Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

Money-band / Rubber band for wallet

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

I’ve been seeing quite a bit of traffic from mnmlist, which turns out to be another site from the prolific Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits. I often feel like a fraud of a minimalist, given the amount of clutter in our house, but hey – Leo mentions the money-band, which is essentially a rubberband you use to hold all your stuff together. Looks nice, but I’ve been using those thick, small rubber bands that hold broccoli together for a long time now, and it is great. Works very well around credit cards, with cash folded twice stored on one side, and receipts jammed into the other. I used to have an enormous wallet, which was actually wearing wallet-shaped holes in my pants and giving me back problems. This fits in my front pocket really comfortably.

Rubber Band Wallet

Just One Club Card is also a boon to reducing the thickness, and works great here in Canada as well as in the USA. When I use it, it gets reactions ranging from “does that really work?” to “I need one of those.”

TruBamboo cutting board – broken

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

TruBamboo - brokenTreehugger says that bamboo is the new cotton, and sings paeans to it regularly. It certainly seems like a great idea – quick growing, renewable, beautiful, and supposedly durable. We needed a small cutting board, and purchased a TruBamboo Small Bermuda. It looks cool, and is a perfect size. Chopping on it was fine, but slicing really seemed to cut deeply into the board. For better or worse, we’re no longer concerned about it getting all marked up – after a month or so, we noticed that gaps were appearing in the light-colored areas on the sides. It turns out that the board is just a bunch of strips of bamboo glued together. It fell from the drying rack, and half of the light strip on one side snapped off. Blech.

We didn’t abuse the board – hand washing, drying it on edge on a towel so it didn’t stay damp, etc. I think the implementation is flawed – the bamboo apparently warps even under normal use (causing the gaps, faintly visible in the picture), and a single fall can easily snap one of the many seams. Perhaps layering it up in alternating directions or using notched strips would help. Or stronger glue. In any event, these are too fragile for our kitchen. Plus, there is no way to easily contact the company to complain (email? nope… web form? nope…), so I think we’re just going to trash it when it breaks again or becomes unsanitary from the gaps, and skip the TruBamboo next time. Anyone have luck with another kind?

All Small & Mighty laundry detergent

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

We’ve used All Free & Clear laundry detergent for quite a while. It is available in a pretty inexpensive monster 200 oz container and seems to do a fine job on clothing, although we always wash on warm – tried once on cold, and jogging shirts were still stinky. Anyway, we live in an apartment building with a laundry room in the basement, so the 200 oz was mighty inconvenient. Even normal 100 oz detergent bottles were a pain.

allI saw the new All Small & Mighty, Triple Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear (yes, that’s a mouthful), which comes in a small container, more like a dish detergent bottle. It isn’t much more expensive than the normal stuff, and with coupons & sales at CVS and Safeway, was actually much cheaper per load. I like the reduced packaging and resources used in shipping it to the store, as well as reduced space taken up at home – in a small apartment, storing big detergent bottles is a pain. And even better, it is easy to put in the laundry basket and haul down to the basement of the building – much better than standard size detergent bottles.

But does it work? Yes. I make sure to let some water run into the washer, add the (surprisingly small amount of) detergent, let the water run for a few more seconds to mix things up, then add the clothes. They smell fine – no problems. This review says that it turned into an unpourable “thick gel” after a while, so I’ve made sure to screw the cap on tightly. Hopefully we won’t have any such troubles, but you’ll hear about it here if we do.

Learning to tie my shoes

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Ian's Shoelace SiteMy shoelaces frequently come untied while jogging, and although I always think I can just tie them tighter, it never works. A double-knot holds longer, but is kludgy and hard to untie. It was to the point that I was briefly tempted by these Speed Laces mentioned on Cool Tools, which quickly and securely fasten your shoes with a sliding catch rather than a knot.

Fortunately, we’ve been learning some basic knots, and in looking for one to lash a box closed, I came across Ian’s Shoelace Site. I love exhaustive niche sites, and this is a doozy. In five minutes, I learned to tie Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot, and my life is better. It looks difficult, but basically you start like the classic shoe-tying knot, and then make a knot of two rabbit ears instead of doing the make-one-loop-and-tuck-the-other-one-through-the-middle thing. Or something like that. Really, the instructions are good, and this thing doesn’t come apart, even if mine isn’t quite as pretty as the photo on his page.

Once again, a bit of easily-learned skill beats out a $10 gizmo. Plus, I can use the knot with my black dress shoes as well. I’m no fashion maven, but wearing Speed Laces with a suit steps over even my line in the sand. Maybe if I’m really doing triathalons and need to shave seconds from changing shoes after the biking I’ll reconsider Speed Laces for my running shoes. But then again, there’s always “The World’s Fastest Shoelace Knot,” also courtesy of Ian.

Spork

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Not only does this newly designed spork remove the need for two separate utensils, but it is also about as environmentally friendly as a disposable utensil is likely to get.

Via Treehugger.

Hacking the Prius so you can plug it into the wall

Friday, July 15th, 2005

Yes, hybrid is a good thing. I’ve been following the story of the folks who created a kit to allow you to plug in your Prius and then run it 100% on battery to get phenominal gas mileage. Some people ask why Toyota didn’t just make it an option. I think they made the right choice for the broader market – they made it work just like a standard car, removing one of the possible pieces of opposition to adopting the technology. In addition, there are some significant additional costs, like more battery storage, that would make it non-trivial to add.

But I think we’re almost ready for it as a manufacturer option in the next few years – once people really internalize that they can use it just like a normal car, having the plug-in option to really crank that gas bill down will probably be a welcome improvement. Until then, the enthusiast hacker market can get it from EDrive right now.

Topeak Bikamper

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

If you’re biking across the country or something, you may need to camp out. You could carry a full tent, but the Topeak Bikamper cuts down on weight and bulk by using your bike as a support. I love dual-use like this – making the most use out of what you have. Gizmodo is apparently wrong on the price though – they said $300, but the Topeak.com website indicates a suggested retail of $219. Still darn expensive, but a good idea.

Via Gizmodo.

What to minimize for muffin cups?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Saw these silicone muffin cups, and it brings up a recent debate here. We’ve always used paper muffin cups, but were debating whether it would be better to spray oil in a standard muffin tin. We hadn’t decided, but now there is this third option. So here’s the question: should we minimize silicone, paper or oil? I’m thinking we’ll still go with paper, but other opinions are welcome.

Via Treehugger.

Easiest wristwatch I’ve seen (yet)

Monday, July 11th, 2005

If we can put men on the moon, why is it still fiddly to get watch batteries replaced and keep synced to the current time? There is lots of technology in this new watch mechanism, since it is solar powered and automatically sets its time from radio signals in three different countries. With technology, less is often more – getting the latest gadgets doesn’t always simplify our lives. But when done correctly, more can be less – with more technology, we can (sometimes) have less to fiddle with and worry about. This is a good thing – but when will it work on a Mars base? What time is it there anyway?

Via I4U.

LED light goes for a year on one battery

Friday, July 8th, 2005

The Pak-Lite is a LED light that simply clips on to the top of a 9V battery. They claim that in low power mode, it lasted for a year continuously on a lithium 9V battery. Pretty impressive. 9V batteries may be less convenient than the more standard AA size, but in addition to being able to give your tongue a good jolt, they are conveniently shaped to form a flashlight handle. They suggest using your old smoke detector batteries, which probably have some juice left in them.

Now I’m waiting for a good LED light for my home that charges via solar during the day, and gives off light like a candle at night. Nothing to plug in, no cables, no chargers…cool.