Tech & lifestyle novelties of the year 2019
This is the time of the year where you read everywhere what were the best things of 2019, etc. We also read a lot of “best movies of the decade” lists and “most impactful Instagram posts of the decade.” Yes, really. So I figured I too should maybe write down a list of tech and lifestyle things that made the past eleven months different than 2018.
Despite all the rage about wireless headphones, and the profound desire I have for the new AirPods Pro, I still have my good old Shure SE215 with me. They sound great, they are very comfortable, their in-ear design makes them good at isolating me from the noisy Parisian environment, and the cable is replaceable, which explains why I have been using them for almost 3 years now.
Where were COS clothes all my life?
After a three-year hiatus, I came back to the Apple mobile ecosystem and bought the new iPhone 11. First impressions: it feels good. So good in fact that iCloud Drive, Photos, and Safari’s Reading List feature allowed me to get rid of Dropbox, Instapaper, and Lightroom altogether. I even got rid of a dedicated writing app (which was Byword until recently) and I now use Notes as my go-to text editor.
Speaking of coming back to the Apple world, one new app I enjoy quite a lot is Shortcuts. It is still way too complicated and geeky to use extensively, so for now I am okay with the ones available in the gallery, or the ones I found online. I like the Preview Markdown shortcut, which works with Apple Notes, and the Remind me at home shortcut, which is a delight. MacStories came up with a great list, but I think Shortcuts may as well be part of Apple Arcade because if you are looking to pass the time, this is a dangerous black hole.
This year, I also spent a lot of time working on this blog. Obviously, not enough time publishing new posts, but a few hours tweaking the design here and there, adding categories, search, a blogroll, and, more recently, settling down on a new name. While I forgot to use the Onym toolbox for my inspiration, I could not have finalise this change without this wonderful drawing from Tom Gauld, and the Noun Project. What an incredible and affordable ressource of icons. A big shout out to Squarespace too, for making everything so easy, including the change of domain name.
I really embraced Markdown this year. The more I use it, the more natural it is for me to use. Some people look for a dark mode in their new apps, some look for Dropbox integration; I don’t: I look for Markdown support.
Apps, services, subscriptions
TeuxDeux has been one of my favourite to-do apps for a while. It is smart, it looks great, and it fits very well into my work habits. I use the greatly improved Apple Reminders for my personal to-dos, but for work, TeuxDeux is my rock (and it supports Markdown).
RSS comes and goes in my digital life. When I begin to subscribe to too many feeds, it can get overwhelming, and when the feeds are not updated frequently enough, I tend to skip the RSS app. For a while, I found that receiving the updates once a day through email was the perfect way to subscribe to RSS feeds. RSSMailer is a fantastic tool for that: everyday at 7am or so, I received new entries: it felt like getting a fresh, personalised newspaper every morning.
I recently switched back to Feedbin, because if I wanted to check my RSS feeds later in the day, it felt less natural to go back in the email app to find the latest email from RSSMailer. It is also cheaper. I use RSS mostly for blogs, websites, and a few newsletters, but also to subscribe to YouTube channels, so I don’t have to stay logged in Google all the time in my browser.
Since we are talking about RSS, it makes sense to talk about podcasts. This year I added a few novelties, where Unhappy Hour is still a cherished moment of my week. Among them, I want to point out North V South,1 which always makes me want to become a freelancer, read science-fiction books, and eat steak pie.
I mentioned Apple Arcade earlier and so far I am liking it a lot. The games available are very diverse, and some of them are quite beautiful.2 My favourite so far has been Tangle Tower: highly recommended if you like whodunnit stories.
Objects & products
I got a cheap Magic Keyboard case that doubles as an iPhone/iPad stand, and gave a second life to the standalone bluetooth keyboard I bought for my previous job.
Wireless charging may seem like something you don’t need, but we got two wireless chargers on our nightstands, and no more can I see myself plug a cable in my phone, like an animal.
After years of searching for the perfect deodorant, I finally found it: it smells good, it works well, is actually cheaper than anything else,[^4] and comes without packaging. What more can you ask?
I can barely find time to play with my Nintendo Switch: I will hopefully spend some time with Link’s Awakening during the winter break.
My Facebook account was definitely closed earlier this month, and now I am currently wondering if I should also close my Instagram account.4 Not only Facebook is a company I want to stay away from as much as I can, but every single minute I spend on Instagram is a minute I don’t spent on something truly interesting, or more useful. My never-ending reading list for instance, or actually taking pictures instead of looking at them.
The main victim of the surprisingly good camera quality of the iPhone 11 is my beloved Fuji X-E2 mirrorless camera. Not only do I keep forgetting to bring it along with me when I travel, but I never seem to be able to find time to import the photos I managed to take with it. Photos taken with my iPhone look great, and are ready to be edited, shared, and instantly backed-up in the cloud.
Hopefully in 2020 I will keep on publishing new articles here on a somewhat regular basis. It is evidently harder than it looks, and it is not only time that is necessary to blog: energy is needed too. Having both available at the same time is not something guaranteed to have each day, but I hope to get around 15-20 new posts a month.
If this publishing pace is maintained, I may experiment on sending blog entry links through a newsletter: I am very tempted to try Squarespace email solution, but I am also a big fan of what Substack is doing. We shall see.
I will maintain my minimalist shopping habits for clothes: only browsing items from three different brands is liberating, and has worked really well for me so far. COS just made the list, we will see if new brands make their appearance in the future.5
On a final note, I have to confess that I really enjoy reading this kind of lists. I am always curious to see what tools other people are using, what they like, and their finest discoveries. Twitter is a great place for this, but I thought this would be an easy post to write. It ended up bigger that I expected, but I hope you enjoyed it. If you too write such a list by the end of the year, please, make sure to share it with me.
Last year’s crowned show for me was obviously Hilda.4. One bar can last me more than two months, so the math is easy.↩︎
For now I have set up my iPhone to block my access to Instagram after five minutes each day, which works really well.↩︎
At the moment, I only shop for clothes at COS, MUJI, and Asics. That’s it.↩︎