myLifter – garage lifting made easy – 4 stars

One of my favorite Kickstarter projects has been the myLifter. I remember when I first saw it and thought, man… Kickstarter is so rad to bring these kind of products to market.

The myLifter is a bluetooth / phone operated ceiling mounted winch. Why would you need such a thing you might ask? Do you have a Garage? Do you have a carbo box, or bikes? Would you like an easy way to get them off the floor and on the ceiling? If so read on.

MyLifter consists of a winch, and optional accessories for lifting bikes, kayaks and roof boxes. You can combine multiple lifters to lift a platform and use your garage ceiling for storage.

As you can see in this photo, there are a lot of items you can lift.

In my case, I purchased a myLifter to store my cargo box on my ceiling, and make it easy to lower and lift right off my car roof.

Previously my cargo box was on the floor taking up valuable garage real-estate.

Installation of myLifter is pretty straight forward. You located the studs in your ceiling, drill some holds, screw in some lag bolts and attach the myLifter and an eye hook. Then you install the phone app and pair to you phone. Now you can lower and lift anything.

I’ve made a short time-lapse video in case you want to watch the box go up.

★★★★☆
Great. Worth purchasing.

Chamberlain myQ Smart Garage Door Opener – 5 stars

Chances are, you have a garage door opener. Chances are it’s made by Chamberlain or Liftmaster (same company). Well if you want to catapult your garage door into the future of phone automated wonder, read on.

This past week I have entered the marvelous world of simple phone based home automation with the purchase of a Wink (more on that in a future article) and the Amazon Echo (Alexa – turn on the Kitchen Lights). Wink plus Echo is an incredible, in-expensive, way to connect all the mish mash of different home automation technologies (locks, lights, sprinklers, garage door, motion sensors, security, thermostat and so on). One product that Wink integrates with is the Chamberlain myQ system for controlling a garage door. This immediately set off a pavlovian response to acquire this device.

For reference, there are three different ways to gain home automation of your garage for the purposes of:

  • Opening the garage door
  • Closing the garage door
  • Checking status of the garage door
  • Setting alerts on open/close

The first way is the most expensive. Get a new Garage Door Opener. I did not pursue this since there is no reason to.


The second way, is to get the Chamberlain MYQ Garage Door Controller. This device basically works with any garage door opener but is less preferred to the next option. The reason being is that it’s harder to install, and is not really as integrated.


The third way, which is the approach I took, was to replace the existing wall control unit for my current Liftmaster Garage Door Opener with the Chamberlain myQ Connectivity Kit. That thing on the right there basically replaces the button thingy you use today to open and close your garage door. The thing on the left is the thing that connects the thing on the right to the internet, which allows for your phone to open and close the door (with an app).

This solution has the added benefit that:

  • It’s the cheapest of all options
  • It’s the same benefit of getting a new garage door opener
  • It’s hard wired to my garage
  • It has the new Security 2.0 wireless standard which means that I can get remotes with much better range than my old ones (another side benefit of this upgrade). I can  now open the door from my car (via HomeLink) from down the street. Before I would have real challenges on occasion due to wireless interference and poor range.

Install took me 5 min. I removed the old control panel, wires, connected to the new one and attached to the wall. Then I downloaded the app, created an account and connected the ethernet dongle to my network. Voila.

Now I have smart garage door with a lot of upgraded capabilities.

★★★★★
Exceptional. A spectacular product.

Global GS-29 – 5 inch Fish Bone Tweezers – 4 stars

We have access to some amazing and fresh seafood in the Pacific Northwest. We cook quite a lot of salmon around here, especially when Copper River Salmon is in season. But no one wants those pesky fish bones in your meal and using your fingers to remove them can be a hassle.

 

The Global Fish Bone Tweezer is the perfect device for yanking bones out of fish. It’s pretty much effortless and thanks to the stainless steel construction, it goes right in the dishwasher. It’s also very ergonomic and makes grabbing the bones simple and easy.

Makes for a great stocking stuffer for the chef in your family!

★★★★☆
Great. Worth purchasing.

Griot’s Garage Car Care Products – 5 stars

If there is one difference between California and Washington it’s the sheer lack of nice places to get your car washed. Also, if you own a black car, you’ve hopefully figured out that the surest way to surprise yourself is to take it to a car wash (especially non-touchless) as you’ll drive out with paint swirls.

A few years ago, I took to the internet and discovered an incredible (and local to Washington) company – Griot’s Garage – that makes some of the best car washing / caring products I’ve used. It’s the same product that Park Place Auto Salon uses (and they sell all their stuff). If you live on the East Side (or work there), Park Place is the best car wash.

In my experience with their products, I will say they are top notch. The micro-fiber towels, each custom designed for a specific purpose, are excellent at what they do. They are easily washable and will last years. The reviews on Amazon for all of these products back up my claims.

The way to get into Griot’s garage products is first to recognize that you don’t need to wash your car with water. You can do it in your own garage, and all year round.

Griot’s Garage 11285 Spray-On Car Wash Kit

Griot’s spray on kit is a waterless cleaning system. You basically soak parts of your car with this high volume bottle sprayer and then you wipe with the plush green micro fiber. Then after a minute you buff with the micro fiber. It takes 10-15 min to wash a car depending on how dirty it is. If you have kids, you can shave off some time!

The key with this kit is being very generous with your spray and working in small sections out of the sun. I’ve purchased an extra set of towels since they do get pretty wet and soaked.

Griot’s Garage 11262 Interior Kit

For the inside of your car, the interior kit is great. Doesn’t smell bad and won’t ruin any synthetic or leather products.

Griot’s Garage 11345 Speed Shine Quick Detailing Kit

The speed shine kit is a bit different than the wash. This is meant as a quick “wax” application to use after your have washed a car (either in an auto wash) or due to some dust and dirt that’s accumulated. Much faster than the Spray-On wash it’s even great to use after a wash. Your car will look detailed.

Griot’s Garage 11224 Wheel Cleaning Kit

For cleaning your wheels, this stuff makes brake dust melt.

Griot’s Garage 67255CSTBUC Ultimate Car Wash Bucket

However, now that it’s summer in Seattle, I’ve been enlisting my kid in washing the cars which they seem to enjoy. For this reason I got the Griot’s car was bucket. It is very fast and easy to wash your car the traditional way with about 4 gallons of water (between bucked and rinsing).

The Ultimate Car Was Bucket is really well designed. It has a tray on the bottom to keep the dirt under the wash towels and a special designed measuring system that makes it easy to dole out car was soap. Finally it has an upper shelf that’s good for a wheel brush or cloth. Also it has wheels and a big handle that make movement around the car easy.

Griot’s Garage 11102 Car Wash

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This stuff is amazing. If you use the Micro Fiber wash mit and drying cloth you will have a spotless shine. Simply pour into the small little reservoir in the bucked and fill with a hose.

Griot’s Garage 10268 Micro Fiber Wash Mitt – Set of 2

I have the pads (Amazon doesn’t seem to carry them) but the mitts are the same concept. These are super plush, super absorbent and required to get clean / and shine without spots. No swirl marks.

Griot’s Garage 11117 Micro Fiber Drying Towel

For drying your car, nothing beats having a huge absorbent towel. This towel is amazing. it has 4 hand pockets that let you cover a lot of the car in a short amount of time. I have 2 of these and I keep 1 in the car at all times in case I do go to a touch-less car wash.

Griot’s makes a TON of other products too which you can explore. For example, bug removal spray, glass cleaner (I just use micro fiber and water). The stuff above will go a long way to improving your car look.

★★★★★
Exceptional. A spectacular product.

Aquabot – High pressure water spray – 4 stars

One great reason to go camping is all the wonderful opportunities it provides me for researching gadgets!

This past weekend our team did an annual float down the Snoqualmie river. At the end team members were amazed by my Aquabot. I used it to wash all the sand off my feet before getting into the car. I may have sold a few that day!

What is the Aquabot? It’s a high pressure spray that attaches to a 32oz Nalgene bottle. With it you have a stream of water that you can use outdoors for things like showering, cleaning your kids, or just having an impromptu water fight. Our kids love them and so do I!

Aquabot is one of the more sucessful kickstarter projects I’ve funded (meaning I actually use the product). I’m currently in a self-imposed Kickstarted moratorium this year as I went overboard last year.


The spray itself is very powerful. I estimate about 30 ft.

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I recommend getting one with the bottle as it saves another purchase. But if you have a bunch of Nalgene bottles already, this will make a welcome addition.

Purchase direct from Aquabot for $20.

★★★★☆
Great. Worth purchasing.

Wally iPhone Wallet Cases – 5 stars

Lets face it. Apple Pay and Coin are not doing a good enough job replacing all the plastic cards we must cary. In the interim I’ve been super happy with my Capsule Wallet.

However, I also like to have the most minimalist setup – Driver’s License and one Credit Card. For this reason I have often turned to Distill Union, the maker of the Wally Wallet.

There are two versions. 1. The “Case” which I got for my wife, and 2. The Stick-On wallet which I use. I prefer no case, so this is a great compromise. Plus I like the way the leather feels on the back of my iPhone 6 Plus.

Here is the case. It comes in different colors and for all iPhone models. The sides are a nice siliconized rubber. The case holds 3 cards pretty easily.

 

My wallet uses a temporary 3M sticker to adhere to the back of the phone. The stick-on holds 2 cards easily.

 

If you are looking for a wallet solution for your phone, I highly reccommend.

Note: no iPhone? Not to worry. They also make a stick on card case.

★★★★★
Exceptional. A spectacular product.

Ring Doorbell – 4 stars

The Ring Doorbell is a wireless video camera and doorbell with mobile app. You simply replace your exiting doorbell and it even uses the same wiring (assuming you have 10VA wiring like most homes do).

Before the Ring I had the Doorbot, which was OK (made by the same company). Video quality was meh and it was a bit buggy. So I never wanted to review it. However, a few months back it was replaced with the Ring Doorbell.

If you have a doorbell transformer that looks like this:

You are in luck. I never really knew what this odd shaped gizmo is, but basically it connects to your home 120V AC power and converts that to low power for a doorbell chime.

The Ring doorbell has an internal battery that this low voltage power will keep charged. You can use it without hard wiring, but you will need to keep the doorbell charged every so often.

If you do not have a wired doorbell, there is a wireless solution too.

Once you install the Ring, you get the following features:

  • Motion at the door sends your phone an alert (you can customize the distance and sensitivity)
  • Rings of the doorbell chime your internal door bell and your mobile phone
  • You can see and talk to people at the door
  • You can optionally add cloud recording and see any previous motion activity or ring activity at the door

I find this product very useful to know when packages are delivered, and also when people are poking around my house (which happens more often then you might imagine).

My only real complaint with the Ring is that unlike Dropcam, you can not set up geofencing rules to disable motion sensing which I have found to be rather sensitive and bothersome when I am home.

Install is super quick and the product is high quality. It’s a really awesome home addition.

★★★★☆
Great. Worth purchasing.