The latest doohickeys

Reading time: 5 mins

My Dad is a bit of a gadget fiend. From the colouring change LED light in the toilet (it hangs inside the toilet, lighting up the bowl…) to a myriad of motion sensing lights, web cams, and remote-controlled stuff, he is always happy finding little whatnots and thingymajigs to make things a little easier/better in their home.

I think it’s safe to say it’s bordering on an addiction. What can I say, the man loves a rummage in a pound shop and it seems like every time I visit my parents there is something new he wants to show me. It’s not just physical gadgets either as this addiction extends to the number of applications he has installed on his PC (which itself is the receiver of multiple USB devices). I’ve lost count of the number of versions of software he’s been through to find exactly what he wants to produce a leaflet for the Burns club, or the constant quest to find the best app that will create a slideshow of holiday photos (timed to match his music track of choice, of course). The man is dedicated!

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – although my Dad remains stubbornly outside of the Apple ecosphere – but, dare I say it, I do seem to have a little more self-control for such things. Or maybe it’s that I’m a little more indecisive and tend to enjoy the freedom of researching to find the best X for doing Y rather than having to make the decision to buy said X. However all that research means that when I do finally make the plunge to buy a gadget, device, doohickey, or gizmo I tend to veer towards those that are well designed and well thought out and, invariably, that means it has been made with an eye on the user rather than the number of features.

Less is more, in my eyes, in that respect. I’d rather have a few very well designed single use products than one gadget that did 5 things badly.

Considerations

We live in an age where we can easily buy things and have them delivered the very next day, a service that wasn’t available to my parents, yet the lack of friction in those decisions – one-click ordering on Amazon anyone? – is something I’ve deliberately been trying to counter when it comes to making my own purchases. Whilst this is helped by my indecisiveness, I am focusing on not just ordering the first thing that looks ‘ok’. So all that research ultimately means the things I buy and own are well considered, and will offer better and longer value to me than something I’ve done a quick search for and bought without much, if any, consideration.

With a focus on owning fewer things, the things I do choose to own have at the very least got to be built and designed around removing an annoyance. Why would I buy something that irks me every time I use it? This is another barrier I put in my own way and I apply it to everything I buy these days. More barriers can be found with considerations for sustainability, and the ethos of who I’m buying from, and it starts to get easy to discount a lot of ‘stuff’ for several very good reasons.

This is a long-winded way of saying that these days the things I own were bought only after meeting my standards and benchmarks for what I consider an ‘acceptable purchase’ and I apply similar considerations to everything I buy from large expensive items to smaller everyday ones. At times compromises have to be made but by and large I’ve had a similar approach for the last few years and it’s stood me in good stead.

It’s safe to say that the everyday items I own have probably gotten more focus and attention as I figure out what’s best to buy precisely because I know I’ll use them every single day; the track belt around my waist, the Trove Swift wallet in my pocket, and although my OrbitKey keyfob is suffering due to an overly long mortice key that we have for our new front door, until I can find a similar, longer, style keyfob it remains my choice du jour.

Yeah it’s fair to say that before I’d even heard the name Kondo I was finding delight in everyday items. It might only be for a few fleeting moments, and largely these items are forgotten delights that do what they do so well I mostly forget about how niche and useful they are to me, but I do occasionally pause to remind myself. This thing does what it does perfectly for my needs. It’s a lovely feeling.

And, dearest reader, I’ve found two more things to add to my list.

  1. A rechargeable under unit light
  2. A new belt

Ohhh yes, it’s all rock and roll here!!

I have seen the light

Not long after we moved into our new home, we both realised that one spot in the kitchen was not well served by the existing ceiling lights. As we rent, a temporary solution was needed. Off I went, hunting for something that would cast some light under a particular unit and I eventually stumbled on the wonder that is known as… wait for it… the “RTSU Touch Light, Rechargeable Wireless Magnetic Stick-on Anywhere Night Light Closet Lights Wardrobe Light, Dimmable LED Tap Light Bar Under Cabinet Lighting, Portable Push Light, Under Desk Lamp” (via Amazon). Catchy, huh!

Despite that long product name, it’s really simple to use. Stick a couple of metal ‘feet’ to the underside of a unit, and the little LED bar attaches to that via magnets. It’s rechargeable (by USB) and needs the barest of touches to turn on and/or off. You can tap it again to increase the brightness and it will remember what it was set to the next time you turn it on. The batteries are lasting about a month at a time although we are a little prone to leaving it on by accident….

It is simple. Well designed. Cheap. Perfect for what we need. And every time I turn it on I’m reminded of what a great find it was.

Belt up!

Now, remember that track belt I mentioned? It was a present from my parents and at the time it was a good improvement on the more classic buckle belt, especially with my fluctuating waist line (alas both out and in!) but it has a couple of flaws, with the buckle becoming detached from the belt on more than one occasion (bad design!). It wasn’t enough of an issue to make me get rid of it, at least it wasn’t until I finally succumbed to an Instagram ad* that kept appearing and bought a GRIP6 belt.

It’s a revelation!

The concept is simple enough, a webbing belt and a simple pass through ‘buckle’ which grips the belt fabric. No holes, no teeth, infinitely adjustable, I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and it’s not failed once (which was my main concern, if not THE main concern for a belt!). With no moving parts, just a metal buckle with two slots, and the webbing belt itself, the only potential part that could break is the ‘end stop’ at one end of the webbing but it feels very very solid.

There are a variety of colours of buckle and belts to choose from so you can customise exactly what colours you want. At £30 (inc P&P) I was a little sceptical of the price for what is a slab of laser cut metal and some webbing material but given how comfortable it is to wear, I think it’s a worthwhile investment.

A simple idea, well executed, and stylishly delivered. Delightful.

Definitely my kind of well-designed doohickey!


* Ugh. If anything is gonna turn me away from Instagram it’s going to be the rise of the number of adverts which, given recent news about easier payments through Instagram, is only going to get worse. And yes, I’m aware of the irony of saying this after my recent purchase (which I didn’t click through to buy from Instagram, I’m not a complete hypocrite).