Tag Archives: Tools and Toys

Baking Steel — Modernist Cuisine Special Edition

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I regret every day I’ve made pizza without a @BakingSteel

Nick Kindelsperger (@nickdk)

Four years ago to the day — which I just realized as I was writing this 😮 — I wrote about the Baking Steel, a flat slab of food-grade steel that works like a traditional pizza stone but is more heat-conductive and far more durable. J. Kenji López-Alt himself once called it “the most impressive home pizza product I’ve ever tested.”

The version of it I’m linking today, the Modernist Cuisine Baking Steel, isn’t new. (In fact, I believe they released it a few months before my original post.) But it’s still worth a mention since, at 22 pounds and ⅜” thick, it basically splits the difference between the 15lb original (¼”) and the whopping 30lb “Big” (½”) model.

What this amounts to is even better heat retention than the original Steel, without jumping all the way up to the 30-pound mark. Not that I would consider 22 pounds “light” for any kitchen tool, but those 8 pounds do make a difference. Having the minds of Modernist Cuisine behind its design doesn’t hurt either.

Get this version of the Baking Steel for $109 on Amazon. Happy pizza making! 🍕

Buy Now

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

Jaybird’s Upcoming RUN and Freedom 2 Wireless Earbuds

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A little over a year ago, we published a review of the Jaybird Freedom wireless earbuds for runners, dubbing them “near perfect Bluetooth earbuds for daily use.” And now, Jaybird is slated to release two new sets of wireless earbuds:

  1. The Jaybird Freedom 2 earbuds ($150 pre-order) are a follow-up to the ones we reviewed. Like before, they have a wire that runs behind your head — which can be tightened or loosened as needed — but now sport a “SpeedFit” feature that lets you easily switch the buds to over-ear or under-ear mode, depending on your preferences and/or current activity. They also have new combined fin + tip options that not only accommodate smaller and larger ears than before, but are softer and more flexible.
  2. The Jaybird RUN ($180 pre-order) earbuds, on the other hand, are truly wireless, á la Apple’s AirPods. They offer ~4 hours of battery life on a full charge, plus two extra charges via the included charging case. They’re sweat-proof, water-resistant, and can be worn in “one bud” mode if you prefer having an open ear while working out. If you wear both at once, the button on the right earbud lets you play/pause audio while the left button lets you activate Siri.

Both sets of earbuds will have two colors to choose from:

The Freedom 2s will release on September 29th, 2017. The RUNs (an unfortunate pluralization but here we are) arrive on October 17th, 2017.


Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

Quality Linkage: Cosmic Kids, Carved Silos, and Living the Van Life

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Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus »

My wife shared this 2014 article with me following one of our discussions about how we plan to go about homeschooling our 5yo son as he gets older. It’s a fascinating read:

“Calculations kids are forced to do are often so developmentally inappropriate, the experience amounts to torture,” [Maria Droujkova] says. They also miss the essential point—that mathematics is fundamentally about patterns and structures, rather than “little manipulations of numbers,” as she puts it. It’s akin to budding filmmakers learning first about costumes, lighting and other technical aspects, rather than about crafting meaningful stories.

The title of the article is somewhat misleading of course, but I really connected with the points made about teaching conceptual mathematical thinking to younger kids through the use of puzzles and games and such, rather than forcing them to memorize a variety of equations by rote without ever explaining the how or why behind any of it.

+ The lady interviewed in the article is Maria Droujkova of the Natural Math community, and a year ago she did a Reddit AMA that’s worth reading.

Cosmic Kids Yoga »

Speaking of kids, I recently stumbled on the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel, which teaches yoga to kids by integrating various poses into fun stories told by the host Jaime:

Healthy videos made specially for kids – with a focus on yoga, mindfulness, stories and relaxation. Used in homes and schools all over the world. Interactive adventures which build strength, balance and confidence – and get kids into yoga and mindfulness early! Healthy screen time which gets kids moving, relaxing and learning simple lessons for a happy life.

My son loves watching these videos at night before we read a bedtime story.


Zeitz MOCAA by Thomas Heatherwick »

Insanely cool architectural project by designer Thomas Heatherwick, which took an abandoned concrete grain silo in Cape Town and essentially carved it into what is now the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa), which just opened its doors today:

The original building was composed of two main elements – a grading tower and a block of 42 tightly-packed silos. Rather than resorting to wholesale demolition, the studio took on the challenge to convert the multitude of concrete tubes into spaces to display art while retaining the silo’s industrial character.

The studio’s solution was to carve out a large central space from the cellular concrete structure to form a major social space that reveals the original intersecting geometries in an unexpected way. The perimeter tubes were then substantially cut back and converted into five floors of galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions.

The finished carved tubes above the atrium space allow daylight in from above through thick layers of laminated glass, fritted with a pattern commissioned from the West African artist El Loko. The frit creates a walkable surface for the upper level sculpture garden, allowing daylight inside while protecting from too much heat building up inside.

Stewart Copeland Performing “Wrapped Around Your Finger” Live »

Sometimes I go through phases of becoming re-obsessed with The Police and especially Stewart Copeland’s drumming skills. The video above from their 2008 reunion tour is neat to me because it really shows off a side of his musicianship that isn’t purely about the manic, technical rhythms he became known for in the band’s early days. His ability to switch “modes”, as it were, is uncanny to me.

+ Another favorite of mine is his fantastic “Drum Solo Week” performance on Letterman in 2011.

Couple Trade Apartment in New Orleans to Travel in a VW Van »

Remember when I linked to Nate Murphy’s camper van conversion video earlier this year? Ever since then, I’ve been down a rabbit hole of all things “van life”, including the Exploring Alternatives YouTube channel and more recently Dylan Magaster’s channel.

Dylan has a knack for entertaining filmmaking, and has detailed his own van conversion process. I like all of his videos, but I linked/embedded the one above because 1) it’s one of his more recent ones, and 2) the husband and wife interviewed in it seem like very lovely people I would enjoy meeting on the road sometime.

+ Before embarking on your own “van life” adventure, it helps to have a cold, hard reality check: “Would You Go Crazy Living the Van Life?”

Photo: Patrick Rhone

Photo: Patrick Rhone

Is Your Smartphone Enough? »

Given the recent release of Apple’s new iPhone lineup, and [movie trailer voice] in a world where people feel the need to upgrade their devices every single year, I thought it’d be appropriate to link the most recent dispatch from Patrick Rhone’s newsletter:

[The iPhone 5] does all I need and I’m very happy with it. Just because it wont run this or that OS or this or that app does not suddenly make it not enough. Just because Apple introduces iPhones that are ten times faster and packed with better features does not mean mine is suddenly unable to do the job I need.


All of this is to once again gently suggest that you may not need a new smartphone. You may want to put some long thought into how much smartphone is enough smartphone for you. Perhaps what you have is doing what you need and will keep doing so well into the future. In fact, perhaps like me you reached that point a few phones back but unlike me, for any number of reasons, you chose to upgrade. It’s OK. No judgment.

It’s really okay to not keep up with the Joneses. If your stuff still works, keep it as long as possible.

My own iPhone 6 has a terribly cracked screen from being dropped on pavement and the Lightning port only works if the charger connector is pushed upward towards the screen and my battery doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to…and you know what, I’m still iffy on whether it’s important enough to buy a new device. I don’t make these decisions lightly.


Neat Stuff We Published This Week

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

Nest Secure Starter Pack

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The Nest Secure alarm system includes 1 Nest Guard, 2 Nest Detects, and 2 Nest Tags.

The Nest guard is the motion sensor, keyboard, and the alarm. The Detect is a door, window, or a motion sensor. The Nest tag allows you to arm and disarm the device without using the passcode. If you get an alarm, the system will send your phone an alert, you can verify what is happening (with a Nest cam), and then call the police. There is an optional cellular back up service if the Wi-Fi is down, and Nest is planning to offer 24/7 professional monitoring in the future.

While a lot of companies are offering a “DYI” home security product, the Nest products do look really nice. Here is a neat feature of the door sensors that I would find really useful:

Say the house is armed and you need to leave early or let the dog out. Just press the button on Nest Detect when you open the door. With Quiet Open, the house stays armed and the alarm stays silent. And when you walk past Nest Detect at night, Pathlight helps you see in the dark.

I have an “old fashioned” alarm, and have to disarm and arm it can easily wake up people in our household. Once they add the 24/7 monitoring, this product may be the best one on the market. There is still no HomeKit compatibility, though.

The starter pack is available for pre-order for $499.

Buy Now

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

Qbit Portable Measuring Tool [Kickstarter]

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The Qbit portable measuring tool is a neat little trinket being funded on Kickstarter that’ll be handy to have around whenever and wherever you need to make quick measurements. Designed to be a modern take on the cubit rods of ancient Egypt, the Qbit is precision-turned on a Swiss CNC lathe from stainless steel or brass, and in both short and long versions:

  • Short: 3″ or 75mm (keychain-friendly version)
  • Long: 6″ or 150mm (pen-sized version you can toss in your bag or keep in your workspace)

Oddly enough, my favorite feature is that little red piece you see pictured on a few of the Qbits above:

Each [Qbit] comes with an adjustable marker for transferring measurements, making guide marks, measuring depth or simply remembering an important dimension on a trip to the hardware store.

As of this writing (Sep. 21st, 2017) the project has 21 days to go and they’ve surpassed their funding goal by more than 26x. Back the project at the $20 level or higher to get a Qbit of your own.

Back Project

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

Everyday Carry: Recycled

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“Don’t lose it, reuse it.” This has always been my son’s favorite line from the show Paw Patrol. As silly as it sounds, we grownups could stand to take this ecological lesson to heart.

Here are a few EDC items that have been repurposed from materials that would otherwise go to waste.

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  1. Carved recycled skateboard case for iPhone. ($39)

    Hand-crafted using wood from old and broken skate decks, then combined with a polycarbonate case. The grain pattern of every case is different from the last.

  2. Ugmonk mini sketchbook. ($14 for pack of 3)

    Boasting a 100% recycled chipboard cover and 100% recycled paper inside, this pocket-sized sketchbook will be there for you to sketch or jot ideas down in whenever inspiration strikes.

  3. Recycled Firefighter’s “The Sergeant” wallet. ($29)

    A slim, minimalist money clip wallet made from decommissioned fire hose. More info here.

  4. Field Notes “Brand’s Hall” rollerball pen. ($160)

    The crew at Field Notes partnered with Allegory Goods to produce a “very special, limited-edition, fine rollerball pen using wood reclaimed from an iconic Chicago building which was constructed in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1871.” Not only are these pens insanely cool, but no two are exactly alike.

For more everyday carry inspiration, check out the rest of our EDC guides here. If you liked this one, you’ll probably dig the “Eco-Friendly” and “Wooden” kits as well.

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net

AtF Spark Typeface

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Now here’s an interesting project: AtF Spark is a new typeface by data design company After the Flood that turns typed numerals into inline data visualizations (aka sparklines). These types of things are normally a pain in the butt to code and implement — and most writers will never even learn how to — but AtF Spark makes it a nearly effortless process.

The way it works is that you type a set of numerals with comma-separated values enclosed within curly brackets, like so: 123{10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100}789). (You can also have numbers before and after the set, á la the 123 and 789 in the example.) AtF Spark takes this and automatically turns it into a chart within the sentence.

Here are some examples of what you can do:



Katharine Schwab of Fast Co. Design gives some context for what makes AtF Spark useful:

The ease of use AtF Spark affords could be a boon for journalists and data designers. Most newsrooms don’t require journalists to be able to make their own graphics; there’s usually a graphics team that does that for them. That necessitates a higher bar for creating a graphic. But with AtF Spark, there’s no reason to not include more in-line visualizations, whether it’s in a news story or a design brief. While sparklines don’t take the place of larger graphics, they do provide instant visual context for anyone to use.

Read more about this typeface at the AtF Spark site or head over to GitHub to grab the source code and font files.

Learn More

Source: http://toolsandtoys.net