WildBill's Blogdom

Mongo only pawn, in game of life.

Things I Am Digging

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A quick blog post – just thought I’d put a list of things out here. A list of things. A list of things I am currently digging.

  • IFTTT: If this, then that. A deceptively simple website that lets you do ALL kinds of internet automation tasks. For instance, I have it setup to send a post to FaceBook and Twitter when I blog something. It also checks the weather each night, and sends me a text that says “Bring an umbrella!” if the weather forecast says it’s going to rain the next day. It’s hypernerdly, very powerful, and very easy to use. Exactly the kind of thing I dig.

  • Instapaper: Another web service that’s deceptively simple, Instapaper is a “Read It Later” kind of service. Drop links there so you can… read them later, either on your computer, phone, or tablet. It beats creating a bookmark file a mile long.

  • Drafts: Drafts is a really cool little iOS app (not universal, there are separate iPhone and iPad versions). It’s basically a quick-entry text dumping ground, with optional sync between iPhone and iPad versions if you have both those devices (and buy the corresponding app for each). The really powerful bit about Drafts, though, is the “actions” you can define for each Draft you compose. Through actions you can define a whole bunch of custom behaviors, including passing off Drafts to other apps. This enables Drafts to be your sole entry point for any type of writing – from blog posts, to Evernote entries, to tweets. It’s pretty powerful stuff, once you get your head around it and play with it. For instance, I have a “Journal” Draft Action that will drop a Journal entry into a file I keep in my Dropbox, as well as copy that entry over to Day One. Speaking of Day One…

  • Day One: Day One is an amazing journalling app for the Mac and iPhone/iPad. It’s got a great UI and has some great add-on features to make each journal entry more rich, such as capturing your current location and the current weather. Plus thanks to Brett Terpstra’s app, “Slogger”, you can use it to keep track of other things like social media postings and Instagram pictures.

  • LG HBS-700 Bluetooth Headphones: Picked up these headphones on impulse at Best Buy for like $39 one day. They aren’t the newer HBS-730 model you can find out there for like $65 – the main differences between this older pair I got and the newer HBS-730 are that the 730’s got an improved Bluetooth encoding method and voice prompts for things like battery level. But I hear reports of crap range with the HBS-730, and these HBS-700s have GREAT range. I can practically leave the phone on my desk at home and wander into the back bedroom and the music still plays. Plus they work as a headset for phone calls, and get great battery life. Not bad for forty bucks.

  • Ulyssesand Daedalus Touch: Two newish text editors from the “Soulmen”, for the Mac and iOS respectively. These are minimalistic editors made for folks who love to write in Markdown, plus they’ve got all kinds of cloud integration (both iCloud and Dropbox, if you swing both ways). I’ve switched to use both of these editors for my writing, just because they get the hell out of the way and let you concentrate on putting words on paper.

  • Samsung ARM Chromebook 3G: It’s a $329 laptop with built in free 3G for two years and runs Linux. It’s awesome. I still love my iPad, but damn, a near disposable laptop for hacking? Neat. I’d get more into this now, but I wrote a review on it for Linux Journal, so I’m clamming up.

  • Cloud Storage: I’ve got Dropbox, Box, Cubby, and now Copy cloud storage services. Kinda overkill, but you can never have too much cloud storage, if you ask me. By the way, if you sign up using my Copy referral link, we each get a bonus 5GB for free. So c’mon, pimp my Copy. ;)

  • Timbuk2 bags: If you need a bag, check these folks out. Amazing build quality on their bags. I got a Commute TSA Messenger bag at Christmas time to replace my 10 year old laptop backpack, and was so happy with it I grabbed a Pisco Backpack to haul my iPad around in. The Pisco in particular is neat - it’s bigger inside than it looks. I use it at conferences because it can carry a fair amount, but it’s still light and tiny. It’s got enough space inside to hold a 13” MacBook Air (or an 11” Chromebook) AND an iPad, along with the chargers for both, and have room left over for other things. Plus, Timbuk2’s support is great - I had to deal with them for a defective Kindle cover and they just made it right, no questions asked. Good stuff, all around.

Finally, I want to talk briefly about Octopress. Holy cow, this has made blogging fun again. Now that I’ve got all the initial look/theme/feel laid out and out of the way, I can just go ahead and put fingers to keyboard and not worry about whether or not I have to figure out if I have to update WordPress or any of its plugins… again… Since the blog is just static HTML sent straight of an S3 bucket, I also don’t have to worry much about any vulnerabilities and the like. All the content and config is contained in my git repository, so I don’t have to worry about backups, either. Peace of mind – it’s a good thing.