Libbey Glass Spice Jars - 5 stars

As I get older, I get more intense about simplifying everything in my life - and getting rid of anything I don't need or love. I've only been more convicted since reading the Marie Kando books.

This past week's target was the spice drawer. Everyone has one. Mine was OK. I had these spice jars that were kind of complicated and they don't make them any more. I had my usual background research process running for a few days looking around. That's when I stumbled across these cute, simple, and well designed air-tight glass jars.

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Omar's Finds Jan 25: 5 Finds

01 Technology: It's impressive to watch the world of TVs and Projectors evolve. It's no secret that the best TV on the market is this LG OLED Flat TV. But at $5,000 for the 65 inch and $3,000 for the 55 inches, the best comes with a steep price tag. Sony however, it doing some interesting stuff with these Ultra Short Throw Projectors. You may not know what a Throw projector is. If you have visited an middle or high school lately you will see them in classrooms as they can be placed on a cart and wheeled around placed right in front of a wall. 

02 Engineering: We all want our kids to be engineers right? Just kidding. But seriously, like Math and Science, every child should have a foundation in programming and making. My buddy Scott has written about these awesome electrical kits that teach kids how electricity works. His latest review covers littleBits that makes even cooler maker kits to basically design computers and robots.

03 TV: Kids love video. So it's no surprise that HBO has a dedicated Kids section for HBO Now and HBO Go. After years of sucking, HBO finally has their shit together. Yay for progress. Now if only Amazon could make this easy across Fire TV / Amazon Video on iPad / Kindle Fire / Kindle Reader - it's a hot mess. Do the Amazon parents with kids who work on all these products talk? Ok that was a low blow - I'm sure they are working on it (Hi friends!).

04 Luggage: These collapsible hard case luggage look pretty neat. Not buying but I'm interested. I love my Rimowa and Victorinox products. Also since I'm going 13 months strong on my Kickstarter diet, I won't be backing this.

05 Bags: I like the design and price of this backpack.

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Omar's Finds Jan 19: 6 Finds

01 Home Automation: These integrated iPad mounts for the home look incredible. Lots of options including magnetic mounts, low voltage power and so on. The cost of an iPad Mini 2 + all the crazy awesome home automation apps for iPhone make this a pretty realistic wall mount / control solution. Need to investigate more. Thinking about it more I wish they had iPod mounts like this. Would make for a nice Sonos/Ecobee controller no?

02 ToolsThe Tool Pen Mini looks like a really high quality tool for small screws and such.

03 Kitchen: While in San Francisco this past weekend my wife and I visited Heath Ceramics and fell in love with their products. On our wish list, Chez Panisse Soup Bowl and Coupe Dinner Plate + Cereal Bowl. As an added bonus, the Heath Ceramics showroom in the Mission has a Blue Bottle Coffee in the store. Yumm.

04 Home Automation: My Keen registers arrived and I installed 2 of them (out of 5 that I ordered). So far, super happy. I will review soon. These are registers for your heating/ac system that can open/close using an iOS/Android app. They can operate automatically to, opening and closing to ensure the right temperature in a room. Since our house is 3 stories with only 1 zone, these are the answer to the problem of hot and cold spots in your house. They already integrate with Nest and SmartThings, with ecobee coming soon. Here is a link for $40 your order.

05 Advertising: Ever wonder how Facebook shows you ads for Amazon stuff that you recently searched for, or is in your cart? My friend Dare details how. I personally need no assistance with what I want from Amazon since I visit their site more than some of you visit Facebook. I also happen to find this creepy.

06 Home Automation: I continue to be impressed with the Lutron Caseta system. I have now replaced 10 loads in my home, with 2 more to finish. I've got a half dozen or so pico remote controls and I can now program all sorts of awesome things to happen. For example, when I go upstairs (I'm usually the past person to go to bed) I can press a button at the bottom of the staircase to illuminate my path to my room... when leaving my home I can tell Siri to turn all the house lights off. I'm addicted. And the Lutron tech is incredible. My hope is that Lutron keeps cranking out new products.

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Laken Water Bottles - 4 stars

It's funny how my kids are growing up in a world where their water bottle is a constant companion. School, by their bed, travel, car. Everywhee we go, they have their water bottle. They want it full, they are aware when it's missing and they pretty much just drink water all day. I did not grow up in that world.

So it's not a surprise that I'm pretty much constrantly checking out different bottles and assessing them on a few key features. 

  1. Durability
  2. Quality / Feel / Design
  3. Thermal capabiliries
  4. Drinkability (cap vs straw)
  5. Materials
  6. Design / Usability

The last time I wrote about water bottles I was telling you about S'Well bottles. By now you have seen S'Well bottles at stores like Starbucks, Storables and licensed in a number of stores like sports games and such. There are also plenty of cheap knock offs everywhere that copy their signature look.

While I still like our S'Well bottles they have not worked out so well for our kids. And I've found that they are a bit tall and narrow making them a bit wobbly in most cup holders.  The final straw was when our daughter's S'Well slid out of her carry on bag, down the jetway, and onto the tarmac never to be seen again. What happened next was some crying. It was sad.

So, like I do thousands of times a year, I fired up Amazon and spent some time checking out what was out there. My criteria for a good water bottles are first and foremost stainless steel or glass. No coating, no aluminum, no plastic of any kind. I'm sure the BPA free plastic Tritan bottles out there have some kind of problem with them. Here is the thing, I'm fairly certain glass and stainless still will never.

Once I narrow the materials down, then it's a matter of features I call out above.

I discovered bottles made by a company called Laken. They make a variety of bottles that are insulated, stainless steel, with a silicon spout. Bottles are made in Spain

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Omar's Finds Jan 13: 8 Finds

01 Tesla: with each month that goes by, my Robot Car gets a bit smarter. I awoke this morning to a car that would automatically close and open my garage door for me (saving me the strain of reaching to the touch screen and pressing a button). Small feature, but hella cool. The car shows a distance count down as I approach the garage allowing me to "skip" opening it, and if I do nothing it just opens. The car will also drive itself (without me present) in and out of my garage. Mind blow. It can park in a perpendicular spot like most public garages. And of course, they improved the auto rain sensor wind shield wipers, auto pilot, auto steer, cruise control, and a few other things. I'll tell you what. Waking up in the morning and having an upgrade for your car is a world I am getting used to.

02 Cooking: Lora and I just got this Bluetooth enabled Instapot. Never mind the Bluetooth. I have never owned a pressure cooker. Can you say rice in 8 minutes? This thing is amazing. It makes rice better than our previous rice cooker and it's a really high quality product. Also made in Canada. Special thanks to our friend Kelsi for opening our eyes to the world of pressure cooking. And now I have an app on my phone that can make food.

03 Travel: I'm always looking for cool travel accessories, this roundup has some good recommendations.

04 Star Wars: It was a big deal for my daughter that the main character and interest of the latest Star Wars movie is a bad ass woman. Sadly, our entrenched 'machine' or "the man" or whatever didn't represent this reality in the merchandise that was first available. Thankfully this is being corrected.

05 Legos: First the Ghostbusters fire station in all it's glory. Now the classic Batman series I watched as a kid. I can resist the fire station. Not sure I can resist Batman given how much Miles loves Batman. Even more than Star Wars.

06 TV: Since the advent of Netflix and Amazon, it's been hard for me to keep track on what I've watched and what I want to watch. Certain apps like HBO are piss poor about telling where you are in a series or even what you have seen. Netflix and Amazon are pretty competent. But there are still gaps. Television Time is a great, high quality app for tracking shows you want to watch or are watching. Highly recommended. I wish they had a Movie app.

07 Education: My sister pointed this out to me, and it's brilliant. Osmo is a physical / app based learning tool for kids to lean words, numbers, shapes, puzzles and drawing. Incredible value for $79. We got one for the kids to share and they are already fighting about it.

08 Photos: I may try out this service to turn your Instagram Photos into magazines you get.

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Omar's Finds Jan 11: 8 Finds

01 Homes: MUJI launches it's own line of pre-fab homes. These are more micro homes. Neat.

02 Backpacks: This looks like a nice daily cary backpack by Incase.

03 Design: I saw a link to these VIPP salt and pepper shakers and went down the deep dark rabbit hole of design. These products are incredible looking, and priced that way. To bad their web site loads so slowly.

04 Furniture: If you have a kid that loves Legos or trains, Nilo makes incredible tables. We purchased the N34 (small) table for Sarah when she was 2 and then got her another one when she was 7. This gives her a lot of room to play with her Lego sets. Miles is interested in one and we're thinking of getting him the large one.

05 Tech: For the past few years, Steven Sinofsky has written the best CES Trip reports. Added to Pocket to read when I have the time to dedicate to this :-).

06 Tech: I learned of this product while listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast. It's a sweet USB-C hub for the MacBook.

07 AmazonAlexa is about to get a little sister. I am sure Sarah is going to want one in her room. And of course that means Miles will too.

08 Apple: Looks like iOS 9.3 is going to be a big release. The support for multiple users in Schools is key. But the Night Shift mode is a great idea. Kindle has this.

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Microfiber Cloths

I'm in love with microfiber cloths. I have lots and lots of them for various tasks. These days microfiber is cheap, comes in bulk, and for lots of different jobs. Kitchen towels, cleaning, and for this post, keeping electronics clean and smudge free.

There are two major kinds of micro fiber for electronics cleaning. The thin smooth kind of cloth and the thicker kind with the textured surface. I have both, and each has it's strengths. This post is about the smooth kind and for that I recommend Magic Fiber.

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