Tools of the trade

These are the apps and services that I personally use to run this website, do my work and run aspects of my personal life. I’ve always enjoyed seeing what tools other like-minded folks have in their tool-belt, so I thought I’d share my own list of tools that I use.

Note: Some of the tools I’ve listed on this page uses affiliate links. What this means is by using the links on this page, you might get a discount and I get a small commission or credit.


Services and tools that keeps this site running.

Digital Ocean - Cloud Hosting ($10 credit for your account. That’s like 2 free months of the basic VPS or a month of the next plan up.)

I run a couple of applications off of servers hosted by Digital Ocean. Their web service is clean and simple to use. A caveat with hosting on Digital Ocean, depending on how comfortable you are with the command-line, there could be a steep curve in getting up and running. Since you’re essentially setting up your own server. If you do end up going with Digital Ocean, be sure to check out their top-notch tutorials.

Jekyll - Static-Site Generator (Free)

Several years ago — fed up with Wordpress — I went looking for an alternative to setting up websites and hosting a blog. I stumbled upon Jekyll and fell in love. Jekyll unlike Wordpress isn’t dynamic. What it does is takes a bunch of plain-text files (think markdown and HTML files) and generates a website for you.

Paired with a versioning system like git and GitHub and you’ll never lose a blog post ever again.

I enjoy using Jekyll so much that it is the subject of my first book.

Hover - Domain Name Registrar

When I switched the URL for my website, I wanted to try registering the new domain with a new registrar. Looking around I found Hover. I decided to give Hover a shot because they had support for so many of the new TLDs being released each day. I also liked the way their search worked for new domain names — making suggestions based on categories.

If you’re looking to register your next domain name for a project or business, be sure to consider Hover.

MailChimp - Newsletter management (You’ll get $30 credit to your account. Woohooo!)

MailChimp is how I keep in contact with folks. I use it for pretty much all my projects from Triangle Tech Jobs to Field Guide to Jekyll. I love that I could compose an article and schedule for it to go out at a later date.


Tools that I use to get work done as a developer.

Atom - Text Editor by the folks at GitHub (Free)

In the past I’ve used Espresso, Sublime Text, Brackets and other text editors. For a longtime Sublime Text was my go to editor of choice because of its speed and rich plugin community. But the lack of updates and some weird file-caching that would take up gigs of space on my hard-drive had me longing for a similar alternative that mitigated those issues.

Enter Atom. The first few times I tried Atom — which were pre-1.0 — I wasn’t that impressed. But my friend, Christopher Lai, kept telling me how much he loved it. After Atom hit a few minor releases past version 1.0, I forced myself to try use it as my main text editor.

Atom doesn’t feel as nimble and fast as Sublime Text, but it is definitely getting there. The two issues that I had with Sublime Text, are nonexistent on Atom. Since Atom is open-sourced, it is frequently getting updates. Atom also handles a huge amount of files in a project really well and doesn’t have that weird file-caching issue I saw with Sublime Text.

Not to mention the UI just feels more modern and the plugin community is pretty awesome. Atom is now my text editor of choice.

tmux - Split up your terminal into multiple sessions (Free)

At any one time while I’m working, my computer could be watching and compiling file changes, I’ll be pushing up commits in git or I’ll be making code changes from NeoVim, all within my terminal. In the past, I would have multiple tabs up in Terminal, but after spending a little time to learn tmux, I now have all my sessions running in a single tab and can see how everything is running at a single glance.

Slack - Instant messaging for groups/teams (Free-ish)

Slack is pretty much on all the time while I work. Working in a distributed team that works in multiple time-zones, Slack is a place to leave messages or ask questions and get immediate-ish feedback. Slack also has some sweet integrations that allows it to be a great location for various services to report vital information such as GitHub activity and Twitter mentions.


GitHub - Git Repository Hosting (Free-ish)

This site is versioned with git. The purpose for this is that I want to keep a backup of my posts for as long as possible. Far too often, I have lost many past posts due to corrupt databases or failure to keep an archival backup of a database. Since this site is generated from plain-text files, using git and hosting on GitHub is quite simple.

Since the site is versioned and hosted on GitHub, it means anywhere I have access to a terminal and an Internet connection, I can make adjustments to the site and write new posts.

I also version projects that I am working on as well as my writings on GitHub.

Dropbox - Files in the Cloud (You get 500MB of extra space for your account, that’s like 50 photos or a couple of videos made on an iPhone.)

I really love Dropbox. It has made sharing files seamless between computers as well as friends and family. My wife and I used it to gather ideas and plan our wedding when we were dating and oceans apart. My business partner and I share documents and files with each other. Dropbox is where I store my digital journal written in ntbk, so I can also capture moments from my iPhone.


Workflow - Automation for iOS devices

Workflow is a really neat app in that it is like a utility-knife for iOS. You compose workflows by chaining together various actions together. Workflow is a great way to learn programming basics on a very high-level. Introducing concepts such as loops, conditionals and variables.

I mainly use it to write journal entries to a Dropbox file that is also written to using ntbk from the command-line. I often use it to grab gifs from Giphy to send in Messages and repost Instagram photos and videos.