Tools I regularly use 2019
I've made some significant changes to my tool lineup since I last did this file. Looking back, it's interesting to see how much I've changed.
1. Gmail is still my email service of choice. I now have my own domain, because my main email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) was getting too much spam and phishing, etc. All of my email from any email address or forwarder comes here. I haven't found anything that beats Gmail's antispam and virus protection. After nearly a decade, Gmail is still my goto spot, and retains the top slot on the 2019 list. I am primarily using the regular Gmail client; I've tried lots of other things (Outlook, Mac Mail, Sparrow, Airmail, Superhuman, etc) and always seem to come back to standard Gmail.
2. Cloze : This is a CRM app, and has generally replaced Evercontact. I'm thinking about renewing Evercontact ($60/yr) for one more year. Both of these basically do the update-email-addresses from email signatures thing, but Cloze adds a bunch of CRM functions. (There's a freebie version of Cloze.) I sync all of my iPhone/iPad/Mac contacts with Gmail's contacts exclusively, so my contacts are available anywhere. This has been indispensable when trying to find someone's email address or phone numnber quickly.
3. Dropbox : I abandoned Google Drive back in 2014 because, at that time, Google Drive didn't play nice with my Mac and I didn't have time to figure it out. I have a Dropbox Pro account and this is where I store most of my files. As of 2019, I have nearly every file I own in a 1TB Dropbox, and right now wouldn’t think of changing.
4. Google Photos: this is where I store all photos. I store at the standard "low" resolution (which is higher than what my iPhone 7 captures), which gives me unlimited photo storage for free. I happen to love Google's ability to recognize faces, colors, objects, etc., and search quickly and easily.
5. Twitter is no longer the absolute center of my news world, but does give me access to real-time events. I follow a lot of journalists (especially news editors), as well as global thinkers and influencers, mission agencies, activists, etc. I've tried a lot of twitter clients but I mostly just use the main Twitter client on my iPhone, as well as (occasionally) Tweetbot. I've managed to curate my feeds (by carefully choosing who I follow and blocking all politicals) so that my news feed is pretty high-density data.
In addition to Twitter, I follow a lot of email newsletters. This is helpful because these come on a regular basis and are storable. If someone on Twitter is regularly providing high value information, I usually look to see if they or someone they work for have an email newsletter.
6. Evernote. I use this to store nearly every piece of information I come across. (I tried Apple Notes for a while but went back to Evernote--it was more an intuitive decision then anything deliberate). Articles, random ideas and thoughts, PDFs, substantial emails, etc.--all of it gets filed in evernote. The key for me is to get the appropriate stuff in the appropriate folders: I file a *lot* of articles, so they all go in an "article" folder while "key lists" go in a separate folder, so that I'm not entirely reliant on searching (which doesn't always work well). (Once I used Pocket a lot, but I have since moved to filing everything in Evernote to take advantage of the AI "related articles" feature.)
7. Pinboard.in is where I bookmark URLs. I use an IFTTT link to make sure anything I "favorite" on Twitter gets automatically stored to Pinboard. I use a combo of Pinboard-saved links and Evernote-saved articles for producing the Roundup: I save links & articles during the week, and then on Wednesday and Thursday I go through and evaluate all the "unread" links and articles to figure out what goes in the Roundup.
8. AWS Lightsail is where I host this site. I went from Hostgator to Siteground to Squarespace, and I have come back to AWS Lightsail. It's cheap and reliable and completely customizable. I code the blog straight in HTML using the Bootstrap theme. I used to use Wordpress but I've moved completely off that so I can set the blog up exactly like I want it with messing around with themes.
9. Mailchimp . This is my email newsletter manager of choice. I use it to send out all but my weekly letter to personal supporters (this last goes out via TinyLetter, which is owned by Mailchimp). I used Klaviyo for a while, but it was too expensive compared to Mailchimp and didn't add enough "bang for the buck."
10. Google Docs. Our org has standardized on Google Docs and I have my own domain as well, and do most of my spreadsheet work in Google Sheets. I also occasionally use MS Excel. These spreadsheet managers are so much easier to use and just as capable as any SQL database for what I presently do. I've tried a variety of SQL managers but they just introduce a lot of complexity for my purposes. If I had a team, I'd look for something more complicated--maybe. In our org we have several Google Sheets "databases" that are updated by multiple people, and work just fine.
11. Adobe Indesign . This is what I use when I’m writing any reports or longer documents (e.g. the Outlook the Cluster Forecasts, etc). I have a subscription.
12. Zoom . Organizationally we use Zoom as our primary VOIP application now, thanks to its better security model and low bandwidth footprint.
13. Kindle : I love Amazon Kindle. I have hundreds of books/files in it. Apple’s iBooks is nice, but at this point I have so much in my Kindle that I would be hard pressed to abandon it. I actually use my Kindle App on iPhone/iPad far more than I do my actual Kindle, at this point.
14. Tripit maintains my travel calendar automatically. Anytime I purchase a flight, Tripit (which monitors my Gmail account) automatically sucks the flight data in and gives me a nice itinerary. It syncs to the iPhone/iPad app as well, so that’s always up to date, and shares the itinerary with my wife, so she has quick access to my schedule. I dropped my Pro account; the freebie version works fine for what I need (which is a nicely formatted itinerary), and the Pro account didn’t update fast enough in practice.
15. Dreamweaver is what I use to edit this website. It's great for hardcoding websites (especially the way I do it--nearly all text/HTML, no special functions, very low-bandwidth files). Also, it's got built-in FTP sync so I don't need a separate FTP client.
16. Spotify : what I use to play streaming music (radio); I’ve tuned some channels for instrumental music that plays during work. I shifted completely from Pandora to Spotify, and we have a family pro account. I love Spotify.
17. Apple's Keychain. I used to use Lastpass, but since I became a Mac-only user, I use the one built in to Apple products.
18. Chrome/Safari . Since moving to a primarily Mac client, I have switched to Safari. I wish Safari was available for Windows, but it’s not, so on my Windows box at home I use Chrome.
USED LESS OFTEN
Facebook . I normally go here about once a day. Twitter dominates my social networking time. If you want to catch me online, http://www.facebook.com/justindavidlong is your best bet.
FileZilla : this is my FTP transfer program of choice. I’ve tried a bunch (including CuteFTP Pro) but this is the one that’s the simplest. But because Dreamweaver has FTP built in, I rarely have to use it.
Putty : This is my SSH terminal of choice. I use it when I need to login to my host server and make minor changes or run programs on it. I rarely have to use it because I can SSH to AWS Lightsail inside the browser very easily.
Sketchbook . This is my Macbased drawing pad. It’s not as nice as Smoothdraw, but it works. I use it very rarely.
No longer used: Scrivener (I just use Google Docs + Indesign), Camtasia Studio (Beyond has a videographer on staff, and I don't make videos myself any more), Gumroad (I give away nearly all my resources now, and rely on general donations to finance our work), iTunes (which is mostly going away anyway).