Tech I Couldn't Live Without in 2013

As part of my annual tradition, here is a list of my favorite apps, services, and tech products that I used throughout 2013.

Still Going Strong

Mac mini with 1TB Fusion Drive — For a $1,100 Mac that's over a year old, this baby is still FAST.

I've been using Bitcasa for over a year, but one night I randomly saw an error for a LOT of failed uploads. All of these uploads were initiated several months prior, which basically meant that data has been lost. Because of that, I learned it's smarter to sync local files to the cloud instead of solely hosting on the cloud.

My Mac mini's 1TB gives me plenty of room to keep a local copy of everything I digitally own.

iPhone — Last year I said this about my 4S and it still rings true:

My iPhone is my communications hub where all of my notifications are pushed to. And the outstanding 8 megapixel camera lets me capture precious moments that I want to carry with me for the rest of my life.

The biggest upgrade for me in the 5s is the new Burst Mode. I've spent a LOT of money on camera apps, trying to find the perfect implementation of image stabilization. But now with with the 5s' 10 shots/second built in — for the first time ever — I only use the default camera app. I LOVE how the Photos app will highlight the best shot from the burst for you.

Google — Gmail is still king of email. Chrome has the right balance of feature robustness and simplicity. Google Voice is my primary number and is slowly being integrated into Google Hangouts.

Tweetbot for Mac/iOS — Ever since my experiment of dumping all tech news RSS feeds in favor of a curating my own Twitter List, Tweetbot's placement syncing has been VITAL to me. Following tech news as a Twitter stream instead of an RSS inbox has saved me a lot of time and redundancy.

Instapaper for Mac/iOS/Android — This is the second key component of my tech-news-as-a-stream strategy. Any links on Tweetbot that catch my eye get saved to Instapaper to read later.

Instagram — Last year I wrote this:

If I had to give up all social networks except one, I would keep Instagram. It's by far the most personal social network out there because everyone post things that make them happy, unlike Twitter/Facebook where some people only use for passive-aggression, bitching and whining.

Instagram Videos added a fun dimension.

Instagram Direct is a very welcome addition too. Not all my friends have Snapchat and Google Voice still doesn't really support MMS.

Facebook — All of my friends are still on it. Most of my friends don't have Twitter so Facebook is still the best way for me to reach everyone in my life.

Dropbox — Been a loyal user since 2006 because it's the easiest way to share large files. Also, I trust Dropbox's reliability enough to host 1Password, which manages all of my passwords.

Backblaze — Honestly, I forget that I still have this installed but once in a while, online backups save my ass.

New for 2013

ReadKit for Mac — As the final piece of my tech-news-as-a-stream strategy, I use this app to breeze through my tech news reading list that I've Instapaper'ed from Tweetbot throughout the day.

Two-Step Authentication — For all of the pillars of my digital life (e.g. Gmail, Dropbox, Dreamhost, Facebook, Twitter), I've enabled two-step authentication. These accounts are gateways to all other services I use, therefore they need the highest protection.

Authy for iOS/Android — Authy frees me to do two-step authentication from any of my three mobile devices.

1Password for Mac/iOS — Over the course of two years, I've put more and more trust into using 1Password to manage all my accounts. I now fully trust it with all of my passwords.

Feedly for Mac/iOS/Android — Google Reader died this year and I started using Twitter for tech news. Still, I use RSS readers to follow the not-so-urgent blogs that I love.

Forklift for Mac — This year I learned that Forklift has a feature that lets you sync two folders. Total game changer for me as a web developer.

Day One for Mac/iOS — I used to have all of my journal entries posted on a private Wordpress blog but I've found a lot of convenience in using Day One's iPhone app and the Mac menu bar widget. Journal entries don't have to be so formal; many times all I need is 140-characters.

Apple Time Capsule — I've always resisted this in the past because I thought backing up gigs of data over WiFi would be a slow and shitty experience. I was wrong. Backups happen so silently and transparently, I forget it's even there.

GitHub — For the first few years of my career, I've worked at agencies that had me pump out websites as fast as possible. Now that I'm an in-house web developer, I need version control for my on-going projects.

Circa for iOS/Android — As a tech news junkie, following news can get overwhelming. This year I took a step back and realized that I really need to pay attention to what else is going on in the world. Circa makes it easy by presenting world news in bite-sized pieces and giving me the option to follow for real-time updates.

Simplenote for Mac/iOS/Android — Super simple note-taking app with cross-platform syncing. And best of all, it's FREE.

Honorable Mentions

Snapchat — It's a fun way to send inside-jokes as picture messages to specific friends (that are not necessarily in the same circle).

Foursquare — Truthfully, the social aspect of Foursquare doesn't appeal to me as much anymore. But I still find value in keeping tabs of where I go and where I want to go. — Tumblr used to be a very important source of entertainment for me but I figured out that 90% of viral posts on Tumblr come from Imgur. Now I just go straight to the source for good laughs.

Gemini for Mac — As a digital hoarder, I've accumulated a ton of duplicate photos, videos, and zip files over the years. Gemini made it SUPER EASY to find and purge duplicate files.

Keeping an Eye Out for 2014

Google Hangouts — This thing is gonna be so awesome when they integrate Google Voice into it. I envision it as becoming iMessage but for Gmail/Google Voice users. Only half of my friends are iPhone users…but almost all of them are Gmail users.

Fitness Tracking Apps — A nifty little feature of the iPhone 5s is it's motion-tracking M7 chip. The Nike+ Move app keeps tabs on my movement and actually has gotten me to be more active.

Not as Cool as Before

iPad mini — Honestly, my use of the iPad mini is waning just a bit. I no longer bring the iPad mini with me to lunch to catch up on Instapaper; I do most of my Instapaper reading on my Mac now.

These days, my iPad mini usage breaks down to something like: 90% video watching, 5% mobile web development, 5% gaming. For the most part, my iPad mini is always next to my Mac.

I could see myself giving up my iPad mini in favor of a larger iPhone, if Apple were ever to release one.

Flipboard — Once my killer app, Flipboard has lost a lot of it's value to me because it no longer integrates with any third-part RSS readers.

Skype — My social circles don't use Skype that much anymore.

Pinterest — I'm not much of a scrapbooker.

Voxer — Not many friends use this anymore.


App.Net — Everyone that I care to follow in tech is still active on Twitter.

Tumblr — Dumped in favor of Imgur.

New Myspace — lol.

ProCamera for iOS — Dumped in favor of the 5s' built-in Burst Mode.

Bitcasa — I lost some data because their app corrupted some of my files before uploading. That shit is unforgivable.

Drafts App for iOS — Dumped in favor of Simplenote.

Pinboard — Dumped in favor of ReadKit.