic but CNC machines cut it away. … The Carvey is the first one that really feels like it belongs in my workshop, on my desktop. It's beautiful. It's quiet, it's got a cover, hydraulic hinges, etc. … It's the perfect replacement for a laser cutter in that it does 2D quite easily. It can actually do limited 3D, which is to say give depth to stuff. … Think of it right now as the kind of thing you would use for carving wood, plastics of various sorts.
Cricut Explore Air Machine ($(removed))
The Cricut is a CNC paper cutter and plotter. Read the rest
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!
"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 ($(removed))
"A vacuum chamber sealer is often used for sous vide in professional kitchens. Read the rest
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.)