Four years later, and I am still using my magnetic tool holder every day

I bought this wall-mounted magnetic strip in 2015 to have easy access to tools I need for simple household tasks: opening packages, hanging pictures, assembling furniture, tightening loose nuts, installing door locks, measuring things, simple plumbing repairs, etc. It's much better than keeping the tools in a kitchen drawer, because I can instantly find the tool(s) I need. The magnet is very strong, so I don't have to worry about a tool falling off. The strips come in various lengths. The one I bought is 24 inches long. The shortest I've seen on Amazon is seven inches. Read the rest

Use this promo code to get this electric lighter for cheap

I bought this USB rechargeable lighter in May and will never go back to using matches or a butane lighter. I've used it to light many charcoal barbecues, candles, and stove burners and have not had to recharge it yet (the manufacturer says it works 1,000 times before it needs recharging). It usually costs on Amazon but if you use promo code BFM3MDJY you can get it for about half that price. Read the rest

Kevin Kelly and I talk about some of our favorite tools

Kevin Kelly and I were the hosts and the guests on the latest episode of the Cool Tools podcast. We shared some of the tools we've been using and liking lately.

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Show notes:

Kevin's pick: DJI Spark Mini Drone ($399) I've been a very, very slow adopter of some of the newest photography technology in the form of drones. I have not owned a drone, and I've been kind of slow to get one, in part because there's a learning curve and part because my photography generally doesn't kind of lend that style. But I have a particular need for somewhere that I'm going to where I wanted to get high up, I wanted to have some elevated views, and I decided to get a drone. So, as usual, I kind of started low. I wanted basically an entry-level, lowest cost, easiest to learn mode, and so I got a DJI, which is the Chinese manufacturer of most drones. I got their Spark version, which I would say is the size of kind of like a cordless phone. The blades fold up, but the arms actually don't fold up. It's a little bit bigger than the palm, but it's not that much bigger. It will shoot very high res still images, which is what I'm using it for. And the other thing about it is that it doesn't have a controller. Read the rest

I prefer Gum Soft-Picks to flossing

Gum Soft-Picks do a better job than toothpicks or floss for cleaning food and plaque from between my teeth. The rubbery green brush pushes out all the gunk without hurting.  A pack of 100 will set you back on Amazon. Read the rest

Good deal on Tile tracker and Echo Dot

Yesterday I wrote about how having a Tile Bluetooth tracker helped me find my wallet when I lost it at the theater last week. I just found out that Tile has refreshed its product lineup and one of the new devices is called the Tile Sticker. It has an adhesive so you can stick it to items that you want to keep track of. A Tile Sticker 2-pack costs , but right now Amazon has a deal where you can get 4 Tile Stickers and an Echo Dot for . Read the rest

A Bluetooth tracker helped me find my wallet

About three years ago I was at Maker Faire with my family. We stopped at a booth run by Tile, a company that makes small Bluetooth trackers to attach to things you don't want to lose. The person in the booth let us spin a wheel of fortune to try to win a Tile. Carla spun it and won the best prize on the wheel - a Tile 4-pack with two Tile Mates and two Tile Slims. We ended up putting them in a drawer and forgetting about them. But about a month ago, Carla complained that she was frustrated with looking for her phone after misplacing it too many times around the house. I remembered the Tile devices and set one up so that she could press the button on the Tile and it would make her phone play a tone. It worked, which is surprising because the battery had been running for years. Now she keeps the Tile in a drawer and presses it when she can't find her phone.

I decided to put one of the Tile slims in my wallet. It's as thick as two credit cards, so it didn't make the wallet bulge. On Friday Carla and I went to a movie theater to see Monos (thumbs up) and when we got into our car after the movie, I felt for my wallet in my pants pocket and discovered it wasn't there. I quickly walked back to the theater to look for it. I didn't care as much about the contents of the wallet as the wallet itself -- it was a red zipper wallet I bought in Japan and I love it. Read the rest

Writer David Moldawer's favorite tools

My guest this week on the Cool Tools show is David Moldawer. David is a Brooklyn-based writer and book collaborator who spent more than a decade as an acquiring editor in New York City publishing. He was an editor on a number of books I've written. He also writes a weekly newsletter for nonfiction authors and experts who aspire to be authors called The Maven Game.

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Raw transcript excerpts:

Focusmate Focusmate has been transformative for me over the last few months. It’s very simple. It pairs you with a random person via webcam and you work together for 50 minutes at a time. So it’s like having a virtual coworking partner. So what happens is you have a calendar and you pick a slot. Let’s say I want to work at 9:00 AM — it’ll say “You’re working with John or Bill or Melinda at 9:00 AM,” and at that time I click start and it brings up a typical webcam, video-chat-kind-of window, and the other person’s there sitting at a desk and I’ll say “Hi, what are you working on?” They’ll say, “Oh I’m grading something because I’m a teacher.” And I’ll say, “Okay great. I’m doing some editing because I’m a book collaborator,” and that’s it. And then we’ll just sit there and work with the webcam going. Nobody really watches each other. Read the rest

If you have an older MacBook, here's a very inexpensive charger

This L-type magsafe charger for pre-2013 MacBooks is already cheap at but if you use promo code NX72DAJR, you can get it for half that price. Read the rest

Hakko micro cutters will flush cut wires

If you do soldering work, I recommend getting a pair of these micro cutters. They'll cut copper wires flush with the blob of solder, making your work look tidy. And they cost just on Amazon Read the rest

A cheap monitor for Raspberry Pi users

I've been using a 25-inch Acer monitor for years and have been very happy with it. If you need an external monitor for your notebook computer or Raspberry Pi and don't want to spend a lot of money, Acer has this 19.5 HF (1366 X 768) display for on Amazon. Read the rest

My favorite electric hair clipper

I've been cutting my own hair for decades. I've used everything from blunt preschooler's scissors on up, but the best clipper I've used is the one I have now. It has a ceramic blade that stays sharp, so it can easily lop off my unusually thick hair. And it's cordless, which makes it easy to maneuver around my head. The price is more than agreeable, too: . Read the rest

Carla Sinclair talks about some of her favorite tools on the Cool Tools podcast

In this week's Cool Tools Podcast episode, Kevin Kelly and I talked to Boing Boing co-founder Carla Sinclair. Carla is an author, freelance writer and editor. She's written 5 books, including Girl Genius, which will be released in November.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Raw transcript excerpts:

BYU Online Japanese course I take a course through Brigham Young University. It's their online independent study. They teach tons of foreign languages. I've been studying Japanese. I'm on my second year. They're really supposed to be semester classes, but luckily they give you a year, and I take it every day of that year. And then I also pay for a three-month extension, so it takes me about 15 months. But you can take either university or high-school-level classes, and if you are in high school, you can get credit for them and the same with the university classes. I don't do it for the credit. The reason I chose BYU is because our daughter, Jane, who's 16, wanted to study Japanese for her high school credits, and her school doesn't offer it. So we did a lot of research, and BYU is one of the only universities we could find online classes that offers credited high school classes. After I took the first semester, we went to Japan, and I was able to converse. I could order in restaurants, and I could go to a shop and ask how much something is, although I tend to forget almost everything as soon as I start speaking to someone. Read the rest

Buy these tiny flashlights in bulk

You can buy 15 of these itty-bitty keychain flashlights for . I keep one in every one of my family member's suitcases as well as on keychains and in my toolbox. I've had my set for years and they seem to be as bright as when I got them. Read the rest

Cool hands-free illuminated magnifier for cheap

This 2.5x LED magnifier can be used as a handheld tool or on the desktop. Perfect for peering at electronic components. It's only on Amazon. Read the rest

This cool mechanical pencil sharpens itself

The inexpensive Uni Kuru Toga is my favorite mechanical pencil, because it automatically rotates the lead everytime you touch the tip to paper. This keeps the lead nicely rounded. It does this without making the pen feel clicky or clunky, which would render it useless. Instead the mechanical action is so smooth as to be unnoticable. Read the rest

Good deal on a stovetop espresso maker

I don't have this particular make of stovetop espresso maker, but they all work the same way. It quickly makes several cups of strong coffee. I wouldn't call it espresso - just strong coffee. No filter is needed. If you've never tried this kind of coffee maker before, now is your chance: Amazon is selling the 3-cup model for and the 6-cup model for . Read the rest

These steel taco holders are a steal

I've been using these steel taco holders for a few years now and they are a big hit with the family. They hold tacos upright, making it easy to add fillings. And when you serve them, the fillings don't fall out. Plus, they are just fun to use. Amazon has them for the sale price of Read the rest

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