Last year, I wrote about the seven apps that I pay for. I thought it might make a nice annual post, since things fall in and out of that list, and I think it’s always good to highlight products that are worth paying for.
Also, I know everyone has different financial constrains—especially this time of year—but if you do have some extra money, consider supporting a free and open source project that’s saved you money. My go-tos are Debian, KeePassX, and the Software Freedom Conservancy. For me, it’s a convenient way to give back to those communities (I also try and regularly donate to my beloved MetaFilter).
Here are the things I use and pay for (and that I think are worth paying for!):
- Fastmail: I wrote about why it’s great here. The service and uptime is amazing. It’s well worth the cost. I pay $35 a year on an old plan, but the new plans, which include more space, are $30 to $90 a year. If you depend upon email, you should pay for it.
- CalDav Sync: Fastmail comes with a great calendar. To sync it to your Android phone, you need CalDAV-Sync, which is around $3. It’s a small price to pay for a calendar that syncs almost instantly and that I never have to think about. Plus, it’s a one-time cost.
- WordPress.com: It powers this site. On the one hand, using the WordPress-hosted WordPress is pretty limiting. There are very few plug-ins and customizing can be tough. However, they have great support, I get to use the latest-and-greatest web interface, and I never have to worry about updating it. The fact that I don’t have to think about folder permissions makes it well-worth the $4 a month.
NYTimes.com: I subscribe to the digital New York Times (which is also an app, which is why it’s on this list) because it’s important to support journalism you believe in. My academic institution actually provides free access and I still pay for a personal subscription. It’s not expensive and it helps me feel like I’m doing my part to make sure my government always has someone to answer to. Plus, if we don’t pay for publications we like, the publications tend to go away.
The Athletic: This is a new sports site (and app!). It has nothing to do with Linux or technology. I just really enjoy their reporting. And I want to support alternatives to mega conglomerates, like ESPN, which aren’t always interested in reporting news, but instead seem more interested in generating clicks and revenue.
Trello: I haven’t written about my use of Trello (although I touched on it here), mostly because I’m not using it in a particularly interesting way. I use it to keep lots of lists and for project management and it’s been great. My girlfriend and I used it to plan a housewarming and a move and it was amazing for that. I still use Google Keep for a digital junk drawer, but I use it less and less. I couldn’t tell you the difference between free Trello and Trello Gold, the paid tier. I just wanted to support a project I enjoy. And yes. I tried the various open source Trello alternatives, and they’re just not as good as Trello. Yet!
There’s also some of the same products from last year’s list:
- Remember the Milk: AKA, my brain.
- LastPass: It’s just so convenient–especially across multiple computers.
- Newsblur: The best RSS reader. I’ve tried them all. Literally. Newsblur is well worth the $24.
- Dropbox: The product is great. The company is super annoying. They’re constantly launching new products that seem like the current one, removing functionality, and, in general, acting like they’re improvising a business strategy. But the tool itself works and they have an effective Linux client, so I’ll keep paying until someone else comes up with something better (that I don’t have to host myself).