Best For Me

This is a collection of products that work best for me. Your meterage may vary.

Car buying and selling: Shift

When I moved to Sweden, I needed to sell my Nissan Juke. CarMax totally screwed me over when I sold a previous car, so I didn’t want to work with them again. I had seen ads for Shift and decided to try them. The process of selling my car through Shift was excellent. Every person I interacted with was knowledgeable and seemingly empowered to help me. The process was transparent with frequent updates. The evaluation of my car’s condition and the price it ultimately sold for were fair.

Code editor: Visual Studio Code

I grew up on Dreamweaver code view. I loved it, but it got abandoned. Over the years, I have used Panic Coda, Sublime Text, Adobe Brackets, and JetBrains WebStorm. Visual Studio Code by Microsoft is the first editor I have enthusiastically enjoyed since Dreamweaver MX. VS Code’s syntax highlighting and autocomplete features are smarter than any other editor I’ve used. The JavaScript debugging features are incredible. The extension ecosystem is vibrant.

Deodorant: Jungleman

Sweating is a good thing. It’s how your body cools itself down. Stinking is the bad thing that serves no purpose. Most anti-perspirants and deodorants contain aluminum which causes pit stains. Jungleman is an aluminum-free deodorant that allows you to sweat, but stops the stink bacteria. Most “natural” deodorants I have tried contained ingredients that irritated my skin or smelled like incense. Jungleman has worked really well for me. I’ve used it for over 7 years.

Email, calendar, contact hosting: FastMail

Nothing is truly free. This is especially true with online services funded by advertising revenue. The online advertising industry is built around knowing who you are and what you do online.

~89% of Google’s revenue is from online advertising. Google gives away Gmail because email is a primary way people identify themselves online. In order to be competitive in online advertising, Google needs to prove to advertisers that it can effectively show ads to people in specific demographics. Google has to be able to identify you and your interests in order to know if you are in a target demographic for an ad campaign. Email is an effective way for Google to achieve this.

One way to opt out of corporate surveillance is to pay for an email service. FastMail is an excellent email/calendar/contacts hosting company. FastMail has its own app, but you can use any standard email/calendar/contacts apps you prefer with it.

If you are also concerned about US government surveillance, FastMail is based in Australia and Australian communications and privacy laws explicitly forbid FastMail from complying with any US court order, subpoena, or other instruction to hand over user data. (Source)

Exercise and health tracking: Fitbit Ionic

I didn’t wear a watch for over a decade, but the Fitbit Charge HR showed me the value of having all-day, second-level heart rate monitoring. I later purchased the Charge 2. Today, I wear the Fitbit Ionic. Ionic is a sports watch with the smart watch features that actually matter.

Multi-room audio: Heos by Denon

Sonos products sound and look great, but are expensive and the Sonos app is terrible. The better option is Heos by Denon. Heos speakers look and sound amazing. Unlike Sonos, the Heos app is simple and works well. Its HDMI-CEC implementation works flawlessly with my other devices. Its Spotify Connect integration is reliable and just works.

Messaging: Signal by Open Whisper Systems

Signal by Open Whisper Systems is Edward Snowden approved for privacy. It is technically architected in a way that prevents the company—or anyone else—from being able to access the content of messages between people. In addition to being open source, Open Whisper Systems has proven this position legally.

Money transfer: TransferWise

TransferWise is cheaper and easier than traditional bank and other commercial services for transfering money internationally. My credit union wanted me to complete a bunch of paperwork, email it to them, and wait days to complete a large international transfer when I moved to Sweden. TransferWise got it done quickly and correctly.

Online backup: Backblaze

There are many cloud backup services, but Backblaze is the best for me. Backblaze reasonably priced at $5/month per device. Its backup app runs efficiently and intelligently in the background, with consideration to your CPU utilization, battery status, and network connection. When my laptop harddrive failed, Backblaze sent me a USB drive of my data by express mail—and then reimbursed the cost when I returned the drive to them.

Because it is a cloud service, security needs to be considered. Backblaze encrypts your data locally before uploading using TLS. It also supports adding your own passphrase to the encryption, which prevents Backblaze from being able to decrypt the data. It’s a smart design.

Password management: 1Password

Everyone, including you, should be using a password manager and 1Password is the best for me. 1Password is an app that you install on your computer, your phone, and every other device. When I sign up for a new account somewhere, I have 1Password generate a unique password just for that service. Because I can’t possibly remember all of these passwords—and the passwords are too long and complex—I use 1Password to automatically fill in the sign in form on websites and in apps. I also use 1Password to securely store other information, like credit cards, photos of my license and passport, and family members’ social security numbers.

1Password encrypts and decrypts all information on the device, so sensitive information is never sent across the Internet to 1Password unprotected. 1Password also does not store my master password or unique encryption key, so it cannot inspect my data.

I prefer 1Password over LastPass because of 1Password’s architecture. 1Password requires a native app that communicates with browser extensions using native messaging. Because the logic, encryption/decryption, and other important stuff happens in the native app instead of the browser, 1Password is much more difficult to compromise.

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox now is faster than Chrome, while using less memory. Firefox for iOS has tab syncing and tab transfer that makes jumping between devices effortless. Also, Mozilla is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the Internet as a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Unlike Google, Mozilla doesn’t have an agenda to sell you out to advertisers.

Web search: DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not collect personal information. It does not track you or your search history. Therefore, it cannot share any such information with online advertisers or governments. Independent of its privacy-protecting architecture, DuckDuckGo is a good search engine. Google and Bing are still sometimes better, but I do all of my searches first with DuckDuckGo. If I don’t get a strong result, I append !g or !b (called a “bang”) to get Bing or Google search results instead. I also frequently use !w, !imdb, and !twitter bangs for searching Wikipedia, IMDb, and Twitter quickly from the Firefox address bar.

Wi-Fi mesh network: Netgear Orbi

Your Wi-Fi router should not require a cloud service to function. This detail for me is what separates Netgear Orbi from Eero, Google Wifi, Luma, and Plume. A cloud service means reducing your local network’s security and sometimes paying a monthly fee. Netgear Orbi does not rely on a cloud service to operate and does not have a monthly fee. Orbi looks nice, functions well, and is often the fastest in network speed tests. I also like that the network satellites include ethernet, allowing network drives and devices connected to the same satellite to avoid wireless network communication.

Disclosure

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. However, I have not been paid to review any of these products. I have used all of the products mentioned and determined them to work best for me, independently of any affiliate program being available for them.