TNT Newsletter for December 4, 2006
Catch up on the patch up, free music (well, sorta), 4-in-1 screwdriver, building toys you can ride, and easy burn remedies.
Well, the holiday season is about to begin, and, frankly, shopping is on my mind. This year, though, I'm trying to think out of the (gift) box and give presents that aren't on the usual lists. This is MAKE, after all, and what's better than making things? (Check out Senior Editor Phil Torrone's Open Source Gift Guide for more ideas of things you can give other people to make.)
Gareth Branwyn suggests finally getting around to patching up all the scrapes and holes in your walls (and if that's not a gift, I don't know what is). Christy Canida recommends a great book on building rideable toys for kids. Matt Jadud disagreed with one of Phil's OSGG picks and sent in a recommendation for a truly open source music download site, so you can listen to music without giving a gift to huge corporations. I'm also including a few old-fashioned burn remedies that will come in handy once you start using your soldering iron again.
So what are you planning to make this month? What tools do you need to do the job? Let me know and I'll pass along your recommendations to other makers. (If I use your review in the next newsletter, I'll send you a free MAKE T-shirt.) After all, making stuff takes longer than buying stuff, so get started!
Staff Editor, MAKE Magazine
Small enough to fit on your keychain, the MAKE Warranty Voider is the perfect companion for mobile fixing, hacking, and MacGyvering. This is a limited offering with custom "MAKE: Warranty Voider" lovingly laser-etched with care using a 35W laser. Just in time for the holidays, an awesome stocking stuffer. Squirt P4 (plier version) also available.
Reviewed by Gareth Branwyn
Sometimes a tool comes along thats so ridiculously simple, but makes such a huge impact on how you go about your business. Qwikie Paint Pots are such a wonder-widget. Basically, they're like large nail polish jars that you use to store house paint in for hassle-free touch-ups. When you're finished painting a room, you put some of the leftover paint in one of the Qwikie pots. They have a brush built into their screw-on tops. When a scuff or a chip on a wall calls for a touch-up, it takes seconds to grab the jar and fix the boo-boo. This is a huge improvement over having to head to the basement, find the right can, pry it open, peel off the skin, mix, find a brush, use it, clean it, put the lid back on the can, etc. You can store all of the colors to your entire house in a shoebox in the hall closet! Maybe a little pricey at $5 each, but still worth it.
Reviewed by Matt Jadud
I think of Magnatune as the standard bearer for open music.
 Always share half of their proceeds with the artists they distribute.
 Provide you with multiple download options, including OGG, FLAC, and even uncompressed digital audio (as well as a variety of MP3 options).
 License music freely to nonprofit and open projects (including a generous, free podcast license; the notion of 'nonprofit' is not limited to the strict legal definition).
 They're not evil.
I've purchased a number of recordings from them in the past, and think it is a marvelous experiment in open licensing and distribution of high quality music from independent artists.
I'm in no way affiliated; I'm just a happy customer.
Reviewed by William Jehle
I originally got this as an impulse purchase because it was small and "cute." Believe me, the Swiss+Tech Screwz-All 4-in-1 is anything but cute when it comes to working.
So far, this little gadget has cracked open my car battery on a hot day to check the water level, opened and repaired many computers at the office, removed the knee-eating ergonomic keyboard trays from under my office desk, opened my iPod to change the battery, and helped repair my aging Nokia. The micro-sized flat screwdriver just fits the microscopic torx screws that are used to hold my cell phone together.
Best of all, it stays on my keychain at all times. I just found out that the water filter has stopped working in the break area at work ... a few quick turns of the screwdriver solved the problem. Water filter fixed. I love this little thing!
Reviewed by Christy Canida
Are there kids in your life who deserve better than those expensive, battery-powered, disposable plastic toys you find at the mall? Be a good parent, relative, or friend and make them something better.
Riding Machines For Kids is aimed at beginners. These are solid, basic projects such as rocking horses, wagons, and dump trucks with clear, easy descriptions and gridded plans. There's a nice Tips and Techniques section describing the different types of wood and joints, and a refreshing emphasis on longevity and reuse: "A fresh coat of paint every generation or so and this riding toy will keep right on rolling along."
So go on: build any of these toys for a child you know, and prevent a pile of cheap toys from becoming landfill.
Reviewed by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
For those of us who get distracted at just the wrong moment in the kitchen or workshop, here are two more handy tips I picked up from an old, out-of-print book of "household helps":
A Good Remedy for Burns: Cover a soft cloth with a thick layer or scraped raw potato and apply it to the burned part. The potato should be renewed as often as necessary to keep it moist.
For Burns and Light Scalds: At once coat the burned or scalded spot with mucilage and the smarting will cease almost instantly. If the burn is quite deep, keep it covered with a paste made of cold water and flour; do not allow the paste to get dry until the smarting stops.