This list is primarily targeted at developers and other web-oriented folks, but some others might get some use out of it.  Here’s the various software I have come to rely on.

Desktop Software

Pressmatic

Rather new on the scene, Pressmatic has stolen my heart.  It quickly took the place of Vagrant mainly due to it’s simplicity coupled with extensibility.  It rocks my world.  If you use a local development tool (you should), Pressmatic is the way to go.

I reviewed it not long ago here.

Slack (and the Mac app)

Most people reading this probably already use it, but it’s always worth a mention.  I’m on so many teams it’s ridiculous and the single app helps me to keep track of things.  Integrations with things such as GitHub allow me to track commits perfectly.

F.lux

Your eyes will thank you.  Flux is why my monitor looks orange to most people.  It’s main purpose is to adjust your screen to remove a lot of the blue light, and does so throughout the day.  As it gets later, Flux will remove more and more blue from the spectrum, making things almost orange.  It takes some getting used to, but after a few hours, it becomes normal.  In fact, if I disable it, my eyes start burning.

LastPass

It’s cheap (or free if you don’t need the premium features) and you shouldn’t have a single reason not to use a password keychain.  Use it, automatically generate your passwords, and don’t worry about losing your passwords anymore.  With tools like LastPass (or 1Password), you have zero reasons for using the same password multiple places.

PHPStorm

PHPStorm is a PHP IDE with a ridiculous amount of power.  Every bit of code I write is done with PHPStorm.  Autocompletion, WordPress support, and countless other tools such as automated version control and deployment are insanely helpful.

Display Menu

On a Mac, my resolution options are somewhat limited without it.  MacOS does a great job scaling, but often times 4k makes elements too small, and 1080p is way too big.  I’m a big fan of screen real estate and try to maximize it the best I can.  Display Menu allows me to change resolutions on the fly; even those not selectable within the display settings.

Cloak VPN

I travel quite often and nothing scares me more than public wifi.  It’s absolutely terrifying.  Would anyone target me?  Probably not.  Could I get caught in a broad man-in-the-middle attack?  Certainly.  Cloak puts me at ease and because I don’t need it at home or in the office, it allows me to buy day/week/month passes so that I’m not on something recurring.

Paste

I copy and paste a lot.  Sometimes, I copy something, and miss the “V” key, causing me to copy something else.  Paste allows me to easily store my clipboard into history so that I can just grab the thing I copied earlier.

Backblaze

Backblaze is a backup solution that keeps a changelog and allows for easily reverting my changes.  One click restores a file that I accidentally overwrote. Think of it as version control for cloud backups.

Todoist

My memory sucks and I like lists.  Everything from cleaning my desk to things I need to document in Gravity Forms gets noted in Todoist.  Using the desktop app allows me to hotkey it and access it within seconds.

Other mentions

  • Spotify: I need my tunes
  • Knock: Unlocks my Mac or enters in my admin password by just knocking on my phone.
  • Chrome: Mainly because Firefox is a resource hog.
  • VLC: Plays any media files I throw at it.
  • Clementine: Open source audio player that I mainly use to play FLAC files until iTunes supports it.

 

People like getting me to test things.  Maybe it’s because I give them perspective on what I would like to see.  Maybe it’s because I have OCD and small bugs will annoy me.  Maybe it’s just because I enjoy beating the living shit out of people’s projects.  Whatever that reason is, it allows me to play with various products and look at them as critically as I want.

Occasionally, I’ll come across something that I genuinely don’t have anything to criticize.  Post Promoter Pro is one of those things.  As you will see later in this article, there are improvements I would like to see, but nothing deal breaking.  In fact, it solves problems that I really didn’t know I had.

Initial reactions

A few weeks ago, Chris Klosowski and I were chatting and he recommended that I take a look at Post Promoter Pro.  Many of you know that I don’t post as much as I like, and am far more active on social media.  In other words, my initial impression was that it’s a cool idea but I didn’t really think I had a use for it.

I’m not selling anything on this site, so there really isn’t much to promote.  Sure, I usually post a link to Twitter or Facebook when I decide to write something, but why do I need a plugin to do that?  Well, I’ve been proven wrong.

Setup

With my handy dandy license key and plugin zip file in hand, I took the plunge and installed it on this site.  Not a dev environment; my production site with A2 Hosting.  I can see the look of terror in your eyes from here.  Hooray!  Nothing broke.  Alas, installation was typical so I’ll spare you the details.

Inside the settings main page, the basic settings are available in a simple layout.  Post Promoter Pro definitely gets kudos for this.  Shiny options screens with lots of settings and UI elements may look great in screenshots, but when I want to actually get something done, all I want is a few easily understood options.  It seems like a minor detail, but makes a big difference when you need to make a quick change.

Inside the main settings, you can enable/disable Post Promoter Pro on different post types, set default text, and a few handy things for support/debugging such as turning on debug mode.  Nothing fancy, and options are intentional; just how I like it.

After I activated my license key and selected my post types, I jumped over to the Social Settings page.  Each social media account is laid out nicely in a list table that is familiar to anyone who has even touched WordPress for 5 minutes.  Once again, this comes back to the point about the simple UI.  I don’t want to have to re-learn how to navigate your plugin; I just want it to work. List tables are the way to go.

Currently, Post Promoter Pro supports auto-posting from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (does anyone actually use LinkedIn other than to receive spam from headhunters?).  There isn’t any sort of complex setup here, just OAuth for each account.  Click to authorize, log in, done.  There aren’t any 3rd party sites or API keys, and the only place authorized to use my social media accounts is my site.  For the paranoid like me, that’s a big deal.

This brings me to one of the many features I find valuable in Post Promoter Pro: the ability to select a specific Facebook page to post as.  I hate switching between accounts and authorizing specific pages using Facebook Apps, and this solves that problem elegantly.

It seems like nearly everyone on this planet (any probably other planets too), use Google Analytics to track their traffic.  Most of the time, traffic sources and landing pages are tracked.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t even know what campaigns in Google Analytics are or how to set them up.  Post Promoter Pro has the option to automatically use a campaign to handle tracking of traffic that was generated using it.  Why is this cool?  Because it can actually tell you if the plugin is worth it.

If you’re like me and have a habit of trying to fit your full URL and the content describing it into a 140 character tweet, Post Promoter Pro supports Bitly for URL shortening.  It seems like a minor detail, but the number of people who overlook this simple integration is astounding.  Of course, shortening only scratches the surface when you think about the other features such as analytics that Bitly provides for free.

In addition to those features mentioned, you can do other things like set default social networks to use and use Twitter cards.  Since those are fairly self-explanatory, I won’t go over those.

Overall, the Post Promoter Pro settings are simple and intuitive.  Nothing flashy to distract you and exactly what you need.

Usage

Post Promoter Pro’s overall usage flow is dead simple and unobtrusive.  Hell, you don’t even set it and forget it if you want to so that it sends out a default post every time you make an update.  If that’s all it did, I wouldn’t be very impressed, so let’s look at what it can do.

When I publish a post, sometimes I don’t want it to go everywhere.  While my social media accounts intertwine quite a bit, my Facebook is primarily consists of family and friends while my Twitter mainly people in the WordPress community.  That’s not to say that they don’t overlap to a large degree, but my mom doesn’t care about why the WordPress REST API is awesome.

Post Promoter Pro adds a simple meta box below the post content so that you can select which social media accounts it should go to, what it should say, and the image to use for the preview.  Each social media account can have completely different content based on your demographic.  For businesses posting to their customers, that’s a big deal.  Different things work to convert sales on different social media outlets, and businesses know that when promoting their content.

For the lazy like myself, you can set each post to use the featured image for the preview content. If you’re an overachiever, a custom image can be used.  Images are a good thing when posting to social media. Don’t be extra lazy and post without some form of image attached to the post.

Post scheduling

There are a few different ways I could describe post scheduling in Post Promoter Pro, but the ones immediately coming to mind are “the bees knees” and “the bomb diggity”.  This is easily my favorite feature in Post Promoter Pro.

Remember when I said that I usually just share the link on social media after I publish a post?  Now I bombard your feed a few times over the next week with it.  I make sure you see super cool pictures of my cat.  Blame Post Promoter Pro.

Every time you make a post, you can schedule it.  I’m not just talking about a one-time thing either.  When I publish this post, it will schedule a tweet to get sent in the morning, in the evening to cover different schedules.  Missed it on the first day?  Well, another is going out the following day.

I’m a late night guy.  It’s 1:30am as this review is being written and I’m sleeping when most people’s mornings start.  Posting right now would be nearly pointless and just get buried in everyone’s feed.  But what if I schedule it to go out in the morning when people are having their coffee and beginning their day?  Kablamo!  Instant eyes on my writing.

Post scheduling is awesome.  You should use it, if only to be lazy.  After all, you have better things to do with your time than remember to post at 6pm or create a campaign in Hootsuite.

What I’d like to see from Post Promoter Pro

I find Post Promoter Pro ridiculously valuable and it’s become a core part of my workflow, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have room for improvement.  Here’s what I’d like to see in future versions.

Content recycling

Remember that old post you posted a year and a half ago about this groundbreaking thing you found?  Neither do I.  The ability to recycle old content could be super useful to rejuvenate old things like an interview or tutorial.

Internal analytics

Google Analytics and Bitly are great for analyzing larger amounts of data, but what if I just need to know what time my posts are most successful, directly in my WordPress dashboard?  I’m a writer and developer, not a social media guy.  If I can just take a quick glance at recommended times or days of the week to share content, I’d be one popular guy.

More social media accounts

Reddit?  Tumblr? Whatever social media account people use to debate how toilet paper should go on the roll (somebody please make this)?  More social media accounts means more attention and more traffic.  Why not?

The good news is, Post Promoter Pro appears to be super extensible.  I don’t imagine it would be very hard at all to handle that via add-ons; whether official or 3rd party.

Multiple accounts for individual social networks

What if I need to post to multiple Twitter accounts at once when something happens?  For example, a new update to a WordPress plugin could be tweeted on a company account and an individual product account.  It’s possible this was intentional as I believe it’s against Twitter’s TOS to post from multiple accounts simultaneously.  If that’s the case, then it entirely makes sense to leave it out to protect users.

Overall thoughts

Well Chris, I was wrong. I do in fact need Post Promoter Pro.  It’s far more useful than I thought it would be, especially for a small personal site like mine.  Well done.

Pricing is solid, settings are simple, and it does exactly what it advertises and so much more.  It’s now in my everyday arsenal alongside Gravity Forms and Pressmatic (take a peek at my Pressmatic review if you’ve never heard of it).  If it were legal, I’d marry it.

My opinion is to snatch up Post Promoter Pro before Chris reads this article and raises his prices, because it’s worth far more than it sells for.

If I were asked to describe how I feel right now, the answer would be “I feel like shit”.  The first day was rough, but that was nothing compared to day 3.  I’m surviving, and still not smoking; just hoping that it gets better.  I hear it does after about a week, so I’m staying rather optimistic.

For those of you unaware of my journey to quit smoking, I started taking Chantix several weeks ago.  The initial side effects were absolutely brutal, but slowly wore off to minimal over time.  At that point, I decided to select a quit date, which placed my last cigarette on last Friday.

Old habits die hard

Several tasks have begun to feel a bit odd, such as sitting at my desk (which is a solid 80% of my waking hours).  All day, I find myself trying to concentrate and work out a complex issue, then immediately reaching for a cigarette.  I find it quite intriguing that my mind instantly goes to lighting up a smoke when faced with a difficult task.

With that said, concentration has become increasingly difficult.  My brain appears to be all over the place, even with the regular doses of Adderall.  Sometimes I’ll find myself staring blankly at my screen, completely losing my train of thought.  I’ve become aware now that cigarette have become my number one productivity tool.  Without them, my productivity has completely tanked.

Anger and irritability

Those who know me, see me as very laid back.  Usually, I’m not outwardly bothered by much and simply make changes when I feel the need.  I can be very particular, about things on an emotional level (thanks, OCD), but I can usually keep it under control when I need to.  I speak up when necessary, but never without meaningful purpose.

While I’m quite adamant about keeping my composure, it hasn’t been an easy task over the past 3 days.  I find myself becoming filled with helplessness. Because of my need to control my surroundings, this has caused me to lash out in an effort to regain control.  This has resulted in an overcompensation and self-imposed solidarity.  It’s easier to control my surroundings when I eliminate outside influences.

I’m keeping optimistic that this is temporary.  My OCD is manageable right now, but I’m definitely noticing an increase.  My wife does a wonderful job with keeping my triggers at bay, and I don’t want to push her patience with it.  If this continues on the same path for too long, I’ll be struggling.

Sleep is rare and sporadic

I haven’t been sleeping well in the slightest.  The first night, I didn’t sleep at all.  Subsequent nights have consisted of laying in bed for hours, then tossing and turning throughout the night.  I’m accustomed to not sleeping much, but this is a completely different level.

About halfway through my day, I’ll begin feeling a bit sick.  I’m thinking that the cause of this is because I’m not eating much either.  Thankfully, I’m forcing myself to eat on occasion to keep me alive, but that’s about it.  Accompanying the sick feeling, comes a wave of hopelessness in which will usually cause me to take a short nap.

Lucky for me, I have the flexible schedule to deal with things like this, but it’s getting annoying.

Finally getting back in shape

When deciding to quit smoking, I realized that I needed something to replace those urges.  When I was younger, I had a weight bench in my bedroom that I would work out on regularly.  I figured maybe that’s the direction I should go with this.

I dusted off the dumbbells that have been sitting around the house and moved them upstairs to my office space.  When wanting to smoke, I’m trying to direct that effort into lifting weights.  My arms may be sore as hell, but at least it’s a far more healthy habit.

I’m considering the idea of going running as well.  I used to be able to run for ludicrous amounts of time when I was a teenager, so hopefully that’ll come back.  If I didn’t live in an apartment, I’d be playing basketball throughout the day.  Maybe I can figure something out with that.

Overflowing encouragement

On Friday night, I channeled my anxiety about quitting into writing a bit of code to track my progress. Within this, I also created a method for individuals to reach out to me with words of encouragement via Twitter.  You can find that page here or the source on the GitHub repo.

Since creating the page, I’ve gotten overwhelming amounts of encouragement.  Without it, I’m not sure if I would be 3 days in.  You guys are awesome and I couldn’t thank you enough for your support.

Overall conclusion

Quitting smoking is a pain in the ass.  It sucks.  I suppose the best solution is to just not start to begin with, but I’m not that smart.  After smoking for about 13 years or so, it feels like I’m losing a part of me.  Smoking was a bad part of me, but a part of me nonetheless.

Here’s to hoping that these side effects subside soon and I can get back to normal life.  Wish me luck!