Useful Tools

Personal recommendations for applications, devices, … [under consruction]

Most cost-effective computer I own? A Mac

If you are a diehard Windows fan then skip this paragraph. If you have an open mind and want the most effective computer to get some work done then get a Mac. I have used Windows in all of its various forms since the earliest days and still use Windows for some work and a few games. Ten years ago I purchased my first Macbook and since then my primary machine has been an Apple. The hardware is exceptional in design and execution. More to the point (for personal efficiency) a Mac is less effort to use and keep running. Even IBM has seen the light as this story in Business Insider attests. As the title declares, “Macs are a third as expensive to own as Windows PCs”.

Keeping notes, reminders, and lists on Evernote

I have Evernote on my phone, tablet and every computer in the house. It is indispensable for capturing small tidbits from the internet or something I am reading as well as being a useful notetaking application. The basic functionality is free (60 Mb/ month and syncs two devices) and for a small amount of money, you can sync more devices with more data and other useful features. If you use my link to get Evernote, I receive points good for additional months on my premium plan.

Writing with Scrivener

[1]Scrivener Image by Chris Lott and used under Creative Common LicenseIf you are a writer or want to be a writer or just want to look like a writer, get Scrivener. I use it on my Mac and iPad to write posts for the internet and chapters for the great American novel. The application is not free but there is a trial version so you can see if you like it. There is a Windows version as well although you should really do it right and get a mac (see above).

Reading it later with Pocket

[2]Image used under Creative Common License- linkI spend a lot of time (too much actually) reading online articles. One of the tools to help me capture and read articles offline (without all the ads and noise included) is Pocket. You can get the app free for your iPhone, iPad, and computer. After getting a free account and installing a small browser extension, you can capture any web page to your list so that you can read it later. It comes in very handy for offline reading on my iPad when there is no wifi nearby (O the humanity). Note that the app is “Pocket” but the website is

Google Domains – for domain names & renewals

I was once like you. I used to pay $10-15 per year for a domain name and then on top of that I paid for the “Domain Privacy Protection” or something similar at a rate of $11-15/year. Then my son pointed out that Google Domains provides most domains for .com or .org at $12 per year and this includes Whois privacy. You can migrate to Google Domains even if your domains are not nearing expiration. Do it now so you do not get trapped for another year at your current rates.

DigitalOcean – for websites and online applications

When I started creating websites I tried a couple of the popular WordPress shared web hosting companies. They were good for a start, particularly when I had a single site. However, as I added websites for myself and family members the costs went up geometrically. I also ran into problems debugging PHP code since the error logs and other tools were shared along with the hosting. Enter DigitalOcean.

Bringing up a WordPress website on a shared hosting arrangement is pretty painless. You point and click and pay and that is all there is to it. While it takes a bit more work to bring up a website on your own server, the economics make it worthwhile. I have my own server (yes, it is a virtual server so I am sharing hardware but the configuration, logs, etc., are mine) and can add the services, applications, etc., that I choose and at a very low cost.

Just because I like you … If you use this link (or any of the DigitalOcean links on this post) and you will receive a $10 credit for signing up. See their site for the details. Full Disclosure: Once you spend $25 with them I get a $25 credit for the referral so you can help me keep this site alive.

A few weeks ago I experienced a number of distributed attacks on several of the websites I maintain, including this one. The attacks were coming from a number of countries around the world and as I blocked one set of IPs, another source would start up. My solution came in the form of Cloudflare. I had heard of them before but never used them as I mistakenly thought they would be too expensive. They do have paid services for companies that require it but their free option was fine for me. Since I added them to the mix, the DDoS attacks have becoe a non-issue and my sites are loading faster thanks to the Cloudflare content delivery network.


1 Scrivener Image by Chris Lott and used under Creative Common License
2 Image used under Creative Common License- link

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