Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Appy New Year

I looked back over the past year to find the new apps that changed the way I work, those that lived up to their promise, and those which have earned their place on my laptop (or iPhone, or web browser).

ZoomIt (mac)

A great little app for inspecting the details of a site. Are those round corners round? Is that border obscured?

FreeAgent (web)

I’ve changed accounting systems every year since I started working for myself but FreeAgent is the first system I really liked and, since my wife does my bookkeeping, didn’t cause marital strife. I love the way I can quickly create an invoice, send to a client, and have the Stripe notification a few minutes later. It’s magic and I’ll be using it again this year.

Ulysses (mac, ipad)

Since using LaTeX for my PhD studies, I prefer writing content-first without too much thought of fonts & styling. But LaTeX sucks so now all my documents are first written in Markdown. I’m still looking for the ideal markdown-notes app but anything longer than a paragraph gets drafted in Ulysses first (including this post). I like the stylised-markdown editor, the ability to organise documents, quickly export to a styled PDF and the nifty work count goals. I’m still waiting for contents pages and Github code block support though.

MindNode (mac, iPad, iPhone)

I find mind maps really useful for planning out books, documents, projects, business ideas or family trips — and even my camera system migration. A mind mapping tool is only as good as its device support: ideas come on the go just as often as at the desk.

Astropad (mac, iPad, iPhone)

Astropad is one of my secret weapons: fire up the mac application, start the app on the iPad, and now I have a graphics tablets. Now I can annotate documents/drawings without the result looking like a monkey drunk on Vodka & Red Bull has just discovered a red pen.

Sketch 3 (mac)

It took me a long time to understand Sketch but now I love it. It’s simple but powerful. And as a developer I appreciate how simple it is to pull out pixel distances between components, CSS properties etc.

Kaleidoscope (mac)

I was usingDiffMergebut I wanted someone more Mac-like. I’m still not 100% happy with Kaleidoscope but it’s the best choice I’ve found so far and it integrates nicely with Tower.

Tower (mac)

I’m not a command-line person. I use it all day, every day, but I dislike memorising archaic switches & arguments when a visual approach works better. Creating branches, stashing changes, merging branches, pulling in changesets etc: all much easier when I see what I’m doing.

Spotify (mac, web, iPhone)

I love Spotify and it’s become part of my daily routine to sit down to work and fire up a playlist. There’s no Taylor Swift but it caters to my every other whim in musical tastes. Their weekly recommended playlist is also pretty spot-on (ha!).

Cloak (mac, iPhone)

Public wifi networks are convenient but dangerous — a VPN is essential but there’s no point is having one unless you use it. What I love about Cloak is that it will automatically protect you on unrecognised networks so you never need to remember to use it.

Annotate (mac, iphone)

I nearly forgot about the excellent Annotate app which I use several times a day for capturing problems, work in progress, daft web page errors etc. Not only is it easy to capture screenshots but it makes sharing them simple: Cmd-Shift-C and I can paste it into Slack. Cmd-Enter and I have a public Dropbox link to share with anyone. The best replacement for Skitch and, in my opinion, a much better interface.