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Ask HN: What're the best-designed things you've ever used?
597 points by whitepoplar 68 days ago | hide | past | web | 1064 comments | favorite
I'll go first. I think this kettle is exceptional: https://www.amazon.com/Sori-Yanagi-Stainless-Steel-Kettle/dp...



The ancient microwave in my first apartment. It had two knobs: one for time, one for power. It's immediately obvious how to cook something for how long, how to add more time, etc.

All other microwaves that I've used I had to have someone explain to me what buttons to press in what order to do even the simplest things. And I've never seen anyone use all of those fancy buttons.


I have another sad story to share.

My wife and I used to have this small grill oven with two knobs: one for time and one for temperature. She was into baking cookies and I was into her works. I was also into toasting bread for breakfast.

One day she appeared to be ready for the next level and demanded that we replace it with a shiny electronic grill oven with larger capacity. Replace we did but the next thing I found out was the previous 1 second toasting experience where I turn the time knob to 5 minutes has turned into a 27 button press procedure: first press to select mode; 25 presses to tune the time from the default 30 minutes down to 5 minutes; and one final press to start it.

The worst part of this is, she's probably only used it for once or twice before moving along with other interests than baking cookies, but I had to endure the 27 button presses every morning.


I really like the Breville Smart Oven series. I've owned several, but I currently have the Smart Oven Pro and use it more than our actual oven. It heats up quickly, cooks very evenly, and the UI is straightforward. My only problem with it is that the UI frequently suffers from button bounce. Often, when I press the start button to turn the oven on, the bounce causes it to turn right back off again. And it can be occasionally difficult to dial in precise times due to similar issues with the knobs. Breville needs to learn how to properly debounce their hardware buttons--many of their products suffer from this. Overall, I'm really happy with it though.


You've owned several smart ovens? Sounds like they aren't very durable.


Completely agree! The funny thing is the first thing I thought of was an old microwave I owned with a similar setup mainly because the microwave I own, today, is so awful[0].

I have a GE combination convection oven/microwave and it was clearly designed by someone who had their first experience with LSD that day. Every function requires a different, magic, set of key combinations to make it work. Want to set a timer? That's easy, press timer, turn the dial to the right time (which inexplicably increases/decreases the time in 30 second increments). OK, you've done that, now you want to start it. Press "Timer" ... nope. Press "Start" ... nope. Oh, I have to push in the dial... I didn't even know that, too, was a button. Oh, and not once, not twice, but three times is the magic number of times required to start said timer.

Starting the microwave with a specific time in mind requires hitting no less than 6 buttons, but there's one button that will start the microwave on high for 30 seconds, so everyone just uses that button and hits it as many times as is required to get close to the desired cooking length. I can hear my wife counting out loud ten beeps for a 5 minute cook time.

It's got piles of advanced, useless, features, my favorite of which is a hybrid "microwave/oven cook" mode that manages to bring in the worst of both methods, giving you soggy food, unevenly cooked that takes an eternity to cook.

Even the clock is stupid. You punch in the hours/minutes, and thinking you're done, you move on to something else. Later you go to cook something and for some bizarre reason, "AM or PM" pops up on the screen at which point nothing in your previous experience in operating a microwave prepares you to figure out why heating something up requires knowledge of whether it's morning or afternoon. Of course, nothing this microwave does requires knowledge of AM/PM, nor does it display AM or PM anywhere on the screen, but for some reason it just must know.

[0] This isn't the exact model but it looks close: https://www.amazon.com/GE-PVM9179SFSS-Profile-Stainless-Micr...


Obviously whoever designed it didn't get the 'good' acid.

Had he gotten the real shit, it would have been a musical instrument... with wheels, which also microwaves... inside and outside... Because that's how you get to the aliens.

Who wouldn't want his oven to roll around the house improvising some trippy music while the meal is being heated ? While at it, why not also vacuum clean the house ? Just hit the knob a magical 4 times ..

You've got the wonder machine right there. I mean hello? Whatever happened to creativity these days ?

Experience tells me I have to disclaim this: yes, of course it's a joke.


If you happen to run across some really good acid, of even if you're feeling sober and playful, try putting a York Peppermint Patty in the microwave until the alien hatches.


OK, you got me there -- just sent milk from my cereal out my nose.

For real! It would also be the only microwave on the market that no matter what's cooking, it will make your kitchen smell like the color blue.


Should I take acid to be able to write like you? Its so hilarious


The Sharp designers of my microwave [0] couldn't even design the clock to keep accurate time. The built-in clock is fast. It will gain about 3 minutes per week.

I'm honestly not sure how they managed to screw that up. 32.768kHz crystal was too expensive? Or just too incompetent to keep track of time correctly?

[0] https://www.amazon.de/Sharp-Mikrowelle-Grill-Kompakt-Mikrowe...


The worst part is you don't even need a crystal for that. Anything that's connected to line power has a built-in 60 Hz oscillator that is adjusted so that it will never gain or lose more than a few seconds...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_clock

My car's clock is also awful about this - it loses something like 3 minutes per month. But at least there you can blame it on the unknown and varying voltage that the battery and alternator provide...


Do you drive a Ford Fusion with the Sync radio, by chance? The stereo in my Fusion does this -- about 2-3 minutes/month slow, so after a few months I start thinking I'm on time for things when I'm actually a few minutes late.

The older Ford Fusion Sync radios (Microsoft variety) are a perfect example of how not to do a UI. I wanted it because my previous car had Bluetooth pairing and I got used to using my phone for music/entertainment and wanted my new car to have the same experience. Of course, being the MS variety of Sync, it has the buggy Bluetooth implementation, so one out of three times I get in the car, my stereo fails to connect. Thank GOD it's got voice commands because I have no idea what combination of buttons is required to actually switch to the Bluetooth input (which is required to be done every time you start the car again regardless of whether or not you were previously on that input). As long as everyone is silent when I hit that magic button to issue my command, and as long as I tilt my head upward toward the mic and speak very clearly, about half the time it switches the input correctly.

Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to make a car stereo so complicated that it pretty much guarantees you're going to take your eyes off the road for long periods of time trying to figure out how to change the station when One Direction comes on (I feel the same way about newer cars that just have the "iPad Screen" style interface -- no tactile anything).


Oh, good point - you made me remember the mystery we solved at my old office.

We were convinced that the microwave was a low wattage unit because it would require you to cook things about 25% more than whatever the package said. It turned out that the digital timer was fast. We started the thing for a minute against a stopwatch app and it was off by more than 10 seconds.

This thing didn't even have a clock -- it was basically designed to do two things: (1) Bombard food with microwaves and (2) stop bombarding said thing after a specified period of time. It did one of those things about as poorly as it could be done.


Holy christ. Horrifying. I can't understand how microwaves are all so bad. Where are the good ones? Isn't it less work to make a simpler (better) interface than the baroque ones we end up with?


Trad two knob microwaves are still available and usually the cheapest eg http://www.argos.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Browse?s=Pr...

so I blame consumers for buying the ones with the silly buttons.


I used to buy the cheap 2-knob ones but they are the cheapest for a reason. After light use, the knobs would inevitably disconnect from the internals. The shop replaced it for free but my time is more valuable than a microwave, so replacements are not really satisfactory.


Honestly the cheaper ones are just fine. As you add more features, you add more complexity. Mine was like $50 and the interface is great. If you want to set the power, mash that key a few times until it gets to the desired level. Then press Start to go for 30 seconds, keep pressing Start to add 30 seconds to the running timer. If you need a specific time, you can type that in with the number keys, but I almost never do that. That's it. It's a microwave. Fifty bucks. Bought it at Macy's. Cool.


I had one that the first 6 numbers would cook for that many minutes, and the "start" button usually acted as an "add 30 seconds" button. You could also program a time, but like you, I almost never did that (mostly just if I was using the timer mode, which didn't have the same quick shortcuts).


It's when people buy for features rather than use. If given the choice most people are likely to buy the one with the longest spec sheet - don't want to miss out on that meat vs vegetable defrost difference! And it's the same price. And it has a few more buttons but I'm not stupid...

On the other side, there's probably a demand on the "designers"to keep inventing and adding new features while keeping it as cheap as possible to produce. And each version is just slightly different from the previous one, so best not to redesign the wiring/programming, just add the new feature in the technically easiest/cheapest way!


You're completely right. In my case, I bought this model because my wife likes to cook and we only had one conventional oven (a gas oven, as well, which cooks differently[0] than an electric one). We decided on it because it would give us a "sort of" second oven for the various times when that's needed. In retrospect, we almost never use the other capability -- not because of a combination of two things - (1) we're too lazy to get the manual out to see what particular incantation needs to be performed to make the "oven" feature work and (2) it takes almost twice as long to pre-heat than any other oven we've ever owned so if you don't plan in advance and start pre-heating it before you actually decide what you're going to cook, the main oven is often free by the time the thing pre-heats.

It goes to show, though, when you jam in a bunch of features into a device that isn't really meant for those features, the added features are often not implemented well enough to make them very useful.

The one redeeming factor this microwave has is that the entire interior is stainless steel. Everyone who uses our microwave does a double-take when they open it seeing all that metal. It's super easy to clean, but that's about it.

[0] Natural gas ovens are less dry than electric ovens, so baking in them results in very moist results but also often requires cooking things longer. I bought it, though, because they're really simple devices that will basically last forever, having only really the $20 ignition element fail about once every decade.


Yeah, the industrial designers can't really crank up the watts on the magnetron or otherwise mess with the specifications, most of what's left is fiddling with the UI to enable ever more elaborate combinations of timing and power (most of which aren't very useful).

My favorite peeve is that cheap MW ovens often don't let you add time while the oven is running when the affordance is already right there (just push the +1m button you used to set the time again). You only get that feature if you buy a more expensive and complex model.


The sharp r-9xx series still have dial knobs for power and time, as well as all the fancy features. Easy stuff is simple, complex is possible. They cook evenly and last for ages.


Like many products, microwaves are designed to sell, not to be used.

The consumer in the store thinks that better product has more buttons and features, not thinking how they would be used.


The buyer is usually not the end user.

For example, a landlord is biased towards purchasing appliances that looks complex so they can show off all the extra "features" to clients.


You mean real estate agent. Landlords generally get the cheapest shit because otherwise it cuts into the bottom line.


Depends on what you're renting. Also they usually splurge on things that look fancy like microwaves, and cheap out on hidden things like recessed lighting that is "secured" with aluminum screws.


$500 for a microwave??? What does it do, fly?

I have an old microwave with two buttons and it works great. Kids can use it too.


You reminded me, mine has an anti-kids "feature", which is that it can't be turned on unless you set it up, press the start button, then open the door, close the door and press the start button again.

I don't have kids and I haven't found a way to disable it, it looks silly opening and closing the door twice every time I want to use it, but I've automated the habit.


Unfortunately, it does a whole bunch of things other than microwave (it's got a full, electric, convection oven and a hybrid convection oven/microwave capability). It does all three of it's major functions very nearly as poorly as they could be done.

This was also purchased in 2005 or so, and was a relatively new idea at the time that, thankfully, didn't take off terribly well.


I would not stand that in my housing unit, sell it on craiglist or similar, buy a used older model.


My dad worked as a the head of an engineering department at Miele in Germany, and therefore my family would always get new appliances before they hit the market, to actually test them out. My mum hated it, of course, to always have to relearn new interfaces etc. And yes, one day our perfectly good microwave with just these two dieals was replaced by an abomination: tons of soft-touch buttons, digital clock, what have you. None of us could fathom why anyone would want such a UI/UX for this simple device... and we lobbied hard to get the old one back. Which we did.


Well, I have one of those Miele soft touch things, and I'm ambivalent about them. I think about this several times per day, since the last 2.5 years, every time I use it; so this is not something I just came up with.

First, the current implementation isn't rigorously thought out. For example, for most operations, you put in the food, then select time to cook, press 'start'; but for thawing, you select the food type, then it asks you 'put in food', and won't continue until you open and close the door. This annoys me to the point that I've contacted Miele several times, but nobody seems to even understand the problem. At one point they send a service technician over (I guess they were exasperated by my repeated calls) who didn't understand the problem either, which led to a Monty Python-esque scene of me saying variations of 'it should work differently!' and him saying 'it works as it should!'. So if your father still have contacts, please let him/they contact me - I'm sure that if only I could get through to the right person, they'd agree with me that it's a bug.

Anyway, apart from these implementation issues, I think overall the concept of having a touch screen that guides the user with many tasks is an improvement over the two-dial system. It tells me exactly how long to heat and at what temperature, and the results are (much) better than I ever get from microwaves/ovens that make me decide that for myself. The downside are increased time-to-task for most common operations, and increased complexity in the UI. I think it's inevitable though; I don't see how you can still have the same UI guidance from the machine yet make it easier to learn. It's like my circular saw - the more expensive one I have now, has more buttons and levers than the $49.95 I has before. I have to think how to use it; the cheap one had an on/off button, that was it. But I do get consistently better results with the expensive one. There, too, I don't see how it can be made simpler - those additional controls just make for a better result.

(if I wanted to start a flame war, I'd compare it here to Notepad vs Vim. Why use something complex like Vim when you can also program just as well with Notepad? And yet, I've been using Vim for well over 15 years.)


Well in the notepad vs. vim analogy it is because you can program just as well with Notepad until you can't and you don't know for sure when that can't state will be reached.

Is it like that with the Miele?


Yeah I think it is, when you put it that way. It depends on how you define 'can't'. I don't see any situations where you really can't do anything with Notepad that you can do with Vim. It's just a lot harder, to the point that it's no longer a realistic option. Same with the over - there is nothing you can't do with a 2-button one. It's just that at some point it becomes so hard that it's not a realistic option any more. Like, theoretically you can hold the temperature of a Dutch oven (the 17th century cast iron version with the 3 legs that you heat with charcoal) at exactly 170C for an hour. It's just very difficult. I can bake apple pies in my oven that I never was able to with a simpler over.

So yeah - what it boils down to is, what is 'possibility'? 'Technically' possible, or 'realistically attainable by the average user'?


Go give kudos to your dad and his colleagues, Miele are one of best designed appliances I've ever encountered (aside from that microwave).

I successfully navigated washers, espresso machines, etc, set to operate in languages I do not speak and was still able to get them to do what I wanted with minimal effort


I've used a microwave which has one dial. You can turn it clockwise or anticlockwise to add/remove cooking time, which is fine.

The designers thought it'd be good to allow pressing the dial, as if it was a button. Pressing the dial set the cooking time to 30 seconds and immediately started cooking. A one-touch interface, how useful!

The only problem was that it was difficult to press the dial without accidentally nudging it clockwise or anticlockwise. Nine times out of ten I managed to turn it anticlockwise, which set a time of 95 hours or thereabouts - and began cooking.

I hate to think what may have happened in some people's houses where they've done this, not noticed that it said 95 hours and forgotten it was cooking.


All those buttons and not a single one to mute the microwaves beeping noises. It would really be handy when others are sleeping.


Now they have bluetooth and chromecast and webcams, so you can play the beeping noises on the stereo speakers of your home media center, and watch your food cook on your giant flat screen TV.


Add 3D, VR, and smell-o-vision and you'll never have to eat again.


Can't wait for taste-o-vision and stop the cooking when it taste good.


As a rule, my first step when installing a new appliance is to disassemble and mute the piezo buzzer using some foam and electrical tape. You still hear the signals but not at the obnoxious default of ~120db.


You should check the manual first for a hidden setting to mute sound. That's how I silenced our work microwaves.


It's funny, just two weeks ago we bought a simple mircrowave with just two knobs for our office:

https://www.amazon.de/Severin-MW-7874-Mikrowelle-kombinierba...

I explicitely chose that mircrowave because it only had two knobs and I just get confused with too many buttons. I always thought I am weired for not wanting all these special features.


The household has been stove-shopping since late November. I've discovered a few things:

1. A major manufacturer and appliance dealer have managed to deliver 3 DOA appliances.

2. There are no gas stovetop/oven combinations which don't have electronic controls. Certainly nothing for less than $3,000 (and the budget is about 1/6 - 1/2 that).

3. It is oh so easy to screw up a design with a simple oversight. The GE oven that has no externally-activateable oven light. Range tops which lack a center-cross support -- this limts the minimum-sized pot you can use, including the oft-cited-here Moka pot, which sees more use than any other cooking utensil in the house.

4. Manufacturers are apparently putting zero thought into how they package their products, both in terms of styling and shipping. The model we've looked at (otherwise among the better ones available per numerous ratings) has a thin sheet-steel back behind which, at a depth of < 1cm, is a printed circuit board managing the exhaust circulation system. Two units have arrived with dents over this element.

5. Solid-state touch controls work ... until they don't. All are placed either directly above the oven, or directly above the oven exhaust. I'm curious as to what thermal-cycling protection or durability is engineered into these.

This for something whose basic conceit is to get hot when you want it to.

I'm thinking through where stoves reached their apex. I'm thinking that electric spark-light gas range was about it. Everything since has added to complexity with very, very minor increases in delivered utility.


Just to mention that you seem to be suffering from the consumer version of feature creep. Eg your number 4 is easily solved by simple metal inlays you can buy anywhere - or even make yourself.

Don't look for perfection by comparing the best of each. Sucks that none of them are perfect perfect for you but people have different needs/wants/tastes.


> I'm curious as to what thermal-cycling protection or durability is engineered into these.

Just enough to be sure it lasts past the end of the warranty period.


Get a commercial microwave oven. I did this - you won't regret it. I got a Sharp Electronics R-21LCF 1000W oven. Yes, it costs close to $300 USD. A similar consumer over will only cost half that. But these things are near workhorses, designed to run near constantly in a foodservice environment (restaurants and the like).

My wife and I decided to do this after experiencing yet another consumer over breaking after only having it a couple of years. We decided to go with the Sharp model, because it (along with Amana) is what you see in most restaurants. We figured to give it a shot, and see how we liked it, and how long it would last.

We've only had it a couple of years, but so far we love it. It only has one knob, only runs on "HIGH" full power, and only allows for a few minutes of cooking at a time. But so far, we haven't had a problem cooking anything in it. You have to adjust how you used to do things (if you're used to power levels - especially "defrost") - but overall, it isn't that big of a deal. Just stick the food in, turn the knob, come back when it "dings".

Doesn't get any simpler.

Now if only I could figure out how to get a TurboChef cheaply...


I recently bought a microwave from Samsung that has one know for time, one for power and a button to set the clock. I do love when appliances are stupidly simple, but I do miss the timer function on my old microwave.


My microwave has two buttons. Start and Stop. Press Start once, it starts for 30 seconds. Press it again and it adds 30 seconds. Keep pressing it to add 30 second intervals. If you want to stop before the time runs out. Press Stop and it resets.


The last time I bought a microwave I had two feature requests: Two knobs, one for time, one for power. An inverter so it would run at that power instead of just turning on to full power for a while and then turning off and on again, which ends up scorching food and blowing fuses. Apparently, this was too much to ask. I get the impression one company has the patent on the inverter tech, and they refuse to put a simple interface on their microwaves.


I read somewhere that it isn't possible to not run a microwave at full power. I don't remember why.

I agree on the two knobs though. I noticed after I buying an expensive in wall microwave that the thing would randomly glitch (you have to power it off to use it again). You have to use a "race condition" to launch it at full power without having to set the power then the time and then press the start button.

I had no idea you could fail so bad at making a microwave.


IIRC, Panasonic owns the patent on inverters, but they definitely make a microwave with a simple knob interface, because I have one (http://www.panasonic.com/au/consumer/household/microwave-ove...)


I had one of those. My issue with it was the knob went up to an hour, and was very hard to set at sub-minute intervals. So 30 seconds, or 90 seconds were very approximate. The "add 30 second button" is the only button I really need. Since a microwave can do a lot in a minute, a knob that doesn't allow accuracy within a minute isn't my first choice.


My parents' has a software-controlled knob. The speed that you turn it matters. Fast turns increment by 30 seconds (and I think goes to larger increments when you pass 5 minutes), slow turns increment by 5 seconds. It's a fairly pleasant interface to use.


It's possible a log-scaled timer would be optimal, with the possible exception of new users.


I dislike microwaves that have the unclear 1-10 power level setting that corresponds to the duty cycle. This requires one to "learn" the microwave and the food in order to cook things properly. The settings I use in my home microwave are very different from the ones I use in my office microwave.

It is much better to be able to select the wattage directly. With food products that specify the wattage and time on the packaging, you are ensured the proper, manufacturer-intended cooking.


Even simpler: Panasonic and Amana each sell a commercial microwave oven that has one knob – and that's it. Turn the knob to the time you want to cook, and it starts cooking – on "high", its only power setting. Open the door, and it stops and cancels the timer.


Another kitchen object that rocks is the upright mixer.

Apparently they are fairly robust inside as well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZwe-H5UnGk


I shared an apartment with two 20 year old when I was 45.

They didn't know that knob 2 changed the power (despite it being labelled), they just kept adding more time and eventually giving up.


I prefer microwaves with a 1 minute and a 10s button (just push the correct number of times). Knobs aren't as precise for things like heating milk for cocoa.


I've stopped watching TV may years ago when it become impossible to figure out what all those buttons are for.


We had one growing up that was the same way.

Now I own one with a bazillion buttons and I only ever press one button - +30 seconds.


You can still buy those. They are the cheapest ones in the supermarket. At least where I live.


You can also buy commercial grade all stainless models that have single timer nob and one or two power option buttons. Amana makes the RCS10DSE.


Oh, nice. That way you get 1000W units. Not worth the additional $200 for me personally, but good to know – thanks.


Industrial microwave ovens in kitchen still have this UI.


when I moved into my current house I bought a brand new microwave for exactly this reason. Two knobs - how long, how hot. anything else is a waste of time.


Seriously, that plus a hard OFF switch on the front.


It took me about a second to think of Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. These are the perfect nexus of good and cheap. These things have the critical features one looks for in a writing instrument, my favorite of which is that I can put it in my electric pencil sharpener and the lead never snaps just prior to the point at which it becomes sharp.

And these guys finally figured out something useful to do with that pink, rubbery, knob at the end of the pencil. I've never been able to figure out what this rubber piece is for on other pencils. On some, it works like a highlighter, but not as well -- leaving this pale, pinkish/carbon smudged mess all over the page. On others, it works like the worlds worst paper shredder, ripping through the page haphazardly, but not in such a useful way as to render the contents securely shredded. On Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, this rubber knob removes any pencil markings that were made in error. It's incredible!

The best part, though, is that you can get a box of almost 100 of them for around $14.


The Ticonderoga is a wonderful workhorse of wood cased pencils. As you've pointed out their lead is sturdy and their price is almost unbeatable for the performance. Possibly the only downside is they're no longer made in the USA and I feel like their overall quality has suffered since the move to China and Mexico.

If you're willing to explore pricier options there are so many excellent wood case pencils to be had!

The luxury option would probably be the Palomino Blackwing 602. It's a ludicrously expensive pencil, but for your money you get what is hands down the nicest wood cased pencil available.

Every line of pencil Palomino makes is fantastic, I'm a huge fan of their Forest Choice pencils as a starter for people who are already in love with the Dixon Ticonderoga.

Some others to possibly check out are the Baron Fig Archer, the Tombow 2558, and the Uni Mitsubishi 9850.


I'm a pencil junkie, personally. This is mainly because I'm particularly good at losing things, especially when said things cost less than $0.25/piece. They're so cheap you don't even waste time thinking about keeping track of them. When I do construction projects, I sharpen up a half-box and bring them to wherever I'm working so that when, invariably, I'm holding a piece of wood and a ruler but failed to actually grab the pencil to mark the spot, I can feel around with my free hand until I am jabbed by a sharp lead.

On that list, though, I have a box of Blackwings and three of them are sitting in my pen cup on my desk as I type this. They're exceptional pencils -- almost too good in some ways -- something about the weight/density of them feels at the same time both like you're holding something that's "better than a pencil" but also something that's almost not a pencil. The friction of the lead against the paper is smoother than I'm used to -- not bad, just different. I jokingly call them my "hipster pencils"[0].

I haven't tried the others, but I'll take a look - thanks for the tip!

[0] When they arrived, my wife informed me that my "Yuppie pencils are here" -- I informed her that "yuppie" is about a decade dated and we settled on "hipster" but even that is a pretty inaccurate term since most of the hipsters I know have an affinity for this watered down, swill beer called PBR that we used to buy when we were underage because it was cheap. Kids these days. :P


This person knows their pencils. I agree. Second the Palomino recommendation.

It's all relative but I wouldn't call the Blackwing 602 "ludicrously expensive"...they cost about $1.50 per pencil.

Though maybe you are thinking of the vintage Blackwing pencils. Blackwing used to be made by a different company (Eberhard) decades ago. These older vintage Blackwing pencils if you can find one cost like $50 today. Still the new ones being made are about $1.50 and are great too.


Thanks! I'm a pretty big fan of stationary and writing as a hobby so I try to keep up with what's good.

You're right, calling the price of the Blackwing 602 ludicrous was a bit of a stretch. But considering you can get 144 count of Dixon Ticonderoga for the same price as 12 Blackwings it's pretty difficult for a lot of people to justify.

I did not know about the Eberhard Blackwings. I'll have to look further into that to see if I can get one as a collection piece!


> Palomino Blackwing 602

Looks like $22 for 12 on JetPens [1]:

> The unique rectangular black eraser can be extended as it wears down from use, and also pops out completely from the pencil body for replacement.

That's a nice feature.

[1]: https://www.jetpens.com/Palomino-Blackwing-Pencil-602-Pack-o...


I've struggled with sharpening pencils. I enjoy a good pencil - but I've never found a sharpener that works consistently. Any advice?


One of the KUM sharpeners from here. Using 2 stage blades helps:

https://pencils.com/product-category/sharpeners/

Another option buy an X-acto knife (watch youtube videos how to sharpen a pencil with a knife if needed). It's the best way to sharpen a pencil to the way you like it but it takes time. I usually just use the KUM.


My mom is a retired graphic design artist - she still uses a knife to sharpen her pencils. Does it nice and slow, like it's relaxing. I remember going to her office as a kid and her cut and paste was with a knife and spray adhesive too.


We go through a box of 96 ct. pencils every 3 months (4 kids in elementary school). Here's the thing, there are some really good pencil sharpeners out there, but at the end of the day, if you buy good pencils, any newer sharpener will work well. The one I use, today, cost me $6.00 at Office Max last September. It's a motorized, battery operated, sharpener but the sharpener part is one of those cheap, plastic, single blade deals. It's set at a good angle and when it goes dull -- like they all do -- in about 6 months or so, I'll throw it out and spend another $6.00. If I put any pencil in this thing that's lower quality than the Dixon Ticonderoga pencils I buy, the lead snaps off before it gets sharp, but I've never had that happen with anything at least of that quality. And I won't pay more than $6.00 because regardless of how much I've spent on a sharpener (my last was about $50), they go dull in about year and have to be thrown out.


I'm going to second hxta98596's recommendation and recommend a Kum Masterpiece sharpener. Two blades lets you get just the right point shape and the ability replace the blades over time helps maintain consistent sharpening performance.


Carl Pencil Sharpener CC-2000 Red Angel-5 Premium. Made in Japan.

Lasts for years. Never broke a lead.


After taking an architecture class in high school, I carried a drafting eraser for years which just worked so much better than built-in pencil erasers. I think it was made by Staedtler [1]. It's difficult to deal with a regular eraser again after getting used to that.

[1]: https://www.jetpens.com/Staedtler-Mars-Plastic-Eraser/pd/796...


This is the eraser I started using in drafting and land surveying. Super practical and best of all, it really does erase well.


I would argue that this is not the nexus of good and cheap. While 100 for 14 may look like a bargain in cents-per-pencil, would you really spend the next couple years working with 100 slightly worse pencils for $10? Stated in this way, the answer is obvious.

I would, instead, recommend the Ticonderoga Black. The cedar wood is both smoother to grip and more fragrant than in the traditional pencils. Getting ready to start a task by sharpening your pencil is definitely enhanced by the smell of cedar shavings.

The black eraser seems to be less prone to drying out, and while I'll echo your experience that the pink variants are better than cheap knockoffs that do little more than leave smudges, but even the Ticonderoga erasers can leave pink smudges. Leaving a faint grey smudge is much less annoying than pink.

It is, of course, black. This does make it slightly more difficult to locate on a crowded desk than the iconic yellow pencil. That's an example of a good design feature that's largely become ignored as traditional, but isn't really necessary. One benefit of a unique black pencil is that it's much less likely to be accidentally swiped by another student or coworker.

The Ticonderoga Black also retains the hexagonal cross section, which prevents it from rolling off your desk - another feature that is too often ignored. To try a more modern design, try the cleverly named "Triconderoga" which has a rounded triangular cross section that some people find more comfortable.

And I'm not sure how to say this clearly, but no, that was not sarcasm. I really do like those pencils.


I have some Ticonderoga Blacks here. I gave them to the kids, though, because I don't like the weight. The cedar wood is more dense, making them hard to "hillbilly sharpen"[0] accurately. They're heavier, which kind of annoys me because it just doesn't feel right (I feel the same way about the black wings, but they don't feel quite as hefty as the blacks).

On the eraser, I've not run into pink smudging with the Ticonderogas, or had any of them dry out, but that's mostly because I blow through these things very quickly (4 kids, all elementary age, and I'm good at losing cheap things).

Very good point on the shape -- I hadn't even thought of that as a feature but I should have being that I specifically purchased a few boxes of triangular crayons for the kids -- I hate climbing under tables to fish out whatever color they want that's managed to roll off the table.

I totally get it, though, I'm pretty ridiculous about my pencils, too. I've tweeted, reviewed and written (in pencil) a letter to Dixon Ticonderoga. And they wrote back a snarky-ish reply ... in pencil (I think there's a picture of the reply on my Twitter feed somewhere)! :o)

[0] A term my dad used to use when you're doing construction work, you snap the lead of the pencil and are nowhere near a pencil sharpener so you take whatever qualifies as a sharp edge (often one half of a pair of clippers) and scrape it sharp, again. I often sharpen my pencils with razor blades and find it easy to get a good tip in a minute or two on the standard Ticonderogas.


I'll take that one farther. I've been obsessed for 25 years with their 2 1/2 pencil. The hardness seems just right to me to make a nice line, and they rarely need sharpening. There's also something analog and low quality about their graphite. It's got little hard scratchy chunks in it that I find oddly satisfying.


I get it - it's one of the reasons I don't really get excited about some of the higher end pencils (and why I avoid most mechanical pencils) -- the graphite feel is silky smooth, almost feeling like writing with a ball-point, but I am accustomed to the way the pencils I'm used to feel on paper.

It's just one of those things, I guess. I think of it this way -- I buy the cheapest coffee beans on the market because when I started drinking coffee, it was at my first job where the boss was really cheap. The coffee came out of this huge can with a white label and large bold-faced text that read "Arabica Beans". He'd also regularly just throw more grounds into the filter cavity without tossing the old stuff and just "rebrew". This stuff tasted like dirt, but because that's what I got used to drinking, it's what I think of as "coffee". I can't make myself swallow Starbucks as a result.


That's an abomination of coffee. I feel like if you try something freshly roasted (no roast date on the bag of beans = it's old), you'd taste the difference.


I've never seen someone that excited about pencils.

Might this be satire? ;)


Doubtful; I feel quite the same about the Pentel Twist-Erase III, which, in a variety of lead diameters, has been my implement of choice since high school. This is not least because it excels among mechanical pencils in having the eraser be other than an afterthought - as hinted by the name, the upper barrel contains a twist mechanism which houses an eraser that's a quarter inch in diameter and over an inch in length, and which is immediately available rather than requiring partial disassembly to access. It's also, like that on the Ticonderoga, made of rubber that does its job, which you'd think would be the only criterion but go figure.


Oh no. Folk can get really obsessive about stationary. I have to have Mitsubishi Uniball [1] myself.

[1] https://www.penaddict.com/top-5-pens/


Oh hell yes. The 0.38 Signo is my favorite pen ever, and the retractable version makes it even better.


Drafting, sketching, doodling can make one excited about paper marking tools.

http://www.nitramcharcoal.com/


I've seen many people get this excited about pencils. Does anyone else remember Milton Friedman's extended love song to the invisible hand and the pencil?


Anecdotally, I share GPs frustration and excitement about erasers.

It's pretty neat when they actually work well, which never seems to happen with most pencil erasers.


No, these pencils are quite famous. I saw them recommended in a beginner's pack for D&D players.


The Casio F-91W Digital wrist watch

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casio_F-91W

Keeps better time than a Rolex, and is a fraction of the price. Waterproof. Has an alarm, stopwatch, and timer; all things missing from traditional wind ups. Interface is easy to use and discover. The battery last almost forever.

Now, if you're asking if it's aesthetically pleasing, that's a different story. But we were talking about design, right?

EDIT: Wikipedia says they're only splash proof; I used to swim with mine but there you go. And I'm making up the timer function, that must have been on later models only.


Unfortunately, combined with eastern features, it can get you into trouble in US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seton_Hall_reports#Detainees.2...


Where "get you into trouble" means "you can be sent to a secret prison to be tortured for the rest of your life just because you were wearing a common watch".

Yay.


Now, if you're asking if it's aesthetically pleasing, that's a different story. But we were talking about design, right?

Hmm I think design also includes aesthetics - at least somewhat. Think about UI/UX. Both are design concepts. You're essentially describing the Casio as providing a great UX but not a great UI. I'd still argue UX is more important, but I wouldn't fully ignore UI when talking about design.


The F91W is very hard to beat but I recommend shelling out the extra ten quid for a Casio W86:

http://zegarki.worldtrade24.pl/images/Zegarek%20meski%20Casi...

F91W owners are always jealous of my nice bright EL backlight!


Bought one for my son, and replaced the led with a nice red one. http://www.instructables.com/id/Watch-LED-Light-Mod/


Yup- a fair criticism of the F91W is the weak backlight.


While we are at it why not the indestructable g-shock for a few extra tens of quid? DW-5600?

http://www.g-shock.eu/global/images/lineup/zoom/DW-5600E-1VE...


Everybody I know in the military owns a few of these, normally tied to bits of gear. They're robust enough to rely on and when they do get destroyed they're cheap enough to replace. An n+1 configuration is pretty affordable.


I had one glued to the brake fluid canister on a motorcycle for a few years :)


They might only claim to be splash proof but I have dived to 30m with mine over a 10 times and to 20+m probably over 50 times and it's still going strong.


That's interesting. Other people I know have said the same as you but I've had two F91s fail and let water in with light swimming. I bought a W59 which is almost exactly the same (I'm not entirely sure what the difference is) and not had any problems since.


Spent six months surfing, swimming, and sweating through the tropics with an F91W strapped to my wrist. I bought it because it was cheap and I was poor, but I fell in love with it instantly. Lightweight, durable, and accurate as hell, it was the perfect companion.

It's a shame the strap's shitty, though. I noticed a nick along the inside edge one day and thought nothing of it. Got off the bus in San Jose and it was already torn halfway through. By the time I found a place to stay for the night, it was gone. I damn near cried.

I don't have that kind of attachment to watches orders of magnitude more expensive.


I disagree. I have one and every time the hourly "beep" gets back on (not sure how) I have to google it to figure out how to remove it. I don't find this watch well designed at all when it comes to intuitive features.


Had one of those for a looong time when I was in middle/high school. My teachers especially loved how it emitted 2 strident beeps at each hour. And indeed, that was the most efficient watch I ever had.


The frequency at which those beeps are emitted, and the fact that there are, as you put it, precisely "2 strident beeps" makes it impossible to locate by sound alone. I misplaced one of these a decade ago somewhere in the "mess that is my home office" and had been punished with these two, maddening, beeps going off every hour for about nine of those ten years. I'm not sure if it was found by someone else or the battery finally gave in, but it used to drive me crazy.


Let's face it, that's not a problem with the watch per se :)


But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;)


Aesthetics is often part of design.


I'm sure at the time this watch was released, it felt like your latest iPhone!


Speaking of legacy watches, anybody remembers the one of the first smartwatches from Microsoft/Timex - DataLink? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timex_Datalink


Not to mention detonates a bomb like no other.


I thought that was Nokia phones that did that?


The F-91W is so ubiquitous that at one point it was associated with Al-Qaida's bomb making techniques.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-13194733


Each has their place. Nokia 3310 for remote detonation, Casio F-91W for a time bomb.


Best part about the N3310 is that its reusable.


After one year the plastic wristband broke. Bought the one with a metal wristband, it broke after 2.5-3 years.


My only complaint is the light is too faint. I need to hold it about 6 inches from my eye to see the whole display at once in the dark, and my eyes are still pretty good.

Also, if the light button had a timed-release of around 4 seconds that would be a big usability improvement.


Check out the Casio F105W. Identical watch but uses an electroluminescent backlight instead of an LED to illuminate the display.


The best thing about the watch is the weight and small footprint. I can just strap it on and just forget about it. I have been wearing mine for 2 months now almost continuously.


They are a brilliant watch. I've hard two of those watches that have covered most of my life.


I have a couple of those for outdoor stuff. I find the straps quite uncomfortable.


I'm wearing one. The only feature I miss is a countdown timer.


Does it really have a timer though?


Another odd one, but my Honda Fit 2nd Generation. So many things about that car are so well thought-out, and even more expensive/luxurious cars miss things that the Fit designers included. Some examples:

- Cup holder on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. As a left-handed person, this is amazing.

- Window power remains on after turning off the car as long as doors haven't been opened, allowing you to close the windows even if you forget to close them before turning off the car.

- Rear seats can fold completely flat, thanks to the fact that the fuel tank is below the front seats

- Large, unique-feeling tactile buttons and knobs to control the AC heating, and audio systems. So many cars use tiny identical buttons that are impossible to distinguish without looking.


I had several Fiat Panda's (1st generation). It's automotive mobility boiled down to the bare essentials. A 50-year old motor design that has been completely finetuned to the point where it's unbreakable and economic (the 1.0 Fire motor). No power steering (not needed since the car is so lightweight), no brake assist, no power windows, no A/C. Just one windshield wiper, one heater and turn signals, that's it.

I love how simple and intuitive these cars were. Super dependable (lack of options make it so that nothing much could break down anyway), economic and yet some smart mechanical features: the light switches off when you turn the motor off, it's impossible to lock yourself out of the car and the best thing: the back seat is basically a hammock that converts to a bed. Since the car is so boxy it's easy to transport big things like fridges or large IKEA-packages.

I had several of these since they were so cheap (400 euros 5th-hand, but no mechanical issues). Only downside is the rust and the fact they're not very safe.

Ah, the memories...


I really enjoy my Mazda3 2016 dashboard and controls.

Meanwhile I HATED the BMW 3 series controls and shifter. Nothing was intuitive, though it all looked space agey.

I am a fan of the Lexus controls as well. They look positively 90s but are very straightforward to use and behave as you'd expect.

As a former automotive engineer it hurts to see "aesthetics" trump usability.


Yeah, I have the Mazda 3 Astina - 2014. I believe its MazdaConnect is roughly the same, maybe a slightly smaller screen.

Blown away by how good the UX for the whole car is, including a HUD which for its price class and the time is rather amazing.

Adding things like rear cross alert, curving lights and radar cruise in addition to EBA is simply great.


I've got the same model. Also a big fan of the design features


Ugh, my 2016 CX-9's infotainment system is the worst thing about the vehicle. Mazda has tried to cram way too much into that stupid dial control.


True. Love everything physical about the car but the infotainment system has poor UI and bad latency.


This. The controls design on this car is essentially perfect. And the interior space use is amazing. When we moved my son to go to college in another city we had the whole living room piled with his stuff, yet some how it all went into the Fit. The TARDIS of small cars. Pretty nice to drive too.


We have a winner! I bought one in 2010, and I've loved it. The only nitpicks I have are: 1) weak front stabilizer control links that don't stand up well to Illinois potholes, 2) no long mode or refresh mode seat settings (you need the first- or third-generation model for those), and 3) top gear (manual transmission) is too short - 3500 RPM at 70 MPH.

But for all that, it's amazingly roomy inside, good on gas, fun to drive even if it won't win races, and just a great car in general. Controls are well laid out, entry and exit are easy, four full-sized adults can sit comfortably in it, the engine is a gem, and when the rear seats are folded down it can handle a lot of cargo.


Agreed-- the flexible interior layout is particularly incredible. It feels like the inside is bigger than the outside. It's crazy that I can fit a dining table, or a load of 2x4s, or five adults and their camping gear, in a subcompact car that I can also parallel park in even the tiniest spots. If you have a roof rack and a rear hitch you can really turn it up to 11.


On the subject of car ergo, a 2000 Miata NB. As someone who is 6'+, I'm consistently amazed at how comfortably I fit. It makes you realize how much wasted space there is in most car interiors.


Almost this. I'm 6'2", can't sit in the NB without bumping my head on the roof bars when closed. But had a 1995 NA for about 5 years and that was just incredibly comfortable. Could fit a remarkable amount in the boot too.


Yep. Just bought a 2011 Sport manual last month. I do mostly city driving and don't typically carry more than one passenger so I was kicking around the idea of a small pickup so I'd have the ability to carry around things like my PA system or camping gear or grab large items at the Depot, etc. instead of renting a pickup/van.

The problem is that there don't seem to really be many light pickups made anymore (like the size of the old S10 for example) and even the used ones in good shape were a bit on the pricey side for my frugal nature.

Well, I unexpectedly needed to buy a car last month and found a 2011 Fit with only 39k miles and got them to sell it for $9500. May have been able to talk them down a bit more if I had the luxury of time but it was within the market value given by several resources so I was OK with it.

Only down side was some minor wear-and-tear maintenance that the previous owner likely traded in to avoid dealing with (and the dealer wouldn't cover under warranty) but I still feel reasonably OK with the overall cost.

And of course the car is great. Moved out of my old place around the same time and only needed to rent a cargo van for the largest furniture items. Everything else has packed easily into the car with the seats folded flat. I love how the passenger seat can fold back as well so you can fit a 7-8 foot ladder or other long items like standing lamps.

Clutch feels a little "chattery" on cold mornings but apparently this is common on many Honda and Acura cars. Either way, my overall impression is that it's still quite a bit of car for not a whole lot of dough. Being able to just buy it for cash may have improved my overall enjoyment as well.


Yep, I have a 2012 Fit Sport Manual. The Honda transmission is generally great overall, much easier to shift than my friend's Camaro IMO.


Have you had to replace the coil packs yet? That's the maintenance thing I mentioned having to deal with. Seems to be a common issue and I actually suggested it to my mechanic when I started getting rare, intermittent cylinder misfire codes after a few weeks.

To the mechanic's credit, they didn't want to replace them off the bat because they couldn't reproduce the issue and they had me drive for another week to see if it threw the error code again. Of course it did and when I brought it back the second time they swapped the coils and all has been right since.

It just seemed like a common issue when I searched for the OBD-II code online and I guess I just added another data point.


I have a 2011 Fit Sport. Great little car.

Doesn't hurt that it's dirt cheap to maintain and insure. I have maxed-out liability limits on my policy and only pay $35 a month.


> $35 a month

Wow! Are you in the US? May I ask what insurance you have?


Colorado with Geico. $300k/$300k bodily injury, $100k property damage, $300k uninsured motorist injury and a few other miscellaneous coverages.


Liability only shouldn't be expensive. I pay $85 / month on my v6 09 accord coupe for comprehensive.


I agree. Owned one for a couple years. Everything was great as long as you don't run over chewing gum because you might get stuck.


>Cup holder on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. As a left-handed person, this is amazing.

Huh, as a lefty in a country that drives on the left side of the road, I'd never considered this was a problem.


As a righty in a country that drives on the left side of the road, I'd never considered it a problem either.


I have a 2007 Fit Sport automatic. Other than a failed transmission pressure sensor, it's been drop dead reliable.


I drove one of these recently, I'm 6'1" and the seat wouldn't go back quite enough. Probably only 1-3 inches, but a total deal breaker.


Yeah, it's the one thing that nearly put me off buying one - I'm six foot and it didn't quite feel right. I'm glad I took the plunge though: I got used to the slightly more upright driving position, and I love the car. The upside of the slightly more restricted seat rails, btw, is that rear passengers always have great leg room, even in such a small car.


Yes! I think some of the changes they made ~2007/2008 in their interior design were huge leaps in front of most other cars IMHO.


Also, two of the cup holders are right at the AC outlets. Very good for cooling drinks.


> the fuel tank is below the front seats.

Doesn't sound like a good idea in an accident.


Why not? If something catastrophic happens, will it really make a difference?


Because if a fire starts, you'll have zero time to get out. In the rear, you may have a second or two.


Putting it at the back isn't always a good idea - Ford Pinto anyone?


There are many hatchbacks safer (ahem) than the Pinto. IIRC it had a particular design flaw in addition to the gas tank in the rear, though I've lost the details and wikipedia doesn't seem to be helping.


Any idea how the 3rd generation compares?


car and driver was convinced that a lot of the performing characteristics that made the 2nd gen a fun economy car have been messed up but as an appliance car it's still extremely practical


Apple MacBooks are the best laptops that I have ever used. Nothing comes close to them. Even my Surface. It's a great device (by far the best Windows laptop/convertible available), but it misses on some details (light bleed on the edges, kickstand doesn't align all the way)


The Metal Unibody Macbooks have been first in class since the first introduction in 2008. It's truly a remarkably designed machine.


I agree. I have a mid-2009 15" MBP to which I long ago maxed-out the RAM and replaced the HDD with an SSD, and it's still my daily driver.

About the only time I notice its age is when I do something involving very heavy disk i/o. While it is an SSD, it's still only SATA II. The vast majority of the time I don't even notice. It's been a great machine.


Until you need to replace literally anything in them. When their design suddenly looks massively hopeless compared to a thinkpad.


I feel like ThinkPads are severely underrated even for their time. Their user-serviceability may not help sell units, but for anyone who's actually owned, used, and needed to repair one, the design was genius.


They aren't designed to need that kind of servicing. They're designed to last long enough to justify a replacement, and the 2008 and 2009 MacBooks we have under our bookcase continue to prove this.


Until, like they said, any one part needs fixing, then you're SOL with a bill that runs 33-50% of the price of a brand new one.


My old Snow Leopard MBP was pretty much perfect in its day. It's long in tooth now but with a new battery and an SSD upgrade would still be well and truly usable as a general web-and-email machine.


I upgraded everything in my Snow Leopard-era 13" MBP and it was still running fine until I stupidly spilled water on it last month.

Now replaced by a 2015 13" MBP, which feels almost identical (although that Retina screen is goooood... as is the HDMI port).

And I can still sell most of the 2011 MBP parts on eBay to get some of my investment back!


I still have my white 13" MacBook with Snow Leopard. Using it is a bit nostalgic: remember when Apple made a super stable OS that optimized for getting actual work done? I don't remember it ever crashing, not even once!


I still own&use one; I upgraded SSD and ram an it is still pretty ok for small web dev and internet browsing.


Yeah, I have a mid-2011 Macbook Air that I've been using heavily since day one, and it still performs like a champ. I've never owned a non-Mac laptop that I didn't want or need to replace within two years.


The only major problem is the keyboard layout which IMO is close to inexcusable. Swapping fn and ctrl with no way of fixing it is thoughtless at a level that a company like Apple shouldn't tolerate.


Yep, they're built to last too. I have an old white plastic MacBook I handed down to my nephew that's still chugging away after seven years. It runs like it's practically brand new and it's built like a tank.


The Macs are legendary for their design, but I have to say the winner is the MacBook Air. We have one at home, specifically the 2011 model MacBook Air. Such a fine piece of equipment and it still works pretty today as well as it did 6 years ago.


Got the some model here. Even though I now also own a 13" rMBPro which is barely heaver, there's something about the MBAir's design that makes it FEEL so much lighter to carry around. It's much easier to hold, and it looks much thinner on a table as well thanks to the curved shape. A truly amazing design.


+1 for Macbook Air 13" 2010 (dedicated GPU).

Best laptop I ever owned, hands down.


Have been using Air since its 1st gen.


If the screen on the Air wasn't so shitty, I would still be rocking that thing. It had legendary battery life and an amazing keyboard, all while being super light.

I think that the MBA the best MacBook they've ever designed. No compromises, light enough to forget about and lasts long enough to almost never need charging.

I seriously wished they re-released that with a Retina screen.


Shitty? The Air screen is pretty good. Yes, it is not retina but I'm happy with the other bits such as color depth, view angle, brightness, and just general quality.


Textmate 2 - It's such a well-engineered piece of software, and it's gorgeous.

Bialetti Brikka - Such an elegant design, and it makes delicious coffee, Italian-style.

Nespresso - If Apple made espresso machines. The espresso tastes great and it's easy to clean.

Patagonia MLC 45L - My pet peeve with luggage is that the good stuff tends to be heavy. Not this! It's big enough for extended travel, has backpack straps if you need it, durable (w/ lifetime guarantee), and is well-designed without being "design-y," if that makes sense.

Charles Schwab checking account - Okay, not a physical product, and doesn't have very impressive visual design, but well-designed regardless. No account minimums or fees, the best customer service I've ever experienced, no foreign transaction fees, and they rebate any and all ATM fees worldwide. It's the absolute perfect money bucket.

Blundstone boots - The perfect footwear if you're unsure of conditions. Hiking--check. Going to dinner--check. Walking in the city--check. Walking through snow--check. Traveling--check. They're very, very comfortable.

Elixir (programming language) - This is what happens when a tool is made for one's own use, as opposed to being designed for a hypothetical "other" who doesn't exist. It's magical.


> Nespresso

Anything that creates such an inordinate amount of waste is not well designed in my book.

Even the inventor of coffee capsules regrets creating them due to the ridiculous amount of waste.

> Bialetti Brikka

Yes!

> Blundstone boots

And yes!


I agree. It's so weird to see the two mentioned side by side.

Nespresso is great for the user. You just have to buy the pods and machine and you will have the caffeinated beverage that Nespresso makes.

But then you look at the Bialetti (or any moka pot) and you wonder why so many people own Nespresso (and other pod based coffee makers. All you have to do is get coffee grounds and you're good to go. Fill the reservoir with water and the puck with grounds and throw it on the stove. Sure, it might take 1 or 2 more steps, but it will almost always make a better cup of coffee and you are not wastefully throwing out plastic every time you make a cup.


I'm so annoyed that the awful Textmate 1 website is still the first result on Google, and has not been replaced. Every time I recommend it, I have to go into an explanation of how to ACTUALLY find the editor, so they don't just see the one from 2005 and leave.

https://github.com/textmate/textmate


I would almost agree with Charles Schwab. I really think they are likely the best option in most cases

..That extra almost comes from their revamps of their Android app over the years. The new UI's just don't see much consistency, and the UX for cashing a check is especially weird and unintuitive. Why do I have to select an account if literally only one account has checking cashing enabled? Why is the whole UI otherwise unresponsive unless you click the doesnt-look-like-a-button "account" box? Weird.


The MLC is my go-to for standard travelling (not a climbing or backpacking trip). People tend to choose wheeled suitcases because they think carrying a heavy suitcase is difficult, but eliminating the wheels, handle and frame, will save a significant amount of weight. For example, the wheeled version of the MLC weighs 1.5kg (over 3lbs) more than the normal version. For a carry-on size suitcase, using a lightweight, non-rolling option makes much more sense.

Main downsides: The MLC good for carrying clothing and flat items, but it's not so great for carrying non-flat things, although it can do it. It is also a little large, and has no compression straps, so you need to use packing cubes or absorb the excess space with something (e.g. those plastic air bubbles that come in packages sometimes).


Sorry for being weird, but what Blundstone boot model exactly are you refering to? This one? http://www.blundstone.com/shop/black-mens-or-womens-premium-...


No, not being weird at all! :)

This video does a good job showing the differences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM68SNtODqs

If you do decide to get a pair, note that they need some time to break in; mine were uncomfortable at first!


Did the boots break in, or your feet? :P


> Textmate 2 - It's such a well-engineered piece of software, and it's gorgeous.

I use TextMate 2, and it's great because there's nothing unusually dumb about it.

But I still miss TextMate 1.x every single week. I often want to drag two or three folders onto the TextMate icon in my Dock and have a TextMate "project", with no other files or directories other than what I've dragged. This was such a great and intuitive use of the macOS Dock, and a feature that I haven't ever found anywhere else. Doing it by hand with .tm_attributes is such a pain that I might as well just create symlinks to recreate the feature.

I think TextMate 1.x was a better-designed product than 2.x, even though I have no doubt that the source code was a mess.


I'm a big fan of my Schwab account too. But I'm a bit angry at them recently. The standard protocol for an expired card... I believe... Is to send a new one a month before expiration. I was caught in a foreign country without my Schwab debit card of choice. Spent thirty minutes on an international call only to be told that my card was expired. I know, I know, I could have inspected my card a little closer. I feel that this was a cost cutting measure on their part...


Has Schwab upgraded their web security recently? Last time I looked at them, they had a 8 character upper limit on their password field that they then lower-cased.


Yes: http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/client_home/password_for...

They also have 2-factor auth, which can be enabled by request.


Lol this kind of stuff isn't a priority for most websites. But you'd think financial operations would be the first to update.


Isn't Charles Schwab terribly insecure ? There was a post here a year ago about their password and 2fa policies.


#1 The Nokia N9 (specifically the alarm clock) When trying to find a clone for Android, I found this guy's blog post which explains why it's perfect:

http://www.nition.co/2014/08/the-nokia-n9-alarm-clock/

The swipe interface of the operating system is also the best I've ever used. If I play around with the N9 for a few minutes now; then go back to android, it feels clunky an inefficient again.

#2 The Nintendo Gamecube It just works without having to setup profiles or download updates, the controller is awesome (subjective) and it carries the greatest Mario Kart, Smash Brothers and Mario Party ever created (also subjective).


I remember watching an interview of Yamamoto explaining how Sony blatantly copied the N64 controller, even copying Nintendo's mistake of having 4 right-side buttons of exactly the same shape (for the fingers).

Nintendo corrected this with the gamecube controller having different shaped buttons on the right (see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GameCube_controller the A, Y, X and B buttons)

For some reason, Nintendo reversed back to the "bad" playstation-like buttons after the gamecube.

If anyone knows why I would be interested.


The smaller, yellow "c" buttons on the right hurt to use a lot, having a higher and skinnier profile. For fighting games that matters quite a bit, because there's a lot of quick button mixups. Playing some games on the N64 could be painful after a short while.

I imagine they went back because all the games expected the old layout by that time since it was used with the other systems, so it was just easier.


I don't know why they reverted to the 4 same-sized buttons on the Wii classic pro controller and the WiiU controllers. If I had to guess, I'd say that on the Wii, the wiimote + nunchuck were the primary focus and the 'pro' controllers were an afterthought. You could use the legendary gamecube (GCN) controller for some games anyway.

In this super-long (and interesting) article about the GCN, under the heading "The Pressures To Create The Perfect Controller", there's a write-up of the design and decision process for the creation of the controller.

https://dromble.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/dolphin-tale-story-...


Maybe it's because I play a lot of games, but I don't know why four identical shaped buttons would be bad. I never press A and think I'm pressing B because they are the same shape. It's not clear to me why you think different shaped buttons is inherently better.


One thing where it shines: new players and tutorials. When the button is shown to the screen they can immediately track it. Sony is pretty bad with that, GF always asks "what is R2? What is R3? ..."


For some reason, my gf picked up 'right bumper', 'left trigger', etc from the Xbox 360 much more easily than "R1/L2" from the PS2.


Gamecube-style button shapes can be packed more tightly, which I've occasionally thought would be nice when playing Super Metroid and its various romhacks and inspirees. Some of the advanced mobility techniques require complex inputs, and while rebinding can help those flow more naturally, that only works up to a point - when you're trying to reliably perform sequences like spin-jumping, cancelling over an enemy, selecting missiles to get in a couple of quick midair hits, deselecting missiles, and firing beams to clear out approaching nuisance flyers so they don't hitstun you and break your flow, every millimeter between the buttons makes a difference.


I've been using an Android alarm clock program that is unfortunately called Alarm Clock Xtreme for nearly a decade. It works pretty great. It's not quite as slick as the N9 alarm clock that blog post describes, but it's pretty close. If you're still trying to hunt down an alarm clock, give it a shot.


I'm quite a big fan of it ACX myself and use it as my daily alarm clock. However, my one gripe with it is that with the major update (ages ago now), they removed the option to set an alarm with no snooze option.


Is it better than Timely? I love Timely, but its lack of updates for many years now is worrying.


What are you looking to be updated in your alarm clock? Personally, I find updates to simple Android applications that don't seem to need new features somewhat worrying. It often seems to be coupled with a new requirement for network access...


There are a few things I've missed (multiple timezone support, bugs when waking up from lockscreen in some cases), so overall it's mostly 'keeping up' - mobile apps that don't co-evolve with the latest versions of the OS's will stop working at some point.


I don't know, it's good enough that it's the only one I've used :) It does still get updates, for what that's worth.


Also, one thing I don't understand with the iOS alarm. Why doesn't it work like the Android one? On android, when I set an alarm, it tells me exactly how long I will sleep if I go to sleep right away.


The newest iOS has a feature that sounds like what you describe under "Bedtime" in the clock app.


Still not the same. Imagine that you're telling siri "wake me up at 9am" and it replies to you "alarm will ring in 8 hours".


The stock Android alarm app seems to have everything that is mentioned in the blog post (at least that is the case in Android 7.0+, can't speak for older versions)


Teenage Engineering OP-1, a music synthesizer. Really well built, buttons and knobs feel fantastic, and the display is super fun. The OP-1 in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umatbZ0n4mE


Great recommendation. For those folks balking at the $850 price, I agree it's very expensive. But a decent synthesizer is going to start around $500 anyways and it goes up very fast from there (synths can easily cost +$3000 with full size keys). The OP-1 is not ridiculously pricey when compared to competitors products.

I wanted to suggest another option that is much less expensive and worth checking out if you are interested in this type of music is Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators [1]. These are just a fun instrument/toy to play around with and they only cost $50! From the same company too...I wouldn't say the Pockets are a "best-design thing" but I do think they are an easy and inexpensive way to start messing around creating your own music on a hardware instrument before deciding on a bigger purchase like a $1000k synthesizer. The website is great and has sample sounds of each model:

[1] https://teenage.engineering/products/po


I just got one of these for Christmas, and it's honestly one of the most beautiful and intuitive devices I've ever used. It's such a creative and inspiring tool.


Oh no! I've been ogling these since they came out, and only recently convinced myself I really didn't need one. Now it's back on the table...


I came here to also vote for the OP-1, and I don't even own one. Sure it's a bit expensive at ~$850, and you can get similar functionality at a lower budget with hardware and software. But the OP-1 provides an amazing tool in a standalone device, in a great experience and form factor. I'll be saving up for one for awhile, but it'll be worth it.


I have coveted the OP-1 since before is came out, but I've also been college poor the entire time. It really hurts my heart.


1k bucks for that device seems a little bit on the pricy side.


$850 USD, and most products on this list are on the pricey side. You usually get what you pay for.


Only thing bothering me about it is the keyboard. It fits in the overall aesthetic, but I feel like they chose style over substance and regular keys would be more usable. Any comments from first hand experience?


It's a bit tough to play by itself, but I'm okay with the tradeoff for the portability.

FWIW it works quite well if you connect it to a MIDI host and use another controller to play or sequence the synths on it.

...just don't connect your 12v AC adapter to the OP-1's USB hub that wants 5v, or you'll lose all data connectivity (USB disk mode and MIDI) to the unit. :(


Hey, Justin Vernon and I both agree with you. Best small-scale synth ever.


Was going to say the same here ;)


Impressive!


Fiskars Axes: http://www.fiskars.eu/products/gardening/axes/splitting-axe-...

Barbour Jackets: http://www.barbour.com/eu/categories/mens/waxed-jackets/barb...

Camper Shoes: https://www.camper.com/en_FI/men/shoes/peu/camper-peu-17665-...

Stihl Chainsaws: http://www.stihl.com/STIHL-power-tools-A-great-range/Chainsa...

Genelec Speakers: http://www.genelec.com/8351

Desktops: Mac Pro 1st Generation

Laptops: Macbook Pro

Phones: iPhone

Operating System Kernel: Linux

High Level Programming Language: Lua / LuaJIT

Low Level Programming Language: C

Web Server: Nginx


I'm Finn, coming from the land of Fiskars and axes. And I have to disagree with Fiskars. The axes are very good for chopping wood, but that's it. If you are serious backpacker, craftsman, carpenter etc, you wan't to use your axe in different ways too. The biggest "chopping" axe from fiskars is too short for building a fire that would keep you warm for the whole night. All of their "splitting" models have unnecessarily heavy head which you don't want to haul while backpacking. And the vedge thing in splitting models mean that it's very tricky to sharpen poles that you could strike to ground for a tent. And you can't use the axe as a hammer or you lose that sweet 25 year guarantee. And you can't swap the handle of a chopping axe for a longer one.

It's very good tool for one spesific job. There are axes that are good for range of jobs.


And I have to disagree with Fiskars. The axes are very good for chopping wood, but that's it. If you are serious backpacker, craftsman, carpenter etc, you wan't to use your axe in different ways too.

Well, never had a problem with the ones in our family. And IMO the fact that unlike everyother axe I know it just won't break and leave you without an axe in the middle has to count for something too.


I agree. Fiskars' axes are mainly for chopping and tree pruning. But that is also probably one of the most common things to do with axe. Their middle size models are probably the best in my opinion. I wouldn't of course use Fiskars' axe for carving and stuff like that. It doesn't work at all, but for say carving, you need a special purpose axe anyway.


I agree ... a "Splitting Axe" like those from Fiskars are probably not best (well-designed) for uses outside splitting wood.

I agree with the OP, though, that Fiskars' axes are fabulous when it comes to splitting wood over your average Home Depot special.


local "pros" tell me that stihl has been good or that the more expensive models are still good. but many are said to migrate to husqvarna.

i personally don't like all the plastic parts on newer stihl's. like "easy-to-use" cover holders which previously where solid screws.


There have also been new (mostly stupid) legislation, at least in EU that has forced Stihl and others to make worse products (cutting down emissions, and at the same time power).

I only recommend Stihl Professional series (with metal bodies). Husqvarna's are usually equally good (it is mostly that Stihl has the best model in some class, while Husqvarna has a better model in some other class). Partner Chainsaws were also pretty respected, but Husqvarna bought them. New Stihls may feel a bit plastic, but in practice they do their job pretty nicely.

What comes to power tools, Hilti is the one to look at, although I did go with Bosch power tools (Bosch is pretty average in every sense, but also trustworthy). It is easier to buy Bosch (Blue Series) than Hiltis. I also do like the stackable Sortimo L-BOXXes that Bosch uses these days: http://www.sortimo.com/products/cases-boxxes/.


Hilti T605 or something. Oh those memories. Best job I ever had until then :-) Noisy, boring but well-paid and the first time I worked for a company that enforced safety regulations. Oh, and they paid extremely well compared to what I was used to.


thx for the info!

speaking of bosch: i will recommend https://www.festool.com over anything else. they also offer sortimo-like boxes.


So what is a good universal outdoors axe?


the favorite axe in my collection has a simple, old head and a wooden handle. i put it together myself.


Speaking of axes. I can vouch for Gränsfors bruk (https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/). I grew up in the same, small village and until recently I didn't know that they were known internationally for their craftwork. They are one of few businesses that still thrive in the region, supposedly because they stuck to producing quality goods instead of like most other businesses, switch to mass-production. The masters (it takes years before employees get to do axes, starting with simpler things such as nails or shafts) still put their initials on the wares they build.


Best boot on the world for varied, highly intense outdoor work is the Meindl Army Gore Pro Boot.

If you take care of them they seem to last forever. Mine have survived over 14 years of infantry exercises and still survive.

http://www.meindl.co.uk/products/army-pro


I had Meindl Island boots. I didn't take good care of them. They took a lot of abuse. One thing I would say is their achilles heel is the bottom of the shoe. I did some hard digging and shovelling where I abused the shoes a lot, especially their bottom. At some point, the bottom of the shoe was totally destroyed, and started to rip off. I do know that people do change the bottoms for Meindl shoes. Otherwise there were almost no wear at all. And well, I think I had them for some good 5-10 years anyway, so I do consider that they served well.


I agree, those look awesome. I have done some hand forging, so I do understand how much effort goes to make those axe heads. They also look stunning beautiful. Great craftmanship. Fiskars' axes on the other hand are pretty awesome in their own right. It's hard to compare handcrafted tools to Fiskars. I would prefer to use Gränsfors, although they are probably too good for me — do I have a right to use such a great tool?! On the other hand, I have little to complain about Fiskars. Thanks!


> Stihl Chainsaws

Can definitely speak to the quality of Stihl tools. When I bought my first house, for the first three years I ended up buying a new cheap electric $80 string trimmer every year. They would burn out, mysteriously fail, or the string would get twisted up in the drive shaft and you couldn't get it out without taking the whole thing apart.

After the third one I'd had enough and I bought the $500 Stihl gas Kombisystem [0] with the string trimmer attachment. That was eight years ago and it still works perfectly. Starts on the third pull every single time. I eventually added the blower and edger attachments as well, replacing several other yard tools with a single system.

The only real downside is Stihl is an extremely old school company. I don't think they sell online to this day and you can't find their stuff in your local big box hardware store. I had to go buy mine from an actual equipment dealer out in the county. So you may have to hunt around to find a place that sells them.

[0] https://www.stihlusa.com/products/multi-task-tools/


Will second Fiskars, Sthil and close to second Macbook Pro for hardware but cannot get myself to do it as I struggled for almost three years with their clumsy "userfriendly" fn button that took the place where ctrl should be.

Best designed OS would IMO be Ubuntu somewhere 0before Unity.


Fiskars also makes excellent scissors [1], and their "Heritage" series is apparently still manufactured in Finland.

I grew up with the solid molded one, in classic 1970s orange. The current "original" one is a rather cheap-looking matte presumably made in Asia, but you can get the Heritage-series fabric scissors [2] (they're fine for things like paper and cardboard). They come in both left- and right-handed versions.

[1] http://www2.fiskars.com/Products/Crafting-and-Sewing/Scissor...

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Inch-Heritage-Seamstress-Scis...


basically r/buyitforlife


4000$ for a single speaker seems pretty extreme, and i've spent a good amount of time in professional recording studios. Am i missing something with the Genelec speakers?

What am i getting out of 1x Genelec that I'm not able to get out of having 10x (!!!) Yamaha MSP7 studio monitors?


You should compare the MSP7's to some lower end analog Genelecs. I hope you get a change to try them. For sure MSP7 is not a bad product either.


Nubuck is not a really well designed material. It's difficult to clean and maintain, and you can ruin your shoes in a rainy day.

But yes, Camper shoes are great. They even come with 2 years warranty and have a good customer service.


Yes, but there are different fabrics for Peus. What I like about them is that they are easy and quick to wear. They have somewhat a barefoot feeling. And they are wide. So many shoes are too narrow for me. I don't know why shoemakers make the shoes so that they get more narrow on the toe end. If I look my feet, they are wider on toe end.


Any Kindle model with e-ink. The utiluty and simplicity of design of these devices has enabled me to read almost every night before going to bed for the past 6ish years without loosing my place or holding the weight of a book (finally read War and Peace).


Except for some bizarre restrictions on functionality. You can drag and drop books onto the Kindle like a thumb drive (awesome!), but there isn't support for folders (not awesome!). If you want to organise huge quantities of books into collections which is, after all, the point of the Kindle, you have to do it manually on the device. Or you use Calibre, but I feel like that's a negative point because most consumers won't know about it.

Is it so hard to view as a directory structure rather than listing all the books recursively?

That and they seem to have removed the 3G for web browsing, so now owning a cellular Kindle is pretty much useless unless you're really desperate to get a book abroad.


One of my favorite features of the Kindle is that it works with Calibre. I understand that it's difficult for some, but it's a godsend for me.


Right now, the only thing stopping me from buying the Kindle Oasis is that it has auto rotate that can't be turned off.

I read in all sorts of odd positions and have the odd habit of turning books 90 degrees and reading bottom to top. I started because it seemed to help reduce the eye strain of looking left and right all day, and then found I actually preferred it.


I do like Kindle Paperwhite after switching over, but I do think the Nook I used before was better designed in terms of the hand weight/feel, the tactile buttons to turn pages on the bezel. One hand operation was much better on the Nook, whereas with the Kindle, awkward hand positions are needed to touch the specific screen spots for backward page turn and menu.


I second. The Kindle single-handedly increased my reading by like 6 - 10x. I commute with public transit, a lot, and an e-book reader is indispensable there. Many books I've read are big enough that I wouldn't bother carrying them around in paper form.


I use the kindle app on my phone, but I really like owning physical copies of my books. One of my friends recommended Infinite Jest to me, but told me to buy an e-reader specifically for that book. I got the book itself, and I wish I would have listened to him. It literally occupies half the volume of my backpack, and my arms get tired holding it in my usual reading position.


+1 I have one older model with the big buttons on the sides of the device while my wife has a newer one with a touch screen. Sometimes I wish the contrast on my screen was better, but I will never trade those big physical buttons for a lousy touch screen.


I also started with the first model - full physical keyboard and great physical buttons on the side. Than I switched to paperwhite - and although now I had back-lighting I really missed physical buttons. Now I have voyage - they returned "buttons" - with haptic feedback but I've discovered that the new screen that's flush with front panel really just enables easy swipe to change pages - works even better.


Yes! I will use my Kindle Keyboard until they discontinue it. The large page turn buttons are amazing. I am so surprised that they went away from these. Do people not realize how much better it is?


The Kindle Oasis has big page turn buttons. I have a Paperwhite that works wonderfully, but I really want an Oasis. I'm secretly hoping my Paperwhite breaks so I can buy an Oasis without feeling guilty.


The latest Kindle Paperwhite is pretty good, and I use mine every day, but it's not great yet.

Pros: Battery life, dynamic font sizing, convenience for attaining new books, the 3x3 grid view, and cloud synced notes and highlights are amazing.

Major cons from my experience:

1 - Reading progress time estimates are buggy. In one of my current books, it insists "1 minute left in chapter" for every chapter no matter what page I'm actually on or how far I've read.

2 - Highlighting is very broken. As an avid highlighter, the lag time from initiating a highlight to saving it is almost unbearable. Especially if you mis-highlight by a character or word. It seems to get worse the more highlights you have on a given page — this can make highlighting a few sentences on a page take longer than reading the page itself. Unfortunately I think it's an artifact of the e-ink technology and I'm not sure if it can be overcome today.

3 - I'd like for the battery life indicator to be more clear. Sometimes it says "plugin your Kindle immediately to prevent it shutting off" and then it'll last another hour or two.

4 - Loading non-book content to a Kindle, such as an article from the web is a slow, painful process. It's nowhere near the experience of Instapaper. Yes, I know they have blog subscriptions in the Kindle store, but paying 99¢ per blog for content that's free on the web feels broken.

5 - (Minor) It would be nice to have a collapsible table of contents for every book.

6 - (Minor) The front bezel scratches very, very easily. It happened to mine in the first week and now I notice it every time I read.


As I recall, War and Peace had a huge number of characters with a reference at the front that I always had to refer back to. Do you keep a notepad handy for this sort of thing or have you mastered the use of bookmarks to jump around (I still haven't with my Kindle)...?


Until the button stops working and the only way you can switch books is by letting the battery fully die.

Or when it turns on for an update in the middle of the night, waking you up with its backlight.


The interior layout of a 1990s Ford truck or Bronco. All controls can be done by feel without fat fingering anything while wearing work gloves, radio included. The radio is placed so you don't have to take your eyes off the road to tune it anymore than you would the speedometer. They even make the +/- buttons convex/concave and put little bars on the preselects to make it easier to do by feel. The motion ratio on the manual windows is pretty damn perfect. Kind of a shame so much thought was put into something a design was executed using crappy 90s plastic.

Honorable mention for industrial vacuum cleaners.


> Honorable mention for industrial vacuum cleaners.

It's not quite industrial (although the manufacturer does also make shop-vacs in a similar style), but I'm a huge fan of my Henry[0] - I bought it on the principle of "everyone who vacuums for a living seems to use one, they must be on to something", and it's completely lived up to my expectations. It's light enough to lug around one-handed, but still feels sturdy (and has survived falling down the stairs at least once); somehow manages to be quieter and have more suction than most vacuums I've tried; has a comically-high capacity; the cord-winder is a brilliant in the simplicity of its engineering; ... and, yes, I know how irrational it is to personify inanimate objects, but his happy face still cheers me up all the same.

On another note, although it looks like a piece of plasticky infomercial tat... I picked up one of these spider catchers[1] on a whim a few months back, and I still can't quite get over just how damn well the thing works. It's a lot quicker than the old "tumbler and a postcard" technique, is much more reliable at catching them before they get away, keeps them trapped-by-default 'til you squeeze the handle (no more "whoops the card slipped, oh great the spider's escaped again"), doesn't seem to injure even really fragile-looking ones (eg cellar spiders/"daddy long-legs") - and keeps you at a far more comfortable distance throughout the whole process.

[0] https://www.numatic.co.uk/product-view.aspx?id=366&r=4&sr=1

[1] https://www.spidercatcher.net/product.htm


Macintosh II with Finder 4.6. Never has a computer system maintained a technical lead for so long, 1987-95, with Finder upgrades you loaded from floppies. Bridgeport milling machine. People just copy it. They can't improve it. Ashlar Vellum 2D drafting software for the Mac. Imagine. Drafting objects have properties you can edit. Lambda Physik (Coherent) FL2002E dye laser. Excel 4.0 for the Mac. Wrote invoicing and coating design macros that ran a whole business. Solidworks 2003. Used it till 2008, until I got the "better" newest edition which was a little more capable, but less efficient. Ipad Air. Still use it, smashed-in screen and all, but it's panting.

You can see I'm mostly stuck in the past. Many of these products had more capable successors, but felt bloated, and were harder to use.


"technical friends" (which i believe was name given by the man who invented them, Ray Jardine). "Friends" is still the category name used by Wild Country, which i believe was the first shop to sell the devices.

more generically, i believe they are known as spring-loade cam devices (SLCD).

these simple devices transformed granite crack climbing from slow, rock-altering aid climbing that required pitons hammered into cracks to clean "free" (ie, no aid) climbing.

sure nuts and hexes were (and still are) available but they require some sort of constriction in the crack (change in the width) to hold them in place, which granite cracks often lack.


Little known fact. The shape of the lobes is a section of a logarithmic spiral, used to ensure the cam engages with the rock at a constant angle regardless of the size of the crack

http://web.mit.edu/custer/www/rocking/cams/cams.body.html


Link cams are a marvel of engineering.

Thy operate on a simple concept of trisecting a cam lobe so that, as the device is retracted, the cam unfolds and permits an amazing range for a unit of its size.

http://www.omegapac.com/itemdetail.php?id=1&secid=9


Link cams look cool, and have unmatched range, but they have a bad reputation regarding their durability. I have never tried them, though. I don't really climb hard enough to justify them. My cams are almost all C4s.


In particular, the Black Diamond cams have a double axis which increases the camming range. It's a beautiful piece of gear.


The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack: https://www.tombihn.com/collections/backpacks/products/synap...

I went nomad earlier this year and decided I needed a good backpack. After much research, I landed on the Synapse.

It's simply amazing that something as simple as "a bag" can be so well designed. So clearly better.

It's the only product I've ever owned where I notice myself stop and admire it regularly.


All of Tom Bihn's bags are of the utmost highest quality, and they last for years. The inner seams are sealed with ribbon sewn over them so the edges of the fabric will never fray and tangle with your cables. So many other little touches like that.

They're so durable and timeless that I bet there are a lot of Bihn Bags out there from the George W Bush era whose washing instructions are once again relevant.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/washing-instructions-idi...

    Wash with warm water.
    Use mild soap.
    Do not use bleach.
    Do not dry in the dryer.
    Do not iron.
    We are sorry that our president is an idiot.
    We did not vote for him.


There was an Ask HN about backpacks just about 40 days ago (link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13369197), and a lot of good recommendations were made there. I ended up buying an Osprey Flapjack, which has been the best bag I ever owned. As a Mainer, I own about a dozen LL Bean bags, and am bordering on heresy by speaking up for the Osprey...


I'm with you on the Osprey... I've got a Momentum 30, and it does everything I need from it (with capabilities past that when I need it).

Add in the fantastic warranty, and it's hard to think of a better option.


I recently purchased one after a few months of research. I was also impressed at the amount of engineering that went into this bag.

Recently, I had someone notice just how well the bag hides how much stuff it is holding without looking bulky.


Mission Workshop Transit and their other stuff is also great https://missionworkshop.com/collections/shoulder-duffle-bags...


I got a 1st gen Shed in 2010(?) and use it daily. It is definitely a fantastic product, and well worth the money even though I was a grad student at the time.


Too pricy for me.


Google Reader. It actually let me add feeds, read them, and mark them read reliably. Everything after is focused on value-add instead of just fucking working.


If you are using mac, try reeder(http://reederapp.com/mac/). It syncs with a lot of online rss readers (I use feedly and instapaper). But where it shines is its UX. It does what you need without any fluff and does it elegantly. All essential parts are there without showing million buttons. Keyboard shortcuts also work perfectly. It is the only app that I didn't feel any need to change settings after the first time.


I was using Reeder back when Google Reader was killed, and it was super easy for me to switch to Feedly as the back end — just export the subscriptions and import them into Feedly. Just like I didn't use Google Reader in the browser, I don't ever use Feedly in the browser, either.

It's a beautiful little app. Great native app on iOS, too.


I've found Feedly quite good - better in fact than I ever found Google Reader. I'm sure you have already tried it, but if nothing else, I'd be curious to know why you found it wanting.


That's the one I use. That's what I had in mind: doesn't reliably keep track of what's read and what isn't, has a bunch of add-on search functionality that prompts to upgrade. I'm not doing deep text search, I'm typing the name of the feed because I can't remember where I put it in the folders they mandate when I add something new.


I hear you. For what it's worth, if you're ok with a self-hosted alternative, tt-rss is alright (takes some fiddling to set up but it isn't awful, and pretty much just works after that). The web UI is very reminiscent of greader, but these days I mostly use one of the android clients people have used to talk to it.

tt-rss: https://tt-rss.org/gitlab/fox/tt-rss/wikis/home ttrss-reader: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ttrssreade...


I think OP meant physical objects, but nonetheless, I agree with you. You know a product is very well designed when people are still missing it years after its closure.


Have you tried https://feedbin.com/ ?

It came out as a response to the closure of Reader, and I actually prefer it. They've kept everything very simple.


There is also https://theoldreader.com which looks very much like Google Reader (plus it doesn't tend to share your 'private' posts on Google +!).


OMG, it is a blast from the past. I was fond of the Google Reader<->Google Buzz<->GMail integration. Most of my non-geek friends used that seamlessly. When Google+ replaced all those tools, my friends switched to FB. (and I switched to Twitter).


Newsblur. It's basically modern day Google Reader with improvements.


I've moved on to Feedly and then to Inorerader, but Google Reader was a wonderful feed reader. Nothing beats its search capability.


Digg Reader is ... okay


A dishwasher that only had one button: start. A dry cleaning service where they just told me to come back next day after 5p and never asked me how I want my shirts, what kind of treatment etc. For contrast most places ask several questions that I never know the answer to. The best UI is no UI.


Unless the dishwasher can differentiate between baby bottles, fine china, and greasy steel pans, it's going to need more than one button.


Fine china and greasy steel pans both get washed by hand at my house. Neither are used often enough for this to be a problem. Only "normal" stuff goes in the dishwasher, so it only needs a "normal" button.


No I'd honestly be happy with throwing out whatever didn't manage the single program just like I don't care about special cold/30C wash clothes -- everything manages a 40C wash, at least once.

I assume enough people don't have fine china just like most don't want to "auto cook 1.5kgs of chicken" using a special microwave program, so really there should be a market for really simple appliances in this case too.

Edit: I realize there is an environmental aspect here but tbh the machine should be able to tell how dirty the stuff is.


So you now have me reconsidering whether setting the thing on "heavy" and hitting start every time is the wrong way to do it then...


It would need 2 buttons, 3 at most. Auto and gentle, and you could argue that a button for a hot thorough cycle is needed as well, but with auto sensing I don't see the need.


In NYC, FlyCleaners does dry cleaning like that. They pick up, everything is organized through their app.


Odd answer, but probably a Blackberry Passport. Clean and sturdy design, OS is on point (assuming you dont use many 3rd party apps), keyboard is brilliant - it leverages the benefits of a physical keyboard and adds the flexibility of touchscreen keyboards. Not to mention the screen, never thought I'd enjoy using a 1:1 screen but it's so good for reading on.

Outside of technology, probably my old man's Eames Classic. I don't even know how old it is, he's had it since he moved out of home 40+ years ago so it's definitely not new. Still comfortable, leather is still in good condition (although it does need cleaning), and it's as solid as a tank.


I've never owned a Blackberry before but the Passport Silver Edition is one of the most aesthetically pleasing phones I've ever seen.

This is the studio responsible for it's design[1] if you're interested in some of their other work.

[1]http://objectsandideas.com/projects#/passport-silver-edition...


Nice find there, I think I can safely say I like just about everything that studio has done.


+1 on blackberry. Their keyboard is the most intuitive and comfortable keyboard I have used. BB OS10 was the best designed OS, guestures were intuitive, design was beautiful. It's unfortunate they didn't make it as a dominant platform in the smartphone era.


I agree, I'd love to see another BB OS phone or two but I think the Passport was their last stand. The Android phones are good and the BB apps work well even on other phones, but it's just not the same. I'll still follow the Mercury very closely because it looks promising, but I'm not sure I really trust Android to begin with.


Seiko 5 automatic watch - Simple, timeless, affordable. It's just a great watch and it always will be.

rOtring 600 mechanical pencil - the feel of this pencil is unlike any other writing implement I've found. It's a legend. My new goal is to find a fountain pen that I can enjoy as much as I enjoy this. Though I fear that will be a notably more expensive purchase.

Yamaha Custom Series Bb trumpet - before becoming a developer I was a semi-pro musician and this is still the most fantastic instrument I've ever worked with. I've owned it 9 years now and it still feels brand new. Every mechanism on it was perfectly made. There's no unnecessary stiffness or play in any component.


On the pencil front, I recommend checking out kuru toga pencils. They rotate the lead slightly with every cycle of applied pressure and release, so you don't get the lead worn down until you're writing at a shallow angle with a much larger effective cross section of lead.

On the fountain pen side, just be aware that if you work in an office environment, you'll have to deal with low quality paper that's incompatible with fountain pens. In that way paper is like fruit and vegetables: there's an enormous amount of variation in quality, and it's not terribly expensive to get something really good, but as a country the US has decided it's a commodity, so we just use the lowest quality white rectangles money can buy.


I enjoy the Kuru Toga quite a bit! It's the pencil I'm more inclined to travel with because I wouldn't be quite so heartbroken if I lost or damaged it. And it performs so admirably!

Totally understand about the low-quality paper. I'll probably stick to roller-ball pens for the office and save fountain pen shenanigans for home where I can use some nicer paper stock.


Pigment pens seem to also survive the scratchy, bleed-y world of budget office paper, if you want a crisp line at the cost of higher writing friction.


Re: fountain pen. If your grip resembles a "normal grip" then Lamy Safari. It's my absolute favorite, especially in this price range (less than 20USD/EUR).

Charcoal Black comes with a dark nib (I'm using M size), looking gorgeous. All the matte versions are super nice to hold.

For some it might be quite light in hand but for me a capped Safari provides a nice balance.

With a converter it's easy to use any other ink but for daily use I prefer to just carry a bunch of dark pink (Dark Lilac) refills.

Not that you asked but my favorite paper for FPs is Clairefontaine (incl. Rhodia notebook brand) :-) Very little bleeding and no feathering issues.


I've heard so many good things about the Lamy Safari that I'm going to have to break down and get one! I've used a Pilot Metropolitan for a couple of years now and have enjoyed it, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the Safari.

I love my Rhodia notebooks! They make fountain pens perform astoundingly well. For ages I used Field Notes steno pads because I found them so good looking, but the paper is rubbish for fountain pens.


Not to take away from the other fountain pen recommendations - but I always suggest people try out the Pilot Varsity. It's an inexpensive and disposable fountain pen with an incredible nib; good enough (and cheap enough) that there are a lot of videos out there about how to refill them.


Thanks for the recommendation! I'll see if I can find one and try it out.


I've been using Sport5 Automatics as general beaters for years, they're generally just nice little uncomplicated watches.

They tend to drift a little, but it's no hardship to +- a minute or two once a week.


The best fountain pens I know are from Stefan Fink http://www.stefanfink.de/en/

Not cheap, but unique and handmade.


Those are beautiful, and this is the first I've heard of them. Thanks for sharing!

Do you have any experience using a Fink fountain pen? They look gorgeous but I have to wonder if the lighter weight of a wood body would adversely affect the way it feels and writes.


You're aware that rotring used to make 600 series fountain pens? No longer available retail, but they show up in used markets.


>Though I fear that will be a notably more expensive purchase.

Not necessarily. There are quite a number of good pens in the sub-$100 range. I personally recommend the Pilot Metropolitan or the Lamy Safari. Both are less (much less) than $100, and can either fit ink cartridges or converters.


I love my LAMY Safari (€12 in most stationers in Germany, it's a cultural phenomenon that's unfortunately slowly dying out, the previous generation learned "Schönschrift" (cursive) in school with theirs and take their pen through life with them). That said, of the two that I own, I can't use either without getting grubby inky nailbeds, I assume the problem lay with me, not the pen.

Also, seconded the rOtring series mechanical pencils are astoundingly good, I'm always close to mine, I never travel without it.


I love my Metropolitan! And based on all the feedback from this thread I'll soon be ordering a Lamy Safari as well.


Rotring's 600 pen sits right next to my 600 pencil in my bag. None better to hold a high quality Schmidt replacement ball point cartridge.


The wok. A good 13 or 14" pao wok costs about $15. Add another $20 for a spoon, a cover, an wok ring and a steaming grill and you can make almost anything. The thing looks so simple, but it is part of a whole system and way of cooking that is amazingly fun and effective.


Any coffee addict like me knows that some methods of brewing are impossible before you've had a cup. The AeroPress understands this and is really simple to use, and makes amazing coffee. Everyone in my family has one and some other method as well, like a Mokapot or French press, but for the first cup in the morning it's Aeropress every time.

I also love Papermate Sharpwriter pencils. They feel so comfortable to hold, and if you like spinning a pencil while thinking they're really well-balanced for that.


Likewise, I'm a huge fan. I keep a GitHub repo of AeroPress brew guides [1] if you're looking to try other recipes.

[1]: https://github.com/tedmiston/aeropress


Yes, AeroPress is great for the simplicity. Although the coffee is not the best in the world, it works out well per unit of effort.

In particular, the good thing about AeroPress is that if you get distracted at any stage of be process, it's not a disaster. Unlike, say, a Moka pot where you have to monitor it and take it off the stove during a small window of time between the coffee being done, and the whole thing getting way too hot and destroying the rubber seal.


I like the Aeropress, but my favourite coffee production method is the Kalita Wave.

Again, it's beautifully designed - almost impossible to damage, very simple to use, comparatively quick (about a minute longer than an Aeropress for one or two large mugs of coffee), arguably even easier to clean than the Aeropress (invert over bin. Done.). The pouring jug's great, too: tough, well labeled, fits perfectly, easy to store.


Along the same lines, my Chemex is one of my favorite objects. I love the simplicity of the design and the brewing process. I love the consistently tasty brew. I love the way it looks on my kitchen counter. I love the purity of materials.

Admittedly, the 'purity of materials' argument is probably just superstition on my part. I'm not sure if there are measurable benefits to an all-glass brewing receptacle, but it sure makes me feel good. Glass, wood, and leather are materials that I can easily wrap my head around, and somehow that brings extra peace of mind to my whole coffee ritual.


I actually find the Chemex as simple as the Aeropress. It has replaced it for my morning coffee.


Even better than that in my opinion is the snowpeak collapsible pour over [0]. It's metal, sturdy and packable. I bring it in my carry on on all trips I go on plus backpacking. Pair with a hand grinder and you're set.

0: https://snowpeak.com/collections/gifts-under-100-dollars/pro...


And this is why I love HN. I'm a massive coffee nerd and I'd never heard of that. Thanks!


Every part of the Aeropress is well designed, not just because it's a clever way of making good coffee, but the way it all stacks neatly in a tower, how easy it is to clean. The stirrer is flanged and of the perfect length just not to touch the filter paper.


Even the stirrer is perfect. I often use it with other brewing methods for similar reasons.


I really enjoy my aeropress (https://aerobie.com/product/aeropress/) coffee press. The modern take on a French press, price, and availability on Amazon made me realize anybody can have a great idea, print it in plastic, and sell it to people - arriving two days later.

Plus the coffee that comes out is dope.


It's really not a take on a French press. An aero press imparts flavour through forcing water through the grounds, a French press imparts favour trough immersion then you push down to remove the grounds.


I disagree: try comparing pressing immediately after pouring water into the Aeropress versus pouring after waiting for 20-30 seconds or so. (If you press immediately you're going to end up with some really week coffee.) The pressure helps but most of the extraction is due to immersion even in an Aeropress. Most people who use the upside-down Aeropress method seem to let it brew for even longer, up to two minutes.


Many baristas today brew the AeroPress inverted so it also serves as an immersion brewer. I've been gathering AeroPress recipes [1] for about a year now, and I've noticed the trend shifting towards more people doing inverted than regular.

[1]: https://github.com/tedmiston/aeropress


That's one of the few gadgets I use every single day, to the point that I forget I even have it. Five years strong so far, and I love that damn thing.


Fun fact, it's made by the same people who make the Frisbee :)



I have been recently optimizing some of my wardrobe:

Darn Tough socks! Seriously life is too short to have clammy feet. Yes they are expensive but they last forever.

Carhartt USA made therma lined hoodies are also awesome. I have had one for 17 years and wore it all the time before hoodies became fashionable. To be honest all of their stuff is great for the price if you can get over looking like a construction worker.

Icebreakers shifter pants. The best sweat pants. Speaking of wool.. Duckworth wool has some good properly treated USA sheep. Icebreakers is better but Duckworth is USA made.

Music:

Cambridge Audio DAC magic plus. Expensive but seems to work great.

Cooking:

Lodge Cast Iron Skillets. Once you learn how to cook on cast iron skillets you will replace many pans in your kitchen with them.

Char‑Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker. The best charcoal grill for the money. You can cook everything on it. Pizza, sear steak at 800 degrees and slow cook pulled pork for 18 hours+ on a single load of charcoal.

Thermoworks Thermapen thermometer. The best cooking thermometer you absolutely should buy.


I'd like to second the Thermapen.

It's been engineered exactly as much as necessary. Long probe, nearly instant reading, no buttons, no extra features or complicated display. Compact, splash-resistant, long battery life, accurate up to 300°C.

Just stick the probe into a thing, and a large seven-segment display tells you the temperature in under a second.


I'd like to put in a plug for Finex cast iron. They're milled smooth on the bottom which I prefer to the finish on the Lodge pan that I have.

Regardless, +1 for cast iron!


Cool! I haven't seen a modern cast iron pan that I've liked as much as my ancient Wagner Ware pan, the smooth interior surface is so much better than the bumpy as cast surface on the sand cast models that aren't finished. Not sure I would pay the asking price for these Finex ones, you can still get old ones at flea markets, thrift stores and ebay if you look around.


The bumpy to polished surface is more of an aesthetic and ergonomic thing than a stick thing.

That is the bumpiness of a lodge eventually goes away and the initial bumps really have little correlation on the stickiness.

Think of it this way... Sticky tires for race cars are actually extremely smooth.

What people don't like is the sound a spatula makes on the new lodge pan compared to polish pans but in my experience the lodge pans are in most ways less prone to stick than older pans because the heat is more even (this is perhaps because they are heavier).

In some ways the bumpiness might actually improve slip because it creates pockets of fat but again the bumpiness goes away pretty quick regardless. Some even say the additional bumpiness also aids in adding additional seasoning.

You absolutely have to cook with fat on cast iron pan (either the food has the fat or you add it). Cast iron pans are not even remotely comparable to teflon nonstick when it comes to sticking (and by the way most teflon pans are bumpy as well so.. again bumpiness has little correlation to stick).

There is an incredibly amount of bullshit and false information about cast iron pans on the internet (like comparing it to teflon and how older pans distribute heat better) with very little actual experiments done.

If people really want smooth milled surfaces than a carbon steel pan is far superior as well as distributes heat more evenly (albeit I prefer cast iron for baking).


Finex is for sure superior but they just don't make a lot of sizes (and of course the price).

For example I use a 15" cast iron skillet to cooked spatchcocked chicken. With 15" I have even cooked spatchcocked turkey and duck.


On the subject of socks: Smartwool [1]. Thick, incredibly warm and durable. I say incredible because I've owned a lot of wool socks, and these are even warmer than the fluffy, handwoven mohair socks I also own.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EZYMUA


I prefer carbon steel skillets (Lodge makes them too) to cast iron. They have the same cooking and seasoning properties of a cast iron but are significantly lighter.


I have De Buyer and a very large Matfer. I can't speak for the Lodge carbon steel but I do not think that carbon steel is as versatile.

I usually use carbon steel pans for searing meat or quick sauteing. I also use them basically as a griddle.

Carbon steel pans usually can't be easily placed in the oven. I mean you can do it but the handles are generally really long and get in the way. They also don't have the same characteristics that cast iron has for baking or stewing... e.g. I'm not going to make corn bread in a carbon steel pan.

Finally carbon steel pans seem to loose their seasoning quickly. I have never seen flaking of seasoning on cast iron but I routinely see it on my carbon steel pans regardless of how I season them.


SIG 550 assault rifle. I don't particularly like weapons, but this gun can take an incredible amount of abuse and is still accurate and reliable. I feel that the designers really found the sweet spot between complexity and simplicity here.

Same for the Kawasaki KLR 650 motorcycle. A superb bike, virtually indestructible, and in the unlikely case that something breaks, it's possible to fix it on your own.

EDIT: Sublime Text. Fast, simple, no-nonsense, cross-platform, extendable.


Loved my early 2000s KLR 650. I'm hardly a mechanic, but I did my own top end and bottom end work on it (full engine teardowns), and it always started back up.

Motorcycles require quite a bit more maintenance than cars, and having one where I was comfortable fixing every part on it was awesome.


You reminded me, I though I couldn't add anything I really found well designed but the assault rifle (G3) I had while drafted was amazing. The mechanics, the raw power, the precision. It was kind of awesome. It helped people like me hit targets precisely at 200m, using only the coarse built-in sights. And they mostly worked after years of abuse at boot camp.

If I could get hold of one now I would be tempted although I guess I shouldn't have one as to not make my family a target.


Almost every bicycle. Our noblest invention.


Agreed. Even a cheapish bike is a miracle of modern engineering, and a great force multiplier even for poor folks or folks too young to drive. I love my bike (a 20 year old Giant mountain bike that I bought to ride to college and have put thousands of miles on since).


I recently had to buy a new bike and for the first time sprung for a new one instead used, and was impressed by the equipment even on the entry-level bike I got. I'm used to bike lamps with those side clip-on dynamos, but these days even the cheapest bikes they sold had automatic light sensing bright LED lamps with hub dynamos where you couldn't even tell the extra resistance. Just feels like magic.


Yep, whenever my car needs something repaired I am going to need to pay for someone else to do it. With my bikes I have fixed almost every by myself (except for servicing the forks on my decent mountain bike).


A bicycle is also the most efficient form of single-person transportation by a huge margin (even if you generously include the calories burned).


Don't get me started...there's always someone (many someones, usually) arguing that cities shouldn't spend money on more bike lanes, when the auto traffic is so bad and there should be more car lanes. The cost of bike lanes is a rounding error compared to auto lanes; literally, foregoing adding a couple miles of additional highway lanes would pay for a whole small city to get bike lanes crisscrossing it, and could support more people.

And, I definitely attribute my good health (well into middle age) at least partially to biking so much throughout my life. Getting a few percent more people out of cars and onto bikes would help save the world in all sorts of ways, IMHO.


From mass market brand road bikes I'm quite partial to Giant. I just bought a Defy Advanced 2. Truly an excellently designed and engineered machine.

From custom builders my bros Black Sheep Bikes Road Rage Downhill custom was and is the best bicycle I've ever had the pleasure of riding.

Link for the curious: http://www.spoke.ie/2011/10/red-bull-road-rage-janos-kohler-...


I'd say the real key to bicycle ergonomics is the iterative work that Shimano and its competitors have put into the groupsets. Most people don't realize the amount of ergonomic improvement that hyperglide cassettes/chains, better indexed shifters, and better brakes have brought to their bicycles.


Hyperglide was such a massive step forward when it first came out.


Giant contract manufacturers a large portion of the world's bikes, including high end Italian brands. They definitely know what they're doing.


great answer--had think think about it for a moment to realize this.

and still it seems it's potential is largely unrealized--eg, i wonder what would be happen to the incidence of leading chronic disease (obesity, diabetes) if the fraction of bicycle riders went up by let's say 10%.


Absolutely, even the cheapest second hand bike provides immense value.


Specifically: my Xtracycle Edgerunner. Beatiful, handles like a normal bicycle but carries my wife and kids and/or groceries like a truck. I'd marry it if I were available.


My Macbook Air 13-inch 2015.

Battery lasts a long time. It recharges super quick. It's incredibly lightweight. It's incredibly thin. It's trackpad clicks "for real". No plastic, or shitty finish.

I can't believe they don't make them anymore. It's easily Apple's best hardware hand's down.

---

My Logitech G602 mouse. Weighty, not heavy, battery lasts for 8 months. Hands cusps the mouse perfectly and never feels awkward to hold for extended periods of time. Premium feel, no cheap plastics. I love it.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/logitech-g602-wireless-gaming-mo...


http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/ The still make them


I have a 2013 air and love it. I'll be replacing it with a 2015 air fairly soon. Secretly hoping I'll help persuade them to keep updating it. The form factor is wonderful.


I completely agree. Having had pretty much one of each of apple"s laptops before and since, it is the best laptop they ever made.


The VW Up! (aka Škoda Citigo aka Seat Mii)

It weighs under a ton, is only 3.5m long, and has a 1.0L, 3-cylinder engine that fairly sips gas. It shifts like butter and, considering it's powered by a glorified sewing machine, it has decent acceleration and top-end speed. And, if you spring for the Czech rebadge, you can get the basic model for less than 10k euros.

But the real killer is that it has almost as much usable interior room as a VW Golf, despite being almost a meter shorter!

My partner and I both come from tall families and, upon delivery of the car, her brother (200cm tall) drove his wife (189cm), me (188cm), my wife (184cm), my father (200cm), and our 3 kids for a spin. It wasn't legal and it wasn't roomy, but no reasonable person would be able to guess that such a tiny car could fit 3 small adults, let alone 5 tall adults and 3 kids.

For those of us who spent far too much of their childhood playing Tetris, the trunk (if you want to call it that) also accommodates 4 full-sized suitcases.

[EDIT] I forgot to mention that it has exposed metal surfaces in the interior (doors, mainly) that are integrated parts of the car. Not only does it look fantastic, each of those panels is one less plastic piece that will eventually require an expensive replacement when it inevitably gets hit/scratched/exposed to too much sunlight/shakes itself to pieces.

I don't know why more cars don't feature this (one review called them "cheap exposed surfaces", as if plastic is somehow fancier), but it's incredibly durable, simple, and attractive.


I have to say this reminds me of my 1st generation Scion xB- it's a 1.7L engine, the only car of its size that I (6'4") can sit in the back seat comfortably, and its vertical sides and fold-down seats make it capable of carrying a ridiculous amount of stuff, and quite comfortable for camping in, too. It's an entirely utilitarian car.

http://www.scionxb.org/xbreviews.htm


My wife got a 2nd gen Scion xB after we had our first kid and were starting to plan for the second one. In its class, it fit a double stroller in the back the easiest.

Not quite as tall as you (I'm 6'2"), but I would sometimes ride in the backseat of it with our young son, as opposed to riding shotgun. Lots of room back there and it was comfortable as well.


> I forgot to mention that it has exposed metal surfaces in the interior (doors, mainly) that are integrated parts of the car. Not only does it look fantastic, each of those panels is one less plastic piece that will eventually require an expensive replacement when it inevitably gets hit/scratched/exposed to too much sunlight/shakes itself to pieces.

> I don't know why more cars don't feature this (one review called them "cheap exposed surfaces", as if plastic is somehow fancier), but it's incredibly durable, simple, and attractive.

I rode in a Nissan Tsuru taxi in Mexico. While the car's appalling safety record is definitely undesirable, I was impressed by the same idea of simplicity. It striped away pointless trim and features that will break, and was simply a tool to get you dependably from one place to another. It seemed like the sort of vehicle that could be maintained with an adjustable wrench and screwdriver for a million miles.


Bingo! It's the only modern car that I feel I could repair myself if needed. My other car -- a truly shitty Citroen van -- is a rattling shitbox. The interior door panels are faded and cracked, and the glue that held the fabric in place has long ago dissolved. Every panel has worked itself loose and, while the plastic fasteners are easily replaced, they never seat snug again. I actually ripped off the rear interior panel entirely -- leaving the door mechanism exposed -- because the buzzing was driving me insane on long trips.

And that car is only 12-13 years old. It's almost criminal how quickly those plastic interiors degrade. My Citigo is almost 4 and looks brand new, despite ferrying two nuclear-powered kids all over the place every day.

And the safety record for the Citigo/Mii/Up! is fantastic. It's got a 5-star rating, I believe, by NCAP. I still find myself gushing to my wife about how incredible the car is. I see myself as something of an anti-consumerist, but I profess a deep love of this car.

It's a triumph of functional minimalism.


Ortleib panniers (https://www.google.com/search?q=ortlieb+panniers):

* Are actually waterproof

* Don't have lots of unnecessary compartments and pockets

* Lift on and off really securely, yet really easily

* Can be wiped clean

* Super durable

* Light

* Can be worn as shoulder bag, or carried as a tote

* No zips, yet can be completely sealed


Not an aspect of the design but an anecdote on their great customer service:

I got my pair of Ortlieb Back Roller Classics as a present four years ago.

After I had used at least one bag almost every weekday since then, the rubber shoulder pads had recently ripped and the inner pockets frayed over the screw nuts.

When I contacted their customer service with pictures of the damage, they sent me replacement shoulder straps and pockets free of charge (they even covered shipping costs) although I had no receipt to prove the age of the bags.


I second that. However, if you also want to use it as a messenger bag, I prefer my Vaude Bayreuth II, since its hook mechanism can be closed.

With my Ortlieb bag, I regularily get stuck with one of the hooks in the back pockets of my trousers, so I have a habit of always removing the hooks altogether if I'm not using my bike, which is a bit of an annoyance. The Ortlieb bag is much more durable however.


I always carry my Ortlieb bags with the hooks facing away from me.


I've had mine for almost 10 years now, still going strong. I did switch them out for a boxier, flat-bottomed, insulated pannier for work commutes since it's hard to fit my lunches flat in the ortliebs I have.


I third that. Have before and since owned others, and truly regret selling them (due to moving). Pricey, but valuable. Most recent trip: 6 days upper Yangtse, camping, for Chinese New Year. Amazing.


Instant pot pressure cooker.

Want to use it as a crock pot? sure.

Want to saute things inside it first? sure.

Frozen meat or dried beans? Why not!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00FLYWNYQ?psc=1


To people who haven't used one...

You throw in totally rock-solid frozen chicken breasts, some other stuff... 20 minutes later your taco meat is ready... in a slower cooker that'd take 4-6 hours.

If you clicked into the Amazon link above thinking the "5:20" means 5 minutes 20 seconds. Not the slow cooker 5 hours 20 minutes.

It's nothing short of magic how fast this thing works. Total game changer for people who want cook at home. 0 pre-planning required, just grab stuff out of the freezer when you're ready to eat.


I have an instant pot and it's pretty good, but it's not the only cooking device you will ever need. The issue I have with it is that because it's a sealed pressure cooker, everything comes out a bit "boiled" looking/tasting. That's fine for chili or stew, but not so great for chicken.


That's fair. I might be preaching to the choir here, but something that might help is braising the meat in a small amount of liquid, rather than stewing it by covering it in liquid.

http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-a-stew...


Thank you for posting this, I'm looking for gift ideas for my brother in college and this looks amazing. I need one too it feels like! I had never even heard of this sort of device.


Also a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and yogurt maker. Works so, so well.


This is a gem, for sure.

Dried beans don't turn out exactly as hoped, but this imperfection doesn't stop me from using the instant pot for them.


Does it replace a stove for you?


For most recipes, totally. I think many pressure cooker recipes don't involve other pans / the stove, which is convenient.


The Trek 500.

It's a bicycle. It's a steel bicycle, which is out of favor these days, but Trek still makes a few each year. And they haven't really changed the design since it was introduced in the 80's. Why? Because it's the perfect bicycle.

At least, if you're doing a very particular thing. I rode one from the Oregon Coast to Long Island. It was an unsupported tour, so I had about 50 pounds of gear strapped to it the whole way. While my companions suffered various breakdowns and issues, the 500 was rock solid. It doesn't get fancy on components-- no disk breaks or electronic shifting. Everything on it can be easily repaired, removed, or replaced with your two hands and a compact multi-tool. The steel frame will stand up to any manner of abuse. Hearing about the whole tough-as-nails thing, you assume it won't be that pleasing to ride. You assume wrong.


There is a counterintuitive slump in quality of experience along the progression of bicycle frame materials technology. One would expect each point along the progression to be completely superior than the last: steel, aluminum, carbon fiber.

I had to learn the hard way that isn't the case. Steel is flexible (comfortable ride) but heavy. Aluminum came along and offered lighter frames, but the frames had to be made much stiffer to avoid the perils of repeated stress fatigue (steel's asymptote for strength after repeated stress is some fraction of its original strength. Aluminum's asymptote is zero -- flex it enough and it will eventually accumulate micro strew fractures and break). The progression to aluminum was a trade off: ride comfort for weight.

Carbon fiber came along and offered a no-compromise solution: the flexibility (ride comfort) of steel, and lighter than aluminum. Unfortunately, the cost is much higher with carbon fiber.

If you are on a budget, I'd agree that you're better off with steel than aluminum.


I'd say steel and aluminum come out about even in terms of their value for bicycles at the lower budget end

Steel: - Pro: More repairable (bend it right back!) - Pro: More comfortable ride - Con: Heavier - Con: prone to rust if the finish gets marred

Aluminum: - Pro: No corrosion, even when the paint is gone. - Pro: Lighter - Con: Not repairable - Con: less comfortable

All this to say, I agree with you, but there are more considerations than weight and ride comfort. My beater bike (ride around and lock up in the city, through salt and snow and any random crap) is aluminum and cheap. My commute bike is steel and more expensive, but takes a bit more care.


I have a mail order steel-frame bicycle (Windsor Tourist) and I think it's the springiness of the steel frame that makes it so nice to ride. I bought the bike 5 years ago planning to ride it for a year then upgrade and have no desire to upgrade. There's nothing I would want to upgrade to because it's pretty much perfect.


MUJI 0.5mm gel ink pens [0] - I've used these pens for so long that my handwriting goes haywire when using a different make. Perfect balance of smoothness and scratchiness - with fast drying ink, which as a lefty is vital.

Harmon Kardon Soundsticks II – had mine for over a decade and they still sound and look great.

Gaggia Colour espresso machine – looks great, built like a tank, simple to repair, and still produces fantastic coffee after years of benign neglect.

Chromecast – it just works. Feels like the future to use my phone to stream video from the Raspberry Pi to the TV.

AirPlay – it also just works. Recently set up a multi-room audio streaming thing, like a budget alternative to Sonos, using a few Raspberry Pis I had lying about and Shairport Sync [1]. Works much better than I anticipated.

[0] https://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=13&Sub=52&PID=5162 [1] https://github.com/mikebrady/shairport-sync


> Chromecast – it just works. Feels like the future to use my phone to stream video from the Raspberry Pi to the TV.

I wanted this experience, but the Pi was too underpowered to play 1080p or transcode my existing video collection, most of which wasn't in a Chromecast-compatible format. Trying to skip forward was also really frustrating and delay-prone.


Which Pi were you using?

I found the first gen Pi wasn't powerful enough for 1080p, but the Pi 2 is. I use my Pi 2 as a torrent box and media center just fine.


> MUJI 0.5mm gel ink pens

I'm not a gel ink pen fan myself, but I'm a big fan of the hex oil ballpoints, I'm using one right now actually. Creamy smooth writing.

MUJI has other awesome things: their spoons are so perfectly weighted (e.g. http://www.muji.us/store/table-spoon.html), the linens are soft, as are their towels...I just moved to LA and I'm sad there isn't a MUJI down the street (just Hollywood and Ventura beach).


> Chromecast – it just works. Feels like the future to use my phone to stream video from the Raspberry Pi to the TV.

Not quite following you here. Why would you need the chromecast if you have a Raspberry attached to your TV?


Probably using the Raspberry Pi as a Media Centre, and then using phone to stream from Pi > Chromecast.


It could be: Raspberry Pi in one room, TV in another, Raspberry Pi -> Chromecast -> TV


Yep, exactly that. A RPi3 with Plex media server hooked up to the router and a bunch of hard drives streaming to the Chromecast in a different room.

Tried the Plex app on a Fire stick but for some reason it didn't work nearly as well.


> MUJI 0.5mm gel ink pens [0]

Yes! They're fantastic. Muji has a lot of excellent, well-designed, minimalist products. (Also some crappy ones, but they're the minority.)


Mujis notebooks with the dot grid are also excellent, far superior to lined grid notebooks.


Yes! Their notebooks are great too. If they ever stop doing the plain A5 spiral bound ones I'll personally go round every MUJI in London and buy their entire remaining stock.


Dyson vacuum cleaners.

I have never once wondered "how do I do this?" when using my Dyson. From cleaning, to extensions, switching modes, and just plain using the thing, every inch of these vacuums is designed to the utmost degree to make them not only super powerful suction machines but also trivially easy to use.


Meh. Overpriced bagless vacuum. The bag variety will almost always perform better, be easier/cheaper to maintain, and filter the air better. Something like a miele provides much more value than a Dyson.


I actually came here to post the Numatic Henry vacuum cleaner. A big simple cylinder with a face on it. Fantastic suction. Super long cord. Hand crank retractor (those spring loaded ones always wear down over time). Easy to unblock, the pipe unscrews at both ends.


While I agree Henry is great by itself the extensions you get with it are a disaster.


how so? I never had trouble with mine


I have to chime in here because, half a year ago, I would've given the same answer.

My first vacuum cleaner was the DC-5, a superb machine that served me well for 14 years. When it broke, the Cinetic Big Ball had just been released, so I got one.

Now don't get me wrong; it's a marvelous piece of engineering. Extremely high sucking power and a completely filterless design that suits my allergic needs. But the UX s much much worse than the old DC-5 model.

It's death by a thousand cuts: For example, the power button is on the back of the machine, even though I'm in front of it when operating it. And it's a tiny button, whereas the DC-5 had a large pedal. The tube has a curved, rigid section near the grip that always gets in the way when I try to clean furniture. And so on.


Very very cleverly designed. Take one apart. The way the hoses which bend tightly are all removable so you get a straight line of sight to find any blockages. Genius.


I'm not the main user of ours, and every time I need to empty it I'm confused. And what's up with that filter in the top that just falls out?


The 8-year-old Dyson DC-14 I have is still going strong, and I have an entire pack of Border Collies. It was absolutely worth what I paid for it.


Are you kidding me? These plastic toys break like 4 months in. Would never buy another one. Luckily I bought it at Costco so I could return it.


Agreed. Miele is where it's at for me.


I have a DC02 (1995) and that's still working. Only thing that ever broke was the handle which cracked with time, Dyson sent us a replacement for about £15.

Also have a DC25 (2009) and that's been great too. Nothing broken or cracked, works good as new.

I will grant you - you can't treat a Dyson like a shop vac. Trundling it down the drive way to vacuum the car is a no-no. It'll probably break apart on gravel or flag stones but that's why I have a Dyson hand held :)


Don't know. I've had mine for > 6 years now, not a single problem with it. Newer ones aren't as good?


3-4 years ago maybe? DC 33 I think is what I had. The little hose that connected to the bottom near the spinning brush wouldn't stay connected... I had to put duct tape on it... And one of the wheels came out of it's little "axel" and wouldn't stay in... had to super glue that. The canister button broke... had to use like a paper-clip to wiggle that open.

And what I think was a major design flaw... When I turned it on, it took like 30 seconds to actually get any suction... when I contacted support on that they said it had to build up pressure. So I would turn the vacuum on, let it sit for a minute before I could use it. Total joke. I wasted time taking it to a repair shop that offered to replace the motor... for basically the cost of a new one. Dyson wouldn't cover it.

Anyway they don't make that model any more... and if you're happy with what you got, I'm happy for you. I wasn't happy with what I got and Dyson made me take it back to Costco instead of offering to stand behind their product. I want to say it was something like $400... seems like for that price they should stand behind it.

https://www.amazon.com/Dyson-DC33-Multi-Floor-Upright-Bagles...


Sorry to hear about that. When we were shopping for a vacuum, I had concerns that the dyson's construction looked fragile so we went with something else. Good to know we made the right decision.


That 30 seconds thing is horse shit. Never encountered that with any of the 4-5 dysons I've used


I'm fairly certain there was something wrong with the motor. The fact that the support rep told me it had to build pressure... and wouldn't just default to, "Let's RMA it!" is the real issue. $400 vacuum that supposedly had a 5-year warranty but no clue what the warranty actually covered after talking to their support team.

Costco though, I know a store isn't thought of as a product, but the fact you can return anything there -- no questions asked -- that's really nice! I started having issues with the vacuum 2-4 months into owning it (the hose disconnecting all the time was the first issue), returned it to Costco about a year after I bought it.


Mine's 12 years old and still works great. Anecdotally I've heard other people complain about the newer ones too, so maybe the quality control is slipping?


When our cleaning lady started with us, she requested we get rid of our Dyson vacuum cleaner and get a Miele. Says it all really.


My parents had nothing but problems with their Dysons, we are just on our second Vax after 27 years, much better.


The Lido 2 Coffee Grinder: http://www.oehandgrinders.com/OE-LIDO-2-Manual-Coffee-Grinde...

Heath Coffee Mugs

Trains in Switzerland (including the great app!)

Hosu (chair)

Cutipl (silverware)

Emile Henry Flameware (Dutch Oven)

Mountain Collective Ski Pass

Black Diamond Hiking Poles


> Trains in Switzerland (including the great app!)

For any train lovers out-there I'd heartily recommend visiting Switzerland just for that. Yes, the country is quite expensive to visit (I paid almost 20 euros for a pizza at a so-and-so restaurant in Geneva), but if you're into trains you won't be disappointed.


It really is fantastic to take a three or four segment train trip with only a couple minutes connection time in between. As for your experience on food: never cheap out in Switzerland, you're still going to pay the same amount on dinner, you just get to decide if it sucks or not.


You have good taste! The Hosu chair looks very comfortable, though I'm too poor to afford one :(. Anything else you'd add to your list?


It was definitely a challenge to go with it! It's not popular enough to have spawned knock offs, but the various Eames chairs have (particularly the black leather lounge chair). The main distinction between knock offs and the real thing comes down to materials: the colors will fade, the foam will compress, etc. but comparing $X00 to $X000 means you probably won't mind. If there are consignment or vintage shops in your area, you can often get a really good price on a great piece of furniture that just needs a new foam cushion. Best of luck!


What brewing method do you use the grinder for? I've been using a blade grinder for French press, and the grind is so uneven that part of me feels like it probably doesn't matter, but the other part feels like a barbarian.


Upgrade to a burr grinder would be the first step - this one from Krupps[0] I've had for about 4 1/2 years, got as a present but can be had for under £40. The increase in consistency is worth it.

[0] http://www.krups.co.uk/coffee-grinder-gvx231


Thanks for the recommendation! I think I was looking at that exact grinder, but was deterred by a review that said it obliterated everything to too fine a grind for French press. I'll definitely have to pick one up.


For what it's worth I use the same grinder and had the same concerns but the coarse setting works fine with my press - it doesn't clog or allow any of the grounds through.


No worries - I'll admit I'm not the best at-home coffee connoisseur, however, this one has served me well for everything from fine espresso powder through to "pretty much still whole beans", with the size dial.

One flag, bought one for my dad about 18 months ago, and whilst still functional and holding its own, feels a little less well made.


I received this exact model for Christmas to grind for french press coffee and use it every day. Very happy with it so far.


The point of the Lido 2 is that it's incredibly consistent (I do French press myself). I'd highly recommend that if you have a standard (presumably electric) blade grinder that you consider an upgrade to say the basic Bodum burr grinder. It makes a world of difference.


I just got a Feldgrind after breaking two low-end hand grinders in as many years. I laughed out loud with joy when I first started using it - it feels like a tank in your hand and results in an incredibly consistent grind.


>Cutipl (silverware)

Probably Cutipol - http://www.cutipol.pt/store-cutlery

Good stuff, household name for donkey's years.


If you think the Swiss SBB app is great, the Dutch Trains' NS app will blow your mind. Best transport app I've seen in a long time.


Automatic mechanical watches.

The idea that this tiny device is assembled entirely from macroscopic, tangible, "grokkable", mechanical components, will run "forever" with no direct conscious input of energy and tells you reasonably accurate time is pretty unique.

Recent relevant HN thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13459616


I love mine too, but $600 service every 10 years can be a frustrating concept for some.


Dyer and Jenkins black cotton T-shirts.

I wear jeans and a black T-shirt basically every day, but I noticed a lot of the black T-shirts I purchased wore out quickly and started to fade right away. So I Googled "best black T-shirts" one day and a Reddit thread led me to Dyer and Jenkins. I've been wearing them for a year now and they have hardly faded and look just about as good as when I first bought them.

Dyer and Jenkins often gives away half off coupons as well, so I normally wait for one of those deals before I order a new set: https://www.dyerandjenkins.com/collections/tees/products/3-p...


Thank you for this. Will check it out. Historically Zara in Spain (where it is from) has the best quality plain v-neck shirts I've found for everyday wear. They are orders of magnitude more durable than the ones in the US and they're slimfit. I'll check these out as they may be a good alternative.

Edit: No v-necks, but will try either way.


I've found that even a couple percent of something synthetic, like polyester, seems to make black shirts hold their color. Unfortunately, it also makes them hold odors for some reason.


Aeron chair.

Aeropress.

EIZO monitors - http://www.eizo.com

uTorrent, the older versions.

Dead serious about uTorrent. One of the best designed and engineered pieces of software ever. Everything you need, where you expect it to be, doing exactly what it should be doing, and nothing more.


Check out qBittorrent. It's a modern OSS version that is built from the ground up, cross platform, and inspired by those older versions.


> uTorrent

If you want something as deadly simple, have a gander at Free Download Manager.[1] It also does download management - a genuine improvement over browsers. Open source.

[1]: http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/


Nowadays, I use Transmission. It's extremely simple with no visual clutter, open source + no ads, has command line and daemon features if you're into that sort of thing. Can't recommend it highly enough.


Sitting on one now. What makes you enjoy its design? I have bought the remastered one a week ago and find myself difficult to fit into it properly (the sizing is right). I feel like the lower back support requires you to fit very rigidly in and one of the reasons I got it was it was advertised in one of promo videos as the chair that moves with the body. I am quite average height and a bit below average on weight but wondering what prevents me from really loving it. It's one of the most beautifully built, though that's for sure.


I have the adjustable lumbar support, and I know what you mean about fitting into it. Wiggle your rear end a bit and see if you don't settle into place; I've found it makes a world of difference. Failing that, perhaps switching to the non-adjustable support might help.


Asking out of ignorance, what sets EIZO monitors apart from other monitors?


Built-in colour management is really quite well done. Corner-to-corner evenness in illumination, true 10bit per colour. You pay for the privilege though.

Beyond the features they're also very nicely built.

Really not cheap though (for the high end ones I'm talking about). For a _lot_ less money if you weren't bothered about perfection then one of the Dell Ultrasharp displays would likely get you 95+% of the way there.


Can confirm. Ultrasharps aren't the best displays I've ever seen, but they are the best displays I've ever seen whose purchase doesn't feel like a serious investment.


They care for eye easiness.

I have a model from nearly 5 years ago (2 in use, 2 stocked) as I'd like to give less stress to my eyes for everyday work.

Those are one of last LCD models as I don't like LED ones.


Since I discovered the Aeron stool (http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/stools/aeron-st...) + standing desk combo for me years ago my back just thanks me every day!


I'm not sure I understand this product: a chair intended for sitting in at a standing desk. Is it to prevent adjusting your standing desk up/down throughout the day?


I haven't used bittorrent since about 2010. Would a 2006 era uTorrent client still be able to speak to today's network?


Yes, mostly due to protocol backwards compatibility. If you stopped using it because of ads, check out pi-hole.


Fairly easy to download uTorrent 2.x and it works fine on Windows 10 :)


Deluge and qBitTorrent look much the same.


YKK zippers.

We never think twice about them and that's the proof of their genius.


Opti brand zippers are also very good (like, on the same level as YKK). Not sure why they don't get as much good press.


Ever since I read an article about them posted on HN, I can never unsee them


I now regularly check for YKK symbols. Gets disappointed if one doesn't use it.


Zipper failures were the reason I quit wearing Levis in favor of Wranglers 30+ years ago. Not surprisingly, Wrangler uses YKK zippers.


I'm going to go real old school and suggest the slide rule. While there is a short learning curve, once you've mastered a few simple rules, using one is a breeze and if you keep the slide lubricated and don't abuse it, it will perform it's function reliably and accurately for decades. I have a Pickett, it's now 40 years old but works like new, but just about any brand will offer the same performance.


How do you lubricate the slide? Metal or plastic?


My ruler is metal and I use graphite to lubricate it. Just take a pencil and run it along the slots and the slide. Lightly wipe it off and then reassemble the pieces. Works great.


Thanks.


The Kinesis Advantage contoured ergonomic keyboard. Once you've used it for a few weeks, regular keyboards feel awkward and uncomfortable. They are pricy and completely worth it.


Not for me. I've tried this (quite expensive) keyboard for two weeks. It was awkward to use and really, really complicated.

The best non-mechanical keyboard I've used is a $20 Anker 84-key Wireless keyboard. It's extremely comfortable, and extremely portable.


That keyboard took me 3 months to use (to be fair I was also switching to Dvorak). Luckily (?) this was while I was sidelined in a bike to car a collision. I have struggled with RSI and it really changed my life. But I agree it's not for everyone. For starters you definitely need large hands!


Do you think you can separate out which benefitted you more- the ergonomic keyboard or a Dvorak layout?


I had one for around 6 months and always found it frustrating to use. Eventually gritted my teeth and started to use it all the time and it's been a huge relief on my hands. Considering getting another one for home so I don't have to lug it back and forth to the office.


You may have given up prematurely. It took me a month or so to get used to it. I used the Kinesis Freestyle before, still expensive, but lasted me for years and years.


I tried to like it but returned it because it made a loud ping noise whenever a key was pressed and hit the back plate. They layout was fine but the construction just did not feel like $400.


You can disable the click sound...

"To disable the “click” noise, press and hold the Progrm key and tap the piples/backslash key (the key directly to the right of the letter “P”)."

https://www.kinesis-ergo.com/support/technical-support/faqs-...


That's hard to believe, their Dvorak/Qwerty version has four or five different keys completely mislabeled, which made me return it because I couldn't trust the product any more.


Which keys? I didn't find that to be the case -- but even if it were, one of the features of this keyboard is you can remap any of the keys to your liking.

I had to train on it with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Typing_of_the_Dead for about 2 weeks before I was beating my usual typing speed. But after that, there's no going back.

No more wrist pain, ever.

The only thing that sucks is the rubber keys, especially ESC, especially for vim users. In contrast, having meta+ctl keys on thumbs for emacs users is huge.


Do you have the one that has both the Qwerty and Dvorak legends on each key?


Electrolux Twin Clean vacuum cleaner. With a black labrador and several cats in the house, bagless vacuuming is a must. I used to own a Dyson, but it eventually died from old age, and a friend gave me an almost brand new TwinClean, which for some reason they were disappointed with at his place. And this thing beats the Dyson on every count that matters. It is far less noisy, not scaring the life out of cats and dogs, and an absolute breeze to operate. Everything snaps on and of with nice feel and reassuring clicks. And most importantly, emptying is literally a matter of seconds, not a life and death struggle as with the Dyson: You click off, you click open over a dustbin, you click back on. Just a really well thought out machine.

Oh, and the Windows 95 interface, which everyone sincerely flattered with imitation for so many years. I haven't used any later Windows versions, but my Xfce desktop i still clearly modelled on the 95 design. I find the Mac-like stuff nearly unusable, or at any rate endlessly frustrating, on the thankfully rare occasions when I'm forced to interact with it.


Not the same brand vacuum, but we have more animals than strictly necessary, and until I'd tried a Miele hover I didn't fully appreciate how terrible most vacuum cleaners are.


* Blendtec Blender - blew my first pay cheque on one nearly 10 years ago and it still looks and works good as new. Absolutely superb design and construction.

* AGA Oven - I don't own one, but my parents do and growing up this thing was just incredible. Still looks and works like new. I honestly have never used an oven which looks and cooks so damn good.

* Apple (Unibody) Macbook Pro - Despite my present feelings towards Apple right now cough Mac Pro cough. I can't really say enough good things about the unibody Macbooks - no other laptop surpasses it and it's been nearly 8 years since Apple's unibody construction was introduced.

* Devialet Phantom speaker - it's an engineering marvel - nothing like it.

* HP Proliant Servers - despite HP's awful website and support policies their Proliant range are the most well designed, well thought out servers I've ever used.

* And this garlic press - can't recommend it enough :) http://www.kuhnrikonshop.com/product/epicurean-garlic-press


> HP Proliant Servers - despite HP's awful website and support policies their Proliant range are the most well designed, well thought out servers I've ever used.

Their ProCurve networking equipment is also excellent. They also have a lifetime warranty [0] (first owner) meaning if the switch ever breaks, they'll replace it. I've read online this even applies to 15 year old switches.

They changed the warranty somewhat after people started buying broken switches on eBay and RMA'ing them to HP for replacement. [1]

I've had personal experience with a dead HP ProCurve switch in a previous position. They sent us an advance replacement with next day shipping. I don't particularly like what they're doing to ProLiant line (e.g. firmware updates now require a paid support subscription, or a torrent), but I still recommend ProCurve switches to everyone looking for a good L2/L3 managed switch.

Also they're damn cheap these days. I was looking recently and you can pick up a managed 24 port GigE HP (1910-24G or 2910al-24G) for under $100 USD on eBay. My 1910-24G idles at 12W.

The 2910al will even accept 10Gbit expansion cards (on the back) so you can have up to 4 10GBit ports per switch.

[0] https://community.hpe.com/t5/Networking/Lifetime-Warranty-2-...

[1] http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1483888


I have to argue with the last one, I think this garlic press https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/oxo-good-grip... is superior. When you're done with this one, you rotate the handle all the way around and the rubber cleaner on the back cleans the press.

I've used both, and mine is easier to clean.

You've hit on something though - it's amazing how many people out there suffer with badly designed kitchen utensils. it's like a blindspot where you don't realise that you could buy a much better vegetable peeler / potato masher / garlic press that would literally make your life easier every day, for the price of a cinema ticket.


I worked as an assistant mechanic for a few years, and it was a running joke that if something took me more than 15 minutes, the head mechanic probably had a tool to do it in 1.

It's incredible how much a good tool helps, and it really goes to show the difference between a rookie and a master even when they are both doing the exact same job by reading the steps from a sheet that tells you what to do.

I'd reach for a socket, he'd grab my arm and hand me a ratcheting wrench knowing I'd need it before we even cracked open the hood.

I'd try to unscrew a stuck phillips head screw from a rotor, he'd stop me and hand me a tool which you put in the screw and hit with a hammer and it gets it unstuck.

I'd start trying to pry an exhaust off, he'd hand me a blowtorch, tell me to heat it for like 15 seconds, then hit it with a hammer and watch it fall to the ground.


The IKEA 365 garlic press is simple, sturdy, clever and only seven bucks: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20152158/?query=I...

The receptacle swings open, making cleaning trivial.


the problem with that one is that the garlic also gets up around the plunger, and you have to clean that out too. more moving parts = more to clean



I'm on my second OXO garlic press because the hinge on the first one cracked. They did replace it for me for free, but I was surprised that it broke at all. It does not feel like a cheap tool and I'm not sure I could break the hinge on it again if someone challenged me to.


Ditch the garlic press and get a rocker [1], it's so much better. Instead of putting individual cloves in the compartment and pressing together, you just press the rocker onto every clove until you've collected everything. And instead of having to dig the remaining unpressed stuff out of the compartment, you just scrape them directly into the bin. Much easier to clean, too.

There are cheaper versions on Amazon, but I believe Joseph Joseph is the original design.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-20037-Crusher-Dishwasher-Stain...


  > HP Proliant Servers
gods I miss the old DL380 G3 we had in 2009. Its internal USB port and rocketship of parts let me use it to replace a server closet with a bunch of VM & got me familiar with Xen & VMware ESXi


I used 380 G6 and G7s. Loved them too.


I love the odometer on the blendtec. I think we are something like 1600 blends and it still powers through anything we throw at it. It's been about 5 or 6 years. It better not die the day after the 10 year warranty runs out!

The only complaint would be sometimes we wish it had the integrated stir stick that the Vitamix comes with. If there's not enough liquid in your smoothy it tends to not blend through everything without a bit of shaking the carafe.


I run a g6 dl160 (SmartOS) and g6 dl180 (Freenas) at my house. Both from eBay for a total of $800.


A maybe overly-broad category, but the style of ceramic coffee mugs that have handles big enough to get all four fingers in. I don't realize how easy they are to hold until I'm using a mug that only allows one or two fingers in the handle.


I believe you mean "bistro style" mugs and I emphatically agree.


Seconded.

Anyone ever tried Mazama Mugs? (made in Oregon, US).

Saw one on the shelf at a local coffee shop for $42! Had to pick it up and see what the fuss was about. I'm embarrassed to confess but I've never wanted a piece of crockery so bad! http://shopmazama.com/collections/coffee

I didn't give in, but wow, are they beautifully made (and heavy).


Whoa, thank you for the tip! Those do look very nice :D


Software: Winamp. It is so simple and stupid and it works really well.


years and years, programs like itunes just kept adding more and more features I never use and getting more and more bloated, winamp really kicks the llamas ass


FYI

> Waiting on approval from legal dept & TPTB. If it were up to me, a Winamp 5.8 public beta would've been out months ago :)

https://twitter.com/ed_rich/status/817065613411713025

09:49 - 5. Jan. 2017


Yeah winamp is basically perfect.

The library functionality is so amazing and fast, but so simple. I just type in what I want to listen to and click on it. I don't have to hit Enter or wade through recommendations to get to what I want. It's just there. Playback controls are simple and I can easily assign global hotkeys. No buffering, no stuttering.


I've tried using other players, but I keep sticking to the light, versatile, and familiar Winamp.


It really whips the llama's ass.


I love my Fogless Shower Mirror: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003BQ6QXK?ref_=ams_ad_dp_asin_1

Most others use chemicals (I believe) to stop the fogging, which fades in effectiveness over time. Had this one for 5 years and it works perfect! Wish everything I owned just worked like this does.


I have also used this exact mirror for about five years. And I agree that its great. And it will continue to be because the hot water inside will always be the same temp as the hot water outside, and thus no fogging. That really can't be improved on.


1. Noodler's fountain pens.

These are 'Hacker-friendly' pens. With most pens the nib and feed are glued in, but in the Noodlers pens they are push fit, so can be adjusted. You can adjust the amount of flex and flow independently.

You can also take out the entire filling mechanism, and use the whole pen body as a reservoir. Neat.

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/209380-noodler...

2. Vim

It was a bold design concept to use 'modes', but it makes it so much more productive.


> 2. Vim It was a bold design concept to use 'modes', but it makes it so much more productive.

Vim got modal editing from vi, which stole it from Bravo...in 1976.

And actually, the "insert" mode was the innovation - previous editors were completely command-driven, being designed for use on teletype machines, where you could not have a usable "edit/append" mode.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravo_(software)


I have four Noodler's pens, and have bought them as gifts for others. They're remarkably good value and write beautifully.


Re 1. Almost all fountain pens are "hacker friendly". I have a couple of pens which are much more expensive than Noodler's and I have completely dismantled and then reassembled them multiple times while cleaning. Unless you are using some proprietary filling mechanism, both the nib, and feed are interchangeable.


Most fountain pens have the nib and feed as one glued unit (confusingly, informally called the 'nib'), so you can't adjust the flow. Compare the 'nibs' at the top and bottom of this page. https://www.gouletpens.com/replacement-nibs/c/294 The ones at the bottom can only be used in Noodlers pens.

The Noodler's also have the feed made of cutable ebonite instead of cheaper plastic, so you can carve out a deeper ink channel if you want.


I have never used a fountain pen with a glued together nib and feed. The ones on the top of the page aren't glued together, they are the screw on type. These are generally found in hand-tuned pens (like the Edison Noveau) or premium pens (like Pelikan MX00 series).

You can still adjust the flow of the nib without tampering with the feed by just using a brass strip and running it through the slit in the nib (to increase the flow). I have never wanted to decrease the flow of a nib unit.

What you are saying is true though. Ebonite feeds have their advantages, like you can heat tune them as well to fit to a certain nib shape.


How is this kettle exceptional? I have an electric kettle that boils water ten times as fast (number made up, but it's really faster).

As someone who drinks a lot of hot water every day, I find this odd that someone would recommend a non-electrical kettle.


So... I drink a lot of tea every day. I own this kettle, which was given to me as a gift. I had thought about getting an electric kettle, but then decided on the Sori Yanagi (the gifter found out about this).

I had the same reaction as the OP. Here's my thoughts in no particular order:

This kettle is amazingly well-thought-out. It's a perfect size and shape. The angle of the handle is just right, and the handle itself is incredibly ergonomic. So is the lid tightness, and the holes to let out steam. The thickness of the steel is just so: it heats quickly but is still sturdy. The spout is just the right shape and size. There's no whistle, but it's unnecessary because it heats so quickly and you can hear it well-enough (it rattles enough to hear it, and I don't want to rely on a whistle for safety anyway; the lack of a whistle is maybe the one thing about it that I can understand someone's objection to, but that seems to be a personal preference issue... although maybe it always is a personal preference issue).

Why not an electric? Basically, because an electric requires an outlet and takes up extra counter (as opposed to stove) space. With an induction stove, the Sori Yanagi is a beast, and can't really be beat even by an electric kettle. Even on a regular electric or gas stove it heats noticeably more quickly than other traditional kettles I've used. I can use the Sori Yanagi kettle on whatever heat source I want, and it still works. I don't have to worry about electrical components breaking down: it's just steel and plastic (or whatever the handle and knob are made of).

There's really only one reason why I'd want something else, and that's to have something where the water is held at a constant temperature throughout the day. I can understand that, which is why I had thought about a Zojirushi. But those typically take awhile to heat (this is part of the efficiency point) and serve a somewhat different function. I consider a Zojirushi water pot another example of design perfection, but it serves a slightly different function, one that didn't seem quite right for my needs.


I think the OP posted it because of its shape, how generous the lid is (so you can scrub the inside easily), and maybe how it pours out water, but I wouldn't call it the best-designed kettle given some shortcomings in safety.

The lack of a whistle means you have to be in the same room as the water boils for the next 5-10 minutes.


The best of all worlds on this is owning an induction range so that you can use traditional kettles but your water heats even faster than a single-purpose electric kettle.


Out of curiosity: why do you drink hot water? Is it because of something health related or just because?


Spent a year in China and got used to it (they only serve hot water there in restaurants and such, tap water is not drinkable).

It feels good, it tastes good as well (not many people believe me when I say that), if your tap water tastes shitty it makes it good, if it's cold it warms you up, can even help your digestion :]

In the end, it's kind of like tea, but with a different flavor.


But this one is optionally electric.


wat?


meaning you can use it with an electric range or a gas one or logs on a fire or ...


A proper electric tea kettle will heat water way faster than placing a regular tea kettle on an electric stovetop.

Electric tea kettles are a single-task device, but they do that one task so exceedingly well a lot of people own one.


Not in the United States, they don't.

You're artificially limited to 1920W(cont. or 2400W short term) on a 20amp circuit and most kettles will barely do 1600W for safety reasons and legacy (houses with old wiring).

It takes an obnoxious amount of time to boil water using an electric kettle in the US. When I go back to EU to visit relatives, I am already drinking tea by the time the kettle boils in the US.


UK kettles can be 3500W, which makes quite a difference. Our kettles are massively better than stovetops.


Nah, my induction cooktop using 2.2KW (medium hob on boost) does better than a 2.4KW jug kettle.


ThinkPad keyboards, with built-in mouse on home row. I like the layout, spacing, and short throw of the keys so much that I have a USB version for my desk, attached to a docking station.


Can you tell me what it's called/where to get it? I tried googling and came up short, but that sounds like something I've wished existed since I first used a thinkpad.


Lenovo's accessories section. You want the USB model, not the Bluetooth model.

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPo...

(I wish they still had the classic version, but the current version still beats any other keyboard out there, for my taste.)


Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I recently powered on my ancient Thinkpad X20 for the first time in many years and was surprised just how much I felt at home typing on its keyboard.


Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker. I've owned it for more than a decade and made maybe hundreds of pounds of rice. Always perfect.

Cast iron skillet. Lodge makes cheap, very high quality, pans that just work, forever (there are many brands, several are great).


Counter argument: there is no point putting money in a rice cooker. Get the cheapest and smallest one (unless you're cooking rice for 6+ people) and you will get exactly the same result. The only annoying thing with these cheaper rice cooker is that you need to unplug them when done, but I bought a switch to sit between the socket and the plug and it works fine :)


Disagree completely. Used to have a cheap rice cooker and it sucked. Getting the Zojirushi literally changed how we eat -- we used to rarely have rice, but the Zojirushi makes it so much easier to cook and impossible to mess up, so rice became a staple dinner feature.


I don't know how you're managing to do that then. I use this one: https://www.amazon.com/Aroma-Housewares-ARC-914SBD-Cool-Touc...

and make perfect rice every time.

How did your cheap rice cooker sucked? Maybe you bought a "bad" cheap rice cooker :) I've had 5 different rice cookers so far, all different brands (moving countries...) and they never failed. It's a simple product really, people who try to sell you something expensive are mostly selling you fluff.


Have you used any of the better ones in the last 5 years?


Yep, sometimes family members have the latest rice cooker (yup I'm asian) but I'm convinced that I make better rice with my shitty rice cooker.

It's really just about washing the rice (not too much), how much water you pour in (not too much), and how long you let it sit while not touching it when it's cooking.

(Oh and, I used to live in China, ate rice everyday in all kind of restaurants. I know what is good rice.)


Fuzzy logic cookers can deal with other kinds of rice and grains.

Fuzzy logic rice cookers do not burn the bottom and leave a little bit in the middle not quite cooked. This may not be an issue with all cheap rice cookers, but the ones I owned before the Zojirushi left something to be desired even with plain old white rice.

Nice rice cookers have a warming mode that keeps the rice at a nice serving temperature for as long as you need it.

I'm not saying a cheap rice cooker isn't an upgrade over a pot with a lid on the stove...it is. But, a nice fuzzy logic cooker (of which I have only ever used Zojirushi) is better still.

My Zojirushi works fine after more than a decade of use (probably more like 15 years, as it's followed me through multiple houses). I guess it seems pricey compared to a $20 cheap cooker, but amortized over many years of great nearly fully automated rice, I think it's a bargain.


> Fuzzy logic cookers can deal with other kinds of rice and grains.

Like what? That actually seems interesting. Although other kind of grains are usually not that complicated to cook (but I always want my rice perfect).

Now that I think about it, it looks like you can't steam food while you cook rice in this fuzzy logic cookers. I often steam fish, vegetables or even sausages on top of the rice.

> Nice rice cookers have a warming mode that keeps the rice at a nice serving temperature for as long as you need it.

I've never seen a rice cooker without that.

> Fuzzy logic rice cookers do not burn the bottom and leave a little bit in the middle not quite cooked

Never happened to me, a friend had an old rice cooker that did also. But I'm wondering if it's because he scrapped the bottom of it.

> a nice fuzzy logic cooker (of which I have only ever used Zojirushi) is better still

I'm not saying it's not an upgrade (although if you can't steam food at the same time...) but rather that for the price, it's not worth it. The upgrade is negligible.

> My Zojirushi works fine after more than a decade of use

Crazily, cheap rice cookers last forever as well. And these are a real bargain ;)


Maybe the cheap ones have improved since I last used one. I owned about three cheap ones over a span of about eight years before getting the Zojirushi. Two failed, and one I gave away when I got the Zojirushi. In my experience, the quality was just very different.

I used to steam and cook rice on the same pot, but didn't really like the flavors dripping down (broccoli juice is kinda bitter and weird in rice or pasta) so I stopped doing it. But I guess it's a good feature if you like that sort of thing, and it's true the Zojirushi doesn't work for that. It just makes rice and grains (oats, porridge, etc.) really well, consistently.


Put the ingredients in alluminium! Like that no dripping.


I was also going to say a Zojirushi rice cooker. I've had mine for 6 years and it shows no signs of slowing down. Super easy to clean and makes amazing rice every time.


Man, those two things plus my pressure cooker are like my kitchen holy trinity (except for when I'm making cajun food).


I'm not really sure what the benefit of a rice cooker is over cooking it in a pan.


It's always right. When I'm cooking a whole meal, I can easily forget about the rice, and end up with burned bottom and mushy top.

It's always perfect. The variability of my stove burners means that my rice on the stove never comes out exactly the same. With a good rice cooker, you never have under or overdone rice.

If you eat rice every couple of months, a rice cooker is pointless. I eat it two or three times a week, and I want it to be good every time and without me having to think about it (because rice is what goes under the food I'm making on the stove, so I'm too busy chopping and cooking to worry about rice).


Interesting, we probably cook it two or three times a week as well, I can only remember one failure.


this and my Zojirushi water heater


My Altec Lansing ACS48 computer speakers. I paid $299 for them in 1999 and to this day they still work flawlessly and beat most every other computer speaker. Audiophiles swear by them, and still buy them in bulk when they can find them.

Here's the Amazon reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Altec-Lansing-ACS48-Computer-Speakers...


I feel the same way about my Klipsch computer speakers. I saw them for sale at Best Buy the other day and they looked exactly the same. I've had mine for at least 7 or 8 years and still sound great.


Ah!

The other day I was trying to remember the brand of computer speakers that I had from the 90's that were so, so, so solid. Great sound (for computer speakers), and extremely robust. Dropped off the desk all the time and never had a problem.

Now to eBay to see if I can't find them.


My parents are still (about four computers later?) using the Gateway speakers that came with our 386 system. Built like a brick, internal amp, sound decent enough.

https://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NDE4WDUyMA==/z/ad8AAOSwbYZXVA67/$...


Gateway used to ship some pretty righteous hardware. The computer my parents bought back in the early 90's, for example, came with this keyboard:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_AnyKey


The good ol' days :) My home desktop is using a Boston Accoustics 2.1 (BA790) that I bought in 1996 as an "open box" item from Best Buy, and they still sound great. I even had a family member buy me a 6.1 (Logitech) system over 10 years ago as a Christmas gift and it's still sitting in the box. I feel a little guilty about not using it, but I really like the sound of my old BAs. At least I know I have a spare system if I need one.


Whoa! I had these, and used them religiously, between 1998 and late 2015 (when I moved).

Never realized they had a cult following. Otherwise I wouldn't have taken them to the electronics recycling center... :-/


That's cool you had them as well. I was blown away when I discovered their cult following.


Ah, I used to have a MIX boombox made by them. Still works, but had to leave it behind when I moved. Best set of speakers I've ever had as well.


Moka pots.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moka_pot

It is simple and just works.


This aluminum espresso maker has a couple design flaws.

1) Soft aluminum cup on the inside can often become bent due to people banging the cup against the waste bin to remove the coffee grounds. When it becomes bent, steam will leak around the cup, it is almost impossible to get it to reseal properly.

2) The gasket material burns at a very low temperature.

The Ikea RÅDIG [0] is one of the most indestructible best engineered espresso maker I have ever used. All steel construction (except the handle) and the elastomer seal has never warped or burned. I know people who have melted the handle off and still can use the espresso maker w/o replacing the seal.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30149839/


How does the Ikea handle hold up after years of use?

My concern is that every time I unscrew a Moka pot, I'm pressing against the (plastic) handle and worry one day I'll snap it off (or mess up the lid hinge). I wish someone would come up with a better shape for a user to grip and unscrew the Moka-style coffeemaker or a different type of attachment.

I know Alessi's 9090 clamps to the base, but it's also 5x more expensive than the original (and lacks the simple beautiful of it).


I have been using the RÅDIG for probably 5+ years, if one doesn't melt the handle off, I think it will be there forever. I gave away the working Moka pot and then recycled the 3 unrepaired, burnt o-ring Moka pots sitting in the cupboard as I am never going back. The filter cup in the RÅDIG is indestructible. We also have a spare incase Ikea decides to discontinue it.


Thanks! I'll try to remember picking one up the next time I'm at Ikea.


What if you have a gas stove? :)

But I agree, it's a good product and design. Never read wiki, I always thought it comes from Spain, not Italy.


It was invented in the 1930s. Did electric stoves even exist then?


They were just starting to become mainstream (though still outnumbered by gas) at the time. The first electric stoves date to the 1880s, and hotplate burners (about the simplest electrical device you can imagine) were likely more common from early days.

http://inventors.about.com/od/ofamousinventions/a/oven.htm


everyone I know uses them on a gas stove

you need the little wire thingy so a small one can sit comfortably on the stove stand


I have an induction stove and I use a diffusion plate like these http://www.frabosk.it/ita/prodotto_scheda.jsp?idprodotto=099 to be able to use my moka brewer. They work for gas stoves as well.


Bialetti make stainless steel versions that are suitable for induction hobs.


Just have to be careful with a gas stove. My first time using mine I put it on high and melted part of the handle. But as long as you keep the flames medium-low it's fine.


As long as your cooking device subclasses AbstractHeatEmitter it should work - I tested two implementations, ElectricBurner and GasBurner and both worked very well.


I always, always burn the coffee with those things.


How? If you use the proper type of coffee and keep an eye on it you will never burn the coffee. Besides, if it's filled full capacity with water they will spill the coffee from boiling before burning it.


Use a timer.

Should be about 6 minutes on most stoves, though adjust for experience.

Turn off the heat when the spitting starts (or turn it low for another 30-60s).


Good question; it caused me to go through the house, looking at lots of objects trying to figure out which one(s) were exceptional, in my book.

Here's my top list:

The Optimus 00 kerosene stove. Hardly a thing has changed in over a century of production. Utterly unbreakable, not a single superfluous component or feature. Just plain works.

Moccamaster drip brewer. Probably the drip brewer to beat. The product is eminently drinkable, it is a reliable and consistent performer, not much that can go wrong except breaking the beaker (no worries, a new one is $20 a five-minute walk from home) - and they even sell spare parts - any component; mine is 28 years old and still going strong, having had its thermostat replaced once.

BRIO toy trains. (Tie with LEGO) - unbreakable, and their long-term commitment to compatibility is fantastic; I can buy BRIO odds and ends in the toy shop today which interfaces perfectly with stuff my parents bought for me when I was a kid. Same goes, to a slightly lesser extent, for LEGO.


* that classic Casio watch

Personally, I really like its look. Furthermore, its cheap and the battery lasts forever.

* Motorola Razr V3i

It just looks awesome! Unfortunately, the great design doesn't extend to its software. :(

* Roland JV-1080

This one is first and foremost interesting for its engineering achievement. It offers musicians hundreds of great, sampled sounds which are stored on a 8 MB ROM! They make up for the limited amount of material by skillfully layering samples and the application of DSP algorithms.


* Chopsticks. One-handed eating is just convenient.

* Palm Vx. At the time this thing has fantastic functionality (all that freeware!), the OS had great charm, and I still think it looks really handsome.

* Sony Ericsson w580. One of the last really small cell phones before huge screens took over. And the slide mechanism was really satisfying - the ultimate fidget


Regarding chopsticks and one-handed eating: you could do the same with a fork, as long as the food is already cut in small bites, like Asian food usually is.

On the other hand you cannot eat a steak with one hand, neither with chopsticks nor with a fork.

I think that the good design is in the food, rather than in the chopsticks.


It IS possible to eat a steak with either of those in one hand. Using a controversial method called the stab and bite.


Or if you're mexican, you just grab a tortilla and rip the meat out in an instant taco.


Also available: the grip and rip.


Could end up using no hands at all.


Forks don't work as well with certain kinds of foods. E.g., you can eat snacks like chips or cheetos with chopsticks without getting your fingers messy which is more difficult to do with a fork. Same with slippery food like certain kinds of noodles, and hard foods like some nuts.

There's just a certain simplicity and universality to chopsticks that appeals from a design sense... That said recently I've been into using a Spork which works great for some foods and is another interesting study in design...


I can eat a schnitzel with a spoon. :) I can eat almost anything with a spoon. I can't eat slippery food with chopsticks. With fork I just turn the fork like a screwdriver.

Spoon!


I find the fork vastly superior to chopsticks on a technological level.


I'd say it's easier to eat vegetables with chopsticks.


I second chopsticks.

Good design doesn't have to be user-friendly. I like how chopsticks can be implemented out of almost any material, are dead-simple, and are "opinionated." They impose severe constraints on what/how you cook, and help create food culture.


chopsticks are awesome. Still, a spoon is better to eat rice.


Meta: /r/buyitforlife has a lot content in this vein.



Logitech MX510 and MX518 Mice:

https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Performance-Optical-Gaming-M...

For some reason, these mice are awesome for me. Neither are made any more, and I will cry when mine finally die.


Couldn't agree more. I thought I'd lost my MX510 in a move and then recently found it being used by someone at work. I almost immediately claimed it back, only waiting long enough to find them a replacement mouse!


I just disassembled my MX518 to clean around (and under) the mousewheel. This is a mouse I've carried with me from NZ to the UK, I've owned it since 2005 and it's still going strong.

_Such_ a good mouse.


I can't stand those, they don't fit my hand at all. Vastly prefer the M500.


Love this mouse. Exactly the right weight and size, and well thought out moulding.


I have 3 of these, a Proteus core and a g900, and still have a soft spot for the 518.


Absolutely love mine and I can't tell anyone why either. Just feels right.


I can still buy the M510 and I agree they are awesome (I have like 6 of them)


Changed cable on my MX510 like 5 times, 10+ years in use.


* Lenovo T60 laptop: It wasn't pretty, but it was sturdy and well designed. Good resolution for the times. Good aspect ratio. Very nice keyboard. Trackpoint. Serviceable easily - replaced fan, hard drives, added memory. Eventually just got too slow for the stuff I was doing.

* Bentology metal fork and spoon. I got a full lunch bento box set. But never liked it much. However really like the silverware. Just the right weight, size, and balance. I just went to check if I can get more, and they are out stock apparently)

* Moab Merrell hiking shoes. Really good all-around shoes. Light, sturdy, comfortable. Good ankle support.

* Nissan stainless steel thermos. Just very sturdy. I like the cap design. Doesn't leak. I got another one after 4-5 years of a different size, so now have both.


Similarly IBM x23 thinkpad. A foldout sliding keyboard that actually works and feels great? I want to go back to those days.


MSR WhisperLite International Backpacking Stove. It supports a wide variety of liquid fuel. With this stove, I don't have to buy vendor-specific gas canisters. White gas works great with it. The stove folds down to a compact form. It is easy to use.

https://www.rei.com/product/830341/msr-whisperlite-internati...


I, too, have one and have used it for decades. Once you get it started, it puts out a flame like a jet engine. The only issues I have with it are 1, it can be temperamental trying to light it when it's cold and 2, it doesn't simmer well. Trying to adjust the flame low enough to not burn the food, I often turn it off completely and have to restart it.


Used one for years; still have it. It does boil water fast. It also used to produce quite a bit of black soot in whispy sheets (containing some carbon nanotubes ?). Maybe it needed a 'tuneup'.


contact MSR.. they're customer service oriented and no doubt will take care of you


Have one as well. There's something primordially symbolic about having this rugged and compact device able to so easily create a safe flame from most practically available liquid and gas fuels.


Satori Reader (https://satorireader.com/) A tool to help Japanese Learners by providing Japanese articles that let you automatically look up words, phrases, and consolidate them into a review card list in order review at a later date.

This comes from a developer of some apps that already exists for mobile devices called "Human Japanese" and "Human Japanese Intermediate".

I've been learning Japanese for a year and a half now, and this site is hands down the most enjoyable experience I have ever had the opportunity to use. It provides audio with the articles, provides look ups for words in line, it allows you to add words seamlessly to your review list, it is suuuppper awesome on my mobile device (my primary review tool),and it is just amazing. Even better is the review cards are done within context instead of being the words by themselves, and it goes out of its way to provide many different types of articles.

I absolutely love this site.

My only regret about it is that I'm not using it enough, and that's just because I'm not being diligent enough with my team.

It is seriously such a wonderful experience.


It's a bit on the expensive side but this toaster is possibly the last one you will ever buy:

https://smile.amazon.com/Breville-BTA830XL-Die-Cast-4-Slice-...

I mean... it has a button called "A Bit More" and another one called "Lift And Look", which do exactly what you think they would. It's fucking fantastic.

Honorable mentions:

Eddie Bauer Boxer Briefs, the most comfortable underwear a man could get, while still looking sexy. (Seems they don't sell them currently? Too bad, they make up 100% of my underwear.)

And this windproof USB-rechargeable flameless arc lighter: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DEVKI4Y/ref=oh_aui_se...


I have the same toaster and it is awesome. My favourite feature is that its Frozen button works perfectly, which is great if you don't have bread that often.


- My cast iron skillet. It's indestructible and once I learned to season it and cook with it, I prefer it over any other.

- 15" Macbook Pro w/ Retina display, iPhone 7

- BNC connectors

- The Xtrend Professional Rabbit Wine Opener. (Super cheap on Amazon and it has an incredibly well-designed mechanism)

- The Mezlan Cordoba men's shoe -- high quality, no break-in needed, durable, fashionable.

- Crocs -- indestructible, comfy.

- Joybird furniture (good prices, high quality)

- Liberté yogurt. Incredible texture.

- The Uber app (I think that amid the weird culture at least one person there really understands mobile UX)

- HN -- the only place where I look forward to reading the comments more than the articles.


> - Crocs -- indestructible, comfy.

Why these are so berated really dumbfounds me. I love my crocs. So easy to slip on, comfy. Good for all seasons, summer without socks, winter with socks. And (imho) they look awesome too.


Not to mention that they're the easiest things ever to wash. Just put it under a tap and air dry.


..because they are really bad for your feet and most of them are ugly as hell?


At least you qualified that statement with most. Are they bad for the feet? I think they are similar to just being barefoot, and because they are so easy to slip off, I end up barefoot more often than otherwise.


> - The Uber app (I think that amid the weird culture at least one person there really understands mobile UX)

Really? I'm not a fan of the Uber app at all, particularly with the latest redesign. It is insanely annoying that they no longer show you the wait time until you've put in your destination address. Their suggested destinations are almost always terrible (even though I'm a very predictable user -- there are like 3 destinations I go to on a regular basis, but instead of those, Uber will suggest places I haven't been to in ages), not to mention that you have to close the keyboard to see half of them. There's also a lot of confusing icons without accompanying text, and just a lot of occasional wonkiness and unexpected behavior.

The Lyft app isn't as "pretty" as Uber, but it has everything I want to know where I expect it, makes good suggestions, and just works -- I much prefer it.


> - The Uber app

Yes! Fast, intuitive, responsive and rock solid. Uber might be a very, very sketchy company but man have they engineered and designed a great UX - I can't think of any other iPhone app with the same level of 'fit for purpose' as Uber's app.


> 15" Macbook Pro w/ Retina display

Superb build quality, agreed. but the thiness and insistance on staying quiet make it get extremely hot when doing anything remotely demanding, which is not a sign of good design.


Zojirushi SM-SA48-BA Stainless Steel Mug, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HYOGTTG -easy to clean -great ergonomics -best heat/cold retention vs. other products


Color irrelevant (up to personal preferences) and specific model w/e, but that aside… good god these mugs really are fantastic:

* they just look plain good, no unnecessary flourishes and the few "unnecessary" features (the locking lid) turn out to be pretty much necessary in the end

* the opening mechanism is just perfect, it has great feedback, is hard to misuse, it's extremely well designed on its own, the double-action opening is just gorgeous

* the entire assembly trivially comes apart for inspection and cleaning

* the heat retention is so good it's a bit too good, filling with fresh coffee early morning and scalding your tongue all the way to mid-afternoon is a bit extreme


We have several similar Zojirushi products at home (SM-KHE48BA) and I'm convinced that they violate the laws of physics somehow. I've never had a vacuum flask that works so well.


Zojirushi neurofuzzy rice cooker. I love it!


I have one of this and you will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.


My iPod video. I honestly think that the click wheel has to be one of the best designed user interface in the history of the world. It was actually delightful to use, from the texture in the material, the friction and the satisfying click. For all the interactivity touch screens unlocked, I think we lost something when the click wheel went away.


My jet black iPhone 7. A bit of a cop-out answer, but I'll be damned if it isn't the best looking, most comfortable (I use it without a case, and enjoy it), and best overall designed thing I own.


I almost completely agree with this. The camera is fantastic, but if it didn't stick out from the bottom (or if there were something to balance it on the other side) the iPhone 7 would be the perfect product. I don't like that it doesn't lay flat, and I can't fathom why the iPad Pro's were made in the same way.


And considering battery life is nowhere near a consistent full day, to the extent that people are regularly using portable batteries, there's no excuse for making it so thin the camera has to protrude.


My job prevents me from using my phone at my desk for PCI compliance reasons, so the battery regularly lasts 2 days for me. I even play 3D games at lunch (ex: X-Plane) and it holds up fine.


I use it with Apple's leather case which solves this problem.


I've been thinking about picking one of these up (used it with the 6 and SE) but I'm afraid of it ruining the sleek feel of the 7.


Yeah - it's a really nice object, huh?

It reminds me a lot of the first time I held(/fondled) the very original iPod - it felt (at the time) like damn-near-magic alien technology. (Somebody else mentioned an eInk Kindle, for me that doesn't come close - sure that screen is really nice to read, but as an _object_ it feels, I dunno, plasticy and uninteresting...)


Bamboo steamers. First one I found: https://www.amazon.com/2017-Reusable-Chopsticks-Perforated-S...

They usually are dirt cheap, and allow you to steam any kind of food. It's healthy, it's tasty, it's easy, it's fast, ... Just drop whatever in it and wait 15 minutes and that's it.


The Reddit app on IOS. Something has always bothered me about most of the apps on IOS but I couldn't put my finger on it until I started using the reddit app. The UX is so good that it makes everything else feel awkward. I think that everything else was actually awkward and that's what I didn't like.

Cutco knives. All my life I've known what makes a good knife and that you should pay a lot. I think this is fine in the rare case that you have some someone to sharpen and hone them for you every day. Since getting Cutco knives I've come to realize that no other knives are for regular home use where you never have the time or skill to properly care for "other" knives.

Fixed gear bikes. I ride bikes a lot and when I finally got a fixie it was like that was finally the bike that felt like an extension of myself. I watched some videos about how cassettes work and understand the effect of being directly connected is what I'm feeling.


I dunno about the cutco thing. You could get a really nice chefs knife, paring knife, bread knife, boning knife, honing steel + a set of 5 steak knives + the best electric sharpener for less than the price of their small set ($682). I would say most people never bother to send in their knives for sharpening (or know/care that they're not sharp anymore), plus shipping knives is a pain and you are out those knives while they're being sharpened.

Plus the "guilt trip your neighbors/friends/parent's coworkers into a sale" strategy doesn't really sit well with me.


That's exactly what I mean. I've spent hundreds of dollars on "great" knives that I never bothered to send in for sharpening that I never use. The ones that I STILL DO NOT send in for sharpening and remain ultra sharp are the ones I use constantly.


Cutco is crap. Part and parcel of using a knife is learning to sharpen one.

Counter-example: Tojiro DP... Amazing knives for the price.


Again the reality, for me, is I don't take them in to be sharpened. One does not sharpen their own knives, one hones their own, and takes them to professionals to sharpen.


The reality is that most people have never even seen a sharp knife.

Unfortunately, sending them in to be sharpened is not likely to give you a sharp knife either, most sharpening services are crap. There is no way to really sharpen a knife for $5. A specialist who does hand sharpening is going to cost at least $30.

To reliably have truly sharp knives is best to sharpen them yourself. Start with a decent blade, eg an entry level Japanese gyuto something like a Fujiwara FKM, JCK Carbonext, Tojiro DP, or a Sugimoto cleaver. Sharpen with Japanese waterstones. Diamond is bad for the knife, oilstones and ceramics are way way too slow for modern hard knife steels. Get a medium (1000-2000) and a fine waterstone (5000-6000), the Bester 1200 and Suhiro Rika 5000 are excellent and not very expensive. Then learn how to sharpen. It takes a bit of study and practice and will feel awkward at first, but once you get it, it is not at all difficult or time consuming.

The difference is everything. For example, the reason you cry cutting onions is because your dull knife is crushing the cells and spraying onion juice aerosol everywhere. A sharp knife does not do this. Chives cut with a dull knife turn mushy right away because of the tissue damage but will keep hours if cut with a sharp knife.


Alternatively, get a $15 two sided whetstone and try sharpening whatever knives happen to be present.

Cheap knives even tend to be softer steels which are easier to sharpen.

This won't lead to the very sharpest knives, but for most people it will still produce a vast improvement in sharpness and it's only $15 gone if they decide they'd still like better stuff or to throw the stone in the trash.


It's takes a few multihour sessions and ~$200 in whetstones but you can become a good home sharpener.

Once you can get your own knives from "crushes tomato" to "I didn't even realize I'd take off the the tip of my thumb until I realized there was blood everywhere, doctor" in ~20 minutes of work on the stone you'll never want to go back.

Just don't fall down the straight razor hole. It will consume you and turn you into a shaving bigot.


I prefer Alien Blue to the new Reddit app. I hope I never end up losing it, since it's no longer on the app store.


I liked Alien Blue too, but the UX on the Reddit app really impresses me only in the context of most other apps being not so UX impressive.


Did you ever try riding clipless pedals?


I ride clipless (Speedplay X) on all my road bikes.


The effect isn't as notable on a road bike. On a mountain bike (riding off-road) it definitely gives the oneness sensation you describe.


Power Mac G5. If you ever open that thing, you'll know it's really taking computer making to the next level!

It's meant to be tool-less all the way, you can change almost everything (RAM, CPU, HDD) using at most one or two screwdrivers. And the way the hinges and interlocks work together is amazing. Not to mention its build quality.


Antec computer cases. They're high quality, easily accessible, and promote good air flow.

And they're fairly cheap, all things considered (picked up this model for about $45 on sale at Fry's last time I built a computer).

* Amazon.com: Antec Three Hundred Two Gaming Case, Black: Computers & Accessories || https://www.amazon.com/Antec-Three-Hundred-Two-Gaming/dp/B00...


Callout to The Wirecutter for doing a great job of reviewing products.

* The Wirecutter || http://thewirecutter.com/


My grandfather's [1] Nikkormat FTn [2], which is more or less a consumer version of the Nikon F [3]. It's equipped with roughly the same features, but implemented somewhat differently - for example, shutter speed is adjusted via a ring on the lens mount, instead of a knob on the top. It's by far the simplest SLR I've ever used, and in some ways also the most capable - you do still need to know how focus and exposure work, but once you have those basics under your belt, the camera gets right out of your way so you can take the pictures you want to take. It's also built like a tank - the kind of thing where, if you drop it on your foot, it probably won't break, but your toes might. And, like any handheld machine engineered to tight tolerances, it's just a pleasure to use.

That camera's served three generations of my family very well; my grandfather and father each used it for years, and I learned the basics of photography with it. It's honorably retired now, but if I ever start to shoot film again, that's the camera I'll use to do it. And if I don't, I'll still have benefited massively from having used it, because the Nikon D5300 I now use (and used to take [1], a few minutes ago) can still take any glass with an F mount - which not only means that I can still use Grandpa's and Dad's old glass, but that if I want, say, a 500mm tele, which I do because the moon is far away and hawks take it amiss when you approach to improve your shot, I can spend $100 on a manual lens that I already know how to use, instead of spending $10,000 or more on one that supports automatic focus and aperture.

[1] https://u.sicp.me/gZn97.jpg

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikkormat#Nikkormat_FTn

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_F


pencil, paper and eraser

dell keyboard Model number: SK-8115 (felt like machine gun for the first time) http://dellparts.us/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2...

org-mode

emacs macros

git

Qt c++ framework

unix pipes

matlab

npm install --save # dont have to edit the package.json, awesome

tmux

pm2 # npm package to make the node app as service. Just mindblowing.

ssh-copy-id user@ip # no need to type password always for ssh session


You can use a .service file - about 10 lines in ini-ish format - to make node run as a service on most Linux distros


those 10 lines keep changing b/w different linux distros and thats the problem pm2 solves elegantaly.


Hrm, have been using the same .service file from 2014 to 2017 here and moved from CentOS to Ubuntu and haven't had to change much if anything. Installing a separate app that repeats a lot of the work of the OS seems like overkill.


I understand that the change must have been simple. The problem with this kind of one time per application task is the developers often forget about how the script worked since it is not being revisited once it got working. So while porting one is forced to understand the whole script(i.e the conventions of systemd, initV or upstart e.t.c) which is not much work, but compared to the third party tool like "pm2 <generate_script_whatever>" it is atleast 10 times the work.


> I understand that the change must have been simple

I'm not even sure the change was required at all. Actually checking it with 'git blame' the only thing modified was a WorkingDirectory, which didn't change between versions, just wasn't set the first time around.

> compared to the third party tool like "pm2 <generate_script_whatever>" it is atleast 10 times the work.

Installing and running a second service management layer isn't 10x easier than just using your OS.


Norton Commander back in the DOS days. It was soo fast to use. Which is why I use Total Commander today.


I'll add a +1 to Total Commander. That tool along with several others REALLY make a large difference in day-to-day computer work.

I'll add these to the list:

* Clipmate. The BEST clipboard database.

* Evernote.

* AutoHotkey. Seriously, play with this a bit and you will see uses all OVER The place.

* Midnight Commander for Linux installs. Makes it a LOT harder to shoot yourself in the foot as well.


Norton Commander was great. Simple, fast, powerful. I often wonder why Finder/Explorer don't borrow from it.


FAR Manager back in the Win2k/XP days. Actually nowadays too.


I preferred PCTools, back then.


I miss Norton Commander!


Have you already checked out Midnight Commander? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Commander


SideFX Houdini (a tool for 3D VFX and animation) is by far the most brilliant software I have ever used, it is like Emacs of computer graphics. It is designed as a system of nodes that gives you a visual interface for visually "programming" 3D scenes and shaders.

It is incredibly well thought out, and every time I learn something new about it - it blows my mind how elegantly and beautifully it is implemented.


It is commercial software, right? What's the closest open source alternative? (Not that I'm opposed to commercial software, but as a hobbiest I don't want to deal with it.)


It has a free version with almost complete functionality, it's definitely usable for learning or as a hobby.

I don't know about any open source alternatives. The closest thing I can think of is Nuke, also commercial, which is a compositing software built around the same principle, and also really well designed.

I've heard that Unreal Engine has some sort of a node-based system, but I'm not a game developer, so I haven't used it and don't know how it compares.

Also Blender has a node editor, and I think it's the closest open source thing to Houdini, but it's not the same thing, and is nowhere near as good, so I would not call them similar.


Blender has a few addons that can nearly emulate the procedurality of Houdini.

One is 'sverchok', the other which may soon become part of Blender core is 'Animation Nodes.' Jimmy Gunawan of Blendersushi goes into fantastic detail about these two on his youtube channel if you're interested.

Oh and the best designed item I own? Swiss Tech Utilikey. A key shaped multitool with such a satisfying opening action. I use mine every day.

Others. - the scissors on the tiny swiss army knife. BEST nail scissors ever.

- Freeplane . Mind mapping software that I find new uses for on every project. So many export options too.


86 Tercel station wagon. Most comfortable seats ever. Every position works. The wiper and blinker controls are nice and clicky. All the adjustment controls are clicky and located exactly where you expect them to be when you reach blindly. The A and B pillars don't block your vision. There's a little spot between the e-brake lever and the seat that's the right size for a can of pop (handy because there's no cup holders). The trim is impeccable. After 30 years of driving, the weatherstripping doesn't peel off, the handles and latches aren't broken, the upholstery hasn't faded. It was amazing in the snow even the 2WD version. I could go on... I loved that little car.


- Hoodie. Really. For me it's the best type of top clothes.

- Raspberry Pi. You can do everything with this guy.

- My girlfriend's Mitsubishi colt Z30. It has great system of adjusting backseats (you can move it back and forward, so that either trunk or cabin have more space). It has also roof quite high (and I'm tall so that's important for me in small cars)

- KitchenAid mixer classic. It's just rock-solid.

- Karrimor X-Lite X2t. This guy is maybe a little one, but it's drying in miliseconds, has great setting-up system and is light as a feather. Although it's quite tight for 2 persons, it's the best small tent I've ever used.

- Ricoh GRD IV. The best camera I've ever used.

- HackerNews. Obviously.


I have killed several Kitchen aid mixers over the last few year in normal usage. The quality has been declining since the day it got re-introduced to the marked and these days it is pretty much useless for real kitchen work. The professional version is a bit better though.


Was just thinking about how great Hoodies are for fall and winter wear. Comfortable and highly functional. Large pockets and if you live in a cold climate and always having head cover available to you makes life simpler and easier.


The mid-2014 MacBook Pro. I fear that one day I will have to upgrade to a poorly reviewed newer model, or change my system entirely.


Unless you really need a lot of processing power or ram, the backlash against the new MacBooks is overblown. I was hesitant to get one, but I've been very happy with it. The screen is incredible,the keyboard is excellent, and it's by no means a slow computer for most tasks. The touchbar is a wash as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't add much, but it doesn't hurt much either.


the most painful design loss on the new MBPs is the lack of MagSafe.

When that came out it was just so obvious that it was the best way to do it, but now it is gone.


I do miss the MagSafe from my old Air, but I like being able to power the Pro from either side. It means the cable isn't put under tension or draped across my knee when I'm using it on my lap and the outlet is inconveniently placed.


And complete lack of upgrewdability.


I made the jump from a late 2011 MBP to the late 2016 MBP with touch bar. While I wouldn't recommend it to just everyone, I've been very pleased with it. If you're the kind of person that regularly needs all of the ports that the new MBP lacks (specifically without dongle or dock) then it's not the computer for you.


I grabbed one of the last ones back in ~September - and am still pretty happy with that decision. I've got 16Gig or (aftermarket) RAM, a 512Gig SSD and 2TB of spinning rust - for almost a grand less than the new ones. Sure my CPU is slower, and my SSD is "only" running at 6G speeds, and I've not got a retina display - but it's a remarkably useful machine in this configuration...


I love a good Estwing hammer. Both the newer rubber handle or the old school handle made from ovals of leather. The simple single piece forging never breaks like hammers with wooden or fiberglass handles.


Estwing absolutely makes the best hammers. Had the same one since I was 12.


Nexus 5. Marvelous beauty of a phone. Red panda is especially beautiful. Screen size was just about right at the time, the way the screen blent into the bezels was amazing, the ergonomics were awesome.


I found the Nexus 5 (not the 5x) had poor build quality - it was plasticy, and mine fell to pieces after 18 months - the battery started to run out early, then the microphone, and eventually it just stopped working at all.

It had a nice interface, but I moved to the HTC One (installed GPE on it), got a rock solid case and after 14 months it feels like it hasn't aged a day.


Chopsticks. It is tricky to master but once you get it, you have an agility with your hands that cannot be matched even with bare fingers. I often use chopstick for gardening, for repairing things, and plenty of other. Also, it is very easy to find two ok sticks when picknic if you forgot your stuff.


lol!


The Curta handheld mechanical calculator https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13120233


I'm not much of a collector, but I have always wanted one of those. Beautiful design.


FWIW if you're not collector you can find some with a repaired handle for cheap! They'll pop up on eBay every once in a while.


Thanks for the heads up! I had not realized that the handle was a common point of failure, and such a thing (if properly repaired ) wouldn't bother me in the least.

Any recommendations on what particular sub-model to keep an eye out for?


Masakage knives: http://masakageknives.com/

There are many other makers of kitchen knives that are comparable to Masakage knives, but if someone who was serious about cooking asked me for a single recommendation of which knife brand they should buy into this would probably be my response. Their knives are reasonably priced, feature beautiful aesthetics, have personality, and perform as well as anyone could reasonably need.


On kitchen knives, these are the collection I started with: https://www.robertwelch.com/kitchen/kitchen_knives/signature...

Perhaps not the best, but from a design standpoint and the exquisite feeling using them, their blades are perfect for what I use, and their handles are sublime. I went into the shop to spend a huge whack on a set of Globals, but they just felt off. These were perfect.


+1 for Robert Welch knives, have a few myself. My friend, who's a CDP at a double starred place, said they were comparable to his Globals when he tried them out too.


Commodore 64.

May just be a bit of nostalgia speaking, but the things that little machine could be made to do... wow.


I don't believe that is just nostalgia. I think the Commodore was the greatest home computer ever made.[0]

[0]https://twitter.com/ivansafrin/status/795448709572083712


Sawstop Professional Cabinet Saw. Solid, smooth running, all adjustments well thought out.

My late 90s Honda Civic. Simple and reliable. Nothing is more fancy or complex than it has to be.

Aeropress. Simple, makes great coffee, promotes a ritual.

The HP-41C. Just enough programming to be useful. RPN. Great keyboard feel.


U.S. Constitution

Eiffel Tower

Bosendorfer 214CS piano

1986 Fender Performer guitar

1959 Fender Stratocaster

Yamaha YBL 321 trombone

Yamaha Q series alto sax

Any Zojirushi rice cooker

Vitamix

Sony SRF-M37w radio

Golden Gate Bridge (walk it)

Any Porsche 911

Toyota Sienna minivan

Any MacBook Air

Duluth Trading Longtail T shirts

web2py

C89

Visual Basic 3.0

Turbo Pascal 3.0

Visual Pascal

Vim

Eggs, bananas, bell peppers, cocoanuts, water

Fender Precision bass

Motorola StarTac

HN

Almost anything Frank Lloyd Wright


A little surprised not to see a Shure SM28 or 57 microphone near the items at the top of that list...

And if you're gonna have the GG Bridge, can I propose the 747as well. They're still building them now, almost 50 years later - the first one rolled out of the factory in '68 (first test flight wasn't till '69)


The 747 is certainly iconic, but I hate to be the one to tell you that 747 production may be coming to an end as the industry has zero interest in inefficient four-engine jets.

Basically no interest in the passenger or freighter model at this stage (the newest series, the -8I/-8F, has attracted barely over 100 deliveries). Same story for the A380, whose orders basically stopped in 2014. Freight and passenger service are both moving to more efficient twin-engine wide-bodies.


Interesting!

Can you give some specific examples of "more efficient twin-engine wide-bodies"? I'm very interested in the aviation industry, but terribly ignorant of it.


I thought the freighter was still alive. I know that active passenger fleets are being retired, completely so among US carriers AFAIU.


Do you mean the Shure SM58 ?

I'd say definitely. One of the most used designs. Built like a tank. One of the most used and abused microphones in my opinion.


Damn typos - yeah, I mean 58...


Seattleite here, you're right--quite the oversight!


Knowing Wright foundation tech, I can't upvote this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubble_trench_foundation


The Constitution? You do realize that it specifies a nearly impossible editing mechanism. Outdated and stupid. Doesn't include voting guarantee. Missing many important rights. Cripples America.


Happy hacking keyboard professional.

Typing feel is exceptional and it's in a small form, so every key is within your reach. (Doesn't mean the keys are small.) Especially great for vim mode typing. You can even easily carry it with you.

Being using it for nearly 10 years and not failing. Highly recommended.

http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/hhkeyboard/lineup/images/thumb_pd...

There's also a one without a print for serious typers which I use.

http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/hhkeyboard/lineup/images/thumb_pd...

(Lite version is a completely different thing, I don't consider it worth buying.)

https://www.google.com/search?q=happy+hacking+keyboard+profe...


I ctrl-f on this page looking for HHKB. I've got both the Type-S and the regular and went for the carrying case. These keyboards are two of my favorite things.


Zippo Lighters.

Easy to use (no button to hold down, just spin the wheel), easy to do maintenance, will light unless you got it really really wet or forgot to refill it.


> will light

I'm suddenly reminded of the Zippo scene from Four Rooms.

I don't smoke cigarettes anymore, but I did for many years. I'd lost my old Zippo and bought myself a new one (straight from the company) about a decade ago. After daily-use, then sitting in a box for three years, and now using it a few times a year while camping, it works perfectly and looks practically new.


Pentel Graph Gear 1000: https://www.jetpens.com/Pentel-Graph-Gear-1000-Drafting-Penc...

Best mechanical pencil I've ever used. You can tell a lot of thought has been put into every aspect of its design. The Rotring 800 is similarly well-designed, but I prefer the grip of the Pentel.


Another great product by the same company - Pentel Twist-Erase III: http://www.pentel.com/store/twist-erase-iii-mechanical-penci...

Some nice things about it:

- The tip is metal, so it doesn't flex and break the lead when you're writing.

- The clip is metal, so it won't break off after a couple months of use.

- The eraser is about an inch long, so you won't have to replace it every week.

- The rubber grip hasn't deteriorated in the 5 years I've had mine.


How do you transport drafting pencils? I have a couple of Rotring 600s. They are very nice, but I basically can't take them out of the house because I'm worried about bending the lead sleeves.


The Pentels have retractable tips unlike the Rotring 600.


My steel backplate original IBM Model M keyboard in use continuously from when it was new until today. I can't figure out any way to improve it.

Logitech trackman wheel from a decade or two ago, perfect to have a desk with 3 or 4 machines on. Must have thousands of hours of FPS and minecraft on it, feels new, feels perfect.

The original Radio Shack wire wrapping tool, you could pay up to 100x more for something less reliable or slower or harder to use but I built entire 8-bit microcomputers with mine. The wire stripper which is perfect for 30 gauge wire wrap wire stores inside the tool. You could pay more for something faster but less reliable or whatever bad engineering tradeoff, but somehow this cheap tool had the perfect engineering tradeoffs.

The hyper orthogonal PDP-11 assembly language instruction set. Essentially you wrote C in assembly. That and the 6809/68hc11 general family are the only two architectures I ever miss programming in assembly, everything else is perfectly doable but a chore.

I grew up with a surplus Tektronix 531 oscope, the kind with pluggable chassis. There's just something about tools designed by engineers specifically for engineers where everything just feels perfect and everything just worked. If it weren't for weighing a hundred pounds and drawing half a kilowatt every oscope would be a Tektronix 531.

Somehow I did electronics for over 30 years before buying a top of the line digital Hakko soldering station. I was so dumb, I should have invested in something of that quality level decades ago. Its perfectly repeatably capable of anything; after some flux cleaning I've had people ask if I own a wave soldering machine given a couple hundred perfect and identical joints on a board. Its weightless in my hand, perfect heating, ESD proof, and a joy to use. It cannot be improved.


> Somehow I did electronics for over 30 years before buying a top of the line digital Hakko soldering station.

I just got into Electronics and while buying some basic kit (cutters, wire, etc) I had to think hard about my soldering iron choice. I don't expect to solder a ton immediately as I'm still learning, but over time I may do it more. Thus, I was wondering whether to just pay out for a high quality iron, one I would never have to replace (or at least not soon).

I went with the Hakko. Bought some extra tips for the long run, and it's simply fantastic. Heats up incredibly fast, is very accurate, and easy to use. Sitting in my closet at the moment while I get a workbench eventually, but I eagerly have been using that thing every chance I get for the past several weeks. It's just fun to use and well designed.

I think the only thing the Hakko FXD could possibly improve is perhaps slightly improving the UX for preset temperature configuration. I'm not sure this feature even matters for anyone who isn't soldering constantly, though (I can basically get away with 750 every time).

Otherwise I agree, it almost seems perfect in every way.


The original Radio Shack wire wrapping tool

It's possible that the only reason I care about RS going out of business is that I lost mine and want another. I don't do wire wrap any more, but the stripper that came with it made perfect strips on 30 gauge wire.


What would be a good book or article for getting into making electronics with wire wrapping?


I'm not sure it would be viable. You need sharp edged sockets because the wire cold welds to the socket pin and if you unravel you can feel it pop loose from the corners. "Gas tight connection" as they called it. You can wrap round analog component pins but it doesn't stick as well. So you're mostly limited to digital DIP components in sockets. Given that limitation it worked very well back when "The TTL cookbook" from the late 70s was mostly contemporary.

Counter intuitively people assume short neat wiring is lower capacitance therefore better, actually complete rats nest has lower capacitance and lower coupling. You aren't going to be running much above maybe 20 MHz but that was OK in the days when a 2 MHz nmos Z80 was "pretty fast".

Everyone does something dumb once like wrap an entire 8-bit microprocessor system using the same wiring color, but back then it was easy to get multiple colors and do your data bus in green and address bus in red or whatever.

Another anecdote back in the old, old days original "TTL", no series like LS or HC, was kinda power hungry and 30 gauge wire is not thick and people would daisy chain from power pin to power pin and 20 hungry chips later be perturbed that 5 volts comes in but there's only 4 volts at the power pins of the last chip. Lots of people hand soldered larger gauge wire for power and ground along with hand soldering on decoupling capacitors.

Another anecdote from the ancient days WRT cross coupling and interference the electrical noise a circuit generates is almost solely proportional to risetime / falltime of gate which depends on gate family not clock speed. So a 10 MHz plain TTL board was much more electrically quiet than a 0.89 MHz "quarter colorburst crystal" circuit made with "F" family chips, this is very counter intuitive to many people.

What a color burst crystal is, and why they were so cheap until the 00s or so, is beyond the scope of this post LOL.

Nothing forces people to learn RF/analog electronics as well as trying to do fast digital electronics.


When I was an electrician aboard a volunteer ship, I bought some Swedish work pants that saved me SO much walking. It was like wearing a tool belt all the time, but WAY more comfortable. I could carry tools, supplies, a notebook, cell phone, everything. It was amazing.

I also had a knife I used for work and the pants had a special pocket at your knee especially for your knife. It was so perfect because it was always available. I could be ankles-deep, laying on my side, in some wall or other, but I just reach down and grab my knife if I need to cut something.

Both not exactly what I had, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy them again: https://www.blaklader.uk/en/product/15001370-trousers-crafts... https://morakniv.se/en/product/pro-s/


Google Chromecast

Takes a quite complicated set of things going on (control signals from phone, data signals from internet), and turns them into a seamless intuitive experience.

I find the initial setup process particularly excellent. Getting a device with no user input onto a wifi network would normally be a nightmare, but the magic they do with setting up a temporary access point on the device is excellent.


And it working even when your portable device isn't in the same wifi network ("Nearby devices" option) is pretty magical. Ultrasonic communication between phone and some-other-thing is stuff that you'd expect to read about being done in a lab, yet here it is in a consumer thing that's really cheap, and working flawlessly.


Even though its a perpetual beta-program and the engineers break stuff every other update, I can't imagine life without it.

I tried watching Youtube on the desktop recently and was appalled at how terrible the interface was, esp without Red and no ABP.

Chromecasts are my go-to Christmas gifts every year.


I find myself never using them other than to watch youtube. What do people use it for?

Why can't I buy something to just stream my screen? Like the steam link but for everything. Not just steam.


You can drag and drop a local file into a Chrome tab and play it on Chromecast. You can basically stream anything in a Chrome tab, e.g. open an online stream on your laptop and stream it to the Chromecast in full screen, useful for e.g. sports streaming websites or national broadcasters. Useful when you're lazy and don't want to hook up a long HDMI cable to your laptop.


What is the frame rate like when you do this, though? A buddy had an original run Chromecast and I remember being excited about that feature back in the day, but the framerate for tab streaming was so inconsistent it wasn't watchable.


You wont get Blu Ray quality for sure, but for "normal" online streams the frame rate has been perfectly watchable for me.


I watch all of my TV through it.

I buy box sets from Amazon Video and watch them (which has to be laptop). My girlfriend watches a lot of BBC iPlayer, we both watch Netflix. On occasion I'll download something and it'll happily stream from my phone (Localcast) or laptop (Videostream).


I use it for everything that my TV doesn't have a native app for, which is primarily Crunchyroll. Occasionally it's fantastic for random things -- my local soccer club FC Cincinnati was playing a preseason match yesterday that was only watchable via a livestream on the venue's website. Pulled it up on my phone, and sure enough, the little Chromecast button appeared, and it streamed without issue -- was anticipating having to hook up my laptop to the TV instead.


100% agree - for the price, you get so much mileage


The pouring end of a stainless Bialetti stovetop espresso pot[0]. Beautiful, precise, never a drip. Amazing.

[0] http://www.thehomestoreauckland.co.nz/images/_db/MwA1ADkAMAA...


iPod Shuffle, the little almost square ones.

So easy to operate all of the functions on it that it can be done without ever taking it out of your pocket. Navigate through playlists without having to look at it all. Battery life lasts seemingly forever. It made commuting by public transport in the cold so very much better than fiddling with the UI on a phone. And training meant not having to carry a huge and heavy phone when running because it clips onto your pockets-less training clothes somewhere.

Hands down the best designed device I have ever used.


This device was one of the worst for me. A former girlfriend of mine got one of those for Christmas from her dad.

First problem - we didn't had any Mac or Windows at home. So no iTunes. But that's an iPod problem in general. Her dad didn't know this / didn't think of it.

I've tried to use the device - but it was unusable for everything we wanted to use it. She didn't like it for music - too little space (1GB), no full albums, just a Playlist (which was pretty hard to update if you don't use iTunes). Listening to music didn't work for me too (I like listening to whole albums). So I've tried to listen to Podcasts (30 minutes to 1 hour) with it. Didn't know where in the podcast I am, fast forward for 15 minutes was cumbersome.

Didn't work for me at all. It was small, it was robust, but it didn't fit any of our requirements.


You can fit about 10 albums in 1GB


You can. But I've put about 30 albums on my phone and I have little internal space, so I just put a "small list" on it.

But for what it is worth 1 GB may be fine. Handling 30 albums would be a nightmare with the Shuffle.

It works (as the name says) if you want to listen to a playlist in shuffle. But for me (and my ex) it didn't work for anything else. So we both found out we didn't had any use for this device.


The later model had 2 GB and had playlist functionality. I had both the 1GB 'continuous playlist' model, loved it it was perfect for mix-tapes, it also loaded albums with the songs in order, so yes there was a lot of skipping to get past an album, but not a problem. The 2GB model if you held down the "f-key" on the top read out the names of playlists ,ie albums, and let you press skip to cycle through them.


It seems to work really nice for you.

For me it was definitely the wrong device. I don't have any use for this device at all. The "reading out the names" sounds incredible kludgy for me.

To everything his own. I just wanted to share my experiences with the device.


I find it's easy to accidentally advance the track when really I want to seek.


Norpro 917 Nylon Turner spatula. I just use it for serving or frying things up in a pan. I don't know why everyone else makes long spatulas that are either floppy or hard metal. It feels silly, but I was so happy to find a replacement after I destroyed my beloved spatula that I bought a pile of them and gave them to everyone I know who eats.


I'm impressed with the new design of water coolers. It's been a while since I've been in an office with a real water cooler as opposed to a Keurig-like device connected directly to the waterline.

But at my new office, we have a good old-fashioned water cooler. Except that it's a newfangled water cooler with a redesigned interface between cooler and water jug. Now, instead of peeling a wax lid off the top of the jug and spilling a couple cups of water as you throw it on the cooler, you just pull off a sticker and sort of plug it into the water cooler. No more water spills.

It seems so simple and obvious. Yet how many Olympic-sized swimming pools full of water did we have to spill before someone designed it? I love it.

Here's the first video I could find that shows one of them in action (in 3D!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgS5VIwE1WA


I've never used one that didn't have one of those connectors. What you're describing as the old way sounds like barbarism. How did anyone put up with that?


Spilling water was only really an issue for really old and slow people or really small people who weight about as much as the jug.


The coolers have a probe to pierce the seal, so you put the new jug on unopened & remove the seal with the empty jug…


1. Nokia N9, it was the perfect device, hardware was perfectly fitted to the software and vice versa.

2. DasKeyboard Model S Ultimate.


Without a doubt, the most elegantly designed products I've ever used are the sequencers and synthesizers made by Teenage Engineering (https://teenage.engineering/). I own the original three pocket operators (PO-12, PO-14, PO-16) and every aspect about them, from the packaging to the board design itself (the whole instrument is just the PCB its made on), is a work of art. Granted, they're not necessarily the most intuitive thing to use, but when you consider TE has shrunken a desk's worth of electronic music equipment into something the size of a Raspberry Pi, it's hard to not be impressed with their design methodology.


I use this as a keyring. It is a bottle opener with a drum key in a single piece.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/gibraltar-drum-key-bottle-opener-on-...


The Fisher Space Pen. Small enough to carry in your pocket without even noticing it, no sharp edges, unbreakable and trivially refillable. And it writes, too!


Small enough to easily lose, too - I miss mine!


Ain't that the truth. Mine is around here... somewhere. I periodically find it while cleaning up, put it on my desk, and then inevitably lose it before I need it again.

Also, I find that mine accumulates a blob of ink on the tip after a period of inactivity that needs to be wiped off before use.


I went through two bullet pens before throwing in the towel. I understand that a permanently mounted clip would throw off the sleek, classic design - but it would be way more functional if the pen and clip would actually stay attached to each other.


I'm left handed, and the Space Pen is the first ballpoint that I've used that consistently works for me.


* After breaking numerous glass ones: https://www.amazon.com/Bodum-Columbia-Stainless-Thermal-17-O...

* The USB charger that came with the Nexus 4 - it's only been replaced because I finally got a decent QuickCharge charger.

* A Grundig AM/FM radio with Aux-in, still going strong after 10+ years as a bathroom speaker. One dial broke off. Oops. Still one of the best sounding speakers I have in my house - possibly due to it being wooden

* Yamaha NX-P100 Bluetooth speaker - used to use it for the APT-X capability, now I use it because it supports 3.5mm jacks, and USB sound input. Practically bulletproof although the battery life isn't as good as it was.


Bodum has a lot of great products. I particularly like the range of double-walled glassware:

https://www.amazon.com/Bodum-Pavina-8-5-Ounce-Double-Wall-Th...

https://www.amazon.com/Bodum-Bistro-Piece-double-Latte/dp/B0...


I really miss simple old thermostats. For a few years, they used a simple combination of two manual controls - one for temperature and a couple more for start and end times for maintaining that temperature. Made it easy to turn off at night and while I was at work.

No worries about power outages. No worries about WiFi. No need to keep the user guide around. No need to worry about whether guests would be able to figure it out. No batteries to run down. No programming/re-programming hell. No dependency on updates being bug free. I can't believe how horrible thermostats have become - I think most people have forgotten how easy and effective they used to be.


My old Honda S2000. Best car ever.

* Why The Honda S2000 Is A Future Classic || http://jalopnik.com/why-the-honda-s2000-is-a-future-classic-...


Care to share the top 3 things you like about it/top 3 things you wish other cars did?


1) Insanely fun to drive. Handled like a scalpel. Haven't driven a car since connected me to the road as well as that car did. Could turn... or stop... or accelerate... on a dime. Instructions for driving it:

"Most people will never drive in the best rpm range (7000 to 8500), shifting too early. Our advice is to treat the S2000 like you hate it and you'll get the most out of it. We did and loved every minute of it."

2) They knew the target audience; didn't have any distractions. Just what you needed to enjoy the drive... leather seats, a top that came off, a gear stick and some pedals... Very minimalist and focused.

3) Easy to maintain, relatively cheap to buy. Biggest expense was new tires every 15-20k miles. Honda makes reliable stuff. $31k I think I paid for it new. 7 years and 80k miles... never needed more than a fresh coat of wax to make it feel like new.

Bonus) I loved how it was a conversation piece. Pull up to the pump... instantly people ask you what kind of car it is... they can't believe it's a Honda... or better yet they have one too and they want to chat about it... Had a cop stop me when I was clearly speeding and say, "I'm going to let you off with a warning... I'd be speeding too if I was driving one of these. Man it looks fun."

Totally regret getting rid of mine... didn't want to leave it garaged for a year while I traveled for work.


Q: Have you driven another roadster since then? Like the Mazda Miata for instance?


I drove an ex-girlfriend's Miata... was an automatic so I don't think I got the real experience. It was OK, handled fine. Just didn't have the same zip -- 170 HP vs 240 HP (not an ideal metric, but just an easy one to cite).

* Mazda MX-5 Miata vs Honda S2000 || http://twinrev.com/cars/Mazda-MX-5-Miata-vs-Honda-S2000

I think the BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, and Porsche Boxster are probably all fine replacements (that's what all the S2000 forum nerds say anyway) -- if you have 2-3x to spend. I drove an F-Type and it felt very busy inside. Like... fundamentally a different audience than the S2000. I drove a used Z4 too, but only an automatic since that was all they had on the lot.

Nissan 370z looks promising, but I haven't tried it. I don't love the look.

It's a bit of a sore spot... I don't feel like there is a true replacement for the S2000 on the market at present and it's getting very hard to find a used one that wasn't modified or doesn't have a ton of miles.



Bench made pocket knife with their "axis" locking mechanism.

Never thought I would be a knife guy, but I was given one gen years ago and I'm still smitten with this thing. There is nothing quite like the snapping sound when it opens perfectly.


Yeah, once you figure out that pulling the closing button down combined with a flick opens it, it's basically an assisted-opening-but-not-illegal knife. I always thought that the ban on assisted openers was stupid anyway, since a fixed blade is faster still and 100% legal.


Fixed blade's harder to conceal.


Aesthetically pleasing:

- The Palm Pre (1st edition). It is an absolutely amazing, brilliant piece of hardware (especially back in 2009) that fits just right in my hand like a pebble. The curved screen is brilliant to the eyes and to the touch. It also has an interface that is not cluttered and busy like shit in other mainstream OSes then, and now.

But I mainly like things that are designed for ease of maintenance:

- The iPhone 4s and iPhone 5. Like the iPhone or hate it, but the iPhone is a marvelous engineering feat. First, the amount of components it could hold. Second, how strong and robust it is for such a small body. Third, how easy it is to replace the most vulnerable component, the screen.

- The iPod Nano 2nd Edition. It is such a timeless design that is extremely small and practical. It is really easy to open up the iPod Nano should you need to replace the battery, too.

- Dell Chromebook 13 and Acer Chromebook 720: It took 8 screws to open them and get to the battery, CMOS, RAM, SSD, CPU, WLAN card.

- Sony Walkmans. It was an eye-opening experience to see a player that is barely bigger than a tape, with features packed in it in the era of tapes, moving motors, pulleys, cogs and such.

But my most admired understated design has to be the Thinkpad line.

About 10 years ago, when computers were hot, clunky, and easy to break; I had a friend asking me to look at her coffee spilled Thinkpad T42 or T43 (I think). I just moved to the US for college for a month and had only a screwdriver toolset. Thankfully to its brilliant design [1], it only took a single screwdriver to lift the whole keyboard and touchpad up and get to everything, including the CPU. And the keyboard was spill resistant, so not that much liquid leaked either. I asked my roommate to take me to the nearest Radioshack to get a tube of heat spreader, and dried the whole thing with a hairdryer. It worked like new.

I could still remember the horror of opening Dell D6x0 laptops at my college IT department. What a fucking joke of a design - there is nothing good I could say about those "business machines" on the inside. It got to the point that if anything went wrong with those computers, the IT department just called the "Dell guy" to go fix it.

5 years ago, I even bet my roommate to pour a cup of water on a running Thinkpad. It survived.

And the Thinkpads now are barely different from the Thinkpads then and the Thinkpads from the beginning. It says something about the design, does it?

1: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/IBM+ThinkPad+T42+Teardown/29...


I'm not quite sure how to feel about my T43 now. I was given it by a friend a while ago as I can't get my hands on anything else right now, and... I'm starting to wonder if I'll be hugely disappointed when I can get something newer.

I must admit that it doesn't Chrome too well though. It copes but it swaps a LOT and I can literally see garbage-collection happening - typing or scrolling locks up for 300ms every ~10 seconds. And it can't do >360p video.

I can't recommend them enough to Web developers who want to build fast, responsive websites, however. :D (So many sites that cram 1080p MP4s into their page backgrounds.....)

(Slackware / 2GHz Pentium M + 2GB RAM)


put an ssd in it.


Indeed! I had to struggle with a consumer hp dv65xx for a few years before I finally got my hand on a thinkpad. Opening it up was a nightmare, and I broke random plastic things everytime I opened it up.


The modern ThinkPads are a lot harder to take apart, even though they superficially look very similar.

The T42/43 was a tank. I saw one take such a hard fall that the frame bent and it still booted up.


I unfortunately dropped a T60 some time ago, on the right rear corner.

The system board and everything were all fine... but the LCD copped it :( only displayed sad rainbows (IIRC).

I'm not sure if I bent the heatsink slightly off as well; I tried to fix it but I may have made it worse. The thermal design on the T60 is a disaster: the part of the heatpipe that extends over the GPU has nowhere to bolt it down (see http://i.imgur.com/lUOwImO.jpg - the rightmost part, see how there are no screws, it literally was not factored into the design, it's held down solely by the copper itself) and because my heatsink is fractionally misaligned, my GPU consistently idles at 75°C (!) and can reach 90°C (!!) if I actually try to do anything!


The X240 (and probably X250/260, no way they changed much) is pretty easy to take apart. Just a few screws and there's just one board, with easy access to disk, RAM and mini-PCIe. I haven't seen the old ThinkPads in person, but I have seen e.g. big-ass HP Pavilions that look like a nightmare to disassemble.


I LOVED my Thinkpad 600. Such a great machine for its time.

Modern Thinkpads are crap. I've had the W450, T450 and X1 Carbon. All of them look basic and had really bad screens.


> 5 years ago, I even bet my roommate to pour a cup of water on a running Thinkpad. It survived.

Yeah, gotta love a laptop that has friggin' drainage holes in the bottom of it. :)


My Weidmuller Stripax wire stripper. Simple, reliable, works for a wide range of wire gauges, built-in wire cutter. Feels good to use.


They are great !


The 1996 Mazda Miata. Super simple, reliable and fun to drive.


First gen Miata was even simpler, and similarly fun to drive, though not quite as fast or comfortable as what came later. It had a certain charm that I still like a lot whenever I see a well-maintained one driving around.