My most used apps

Last week I got a new MacBook which meant starting with a clean slate. This is usually the moment when you realise which apps you miss and want to install right away on any new device. Below are my most used ones, however most of them are only available for Mac.

Things

I’ve been using Things for about 3 years after relying on post-it notes neatly arranged on the edge of my desk. It’s the best way for me to clear my mind of anything that should get done and follow up. It’s so good that I’ve even adopted the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity methodology successfully without realising it.

Alfred

Yes, Spotlight on Mac OS has improved a lot over the years but Alfred has been my go-to productivity app for a while now. Whether it’s looking for files, controlling my music or any other workflows you might need, Alfred has got it covered. I use its shortcuts and workflows countless times during the day.

iA Writer

There’s just no better app for writing than iA Writer in my opinion. It’s simple, uses Markdown by default and most importantly gets out of the way with a focus mode. Until recently it wasn’t even possible to change the typeface or font size, which I loved. The less settings there are to customise the more time you spend on writing.

I’ve been using it for everything from meeting notes to these blog posts. Thanks to Blot, all I have to do is save the file, move it into my Dropbox folder and it’s published a few seconds later.

Spark

When I was looking for a replacement for Mailbox after it got shut down, I came across Spark which has filled that void ever since. What I like about it is the design, multi-account support and the ability to snooze emails. I’ve gotten into the habit of achieving inbox zero which has been easy to do with this email app.

Sip

Sip is a simple colour picker. I like that it lives outside of my design tool which means I can inspect colours form anywhere and add them as swatches for easy access later on.

ImageOptim

ImageOptim is a great app if you publish images online. It significantly reduces file size and it’s easy as dragging and dropping entire folders into the app. Since it runs multiple file optimisation tools at the same time in the background, you’re guaranteed to end up with the best result.

Recursion — Blake Crouch

Before reading Dark Matter a while ago I had never heard of Blake Crouch who is best known for the Wayward Pines trilogy. I was pleasantly surprised by the entertaining writing style and his take on alternative universes. Was Recursion able to meet my expectations? Let’s see.

The story follows two main characters at different points in time: Helena, a scientist, 10 years before the main plot takes place and Barry, a NYC cop, in the present.

The things Helena did in the past start catching up to her and inadvertently turn Barry’s life upside down. This starts an endless journey through their respective memories to try and fix past mistakes and save the world.

It took me a moment to wrap my head around the various timelines but once I started paying more attention to the dates it all started to make sense. As much as a time-travelling sci-fi novel can make sense I guess.

I think I enjoyed this book slightly more than Dark Matter because it surprised me midway through. When I thought the story could end at a certain point, Crouch pushed his concepts one step further and kept me engaged until the actual ending.

If you’re into sci-fi thrillers that mess with time and space, definitely check this one out.

★★★★☆

Done is better than perfect

I was inspired by a post from Nicolas who wrote about focusing on content for his blog instead of making minor tweaks to the code.

I’ve been guilty of this. When I first started this blog years ago I spent a lot of time on tweaking the design to get it just right. Nights spent adjusting things that people would hardly notice like typography, line spacing or colours. Looking back I was procrastinating to give me the satisfaction of working on the blog without doing what mattered–writing.

At the time this blog was self-hosted on Ghost which meant using the command-line to navigate and change things. Since I’m not a developer this meant a fair amount of friction for minor tweaks on the blog’s appearance. If I didn’t go through the updating process for a couple of weeks it would take a while to remember how to do it. Over time that friction made me not want to update the blog’s design anymore. That was a good thing. I focused on writing instead which was much less of a hassle compared to finding my way around the command line.

When I migrated over to Blot I once again noticed over a dozen of bugs” that I could fix. That was almost a year ago and I still haven’t touched any of the code. And you know what? That’s fine because I’ve written and published a lot more posts than I have in the past.

Done is better than perfect.

Lord of the Flies — William Golding

After seeing this book referenced in the previous book I read as well as walking past a burger joint called Lord of the Fries one too many times, I figured I should finally check out this classic.

I naively thought the story would involve flies and other sorts of insects but it turns out I was wrong. Lord of the Flies is actually the story of a group of children stranded on a desert island during the second world war. Without any adults present they have to grow up fast and figure out a way to get rescued. The kids realise early on they will need to work together if they want to survive but soon tension start to arise in this newly formed mini-society.

It’s an interesting take on how children would self-manage and form their own little society. They face challenges on a daily basis, especially when it comes to agreeing on what’s best for the group. Despite this, I felt there was much happening in this book except for a couple of events that shake up life on the island for the main characters. I also got tired of the author’s long and often unnecessary descriptions of the surrounding landscape.

The ending wasn’t what I was expecting at all but I didn’t mind it. Overall a decent book, but I was left wanting more.

★★☆☆☆

Girl Gone Mad – Avery Bishop

Girl Gone Mad isn’t the type of book I’d usually read but since it was recommended to me and it had good reviews I gave it a shot. It’s a story about a group of women who used to be bullies in high school. Even though they’ve grown apart since, their past now seems to haunt them in mysterious ways.

I enjoyed the author’s style and the numerous flashbacks that progressively reveal more about the main character’s background. Throughout the story however I kept thinking Well now would be a great time to call the police and let them take care of it” but apparently the women prefer to take matters into their own hands–for better or worse.

It’s an entertaining book with many twists and turns with an ending that surprised me. In fact it was still on my mind several days after I’d finished it. Overall a decent thriller if you can forgive a few unrealistic story elements.

★★★☆☆