productivity tools

Last week my laptop stopped backing itself up. Fast forward several hours later and some operating system files appeared to be corrupted and the best solution was simply to back up my most important files and do a clean install. In a way, I’m glad I did. This m1 macbook air is still fantastic in every way but it had accumulated two years worth of digital barnacles.

After the relatively mild procedure, I realized it would take a bit of work to get the bare minimum utilities installed before I could do anything useful at all.

Here is the list of ‘power apps’ that absolutely must be installed:

Enpass – password manager. This is essential. One can simply not do anything efficiently without a good password manager. I used to use LastPass and after the second system-wide hack, I decided I was done with a cloud app. I liked Bitwarden but eventually decided on Enpass for a couple of reasons.

  1. It runs locally.
  2. It backs up the entire encrypted database on a secure cloud service of my own choosing
  3. It’s free unless you want to sync multiple devices

Other things it does really well is handle 2FA codes and now it has passkeys built in as well. It is stable, fast, and streamlined with only the features I need and none of the ones I don’t. For example it does not do password sharing with other accounts, or family accounts. Instead, it focuses on the highest level of security and strongest available encryption.

Yubico Authenticator – Enpass now includes the ability to manage 2-factor-authentication codes and I’ve started using that more. But the yubikey hardware can hold 25 codes and I have some of my accounts grouped onto the yubikey that I always have on my macbook.

Microsoft OneDrive – I like OneDrive waaaay better than Apple’s iCloud. It work well for syncing files on my macbook, and for sharing files across my various devices and with collaborators. Plus the subscription includes all the enterprise Microsoft Office apps which are in a completely different league from Google Docs when it comes to actually getting work done. I need my Excel! OneDrive is for documents I am actively working on.

Brave web browser – I use different browsers for different applications but Brave is my daily driver for productivity. It has better security features than Chrome, but uses the same engine under the hood. Firefox is good. I just don’t get along with Safari’s interface.

Proton VPN – As a matter of general network hygiene I connect via VPN. It eases my mind since I work from coffee shops frequently and travel constantly. The privacy and security of using a commerical VPN definitely outweigh the occasional annoyance of a service that blocks access through known VPNs. – secure cloud storage. Very affordable and very secure. I use it for media files that I want to share privately and for more sensitive documents than I put on OneDrive.

Logseq – this useful application is always open on my desktop. I use it to keep track of tasks I’m working on, keep a log of things I accomplish, stash links and bookmarks, and even some mild project planning. This is an indispensable tool. Alternatives include Evernote and Notion but the simplicity and stripped-down functionality of Logseq make it essential for day-to-day work.

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