Favorite Things from 2014

February 2, 2015 at 9:31 pm

This is short and sweet, stuff you should look into.

Computer Hardware

13" Macbook Air

The 13” Macbook Air is an all-day marathoner when it comes to battery life. Performing tasks like basic email and web browsing on Wi-Fi grants close to 8 hours of battery. Weak points are computational power and the ability to run more than a dozen things at once.

15" Retina Macbook Pro

That’s where the 15” Retina Macbook Pro steps in. It’s a decent chunk bigger and heavier than the Air but the tradeoffs are a gorgeous screen and excellent mobile computing power. This is a workhorse designed for editing photos, video, and development tasks.

Of course, if you lean towards the 13” Air you can snag the excellent SurfacePad for Macbook which isn’t available on the Retina Macbook Pro line.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

When setting a laptop down there’s always the question “How long am I going to be here?” This question decides whether you should unravel a power cord and rummage around for an outlet. You shouldn’t have to decide, and if you have a dedicated workspace consider Apple’s Thunderbolt Display. It’s big, bright, and offers much needed screen real estate. I run two of these at home and put my laptop into a BookArc.

iPhone 6

I wasn’t a huge fan of bigger but the option to use Apple Pay and get 128 GB of storage wasn’t something I wanted to pass up. I’m in the camp of people who wish that next year’s lineup includes a refreshed 4” model so I can go back to things that comfortably fit in my hand and pocket.

iPad Air 2

I snagged an Air 2 to round out my Touch ID enabled devices. It’s noticeably thinner and a nice improvement to the Air.

Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate

I have to mention the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate which is my stalwart daily keyboard. Big, loud, and completely blank, it gets me through every day with a bit of whimsy. A loud bit of whimsy.

Essential Online Services

Trello

Why are you not using Trello (free)? Get an account right now. I’ve used it for everything from managing distributed team development projects to organizing a Thanksgiving menu. With available applications on all major platforms and a responsive web interface you can use Trello from anywhere. Made by the team at Fog Creek Software.

Basecamp ($25/month) is centralized email and a little bit extra. It’s not useful for any kind of large project management but as a central communications hub you could do a lot worse.

Amazon Prime ($99/year) deserves a top of the list mention. I placed 149 orders in 2014 which is almost 3 orders every single week. Returns have been fast, shipping speeds even faster. Know someone who doesn’t have Prime? Makes a great gift for any occasion.

Backblaze ($5/month) is a highly regarded online backup service. I have it installed on every computer I own and it’s great piece of mind.

Harvest (from $12/month) blows any other time tracking system out of the water. Compatible apps, online invoicing, different levels of rate management, and easy-on-the-eyes reporting all comes standard. I’ll be honest, it’s not as polished as I’d like but given the alternatives I’m very happy to recommend Harvest to anyone who needs a time tracking system.

Slack (from $0/month) is an exceptional team communications tool. They also just acquired Screenhero so maybe Skype can be ditched in the near future.

Adobe Creative Cloud (from $9.99/month) has an entry-level plan including Lightroom (my preferred photo organizer and editor) and Photoshop (the gold standard bitmap image editor). It’s worth it just for the mobile syncing with Lightroom Mobile.

Feed Wrangler ($19/year) goes great with Reeder. Solid feed service with no frills.

Mac Applications

Various applications worthwhile on OS X.

iOS Applications

I use all of these on a regular basis and can’t recommend them enough.

iOS Games

This is a mix of award winning and plain fun games I enjoy.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is one of those mind-bending puzzle games that’s still fun to play. This game was fantastic, and the team at ustwo released an expansion (in-app purchase) to extend the playing time. Monument Valley won an Apple Design Award in 2014.

Threes ($1.99) is another Apple Design Award winning game. It’s fast easy-to-play, hard-to-win logic style makes similar titles seem cheap and unfitting. Plug some headphones in and listen to the different voices each card combination brings. The attention to detail in Threes makes the entire experience very polished.

Tiny Wings ($0.99) is an addicting one-button arcade style game. Touch to sink, catch hills for speed, and don’t let the sun set.

Desert Golfing ($1.99) has amazing physics and a no-frills policy to do-overs.

Vainglory (free) is a MOBA “perfected for touch.” The controls and responsiveness are amazing, even if the lag kills at times. Plenty opponents means the wait time isn’t very long, but be prepared to dedicated 20-30 minutes per match.

Bicolor ($0.99) is an intriguing paint-by-numbers puzzler. Easy to pick up for a few minutes to a half hour.

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February 2015

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