Some stuff I like, and why.

For writing:

Microsoft Word

I wasted a lot of time spreading my writing across many different apps, trying things out. Word is just better. The file management is better. There’s just something I enjoy about writing in word, naming the document, and saving it in a folder.

Apple Notes

And for just jotting things down? I also wasted a lot of time with a lot of other things there too, but Notes seems to have caught up to all those other things feature wise. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good.

Microsoft To Do

Keeping a task manager organized should not be an aggravating task. Microsoft’s To Do, is easily managed and just works.

For taking pictures of stuff:

There’s the axiom that the best camera to have is the one that’s always on you. Anyway, this is the part of the listicle where I get to say I like the iPhone. If I were to get a standalone camera of the iPhone’s quality, it would cost a lot of money, which eases the pain of the price tag on those things. Even their “affordable” model, the iPhone SE, has an excellent camera. I just like it. Do the other smartphones have good cameras? Yes. Sure. I haven’t used them so I can’t vouch for them but these days it seems like they’re all fine, but I can vouch for the iPhone camera.

Bicycle Tires:

Continental Gator Hardshells. A lot of my friends like the Gatorskins, but Gator Hardshells have reinforced sidewalls, Gatorskins do not. If you’re going spend on durable tires, you may as well spend a little more and get the most durable ones. You’ll save in the long run. I can’t say that I never get flats anymore, but I don’t get them often.

Reference Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica. If you don’t mind ads, it’s free on the web and the mobile app, or for $75/yr you can remove the ads. Considering how much the print edition used to cost, I think it’s worth paying for. I hate ads.

The web based version of Oxford English Dictionary is great, and you can use it for free -at least in New York- through your library card, but the mobile app stinks. There’s a whole bunch of OED apps, and I can’t make heads or tails of which one to bother with. Merriam-Webster on the other hand has ONE excellent app. I look up a word, and that’s that. The word, pronunciation, definition(s), examples of use, synonyms, antonyms, and history of the word come up in one entry. It may not be as upstanding in reputation as OED, but it just works.

For reading books on an electronic device:

I don’t own a kindle or a tablet, and now that smartphone screens are pretty big, I can’t justify getting one. Overdrive is the best app for taking books out of the library, and I think it’s the best app for reading because the margins are fully adjustable. For some reason, even the Kindle app, which set the mobile reading device standard, can’t do that.

For purchasing books, Kindle is best, followed by Apple Books, although I’ve read that authors and publishers get a larger percentage if you buy through apple rather than kindle, the tradeoff is the format is inferior.

If you think you can justify spending on a subscription. IF. Scribd has a wide variety of stuff and seemingly no limit on how many books you can have checked out at a time.

A wristwatch:

One that displays the time, date, and day of the week on one screen. You don’t realize how often you stop what you’re in the middle of doing to pull out your phone just to check the time or the date until you wear a wristwatch. I like Casios, they’re inexpensive and stylish. They even still make the old school ones with the calculator on them.

A watch that displays the time, date, and day of the week on one screen is all the smartwatch I need.

On deciding which apps to buy or use, and applying a philosophy to it:

Whatever software you’re using, whether it’s “free” or not, think about how the company that makes the product makes it’s money. I’m not going to get to into what is or isn’t an evil company, all companies are evil at least some of the time.

Microsoft is a software company, they make and sell software, and software as a service, and some hardware.

Apple makes and sells hardware and software, software as a service, and some media sales and subscription services.

Google is an advertising placement company, that makes some of it’s money off of software, software as a service, people’s data, hosting, and hardware, media sales, and subscriptions.

Facebook is an advertising company, and a data company. They make their money placing ads and selling people’s data.

I’m not sure what Twitter is, and by that, I mean I’m not sure how that company makes it’s money. I think it’s similar to Facebook.

WordPress makes content management systems and sells hosting services.

Amazon? Amazon seems to have it’s hooks in everything. I don’t know how they primarily make their money these days.

I’m not telling you whose products to use or not use, I use products from all of these companies. Sometimes I pay for them with money, and sometimes I pay for them another way, but I always pay for it, and in deciding what to use, I’m trying to consider things like:

What makes their stock price rise? And why? And when their stock rises, is that good? Or is it bad? What kind of labor practices do they have?

Does the product they make benefit people or cause harm? If the answer is a little of both, what’s the benefit:harm ratio?

Today’s Links:

Vlog Brothers’s Hank Green talks TikTok, Marshall McLuhan, and social media.

A terrific read from Jill Lepore in this week’s New Yorker.