‘Tis The Season… The season where bloggers, such as myself, put out posts filled with affiliate links that suggest things you should buy. I’ve never been one to miss out on a trend, but rather than write a “wishful buying” post, I figured I’d share the things I picked up this year that I still enjoy. I am yet to regret these purchases and I’m really, really good at regretting my purchases…
So, to review, everything here, I own and love. And most things here include affiliate links.
Emergent Task Planner – David Seah’s ETP changed my game. I start every morning with it at work, use it to pull my tasks and appointments into one place, and plan my day. It’s a big part of my morning routine and it makes my days far more productive. While there is a full page version, I love the smaller “sticky note” style pad. You can read more on how I use the ETP here.
Capture Cards– While I still tend to grab one of Stephen Hackett’s forms before a scheduled meeting, I enjoy being able to grab one of Aaron Mahnke’s Frictionless Capture Cards to capture notes from ad-hoc meetings and conversations. Much as I love technology for capturing ideas, I hate using an iPhone, iPad or Mac when sitting face to face with someone. Aaron’s cards give me an aesthetically pleasing, durable way to always have something with me.
Crashplan (with Backup Seeding) – Earlier this year, we were robbed. This robbery coincided with the time that my off-site backups were home for refreshing. While much of my data lives in the cloud, we lost nearly a year’s worth of photos (less what we were able to recover from devices and various websites). To ensure that this never happened again, I invested in a cloud backup. Unfortunately upload speeds here in Brooklyn are awful, but thankfully Crashplan offers a way to “seed” your backup for an additional fee.
Sentry Digital Safe – Part two of my robbery recovery was a digital safe that we could bolt to the floor (or wall). Put simply, we were careless with important things. We had a fireproof lock box for papers, but backup drives and much of my wife’s jewelry were left exposed. It was a painful lesson to learn, so please… learn from my pain.
Bloc – This is a bit of a cheat as I didn’t buy the Bloc (it was a gift from the designer); however I love it. I use the hell out of my Apple TV, but the damn thing was always falling behind my television. Thanks to the Bloc, this is no longer an issue. Austin does a wonderful job with this product. It’s a well-crafted wood “bloc” that looks great on our TV stand and ensures that the Apple TV stays exactly where I want it. I haven’t had to dig behind my TV for some time and I do not miss that at all…
Aeropress – Read enough blogs on tech and productivity (or just listen to even a single episode of Shawn Today) and it becomes difficult not to want to up your coffee game. I’d never been much of a coffee drinker in my life (the majority of my exposure to it has been Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and random NYC bodegas), but after experimenting with the Aeropress, I think I’ve become a coffee snob for life.
Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder – Not knowing my ass from my elbow when it comes to this kind of stuff, I decided to let far more experienced, far more discerning minds lead me in the right direction for my “equipment”. Having heard that the grinder is one of the most important aspects of a great cup of coffee, I did a little digging (mostly on Marco Arment and Shawn Blanc’s sites) and landed on this grinder. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and while I still have a lot to learn, I can tell you that it helps make a damn fine cup of coffee.
Blue Yeti – Hard to believe that I’ve been podcasting for nearly a year now (especially when you consider how bad I still am at it), but as someone who was just starting out, I loved my Yeti. While I may be getting ready to upgrade to the Rode Podcaster (apparently this is a podcaster’s right of passage), the Yeti was a great, quasi-affordable way to cut my teeth.
Fantastical for iPhone and iPad– I’m a big fan of aligning my tools. I look to use the same app in several places. So I was excited when Flexbits announced that they had released an iPhone version of one of my absolute favorite Mac applications. The app is nothing short of great. The calendar is easy to navigate and the entry cannot be beat. The only things I miss from my former calendar app, Agenda, was notifications (which were nice to have) and Due integration (which I’m really missing). Still, Fantastical is easily the best calendaring experience I’ve had on my phone.
Camera+ for iPhone and iPad is nothing new, I was a little late to the party. As someone who uses the iPhone as his primary camera (much as I love the occasional reason to break out my Nikon D40), Camera+ was a breath of fresh air. Rather than having to edit and cull my photos from my Camera roll (which often overloads Photo Stream with garbage), I shoot and edit in Camera+ and put my favorites in the camera roll. Their latest offering is an iPad version with iCloud integration that allows me to shoot on the iPhone, edit on the iPad and save back on the iPhone… which I love.
Day One for Mac – I’ve never been much of a diary or journal guy (although I guess you could argue that this blog has aspects of both of those), but I’ve come to love Day One as a method of chronicling life’s little frustrations and joys. It’s a great app (both on the Mac and iOS) that makes it easy to capture these moments, but can also prove useful for chronicling larger undertakings (such as my crossfit workouts).
Notesy – After having several cases of data loss with my previous iOS text editor of choice, Simplenote I set out to find a suitable replacement. With far too many options to choose from, I thought this would be an easy task, sadly there isn’t a Dropbox based application that matches Simplenote’s balance of features and simplicity. After spending far too much money trying things out, I settled in on Notesy. The sync is rock solid and the app is well done. The last update finally brought URL schemes to the app allowing for Launch Center Pro sync (although there’s still a minor bug with capitalization) and the Instapaper integration I loved with Simplenote. While it’s still not exactly what I’d like, I’ve been very happy with it.
Radiolab – I may or may not have bought this app simply so I could have another excuse to talk about it. Ever since being introduced to Radiolab on an episode of Back to Work, I’ve been slowly working my way through their catalog. I’m obsessed. It never ceases to amaze me just how captivating they manage to make even the most mundane of topics. Don’t believe me, start with this episode about ant migration. Boring as it sounds, you’ll be hooked.
App.net – I’ve been struggling to put my appreciation for App.net (or ADN) into words. It’s not that the technology behind it is anything revolutionary. In fact, Twitter users will find themselves right at home. Although unlike Twitter, it’s a focused network. These are my people, geeks, tech nerds, productivity weirdos, writers. It’s a small, quiet corner of the internet where we can all be ourselves. I really need to put more thought into why (for a future post, of course) but ADN made me remember what it is that I loved about Social Networks in the first place. It’s also helped me rethink my approach to the rest of them…
Journal of Best Practices – I don’t think I’ve ever recognized myself in a book quite as much as I did with David Finch’s hilarious, yet honest memoir. As I’ve shared on the site and during my interview with David, this book hit me hard. It actually led me back to therapy and forced me to completely reexamine the way my ADHD was impacting my marriage. Which, come to think of it, is a really bad way to explain just how much I think most of you would enjoy this book…
A Brilliant Novel In The Works – I’m a fan of Yuvi Zalkow, I think we all know that by now. His willingness to throw himself under a bus for his own work has inspired much of my own efforts over the past few years. His novel about a guy named Yuvi, who is kind of like real-life Yuvi, will crack you up, it will make you cringe and it will want to make you read more. I enjoyed every second I spent in (fake?) Yuvi’s world.
Enough – As a person who is prone to lapses of mindlessness, Patrick’s ode to the mindful was something I looked forward to last year and cherished in 2012. The philosophy in this book is not one that I instantly relate to, but it’s one that I strive for. This isn’t a byproduct of the writing by the way, just a byproduct of who I am. While the work of guys like Yuvi and David speak very much to who I am, Patrick tends to speak more to who I’d like to be. This was a pleasurable and eye-opening read.
The Alchemist – I know everyone and their brother read this book, but it took me a little longer in life to get around to it. If, like me, you’re one of the three people that hasn’t picked up Paulo Coelho’s fable about pursuing your personal legend, do it now. Also if, like me, you enjoy a good audiobook from time to time, Jeremy Irons gives a phenomenal reading.
Stumbling Towards Happiness – I’ve only just started Daniel Gilbert’s examination of happiness and our often flawed attempts at finding it in our lives. Even the few moments I’ve spent with it have already paid dividends.
World Domination Summit – There are two kinds of eye-opening experiences in your life: the ones that happen to you and the ones you seek out. WDS was the latter. I had hopes that it would be important and boy was it. Not only did I get to spend time with some amazing people (and Mike Vardy), but it really forced me to reexamine what I’m doing with my life and to be far more intentional about the way I go through it. If you listen to the podcast, you see how often it comes up. There wasn’t any specific moment or talk that I could point to, but the entire experience is something that will stay with me for years.
Crossfit – Mid-way through this year, I was the heaviest I’d been in a long time. I couldn’t tell you if I know if I had just given up on personal health, if I was overcoming bad thoughts with “good” foods or was trying to force myself towards rock bottom, but it got to a point where something had to give. In the past, I’d tried gym memberships, personal trainers, apps that get you off the couch, but nothing has been as enjoyable or lasting as Crossfit. I’ve only been with it for about four months now (and I still suck at it), but the group class approach has helped push me from the bottom of the list to one or two people above the bottom of the list (yay progress…) and has already made an impressive impact on my still unimpressive body. I still have a ways to go, but for the first time in my life, I actually want to keep going.
There are plenty of things I wasted money on, plenty of things that I enjoy, but really didn’t need and a few things that I’ll probably come to regret, but these were the things that I added to my personal pile of crap that made life just a little more enjoyable this year…
How about you? What did you pick up in 2012 that you’ve enjoyed and think others might as well?