Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites, When the bee stings, When I'm feeling sad; I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad

— Julie Andrews

I have quite a few favorite things, and I just can’t stop talking about. So I figured I’d write them down here, and then shut up about it forever. Or I will at least try not to make every conversation a conversation about these things.

The Tool Department

  • ShiftIt — I like doing things with my keyboard. Rearranging your screens with a mouse is just a waste of time. People who use their mouse to drag windows around should consider the amount of time in their life they actually spend on doing that. It’s just ridiculous. And on top of that, you get RSI. Ugh! ShiftIt at the other hand allows you to do it all with a bunch of simple keystrokes. Loving it. To bits.

  • Arq — The best tools out there are tools you don’t notice when you don’t need to. By that definition, Arq must be the best backup tool out there. No need to connect disks or anything. I will just store everything in the cloud, encrypted. Recovering is easy as well. For some reason, I always need to change my TimeMachine configuration. But I never had to do it for Arq.

  • 1Password — I don’t like to do repetitive work. And I also don’t like remembering things I don’t want to remember. Strong passwords for instance. I don’t think anybody these days can do without something similar, and 1Password still is by far the best solution out there. Integrates nicely with your browsers. (Although I have to say, I never managed to set up 1Password for the iPhone in a way that makes sense to me.)

  • Hazel — Did I already say I don’t like repetitive tasks? I also don’t like organizing things. As far as I care, things should organize themselves. I should are about the rules only, and then the whole things should just WORK. For incoming snail mail, I blindly scan and OCR everything. I scripted something that brings up a popup that allows me to specify some tags. For anything appearing on (a certain area) of my filesystem on which files appear with those tags, Hazel will go off and move things to a more sensible location. Like, make sure it’s in a location that is getting backed up by Arq.

  • The Hit List — I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I am a Hit List fanboy. In fact, it’s the only reason I have an iPhone. I needed a phone that ran The Hit List. If the Hit List would have existed for Android, I might have gotten an Android phone instead. Really. What I like about it? The desktop version allows you to use keyboard gestures for anything, unlike some of the other GTD tools out there. I do have a license for Things as well, but gave up on it after two weeks of trying to use it.

  • Grand Total — As you can see, most of the things I list above are things that prevent me from doing the things I don’t like, or to make sure those things get done, if I like it or not. I don’t like creating invoices either. Yet, I like to have an income. GrandTotal makes it as comfortable as it can get, I think, without giving up all control. I just keep track of the hours I work on Google Calendar, and GrandTotal produces the invoice. Like!

  • Git Flow — Puts some sense in the myriad of options you have with Git. Git for people who just want to get something done.

  • SCM Breeze — More commandline Git goodness. Instead of saying git status, just say gs, and you will get a numbered collection of changes; ga 2-10 will add changes 2 till 10 to your current collection. Also convenient: ggpush and ggpull, to just push and pull your current branch. (I don’t like the “push the entire world” approach.)

  • Monkeyman — This blog is written using Monkeyman. Having the ability to just write some local Markdown and see the entire web site (with everything on it) getting updated, even if you’re not on a network, is just awesome.

The Hardware Department

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M — The scanner I use to get rid of paperwork. It comes with a scriptable way to process your documents, and includes software to OCR your PDF documents. As I said above, I use Hazel to postprocess it, but with the ScanSnap only, it already is able to make things findable using Spotlight.

  • Sonos — I’m not an audiofile. If I would have been an audiofile, then I’m not sure I would have liked Sonos so much. At least that’s what audiofiles keep telling me. I just like the convenience of Sonos. Not having to cary music around. Just plug it in and play. I would however like them to be a little bit more aggressive in adding other music services, such as SoundCloud — which I potentially would also list here, if there would have been Sonos support.

The Service Department

  • GitHub — I forgive them the outages of last year. Github is just goodness for anybody new to Git. They will tell you what you need to do, in case you’re in doubt — which could potentially happen a lot, if you’re new to Git.

  • Flowdock — Used for communication in our distributed team. Use it every day. Never gets in the way, and nicely extensible.

  • Amazon Web Services — I don’t think I would ever be able to the way I work these days if it wouldn’t have been for the existance of cloud computing platforms, and Amazon happens to be the one we use. Lot of goodness, haven’t even touched half of it. By the way, also this blog wouldn’t have been there without Amazon S3, because S3 is hosting it. Yet another reason to favor them.

  • StackOverflow — In just a few years, they have been able to have the answer to almost every technical question I have.

  • Spotify — Without Spotify, I wouldn’t have a Sonos. Without a Sonos, I wouldn’t have Spotify.

Other things I wish I’d love more

  • My iPhone — I don’t feel a lot of love for it. Well. It’s the device driver for the Hit List. But there are so many things broken! I paid for three photo uploading apps (using only one now) to upload photos to Picasa, and they all suck. Suck, in the sense that they’re not integrated with the camera app or photo viewer itself. Also, finding a phone number is not easy. Bleh.

  • Typinator — I read parts of Neal Ford’s “The Productive Programmer”, and he says you should have a text expander tool like it. I don’t think Typinator provides a lot of value for money, but then again, I might just be lazy in configuring it properly.