trav's big page about stuff

House Stuff
Computer Stuff
Tool Stuff
Body Stuff
Bike Stuff
Art Stuff

This is a list for friends of practical stuff that I use and recommend. I always start with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but sometimes I buy a thing.

It's an experiment/work in progress. The descriptions are brief but my experience with most of these tools is extensive. If you want to know something about the thing, shoot me an email, I'm happy to answer questions. Or if you know of a better tool, I'd love to hear about it!

If you click the links and buy the thing on Amazon I get a little bit of money (thanks :). Amazon prices vary so the price I have listed on this page might not be what it still costs on Amazon (always worth checking camelcamelcamel.com to see if you're getting the good price).

If you would like to know when new tools get added you can subscribe to the email list. This email list will only be used for emailing about new tools


Featured

multi-cable

I bring this thing everwhere I go. It works perfectly for me because I can charge my iPad, keyboard (or lighter), headphones, laptop, and phone, all at the same time if I want! Charging a bunch of things at the same time is slow but seems to get the job done if you leave it overnight. I also love it because of THE COLORS. $9.

usb lighter

This lighter creates fire with a plasma arc. It's like a tiny light saber. It charges over USB. The build quality is surprisingly solid. It's iridescent. It's only really good for lighting joints, candles and burning little holes in paper to impress people. But boy is it cool. $18.


knipex adjustable pliers

This is an adjustable wrench that doesn't slip. It has the grip of pliers but the precise fit of an adjustable wrench. It is a marvel of German engineering. This is my favorite tool, I always look forward to projects that require it. It comes in different sizes; the one linked is the right size for most common jobs. It's not cheap, you'll want to write your name and phone number on it in case you leave it somewhere. $50.

a sweet iPad keyboard

I super love how this keyboard pairs with an iPad. Keyboards that attach to the tablet don't make any sense to me. A major advantage of a tablet over a laptop is that the keyboard is NOT attached, allowing you improved ergonomics in your setup. Despite being super thin and light this keyboard has exceptional key-travel and tactility. The material has a pleasant texture that is "spill-resistant". I use this keyboard while cooking without worrying at all. Also it comes in red. There are several different versions on Amazon but this is the one I have.



House Stuff



bidet life

I'm not going to try to convince you to use a bidet in this little paragraph. Either you're willing clean your butthole with water or you're not. I've been a bidet user for almost 10 years and I can't imagine life without it. This model is a nice balance between the $25 "spray you with ice water at too-many PSI" and the unaffordable Toto washlets. The hot water spray is key. It's $220 on Amazon and it is worth it.




solar light

My bedroom closet has a window and no light fixture. This solar light was a super simple way to solve that. I just propped the panel in the window and stuck the included remote to where a lightswitch would be. $17.




air filter

This is one I found via Wirecutter. It has an air quality sensor which has a cute 3 color indicator. It's pretty quiet! It filters small particles in the air like smoke, dust and pollen. I also just use it as a way to circulate air. $214 on Amazon and after a few years you might need a replacement filter.




cable clips

If you need to run any kind of cabling along a wall, floor or ceiling, this is a cheap and easy way to keep it tidy. These ones are just big enough to hold your standard-sized powerstrip cable down. $8 for 100 of them.




in-sink water filter

If your sink can support it (you have the ~1.5 inch hole in your sink covered over with a lil mouse manhole), the easiest way to get filtered water is to have it on tap. The very small cost and low difficulty of installation makes this extremely worth it. $64. Comes with a filter, replacement filters are $20-$40.




such a great vacuum cleaner

This vacuum cleaner is such a joy to use I look forward to vacuum cleaning. It's quiet, it sucks really hard (wink wink in a good way), it's built really sturdily, it is simple to operate, has a HEPA filter and is repairable. It's usually $600 on Amazon though I recommend getting it at your local vacuum repair shop. They're the people you'll go to in 5 or 10 years to get the thing repaired so we need to keep them in business. This vacuum is expensive and worth it!!





...more house stuff here







Computer Stuff


multi-cable

I bring this thing everwhere I go. It works perfectly for me because I can charge my iPad, keyboard (or lighter), headphones, laptop, and phone, all at the same time if I want! Charging a bunch of things at the same time is slow but seems to get the job done if you leave it overnight. I also love it because of THE COLORS. $9.




a sweet iPad keyboard

I super love how this keyboard pairs with an iPad. Keyboards that attach to the tablet don't make any sense to me. A major advantage of a tablet over a laptop is that the keyboard is NOT attached, allowing you improved ergonomics in your setup. Despite being super thin and light this keyboard has exceptional key-travel and tactility. The material has a pleasant texture that is "spill-resistant". I use this keyboard while cooking without worrying at all. Also it comes in red. There are several different versions on Amazon but this is the one I have.




my current favorite keyboard

As far as I'm concerned, the best keyboards for a desktop Macintosh are the old mechanical ones Apple used to make. I prefer (and own) both the A9M0330 and the Apple Standard Keyboard though the Apple Extended II is very popular. These keyboards are solid as a rock and feel great to type on. I quickly mentally adapted to the horizontal arrow-key layout and for the other layout odd-ness I wrote a script which allows me to use the caps-lock key to toggle the number-pad into media keys and turn \ into a command-key. Shoot me an email if you want help with that. You can usually find these keyboards on Craigslist and eBay for ~$45. In addition to the keyboard you will likely need an ADB cable as well as an ADB to USB adapter.




the best iPhone

The best iPhone is the iPhone 4S. That is an intentionally obnoxiously bold statement to get your attention, haha. I use a 4S currently and to which I downgraded from a 5S. First of all, the battery is super easy and cheap to replace yourself. The steel and glass construction feels and looks splendid. The small size makes it extremely easy to hold (no pop-sockets needed to keep a grip on it). If you break it it's really cheap to replace. And it's slower than mud! Which is actually desirable! When twitter takes a minute to load it gives me that minute to wonder whether I really need to get on twitter (the answer is no). If I really need a quick iOS device I'll break out my iPad. Lots of folks are buying fancy new "dumbphones" or "slightly-less-smart-phones" but it makes more sense to just buy an old-ass iPhone. You can still get a 4S on Amazon for ~$60 but sometimes you can find a better deal on Craigslist.




velcro ties

I've worked in IT for over a decade and it was revolutionary for me when I started using velcro cable ties. I've found it to be the easiest way to keep cables tidy. They're cheap, come in cute colors and are super worth putting on every cable. I like to keep some of both the cheap big ones and the smaller 5" x 1/4" pastel ones on hand.




wireless router

I've moved 4 times in the past 5 years and each time I bought another of this same router (the old ones didn't die, the old roommates just couldn't part with it). I currently live in a 2 story duplex and I get signal from this router anywhere in the house including the attic, basement, even parts of the backyard. It's a pretty solid router. $57.





...more computer stuff here





Tool Stuff




usb lighter

This lighter creates fire with a plasma arc. It's like a tiny light saber. It charges over USB. The build quality is surprisingly solid. It's iridescent. It's only really good for lighting joints, candles and burning little holes in paper to impress people. But boy is it cool. $18.




knipex adjustable pliers

This is an adjustable wrench that doesn't slip. It has the grip of pliers but the precise fit of an adjustable wrench. It is a marvel of German engineering. This is my favorite tool, I always look forward to projects that require it. It comes in different sizes; the one linked is the right size for most common jobs. It's not cheap, you'll want to write your name and phone number on it in case you leave it somewhere. $50.




heavy duty zipper

I've had my backpack since highschool. In college, after having the backpack for 5 years, the zipper wore out. I replaced it with a sporty-looking red plastic zipper. 5 years later that zipper wore out. So I replaced it with the heaviest-duy zipper I could find. This is that zipper. It has now been another 6 years with no signs of wearing out. If you have a worn out zipper, replace it with this zipper and you may never have to replace it again. Comes in lengths between 4 and 36 inches.




folding scissors

Here's another tool I carry with me everywhere I go. These scissors fold up really small but cut well and are made of steel. Their website doesn't have a ton of info but I emailed the company and Debbie gave me the low-down on the company history and how to make sure you are looking at authentic Slip-n-Snips,

"...make sure one handle says Made in USA and the other handle has our name on it. Slip N Snip Scissors were invented in the early 70's by a man who's son was a medic in the army. The son mentioned to his dad one day when he was home on leave that it would be so helpful to the medics in the field if someone could figure out a way to make a pair of scissors fold up so you could carry them in your pocket at all times. The father (Ed Sealander) thought about if for a few months and came up with Slip N Snip folding scissors. Ed had a patent on the scissors but it was only good for 20 years so after that the market was flooded with cheap knockoffs. Ed became sick in the early 90's and sold the company to Don Gallogly who owned it until 2009 then Heather Johnson bought it and still owns it today. Ed started the business in Sweet Home, Oregon and it still remains in Sweet Home today."

$12.




tiny screwdrivers

iFixit are some good folks who promote the noble art of repair. Their repair guides are the best and buying their excellent tool sets are a great way to support their continued work. This is the set I use to repair things. Has every bit you could need to repair any small electronic doodad. $30 on Amazon (you can also just buy directly from them).




safety earmuffs

I know it's important to protect my hearing but I'm not keen on earplugs. They always get earwaxy, they're wasteful, they feel crummy. So if I know I'm going to be in a loud environment (airplane, train, bus, concert, etc) I bring a pair of these. $13.





...more tools here





Bike Stuff




folding basket

You know, at first I shunned these baskets. 'Why would you ever need to fold it?' I thought. But then I started commuting on a folding bike and this basket is perfect! And then I started putting it on regular bikes and realized, sometimes it's just handy to be able to fold it in. I like to keep a folding basket on one side and a pannier on the other. Anyway, the basket is $22.




bicycle tube patch kit

If you're going on a long bike ride it's worth having a patch kit (as well as the tools you need to get your wheel off and some tire levers, note to self: put some of those on here too). This is a good patch kit! Patch kits don't vary that much. Little pieces of rubber, a piece of sand paper and some rubber cement. But I like this one for 2 reasons: 1 my friend Luke who was a bike mechanic for many years recommended it to me and 2, it comes in a teal box. $7.









Art Stuff




fun little synthesizer

The Korg Monotron series really lowers the barriers to entry for synthesizers. It does away with the immense cost, steep learning curve, power adapters or any other equipment needed to make a sound. Simple, battery-powered, analog sound. And, the ability to do pass-through makes this an, at times rough sounding, but totally serviceable and interesting delay effect box. ~$45.




screenprinting kit

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this screenprinting kit. I hadn't taken a screenprinting class in 10 years or so but was able to pick it up easily with the by just reading the instruction manual that comes with this kit. I've only used the screen-filler method so far (haven't had the right light setup for photo emulsion). Anyway, if you've thought about wanting to make tee-shirts or totes or something, I used this kit, it worked great. ~$41.






I wrote this page in April 2019 during an all-night solo hackathon on my PowerBook G4.