Some of these apps made me happier. Others made me more productive. One or two of them tried to make me smarter. Here's a list of software and services whose praises I sang in 2019.
I'm not a fan of Google's all-encompassing presence in my life. The struggle to keep my data away from The Big Data is real. ProtonMail really brought its A-game this year: the apps, solutions, and new features all made it a strong contender in the email space, not just something you have to put up with. Kudos.
I would get nothing done without Trello, and that's no exaggeration. This year, its power-ups and enhancements seemed to be designed by telepathy: each new functionality felt like the Trello elves built it by reading my mind.
The idea is simply, brutally brilliant. You commit to something, and choose a way of measuring it. You give Beeminder your credit card details. Beeminder measures it for you, and charges you if you fall off the wagon. Used with Trello, it helps my productivity tick along from day to day.
4. Standard Notes + Listed.to
How meta! This is the note app I'm using to write this blog post, and this is the blog service you're using to read it. Open source, encrypted (when I choose), syncs beautifully, works with Markdown, publishes in milliseconds... What's not to love?
5. Tor Browser
Another good year for Tor Browser, which now becomes less of a nuisance and more of a really good private way to browse. The mystique of the Dark Web is slowly being replaced by folks who just want to surf the Web without businesses or governments spying on their every click. Along the way, Tor becomes stronger and more robust - it is now the least crappy browser on my phone, and that's saying something!
A search engine that helps fight climate change. It is not as intrusive as Google and works a bit better than DuckDuckGo - definitely worth making the switch.
My Google Maps alternative, which - for many places - turned out to be more precise and to serve up better info.
This password manager generates its own passwords so I don't have to either remember them or re-use the same old, crackable password each time. Works on my laptop and anything else I try it with. I paid for the Premium version, but managed to get it during a sale, so it didn't cost that much.
A video conference software that does not suck. It took me a while to learn the ropes; once I did, my new job in a globally distributed team became a lot easier.
10. Trisquel Linux
Get you an operating system that doesn't let Big Brother / Amazon /random creeps steal your privacy. Linux has come a long way. Now it's easier to use, sleeker and makes more sense than some Windows machines!