2013 Best Gadget

I’m sure I’m not alone in looking back over the year and amongst the many other things I might have bought, I probably bought a few gizmos and gadgets. Before I get to the best one I bought, there are a couple of runners up.

3. Cintiq 22 HD Wacom Tablet
I’d been always curious about one of these. I use a tablet, mostly for a mouse that weighs nothing and uses no batteries. I find the pen on a wacom tablet really hard to get the hand-eye coordination. Looking at the screen to paint, while you can get used to it, never feels really natural.

But this – THIS – is the daddy. A little low-res by todays retina screens, it’s still a dream to draw on. I mostly use it at the moment for a guilty pleasure of tracing and reinking Moebius comic art. It’s nice to knock out quick work before refining with a mouse too, especially in Illustrator, but mostly my current work doesn’t get down to tons of drawing, sadly. Maybe this next year will result in more drawing, as I’m on one long/wide project.

2. IOIO Board
This was learnt from scratch for a project that started in November. We wanted a custom app on an Android phone to talk to physical hardware – lights and buttons. The interface needed to be physical, with audio as a secondary feedback – no screen.

We could have made a more complicated Arduino solution, but that felt more complicated than needed with two separate codebases and two controllers (the phone running code + and arduino running code). This little board on the other hand can be coded directly from Android, and adds physical IO libraries. Bit of wiring, and it worked out ok (…eventually! mostly my zero Android skills took the time). Still, I got quite a lot out of using these over a couple of months. Fun to play with, and use in anger.

3. Stihl Cordless Chainsaw
When we took over the smallholding we knew we’d need one – the house used wood to cook, heat and provide hot water. I’d never used one. The cutting work and safety wasn’t my issue: the hassle over mixing petrol and 2-stroke oil seemed like a messy faff in the 21st century. So we got one of these instead.

After a few weekends cutting logs from the masses of felled trees on site already, I’ve really got better at seeing how best to slice and dice the trees, avoiding pinching and kickback from even the most precarious tangle of limbs. Logs is one thing. Trees is another.

When a tree fell on the service road along the farm, it was a tremendously satisfying task to reduce it to log sized pieces in minutes. Really good.

I think I might check out the Stihl cordless hedge trimmer next.

Best gadget 2013 / Stihl MSA 200 C-BQ Cordless Chainsaw

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