Tools I use in 2023
Gmail is my email service of choice. 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, but I’ve been experimenting with Mainstream (which is very Gmail specific) and Spark’s new “Spark Desktop” email client, which mimics features of Superhuman and Hey.com for much cheaper. I have also used the Mac Mail app, which 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.
Dropbox: I have a Dropbox Pro account with a terabyte of space organized around the PARA method, which I’ve found to be indispensable.
Apple Photos and Google Photos: I store photos in my phone in Apple Photos, but have an app that syncs them to Google Photos, for redundancy (and I tend to prefer Google’s search/filter).
Feedly intrigued me with 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.
Twitter is in flux. It 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. I’ve stayed with Twitter through the whole Musk acquisition, because so far it hasn’t impacted my timeline (which is pretty carefully curated).
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.
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.
Matter. This is a new competitor to Instapaper & Pocket. It’s so far free, lets me store articles, and has a very nice reader (and even a nice audio where it will read the article aloud to you). I stopped paying for Instapaper when I signed up for this.
AWS Lightsail is where I host my sites and databases. It’s cheap and reliable and completely customizable.
Mailchimp has been my email newsletter manager of choice. I’ve tried other services and always come back to Mailchimp.
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.
Google Meet is what I use for nearly all online meetings. (I’m also able to use Zoom if someone needs to.)
Kindle: I love Amazon Kindle. I have hundreds of books/files in it. I 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).
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.
Safari/Chrome. I’m pretty browser agnostic these days, but since I’m a Mac user, I tend to use Safari most.