What I Use

Unnecessarily complicated drawingUnnecessarily complicated drawing

I suspect I am not unusual in being forced to live a cross-platform existence. I have an iPhone, iPad and Mac by choice; but use Windows and BlackBerry thanks to the whims of corporate IT. Consequently, my choice of tools and services is driven by a need for them to be in some way cross-platform.


The backbone of my internet is a combination of bookmarking service Pinboard and If This Then That, which provides a way of linking together different online services. Everything I favourite, star, like or bookmark gets added to Pinboard and tagged. Certain tags will in turn fire off further ifttt tasks to share or otherwise reuse the link. My favourite of these is the ST&TOY” task, which will tweet a bookmarked page with my yet-to-be-widely-adopted Saw This & Thought Of You” abbreviation at whichever of my friends I have Thought Of. This system works pretty well - chances are if I find something interesting enough to send to someone, then it’s worth keeping a copy somewhere for future reference.

My current favourite iOS app for managing Pinboard bookmarks is Pinner, and there’s a lovely CSS redesign for the site if the bare bones layout doesn’t appeal.

I follow a bunch of RSS feeds in Feedly. The Feedly app does mostly everything I want, and it has an IFTTT channel to feed Pinboard. I also subscribe to my own Pinboard feed to read stuff that I’ve bookmarked, which seems to work slightly better for me than Instapaper in many circumstances.

For book-reading, I have a Kindle, and use both it and the iPad Kindle app, depending which is closest to me at the time. I still find the fact that they sync to my last-read page kind of magic. I periodically back up all of my Kindle purchases to ePub just in case anything happens to them.


I started using Markdown in 2012, and have based Revolution34 on a DropBox-and-Markdown approach since 2013. My platform of choice is currently Blot, which is filling the void left by Markbox admirably. Another set of IFTTT recipes automate cross-posting from Flickr or Twitter to and from revolution34.

All writing and note-taking is done in text editors, synced between machines using Dropbox. I use Editorial and Drafts on iOS, TextWrangler and Marked on Mac OS, and MarkdownPad on Windows.

Task Management and Calendars

I swear by David Allen’s GTD system for managing my work and home life. Nirvana is still my online list manager, despite its stagnated development. I use Drafts for quick capture most of the time, but prefer paper for work - I use bulk-buy blank A6 refills in a Desino cover. No joke - I have received feedback on my notebook being too small on two separate occasions, but this A6 arrangement appears to be acceptably-sized to my colleagues without being too bulky.
Outside of work I usually carry a Moleskine Extra Small Volant notepad, and a Fisher Bullet Space Pen, for random jotting. The notebooks are tiny (only a bit bigger than a credit card) and all the pages are perforated, which means you can tear them out to give to someone without ruining the binding.

For calendars, I use Google Calendar and the awesome Fantastical.

Other Useful Stuff

I keep on top of my finances in a Google Drive spreadsheet, using the amazingly powerful Launch Center Pro. I don’t know why Google doesn’t just do this for me, mind.

I use Lastpass to manage my passwords. It has plugins, apps and bookmarklets for all the main desktop and mobile browsers and OSes. It’s very very good, and makes the most of iOS 8′s extensibility.

The original version of this living post was published on 5/12/2011; the most recent update was 07/09/2014