Toolalicious 2017 to all!
(So let's see about getting back on the writing train again. Been a bit dismotivated recently to write, but gotta keep flexing those muscles in order not to atrophy them...)
I just want to give a shoutout to a number of tools I am using right now to keep myself productive. I'm not going to get into the actual productivity tools, since those are quite often a matter of preference (emacs vs vi anyone?), but just present a collection of things that I have, over the years, found invaluable for my own work patterns.
RescueTime is the tool I use to keep track of my work. It sits there in the background on my Mac and phone and counts the seconds I use each app. It categorises the applications and web sites I visit into a few rough buckets, and lets me know whenever I have spent too much time on a computer, or too long on social media websites. It also counts any productive tools and sites, which has given me interesting insight into how I work. My rule of thumb is that two hours of real, productive work per day is good; four hours usually means I'm exhausted by the end of it. Then again, four hours of productive work means somewhat like 10 hours of actual screen time, because the machine can't know when I am thinking and stops counting... It's good, but not seeing much development though, so I'm expecting someone to take over this personal time management space.
Amy and Andrew from X.ai are my personal assistants that now take care of my calendar. I don't really do that many meetings, but on those rare occasions there's something infinitely satisfying in sending an email "Hey Amy, can you please arrange a lunch for us next week?" and IT WORKS!
1password stores all my passwords and other critical info that I need. I do still store some stuff in an old-fashioned way in a GPG-encrypted text file, but most of the stuff that I need on a daily basis is now in 1password. The browser integration is excellent, and it's really easy to generate completely random passwords for any website. We also use it at the office, which makes it really easy to share passwords and things like company credit card data to those who need to know.
CrashPlan does my backups. It's a bit slow and clunky (and takes an ungodly amount of memory), but on the other hand, they have a family-friendly licensing scheme that lets me run the same application on my two Macs, wife's PC and my online Linux server. Backups run automatically every 15 minutes to the cloud, restores are straightforward (have tested three times now a full restore), and the whole thing just works invisibly in the background.
Little Snitch for my firewalling needs. I don't like the fact that Apple and other software vendors send all sorts of information out of my Macs without telling me what it is. But with Little Snitch I can selectively block outgoing communication with a nice little popup and watch my incoming/outgoing traffic per application. It's not for the faint-hearted though, since it has an annoying tendency to pop up right when you're typing something and then you end up pressing all the wrong buttons...
Freedome is absolutely critical when traveling. Now, it might not be the best VPN client out there, but it's easy to use and I got it really cheap. Combined with Little Snitch it makes me a bit more confident about using strange Wi-Fi networks.
F.lux changes the color of my screen at sunset to get rid of that blue glow that supposedly disrupts your sleep. I know new Macs have equivalent functionality, but I'm kind of used to f.lux, so I have no reason to switch :). Of course, my evidence is anecdotal, but I seem to fall asleep faster when it's on - but I'll take the effect gladly no matter if it's placebo or not :)
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