Category Image Nifty Inventions & Gadgets 

Wherein Pete gets on his soapbox to proclaim the joys of simple ideas. 

I'm a sucker for cool and nifty gadgets that seem to fix some of the more annoying problems of everyday life. The whole "build a better mouse trap" idea appeals to me greatly, and I'm one of the few people I know who actually enjoys the Sky Mall magazine on airplanes.

With that introduction, I wanted to point out a few great ideas that have that "why hasn't anyone else thought of this yet?" feeling. Feel free to comment and let me know what cool inventions or gadgets you can't live without.

1. Our wine bottle opener. As long as the wineries are going to stick with old-fashioned cork for everyday table wines instead of screw caps, the age-old problem of how to get the cork out of the bottle will be with us. I want something that just works, with no complicated contraptions. The opener we have just works. You screw it into the top of the cork and then just keep turning the handle. The screw keeps going into the cork and once the handle hits its limit the screw action begins to pull out the cork. It's completely brilliant. Just keep turning. No need to stop turning and then do some clever leverage thing or risking the opener slipping off the lip of the bottle or some such nonsense.

2. The freezer-on-bottom refrigerator. I don't think this is a brand new idea, but whoever put us through decades of freezer-on-top design did us a great disservice. When my parents first got a FOB fridge a couple of years ago as part of their kitchen remodel, I couldn't believe I'd never seen it before. FOB makes so much more sense than FOT -- why do all that bending to peer into a FOT fridge? You use the fridge part much more than the freezer part, so why had the freezer been given ergonomic pride-of-place for so long? Maybe it had to do with pumps and motors and stuff, but thankfully whatever it was has been figured out. And, one big fridge door, not two split ones, thank you.

3. Power Strip Liberators . Many of you can sympathize with a rats nest of computer power cables and power strips under your computer desk. I don't actually have these yet, but they're one of those slap-forehead inventions that just makes perfect sense. Until electronics companies redesign the huge transformers so the plug isn't the size of a house, thus forcing you to use/buy more power strips than necessary (maybe there's a link there?), these little extenders are perfect. 

Posted: Thursday - June 23, 2005 at 01:50 PM