My Favorite Software in 2020
I feel like I found a lot of amazing software in 2020, so much so I decided to write a post about it.
I have a feeling I’ll discover a lot more great software this coming year. With people having so much free time at home, my theory is they will create a ton of cool stuff online.
Here is a list of some of the best tools I discovered and started using a lot.
Fraidycat RSS Extension
Fraidycat is an opinionated RSS reader that runs locally as a browser extension. I love the way it lays out the content for you to consume on your terms. It’s very privacy-focused since everything is stored and ran locally. It’s totally funky and awesome. I use it every single day.
Also, I know this is very old and becoming more and more obsolete, but we need RSS more than ever. I use RSS so much now, and I finally get it. More and more, the web is a walled-off-garden, and you’re forced to see what others want you to see or what some algorithm wants you to see. Forget that.
In the last two years, I’ve been serious about taking back my privacy. I entirely use Firefox on my computer. Firefox is far more serious about privacy than Google, which profits from your data and spies on you to show you more ads. Firefox has many great extensions and a few unique built-in features, such as containers, which I recommend and use daily.
For a long time, I didn’t get why telegram existed or what problem they’re trying to solve. Now I get it.
First of all, it’s not owned and controlled by Facebook. So privacy matters a lot. Secondly, it’s a bit of a social network competing with Facebook. For example, you can follow people on there, like on Instagram.
It’s very open with, gasp, an API! Which you can use to build bots. (I have personally built several bots.) Most importantly, you can use it on your computer without it having to connect to your phone in a janky ass way like how Whatsapp works.
It’s a fantastic piece of software.
Readwise is a game-changer tool, and I love it. You highlight text, books on your kindle, something from a transcribed podcast, a note from Pocket, Instapaper, or snap a photo of a real book – you name it. Then you import all of these snippets into Readwise. After that, you receive a daily email with these randomized highlights/snippets you imported. The idea is that you don’t just read something once and forget it. Instead, you use spaced repetition learning to remember what you read over time. It works very well, and I can’t recommend it enough.
One of my favorite finds for this year is a fantastic tool called Huggin. In mythology, Huginn is one of the ravens who would sit on the god Odin’s shoulder (father of Thor). This raven would fly around the world to watch what was going on, then fly back to Odin to sit on his shoulder and report what he heard or saw. A very apt name for this tool.
You can set up some powerful automation and watchers with this tool. You can easily hook into many different services, and it runs 24⁄7 to scan the internet and report when it finds something.
For many years, I used to food tracker myfitnesspal to track all my food to maintain or lose weight. It is still a useful free tool, but it has been very neglected the last several years under Under Armor’s control, who bought them years ago.
The nutritional information in their database is wildly inaccurate. I needed a change. I decided to start using cronometer, which focuses on being extremely accurate with nutritional information. While its database has far fewer products, you can scan (scan the barcode) and log. It is much more accurate if you care about nutritional macros like I do.
With being stuck at home for so long due to COVID, it is natural to watch a LOT more TV than usual. Let’s be real; Netflix is not enough. You often need to acquire media from other sources, and it’s nicer to play it on the TV instead of watching it on your computer.
At my house, we use an old Apple TV that we use to watch Netflix. We also have an old Chromecast, but mostly, we use Apple TV because it has a remote control and is easier.
Airflow is a fantastic app that will stream videos to an Apple TV or Chromecast. It’s different than other tools I’ve used because it does transcoding on the fly. It will play any video format you throw at it. It will add “burned in subtitles” on-the-fly, which it can automatically download for you in the language you want! Playing video with subtitles is extremely important to us, and Apple TV doesn’t allow streaming video with external subtitles files. With this app, we can still watch any video we want with subtitles added. It’s crystal clear on the Apple TV, and I find the quality is higher than my old first-gen Chromecast.
Airflow is a paid app, but it is worth it.
This tool is like magic when it works. SponsorBlock is a browser extension where people mark spots in a YouTube video where the sponsorship part plays. I’m already extreme about not seeing ads and pay for YouTube premium. When I watch a popular video with this tool and the sponsorship part of the video plays, it gets skipped right over! It’s soooo much better. Zero ads.
Ok, this one is a website, but I’ll include it on the list. I use it almost daily now.
I stopped browsing Reddit, but I stop by daily for a bit to look at one daily discussion about stock/option trading. Reddit sucks, and live or daily discussions like this are just a chat room.
Reddit Stream turns any thread into a live chatroom. It’s a drastically better experience, and it is so much nicer for how I use Reddit.
I only visit one single daily discussion, or I’ll go into active threads when a live event is happening. I paid for the premium version since I used it so much.
Those are the amazing tools I found and used heavily in 2020. What did you find and start using this past year?