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May 5, 2009

And the new editor of Cool Tools is... Bruce Sterling!

Welcome, camper.

Long story short: Steven Leckart resigned as editor of Cool Tools to join the Boing Boing Gadgets team, prompting Kevin Kelly, Cool Tools' founding editor, to initiate a planet-wide search for a replacement. Bruce Sterling came first.

Here's Kevin's missive of this morning to Cool Tools subscribers about the changing of the guard.

Not one word has been omitted.

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Over 220 of the most interesting folks from around the world applied as candidates for the position of curating this collection of cool stuff we call Cool Tools. The range of skills offered was impressive, and reassuring. It was a hard decision, but in the end one of those candidates convinced me that his version of Cool Tools would be a lot of fun. Since I couldn't imagine who I'd rather curate Cool Tools than science fiction author, blog master, and raconteur extraordinarie, Bruce Sterling, he gets the assignment.

The deal is the same. Cool Tools only runs positive reviews of stuff that works. We love tried and true tools, rather than flimsy and faddish gadgets that only look good on the screen. Most of our reviews come from you, the reader. To keep the quality high, the reviews sharp and reliable, Bruce Sterling will edit the reviews you submit.

Bruce is taking over from the low-key but amazingly professional Steven Leckart. Steven is now more visible writing over at Boing Boing Gadgets, which to my mind now has much of the flavor of the early original Boing Boing. Thanks, Steven. You did a fantastic job! (The "Random Item" was one of his ideas.) One of these days we should meet. (For two years we've only communicated by email and phone.)

So to return to your regularly schedule programming, send Bruce a favorite cool tool.  A cool tool...

1) Is not commonly known, or if known, not appreciated for this particular use.
2) Really works over a long time period.
3) Is significantly better than the competition.
4) Assists individuals (verses institutions) in self-empowerment and self-learning.
5) Is not one you've invented, sell, or promote.

The ideal Cool Tool review begins: "Over the years I've tried dozens of tools to accomplish X, but this one is by far the best thing. After using this tool every day for 2 years, it continues to amaze me. The problem it solves for non-professionals is this..." and it goes on to say why this item is so wonderful compared to other choices and why most of us here at Cool Tool might be interested in at least knowing about it.

Just so you know.

Do you have a favorite problem solving tool? Send your rave about it to Bruce Sterling, bruces@well.com.

May 5, 2009 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Double-Handled Mug

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Being lefthanded, I customarily place a mug so that the handle extends to the left.

But I find that invariably, when offering a mug to others, I do so with the mug in the same orientation.

Nineteen out of twenty times it's wrong, and the recipient turns it 180° without remarking on my erroneous assumption.

With one of these mugs I'll always be right.

Erm, correct.

From the website:

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Double-Handled Mug

Never spill another beverage again.

Convenient two-handled mug holds any hot or cold liquid and helps prevent spilling on clothes, tables and carpets.

Oversized handles are a useful aid to those with hand impairments, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or fine hand tremors — great for kids, too.

Made of dishwasher-safe porcelain.

10 oz. capacity.

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$6.98.

May 5, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Telegram Stop — Old school messaging in the 21st century

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Long story short: For $4.70 you can send an old-fashioned telegram — from your computer or phone.

[via James Thornburg]

May 5, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Light-up Drumsticks

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That's different.

"These virtually indestructible standard size polycarbonate drumsticks are professional grade, meaning you can hammer out the backbeat on your kit, digital drums or anywhere else you like — with every impact, the entire length illuminates with glowing light (batteries included)."

Trippy.

$24.95.

May 5, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

May 5, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bedtime Reader's Nightstand — Perfect for your new Kindle DX

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Just the thing for people like me, who oftimes take tons of reading material up to bed, put it down as slumber overtakes, then wake in the morning to find books, magazine, catalogs and newspapers all dusty and jumbled up next to and under the bed.

From the website:

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Bedtime Reader's Nightstand

This nightstand's six open shelves keep your bedtime reading material organized and easily accessible.

The nightstand helps reduce clutter and holds enough newspapers, magazines, and books to sate even the most voracious bedtime reader.

The shelves are open on two sides, allowing you to easily stack or remove reading material.

Despite its large storage capacity, the nightstand requires only 1.5 square feet of floor space.

Birch veneer with walnut finish.

31"H x 15"W x 15"D.

Weighs 30 lbs.

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Yes — it will easily accomodate Amazon's new Kindle DX (pictured above and below, next to the Kindle 2) —

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to be officially unveiled tomorrow in New York City.

$199.95 (for the nightstand, silly billy).

[Kindle DX photos via engadget]

May 5, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The only place in the world you can buy original recipe Dr. Pepper

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Long story short: It's in Dublin, Texas.

Sheila McNulty's story in yesterday's Financial Times reveals something even most avid Dr. Pepper fans didn't know; the piece follows.

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Spoonful of sugar is just what the doctor ordered

Out in the flatlands of Texas, a good two hours' drive from the nearest city any outsider has ever heard of, lies a town called Dublin. It has no important industry or institution to draw visitors and the main occupation of the 4,000 residents is dairy farming.

All the same, about 65,000 people a year make a pilgrimage to Dublin to tour a small factory in the centre of town that has been bottling Dr Pepper since 1891. The big draw for fans of the carbonated soft drink is that it is the only plant in the world that still produces the original recipe.

When other bottling factories turned to cheaper high-fructose corn syrup in the 1970s to sweeten their Dr Pepper - with a handful opting for processed liquid sugar - this family-owned plant refused to phase out the granulated cane sugar that had been added to the concentrate since the drink was invented back in 1885 (a year before Coca-Cola was born).

By bestowing on the drink a particular kind of authenticity to complement its long heritage, the decision to stick with sugar has turned out to be a winning marketing strategy and helped Dublin Dr Pepper - as the plant's Dr Pepper is known - to cultivate an intensely loyal customer base.

Dr Pepper was first concocted at the Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, by Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist educated in England who felt customers were bored of the fruit flavours at the store's soda fountain.

The Dublin operation came into being six years later, when Texas businessman Sam Prim tasted the new fountain drink while travelling through Waco and decided he wanted to sell it in his bottling plant. The plant is now run by descendants of Bill Kloster, the long-time manager of the factory who inherited it from Mr Prim's daughter in 1991.

The bottling plant buys the concentrate from what is now called Dr Pepper Snapple group, and rates within the top 10 per cent in per capita sales for its distribution area. That area is admittedly small, but that has proved to be another strength - adding an air of exclusivity.

Dublin Dr Pepper can be marketed only within 40 miles according to its original franchise contract because Mr Prim could only go that far in a day to deliver the soda using his horse and buggy. As a result, obtaining the drink is an achievement - something that restaurants and retailers boast about on signs for miles outside the distribution area.

Linda LaMarca, assistant professor of marketing at nearby Tarleton State University, says the exclusivity of Dublin Dr Pepper "increases the mystique" and, therefore, demand for the drink. "It's not an accident," she says. "Dublin Dr Pepper is run by very smart people."

Betsy Gelb, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston and a self-confessed Dr Pepper devotee herself, adds: "Dr Pepper connotes daring to be different, unconventionality, authenticity . . . Putting sugar in it makes it more so. What is the most authentic way to sweeten anything? Sugar."

Some fans make it a personal quest to get to the factory as often as possible, boosting the plant's total sales to between 500,000 and 700,000 cases a year - with 24 bottles or cans to a case.

Lori Dodd, the plant's in-house historian, notes there are more than a few devotees such as Joseph Graham, an attorney who makes the 1,000-mile, eight-hour, round-trip drive from Brownsville, Texas, twice a year to get 28 cases - at $16 (£11) a case versus about $13 for the corn syrup version. Mr Graham brings his own traditional 10oz glass bottles because nobody makes them any more. "I'm single, don't have to answer to anybody, so I can indulge my idiosyncrasies," says Mr Graham.

The scarcity of the traditional bottles also adds to the exclusivity and authenticity. Customer loyalty is further helped by the pride Texans take in the fact it was invented in the state. Indeed, when Coke managed to edge in on Dublin Dr Pepper's territory, winning a contract several years ago to be the only supplier at nearby Tarleton State University, it provoked protests on campus. Dublin Dr Pepper was soon back in vending machines.

Philip Hargrove, 58, makes up to six trips a year to the Dublin factory - a 240-mile round trip from his home in Flower Mound, Texas - to refill his 16 cases. "In Texas, you drink water, whisky and Dr Pepper," he says.

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Bonus: They'll ship anywhere in the U.S.

May 5, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Breakfast Floss — 'The most important floss of the day'

Breakfast floss

I won't argue.

From the website:

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Breakfast Floss

Who needs breakfast when you’ve got Breakfast Floss?

Start off your day by using the coffee flavor on your lower teeth, then switch over to the waffle and bacon flavors for your uppers.

Quite possibly the most delicious way to keep yourself out of the dentist’s chair.

Each package contains three 1-1/2" tall plastic dispensers that contain 12 yards of waxed dental floss.

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$5.95.

[via caroline]


May 5, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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