December 27, 2020

My 2020 Sofware and Hardware of the Year

A quick look back at the software and hardware that I feel made a significant difference this crazy year. Neither an exhaustive list, nor representative of what I used the most — simply a nod to those items that brought me some joy.

Software of the year: Obsidian.

While I have a history of falling heads of heals for new software, it’s been a long time since an app so completely changed my workflows — and even my setup. I expect Obsidian to continue to influence how I work and play digitally in 2021.

Software Runners Up:

  • Hook: right now it’s mostly a suplemental app to Obsidian. Hook enables me to easily create links to anything in my file system and paste them in a text file. Although a single feature utility at the moment, I see its use growing as my workflow moves away from app silos into a linked file and folder system.

  • TextSniper: during the 4 months I worked on the MacBook Air 13in screen, I spent a lot of time optimizing my movement across apps. This simple OCR app removed a small but continued friction point: carefully selecting text and cleaning up before the next stop. Seems silly, but I realized I would be in a flow and suddenly would have to slow down to carefully copy some text somewhere (HTML link, PDF, screenshot on bug report) before continuing.

Hardware of the year: Dell PC2421DC

Four months into the quarantine, I broke down and started to look for a monitor. Of course I would have loved a retina display, but Apple doesn’t sell the iMac’s 27in 5k display as a stand alone monitor. I initially worried about a 24in monitor with the same pixel count (2560 x 1440) as the 27in one I have at work — the contrary happened: the lower pixel density of the larger display now looks funny. Add the 1 cable USB C charging/connection and additional USB Type A ports, and this has become my favorite monitor ever.

Hardware Runners Up

  • Standing Desk Converter: while I’m linking to the one I bought, my recognition is mostly to the concept of standing desks. My health would have been suffered if I had not used this on the dinner table table for 7 months.

  • Microsoft Precision Mouse: I initially bought the Space Grey Magic Mouse — which is the one I’ve used at work for some years. But after a week, my wrist pain was considerable1, so I search for classically ergonomic mouse. Since the Logitech MX3 wasn’t available, I went for this Microsoft one and the pain was gone the next day2.


  1. My theory is that at the office I have a lot more interruptions/breaks than I thought, which allows the wrist to rest.

  2. I should mention it does seem to have some bluetooth conflict with my Keychron keyboard, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint who’s to blame since they work together fine on the iPad and the 2015 MacBook Pro.


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