Tools I Use
July 1, 2020
Gmail is still my email service of choice. I now have my own domain, because my main email address 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 retains the top slot on the 2020 list. I mainly use the regular Gmail client. On my MacBook I also use the Mail app, thanks to its Smart Mailboxes that allow me to see what’s arrived today, the past 7 days, and from the Beyond email domains. But on my phone, I almost exclusively use the Gmail client.
Evercontact : Updates my email address book based on signatures and other information in emails. 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.
Google Drive : I have returned to Google Drive because it’s started working with my Mac again. I have a terabyte Google Drive with all my files and spreadsheets. I still have a Dropbox Pro account, but I’m probably going to be dropping that when it comes up for renewal in 2020. I’ve found myself centralizing more and more around the Google ecosystem. My Google Drive is organized using the PARA method, which I’ve found to be indispensable.
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.
Feedly. This plus Twitter is the center of my news world. What got me on to Feedly was it’s AI system for training articles. You can tag a set of 20 or more articles into a news board, and then tell Feedly to bring you articles from all your sources which are similar to the ones you’ve tagged. It’s uncanny how good it is.
Twitter gives 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.
Evernote. I use this to store most of the general, scattered information I come across. Whenever I hear a quote or have an idea for a blog entry–it goes into Evernote.
Pinboard.in is where I bookmark URLs. I use an IFTTT link to make sure anything I “favorite” on Twitter or save in Feedly gets automatically stored to Pinboard. At the end of the week, producing the Roundup is largely a matter of going through the Pinboard entries since the last Roundup.
AWS Lightsail is where I host this site. It’s cheap and reliable and completely customizable. I code the articles in Markdown, and then generate the site using Jekyll. I have off and on tried Wordpress, but have never found a Theme that did what I wanted; when I ran across Gwern.net and was impressed with its minimalism. I tried to find out what Theme it used and read how they were generating the entire site from text files. I’ve been experimenting with a very similar process and have been very impressed with the results.
Substack. This is my email newsletter manager of choice. I use it to send out the Roundup. It also enables a “premium subscription” version.
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.
Google Meet. After Zoom had a number of security issues, our organizatin began tilting away from it. Exploring other options, I came to Google Meet, and I use it for nearly all meetings that I initiate. I prefer its security model, and you can’t realy beat it for ease of use–no download required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brave/Chrome/Safari. I’m pretty browser agnostic these days.
USED LESS OFTEN
Facebook . I deleted my Facebook account after it became a toxic cesspool.
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.
SSH. Since I use Amazon’s Lightsail, I use the browser based SSH client accessible through the management portal. I don’t have another SSH terminal downloaded now.