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Uses

I've always loved the concept behind a /uses page, but as someone who swaps out everything from my watch to my computer on a near-daily basis, I've struggled with a maintainable format. But, not one to let minutiae stop me, I've decided to give it another try. This time, instead of listing everything I could use at any given moment, I'll maintain a tighter list of everything I love (or at least like) to use.

Hardware

  • Apple MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) - I absolutely love this laptop. It's got a few nicks and dings, and the battery needs to be replaced, but otherwise it still works beautifully.
  • Apple iPhone XS Max - The only complaint I have about this phone is that it's too damn big, but otherwise it is stable and performant. My phone and I have been on a journey to discover the line between utility and distraction lately, but I think we've finally found some balance.
  • Apple AirPods (2nd Generation) - As far as earbuds go, these are comfortable and sound great. The auto-pause and double-tap functionality are also a useful way to interact with what I'm listening to while keeping my box of distractions phone out of sight.
  • HP Compaq TC1100 - While the TC1100 wasn't my first tablet (that would be the Averatec C3500), it is by far my favorite. While the one I have has seen better days, it still gets the job done whenever I get bit by the nostalgia bug.
  • Royal Arrow Typewriter (Black, 1942) - That's right. A typewriter. Throw your hipster insults at me all you want, but this baby is the polar opposite of "planned obsolescence." It still works without any excessive maintenance requirements, and while I can't bring myself to do any professional writing with it, I do enjoy sending hand-typed letters to friends and acquaintances.

Accessories

  • Timbuk2 Custom Prospect Messenger Bag - I found this baby at a thrift store and it's been a great work bag. Nicely organized, durable, and looks great.
  • Korin Design ClickPack Pro - I also found this bag at a thrift store, and use it for travel and other non-work purposes. It holds a ton, maintains a consistent shape, and has some killer anti-theft features.
  • Casio Data Bank Watch (Silver and Gold) - I received my first Data Bank as a gift several years ago, and I haven't worn an Apple Watch since.
  • Pilot G2 Pens - These are the best ballpoint pens ever made. Period.

Entertainment

  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - The Amazon Kindle is a perfect example of a single-purpose device. It's not a tablet; it's for reading, and reading only.
  • Apple iPod Classic (5th Generation) - Following the trend of single-purpose devices, I still have and love my old iPod Classic. While there are some gimmicky things like games on on it, for the most part it plays music and that's it.
  • Sony Walkman (WM-FX-421) - When I'm feeling especially nostalgic, I like to pull out the 'ole Walkman for my music listening experience. I've built up a sizeable cassette collection over the years, and while it's not "1000 songs in your pocket," there's nothing quite like listening to your own mix tapes over the soft ambiance of the moving tape.
  • Microsoft Xbox 360 - You may be noticing a theme here, wherein I tend to not upgrade my technology very often. While I do have modern game systems, the Xbox 360 is still one of my favorites. It nicely threads the line between "looks good on an HDTV" and "doesn't require an internet connection," and, more often than not, is my go-to platform.
  • Nintendo Switch - That all said, the Nintendo Switch is a killer device. As far as modern gaming platforms go, the Switch is by far one of the more interesting to me. It still fits the above requirements of "looks good on an HDTV" and "doesn't require an internet connection," while also being portable. Best of both all worlds.

Software

  • Microsoft Visual Studio Code - I was an avid Vim user for the first decade and a half of my life as a programmer (after I moved away from Macromedia Dreamweaver, of course), but Microsoft's Visual Studio Code has been a worthy replacement. The plugin support is great, and the performance is fantastic. Oh, and thanks to SynthWave '84, it's pretty too.
  • Microsoft Windows XP - Look, I get it, Windows XP has been dead for a very long time now, but it's still my absolute favorite version of Windows. I still pull out the 'ole HP tablet when I'm feeling particularly nostalgic (which is pretty often lately) and play around.
    • New Moon - New Moon is a modern, Windows XP compatible fork of Pale Moon, which is itself an old fork of Mozilla Firefox. Browsing the modern web on Windows XP isn't exactly the world's safest thing to do, but at least New Moon makes it possible.
    • RoAClient - I've been fascinated by MUDs since the late 90's, and in many ways owe my entire career as a software engineer to them. RoAClient is not the best MUD client ever made, nor is it the most polished, but it is the first one I ever used and has cemented itself as my personal favorite.
    • iTunes - I know, iTunes. What the hell is wrong with me, right? Well, I found the earlier versions of iTunes to be delightful to use, and within the context of Windows XP, that's what I'm referring to here. The interface was simple and well designed, managing my music library was intuitive, and ripping and burning CDs was smooth.
  • Gitea - I've been slowly but surely migrating all of my GitHub repositories to my own self-hosted Gitea instance (including this website). Definitely feels good to be more in control of my code projects.
  • Drone CI - After moving away from GitHub, I needed to find a replacement for GitHub Actions, and Drone has definitely fit the bill. Easy to configure and use, and (most importantly) no "build minute" limits.
  • Miniflux - Everyone knows that Google Reader was one of the best Google products ever released, and while Feedly is a perfectly suitable replacement, I prefer something a little more slimmed down (and private). Miniflux is my favorite option of the bunch.
  • Reeder - Miniflux doesn't have a mobile client, but Reeder on iOS is a fantastic alternative that can connect to Miniflux directly.
  • AdGuard Home - I get it, Pi-holes are all the rage lately, but AdGuard home does the same thing with a significantly better user interface. It also seems to be more stable on my Raspberry Pi than Pi-hole was.

Services

  • Plex - I've been a Plex member for a very long time, and absolutely love the service. Some people aren't a fan of the "add-ons," like podcasts, streaming TV, and Crackle integrations, but those are easy enough to turn off, and the usability itself is excellent.
  • Evernote - I have always struggled with choosing a notes app. Over the years, I've used OneNote, Simplenote, Obsidian, Notion, and a handful of others, and no matter how hard I try I always end up right back at Evernote. The editor isn't the absolute best (I would love better Markdown support), but the support for managing and parsing external files is fantastic.
  • Instapaper - I've cycled through just about every "read later" service out there, from Pocket to Wallabag, but Instapaper is by far my favorite. It's simple, easy to use, and doesn't try to push social sharing too hard.
  • Readwise - As someone who reads a lot of books on Kindle, re-exposing myself to notes I've taken over the years is super valuable. Readwise pulls those notes in automagically, and sends me a daily digest of old and new highlights to review. I'm still currently evaluating Readwise, but so far I like it.
  • Snipd - I used to be a die hard Pocket Casts fan, but Snipd's ability to intelligently save slices of a podcast episode has converted me. As of right now, the only thing I miss from Pocket Casts is the auto-archive functionality, but I can definitely live without that.
  • Habitica - I jump around between todo apps a lot, but no matter how far I stray, I always come back to Habitica. It's not that it makes me any more productive than its competitors, but a roleplaying-game-as-productivity-tool is far more delightful to use.
  • Libby - I have a hard time borrowing physical library books because I enjoy highlighting passages and writing notes in the margins, but Libby helps with that by letting me borrow Kindle books from the library, which I can highlight and mark up all I want from my Kindle.
  • AnonAddy - As silly as it sounds, there are a number of legitimate reasons for using a unique email address for every service you sign up for. For one, it adds added protection against credential stuffing, and (in the case of AnonAddy) you can always burn an email that gets overloaded with spam.
  • Privacy - For the same reasons you might want to use a unique email for every service you sign up for, Privacy lets you generate a unique credit card for every service you pay for. That means if a provider gets hacked, or if they change their rates, you can be protected from unexpected expenses.
  • Tailscale - Tailscale is a no-BS, zero-config VPN that just works. Highly recommended if you are self-hosting anything that you don't want to give direct access to the internet.
  • Migadu Email - I moved off of Google for email a long time ago, and when I did I made the choice to move to a smaller, independent provider. Migadu fit the bill. It's simple, but powerful, and has super fair pricing.
  • DigitalOcean - I'm a huge fan of DigitalOcean. While most of the major cloud providers are too complex for my needs, PaaS solutions like Heroku are a little too niche. DigitalOcean hits the mark for me. It's what I host this site on, my gopher hole, and as all of my other self-hosted tools.
  • Cloudflare - There are a lot of reasons why you might not like Cloudflare, and that's okay. Personally, I enjoy using it. It gets the job done, and has a lot of power for the price point.