reMarkable tablet: A software update makes this forgotten gadget incredibly useful

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I'd like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you're unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for a spin: despite the fact that I type for a living, my note taking and a good chunk of my writing is decidedly old school.

So far, I've had no luck in finding any hardware solution that serves me better than a piece of paper and a fountain pen can. Unfortunately, at its release, the reMarkable wasn't all that remarkable. While the latency of the tablet's E Ink display and pen were close to non-existent, the rest of its software felt under baked. The UI was far from intuitive. It functioned as an e-reader, but only barely. While you could export what you'd written to a smartphone or computer, there was no way to edit the text once it was there. It felt like a slog to use. I asked a colleague in Canada if he'd like to give it a try. I mailed it out to him and, a few weeks later, it came back to me, marked not "deliverable." I didn't have time to ship it out again as I was preparing to spend several months on the road. I threw it into the back of my workspace's storage cupboard. It lurked there until today. Read the rest

Watch this loving restoration of a rusty old hammer to its former glory

Steve of Miller Knives found an extremely rusty old Estwing hammer at a flea market and restored it beautifully. The process is the product. Read the rest

Picking locks with a cheap battery-powered pumpkin saw

The LockPickingLaweyer modified a cheap battery-powered pumpkin-carving saw into a rather effective electric lock pick!

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Stubby multi-bit screw and nut driver fits in tight spaces

This stubby screwdriver fits into tight spaces. Read the rest

Silicone dish scrubbers: one year of use, far less gross than a sponge

I've been using these silicone dish scrubbers for about a year. They are far less gross than sponges.

All the tales of sponge-nastiness got to me last year. I decided that some silicone scrubbers were worth trying out, and a small expense if they did not work out.

These silicone scrubbers work fantastically!

Pictured are the two that currently live in my sink. The blue one gets more use, but both have been aggressively used for scrubbing over the last 12 months. They have not worn out, they have not become so fouled or toxic that I've had to toss one. There are still 3 others in my kitchen drawer waiting to be employed.

The only trick I find to cleaning with these, is that silicone scrubbers don't hold soap like a sponge does, so I'm either applying soap several times during a big wash-up, or I capture a bowl of soapy water at the beginning of cleaning.

You can just rise these off in the sink with water, but every few dishwasher loads I throw one or the other of the scrubbers into the machine. They come out almost as-new. I have heard tales of folks boiling these, but the dishwasher seems to handle it.

I still use a sponge sometimes, but these are where the cleaning starts.

INNERNEED Food-Grade Silicone Non Stick Dishwashing Brush Kitchen Dish Cleaning (5 mix color) via Amazon Read the rest

A $10 food scale for weighing what you cook before you cook it

If you bake, or diet, this $10 food scale is super helpful to have around.

There was a crepe recipe I really wanted to try, but everything was all in measured grams. I am far too lazy to bother converting the 3 or 4 ingredients from grams to ounces, even with the help of Alexa in my kitchen. Luckily, I had this cheap food scale sitting around.

The included batteries were dead by the time I got around to trying this out, but everything else about the scale is exactly as ordered. You can turn this scale on. You may also zero this scale out. If desired you may easily swap from metric to imperial measurements. The scale turns off automatically, if you forget to do so yourself.

I have been told that baking-by-weight is far superior to baking-by-feel.

Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale, 11lb 5kg, Silver, Stainless Steel (Batteries Included) via Amazon Read the rest

My Zippo axe is a multi-tool

I keep this Zippo Axe/Saw/Mallet in my camper van. It comes in really handy. Read the rest

Look behind the scenes of how a Swiss Army Knife is made

Yes, a PR video and yes, the music is kind of terrible. But man, I learned so much watching this video churned out by the folks at Victorinox. Given the ubiquitous nature of the Swiss Army knife, I'm surprised by how much of the tool's production is still done with human intervention. Being as the video was only produced two years ago, I have to assume that they're still making their knives in the same manner. If anyone knows different, I'd love to hear about it.

If you've ever owned a Swiss Army Knife or want to understand more about how an iconic piece of hardware is created, taking in this 13-minute film is time well-spent. Read the rest

I love my Opinel No. 8 pocket knives

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.

Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Everyday Carry Locking Pocket Knife via Amazon Read the rest

Watch how easy it is to break into this $100 "smart" lock

Tapplock sells a fingerprint-enabled padlock for $100. Zack was able to defeat it quickly and quietly by twisting off the back plate and removing a couple of screws. Ouch. Read the rest

This is the best NSFW explanation of the Florida bridge collapse

If you like sweary Canadians with lots of knowledge about building materials and construction, Arduino versus Evil has the most interesting armchair analysis of what caused the Florida International University bridge collapse. Read the rest

Watch this incredible restoration of an extremely rusty butcher's knife

YouTuber Andre Will Do It found a butcher's knife that was coated in rust, with pitting over 2 millimeters deep on both sides. He almost gave up before eventually restoring it to excellent working condition. Read the rest

This water filter is going in my bug out bag

You should have a Sawyer Mini water filter in your emergency supplies.

As a life-long camping gadget freak, the Sawyer Mini may be one of the best tools I've seen yet. Weighing in at only 2oz the Mini will filter 100,000 gallons of water with only minimal maintenance. No awful to use UV lights, no crazy big pump. Just squeeze a bag of water through the filter into your waterbottle.

The base kit comes with one 16oz reusable squeeze pouch. You'll likely want to get a few larger bags, I like the 64oz for fairly easy filling in a river or lake, and also being a decent size of water to process in one quick sitting. If you have running or gravity fed water that needs filtration, you can also splice the Mini in.

The Mini has a .1 micron filter, and Sawyer claims "this filter was tested to 10 million parts of bacteria and one million parts of protozoa without a single breakthrough — the highest testing level for filtration." The water doesn't taste like chemicals. I remember a boy scout Sierra backpacking trip and iodine purification tablets galore. Gah!

For under $20 no emergency survival kit should be without one of these filters.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

Cotton balls turned into a colorful garden tool handle

Peter Brown decided to dye some cotton balls, soak them in resin, then turn the resulting form on a lathe to make a delightful colored handle for a refurbished garden tool. Read the rest

QuillBot is "a smart thesaurus for sentences"

QuillBot rewrites phrases, making it easy to tweak results and understand what it's up to in each variation.

Four and seven years ago our fathers gave birth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and consecreated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Let's try that America. Read the rest

This $12 set of 45 screw-driving bits gets a lot of use

Whenever I have to turn a screw, I turn to this easy-to-find, yellow box of bits.

Flat? Phillips? Torx? Square? Any time I run into a standard-style screw head that needs turning I reach for my drill and add one of these bits. There is a pretty fair assortment, though some repetition, of sizes and shapes in this yellow box.

The metal the bits are made of? Good enough. What I really like? The "tough" plastic case! I dunno how tough canary yellow is, but it is easy to find in my tool bag, or left about the house.

I also have a black box of bits, I can never find them. Yellow it is!

DEWALT DW2166 45-Piece Screwdriving Set with Tough Case via Amazon

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Midori Traveler’s Notebook, an invaluable tool from Japan

I traveled to Japan to buy a notebook.

As a tech journalist and hardware reviewer, my primary function is to tell you whether or not the products you may be thinking of buying are, in a word, shit. It’s not typically a job that requires I leave my home. Hardware companies or my employers have products shipped out to me. I play with them for a few weeks, or less. Then, most of the time, I ship the stuff back to make room for more stuff. Occasionally, I’m offered the opportunity to travel for work: a cellphone company might be showing off a new version of something they released last year. Sometimes, a well known company wants to give me a peek behind the curtain to see how they build the things that I'll wind up calling shit somewhere down the road. Such an instance happened this past August. I was asked by a well-known peddler of audio equipment if I’d be willing to travel to Japan to take a look at something new they’d been cooking up. I agreed, but warned that if they didn’t show me anything compelling while I visited their manufacturing facility, I wouldn’t be writing a story. They agreed to the terms.

A few weeks and a long flight in coach later, I was in Japan. I’d been sent an itinerary a week before I was due to fly. It detailed a stacked week of factory tours, site seeing and cultural events. In the middle of all of the goings on, was a single day where I could do whatever I damn well pleased while I was in Tokyo. Read the rest

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