It's pretty simple to figure out that Cortex is my favorite podcast. In fact, it's really the only podcast I make sure to listen to when the new episodes come out. Every year they review the apps they are using on their phones (and Macs) and call it State of the Apps. After they published this year's I thought about making my own. If you listen to them very much you will realize that I have been very much influenced by them this year.


This isn't a new item but it's a central item of my life. Really Todoist runs my life... there are very few non-routine tasks that aren't in Todoist. And really most of my routine items are there too. With my own weird version of GTD, Todoist lets me rapidly put in my task with a due date (sometimes it arbitrary ) and then I don't worry about it until later. I really talked about Todoist here and I basically run it the same way -- that filter that I use has really worked out well.

In the next apps I talk about next, you will see a common theme -- I use some sort of Todoist integration in all of them. That is how important Todoist has become to me.

Toggl Timer

This is a Cortex-influenced decision and I really don't know what took me to long to try it. Basically I tell Toggl a task and a project and it starts the timer. And when I'm done, I stop the timer. And then I can do reports, etc from this data. And make my timesheet for work from this. But this works so very well and it's cross-platform. Literally -- I can start the timer on my Mac via the web and stop it on my Android phone via the Android app.

Also, Toggl integrates with... well, just about everything. If you install the Chrome plugin, then you can tell it what webapps you want to integrate with Toggl. So if you use Asana and Todoist integration, then you have a Toggl button on tasks there. Click it, set the project on the Toggl dialogue in the app and the timer is started. Clean, easy efficient.


Obsidian is the notes app that I have been waiting for. Basically I can have the same notes on all my devices and edit them and they are sync'ed. Furthermore they are all Markdown files -- so just plain text! And the files reside on my system, not in the Obsidian cloud! And search works! And I can link between files! It's really marvelous.

I'll throw out that this isn't perfect... I would rather have Emacs everywhere and write in OrgMode . Honestly I do think that Orgmode is a better format for this than Markdown but (at least on my Mac) I can use Emacs on my Obsidian files and they work just fine. The d

Obsidian has their own sync service but you don't have to use it... I don't because... well partly because I'm cheap and partly because I have to do things complicated. Between my Mac and iPad, iCloud Drive works nicely. To my Android phone, it's more work but I finally ended up with Syncthing between my Mac and phone. So, basically my Mac is the "server" for both of my mobile devices.

Obsidian by itself is good but really what makes is great is all the plugins. You can really customize it the way you want to work (so really that makes it like Emacs) and your plugins and configuration syncs over! So I install the plugin on my Mac and that plugin is sync'ed to my other devices. Once in a while I've had to enable it on my devices but the configuration is there when I do. I can live with that.

I'm not going to get in deep to my Zettelkasten ideas here... but Obsidian really makes it work.

Plugins that I like:

  • DataView -- which lets you create queries on your nows and displays tables on it. I use it for Dashboards to get at things easily.
  • Daily Note -- Generally I sometimes I find a link that I'm reading and think "I want to read this later" so Daily Note gives me a quick place to dump it into for later. Sometime later I will go back, read it, take some notes and put that into it's own note.
  • Todoist plugin -- You can display Todoist items in Obsidian but I don't use it for that. Instead I use a shortcut that makes a Todo from a note. I use this for projects where I make notes of what I need to do and then make a Todo out of it -- my resulting Todoist item links to my Obsidian note so I have all my context... and after I finish, I still have access to what I was thinking or doing, in case I want to go back to it.

I use many more but the three above are really the essential to my workflow.


I'm a really bad email user.. I tend to look at a subject and perhaps a preview on an email and leave it alone -- sometimes I take action on it (without opening it up) and sometimes I know it's something I don't need. In either case, I don't even open it up. This is what causes my Gmail to have 30K unread messages (no that is not a joke). This worked... fine? Okayish? for a long time but then lately I realized that I missed some email that I really needed to look at. So I needed to change my bad email ways.

I knew a few people that used Spark and Myke on Coretex has been recommending it and so I decided to give it a shot. And again... what took me so long? I love out is auto-categorizes my messages so I know what I need look at and Notifications and Newsletters that perhaps I can leave for later (or just delete).

Lots of people like the "Snooze" feature of Spark but honestly.. I'll just make a todo out of it's Todoist integration. Once setup (all you need is your API key), you click a button, put in your Todist info in the pop-up and your todo has a link to the email in Spark. I wish the Spark modal did natural language or, at the very least wasn't so clunky putting in the right project or a label.


Tabnine is different than the rest.. it's not an app, per-se, but it's a code-completion helper. Basically it's a little server that runs and connects to plugins to your text editor and/or your IDE and it supercharges your completions. Like just not auto completing variables but in context, lines of code. I've had it complete full streams calls in Java code with no problem. And it works just as well in Intellij as it does in Emacs. This is one tool that works in the background and I really kinda forget about it, yet I use it all the time.


I had used Firefox for a long time and I liked it sync on my desktop, Android phone, and iPad but I had problems with a few important sites... well, some of it was with the security settings I had more than the browser than the browser itself. That said, the world is getting more and more embedded with Chrome. So I started looking for an alternate. I had read things about Vivaldi but hadn't tried it in a long while. And really it's fantastic. It does lots of things with tabs and my current favorite tab feature is to tile tabs in the windows which is nicer than you may think. I also love Quick Commands, which is like a Spotlight search within the browser. Bring up a tab, bookmark, command, etc with ease.