Monday, 8 January 2018

5 Must Have Apps to Start Out 2018

Wassup, and happy new year 2018! Its really weird to see these numbers go up, and how far off Back to the Future 2 was in its predictions, I mean, where the hell are these hoverboards and pocket sized expandable pizzas? Get on it, tech world!

Since coming back from my Asia trip I have been keeping busy by applying to jobs, and continuing with projects, mostly some from the course which I wanted to re-go through and clarify. The blog has taken a bit of a seat back, it took me ages to get my Hong Kong blog out, and I'm still yet to do the Singapore one.

I thought I'd start out the new year by going through some of my top tips and tricks, and must have useful programs. When it comes to continuous tweaking and improvements, I'm totally obsessed with trying to make things better and more efficient, sometimes to my own procrastinating detrement.

I'm not paid for these promotions, and these apps are not new or anything like that, just super useful.


Price: Free, or $2/month Premium, or $4/month Family
Devices: Website, Chrome Extension, iPhone, Android

If there was one of these that I would tell you to get, its to get a password manager. For the love of God, just freaking get one. Stop making excuses and do it now!

I started using LastPass and now its something that I don't have to worry/think about. These days, a lot of websites will want you to sign up to them, and now I don't have to worry about which of my 4 passwords I will use, of which will have to be altered to certain sites which want numbers and/or capital letters etc.

Its quite mind blowing how common it is to have only a few number of passwords over all your sites. This, is way waaaaaaay worse for security, as once a password has been taken, the hacker can just try it over all of them. Now all my passwords are different, super safe completely random characters, and I don't even know what they are off the top of my head!

Chrome Extension makes it super useful!
Common annoying counter arguments;
  • Its not safe to store all your passwords in one place - The most common comment by people. You remember one master password that lets you into your page, but there are extra security steps that can be added if you prefer. When I was abroad, even though I had the correct master password, I still had to go through extra steps of email verification because it didn't recognise the ip address. This means if your master password gets stolen, it doesn't mean they can get into your account.
  • Its annoying to have to keep referring to it - Chrome has a great LastPass extension that helps you get the passwords without needing to login, or even see it, its up to the user to customise which webpages should have extra steps of security. It also has an iPhone app for the times you need to get your passwords when using your phone.
  • It can get hacked - LastPass has gained a reputation and is also used by leading tech experts.
Do yourself a favour and install it, if not LastPass do your own research and find a good password manager. Its amazing how many people don't do this.


Price: $10
Devices: Mac

One of the features of Windows 10 that I like is the way you can move your windows around and make it half screen by moving it to the left or right, and full screen by moving it to the top. Feels to me that these little "quality of life" small improvements are becoming more common in Windows features then Macs now.

Moom preferences page to set your custom window layouts

Moom is an app that lets you customise your window locations for Mac. You can add keyboard shortcuts to make windows go in a certain place. As developers, its quite common to find ourselves opening Atom/Some other Text Editor and also having a terminal on the side for practical reasons and also letting ourselves imitate cool matrixy style 'tech' stuff.

But annoying person number two (annoying person number one's brother btw who refuses to get LastPass) will harp in my ear about Apple's amazing swiping desktop feature!

This I certainly cannot argue effectively about why its not better, this will most likely be preference. However, for myself, I've found that the swiping gives me mass confusion about how many windows or desktops there are, especially working on multiple screens. That is to say, both screens can and will have separate swipable windows!

When it comes to efficiency, I don't want to spend time remembering to keep track of all my windows and desktops, especially when you end up with multiple Chromes open with stuff your referring to. Having the "Apple + Control" method with all my windows on top of each other, and positioned through Moom personally is what I like.


Price: Free
Devices: Mac, Windows

Flux noticeboard panel

Flux is an app which synchronises the light outside/time of the day to the colours of your monitor. This means that the later it is in the night, colours are adjusted to be more warm for your eyes.

Typically most people would have their monitor on the brightest setting, which kinda tricks your brain into thinking its still day. There's a lot of research to suggest that this is happening. Since using Flux for a few years now, I've actually found that I've slept better.


Price: Free
Devices: Add on to your web browser

Over time I have become more into minimal styles. My iphone only contains one screen of apps. Facebook also has been minimised to its bare bones usage. Another tip is to remove the phone app and just use it through your phone browser, as the app saps your battery life like nothing else!

I use Facebook for mainly its practical uses now, compared to before of hours spent of uneccessarily stalking of other people's lives. However, there is a ton of crap now. There are loads of menus, groups, trending, games etc etc.

Facebook Purity settings page

Use Facebook Purity to minimise all of that, and edit it to only show whatever you want. It will also tell you when you get unfriended, I'm sure its nothing personal!

When you add it you will get a logo of it on your facebook.


Price: Free
Devices: iPhone, Andriod

Waze for all you drivers out there. This is a GPS app bought by Google with a difference! The idea behind this is that it is a community driven GPS app. What does that mean? Well as a practical example, drivers that use the app can report if there is traffic or an accident at a location live, which will be updated for all other drivers.

Other features include map corrections, and hilarious (am I being sarcastic?) voices from promotions like Terminator or Star Wars. Opting in to reporting via motion movements as your driving will not only update and improve the mapping, but also is incentivised by points of which you can exchange for prizes.

So there you go, 5 great apps that I suggest you get and try out. Do you guys have any must have apps? I'd be interested to hear them and try them out too. Hope everyone has had an amazing Christmas break!

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