Tech Shortcuts for Life

And you can shop there too

Tech Shortcuts for Life is a weekly column from Thomas Smith on Debugger exploring the apps, automation, gadgets, and other tech tricks that can make your life more efficient.

Amazon sells basically everything. A quick look through my recent order history reveals a bizarre tapestry of seemingly unrelated purchases: lightbulbs, pound cake, children’s clothing, chicken feed, an industrial CO2 meter, and a trash can, to name just a few items. It’s the modern general store.

But while Amazon excels in breadth, the site is often sorely lacking in depth. Jeff Bezos and his crew can get you a container of…


Olive Tree Bakeshop is part of a trend towards diverse, innovative small-scale food entrepreneurship

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenging times for many in the food industry. But simultaneously, the changing pace and shifting business models of pandemic life have brought new opportunities for food brands, restaurants, and even talented individuals who may never have entered the food business otherwise.

One of those individuals is Remy Mendelsohn, founder of Olive Tree Bakeshop. Mendelsohn is a lawyer and a mom of two living in Orinda, California, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. (She is also a friend, and our kids go to preschool together). …


I ended up as an inadvertent expert on ketchup and cats

As a content creator, you can sometimes predict which pieces of content (articles, photos, videos, etc.) will do well before you even hit the Publish button. But in many cases, you have no idea.

As a journalist and photographer, I’ve had all manner of random topics suddenly blow up, or attract interest in unexpected ways. Case in point? I’ve recently become the go-to photographer for media interested in documenting America’s ongoing ketchup shortage.

During the pandemic, ketchup maker Heinz is apparently having trouble meeting demand. There has been a fair amount of news coverage about this. …


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DIY HA originally launched as a personal blog about my home automation projects in 2006. At the time, it was a hardcoded HTML website hosted on a shared server.

Times have changed, and we’ve expanded onto many platforms, including Wordpress, Medium, and YouTube. We’re lucky to have a following of over 3,500 on YouTube, who view our videos over 1.5 million times per year. Our Medium publication receives ten of thousands of views per month. We’ve shared and highlighted the voices of numerous independent writers and makers.

We get to work with top brands like Panasonic, Fitbit, SNOO and more…


A sturdy wrapper around an insanely powerful LED

When you’re crawling through the dark recesses of your home wielding a barbecue lighter to locate the little hose spewing natural gas, you want to have a good flashlight. That’s the situation I found myself in recently when the earthquake valve on my home’s natural gas line mistakenly tripped, shutting off the pilot light in my hot water heater. Through a convergence of social media, inadvertent influencer marketing, and luck, I happened to have a ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight ready to go, and it saved the day.

I originally heard about the ThruNite Archer via a tweet from Dave…


‘Hey, man, wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?’

“Hey, man, wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?”

This con dates back to the turn of the 20th century, but today, thanks to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), you really can buy the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, or even your own dream home. Sort of.

SuperWorld is an NFT startup that sells virtual real estate in an environment it calls the metaverse—an exact facsimile of the real world, except that every property, be it a house, commercial building, or famous landmark, is linked to an NFT and tracked via the blockchain. That allows SuperWorld’s users to virtually buy and sell nearly any…


They’re a better, more accessible alternative — if people will wear them

A new study in the journal JAMA Surgery published last week examined a new tool that could potentially improve medical care during the Covid-19 pandemic: transparent face masks. The study — which involved 200 patients — compared traditional surgical face masks with newly-available, FDA-cleared masks which are fully transparent. In a surgery setting, the study found that transparent face masks improved doctor-patient communication, lead to better trust, and were preferred by patients nearly 100% of the time. Transparent masks have the potential to improve medical care, teaching, artistic performances, and everyday work. …


I’ve been using the stuff for years

When Tessica Brown took to TikTok earlier this year to seek help after using Gorilla Glue in her hair, she touched off a flurry of viral activity, with people on Twitter, TikTok and major news outlets alike weighing in on her predicament. She also touched off a healthy and likely overdue discussion of the challenges many People of Color face in selecting personal care products.

Brown also clued many, many people in to the existence of Gorilla Glue. According to trade journal AdAge, Amazon searches for Gorilla Glue soared 4,378% after Brown’s videos went viral, and Google searches for the…


Tech Shortcuts for Life

And your car

Bad air quality can take years off your life. I used to think that air pollution was mainly an annoyance. But in doing research for an article about wildfire smoke last year, I learned that poor quality air, especially air with a lot of small particulate matter (referred to as PM2.5), can be deadly. During a recent series of wildfires in California, scientists estimated that wildfire smoke killed more than 3,000 people — about 300 times more than died in the fires themselves. Small particulates in polluted air can enter your bloodstream, and even reach your brain. Worldwide, air pollution…


Amazon offers functional tags, and Etsy has beautiful ones

When was the last time you bought a customized tag for your dog? How did you buy it? If you’re like me, you probably drove around town a few years back, checking every Petco and PetSmart in your area until you found one with a tag engraving kiosk. You then chose tags, entered your dog’s info using a clunky interface, and sat around while the machine painstakingly engraved the tag. Maybe the process was so onerous that you haven’t replaced your dog’s tag in a while, and the text has worn down.

Dog tags really work. I’ve had instances where…

Thomas Smith

Co-Founder & CEO of Gado Images. I write, speak and consult about tech, privacy, AI and photography. tom@gadoimages.com

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