Now, updated for 2015.
0. Gmail: all of my email comes here. Can’t beat its anti-spam and virus protection. After nearly a decade, Gmail is still my go-to spot, and retains the top slot on the 2013 list.
1. Evercontact: This is an indispensable pay service, but it’s pretty cheap. It works with Gmail. It scans incoming email for contact information and automatically updates your Google Contacts list, bringing in things like email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, etc. It’s a great time saver. Since my Google Contacts address is automatically synced to my phone, and becomes my phone address list, it’s also helpful for updating the phone book on my phone. Much better and less privacy invading than Plaxo!
3. Dropbox: I abandoned Google Drive because I had so many files that they became problematic to find and organize without folders. (Google Drive’s folders were always problematic for me, and I just didn’t have time to mess around with it.) I tried Sync for a bit, but I’ve run into a lot of people who have problems with Sync, so I have reverted to Dropbox. I have a Pro account and this is where I store most of my files.
4. Twitter. Twitter is the center of my news world. I have several carefully curated lists which cover breaking news, top news sources, global thinkers and influencers, activists, mission agencies, and the like. I use Flipboard on the iPad to access this, as well as Tweetbot (and often Twitter on my desktop Mac).
5. Mailchimp. I am switching to a newsletter only approach, and Mailchimp has been my newsletter-manager of choice.
6. Scrivener. I use Scrivener less right now, but I still recommend it and wouldn’t delete it from my system. I mainly use it for long-form writing. I have used it in the past for Cluster Forecasts, essays and other projects. It’s available in both Mac and Windows editions.
7. Microsoft Excel. I have tried lots and lots of databases – Filemaker Pro, Access, SequelPro, AmazonSQL… I come back to Excel for virtually all my database work. It’s hard to beat its simplicity, if you’re not working with relational databases. Nearly all of my databases are simple flat form tables, and Excel is perfect for these.
8. Adobe Indesign. This is what I use when I’m formatting the Cluster Forecasts for PDF. I ended up getting a copy purchased outright when it became available on nonprofit license through Techsoup.
9. Facebook Messenger. I use Facebook very little. I post maybe once a week, if that. But the tool that is indispensable to me when I’m traveling is FB Messenger. It’s the simplest way for me to communicate with wife & kids. Makes it easy to send pictures, straight text, or short voice messages. Worked great when in low bandwidth situations in Asia.
19. Camtasia Studio. This is what I use for recording videos for the Mission Manual. I got it pretty cheap through a non-profit license via Techsoup. (I haven’t made a video in a very long time, unfortunately.)
11. 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.
12. Siteground: I host my website (justinlong.org) at Siteground now. Moved from Hostgator. I find Siteground to be really supportive, well done, and fine tuned for WordPress.
13. WordPress: for a long time I dropped the blog in favor of the Mailchimp-based Long View newsletter. I’m still doing the newsletter – that’s the weekly “best of” approach – but I found it didn’t quite fit the niche that the blog did. So I revived the blog as the place where I can drop thoughts in formation, daily posts, asides, links, and the like. I have yet to find anything that works better in this regard than WordPress.
14. Kindle: I love Amazon Kindle. I probably have 200 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. I’m also on a 30-day free trial of Amazon Unlimited.
15. Google Apps for Domains: we use this internally at MUP for email, documents, calendaring and the like. So I include it here just to mention it.
16. Paypal: I use this a lot for donations and small purchases that people make from me. I’m very satisfied with it.
17. Gumroad: this is an excellent and very simple way to offer PDFs and other digital media for sale. I’ve made some very good use of this and anticipate using it more in the future.
18. 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.
19. iTunes: what I use to play and scan in music. I know, others find it kludgy. It works for me. Besides I pretty much need that because of the iPhone and iPad.
20. LastPass: my password manager on a Windows based box. On the Mac, I use Safari’s built in password manager. I wish the two would sync nicer than they do, but… life is full of challenges. My passwords are typically phrases (not crazy alphanumeric codes) but Lastpass is great for automatically logging me into sites so I don’t have to remember all the passwords I’ve used. (Wish it worked with Safari.)