LED bulbs are now cheaper that incandescent bulbs. These 60W equivalent bulbs aren't dimmable, but are highly rated on Amazon. I just bought a pack of 25 soft white bulbs for $28 (they also come in daylight temperature, but that is too harsh for me). Read the rest
Use code C37HNQ64 and get this autoranging multimeter from Tacklife for $7. It includes a 9V battery. I have a bunch of different Tacklife products (including a multimeter) and they do a great job. Read the rest
I've been using this picnic blanket for a few years, and it has held up very well. It's waterproof, padded, tough, and easily folds into its own compact carrying case. Amazon has it on sale now for $13.59.
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If you like neon yellow-green (I do!) this is a good deal on a Nintendo Switch case ($5.35) from the generally excellent line of Amazon Basics products. Besides keeping your Switch clean and safe, the case also has ten slots for cartridges, and a mesh pocket for cables and extra controllers.
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A good shop tip is a meme in the original sense of the word (an idea so useful that it quickly spreads from one nervous system to another). My friend Gareth Branwyn has been collecting shop tips for many years, and he has assembled them into a new book called Tips and Tales From the Workshop, which is filled with hundreds of truly useful tips organized by topic. You'll learn about smart ways to keep track of small parts, plan projects, glue things, mark things, cut things, drill things, and paint things. The tips on 3D printing have greatly reduced my frustration level. Even if you don't have a workshop many of the tips here can save you time.
Here are a few sample pages:
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I've been doing a lot of work with the Raspberry Pi lately for a book my daughter and I are writing, and I'm really liking the inexpensive Raspberry Pi Zero W. It's a nifty little Linux computer that comes with built in WiFi & Bluetooth. This $24 kit comes with a couple of important adapters for the Pi W: a MiniHDMI-to-HDMI adapter and a MicroUSB-to-USB adapter. You will also need an SD card, and HDMI monitor, and a keyboard/mouse. Once you have these, you are minutes away from having a nice little computer setup. Read the rest
On Monday I posted a video of a young cow enjoying a rotating brush called the Happycow. I wrote, "I think my cats would go for a Happycat." It turns out there is something similar - the Self Groomer Cat Toy ($5). I bought one and it arrived today. It's a plastic brush that you fill with a pinch of catnip (included) then attach to a corner with double sided adhesive tape (also included). I tested it out on our cat. She was sleeping in another room, and I carried her over to it and set her down in front of it. She ignored it and started to wander away, so I picked her up and rubbed her cheek against the plastic bristles. She immediately caught on and started rubbing her head against it and purring like crazy. She kept at it for a good three minutes. I caught about a minute of it on video. Read the rest
We used to have a lot of guitars, ukuleles, and cigar box guitars leaning against walls, stacked in closets, and hiding under beds. I bought this four-pack of guitar hanger hooks for $8 in January, now they are priced at $7 for four (You can also buy two for $6 or six for $9). They come with wall mounting hardware. They're highly rated on Amazon. Read the rest
I own 24 of these Japanese mesh zipper bags. A set of 8 (four 9" x 7" and four 8" x 5.5") cost just $9 on Amazon (with free Prime shipping). They are very well made and great for travel. I use one bag for tools, one for cables and batteries, one for medicine and first aid, one for small gadgets, one for eyeglasses, and one to store receipts. Then I just put them in my suitcase. I also use them at home to organize small parts. Amazon was sold out for a while but they are available once again. Read the rest
Available as an add-on item on Amazon, this Kuru Toga pencil has a cool feature that rotates the lead incrementally every time you press it down on paper. That way, the tip stays nicely rounded. Here's a video of the spring-loaded clutch mechanism in action:
The pencil also has a metal sleeve that protects the lead, sliding into the pencil as the lead gets shorter. The sleeve retracts completely so you can lug it in a bag without having to worry about it getting bent or breaking off.
I bought mine a while back and was happy to learn that Wirecutter also picked it as their favorite mechanical pencil. Read the rest
I've been keeping one of these mini umbrellas in my suitcase for years. It's so small and leight I don't notice that it is there until I need it. It weighs 7-ounces. It's under 7-inches long when closed. It opens to 34-inches in diameter. Amazon has it on sale today for $11.54. Read the rest
This 3-ounce Bluetooth speaker is highly rated on Amazon (and Fakespot gives the reviews an A grade for authenticity). It also comes with a built in mic so you can use it as a speakerphone. We bought one in March and my daughter uses it much more than than the larger one she has. It is loud and clear, even at top volume. It's only $10.79 when you click the coupon checkbox. Read the rest
Brush pens are fun for drawing and lettering because you can vary the line thickness. And unlike a brush, which requires frequent dipping into an inkwell, a brush pen is always loaded with ink (until the barrel runs out, that it.) This Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen includes one hard tip and one soft tip. I bought them last year for $7 but they are on sale on Amazon right now for just $4 for both pens. My set is still good but at this price I bought another. Read the rest
Anker's excellent Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 usually costs $56 on Amazon, but today it's a Gold Box deal on sale for $42. It can fully recharge an iPhone 7 seven times, and can charge two USB devices at once. It can even charge the power-hungry Nintendo Switch. I gave one to my nephew and he said it can charge his Switch even while he's playing it. (If you're looking for smaller less expensive battery that will charge the Switch, consider the $29 Anker PowerCore 13000.) Read the rest
Get ready for some Japan posts over the next few days, because I spent five wonderful weeks in Tokyo, Koya-san, and Kyoto. Carla, Jane, and I enjoyed it so much that we were not at all homesick. A few days before the end of our stay we tried to think of what we were looking forward to about Los Angeles. The only thing I could think of was the hangnail nippers I'd forgot to put in my travel kit. I had to use regular nail clippers to trim my hangnails, and they didn't do nearly as good of a job of getting to the nub as these little Tweezerman hangnail nippers ($12 on Amazon). I'll never forget them again. Read the rest
It's rare for Amazon to sell Apple's wireless AirPods let alone have them on sale. I bought a pair in March and I really like how convenient and easy to use they are. Right now Amazon is selling them for $145 with free Prime shipping, which is $14 less than the price at the Apple store. Read the rest
This Prismacolor beginner hand lettering set comes with a variety of pens, brush pens, pencils, and eraser and instructions. It's on sale of Amazon for $10. I don't have this set, but I have the brush pen (available separately for $6) and it is a fun pen for laying down lines with varying line widths. Read the rest