November 21, 2020

To follow my post last week on the WFH MVPs, the Most Valuable Players of the 8-plus months I’ve spent working from home daily, here are a few more products and companies for which I’m thankful. They’re presented in no particular order.

I’ve listened to Poolside FM so much that I’m now switching among its five curated playlists of upbeat yet relaxing music. It’s also the first web app and mobile app I’ve used that strongly embraces ’90s æsthetics. Check it out if you need some sunshine this winter. For some liquid sunshine, I recommend Newman’s Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade, the best lemonade I’ve ever had. It goes well with everything, including the huckleberry vodka my brother bought me as a birthday gift. It’s also good with iced tea, soda water, or just over ice.

I signed up for Disney+ earlier this year after watching some of its content on my brother’s account last December. I’m glad I did. It’s been great to revisit the Disney Renaissance animated movies of the ’90s — both the ones I watched and the ones I missed. I also appreciate the old short cartoons and infomercials about Disneyland from the ’50s. The nature programming from National Geographic makes great relaxing viewing. I just wish it had an “I’m an adult” mode that would let me watch a legitimate copy of Song of the South. It can’t be any more racially insensitive than the 1998 version of Mulan is.

I’ve been using Simplenote as my primary personal note-taking app for months now. It’s beautifully simple and text-only. I used to recommend Microsoft OneNote, but especially on the web or on Apple devices its apps are just too slow to be used for a quick note. Other services like Evernote or Notion try to be all things to all people, with a freemium business model, whereas all I want is a place to take some plain text notes. Simplenote has even been responsive when I’ve e-mailed their team with questions and bug reports, something I wouldn’t expect from a free service with no paid tier. Simplenote is run by Automattic, who also owns WordPress and other services, but I’d gladly pay a fair price to keep Simplenote going.

Both during the workday and when not working, I’ve probably watched and listened to more stuff on YouTube than on any other service. That’s why I’m convinced that YouTube Premium is worth it. For about $13 a month I get ad-free viewing on all my devices (no hacking or jailbreaking required), background playback on my phone (ditto), and I can feel better that creators are getting paid as if I had clicked on their frequent, repetitive ads. YouTube Music, a minimum-viable-product version of Spotify, is good enough to use as background music for any occasion, including while working from my home office. YouTube has even tossed me a few freebies for being a Premium subscriber, including an extended Google One storage upgrade trial and a free Stadia starter kit with a controller and a Chromecast Ultra. It makes me feel like I’m the Google equivalent of an Amazon Prime subscriber. (Note: Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, is on Salesforce’s board of directors. My opinion is my own and does not necessarily reflect the view of Salesforce.)

I’ve got more kudos to give out later this month. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m both grateful and mindful of splitting things up into courses.