September App Round-up

Posted on Sep 12, 2013 in Blather | 3 comments

Over the last few months, the trackpad on my nearly five-year-old MacBook Pro has started behaving weirdly. This is related to some mysterious warping on the underside of my laptop that also prevents me from using the laptop on my lap. It must always be on a very solid, flat surface, and by mid-day when it’s warmed up nice and good, the trackpad stops working entirely. And I’ve gotten the elusive Mac grey screen of death three times in as many weeks.

Which is all to say that Greg and I finally had the budget discussion last night, and the truth of it is that at nearly five years old, it’s only a matter of time before this sidekick of mine kicks it dramatically, so might as well consider the money already spent and replace it.

Which is really all to say that I just gave Apple quite a bit of money.

That, coupled with my draconian Canadian three-year smartphone contract coming up next month, and with it the pain of signing another three-year contract but at least with a new phone, I’ve got tech on the brain. And I realize I’ve made some shifts in app/program use over the last few months, so even though I usually do this at year-end, I thought I’d round-up my current go-to apps. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments so this post can become like a compendium of awesomesauce.

Computer Apps

Hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll have my 2008 MacBook Pro hooked up to a shiny new featherweight MacBook Air, but the hardware is irrelevant. Here’s what I’ve been using pretty much daily on my laptop for the last few months, in addition to the standard fare like iTunes, iPhoto, etc.

  • Airmail. I do not like the Mac Mail app and I never have. Until I discovered Airmail, I interfaced with my email exclusively in my browser. But somehow, despite the annoying quality it has of slowing down as the day progresses, I’ve been using Airmail instead since I first downloaded it. I like the integrated inbox, which I never used before I started using Mailbox on my phone (more on that below). I like that I can color-tag emails as to-dos (or, more like just highlight them for whatever reason I may have to do so). And I like that I can set it to only download new mail every so often. I’m trying very hard to only spend time in my email a couple times a day.
  • Scrivener. I’ve never encountered a writer who doesn’t adore this writing app. Scrivener is the ultimate organizational writing tool, and I wrote the bulk of Mighty Ugly in it. Not only that, I kept all my research and interview notes in it. And I created footnotes in it. (Sadly, now that I’m in the last push of revisions, I’m doing all my work in a word processor.) Not only does Scrivener allow you to easily work in chapters and subsections, but when you’re all done, you can mess with a robust variety of settings to export the entire manuscript fully formatted. It’s fucking awesome don’t even tell me it isn’t. If you write fiction, non-fiction, screenplays or even academic papers, for real, this is your app.
  • LibreOffice. I haven’t used Microsoft Office since around 2005. Instead, I’ve used one or another offshoot of the open-source OpenOffice suite (and no, I haven’t ever had trouble swapping files with Microsoft users, even with heavy use of track changes). My current go-to is LibreOffice, which has a lovely design, robust functionality, and is easy to use. This is where I’m finishing up the Mighty Ugly book. It’s free, but I recommend making a donation to support the ongoing maintenance and growth of the software.
  • YNAB. See below, in iPhone apps.
  • Finally, the usual fare that no longer requires comment: Evernote, Chrome, CrashPlan, Pomodoro (it’s a timer; for some reason I can’t get the link anymore in the Canadian app store), TextExpander, Twitter (I’ve yet to find a third-party app that does it better than the simple Twitter one [even Echofon, which I love on my phone but don’t love on my laptop] – if you love one, please share!), Pages and Numbers for lovely loveliness.

iPhone Apps

  • Feedly. I’ve spewed my love for this RSS reader all over the internet since the day I discovered it. I use it in-browser, too, but the app is just fabulous. I read so many more blogs than I used to, and its integration with Buffer means I share more of the cool things I discover. Lots and lots of love for Feedly.
  • Speaking of, Buffer. As a longtime not-fan of Hootsuite, I rejoiced when I first discovered this social-media post-queuing app. And the phone app is as functional as the website, which is sadly unusual and a major win. I can’t sing Buffer’s praises enough. Paired with Feedly, I’ve become a link-sharing machine. I’m practically a robot army now.Add New
  • Mailbox. As soon as I spent a day using this, I ditched the Gmail app. Mailbox let’s me tear through my inbox more quickly and effectively than any email app I’d ever used before. It’s outstanding. All the hype from the tech/app blogs is true.
  • YNAB. That stands for You Need a Budget. And how. I’m going to write more about the debt we’re clawing our way out of, but for now, I’ll just say we’re going to be using this on both phone and desktop. I can’t say yet that we are using it – we’re in the process of setting it up and doing lots of reading on the YNAB website about how to get the most out of budgeting so we can, you know, get the most out of budgeting. Where “the most” refers to money. Mmm, money. (If you want to use it too, this link will get you [and me] $6 off.) If you use this, please share any tips you have about getting the most out of it!
  • Lift. I’m surprised I still use this one, to be honest. It allows you to set goals to reach every day, and I’ve enjoyed how it’s unobtrusively reminded me of my priorities. Life-changing? No. But then, I’m not usually one to be dramatically changed by such things. If you are, check out Lift for sure.
  • HomeRoutines. One of the first things we’ve done on our budgeting adventure is cut out as many monthly expenses as we could stand to live without. One is the bi-weekly cleaning of our home by someone who is not us. It makes sense to save money on this, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stress me out to work at home when I could be cleaning it. The other night I realized there’s probably an app for that, and I love this one. In, like, ten or fifteen minutes mornings and nights, following the checklists I’ve tweaked to our own quirks and needs, I already feel like we’re managing not to have the house slip quietly into a state of filth and embarrassing disarray.
  • Instagram. I got back on it a few months ago, and I just love it with all my heart. (Chat with me on there, would ya?)
  • Hay Day. WHY AM I ADDICTED TO THIS GAME?
  • Shoeboxed. Put this in the column labeled I Really Should Be Using This. It’s a receipt manager. I really need to use it. It’s been sitting on my phone for ages. Here, this is a promo link, or use this coupon code: KIMWERKER (I know, right? The coupon code is glorious!) toward a Pro account (we both save!).
  • Pepperplate. Though I save recipes to Pepperplate almost exclusively using the browser plugin on my laptop, I use the recipes almost exclusively from my phone.
  • Finally, the usual fare that no longer requires comment: Echofon, Chrome, iBooks, Whatsapp, etc.

Your turn! What do you rely on to get things done?

  • dethe

    HI Kim, I guess I’m late with this, but: As the battery ages in a Macbook, it expands. This warps the computer and puts pressure on the trackpad, which no longer accepts clicks (at least not easily). It also won’t hold much, if any, charge at that point. The solution is a new batter (roughly $100), unless you have other problems or needs that require a new computer.

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Aha! That makes perfect sense. The battery still holds a charge pretty well, though – at least a couple hours. I’m getting the grey screen of death more and more, though, which started long after the trackpad issues. I’m honestly shocked for a laptop to still be going so well after five years. But it’s all moot, since Apple now has my money for a new one. :) But we plan to keep this one going for as long as possible; maybe a new battery will be a worthwhile investment.

  • M.K. Carroll

    Unstuck (www.unstuck.com) is a free iPad app that’s kind of like a Magic 8 ball with targeted answers. It asks how you’re feeling (pick 3 cards – like Conflicted, Overwhelmed, Tired), rank how strongly you’re feeling them, pick a couple of other answers to questions triggered by your choices, and get some ideas back. I’m liking it – it’s like having a friendly, non-gross coach on my iPad.