Wonder Tools — A tech journalist's toolkit 👀
🎈 Here are the useful sites and apps one tech journalist relies on
Today’s post is a 5-minute read/scan featuring:
Amuse Bouche: 4 Substack tools-related newsletters I read regularly
Appetizer: 4 resources for keeping up with AI and new AI tools
👍 Recommended tools newsletters on Substack
- of = Practical resources for journalists.
- of = Useful sites for visuals.
- of = A recent piece showed how to reach Apple, Google & Amazon for tech support.
- of = 6 specific, eclectic things recommended each week.
🔮 Stay up to date with AI tools and their implications
Ben’s Bites is a daily dose of new AI stuff in 5 minutes.
Toolfinder aims to be a kind of Wikipedia for tools.
Maggie Appleton is a writer-illustrator I admire. Her new piece The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI critiques the onslaught of AI-generated content & explores ways to distinguish human writing from that of AI.
🧰 Here are tech journalist Jared Newman’s 20 favorite tools 👇
Jared writes: “I sample a lot of apps as a tech journalist, but only a tiny fraction of them become a fixture in my digital life. Below is a list of apps, extensions, and online tools that I consider essential. They’re the ones I always install after unboxing a new phone or computer—and the ones I’d miss if they went away. The apps below are essential to me.”
✍️ Writing and notetaking
Typora cuts out word processing clutter to provide a minimalist writing surface. It saves files in Markdown format and lets you easily copy text into online publishing systems such as WordPress, plus it can export Word or PDF files. [Windows, Mac, Linux]
Google Keep is my go-to app for quick notes, such as take-out orders, my parking garage location, or the random bits of article prose that float into my head. It’s fast, shows everything in reverse-chronological order, and syncs across all your devices. [iOS, Android, web]
Beeftext saves lots of time by letting me type short text snippets and expanding them into larger chunks of text. For instance, I can write my email address just by typing “@@.” [Windows]
🖥️ Web tools
Simplify Gmail makes the Gmail website look nicer while adding some extra features, such as a built-in read receipt blocker and a “Hide Inbox” mode. [Chrome, Firefox, Safari]
CamelCamelCamel is still the best way to quickly check the price history of items on Amazon. You can also set up email alerts when an item you want hits a target price. See a screenshot. [Chrome, Firefox, Safari]
🕵️ Privacy and security
Bitwarden is currently my password manager choice, mainly because it’s free, works on all my devices, and hasn’t given me any major grief. That said, I am starting to investigate some alternatives that might work even better. [Chrome, Firefox, Safari, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, web]
Authy is how I generate two-factor authentication codes to further protect my accounts. Because it syncs across multiple devices—including my desktop and laptop—I can still access my accounts even if my phone goes missing. [Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android]
uBlock Origin is a lightweight ad and tracker blocker that will make your browser feel faster and use less battery life. [Chrome, Firefox]
Anonaddy lets you create masked emails on the fly without any complicated syntax. So if your anonaddy username was “joeschmo,” you could type “email@example.com” into a signup form, and it would forward to your true address with no additional setup. It’s handy if you need to provide an email address in the real world or are using someone else’s computer. [web]
Are you a busy parent tired of tedious parental control apps for iOS? Grace has your back. Remotely limit any app, lock a child’s phone in one tap, create automatic restrictions enabled at a specific time like School and Bedtime, block over 50K dangerous sites automatically, and much more. Grace = parental controls for iOS made easy. Get it free.
⏳ Time management and focus
Hourglass is a dead-simple countdown timer for Windows, which works best when pinned to the taskbar. [Windows]
Gestimer is a brilliant little Mac app that lets you set timers by pulling down on its menu bar icon. [MacOS]
Logi Tune is a handy tool for tracking upcoming meetings and joining them with a couple of clicks. You can use it even without any Logitech hardware. [Windows, MacOS]
Tweek is an extremely simple app for planning out your week. Just click on any day and write down your agenda items, then mark them as complete or drag them into another day. I visit this site every morning and evening to set goals and stay on top of them. [iOS, Android, web]
📸 Photo and video tools
No joke: Microsoft Paint is my favorite app for quick-and-dirty screenshot editing. When all you need is to paste, crop, and resize an image—or multiple images side-by-side—there’s nothing faster. [Windows]
Pika is how I’ve been beautifying my screenshots lately (including several in this article), as it adds colored borders and rounded edges with practically no effort. [web]
Pixlr E is what I use instead of Photoshop, because its layer-based editing tools are good enough for me, and it’s free to use in any browser. [web]
Snipclip is a free tool for recording videos of your computer screen, along with optional system audio and a video of yourself alongside it. [web]
EZGif turns videos into animated GIFs, with lots of tools for cropping, resizing, or compressing the image. I use it alongside Snipclip to create occasional GIFs for the newsletter. [web]
iExit is my one must-install app for road trips, as it automatically detects which highway you’re on and lists upcoming stops for food and gas. [iOS, Android, web]
Just The Weather is a website that my pal Adam Tracey built primarily for friends and family. It pulls data from the National Weather Service and presents it cleanly, with “no damn ads” (his words, not mine). See a screenshot. [web]
Autosleep goes well beyond the sleep tracking capabilities of Apple’s Health app, with adjustable sleep detection levels and granular data on things like deep sleep and respiration rate. It works best with an Apple Watch. [iOS]
p.s. If you’re developing a new newsletter, podcast, or niche site this year, applications for now open for the 100-day online Journalism Creators Program.