Software and Services I Pay for: 2018

I’ve taken to writing about the software and services I pay for each year (2017 and 2016 are here). Not much has changed, but I think it’s helpful to share the things I find to be worth the money.

  • I paid for the CalDAV-Sync and CardDAV-Sync apps on my phone. They’re not free, but they’re one-time purchases. CalDAV, which I mentioned last year, lets me use Fastmail as my calendar and CardDAV lets me use my Fastmail address book, keeping me out of the Google ecosystem on my phone (if you ignore it’s an Android phone…). It took a bit of time to get my Fastmail address book together, but it’s well worth a few hours to know I can take my contacts with me anywhere.
  • I forgot to mention this last year, but I use a VPN on my phone and computers. I use privateinternetaccess (who have a nice Linux client). It’s around $40/year. Sometimes I can’t access certain sites because they can see I’m coming from a VPN but in general, I feel good paying for an additional level of privacy. It hasn’t killed my phone battery life, either.
  • I got off LastPass, because it seemed less-than-secure. I didn’t use it for anything terribly important, like banking, but it still seemed like I should explore other options. Opensource.com mentioned Bitwarden and I liked it enough to pay for it, at a very reasonable $10/year.
  • I’m not sure if this counts, but I support the Mastodon Patreon for $1/month. Twitter is rough. I love it for news and for promoting my work, but it can be a dark, sad place. Mastodon is better, mostly because it’s smaller, but I like the idea of supporting something that might someday lead to better online discourse. Here I am on Mastodon, by the way.
  • I also pay for music. Not via Spotify, but actually buying CDs and MP3s I can download. So I always have the tracks and never have to worry about losing access.

Things I Still Pay For and Love

  • Remember the Milk: It’s how I get through life.
  • Newsblur: The price is now a steep $36/year, but it’s something I truly love.
  • WordPress.com: Because I’m willing to pay for the privilege of not having to keep a WordPress installation updated.
  • New York Times and The Athletic subscriptions. I also added the Washington Post. Pay for journalism you trust and enjoy! Please!
  • Fastmail: Still one of my favorite things. It’s a great service. Given everything we continue to learn about Big Tech, at least here in the United States, I don’t know why anyone would trust a cost-free service with anything important.

Things I Still Pay For and Don’t Love

  • Dropbox. It works well but the company is just so rudderless. Instead of maintaining a core service, it feels like they’re always trying to pivot to something else, at the expense of the core service. Their dropping support for btrfs was inconvenient for me when I was using OpenSUSE Tumbleweed. But I couldn’t find a better tool than Dropbox, so I just switched to Linux Mint, which uses ext4. However, I’m open to switching to a service I don’t have to host or support myself.

Things I No Longer Pay For

  • I dropped Trello Gold because it didn’t seem to give me anything extra. I’m using Trello less anyway, and using AirTable for lots of stuff. In fact, I wish AirTable had a tier that wasn’t $10/month. I’d love something for individuals at $5/month.
  • OneDrive. I was using Dropbox for my work files but I lost a lot of the free storage I had accrued. I wound up switching to OneDrive for $2/month and it was pretty easy to use at a fine price point. I was able to dump the subscription when my institution switched to Office 365, so I still use OneDrive at work; I just don’t have to pay for it. Interestingly, my $2/month OneDrive account was non-stop up-sell but Office 365 leaves me alone. Perhaps because there’s no higher tier!

The list above is not all free and open source software, but it’s all stuff I depend upon. I also donate to the cost-free open source projects upon which I depend. I encourage you to do the same, if you can afford to.


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