In the past few months I’ve been asked what kinds of products do I use to both create and run this site, and “Improve MY Life With Technology”. So I created this list. It’s a relatively comprehensive one that I will be adding to as I find and use more new and great things that I think you should know about. Of course information about many of these products is available in the articles within the site itself, but hopefully this list will make them easier to find.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, will earn me a small commission if you purchase them through the link. Understand that I have experience with each of these companies/products/sites and I recommend them because I believe in them or use them myself. As such I welcome any questions that you might have about them which you can direct to me via the contact page or social media links. Social media is a nice medium because if others have the same question, it would be answered for them as well.
Website & Blog
- WordPress – This is the most popular blogging platform available today. I’m referring here to the free self-installed WordPress.org, not WordPress.com which has restrictions for business that I don’t recommend. Many website hosts (including below) have simple 1-click installs that make this easy to get.
- Headway Theme Framework – The Headway Theme Framework is a premium WordPress theme that can make creating and arranging a blog/website easy. With the grid interface you can essentially draw your site and then fill it up at your leisure. It’s not completely without complexity, but adds flexibility. It’s what is used on this very site you’re reading.
- Bluehost Hosting – In order to have a website you have to have somewhere to host it, and Bluehost is one of the best. They give great customer support with easy configuration and blog/e-commerce support. Plus only $4.95/month, easy and inexpensive.
- List of WordPress Plugins:
- OptinSkin – Great integrated tool to create opt-in forms for sites. Works with all major email list providers.
- Premise – Creates splash pages and member sites integrated with your WordPress site.
- Backup Buddy – If you know me at all you know what a fan I am of backing up everything. This little baby backs up your whole website, database and all, and saves it in a bunch of ways both on and off site. Makes recovery a snap. Good for moving sites as well.
- Pretty Link – It’s like having your own private bit.ly (URL shortener), but with click tracking and reports. All with your own domain. The ultimate professional look.
- Ad Injection – Heavy user of Adsense but hate configuring everything manually? Injects ads in your site in places and formats you want, only when, where and how you want it. Making money never looked so good.
- All In One SEO Pack – Improve the search engine placement of your site with this plugin. Optimizes descriptions and headings for individual pages and posts. Works in conjunction with major theme frameworks as well.
- Clicky for WordPress – Makes the most user friendly website stats site work even better with your site. Even displays your stats integrated right into the admin dashboard of wordpress.
- Disqus Comment System – The best of the comment system plugins for WordPress. Allow your users to login once and comment everywhere. Good spam and language filters. The best part is it also writes to the standard WordPress comments so you can go back to standard functionality at any time.
- EasyAzon – Sell things with Amazon Affiliate links? This plugin will help to find and quickly insert “Your” Amazon links into your posts and pages, complete with product images.
- Google Analytics – The most full featured, free website analytics package is Google Analytics and this plugin makes your site integration with it easy.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Want to make it easy for Google to find your links and content? Then provide them an approved sitemap using this plugin.
- Really Simple Sitemap – Help your users find they’re way around your site. Give them a good, organized sitemap to access with this plugin.
- Sharebar – Seen the little social media icons in the margins of “Everyone’s” site lately? This plugin will allow you to provide those social media links so your readers can share your content quickly.
- Tubepress – Provide a page of your video content from Youtube or Vimeo with this plugin. Nicely formatted and easy to navigate. Show off your content to the world.
- WP Mobile Detector – We all know how big and important the mobile space is for websites. Do you provide a well formatted mobile site for your readers? This plugin can help you do that.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Ever see those related posts links on other websites? Well, you can create each of those links yourself, or you can let this plugin do it for you. Scans all of your previous content for similar items to what they’re currently reading. When you have a lot of content it can keep readers hanging around on your site rather than leaving for greener pastures.
- Aweber – Aweber is just the best of the best when it comes to email list management. Powerful autoresponder management, great customer service and millions of emails sent make this the choice of many elite site owners. The SyberSquad Daily email and SyberSquad SyberBytes newsletter are sent via Aweber.
- Windows Live Writer – Part of the Windows Live Essentials program pack, an extremely useful tool for writing blog posts and pages. Very WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and similar to Microsoft Word in its use. If you don’t like working directly from the WordPress Admin interface, try this. A bunch of downloadable plugins are available for it as well.
- Namecheap – If you need to register a domain for that new website use Namecheap.com. From only $3.99/yr it’s what I use when a new domain idea hits me in the middle of the night, and if I don’t use it…hey it was only $3.99.
- Evernote – There are many ways these days to take notes, and many ways to propagate them to other devices, none are as good as Evernote. It puts your info wherever you need it, a looks darn good doing it. Can even capture a webpage for later reading with a browser add-in. Read my gushing article about it in more depth here.
- Google Drive – Formerly known as Google Docs, this will enable cloud file storage, document writing, spreadsheets, presentation software and a whole slew of others available on a bunch of platforms. I’m using it author this post as we speak.
- GMail – In my quest to be all too invested in Google products we have Gmail. It’s the best interface and most useful in my opinion…and it’s FREE. I use it for business and family. In fact it’s so easy I have waaaaay too many accounts.
- Google Voice – I never give my actual phone number to anyone, I just give them my Google Voice number. It rings at every phone I could be at and interfaces with rules I’ve set up in conjunction with my contacts (i.e. Family gets straight through, Unknown goes to voicemail…). You can even give a different greeting to different people. Local number and FREE as well. Read more about it here.
- Amazon S3 – Part of the AWS Amazon Web Services offering, S3 is basically a ton of offsite storage at fantastically reasonable prices. Secure and redundant, when coupled with a program like Jungle Disk below, can give you a bulletproof offsite backup solution.
- JungleDisk – A multi-platform automatic backup solution that works in conjunction with Rackspace or Amazon S3. Versatile and powerful supporting encryption before upload to ensure the security of your data.
- Microsoft SyncToy – A free tool created by Microsoft to help manage file moves and copies from one media/drive to another. Even has a command line command set to facilitate scripting and scheduled jobs. Backup simplified.
- Time Machine – Apple’s built in backup solution. A jazzy user interface coupled with a fairly easy setup. If you have a Mac and need to backup to another drive, this is a good way to go.
- Western Digital 3TB MyBook – I have several of these for archiving and backup purposes. They’re relatively small, use USB 3.0 or 2.0 (so they’re fast), and have a ton of space to fill up.
- Western Digital 500GB 2.5″ USB Drive – This is my portable hard drive of choice, (actually I have an older version, but this is better). Tiny, self-powered, USB 3.0/2.0 in sizes from 320GB – 2TB and many fashionable colors. When a thumbdrive just won’t do, take your data with you in style. Just don’t forget to encrypt your data!
- Dropbox – Really the king of the online storage services, if just for the sheer number of external programs that use it. Not huge to start with, but you can buy more if needed and share to others as well.
- Galaxy Nexus – Easily the best phone I’ve ever had. 4.65 inches of SuperAMOLED goodness. Buy the unlocked HSPA+ version for GSM (works with AT&T or T-Mobile), or if you have Verizon you can get it here. Check out our Videos page for some sample video using the camera.
- Kindle Fire – A very nice tablet and my previous favorite (see my current favorite below). A great buy if you’re heavily invested in the Amazon Media Infrastructure (i.e. read lots of Kindle books and watch lots of Amazon videos). If you have an Amazon Prime membership and can watch streaming shows it’s an even better buy.
- Nexus 7 – My new favorite Android tablet. The pure Google Jelly Bean experience and to borrow a phrase from Steve Jobs, It really does “Move Like Butter”. It doesn’t get in your way, is surprisingly light and easy to hold, and battery life is great. What more could you want.
- iPad - The iPad is the Grand-Poo-Bah of Tabletdom, far outselling all of the others, now with a retina display. It’s Apple…’nuff said.
- MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody – When it comes to laptops there’s just something special about Apple’s MacBook Pro. Sturdy unibody construction, works pretty well, can even run Windows in BootCamp mode, high on the pretentious meter…but I’m (You’re) worth it.
- Mac Mini – A small footprint, perfect for having an unobtrusive computer on your desk, or used as an HTPC in Windows or OSX.
- Google ChromeBook – Google had a vision of the browser being the OS and the hardware being stylish but staying out of the way. They’ve changed that vision a bit but created an 8 second booting masterpiece. I have the earlier version but it’s stable, useful and you’ll look great using it. It’s even mistaken for a Mac at times (and much cheaper too)
- XBOX 360 w/Kinect – Out of all of the game systems (including PCs) that I’ve played over the years I think that the Xbox is the most fun. The Halo franchise itself makes it well worth it. If you need to blow off a little steam there’s nothing better than a little FPS action. Need a workout, try Fruit Ninja with the Kinect. It tires me out. The newest version of Xbox makes it a great set-top box for the living room as well.
Health & Fitness
- Fitbit - Ever just wanted to know how many steps you took in a day? You can use a pedometer for that, but when you also want to know vertical travel, sleep times, and upload it all to a website to help you track it, you want the Fitbit.
- Nike Fuelband – Tracks much of your exercise and movement throughout the day into the Nike Fuel points system. Built into a stylish wristband with LEDs can also tell time, steps, calories and has a website to upload the tracking data to. Will even help you set and track goals. I use it for both walking and weight workouts.
- LoseIt.com – Great website to track workouts along with meals and weight goals. Allows friends to follow you for support (or laughter when you crush them). Versatile and can interface with some electronic exercise devices like the Fitbit and Withings WiFi scale. Has an IOS app as well. My username here is SyberSquad.
- Transformation.com – Website full of tips, and inspiration for all of yours (and my) fitness goals. Created and run by Bill Phillips of Body for Life. If you need friends and moral support to reach your fitness goals, this is probably the best place to go. My username is SyberSquad, look me up for help or moral support.
- Bodybuilding.com – Easily the biggest bodybuilding site on the Internet with millions of users. Online tools and exercise example videos are worth their weight in gold. The Bodyspace social site is inspirational and fun a the same time. If you can’t find the tips and help you need for your exercise here, it doesn’t exist anywhere. My username here is ChristopherK so look me up if you need a friend.