Last night I bought my @hey.com email address subscription after trying it for a few days. I have been following HEY ever since Jason gave a heads up earlier this year. Since this is from Basecamp, I knew it is going to be amazing and it is! I signed up as soon as I got an invite a few days ago and I loved everything about it: the onboarding, speed, features, simplicity and privacy. But most importantly, I subscribed to the HEY Manifesto and the principles of its principals Jason and DHH and their Small Tech company, Basecamp.
I never thought I would pay for an email service, but it is probably the best ninety-nine US dollars I spent lately. Like many people, last time I was this excited about an email service when Gmail was introduced in 2004 (or 2005?). Big Tech is so pervasive, and it is not going to go away anywhere or any soon. But where possible and affordable, I think we should support subscription-based services offered by Small Tech companies; they cost money upfront, but they don’t sell your privacy and data to the highest bidders to display ads.
If you want to check more about HEY, I suggest these links:
This REWORK Podcast episode. DHH’s passion towards the end of the episode is contagious. Don’t miss it. I bet you will laugh and learn a few things!
I finally removed the Microsoft Outlook app from my phone. It still keeps freezing and getting in my way.
The Outlook tech support person was kind and offered further help when I blogged and tweeted my troubles with the app in October.
However, I still face this problem with the app. The frequent “performance improvements and big fixes” in the app’s version history doesn’t inspire my confidence. I captured only the latest few in the following screenshot but the same note repeats for many earlier versions.
I have enough demands in my life that I don’t want to spend any time to uninstall, reinstall, and configure my email accounts, and setup my preferences.
I just want a simple app that lets me check my email on my phone with as little effort as possible, so I can move on to deal with other challenging aspects of my life.
Outlook app is not fitting this bill anymore. So I simply uninstalled the app and reinstalled the iOS Mail app.
That’s the brutal reality of life. And I say this as a tech support person myself. It helps me empathise with the problems my customers face with the technology I support.
Uninstalling and reinstalling is not as easy as it sounds on the surface. It costs time and effort that can’t always be justified. It is much more quicker and easier to switch to an alternative app like I did. It helps to remember this fact and acknowledge it before dispensing this seemingly benign and common advice to customers.
It’s not the customers’ job to help troubleshoot problems with the technology they have been kind enough to use in a world where they have a lot of choice.
It is 2019 and I wonder why there are no messaging apps that will let me choose the people from whom I wish to receive notifications. Right now, the notifications are all or none deal and I default to none. Which is better, but not best. As people start getting detached to devices and start prioritising their offline lives, I think there would be a lot of demand for a user-centred notification system.
The closest I know is of the VIP feature in the iOS Mail app. But that’s not good enough. My dearest people will not email me; they either call or text.
I’d be very willing to open my wallet for such an app. Let me know if you know of any. Although I am sceptical that someone will build such a user-friendly app, I’d be thrilled to be proved wrong.
Since then I noticed that from time to time my timeline preference is falling back to top tweets without my intervention. But I wasn’t totally sure because I did not think Twitter may be overriding my preferences. Today I realized it is indeed the case!
As shown in the following screenshot of the iOS app on my phone, Twitter is overzealously overriding my timeline preference to what it wants me to see.
Every time Twitter does this to me, I have to tap the star icon at the top right and change the preference to latest tweets.
This is my first-hand experience of a social network’s aggressiveness towards its users. I still stand Twitter because I often find useful information on it via the cool people I follow. But when the time comes, I don’t think twice to leave the platform. Until then, I will put up with this nuisance.
I recently changed my Twitter iPhone app from Tweetbot 3 to the default Twitter iOS app.
Twitter for iOS app is largely good. But I noticed that my Twitter timeline both in the browser and iPhone app got noisy than they should be for the fifty people I follow. This is making me spend (not waste) more time than I would like to spend on Twitter. The clutter also means the actual tweets from the people I follow, the tweets I would love to see, are buried in the noise. This made me feel like I am missing important tweets.
I only ever wanted to see the tweets from the people I very carefully and deliberately choose to follow, in the order they are tweeted. Nothing more.
This has been a great revelation for me! This is my first-hand experience of Twitter’s aggressiveness and setting the defaults that work better for Twitter but cleverly wrapped as what I likely care about most.
For many weeks I thought there is no way around it and felt like I have to live with it. But having had enough, this week I decided to check if there is a way to declutter my timeline. I poked around the settings on my Twitter account and found this gem (in the red box) at https://twitter.com/settings/account:
You can choose between viewing the top Tweets first or the latest Tweets first in your timeline (Twitter for iOS and Android only). Top Tweets are ones you are likely to care about most, and we choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more. You can find instructions on how to toggle between the two timeline views below.
At the end of the same help page, I also found the instructions to turn off Top Tweets in the iOS and Android apps.
So changing the Twitter’s default settings by turning off Show the best Tweets first in the browser and toggling to latest Tweets in the iOS app made my twitter timeline much cleaner and calmer in both the places I check my tweets.
Barring these little annoyances, Twitter is the only social network I use and find really helpful by being deliberate about who I choose to follow, and override some of its default settings I mentioned in this post.
I have been looking for Wunderlist replacement since last year. I can feel Wunderlist is staling. Wunderlist’s new incarnation, Microsoft To-Do, isn’t making good progress. It lacks basic features like sub-projects et al. Given how long it’s been since Microsoft’s acquisition of Wunderlist was announced and the development progress of the To-Do app, I have no hope that To-Do will be worth the wait.
Trello seemed to be a good replacement for a bit, but on looking deeper, Trello is a great project management tool, but not so much a to-do list. Sure, I can tweak Trello’s boards with checklists, but that’s taking one tool and making it work for something that it is not designed for. I prefer to avoid such hacks where possible. Sorry, Davor!
As luck would have it, I recently learned that blog has moved to WordPress. While reading their beautiful and minimally designed blog, I came across this great post titled Why We Don’t Have an Exit Strategy. That post made me confident that Doist is going to be around for a long time if not forever. (By the way, that’s exactly how blogging helps spread your message and grow your business. So go blog!)
So that helped end my (re)search for the next to-do app. I look forward to Todoist Premium for a long time.
Wunderlist — you have been great while you lasted. But it’s time for me to move on to greener pastures.
I imported my Wunderlist to-dos and projects to Todoist. I will soon upgrade to Premium. I also need to set up some zaps and other workflows that will take some time, but I should be done with Wunderlist by the end of this quarter.
Earlier this month I signed up for Grammarly to improve my writing. I used it for a few weeks, and it seemed like a useful app to help me write better. So I thought of upgrading to Pro but haven’t opened my wallet.
Then an email appeared on 10 Nov suggesting me to upgrade for a 40% discount but only for the next 48-hours. It was tempting. But I am so used to email marketing. So I chose to wait. Then the Last chance: email came on the second day. I ignored it.
The upgrade went up to its full price. I was worried and even regretted not opting for the 40% discount. But I also hoped that if I pretend to ignore for a few more weeks, maybe the email marketing bot would send me the 40% discount email again. So I continued to wait.
Last week I received a Black Friday discount for 55%. This time I did not waste time to upgrade.
Could I have gotten more discount if I waited for more? Who knows? Have I fallen for marketing? Probably. But I felt 55% off is a right balance between the price I am paying and the value I think I am getting for my money.
It is another good reminder for me in this consumerist society to not fall for instant gratification. Good things generally come to those who wait.
I already use some apps like Wunderlist, Slack and VLC mentioned in that list. But one app that I felt I could use is Itsycal. It shows the calendar from the menu bar; something I wish the default time date / time app on Mac showed. Itsycal also connected to the calendar app on the Mac and synched all the events. I am no longer using the default time app on the menu bar. Now my calendar is just Ctrl + I away.
I broke the streak once in June 2016, not because I slacked but because I was stuck on the dated iPhone 4 running on dated iOS 7 on which the Elevate app was slow and crashed repeatedly. I was also traveling and didn’t have reliable internet. I couldn’t let all this break my 610 day streak at that point. So once I am on the reliable phone and internet, I completed a handful of games retrospectively to fix the streak. And of course, playing Elevate is a fun way to improve vocabulary and math skills little bit everyday.