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Thread: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

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    The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Do you use a certain kind of paint brush for painting figs? What about software for making videos or music? Is there a great piece of hardware out there that will just make [task] that much easier?

    If you have experience with it, post a short review here. I'd start, but I don't think anyone wants to know about my experiences with notepad++.

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    Last edited by Mdar; May 16th, 2012 at 08:15 PM.
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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Less hobby-ish related but did you lose that serial number? Can't find the case for the Office CD you have in your stack? Magical Jellybean keyfinder will pull serial numbers, etc from your installed programs. It has saved my bacon on an occasion or two.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eremius View Post
    Less hobby-ish related but did you lose that serial number? Can't find the case for the Office CD you have in your stack? Magical Jellybean keyfinder will pull serial numbers, etc from your installed programs. It has saved my bacon on an occasion or two.
    siw.exe does the same thing. Quite handy.
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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    I've found my leatherman wave very clutch while fishing for changing baits, cutting lines, etc. It also can open bottles which is sometimes useful. You can handle pretty much most tasks with just the pliers due to how that tool is designed. And you can use it for wire stripping etc. It can replace a significant amount of screwdriver bits too. You are still going to need another knife for skinning/gutting/filleting purposes though.
    Last edited by Mihoko Ishii; July 2nd, 2012 at 12:26 AM.
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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Alright, this is kind of a mish mash of different hobbies/utilities that I use, some of it is esoteric if you are not me.

    Software
    Organization, programming, writing:
    Emacs Org-Mode, various major modes, some of which for me is Matlab, Python, C, Latex, Magit, and EVIL (extensible vi layer for emacs that lets me move around and edit text lightning fast, plus it has a great name). Emacs calc is really great too, but it's quite obscene to learn; the best when it comes to changing between bases, 2s complements representation, etc. though, really killer. I am working on learning elisp some, would like to learn scheme or common lisp at some point I think.
    GVIM/Sublime Text 2 if you want just a stand alone text editor rather than a framework that is also a Lisp machine and gangster in general.

    Git for revision control of course
    Regexp is a useful tool and not as hard to learn as I had anticipated; sweet if you interact with text a lot.
    RStudio for R (uber for statistics)
    Matlab and Mathematica. These are excellent programs, and should be the default in math classes. When you are able to quickly set up models and learn a useful skill that will be a tool for life, learning is much higher and it develops a useful tool depending on what you go into. Calculators are a relic of an earlier age, much like the Abacus. Also, in line expressions are ghetto, RPN forever.
    There are some other software I've used/use, but they are a pain in the ass to learn and frustratingly badly documented. Hate calculators forever, waste of money and neurons.
    VLC for playing media

    Office Supplies
    I love my Fisher Space Pen. It's inexpensive enough that I will not be insanely butthurt if it was stolen or lost. The ink refills are not too bad expensive and the pen itself, despite being of high quality, is only 15-40 dollars depending on the model. I use the 0.5 mm. The bullet version kind of looks like a dildo though.

    When it comes to real paper, I prefer graph paper that is blue lines with a white background, fairly thick. Writing shows up cleanly against the background, especially with a fine ink. Pencil is for 5 year olds IMO.

    Work out stuff:
    I have really enjoyed Nike's dri-fit line of shirts during cardio and out in the heat. They are surprisingly well made and effective for keeping you cool.

    When it comes to cleaning screens, glasses I really have had great success with microfiber cloths that are used typically when waxing cars. They do a good job of removing debris without scratching up the glass or lens. I keep these in my storage at all times due to their usefulness.

    Additionally, Duct Tape. Duct tape is useful in all situations and is likely the building blocks of the universe. The bulkiness makes it kind of weird to carry around, cool though. I like having my leatherman around too though as I mentioned as it seemed like no one ever had a knife or small tool when I needed it.

    Learning:
    Coursera, Udacity, etc. I like this site for a general overview of what is offered on the net right now: http://www.class-central.com/ These have been immensely valuable for me to work on other interests without enrolling in a university course that I don't have time for.

    Infosec/Infrastructure:
    I like to use Crashplan, VMWare, and Google Drive, along with my external drive for backups. It has pretty much retard proofed (aka me after about 3 days of no sleep) my file safety. Truecrypt, SSH, VPN, SSL, and GPG for encryption. Lastpass for password management (again retard proofing, also this is much much easier than other methods). I use linux (ubuntu) over a VMWare VM too; I use that for 95% of my comp tasks probably as Linux/Unix are better designed OS imo and have access to many software very easily. Linux has really came a long ways in usability; it is a ready replacement for the majority of people and would find it easy or easier to use than Windows if they had not been exposed to those paradigms first I think. I like my iPhone/iPad too, would be lost w/o my smart phone, both literally and figuratively. iPad is nice mainly for comics though.

    Services:
    Netflix, Hulu primarily, also Cramster (for solution references, not all that useful to me now though). My VPN, Last pass mobile, Crashplan (backup service). Comixology for comic purchases. Other stuff I am likely forgetting.
    Last edited by MI Redeux; September 20th, 2012 at 01:06 AM.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Software:
    ExtractNow - lightweight Windows program that will extract/expand any type of compression or tarbal'ing. Elegant, simple, no nonsense, FREE.
    Some PDF Image Extractr - (sic) Allows for unraveling .pdf files into their layers. This is useful for .pdf's of D&D adventures or professional documents with lots of images. Also FREE.
    BOINC - Since I leave my computer on all the time, anyway, I'm willing to pay the electricity for supporting data crunching. I chose the SETI project.
    VLC - as mentioned above, the one-stop-everything-WORKS video/audio player. FREE. Awesome.
    UltraISO - FREE, allows for .iso file creation (elegantly), as well as .iso splitting into files. Very handy if you find your files on an ARRRRR search.

    Hardware:
    MicroScanner II (Fluke Networks) - the best solution for home-use (and small-IT) cable checking and wiring, for both Cat5/e/6 and Coaxial. Everyone that's ever used one loves the hell out of them. This thing has saved me LOTS of time.
    Logitech Stereo Speakers Z110 - Eventually, everyone wants to share some music or a video with others nearby. Given that everyone has a smart phone and/or tablet, these little speakers fix the sound problem elegantly. Fry's routinely is dumping them for $10 a set.
    TI-36X Calculator (Scientific, solar-powered) - This wonderful tool saw me get my BS and MS in Elec. Eng. Anyone who says you need a graphing calculator is scared of math.
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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    I really dislike calculators. Any STEM field is going to use a CAS like Matlab or Mathematica eventually, and for science/engineering people they are more interested in the solutions rather than the (by then) trivial mathematics behind it, making doing the intermediate steps of no use. With a CAS you can avoid all of that and you gain experience with using that software for making models etc. which is much more valuable. You still have to know how the math works in order to model the problem appropriate, so it is not as though a CAS makes knowing math irrelevant, it just makes doing the work much faster.

    Calculators are much more limited and entering matrices etc. is tedious to do on them with their limited keyboard. The wolfram alpha app on my phone is a better calculator than actual calculators even. I'm still irritated that my profs wouldn't let me use that on exams and required using a typical calculator still. In my graduate/upper level math courses we used mathematica etc. for homework et al. as calculus and ODEs were basic skills by then.
    Last edited by MI Redeux; September 27th, 2012 at 12:26 AM.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Microplane grater

    I use this thing a lot, zesting citrus, grating cheese, nutmeg, chocolate... The list goes on and on.
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  9. #9

    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Interesting thread. Might as well post my $.02 and achieve board immortality.

    Hand tools:

    Pens: Love Zebra pens. They're virtually indestructible (I keep them in my front pants pocket and work outdoors and inside of plumbing and access holes all day). They come in a wide variety of points, and they really stand up. They're about 3 dollars a piece, so I care enough about losing them that I don't want to keep replacing them, but if I leave them somewhere I won't get too butt hurt over it.

    Utility Knife: I don't like carrying around Swiss Army sort of things, because eventually blades break, and tools soften, and you're left with having to replace a portion of something that is not serviceable. I prefer the straight forward Milwaukee Fastback Flip Utility Knife, with Irwin blades. The knife itself has an almost switch-blade like quality to it. Press down on the safety, flick your wrist, and the blade is out, and the safety keeps it locked, extremely well. Another press of the safety and a flick of the wrist, and its back in its enclosure. Amazing knife. I've gone through alot of brands of blade, but the Irwin stand the test of time far more than the rest. I highly recommend both these products to have around the house, in your toolbox, in your glove compartment, and if you're like me, in your carpenter pants leg pocket always at the ready.

    Screwdrivers: Some would feel that some brands are better than others, overall. I like the cost effectiveness of Stanley tools. They're pretty comfortable in my hand, and they last a long time. Depending on the screws I might be trying to remove or place, I've found that their heads are just soft enough that they won't wear down most soft headed screws; especially in phillips. 1 #2 Phillips, 1 3/16 AngledFlat head. Have them in my left pants leg pocket at all times.
    I am also a big fan of HUSKY when it comes to durability of the tools (found at Home Depot). They are lifetime warranty, and are perfect for any application that damaging a screw is either 1) not a possibiility or 2) not a problem if it happens. I keep a couple of their flatheads up to their 1" x 16" long in my tool bag at all times. They're so durable, they actually make fairly decent chisels.

    Additional Hand tools: I like alot of Irwin's line of hand tools. They are the creators of the Original Vise-Grip and make a great version of the Channel Lock that uses a press button to instantly change which channel the wrench is on, in some ways similar to a more traditional vise-grip.

    Power Tools

    In general, I am a fan of Ryobi and RIDGID. Ryobi because they are inexpensive, and made by the same factory who creates RIDGID tools. In alot of cases, some accessories of Ryobi tools are interchangeable with RIDGID tools, and vice versa. I prefer RIDGID tools because they carry a Lifetime warranty on EVERYTHING, including Batteries. Alot of guys I work with love DeWalt, Snap-On, or Makita. The only tools I would trade over RIDGID if cost was not an option would be HILTI. Its a shame that Home Depot ended their agreement with them. I really hope they pop up in a retail store again, soon.

    Power Drill: I use the Fuego by RIDGID on a regualr basis. Reliable, and lasts a good hour or so of non-stop work, generally. Batteries charge in about 15 minutes, so win both ways.

    Impact Driver: I use the X4 by RIDGID on a regular basis. Reliable, and lasts a good hour or so of non-stop work.

    Power Driver: I really love the TEK4 series by Ryobi. if all I'm doing it putting screws in ready made pilot holes, I use this tool non-stop. My only complaint is that ti is so damn hard to find an impact ready dual sided Phillips/Flat bit. No one makes them anymore, and this one uses an Impact Chuck instead of a 1/2" Tighten-all chuck. I've found that the TEK4 Power Screw driver is most excellent for when putting together furniture that says something along the lines of "do not use power tools to put together this furniture." It is a power tool, but it has so little torque that it won't damage anything you use it on, and neither will it fly out of your hand, or the screw because off too much destabilization because of the motor. Amazing little tool.

    Circular Saw: Ryobi LiON - Amazing, and comes with a perfect Laser guide. Strange that between it and RIDGID, Ryobi is the one with the laser Guide.

    Reciprocating Saw: RIDGID X4. One of the only ones that has an ON/OFF for its Orbital Reciprocation. I prefer Diablo blades on mine as opposed to anything else. I'll tell you one thing, A reciprocating saw is one of the absolute best things to have in a man's tool box. In most cases, more so than a circular saw. Think back to so many pieces of furniture you might have had to break down just to throw away. You might not have even broken in down; instead you might have called friends over to help you bring it downstairs, or off the back patio, and out to the garbage. A Good reciprocating saw with a Metal-to-Wood blade on it will allow you to chop that sucker to bits in minutes if not seconds, and allow you to go on to bigger and better things in moments. I love this Reciprocating saw, and if faced with Zombie Apocalypse, I'm definitely having this strapped to my back.

    Jackhammer: Makita HM1307CB - While most people could get away with just renting anything this size or bigger, i've found that it goes beyond its value when you really don't want to break your back with a sledge hammer all day on concrete, or worse. Its about 40 pounds, but its light enough to be handled by one single person, and hold into awkward angles, if you suddenly have water coming up from the concrete slab of your home and don't want to demolish every cabinet in the place just to get to it.

    ____

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  10. #10

    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    I just want to stress how much I feel that Irwin blades are the best of the very best.

    Since I've switched from teh Goldtip brand to Irwin blades, I've had only a total of about 5 blades replaced. Thats been almost a year and a half now. And I use my utility knife for alot.

    Some poeple look at it and say, "oh, its a box cutter." Yes. It uses box cutter edge blades, but the Milwaukee flip-lock utility knife is insanely handy, extremely durable, and when paired with those Irwin blades, is second to none.

    They do sell the blades in pakcs of 50 and 100, but at a savings of 2 cents per unit, I worry more that I will somehow lose them all by accident, so I continue to buy them in packs of 5 at a time. Bought another pack of 5 two niights ago for the first time in that year and a half. and I still have 2 blades left from the original stash.

    None of my other utility knife blades lasted even remotely as long as the irwin. Fantastic product.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    What situations are you using a utility knife?

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by MI Redeux View Post
    What situations are you using a utility knife?
    Cut Drywall,
    Cut crown Moulding and the like (in smaller detail oriented situations, almost like carving)
    Cut carpet/Linoleum
    Cut Coax
    Strip cable

    I'm trying to think about some of the weirder things I've used it on.

    It does have its "box cutting" applications of handiness. I open alot of sealed boxes, and sealed bags, etc with it. if I buy anything thats taped up, or box wrapped. Twist ties. Anything not wrapped in metal it cuts really well.

    I'll score treated metal with it before cutting it

    I would get something like a leatherman for my day to day work, because they're handy to have on you at all times, strapped to your belt, and I probably should, but because my actual career is more oriented toward the possibility of something getting irreversibly damaged due to work conditions, i prefer to carry around specific use tools (SLOTTED screw driver. PHILLIPS screw driver. NEEDLENOSE Pliers). I did recently start carrying around a 6-in-1, but even that annoys me more than just having two #2 screwdrivers in my carpenter leg pocket; having my hand holding something that needs to be manipulated with a free hand is a frustration when I have to use two hands to rotate whatever screwdriver setting needs to be changed. I can just keep my hand on whatever it is that I'm working with, and then reach with my other hand into my leg pocket and grab the right tool for the job and get right back to working.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    I carry a Leatherman Wave everywhere on campus as no one ever seems to have a knife when I need one, and I usually get weird looks for even asking for one... kids these days. Also it has a wire stripper wish is useful for me obviously. It is fantastic for fishing to as it has pliers built into it. It's probably the most useful item I own and makes me basically super man if super man wasn't a pussy and a shitty super hero.

  14. #14

    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    The Leatherman Wave is the one I would more than likely get. I like the fact that they have such increased durability. for camping, etc, i'd prefer to have a leatherman than all my tools. Or my swiss army knife (the big one... why the hell did I buy that thing).

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Opened up a new Husky Utility knife this weekend while I was working on my brother inlaws house. Knife was fine the first day and than on day two the lock the sticking in the unlatched position unless I specifically relock in once the blade is fully out or fully folked - not something you want to forget and start cutting with it.

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinthalas Tigris View Post
    The Leatherman Wave is the one I would more than likely get. I like the fact that they have such increased durability. for camping, etc, i'd prefer to have a leatherman than all my tools. Or my swiss army knife (the big one... why the hell did I buy that thing).
    The only downside to it is that the availability of bits that fit its socket is really limited. The only ones I know of are the 40-bit drill set that Leatherman makes.

  17. #17

    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rexlar View Post
    Opened up a new Husky Utility knife this weekend while I was working on my brother inlaws house. Knife was fine the first day and than on day two the lock the sticking in the unlatched position unless I specifically relock in once the blade is fully out or fully folked - not something you want to forget and start cutting with it.
    The newer husky knives (nor blades) are not at all like the ones from 5 or 6 years ago. They no longer have "lifetime guarantee" on them. I didnt' realize this the last purchase of one that I made. It stayed in my toolbox for about 2 days, before I did some digging and learned about the milwaukee.

    My only complaint about the milwaukee - ONLY complaint, is that the blade holder has 4 very small screws that are prone to coming detached if you don't maintain them regularly. Becuase I use the tool all day, every day, I consistantly check the blade sharpness for consistancy, and to make sure the screws are mounted properly. A little loctite would completely alleviate this, but in the 2 years that I've had this blade, I haven't had a true need to.

  18. #18

    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Anyone know a good SPICE program for doing circuit simulation?

    I've been using Easycircuit which is an app on my droid. It's really nice but I want to have something similar for my computer so I can do more complex simulations.
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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    .

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    Re: The useful [hobby related item] thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by QuelianSpyralshot View Post
    Anyone know a good SPICE program for doing circuit simulation?

    I've been using Easycircuit which is an app on my droid. It's really nice but I want to have something similar for my computer so I can do more complex simulations.
    We used Orcad that Cadence makes. It's expensive as fuck though, and has the worst documentation that I've ever seen. The license we used was like 20k iirc. The licenses for hardware design in general are super expensive, which is pretty hardcore for startups.

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