TNT Newsletter for August 30, 2006
The coolest of tools, a sonic boom, the rarest of the rare, a brush in your pocket, a score for plexi, and this week's grammar tip for makers.
Learn why Ruby on Rails is taking Europe by storm! Find out whats new, cool, and exciting from more than 25 leading web 2.0 experts, including Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson, Pragmatic Programmer Dave Thomas, Rake author Jim Weirich, Why the Lucky Stiff, and more!
Here's another collection of the eccentric and wonderful tools and tips you will hopefully love to love. MAKE's webmaster, Terrie Miller, pays homage to Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools website (the spritual father of TNT and inspiration for tool lovers everywhere), while one of our readers talks about his magnetic attraction to rare earth, and another finds a new use for his favorite toothbrush. As usual, each review is an ode to a perhaps unlooked-for niche tool or an unexpected use of a commonplace item.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think. The next issue of MAKE (Volume 08) has a Toys and Games theme, so I'm particularly interested in hearing about your favorite toys and games as well as the everyday tools and tips you use.
Staff Editor, MAKE Magazine
Reviewed by Terrie Schweitzer
Kevin Kelly's "Cool Tools" comes in three different forms: as a website, as a traditional book, and as a PDF digital book.
A descendant of the Whole Earth Catalog, Cool Tools is a resource for extraordinary and sometimes little-known tools. Because items for Cool Tools are selected with an experienced and discerning eye, everything reviewed here is great...there's no fluff.
But Cool Tools does more than just foster your lust for new gadgets and tools--it opens a world of possibilities to interesting new hobbies or projects. You might not be planning to build a house boat, but isn't it interesting to know it's an option?!
Reviewed by Bill Schuller
The toothbrush has had a spot in my toolbox for years, and I've been thinking for a long time about what a great cleaning tool my Sonicare toothbrush might make. My first vision was cleaning flux from assembled PCBs instead of using an ultrasonic bath. I still haven't tried that, but I did get my money's worth cleaning something else.
My wife and I tied the knot last October, and in the American tradition, our car was decorated. My crack team of groomsmen used some fluorescent paint to inscribe "Just Married" on the windows. As we were getting into the car, Mariana wiped some off onto her dress and subsequently onto the passengers' armrest. The paint was designed for glass and pretty much wiped right off the windows, but the armrest is textured to look like leather, and since then I've had a fluorescent yellow patch there. I've had detailers and car wash folks try to get it out, but it wouldn't budge.
Sonicare to the rescue. Five minutes of cleaning with the toothbrush dipped in water was all it took. If you're going to use this method on larger areas, I'd suggest having two small containers of water: one to rinse the head with, and one to get fresh, clean water from. I haven't tried using the brush with any sort of cleaning solution, but if you do, be sure to use eye protection as the brush tends to fling the liquid in tiny droplets all over the place.
The Sonicare Essence 5300 seems to be perfect for cleaning since it's almost half the cost of the elite series without special brushing "features." In fact, this might be the perfect opportunity to buy two. I really like the results on my teeth, too.
Reviewed by Yubatuba
By now many people have been exposed to wonders of neodymium rare earth magnets; they've been around in various forms since the mid-1960s. As the years go by, these magnets have become more and more powerful and less and less expensive. Gone are the days where you'd have to tear apart an old hard drive to scavenge the magnets out of it. Now, they are readily available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes for all types of projects.
Rare earth magnets are commonly used to hold or lift things, which is understandable given that they can lift more than 500 times their own weight in steel. The MAGCRAFT brand of rare earth magnets has a wide selection of strong, good-quality magnets and is available at local hardware stores and online. I found the half-inch disc magnets (NSN0702) particularly useful.
Reviewed by jalderman
I was introduced to the Pentel Pocket Brush by a comicker friend, and though pricey for poor students, it truly makes drawing with ink a joy again. Unlike felt-tip brush pens, the Pocket Brush has actual bristles and an ink that dries quickly and is less apt to wash with water. The tip is amazingly fine, allowing deft hands to get line widths that vary from fat and chunky to almost a hair's breadth, and on thick absorbent paper, it's an amazing tactile experience. It's so much fun to hand the Pocket Brush and my sketchbook to people who are afraid to draw, and see them take to it like a child to finger paints.
Don't take my word for it, though; all sorts of artists swear by it.
Reviewed by abend
A plexiglass cutter is a very simple tool, essentially a sharp point with a handle. It is drawn over plexiglass to score it before breaking along the score to cut the plexi.
I love it because it is dead simple, cheap, and it works very well. It does not slip and scratch the plexi as easily as a knife. It also makes a deeper, smoother score line, and does it faster than a knife. It makes cutting plexiglass and similar materials fast and easy.
Be careful not to chip the tip. On mine, the tip is hardened, which makes it great for cutting, but a bit brittle. Chipping the tip makes the tool stop working.
Reviewed by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
Just continuing my campaign to keep makers grammatically correct; there are a number of verbs that we makers use with some frequency, so I thought it might be time to clear the air. Here's another pair of words we often trip over at the MAKE office.
Affect and effect are easily confused because, let's be honest, they're spelled almost exactly the same way. However, to "affect" something means to "have an influence on" it. To "effect" something means to "cause" it. So, you can effect a dramatic change in your workshop by cleaning up after yourself, but the rest of the house won't be affected unless you clean up there, too.
These words confuse further because they're not always used as verbs. "Effect" can also mean a result (i.e. what is the effect of forgetting to clean your soldering iron?) and "affect" can also refer to an expression of emotion (i.e. when you found out that your soldering iron was destroyed when you forgot to wipe it clean, you had a dramatic change in affect).
One easy trick is to remember that "a" comes before "e" in the alphabet, and, at least in the case of affect the verb and effect the noun, you must affect something first to achieve an effect.
Voila! It's as easy as that. Now go and effect a grammar revolution.