About Deal or Dud

Deal or Dud is a place to document answers to the questions: what’s the best? and what’s the worst? Sometimes it’s opionated. Sometimes it’s scientific. Sometimes it’s just plain ridiculous.

Consumption doesn’t have to be a negative thing if done responsibly. Choosing things that enrich daily life and are built to last is great. Buying stuff for the sake of consumption or repeatedly for single use is not only harmful to our pocket books, but harmful to our mother Earth as well.

What's the worst drink?

The worst drink in the world is bottled water.

Water? It’s amazing. But at least in the U.S., it’s the bottling and delivery of it that is atrocious.

Consider this: “the energy it takes to transport the water to market, to chill the bottles, and collect the empties is the energy equivalent of filling each bottle a quarter of the way up with oil.” Riverkeeper hosts a page detailing many of the problems with bottled water that is definitely worth a read.

Most of the population in the U.S. has easy access to clean, fresh drinking water. Unless you have an unfortunate legitimate reason for drinking bottled water other than, “well, I feel like it’s healther for me,” then just stop. You’ll be doing your mother Earth a huge favor.

Seriously, stop buying the stuff.

Just stop.

What's the best computer mouse?

The best computer mouse is the Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse.

Logitech MX Master

I should probably say that the best computer mouse is the Logitech MX Revolution because it’s the one I own and have used for almost six years now. But I won’t because you can’t buy it anymore.

So get the Logitech MX Master.

From all accounts it appears to be a solid mouse. If it’s built anything like the MX Revolution, you’ll be happy with it for a long, long time.

As for what to use your mouse on, if you don’t already have a favorite mouse pad, I’d suggest the Ratpadz XT. I had no idea that you could still buy them until I sat down to write this post. But you can, so grab one. Fantastic. I’ve had mine for over eight years and it’s still awesome.

What's the best computer keyboard?

The best computer keyboard is the Realforce 87U All-45g “EK Edition.”

Realforce 87U Keyboard

Realforce keyboards use Topre switches which are considered the “Cadillac” of keyboard switches in keyboard-enthusiast-land. I agree. They are fantastic. For someone who makes their livelihood typing away at the computer, I wouldn’t recommend any other switch.

As for the keyboard itself, the Realforce just happens to be what I use. I’m sure there are others out there that are just fine too, but the Realforce is certainly a solid piece of work. It’s something I can see lasting for 20-30 years easy and is probably a keyboard I’ll continue to use until a revolutionary new way of inputting data into a computer is invented. Since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, I’ll continue happily typing away on the Realforce for years to come.

What's the best adjustable height standing desk?

The best adjustable height standing desk is the MultiTable ModTable.

MultiTable ModTable

Who needs an eletronic motor in a desk? Seriously. I use to have an electronic adjustable height desk from IKEA. It was nice, and unfortunately they don’t make them anymore, but I’d rather have the ModTable anyway. It’s not that big of a deal to adjust the height with a crank. It takes maybe 20 seconds to go from sitting to standing, or from standing to sitting. And, you don’t need to power the thing.

Every office worker should have an adjustable desk just as every office worker should have an adjustable chair. Regular movement is important too - just as important for the body as it is for the mind. But that’s a topic for another blog entirely.

What's the best lawn mower?

The best lawn mower is the Fiskars Staysharp Max 18” Reel Mower.

Fiskars Reel Mower

A reel mower? You’ve got to be kidding! But yes, the Fiskars Reel Mower is the best lawn mower for the average home lawn. Why? It’s quiet, easy to push, requires little maintenance, doesn’t need gas so no gas smell and doesn’t kick up a bunch of dust so it’s much friendlier to those with allergies. I really don’t understand why the majority of Americans use gas mowers. I just don’t get it.

There are a few downsides. They have trouble with long spindly weeds. Also, they don’t mulch. But these issues aren’t dealbreakers: the weeds indicate poor soil so those areas need to be fixed and grass mowed higher. And the mulching? That is better left to another tool anyway: a blower with mulching capabilities.

So if you haven’t tried a modern reel mower lately, I highly recommend it. If not the Fiskars, maybe the Scott’s Classic. It’s not as easy to push and is a little harder to adjust, but it does a great job too.

What's the best flashlight?

The best flashlight is the FourSevens Quark Turbo QB2A.

FourSevens QB2A Flashlight

I chose this flashlight because everybody should have a powerful, general use flashlight powered by common AA batteries at home in case of emergency. Whether you live in a house or a high-rise apartment building, a dependable flashlight could literally help save your life. They’re also just really handy - a tool you never realized you’d use so much until you have a good one.

FourSevens offers many other flashlights for many different uses. All are good. Pick the best for your needs.

What's the best cookware set?

The best kitchen cookware set is the Cuisineart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set.

Cuisineart MCP-12N

I bet you thought I was going to give it to an All-Clad cookware set, right? Well, I would have a few years ago. But recently I started looking around to see if it was worth upgrading my cookware and if there was anything as good as or better than All-Clad for a lower price. And then I found a comprehensive write-up at centurylife.org entitled Is All-Clad worth it?. If you are in the market for cookware, this article is definitely worth a read.

In short, buy the Cuisineart if you want to save some money and don’t care about the All-Clad name. It’s the same thing, made the same way. Otherwise, buy All-Clad.

What's the best pocket knife?

The best pocket knife is the Spyderco Native.

Spyderco Native Pocket Knife

This is a solid, well-designed little knife that I typically carry around with me in my laptop bag. It comes in handy. It does the job. It doesn’t fail. The steel keeps an edge well and is easily sharpened. No complaints.

What's the best air bike?

The best air bike, or fan bike, is the Assault Air Bike. Yes, it has surpassed the Schwinn Airdyne.

Assault Air Bike

I absolutely love an efficient, close to puke-inducing cardio workout. I could replace the word “love” with “hate” in the previous sentence and it’d be just as true. The old-school fan bike is a great way to achieve an effective cardio workout in a short amount of time.

So yes, you could grab a vintage bike from Craigslist (and that would great, honestly), or you could go for the best with the Assault Air Bike.

Whatever the case, the most important thing is getting an effective cardio workout a few times a week. If you have (or just want) to do it inside, the fan bike is a great way to do it, and the Assault Air Bike is the best fan bike that exists.

More resources for effective cardio machines:

What's the best multi-tool?

The best multi-tool is the Victorinox SwissTool™ Spirit. Don’t believe me? Read the reviews.

Victorinox SwissTool™ Spirit

I bought mine several years ago with a serrated blade. It’s as beautiful as it is functional. I keep it in my laptop bag in its leather pouch and use it almost every day. Highly, highly recommended.

What do I use it for? Opening cardboard boxes, slicing through plastic packaging, tightening screws, framing photos, scratching my name into bathroom stalls (j/k), removing stray threads, cutting wires, stripping wires, tightening bolts, etc. Essentially I try to use this thing as much as I can because I’d rather use one tool even if it’s not the best for the particular task then go to the garage to get a bunch of specific use tools. Unless it’s a bigger job of course.

There is another beast out there worth recommending, and is definitely more well-known and probably more readily available too, and that’s the Leatherman Charge TTi. It’s also more expensive, and probably more than the average person needs. But it IS a beast.

What's the best drink?

The best drink is water.

Water in a glass

Did you really have to ask? Oh, you didn’t? Well, your un-vocalized suspicions have now been confirmed.

What's the best blender?

The best blender is the Vitamix 5200. If you’re in the market for a blender, GET IT NOW.

Vitamix 5200 Standard Blender

“Wait a minute,” you might be saying. “That blender is hundreds of dollars! You’re crazy!” Yes. And I’ll just tell you over and over again that it’s worth every single penny. And you’ll agree with me.

And then you might say, “but I don’t even use a blender that much.” And I’d tell you over and over again that you should because it’s an amazing tool for blending up leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables which are absolutely wonderful for you and if you care about your health you’ll want to eat a lot of them. Phew, run-on sentences.

If you’re looking to save a few bucks, you can readily get a certified reconditioned standard model direct from Vitamix. I highly recommend the reconditioned models - I bought one myself and have used the thing 2-3 times a day for nearly six years.

There is one more blender I should probably mention because so many people love it, and it’s the Blendtec Total Blender. I really don’t know much about it because I’d rather just have a sweet motor without a bunch of buttons to do my blending. But it’s a worthy contender as well, so there ya go.

What’s the best text editor?

The best text editor is Emacs :-P


Ohhh text editors. Many wars have been started and never won over text editor preference. As for myself, I don’t actually use Emacs. But as many people have expressed with convincing authority all over the internets, it’s the best text editor ever made.

That said, I prefer Vim. Maybe it’s just familiarity. Maybe it’s because I’ve never become comfortable contorting my hands in the manner Emacs requires. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m becoming more and more interested in using Emacs with Evil, an extensible vi layer for Emacs. Oh, and the lure of Org mode plays a big part too.

Vim has been a pain in the ass in some respects lately. It’s mainly due to my configuration being a bit overloaded with plugins (and I love plugins). So, I’ve stopped using it unless I’m within a terminal in a remote connection. In the meantime I’ve been using Sublime Text. It’s a fantastic editor with great (and sane) plugin support.

Emacs, Vim and Sublime Text are all available in various forms for OS X, Linux and Windows. I’ve also included a few other great operating system specific choices below.




What's the best blog?

The best blog is Deal or Dud.

Seriously. Did you expect anything better from me? By the way, hi!

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