October 22, 2006

I'm not a construction professional, handyman, or even much of a do-it-yourself enthusiast. I am a homeowner, though, and from time to time I have to do stuff that requires tools. Having the appropriate, good quality tools makes doing any job a lot easier (and often safer), and frankly, makes me a lot more likely to want to do it!

I've already written about My Digital Toolkit, and as I've been building up my set of hardware tools, it occured to me that it might be useful for others if I share the list of what's in my physical toolkit and why. I'm not going to list every tool, just the ones I think are especially cool or useful. Rather than duplicate what the vendor lists as the benefits of each, I'll try to focus on talking about why I like each tool.

Toolkit

They're not listed in any particular order, though I've loosely grouped them by powered/not powered and put them into two major categories. I've also purposely linked to the manufacturers' websites, rather than to any particular vendor, since part of the reason for putting this list together is to show my appreciation for the tools and the manufacturers that created them, not the resellers.

A List of My Cool Hardware Tools

Hand Tools

Outdoor/Garden/Other Tools


Hand Tools

Toolbox

Husky Pro Tool Bag (Model: 45121) - Jan 2007

Husky Pro Tool Bag

Since we own a home that's not new and tend to do a lot of projects/updates/etc., we found ourselves keeping more and more tools inside, as opposed to in the garage. I had a toolbox, but I quickly learned why it cost only $5 — it was small, and actually unpleasant to use. It was just too much work; I had to open it, remove the top shelf, get a tool, put the shelf back, close it if I wanted to carry it somewhere, etc.

So, we started just keeping a few frequently-used tools in a Sterilite storage box. That worked okay, but wasn't ideal — it provided good visibility, but required two hands to carry, didn't allow organization, and wasn't very safe, given that many tools have sharp edges, which are less visible as their numbers increase in a disorganized box.

I'd been casually on the lookout for a better solution, when my parents recently gave me The Husky Pro Tool Bag, which solved all those problems. It's a large, rigid, open container, with a metal handlebar that allows one-handed carrying (it even comes with a shoulder strap!) and provides plenty of clearance. It has:

  • 19 storage pockets on the inside and outside of the main storage bin
  • A sheath for a handsaw, with a strap to secure it in place
  • All kinds of straps & hooks, even a carabiner

I don't know that I could have imagined a better toolbox; thanks, Mom & Dad!

Pry Bar

Stanley FatMax® Xtreme™ Fubar™ Utility Bar (Model: 55-099) - Oct 2006

Stanley FatMax Xtreme FuBar

I've been wanting this since I first saw it, just because it's so badass! I don't even have plans for any demolition projects, but the moment I need to destroy or break something, this is the tool I'm reaching for. In fact, I couldn't really even justify gettng this, but if you get a chance to check out one of these in real life, you'll see why it's irresistible for any tool junkie. Fortunately, my wife understands (and agrees!) ;)

  • Super-strong, one-piece forged steel.
  • Heavyweight hammer.
  • Pry bar.
  • Nail puller.
  • Board bender/breaker.
  • Comfortable, slip-resistant, rubberized grip.

If any tool can justify being called "Xtreme", this is it; the Fubar ("Functional Utility Bar") is an all-around super destruction tool!

Hammer

Stanley 20 oz. Rip Claw Jacketed Graphite Hammer (Model: 51-508) - 2005

Stanley 20 oz. Rip Claw Jacketed Graphite Hammer

A full-sized hammer is a staple (no pun intended!) of any toolkit. This one's fairly basic, but feels good in my hand, and I don't think I'll ever have to replace it; it's got a graphite core, so it's not likely to break -- something I don't think one should have to stress about when hammering!

  • Strong, graphite core.
  • Well-balanced.
  • Comfortable, slip-resistant, rubberized grip with flared end.

Retractable Utility Knife

Stanley 6-1/2" InstantChange™ Retractable Knife (Model: 10-788) - 2005

Stanley Retractable Utility Knife

A retractable utility knife comes in handy so often, I think it's reasonable to have more than one. Sometimes, you need to be able to cut something without worrying about damaging or dulling a nice knife blade. Being able to retract the blade does a lot to increase safety. Our standard is to always retract it before putting it down, even if it's "just for a second". That's easy to do since it's got a mechanism that locks the blade into three positions, and has a positive feel even when wearing gloves.

  • Rubberized upper grip and thumb rest reduce the chance of slipping.
  • Blades stored in the handle.
  • No tools required to change blade.
  • Integrated string cutter.

Staple Gun

PowerShot® Heavy Duty Forward Action® Staple & Nail Gun (Model: PowerShot) - 2004

PowerShot Stapler

A staple gun is generally useful to have if you own a home, but also good for projects and repair jobs. This one is designed really well; if you've used a "normal" staple gun and try this, you'll see why the PowerShot makes sense.

Pliers: Tongue and Groove

Channel Lock 10" Tongue and Groove Plier (Model: 430) - 2004

Channel Lock 10 inch Tongue and Groove Plier

When we bought our first house, a friend who knows his tools told me to "just get a pair" of these because I'd need them, and he was right! They seem to be able to do almost anything, and really came in handy when changing a rusted toilet handle.

  • Wide, adjustable jaw.
  • Enable you to exert a lot of force.

Flashlight/Utility Light

Stanley MaxLife™ 369™ Tripod Flashlight (Model: 95-112) - Oct 2006

Stanley MaxLife Tripod Flashlight

I've loved flashlights since I was a kid, and have been eyeing this one for several months; after all, it doubles as a work-utility light! It was actually my wife that prompted this purchase though; I didn't know it, but she'd been coveting it too! It has some really good features, and a very high cool factor. Check out the TV commercial!

  • Tripod and movable head provide hands-free light right where you need it.
  • Can run on 3, 6, or 9 batteries, which are housed inside the tripod legs. Provides the same illumination/brightness regardless of how many batteries, but the more you add, the longer it lasts (200+ hours on 9 batteries).
  • Three levels of brightness.
  • Low-battery indicator - Lets you know batteries are low before you pack it for a trip!

Voltage Tester

Greenlee Non-Contact Voltage Tester (Model: GT-11) - Sep 2006

Greenlee GT-11 Non-Contact Voltage Tester

We had one of those cheap, combination screwdriver/voltage testers, and if you have one, I recommend you throw it away now and go get one of these non-contact ones that has no exposed metal. This tester isn't cheap (nor is it expensive), but this is one case in which you really get what you pay for, and when you're dealing with electricity, safety is especially important.

I went to go buy the Fluke VoltAlert that was recommended on Cool Tools, but the salesman practically laughed me out of the store. They didn't carry the Fluke, but even if they did, I don't think he would have let me buy it; I was half expecting him to accompany me to the register to make sure I got this one! He said it's much higher quality and more durable. I'm not an electrician, and he claimed to work as one, so I figured with such a strong opinion, I'd take his word for it. After all, how many people are emphatic about voltage testers?

  • All plastic; no exposed metal.
  • No contact required for detection.
  • Bright red, visible and audible alert when voltage is detected; no wondering if you saw the dim light on the cheap models.
  • On/off switch to preserve battery.
  • Batteries are included!

Stud Sensor

Zircon StudSensor Pro SL (Model: Pro SL) - 2003

Zircon StudSensor Pro SL Zircon StudSensor Scan and Mark Procedure

A must for hanging pictures (or anything else) on the wall, mounting towel racks, etc.

  • Detects wood or metal studs.
    • Normal mode: scans 3/4 inches deep with 1/8 inch accuracy.
    • Deep Scan mode: scans 1-1/2 inches deep with 3/16 inch accuracy using the dual scan and mark procedure.
  • Visual and audible alert.
  • Projects a beam of light on the surface when it detects a stud.
  • Incremental detection, so you know when you're close.
  • Belt/pocket clip; easy to put aside while marking wall or using other tools.

Rotary Tool

Dremel 10.8V Lithium-ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit (Model: 8000-01) - Dec 2005

Dremel 10.8V Lithium-ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit Dremel 10.8V Lithium-ion Cordless Rotary Tool

You can buy the 10.8V Cordless Dremel separately, but the kit comes with a lot of accessories you'll need, and a nice hard plastic storage case.

I've wanted a Dremel for years, but waited until I had a good excuse before I got one: I had to expand the size of the wooden frame of our HVAC air return to accomodate a custom filter that was a tiny bit too large; the Dremel worked great! It's really come in handy since we got it, and I expect it will do so many times in the future.

It's got a very high-speed motor -- up to 35,000 rpm, which is impressive when you're holding it -- because it's effectiveness isn't about applying force; in most cases, you don't have to exert much at all, you just let the speed do the work.

  • Grinds, sands, cuts almost anything.
  • Cordless, which removes what often becomes an impediment to using a tool; dealing with the cord! Also, I reasoned that I might need to use it where stringing a cord would be difficult.
  • Battery level indicator.

Cordless Screwdriver

Black & Decker 3.6V Rechargeable 3- Position Screwdriver (Model: 9078) - 2003

Black & Decker 3.6V Rechargeable 3- Position Screwdriver

Another basic must-have tool, a cordless screwdriver takes the tedium out of most routine household tasks. There's still definitely room for a standard non-powered screwdriver, but this is usually the one I reach for first, and this Black & Decker does its job well and retains its charge a remarkably long time.

  • Handle can be adjusted from straight to pistol grip; useful for smaller spaces and applying force.
  • Adjustable torque, with decent maximum.
  • Forward/reverse switch is well-positioned and easy to operate.
  • Really good battery life and exceptional charge retention!

Outdoor/Garden/Other Tools

Ladder

Werner Multi-Master 16-Foot Articulated Ladder++ (Model: M1-8-16) - 2004

Werner Multi-Master Articulated Ladder

As a homeowner, I've come to understand that it's conceivable to actually need more than one ladder. This one is configurable, so it can serve many purposes, and we've used it in several of it's 18 possible configurations. If you're going to get a ladder, this is a great one to start with; you may not need another. It even worked great while painting on our curved staircase!

  • Configurable to 18 positions, including step, stand-off, straight, and scaffold.
  • Lightweight aluminum.
  • 16 feet tall, but foldable and fits in a car trunk!
  • Includes a bolt-on stability-enhancing base.

Lopper

Fiskars 21-1/2" PowerGear® Bypass Lopper (Model: 9127-6935) - Dec 2005

Fiskars 21-1/2 inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper

If you have a yard, chances are, you're going to need a lopper to do minor pruning of trees and bushes. This one has an ingenious gear that doubles your cutting power. We have yet to find a branch that can challenge this lopper; it slices through most with minimal effort, even when we ask it to bite off a bit more than it can chew.

  • Force amplifying gear.
  • Super strong handles - I hate worrying about breaking tools, so I really appreciate when they're built to take a lot of force.
  • Replacable blade - I wish more tools were built with this kind of thinking!

Saw: Branch Cutting

Corona 13" Curved Razor Tooth Saw (Model: RS 7120) - Dec 2005

Corona 13 inch Curved Razor Tooth Saw

It's clear that as homeowners, we're going to need more than one saw, but this was our first, and it's impressive! A branch fell off a tree in the backyard, and it took no time to cut it up using this saw. It's long, curved blade and 3-sided teeth (which facilitate cutting in both directions) make this a very efficient cutting tool.

  • Long, very sharp, curved blade makes it easy to cut effectively when pulling as well as pushing.
  • Very comfortable, secure, pistol grip, and good overall ergonomic design.
  • Replaceable the blade, handle, and connecting nuts & bolts.
  • Did I mention that it's extremely sharp?

Cordless Hedge Trimmer

Black & Decker Hedgehog 18-Volt 22" Cordless Hedge Trimmer (Model: NHT518) - Sep 2005

Black & Decker Hedgehog 18-Volt 22 inch Cordless Hedge Trimmer

I do have one of those orange, heavy-duty extension cords, and I almost never use it. When I was younger & doing yardwork with my dad, I always dreaded getting it out, unrolling it, managing it during use, and rolling it back up. All I have to do to use this trimmer is pick it up. It's got decent power, good reach, and a comfortable holding position.

  • Cordless; no extra effort required before (or after) use.
  • Secure, two-handed grip with hand guard.
  • 50 minute run time.
  • Interchangeable battery, so you can swap in a fresh one.

July 08, 2006

I really like the convenience of rechargeable electronics, but they can also be a headache.  Sometimes I feel like I'm always recharging something, so I thought I'd see just how bad it is by making a list:

Power adapter

Things I have to recharge

  1. Mobile phone
  2. Bluetooth headset
  3. Digital camera
  4. Wireless computer mouse
  5. Notebook computer
  6. Beard trimmer
  7. Electric razor
  8. Electric screwdriver
  9. Dremel rotary tool
  10. Cordless drill
  11. Hedge trimmer

The list is shorter than I expected, but I think the real  challenge is not the number of things to recharge, but managing everything so it's ready when I want to use it.  This can be tough when it comes things I use very rarely, but want to be charged when I need it, like my cordless drill.  It came with two batteries, but despite having used it ~5 times and rotating the batteries once in a while, one is dead & the other holds only a small charge.  I guess that's why it was only $49.  In fact, buying two replacement batteries would cost just about as much as a new drill (of the same type)!

Update: 2007.03.31 - It looks like this may become less of a problem, now that a company called Powercast has invented a way to transmit power without wires!

Not all rechargeable electronics are created equal.  Here are my preferences for the major types: 

  • Ideal:
    • Works with a power cord attached in addition to battery power.  Example: notebook computers.
    • Takes standard batteries (rare these days) in addition to rechargable ones.  Example: my old digital camera (If I ever ran low on power, I could stop at a store or gas station almost anywhere and get batteries.)
  • Reasonable: Permits easy battery swapping.  This is fine, provided battery cost isn't exorbitant.  Example: modern digital cameras.
  • Bad: Uses integrated rechargable batteries.  Example: my electric razor and screwdriver.  Both of these have lasted and performed very well, but why not give them virtually infinite life with a replacable battery?  These devices fall into the category of unnecessarily disposable items, about which I'll write another time.

What's on your list of things to recharge?

February 01, 2006


 

SanDisk MobileMate SD with cards

I've recently acquired (thanks, Dave!) a SanDisk MobileMate USB card reader, a 5-in-1 card  reader (SD/MMC/etc.) about the size of many USB "thumb" drives.  As SanDisk says, it's "ideal for memory-enabled mobile phone users and photo travel needs".

I had a chance to use it with my digital camera and laptop while travelling in Europe, and it was a great solution for off-loading pics from the two SD cards we were using in our digital camera, but its value extends beyond that:  A mobile USB card reader + memory card is a useful combination that fits several data storage and transport needs as well or better than a traditional USB thumb drive.  I'm not saying you should throw out your thumb drive if you have one, but if you don't, a mobile USB card reader could obviate the need to get one.

Benefits of the mobile USB card reader + memory card combination

  • Enables you to make better use of the storage you already have - You most likely already have to buy some kind of memory card(s) for your digital camera, mobile phone, PDA, or digital audio player.  Why buy storage twice?  Mobile USB card readers cost ~$25, and allow you to use your memory cards (essentially) just like thumb drives.  So, for a small additional cost, you get to really "leverage your investment" by using the storage you already have for more than just the devices for which you bought it.
  • You get more value and flexibility of use from your storage - Imagine you have a camera, phone, and digital audio player that can all use SD cards, and you buy a 1GB card for each.  When needed, you can dedicate them all to a single device, such as when taking the camera on a long trip.   The mobile card reader makes the storage useful for more than just the devices you bought it for; it becomes a more general resource.   You can load up all 3 cards with vacation pictures and video and take them to share with a friend.  With 7+ megapixel cameras that take video, and 1 & 2 GB storage cards, this is often the most efficient way to quickly share lots of pictures & videos.
  • Enables instant photo sharing  - If you're with a friend and each taking pictures with your own camera, you can transfer a copy from your camera's memory card to your friend's computer, and put a copy of your friend's pictures on your card.  That's something a typical thumb drive can't do.  We did this a few times on our trip, and it's a nice capability!
  • Doubles as a desktop card reader -  Until WiFi becomes more common on cameras, a card reader is a much nicer way to transfer pictures to a computer than connecting the camera via cable.  (If nothing else, it saves your battery!)  If I had known about the benefits of a mobile card reader, I wouldn't have bought the desktop version -- that's part of why I'm writing this.  NOTE: This is not a good solution if your computer doesn't have front-mounted or easily accessible USB ports.

 

Benefits of USB thumb drives

As I said above, I'm not against thumb drives, nor arguing that they're not useful.  Here are some advantages they have over the card & reader combination:

  • More durable - You don't have to worry about removing your memory card from the device, and securing it.  Memory cards seem pretty durable, but I wouldn't want one floating around unprotected in my backpack, something I would comfortably do with a thumb drive.
  • More software features & functionality - Many thumb drives are bundled with software & capabilities such as encryption, authentication (some via fingerprint scanning), running programs, serving as boot disks, etc.  These are often vendor-provided and sometimes vendor-specific, and you're almost certainly paying a bit extra for them, but they can be valuable features for mobile storage.  (There are probably not many technical reasons similar features couldn't be included on memory cards, but I think it's unlikely to happen given the way thumb drives are marketed.)
  • More storage - I don't think memory cards are commonly available with quite as much capacity as thumb drives.  The gap doesn't seem to be widening, though (internally, they're probably very similar technology), and is most likely to shrink.

SanDisk has introduced SD cards that plug directly into USB ports, which are certainly worth considering.  I'm not sure that's likely to be done with mini SD and other card formats (but who knows?), so the mobile USB card reader may still be a better choice.  (Of course, if the price is close, why not buy direct-to-USB SD cards even if you have a card reader?)

I'm sure there are other great mobile USB card readers in addition to SanDisk's.  I just happen to have a SanDisk reader and cards and I'm happy with them thus far, so I used them as an example.  I'm writing to illustrate the concept, not endorse this product in particular.

November 11, 2005

My dad brought me up to be a gentleman, and one of the things that includes -- if you share a bathroom with women -- is putting the toilet seat down after using it.

Bemis has made it easier to be courteous with their Slow-Close toilet seats, which lowers either or both the seat and the lid slowly and silently after you give them a nudge.  You just start the seat closing, let go, and you're done.

 

We just moved into a new (to us) house, and we replaced the former owners' toilet seats with these right away.  The convenience of being able to put down the toilet seat with so little effort almost certainly violates some chivalric code of required difficulty and sacrifice, but this is one of those small advances in modern engineering that deserves to become ubiquitous.  If you have a reason to get new toilet seats, these are definitely worth consideration.

As a bonus, the seat also has quick-release snap hinges, so you can easily remove the entire seat for thorough cleaning.

May 11, 2005

What?

If you're a Sharpie user (or use another marker that has a cap), you should check out the new retractable Sharpies!

Retractable Sharpie

Why?

Often when you go to label something with a marker, you hold it in your hand. Removing the cap from a typical marking pen is tedious and inconvenient. The retractable Sharpie solves the problem, enabling one-handed marking!

May 05, 2005

I originally bought my Petzl Zipka headlamp for a camping trip, but it's also useful in a variety of other situations in which you want portable, hands-free illumination. Unlike most other headlamps, this one is extremely compact, since it has an ingenious retractable band. Note that I didn't say "headband" -- the retraction system maintains constant tension, so you can easily strap it to your wrist, a post (for fixed task lighting), etc.

Petzl Zipka Headlamp

I recently used mine during a scheduled power outage in my computer machine room at work; I had to do some work in the dark, and needed to use both hands, so this was perfect!

There's a newer Plus model, too; it's a bit more expensive, but has an extra LED and some other cool features.

Update: 2005.12 - A friend gave me the Petzl Tikka XP for Christmas. At first I thought, "Cool, but I already have a headlamp." That was before I switched this one on. It's not as compact as the Zipka since it uses a standard headband, but it's really bright, and has a "boost" button that kicks the brightness up a couple notches! Plus, it has a sliding diffuser, various brightness settings, and a blink mode. If I could have only one, the Tikka XP would be it, especially for camping, but the Zipka's compact size is really nice for travel, so I'm glad to have both.

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

Update: 2006.08.15 - REI used to carry both the Zipka and the Zipka Plus, but no longer seems to. The Petzl Tikka XP is still available.

As you can tell from my post about the Leatherman Micra, I really like small, unobtrusive tools that have a high utility/size & weight ratio.

Photon Micro Light

The Photon Micro Light is another tool/gadget I've carried for several years, and it's served me very well & proved its worth time and time again. I am a fanatic about minimizing what's on my keychain, but this light is so small, lightweight, and useful, it's earned the right to stay there.

I have a Photon II, which isn't quite as advanced as the Photon III, but unless it ever breaks (which I doubt), the differences aren't important enough to me that it's worth upgrading.

These come in several colors, (even infrared!) each of which has its purpose. I recently switched from red (good for preserving night vision & working in semi-stealth mode) to blue (extremely bright & visible), since I rarely need the benefits of red. That would have been a good time to upgrade, but I got the blue Photon II on sale, which was part of what prompted the switch.

There are other keychain LED flashlights, but the Photon is the original, as far as I know, and I have yet to see another that has the same mix of size, weight, and quality.

At first glance, I thought "I already have a utility knife", but looking at the OpenX site and seeing how easily this tool glides through packages reminds me that opening those "everyone-proof" plastic packages usually requires more force than feels safe.

OpenX demo

Using this tool does look a fair amount safer. Besides, I keep my utility knife in the toolkit in the garage, so I rarely bother to go get it for opening stuff.

OpenX package opener

Since I don't have it yet, I can't actually recommend it, but check out the site, and see what you think. At $5 shipped "today only", it's worth getting!

Credit: Gizmodo

(I could imagine this ending up on the Cool Tools blog, if it's not there already.)

Update: Now that I've had mine a while, I can say it's a really decent tool, and safer than anything else I've used to open packages; definitely worth $5! They treat you to a nice bit of irony when you get it.

May 03, 2005

I've carried a Leatherman Micra for years, and I love it! It's small, reasonably light-weight, very strong, and has a good variety of tools - I think Leatherman struck a perfect balance with the Micra.

It's surprising how often it's useful to have around; my wife doesn't carry hers, but often asks, "Do you have your Micra?", and I always do. I guess that works well enough since we're together most of the time, but I still like to remind her how handy it is every time she asks to use it. ;)

Leatherman Micra

If I'm wearing jeans, I carry my Micra in the "watch pocket". If you do this, be sure to carry it hinge-up, so you don't slice your fingers by reaching in to get it only to nudge it open and expose the scissor blades.

The full-sized Leatherman tools are great for specific tasks & activities. For example, this year the city required all Christmas trees to fit in the green waste container for disposal. I didn't have a saw, so I used my Wave to cut our tree in half and prune the branches; the saw blade didn't even break a sweat! For me, though, they're too big for every day carry.

I have yet to find or hear of a better general-purpose, small pocket tool. If you know of one, drop a comment and explain why it's better (presuming you're familiar enough with the Micra to be able to do so).

April 28, 2005

I have some psychological problem with packing (I always perceive it to be a lot more of a pain than it really is), and it impacts my desire to travel. I have found, however, that Eagle Creek's "Pack-It Cubes" make packing and managing what I've packed a lot easier.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Cube

The idea behind using cubes is to make packing "modular", which gives you more flexibility and helps you better organize your stuff. For example, they're great for taking advantage of otherwise wasted space in our convertible's small (and somewhat oddly-shaped) trunk; we stuff cubes into the nooks and crannies around our bags for weekend getaways, and it's surprising how much more we can carry using them!

You can pack socks, undergarments, t-shirts, etc. each into their own cubes, so you have all of each type of clothing in the same place. They are especially nice if there is limited space where you're staying. You can put cubes right into dresser drawers and save time unpacking, or empty the contents of your cubes and fill them back up with dirty clothes as you use them. Either way, to re-pack, you just fill your cubes, toss them in a suitcase, and go; they make figuring out what goes where a lot easier!

Cubes are washable, hardly take any extra space, and are part mesh, so you can see what's inside. They come in different colors, so you can organize clothing by cube color, or if you're travelling with someone and sharing luggage, each can use a single color or set of colors to quickly identify what belongs to whom.

There are 2-sided cubes (which can be used for separating wet & dry clothing), half & quarter cubes, and padded cubes, as well as Pack-It Sacs for organizing smaller things, and Pack-It Shoe Sacs. If you're into compressing to save space, Eagle Creek makes compressors too.

If you've ever had your luggage searched, you can imagine how much easier it makes things to have everything separated into cubes, both for the search and re-packing. In general, though, these are a great idea, and well worth the money.

April 22, 2005

Problem

Video game controller cables are a pain!

For as long as I've had my PS2, I've been plagued by either:

  • using controller cable extenders, which result in a mass of cables strewn across the room (while playing), or jumbled up next to the TV(while not playing) or,
  • pulling the PS2 out from beside the TV, so I don't have to use the cable extenders, which results in the PS2 sitting in the middle of the room and having to be moved back and forth all the time

In either case, as I'm sure you know if you don't already have cordless controllers, the cords are a pain. I waited a long time to find a good cordless controller, mainly because I could never get a definitive answer on which is really worth getting.

Solution

Logitech Cordless Action Controller

Thanks to a series of very positive reviews on Amazon, I picked up the Logitech Cordless Action Controller, ($30) and the reviewers were right; it's great!

Logitech Cordless Action Controller

I've had these for a couple weeks now, and played several fast-paced games with them. I've experienced absolutely no lag or delays, and would challenge anyone to detect that they're wireless (aside from the feeling of freedom!) It feels very similar to the original. The only minor drawback is the "D pad" -- the directional arrows on the left side above the analog stick. The original controller has 4 separate directional buttons, but this one has a single rocker pad that you have to move in each direction. The problem is, it's easy to accidentally press it the wrong way, but after playing for a while, I've gotten used to taking the little bit of extra care required to hit the right direction.

The controller has vibration, and runs on 2 AA batteries which are included. To get started, you just insert the batteries, plug in the receiver and play. Cordless controllers totally change the console gaming experience, and this is definitely the one to get. I highly recommend you get some and free yourself from cables!

Among the tips in a recent 43folders excerpt of "Everyday tips from MonkeyFilter" was one that recommends pre-sorting laundry as you take off your clothes, so you don't have to sort it as you put it in the machine.

We've been doing this for years using a Triple Storage Bin, and it works great!

Triple Storage Bin for Laundry

Pre-sorting really does make doing laundry a lot easier, since you just grab the appropriate bag (colors, whites, etc.) and toss it into the machine. If you have the space, this triple storage bin is a good way to do it.

April 10, 2005

Is it just me, or does Kiefer Sutherland's character, Jack Bauer on "24" really need a bluetooth headset?

Motorola bluetooth headset

He's always on the phone with CTU, and it's really starting to stress me out to watch him whip out his handset 25 times per episode, often in pretty intense situations when it would be better to have 2 hands free. I can't think of a better justification for this technology than the situations he gets into. A BT headset really would enable him to multitask better and actually be more effective!

The show tries to be "techie" in many ways, and goes to great lengths to emphasize the value of communications, especially mobile, so why leave this out? I guess they really need "Q".

I'm tempted to send the producers email about this; if you see him start using one, you'll know where the idea came from!