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Ask laarc: What apps do you love and/or use habitually?
7 points by emily to ask apps on Feb 19, 2019 | 14 comments

5 points by rain1 on Feb 19, 2019

simon tathams puzzle collection

insight timer


Aside from the obvious text editor (nvim-gtk) and terminal (tilix), Zim is probably my favourite -- it's a desktop wiki that I use for everything from note taking to planning and documentation.


Zim looks pretty cool. It reminds me of lightweight, HTML editors I used long ago. Also, makes me think one of them might be a nice substitute since they similarly have project's pages on the left. Categories and notes become folders/projects and individual pages. More powerful features maybe on content site. Maybe less on organization side since Zim is designed for that. I don't see much difference in usability if the editor was itself highly usable. Obviously, we aren't talking Dreamweaver or something. ;)

Are there specific features in this you think a HTML editor wouldn't have or would just be lots of trouble for?


Well, the HTML editing of Zim might be its weak point. The formatting is a bit finicky and if you change the styling too many times it sometimes gets in a situation where I cut-copy in a text editor and paste it back to restart with no styling.

Aside from that, it has lots of plugins and can easily be exported to a full website. In fact, Zim's website is made with Zim

Bu the killer feature is that it's a wiki: you can link pages together and easily re-organize them. It's fully searchable and you can embed rich content. Also, all the pages are stored as ReST documents (I would have preferred Markdown), which makes them editable with a text editor. Also, Zim can use Git or Hg for version control.


3 points by emily on Feb 21, 2019

Zim strikes me as trying to get at some of the same features/conveniences of things like Notion ( or Slite (, though both of those focus heavily on the team-collab audience. Like, it’s an editor because, well, it has to be, like Evernote also has to be an editor, but the main point is the organization, hierarchies, access to nice simple default layouts you don’t have to code yourself, and nifty widgets/utils that know how to work with all the other parts. (Correct me if I’m way off base though, because I’ve totally not tried it yet.)

Zim actually seems like it might be exactly the sort of thing I’ve been looking for lately, though; have been trying out various things like the ones above (Notion, etc) and... not sure why, but apparently I don’t want to use anything that slick more than once.


Notion is actually really awesome, they got everything right, except the pricing (in my opinion). Zim is far from perfect, but its extensibility, plain-text storage format and most importantly, Wiki features make it quite useful.

I would love, however, to have Zim with a better editor, one that would use typed blocks like Notion.


Emacs with Evil mode -- I spent the last year learning vim and swore I'd never use another text editor. That's until I found EVIL mode in Emacs and have stuck with it since. My productivity has soared and still enjoy configuring the hell out of my setup.


2 points by emily on Feb 21, 2019

Nice. I’m a noob when it comes to both vim and Emacs, but especially Emacs— what would you say it is about this combo that trumps the alternatives?

(However, I’m the only one at the office who knows how to actually insert text into and/or quit Vim, so depending on how you look at it, sort of a master right here)

Edit: So tired I didn’t notice my search (thanks autocomplete) was totally not the thing you said. This makes much more sense now.


Directory Opus. I'm not affiliated, but I'm such a fanboy, I just as well might be My favorite piece of software hands down, it just keeps getting better, since the early 90s on the Amiga.

SQLyog community edition


For photos I still use Bibble, which no longer exists (it's now Corel AfterShot Pro, no idea how good that is). But I love it, both on Windows and Linux. For example, you can set up hotkeys to run scripts on images, to I have one to output TIFF, resize, sharpen and save to .png with ImageMagick, then compress that to jpeg with guetzli. Perfect for me, I miss nothing.

UltraEdit for coding because has so many options, and SublimeText for coding and note taking (I love that you can just close it with open, unsaved files, and get them back, apart from that it starts instantly)

Instead of the Windows start menu I use for stuff I use often (unless it works on files, then it's a custom button in Directory Opus)

I used to go pretty overboard with but now I use Compact Tray Meter:

OggDropXPd and LameDropXPd to encode to mp3 and ogg:

I don't use it often anymore, but this thing is hilarious to make, say, silly skits: Set the length to 20 secs or something, start, say something silly, be quiet for 20 seconds, reply to what you just said, what 20 secs again, reply to the reply... the stupidity just writes itself! I bet it can also be used for good, but either way, I love this software, it sparks joy for me for sure. and because you never know when things just go away!

DCSS is a game I am always interested in checking out again after a while, I love how they constantly change things in their quest to get rid of tedium an favor of interesting decisions:

I'm sure there's many I forgot, I'll post an update when I have some more.


I didn't mention it at first because it's specific to making music, but for that it's great:

FreeFileSync for simple backups:

RSS reader: (yesterday I discovered which seems also pretty solid)

Oops, I didn't even realize Ambiloop doesn't even live at the page I linked, so here you go: I generally recall dontcrack as a very nice site that is worth browsing for audio related things, too.

Haven't used it in ages, but it always was great for ripping audio CD's: Maybe there's something better by now, I honestly have no idea. For the sake of audio preservation, chime in if you know something more accurate, or that works better with modern hardware or what have you :)

All Sysinternal tools are great for their purpose I think, but at least Process Explorer and Autoruns I can't do without:

As you can tell, I still use Windows a lot, but for Linux I like OpenSuse.


3 points by dvn on Feb 22, 2019

----Productivity and General----

Minimalist CLI password management -

editing - vim and emacs(spacemacs vim-mode)

tmux and tmate -

shell - zsh with oh-my-zsh ( # I can barely function without this...

terminal - sakura ( # totally overlooked and underrated emulator

mosh - # amazing "mobile shell". i love it

----Crypto Things----

Email and file encryption - GNUpg (gpg)

networking - cjdns ( gnunet (


email - neomutt and thunderbird for various mailboxes


Multi-User-Chat (muc) - weechat

Jabber/XMPP - pidgin and gajim # pidgin is reliable and supports OTR, but gajim supports OMEMO... sigh

Misc. - telegram-desktop, signal-desktop # telegram desktop is so much better than signal... it's sad


3 points by steve on Feb 21, 2019

On the Mac, I mostly use:

* iTerm2

* Firefox

* LibreOffice

* Joplin

* Arduino IDE

* Eagle CAD

On my OpenBSD Desktop:

* Radare2

* Neovim

* urxvt

* Firefox

I particularly love Nextcloud as I use it to sync everything from my phone photos to my notes across all my devices, privately.


Basic, text editors. They're fast, save things in efficient way, rarely crash, and have few security issues. I'm always firing one up by default until I get around to automating whatever I'm using it for or just a better app.

I've been long overdue to upgrade to something better. Plan to do that this year. Alternatively, might learn some formal methods with a trial project being a partly or wholly, verified, text editor. Maybe even one of the UNIX'y ones like vi or vim.



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