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Best of 2023

Tags: best-of, goals • Categories: Productivity

Table of Contents

I’ve always enjoyed the "best of" posts—it’s a great way to find something interesting & new. I wanted to add to the fun this year! Following up on my 2023 retrospective, here are my favorites of the last year.

  • Texts. Continues to be my all-time favorite app. Texting has always been a massive pain for me and Texts has solved that problem: snooze, scheduled send, tags, multiple inboxes, cross platform app, etc. Can’t recommend it enough.
  • SuperHuman. I resisted using this email client for a while. It’s not improving as quickly as it should, there are still weird issues with it, but some of the core features are really useful (multiple inboxes, better keyboard shortcuts, and fine-tuned UX). It’s worth the overhead of understanding and using a separate tool.
  • Obsidian. Great notetaking tool. It’s like VS Code for writing. Only thing it’s missing is collaborative editing.
  • Reader. This read-later app has stuck for me and continues to get better quickly. Mobile app is great, has an RSS reader, you can forward emails, reads PDFs, allows you to share annotations, has an Obsidian integration, etc.
  • Whisper-based Dictation. Especially when holding babies, whisper dictation allows you to get a lot done.
    • It’s been interesting to see how dictation changes how you communicate information. It’s not just faster and hands-free compared to typing, it changes the way you communicate. I’m unsure if this is positive or negative at this point, but my hypothesis is (a) you’ll learn to speak more clearly and (b) the speed and effortlessness of speaking will allow your mind to spend more energy on the actual thinking.
  • TablePlus. Awesome database GUI tool. Great UI, compatible with basically every database (including redis!).
  • Awair. I work in a tiny house I built and it doesn’t have great airflow (one of the primary mistakes I made building it!). It’s been interesting to watch CO2 levels and how much I need to leave the window open to clear out the CO2, especially when I’m working out.
  • Tmux. Outside of ChatGPT/Copilot, this has been the single best tool for increasing my engineering productivity this year. Programmatically manipulating text on the screen is really powerful; wish I could do this across macOS.
  • The Hidden Life. One of the more interestingly-shot and compelling films I’ve seen in the last year or two.
  • Homerow. Click buttons with keyboard shortcuts. Wish the dev would sell it off or spend more time on it though; there are some quirks with electron apps that need to get fixed.
  • Tailscale. I have a pi running at home with a bunch of docker containers, tailscale is great at making it easy to connect to it anywhere.
  • Green Smoothies. I love eggs for breakfast and I’ve resisted these for years, but it’s been a great way to ensure you get your greens + protein in right away.
  • Turn: Washington’s Spies. Such a great series, although technically this was a 2022 thing.
  • YMCA of the Rockies. Great affordable family resort. World class location; right next to Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Triumph of the Heart. Documentary a friend is creating; it’s been awesome to watch this come to life and hear what it takes to build a movie from the ground up. Mad respect.
  • Regina Caeli Hermitage. An incredible place close to Denver where I’ve been able to take silent retreat days. If you haven’t done multiple days in silence, I’d highly recommend it. Completely unplugging from the noise is a wild experience.
  • Costco Lemon & Ginger Kumbucha. I’ve become a big fan of kombucha. This Costco-brand kombucha is my favorite.
  • The Arcadian Wild  Favorite new artist of this year. They say music tastes are calcified when college ends, but my emerging love of bluegrass has proved this wrong.
  • ActivityWatch. I’ve been using this for years, but it’s gotten some great upgrades in the last year and is helpfulf for auditing where you spend your time.
  • Chipotle-like restaurants with kids. Going out to eat with kids is almost always a massive pain and not worth the effort. The hack for us has been doing Chipotle-like restaurants (Garbanzo is great in Denver) with the kids: it’s quick, kids can run around more than in a normal restaurant, and it’s cheap enough that you aren’t frustrated if the kids don’t do well and you can’t enjoy the meals.
  • OrbStack. Way better than Docker Desktop.
  • LunchMoney. Great personal finance app. Continues to incrementally get better and I’ve been able to eliminate most of my pet peeves with some tools I built.
  • Become Good Soil. I’ve continued to get a lot of out Morgan Synder’s work. Worth investigating.