Essential Software

As a long-time nerd, I’ve used a lot of apps and have formed some very strong opinions about them. In 2021, these are my most essential apps for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.

Craft

I’ve always been a note-taker, and this app has been a revelation. I used to fill up notebooks and yellow pads, and eventually I graduated to taking notes digitally on my laptop and my iPad. I’ve had affairs with most major note apps — Evernote, Apple Notes, Bear, plain text. This year I was turned onto Craft, and I’m not sure what could make me leave it. Craft covers all of my requirements. My notes are portable: I can export them, or store them locally, or keep them in their cloud service for syncing across devices. I can insert virtually any kind of file, and append with notes. It supports iPad Pencil drawings. I can share notes with others. It easily imported my Bear and plain text notes (and even retained creation/modification dates!) This app does it all. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

1Password

Honestly, I only know one password — the password to my 1Password app. I don’t know the password to my email, bank accounts, blog, streaming services, etc. Everything is randomly generated, stored in 1Password, and synced across my devices. If a login is compromised and shows up on the dark web, 1Password alerts me and I can change the password. It supports virtually every login type from web, server, software license, credit card numbers, you name it. I’ve been using it for over a decade and it is irreplacable. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Things

Things is my other brain. Every reminder, project, or recurring task starts and ends in Things. The interface is beautifully designed and easy to use. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Soulver

There are many calculator apps, but none like this one. It’s a little bit like a standard calculator had a baby with a spreadsheet and a plain text document. This has probably been the most useful app in my professional life of the past decade. Mac/iOS/iPadOS

Alfred

This is an especially nerdy entry, and maybe not for everyone, but I consider Alfred an essential part of my Mac workflow. Most Mac users are probably familiar with Spotlight search: by default it’s the little magnifying glass button that lives in your menu bar (you can also hit command-spacebar to trigger it). It just brings up a simple search box that you can use to find (and launch) anything on your Mac. Alfred is a super-charged version of that. Alfred (like Spotlight) can be used to launch application by typing their name, or opening documents, but you can also use it to launch various workflows. I use Alfred (I launch it by typing option-space) to start web searches, and to add new tasks to Things. It has an integration with my favorite calculator app, so that I can perform calculations on the fly without opening another app. I can use it to create new calendar appointments, contacts, or even create new notes. It also has built-in support for Snippets, which is a massive time saver. As of this writing, per Alfred’s built-in statistics, since May 19, 2016, Alfred has been used 19,627 times on my Mac. It’s pretty essential. macOS only.

Unified Inbox

Via lolfi.com

Back in like 2004 or 2005 you had a BlackBerry. There was an “app” on there (they weren’t called apps back then) where you would see all your incoming messages. Any type of messages, doesn’t matter what “app”, what service, it was all there. For example:

Incoming email from gmail
Incoming email from Exchange
Incoming and missed phone calls
Text messages
BBMs
Facebook messages
Google Talk
You get the idea. It was all there in one pane of glass.

Now today.

I got my first Blackberry (issued by my employer) in 2004 and was immediately addicted1 to that unified messaging paradigm. Nothing else has come close to copying it. I suspect that for most people the stream from all of their services in one place would be completely overwhelming. Just triaging my email in one app is bad enough. Compounding it with text messages, Slack, phone calls, FB/Twitter/whatever would be unmanagable in 2021.


1When I had to turn my device in at the end of the job, I immediately drove to the nearest Cingular store to replace my personal device with a Blackberry; I could’t be without one.

Planning a Plan (for 2021)

via Evergreen Media:

If you’re asking, “what should I do differently [with my marketing plan] in 2021,” my response is this: be ready to do everything the same. And also different. Don’t be rigid with your planning, because everything could (and probably will…) be upended tomorrow.

Marketing Funnel Basics

via Evergreen Media:

Careful planning of your funnel will ensure that you have all of the necessary pieces in place so that you understand what works best for moving customers around your funnel.

Solving Facebook Ad Account Issues

via Evergreen Media:

If you are a regular advertiser on Facebook, you have certainly had the experience of an ad rejection. Ads can be flagged for any number of reasons, but they are usually easy to resolve (unless you need to generate all-new creative in order to get your ads back into compliance.) But what does it mean when Facebook shuts down your entire ad account, with no warning? Facebook does not give most advertisers any direct channels of support, so how do you get your ads back up and running?

Useful tips for Facebook marketers. If you run ads on Facebook, you’re going to run into one of these issues eventually.

Truth

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”.
– Isaac Asimov

Today

It was a little over six years ago that my family moved out of the Washington, DC area. After living and working there for almost a decade, it was our home. We had purchased our first home, and one of my daughters was born there. I never much cared for the area though, and I was glad when we were able to leave.

Today is the first time that I have missed being there. After four years of whatever in the hell this was, I’m watching the coverage of street celebrations and my hope is being restored.

Now we move forward. Now we solve some problems. Now we begin to heal.

I hope.

Sometimes I watch stuff

I think more than anything else this year, I’ve needed escapist entertainment. I avoid cable news at all costs, and I give a thumbs-down review to any shows which let the real world creep too much into storylines. This isn’t everything I have watched this year, but these are the (first run, not rewatches) shows that stood out. In no particular order:

  • The Boys: This Amazon show has been a revelation to me. Imagine if Fargo and Justice League had a baby, and then that baby’s first word was the c-word. Incredibly violent and gruesome, and with pitch-black humor. And, admittedly, it’s a little bit of a meta-commentary on current affairs (in violation of the rule I outlined in the introduction.) But still! It’s a damn near perfect antidote to the news. A
  • Fargo: As of this writing, we’re four episodes into the new season, but it’s great. Fargo is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I have every confidence that they will stick the landing. B+/Incomplete
  • Archer: Archer has emerged from his coma (which generated the storylines for the prior three seasons) and is back in the spy game. It’s a return to where the show started, and it’s been great. B+/Incomplete
  • Ted Lasso: An Apple TV+ comedy, and maybe my favorite show on the list. The initial trailer for this show did not do it any favors, so it’s best to jump right in without any preconceived notions about what this show is. It’s funny, and cheesy, and uplifting in ways that you didn’t know you needed. It’s a sports comedy with almost no sports in it. Ted Lasso is everything that I needed this year. A+
  • Away: Science fiction/family drama, this has been a pretty good show. B
  • Brockmire: This was the final season for one of my favorite comedies, and it did not disappoint. It was a weird departure from prior seasons (with a big time jump), but it was still very funny. B
  • Better Call Saul: BCS has been a nearly flawless show since the pilot episode, but this fifth season was incredible. Amazing storytelling. A+
  • Westworld: Since the first season, I’ve found it best to enjoy Westworld as a binge after all of the episodes are available. Even then, it can be a hard show to follow, with so many characters, plot-lines, and craziness to follow. I loved season 2, but my reaction at the end was “what the hell did I just watch?” Season 3 dialed back some of the crazy, and was a fun ride. B-
  • Hanna: I didn’t love the first season, but the sophomore effort was an improvement. B
  • Star Trek Picard: The episodes were up and down, but this was a welcome return to Star Trek, and to one of Trek’s best characters. B+
  • Altered Carbon: The first season of this show was violent spectacle, with a great cast and weird storytelling. Season 2 dialed down the spectacle (probably to save on production costs) but the story was better. Sadly Netflix decided there would be no third season, but the final episode doesn’t leave you hanging. B-
  • Mythic Quest: A new comedy from the creatives behind one of my other favorite comedies (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.) Similar to Ted Lasso, you should ignore the trailers and just watch this show. It’s very funny. B+
  • The Magicians: The final season of this series which has been described as “Harry Potter for grownups.” I rarely watch much fantasy, but this series has always been a favorite. Very funny, and a great cast. This final season was a little bit of a mess, but still enjoyable. B-
  • The Last Dance: This show debuted in the second month of the pandemic, and it was the first cultural event we’d had since February. Everyone was watching this. I’d been eagerly awaiting this since they announced it two years ago, and it did not disappoint. Without any actual live sports to watch, was the sports escapism that America desperately needed, and it helped us get through some dark days. A+

Etc: A few rewatches:

  • It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  • Justified (FX is heavily represented in my viewing, as usual…)
  • The Expanse (I rewatched the series twice this year, because it’s incredible. I will almost certainly watch it a third time before the 5th season debuts in December.)
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force

3 Disciplines for Marketing

Via Evergreen Media:

Supply chains have been disrupted, and brick-and-mortar shopping has taken a hit. Your customers are consuming more and more hours of content on streaming services and only want to shop via a mobile app.

These are permanent changes to how marketers plan their campaigns, but they don’t have to be permanent obstacles. To help adjust, here are three interconnected disciplines that every marketer needs to adopt.

Another thing I originally wrote for The Green Note, my marketing newsletter. I hope it helps my fellow marketers.