December 02, 2007

Random toys

I was getting caught up on the paper, and in last Thursday's had a column about a bunch of new DIY toys that range from the clever to the mind-blowingly cool.

The most "duh" one of them was something branded as "SquareOne", which bundles a tape measure together with a 90° square and a level, plus it has a writing surface and a place to clip a pencil if you're really lazy. I mean, of course you'd want to bundle a level and a tape measure! It makes perfect sense. And adding the square was really just a matter of changing the shape of the tape measure's enclosure—amazing nobody'd thought of it before.

Grip-Tite is another one that I wouldn't really use, but sounds neat if I could only understand how it worked. The idea is that it somehow uses cams to make a socket wrench that grips a nut well enough that they can guarantee it'll never round the corners. Even looking at their diagrams, it seems like there'd have to be a spring or something that would be a major point of failure; but in any case, good on them for improving on what is essentially ancient technology!

By far the coolest thing in this article, though (I'm skipping a couple things), was the "SeeSnake" inspection camera. The reason it's cool is it fills a niche I'd never really even thought of but which immediately seems like it'd make a good addition to more or less every home. The idea is simple: put a very small camera at the end of a 3' cable and a display on the other end. Suddenly you don't have to pull out the VCR, DVD, Tivo, and receiver just to see what's wired to what; you don't have to smoosh your head on the floor so that your eye can see under the couch; and it becomes possible to e.g. look around corners in pipes and such. I think the best tools are the ones that seem the most obvious in retrospect, and this one pretty well takes that cake.

"I'll pause now so you can catch your breath after choking on the idea that the office of governor of Illinois is dignified and respectful. Three of its last seven former occupants have ended up in prison, after all, and the current governor is less popular than staph infections." --Eric Zorn

Posted by blahedo at 6:24pm on 2 Dec 2007
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