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Awesome inventions of the recent past

  • Cordless impact wrench. How did I ever build anything without one of these? If you haven’t tried one recently, you’ve no idea how good these are. I drilled 200 7/16″ holes through 3/4″ marine grade plywood, and put in 600 wood screws with minimal effort. On one battery! That hasn’t lost its effectiveness sitting in the garage for the last few years. A 3″ stainless steel screw through a knot in a 2x? No problem. My elbows and shoulders thank you.
  • iPhone. I can’t imagine not having one now. I want one implanted in my brain. In addition to the communication capability (aside from not really being a good phone – thanks, ATT and VZW), maps, search, weather, the ability to have emails, contacts, and calendars sync across multiple devices is a life changer.
  • Garmin Forerunner. Workouts just got simpler no matter where I go in the world. I just start running. Or biking. It’s all logged.
  • D700. Digital F100. That can see in the dark!
  • Tek DP oscilloscopes. Sort of a geek invention, but if you work in a lab, you know what I mean. Waiting for someone to reinvent the spectrum analyser in the same way.
  • Color calibrated retina displays. My photography, and my aging eyes, thank the inventors. The MBPR and iPad 3 are amazing. Can’t wait for a 30″ IPS retina monitor. For under $2k.
  • HDTV. These two might be the same thing.
  • Continuous cold therapy devices (Donjoy Iceman, etc.). Basically a pump attached on one end to a cooler and on the other to a pad. Hours of icing without getting wet, or getting warm. Aah. Now if only there were a personal massage machine…
  • Cheap flights. Being able to travel anywhere in the world for a small fraction of your yearly salary is just astounding to me. Produce from Chile, electronics from China, people from Australia, climbing vacations anywhere. I know it’s an aberration of poorly priced externalities based on diminishing resources, but I’d be a fool not to tragedize the commons as much as possible.

Life is pretty good in the early part of the 21st century. What other simple wonders should I be checking out?