These cheap noise canceling headphones are good

Last month I bought a pair of TaoTronics active noise cancelling bluetooth headphones for my two daughters to use on an 18-hour plane trip. They said they were excellent, and they also used them in the hotel to watch videos, play music, and play games. I tried them myself and was pleasantly surprised by how well they worked. You can use PSXIGLQM to get them at a good discount. Read the rest

I am the master of my home plumbing

We live in an older house, and the plumbing gets clogged a lot. Whenever a sink, shower, or toilet backs up, I try to to unclog it myself before calling a plumber. Sometimes it's as easy as using a Drain Weasel and getting hair out of a drain. If that doesn't work, I'll try a water bladder. As a last resort, I'll use one of these hand-crank plumber snakes:

The snake is a wrist-killer and a huge hassle. To insert the snake, you have to loosen a screw, pull out a few inches of snake, tighten the screw, turn the handle a bunch of times, then repeat the process. It takes forever.

If none of these work, I call a plumber. He brings a giant snake that unclogs anything and gives me a well-deserved bill between $100 - $300 (depending on the time of day, or day of the week).

After getting one of the higher bills for plumber's service on a Sunday evening, I looked around online for a motorized snake. This Ryobi P4001 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless 25 foot Drain Auger had good reviews and it fit my budget. I also needed to buy a battery and charger. When it arrived, I put the battery in the charger, almost looking forward to the next clog so I could try it out.

A short while after, it happened. Carla noticed that one of the clean outs in the backyard had lost its cap and sludge was seeping out. Judging from the size of the puddle, it looked like it had been happening for a long time. Read the rest

Great deal on noise canceling headphones

With a couple of family members going on a long plane flight soon, I bought a couple of these wireless active-noise canceling headphones on sale for a really low price using code LBAKMMEL. Read the rest

Get a 12-pack of small tubes of toothpaste for air travel

For a variety of reasons, most hotels don’t supply toothpaste in rooms. (Here’s an article from Slate that explains why.) And you can’t take a standard-sized tube in carry-on luggage because the toothpaste police at the airport will confiscate it. You can buy a 12 pack of 0.85-ounce tubes of Crest on Amazon for .

(For more tips and recommendations, check out a book I co-wrote, called Recomendo)

  Read the rest

Rusty Blazenhoff recommends this industrial ice cream scoop

Over at Cool Tools (a site I co-operate) Rusty Blazenhoff talks to Donald Bell about her favorite ice cream scoop: the Thrifty “square” ice cream scoop. Read the rest

Splatter screens are welcome addition to frying pans

Anytime I fry something that requires more than a few drops of oil, I cover the pan with a splatter screen. It keeps drops of hot oil from shooting out of the pan while at the same time allowing steam to escape. It also works as a colander. The one I use is excellent and it costs Read the rest

What's the best 9-volt snap light?

Over at Cool Tools (I site I co-run) Sean Michael Ragan made a video about 9 volt snap lights. These are small cubes containing and array of bright LEDs that snap onto a 9 volt battery, giving you a compact flashlight. Read the rest

I buy readers by the 5-pack

I use +3.0 to read books, phone, and kindle, and +0.5 when using my computer. My readers of choice are these cheap horn-rim spex. A five-pack costs . I keep a pair in my travel bag and the others are scattered around the house. They tend to gather and disperse like a swarm of semi-intelligent robots. Read the rest

Great deal on a LED tracing light box

I don't have this particular LED tracing light box, but it's super cheap on Amazon when you use code HC37AVDP. (If you don't know what a light box is, you probably don't need one.) Read the rest

An inexpensive home sewing kit for repairing clothes

Costing just on Amazon, this small sewing kit contains everything you need to make minor repairs to clothing. The only other thing you'll need is access to YouTube, so you can learn how to sew on a button, mend a tear, or repair a small hole. Read the rest

Kickstarter for a hoodie with a built-in neck pillow

The Pillowdy is a hoodie that comes with a self-inflatable neck pillow, and it met its Kickstarter goal. The cheapest model costs $109.

[via Core 77] Read the rest

Good deal on these teeth whitening strips

With all the tea and coffee I drink, I use teeth whitening strips once a year or so. They work really well for me. I can see a noticeable difference after using them just once. Amazon has a good deal on the Crest 3D White Whitestrips Vivid Plus Teeth Whitening Kit, which has 12 treatments. Read the rest

Excellent lemon/lime squeezer

Carla didn't like the glass citrus juicer we've had for years. She said it hurt her wrist when she twisted a lemon half on the cone. I agreed with her. It's an unnatural way to move your wrist. She also didn't like having to lift out the seeds with a spoon before using the juice. Again, I couldn't argue. I told her I wanted to do some research for a good squeeze handle juicer, but I took too long so she ordered a cast aluminum juicer like this one ( on Amazon).

It does a good job of getting almost all the juice out of a lemon, and is pretty easy to squeeze. It keeps the seeds inside the cup, too. My main concern is with the pin in the hinge. When will it break, and what kind of pin replacement will I be able use? It may not be an issue, though, because I didn't see a review where someone said the hinge pin broke. Read the rest

What's the best multi-bit screwdriver?

Cool Tools (a site I co-run with Kevin Kelly) has a YouTube channel that runs tool reviews. In our latest video, Sean Michael Ragan takes a look at a number of different multi-bit drivers. His favorite is the Picquic 48105 SIXPAC Plus Multi Bit Screwdriver. Read the rest

Grandpa Witmer's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer

I recently started using Grandpa Witmer's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Mixer to mix peanut butter quickly and without a mess.

The kind of peanut butter I buy from Trader Joe's separates into two layers. The oil is on top, and the solid stuff is on the bottom. It's hard to mix with a knife or spoon. The oil is likely to spill on the counter or splash on my clothes. This hand-powered stirrer does a great job. I bought the model with a lid that fits my brand of peanut butter. The stirring rod slips through a rubber hole in the lid, and when I remove it, the rubber hole squeegees the peanut butter off so there's no mess. For me it was $12 well spent. Read the rest

My new 300-page tool recommendation book

Kevin Kelly and I host a weekly podcast called Cool Tools. For more than 5 years now we have invited notable and creative people to talk about their favorite tools. This year our Cools Tools colleague Claudia Dawson took the transcripts from the best 150 episodes and pulled text, added images, and laid it all out in a 300-page book titled Four Favorite Tools. It is now available on Amazon in both color and B&W ($12.99) versions. Inside the book are hundreds and hundreds of recommendations for apps, gadgets, and tools. Read the rest

This travel daypack zips up into a tennis ball sized bundle

On my last trip to Tokyo, I brought along the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack ( on Amazon). It weighs 2.4 oz (my iPhone 6 Plus weighs 6.2 ounces) and zips up into a bundle smaller than my fist. But it holds 20 liters of stuff, and I used it every day to carry water, snacks, sweaters, an iPhone charger, a portable wifi, groceries, and things Carla and I bought while walking around. The material feels indestructible. Read the rest

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