Some essential tools for coping with a few unique challenges of our time

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

Anthropologists and historians often define eras and civilizations by the tools they use.

Our era, like every time before us, has unique challenges and equally unique tools to address them.

Unlike the crude axes and hammers, or even WD40 and duct tape of previous eras, our tools often focus on how to get around, or adapt to human-constructed, as opposed to natural or seasonal challenges.

One example is removepaywall which, as you might expect, searches online for an article that, in most cases has a paywall – which, in case you missed the memo, just means that the article you are searching for requires a paid subscription.

Paywalls 101

82% of Americans (and 92% of Canadians) would rather use a free alternative than pay for content on their preferred site.

Writers and researchers struggle with the constant tension between financial sustainability and the desire to offer that service in a way that is accessible to everyone.

As a writer and researcher myself, I find that, though I may have a few reliable sites that I use on a regular basis, I usually pursue an article or idea far more than allows me to rely on a single source.

Left-overs “R” us

It’s the never ending dilemma of every household; what to have for dinner when you don’t want to go out either for shopping or to eat.

Yes, once again it is the internet to the rescue.

Check out which, based on what you have in your fridge or on hand, gives you a list of recommended recipes and suggestions.

Dinner, as we all know can be difficult. It’s after a long day at work or school for most of us and is the one meal that all participants must (to some degree) agree on.

Temporary email service

Ever want to sign up for something online that requires a valid email address, but you don’t want the avalanche of spam and junk emails you know you will get if you do sign up? Yes, there is a way out of this catch-22 – the ten minute email address. This valid (for ten minutes or so) email address will allow you to get what you want and then will mercifully (I presume) evaporate within minutes.

Avoid the keyboard

Got a message to post, but you can’t or don’t want to use a keyboard? Yes, I have a solution for you. Try

This voice recognition service recognizes several different (more than 100) languages and incorporates paragraphs and punctuation marks. It even translates into the sub-variants of English as found in New Zealand, Tanzania, South Africa, Ireland, Canada and United Kingdom.

Just the facts, ma’am

Ever wish you could get some down-to-earth, solid facts instead of the usual opinionators and mansplainers that pretend to know everything?

You can sign up here – – for free. It’s not a traditional “news” source but does scan peer reviewed research to find what you have been looking for.

It’s debatable

If you are confronting an issue that finds informed, intelligent people of good will on both sides, or if those around you aren’t as fully informed as you’d prefer, look at this website for good information on both (or more than both) sides of any argument –

Mass transit? Electric cars? Drug legalization? Best or worst presidents? Minimum (or maximum) wage? Is the hot dog a sandwich? These and other burning issues have research, advocates and opponents making their case.

Check them out, you just might change your mind. Or at least discover that people who see things differently are not necessarily stupid or evil.

Tiny wow

If you have files, images or videos you need to refine, manipulate or edit in any way, check out With over 200 online tools, you are certain to find what you didn’t know you needed.

Whether it is adding text to an image, compressing (or de-compressing) a video or converting a file to (or from) almost any format, you can do it here. And yes, it is free. And, even better, the website says that all generated files are deleted one hour after upload.

Free reading material

Who needs a dedicated e-reader when every device is a potential reading apparatus?

Thanks to PDFDrive you can read (almost) anything (almost) anywhere. With access to about 82 million books in PDF format, you might want to peruse their list of books. From fiction to lifestyle, business, history and many more, you can find it here. No ads, no limits and best of all, it’s free.

Books on the shelf is so 20th Century.

After looking at and attempting to use these 21st Century tools, I am so smart that my brain hurts…