Software I use, December 2018 edition

In October, I bought a new MacBook Pro and did a fresh install. I took notes on the software I installed with the hopes of sharing them with the world (as I did in 2014 and 2011). It’s now December and I finally have time to write the blog post. Busy!

Initial setup

Historically, Dropbox is always the first thing I install. Up until October, Dropbox contained pretty much my entire filesystem (except applications and working projects), so this first step feels like my laptop is healing itself.

But, and can you believe, I’ve switched away from Dropbox. I had a hunch that Dropbox’s filesystem monitoring daemon was consuming all of my battery — and it was! Now, as long as I keep Slack closed too, my battery lasts for hours.

My new Dropbox-equivalent setup is:

  • 1Password iCloud sync instead of Dropbox sync.
  • iCloud Drive for the files I want to make accessible on other devices.
  • Backblaze for daily backups (which I had been using in addition to Dropbox).
  • Google Drive for the files Leah and I share.

Desktop applications

Getting 1Password is up and running is always the hard requirement for configuring everything else. 1Password literally unlocks the rest of my life.

For personal task management, I use Things 3. It is my sword; without Things, I’d be defenseless. I could write a whole soliloquy about task management if I knew what a soliloquy was. In October, I bit the bullet and upgraded from Things 2 to Things 3. Dealing with the UI changes was rough few weeks, but we’re all good now.

Leah and I share 303 recipes across our computers and phones using Paprika. Paprika is a pretty solid, full-featured application. One nice feature, which is to be expected I suppose, is that it can import recipes from websites via their Schema.org markup. This makes it much easier to keep track of your new favorites.

I thought Zoom was over-hyped but it’s truly not. Zoom is really great video conferencing software: reliable, has all the features I need, and hasn’t succumbed to the bloat cycle yet. I am a proud paying customer. Let’s hope this lasts for several more years

Alfred is still the best quick launcher, but Spotlight was pretty good when I used it for a brief second. Dash has an amazing Alfred integration for WordPress, WP-CLI, JavaScript and PHP developer documentation.

For email, I still use Mailplane. Mailplane is the Gmail web app embedded in a desktop app, and the right balance between them both. Yes, I could use Fluid or something else, but Mailplane has enough enhancements that makes it totally worth it.

In October, I switched from Simplenote to Apple Notes. As silly as it sounds, I really wanted to be able to properly format unordered lists. Apple Notes supports formatting (even on mobile) while Simplenote is limited to whatever Markdown format you invent for yourself. To keep my Apple Notes tidy, I “Save as PDF” into an archive folder.

I also started using Ulysses for drafting blog posts but I don’t yet know if that will stick. This post was written in Gutenberg.

Lastly, some smaller utilities I use include:

  • KeepingYouAwake – Keeps my screen awake.
  • Bartender – Literally cannot believe menu bar management isn’t a core Mac OS feature.
  • Clocks – Best way to keep track of the time in Mumbai, Melbourne, and Zurich.
  • Annotate – All but abandoned but I haven’t found a better way to take screenshots.
  • Licecap – Record GIFs with a somewhat clunky interface.
  • Littleipsum – Placeholder text when you need it.
  • Harvest – Still the very best way to track time. Absolutely indispensable.

Developer tools

Now for the good stuff.

I spend the majority of my day in Sublime Text 3 with the Cobalt2 theme and Adobe’s Source Code Pro font. I tried switching to Atom at one point but couldn’t do the HTML/CSS/JavaScript thing. Heck, I even tried vim for a few weeks back in the day. Cool idea, but productivity is king.

Sequel Pro is still the tried and true MySQL desktop app. It does everything I need it to.

To access my computer’s inner brain, I use iTerm2 with zsh and Oh My Zsh. My dotfiles are on GitHub. These Git aliases are the bee’s knees (notably gpo, gp, gco, and gc). My keystrokes into the terminal usually run:

  • homebrew – The simplest way to install new utilities. Keeping them up to date is another matter. I always cross my fingers when running brew upgrade.
  • Laravel Valet – I’ve switched away from Vagrant in favor of running Nginx, PHP, and MySQL directly on my filesystem. It’s very fast.
  • WP-CLI – Duh!
  • cgr – Preferred alternative to composer global require as it mitigates the dependency hell of the latter.
  • autojump – Forever props to Nikolay. If you’re still using cd, you’re doing it wrong.
  • hub – See my Git aliases. A new pull request is as simple as gpr.

That’s about it! If I’m missing out on any software you love, let me know in the comments.

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