Tools I Use

Tools I Regularly Use, 2021

  1. 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.

  2. Dropbox: I have a Dropbox Pro account with a terabyte of space organized around the PARA method, which I’ve found to be indispensable.

  3. Google Photos: where I store all photos. For quite a while Google offered this free of charge for standardized resolutions. I think it’s still a good deal.

  4. I am moving off Feedly. What got me on to Feedly was its 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 that are similar to the ones you’ve tagged. Originally, it was excellent – but the more articles I tagged, the broader the kinds of articles it brought until it was more ‘haystack’ and less ‘needle.’ Eventually it was all noise and very little signal. I’ve been experimenting with Nuzzel (which summarizes frequently linked articles on Twitter) and Apple News (which seems to do a not too bad job at recommending articles).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. I have moved off Evernote since Apple Mail is doing a better job at updating contact information from the data contained in emails.

  8. 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.

  9. AWS Lightsail is where I host my sites and databases. It’s cheap and reliable and completely customizable.

  10. Mailchimp has been my email newsletter manager of choice. In 2021: I have moved my website to Squarespace, and will probably be migrating my Roundup mailings there as well.

  11. Adobe Indesign. 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/Google Meet. After Zoom had a number of security issues, our organization began tilting away from it. We are now stabilizing around Google Meet and Bluejeans.

  13. Kindle: I love Amazon Kindle. I have hundreds of books/files in it. I actually use my Kindle App on iPhone/iPad far more than I do my actual Kindle, at this point. In 2020/2021, I’ve been using the Kindle to get samples and buying books in paper form, because I get less distracted (no notifications in a paper book).

  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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Brave/Chrome/Safari. I’m pretty browser agnostic these days.


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.

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