June 17, 2023
I spend a lot of time — probably too much time — thinking about the things I use. These are the tools, software, and habits I’m using in 2023 that are adding value to my life.
I’ve been using Svelte since 2019, because its syntax is nicer than React, it is faster than React, and it produces tiny bundle sizes. It’s really the best way to write user interfaces on the web. And now, with SvelteKit, there is a Svelte-focused framework that is the best way to write web applications. SvelteKit has so many nice things built in — routing, static rendering, server-rendering, streaming responses, support for the edge. It feels modern and fun.
No, not a typo. Good names are hard to come by, and this personal money tracker is welcome to share this one. Comparible to something like Mint or Banktivity, but really well designed, and a great way for couples to track everything and keep each other accountable on financial goals, budgets, and growing net worth. Mac and iOS clients available here (affiliate link).
Astro is the best static site generator available. It can do dynamic rendering as well, but if you’re building an app, use SvelteKit. If your content needs are simpler and you don’t need a CMS like WordPress, check it out. What’s cool with Astro is that you can bring your own UI components. Like Svelte, drop in a Svelte component. React, Vue, Solid? Whatever. Astro doesn’t care. It isolates them into “islands” and lets you decide whether they should just produce pre-rendered HTML, or be fully interactive.
Look, here’s a counter component I just dropped into this post:
That component uses React. But React wasn’t loaded on this page until the component became visible on your screen… before that it was just plain HTML. Pretty sweet.
I enjoyed origami as a child, and on a hunch, ordered a pack of folding papers off Amazon. It’s just as soothing and rewarding as I remembered, and a great way to counter stress or anxiety in your life.
I’ve been using the Mac Studio (M1 Max, 64GB RAM) since it game out, and it’s a powerhouse. If you do your work primarily at a desk, I highly recommend it for its connectivity and small form factor. The M2 versions are even faster and have a quieter fan. If you’re an Apple user who is still on an Intel machine, I’d really considering an upgrade now. The whole Mac line is stronger than it has been in a decade.
Tailwind CSS is controversial, for probably two reasons:
I thought this at first too. But everyone who used it raved, so I figured I shouuld give it a show. Yeah, it’s that good. And separation of concerns is a mirage. Components are the things that matter, not “markup, styling, functionality”. Tailwind will make you incredibly fast and competent at styling websites. Tailwind will always produce minimal CSS (no ever-growing CSS file), and it will let you never have to think up the perfect class name for every layer of your HTML structure again. If you write CSS and you haven’t given Tailwind CSS a fair shake, you’re only hurting yourself.
I’ve been contributing to WordPress for almost 20 years (albeit less often recently). I’m the first to admit its faults from a developer’s perspective. But from a user’s perspective, it’s hard to beat. Yeah, I play around with other technologies for my own stuff — because I’m a nerd who likes to be on the bleeding edge. But WordPress is still a great editing experience and ecosystem, and for the sites I maintain for my work, there’s not anything even close in its rear view mirror.
I used to do indoor rock climbing more before COVID-19, but fell away. A bouldering gym opened closer to me recently, and I’ve been going a few times a week and having a blast. Rock climbing is a full body workout, but it’s also mentally stimulating. The vibe at every rock gym I’ve ever been to has been one of fraternity and support. Strangers will cheer your wins, and collaborate with you on how to improve on your failures. We’ve become so isolated, but rock gyms are places where you can find instant community.
Practicing yoga is one of the few things that can completely get me out of my own head. Physically challenging, and spiritually cleansing, it has kept me grounded in times of stress. There are all types of classes available. Hot, power, flow, yin (stretchy), self-directed, tailored for pregnancy, etc. There is something really powerful about connecting with your body and breathing on a deep level.
It’s not a fad. Large language models can produce compelling assistive experiences. I’m using ChatGPT daily to help me refactor code, explain a concept I’m struggling with, proof-read things I write, and more. Writing prompts is a skill; if you hone it, you can magnify your productivity a lot.
Years in the making, and worth the wait. This screwdriver from the fanatical perfectionists at Linus Tech Tips punches way above its price class. The gnurling is perfect. The ratchet is feather-light. You can store a ton of half-length bits in the handle (but also normal size ones). Customize your load-out, and get a screwdriver you don’t hate.
These headphones (affiliate link) are only $75 US. They sound like $600 headphones, and are incredibly light and comfortable. I cannot speak highly enough about these. They don’t touch my ears, and because they are so light, they can have low clamp force. I can wear these for hours and not get fatigue. They can be driven without an amp (but I have them going through an old Schiit Magni 3). Do note that these are “open” headphones, which means that sound will bleed out. They are not appropriate for a shared work environment. But if you have your own office, they’re great. The window that shows you the headband adjustment setting is a nice touch, making it easy to get a perfectly centered and reproducible fit.
I encourage you to share what things are improving your life!