Libre Alternatives to DTNS Picks

This is a work in progress but if I don’t post something now I’m never going to…

I’m trying to pick alternatives I’ve used, a friend has used, I know a good deal about, or are cool projects that sounds cool and I want to use.  

DTNS PICKS Libre Alternatives
Password management
Last Pass KeePass
Amazon Cloud Player Jamendo
Sell used gadgets
Colloquy Pidgin if you’re going to use use Pidgin as your main IRC client then you might want to install Pidgin Internet Messenger Plugin Pack and then enable the IRC Helper plugin
Xchat Xchat
Grocery List
Buy Me a Pie OI Shopping List
Fitness It gets you outside
Nike+ Using OSMTracker to collecting OpenStreetMap data while going for work a walk
Feedly NewsBlur

  • Web interface
  • Android app
  • iOS app
  • Training filters which let you hide stores you don’t want to see or highlight stores that interest you (which could work better)
    Lets you share and talk about stories
Twitter Management
Waze OsmAnd+
Tonx Organic Fair Trade Coffee (I don’t drink coffee but I do know that coffee has some of the wost pesticides in the world sprayed on it)
Mistobox Grounds for Change‘s coffee of the month Coffee Explorer
Dropbox Seafile is both remote storage software and a remote storage service for both consumers and business
(Good alternate: Google Drive, OwnCloud
CrashPlan Clonezilla (great for backup but not really an alternative to CraashPlan)
(Good alternate: Carbonite)
Private Tunnel
(Good alternate: ProXPN)
Blog Joomla
TV Settop Boxes  TV Settop Boxes software
Slingbox XBMC
TiVo MythTV
Xbox One
Apple TV
Desktop PC
Doghouse Systems (Windows 8) System 76
Laptop PC
MacBook Pro (Windows, Linux Mint VMs)
Nexus 7
iPhone 5 Neo900 It isn’t for sale yet but you can pre-order one or donate to the project
Google Docs
LibreOffice LibreOffice
Microsoft Office OpenOffice
Chrome Chromium
Firefox Iceweasel While the source code for Firefox is libre the name Firefox isn’t so the Debian project builds Icewease from the Firefox source code and changes the name
Safari Midori Uses webkit like Safari
Opera Lynx Text based browser that web developers should use to check to see how accessible their websites are for people who are blind
Book Publishing
Amazon Kindle Direct
Audio Books
Audible LibriVox
Downcast AntennaPod
Pocket Casts
Mobile Twitter Mobile, GNU social, & Twitter
Tweetbot AndStatus
Jennie’s Picks
Online writing:  Medium  Oh boy oh boy, Jennie loves Medium.  It’s a gorgeous online writing site that lifts online writing out of the ‘Blogger’ era. (It helps that Medium was created by Ev Williams and team, who…well… you know.) The site has rich photo options, and a beautifully designed, simple to use interface.  It’s a site that makes you want to write.   Medium is still a work in progress–it’s
not always clear should happens with a post after its published, other than tweeting it out and hoping it gets picked up, but its been fascinating to watch the Medium universe expand. Free.
Coffee: Intelligentsia Yeah, so the name’s a little much, and it ain’t cheap, but the fresh-roasted coffee is just that good. Intelligentsia has coffee bars in three cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. If you live elsewhere, they have a great online shop for both coffee and tools of the trade and a tremendous
that helps you make a perfect cup of coffee–whichever method you prefer. (They sell some pretty delicious tea, too.)
Image archives: Art Resource & The Kobal Collection  Jennie has worked with the folks at Art Resource & The Picture Desk for years. The Kobal Collection is an amazing library of movie stills and posters. The best part: Real people work here.
Ridiculous awesome thing: Z-Board It’s an electric skateboard for pete’s sake. Lean forward to go, lean back to stop. The company was founded by two guys in Hermosa beach who learn as they go and always try to please their customers. They built a special skateboard for the hills of San Francisco,  and made a replica of the Back to Future II hoverboard, complete
with awesome promo video. What’s not to love?
Note-taking: Evernote Jennie uses an endless succession of little paper notebooks for writing grocery lists, to-do lists, etc. But Evernote falls into a different category– it’s Jennie’s 2nd brain, a comprehensive digital idea locker available across all devices. Clip an article or recipe from the web, take a picture of the fancy whizamajigger you certainly shouldn’t buy now, but may want later. You can encrypt notes, set reminders, and manage a team with shared notebooks. They even sell a Moleskine
journal that wants to bridge the gap between the little notebook method of remembering and the app that never forgets. Someday, Jennie’s gonna to buy that journal–and she won’t forget, b/c she wrote it down on her Evernote wish list.  Free and premium versions available.
Weather: Yahoo Weather App  A simple weather app that uses stunning Flickr images as a backdrop for detailed weather data. The first app of the Marissa era is available on Apple and Android devices, and it’s one of only a few Yahoo apps this ex-yodeler won’t ‘mutually separate’ from.  Free.
Budgeting:  This budgeting service is simple and easy to set up/use. It reminds you about upcoming bills and warns you when you’ve gone over budget. While it’s not meant to be full-fledged accounting software like Quicken, Mint is an excellent day-to-day reality check on just how much you’re spending.  Free.
Twitter analytics: Topsy  Free & Pro versions available
Music Library: Killer Tracks
Favorite curators: Jason Hirschorn’s media REDEF &  PSFK’s Daily Email 
Listener Picks: 
5/27/14 : Calibre-ebook via Jeremiah McCoy
I am a big consumer of ebooks, like a lot of people today, but I often get better deals on books in different stores. You can buy books from places other than the Kindle store, after all.  Not to mention free versions of ebooks put online by the author, or the Gutenberg Project, and in different formats. Also, as much as Amazon would like to say different, there are a bunch different e-readers available out there.  There are a lot of things to work out, if you decide to go outside just one store experience. I have found Calibre to be super useful in those problems.  It is an ebook management software.  It can track your library of files, convert them to different formats, and manage which device you have loaded
them on. It can even edit your ebooks. It is great software for ebooks in general.
5/22/14: PopChar via Jeff the Graphic Designer
My pick of the day is PopChar (as in ‘character) a little Mac typography utility that helps me quickly insert those little arrows, dingbats, and symbols and so on, onto my web and print designs.  It’s Mac only — and while it’s not free (it costs 30 Euros – about 40 dollars), it saves me a  s*&^_load of time every day. Been using it for years and it’s rock solid.
5/21/14: Mpix via Loren Lang
If you’re into photography at any level, you usually reach a point where you want a print that’s a step (or more) above what you can get from your desktop photo printer or the machine at […insert name of national chain store here…].  Enter professional photo labs.  There are a number of web services but Mpix is the best one I’ve dealt with.  You can get all sorts of products from them (photo books, calendars, cards, etc) as well as high quality prints.  Their service can also include framing and retouching, all at a very reasonable price.  FYI – Mpix is the lab that a lot of professional photographers use as their go-to fulfillment service.  Note: I’m not affiliated with them in any way.
I’m just a satisfied customer. Jennie also notes they have Android and iOs Apps with ‘Touch to Print’ functionality
5/20/14: Arts & Letters Daily via Rich in Lovely Cleveland
Today’s pick of the day comes Rich in Lovely Cleveland, (and it is also a long-time favorite of Producer Jennie’s) Rich says:  “I had one pick of the day I wanted to share: Arts & Letters Daily. It’s a great place to go for really intriguing longform content, essays, book reviews and op-eds in general. I’ve long had an RSS feed for most of my more “literate” sources, but I enjoy the curation the site provides, while I don’t read every post they put up, in general I want to. The site could use a design overhaul, its barely better than a mediocre geocities site, but the content is excellent. I recommend for anyone that enjoys a good essay.
5/19/14: YouMail via Jake Lackey from Fresno, CA
I just wanted to suggest a Pick of the day of YouMail for Android and IOS.  I have been using YouMail since my first Blackberry phone years ago and I’m pretty surprised i don’t ever hear anybody ever talking about this app.  I didn’t want to have to pay the 2.99 a month for visual voice mail from Verizon and started using YouMail which is totally free.   YouMail will automatically forward your voice mails to their service which you upload your contacts to and download the app for your phone.  Then on our phone you can see a list of who called and play their message from the app, rather than having to play the messages 1 by 1 and wondering who called.  You can skip around and only listen to the messages
which you think are important.  It even has a spam folder for the messages that you don’t ever want to listen to.
You can set up individual voice mail greetings from a list of suggested downloads from the site or use what they call “smart greeting” which will answer the voice mail with, “hello *insert name here*, *user* cant come to the phone right now please leave a message”” like a personal assistant would.  Most people who call are shocked that my voice mail knows who is calling me.  You can also get transcript for your voice mails and save them as MP3′s and share them.  which works great when the doctors office calls and i can just forward the message to my wife, who takes care of that stuff.
I am strictly an Android user and not 100% sure how well it works on iPhone but i know with Android it integrates with the call list and you can play the messages directly from the recent call list on your phone rather than actually opening the app.
You do have to sign up with YouMail at and get an account which is free then you can customize the many different ways you would like your voice mail to be handled.  I have unlimited data and not sure how much data this uses on a regular basis but is one of first apps i always download no matter what phone i am using.  There is a paid option for this which is only 5 dollars of month which is not required but gives you a ton for features as opposed to the 3 dollars for the Verizon version which gives you nothing extra.
I couldn’t explain everything about this app you will have to just check it out to see how convenient this is.  I figured that there are quite a few of your listeners that will get lots of use out of it like i do.
5/15/14: PC Part Picker via Matthew from the UK & France
My pick is a site called PCPartPicker. It’s a one-stop shop for people wanting to build their own custom PCs by letting you “build” your PC with a compatibility checker to ensure you don’t mix things up like putting an Intel CPU in a AMD motherboard or cramming a graphics card into a case that can’t fit it. The other killer feature it has is price comparison and history. It compares component prices from popular stores such as Amazon and Newegg in the U.S. and others from 7 different countries. Also, you can generate Reddit Markups to show Redditers your build and ask for help or BBCode for other forums. If you’re going to build a PC, look no further than PCPartPicker.
5/14/14: WSUS Offline Update via Jeremy Dennis
My pick is called WSUS Offline Update. It’s a tool that uses the
Windows Update features of Windows to download all available updates from Microsoft’s servers for the products you select. After
downloading the files it can make an ISO image or output the files to
a folder for use with a USB drive.
I use it on new builds of computers or VMs so I don’t have to babysit
them while getting them up to date. When you run it on the target
system, there are options for to automatically restart after rebooting to continue the update process. It really saves time when you have a new Windows install and need to do other stuff while it updates.
5/13/14: Ghostery via Loren Lang
Ghostery is a web privacy tool that is available as a browser add-on (for most major browsers, anyway) and an iOS app.  It blocks all sorts of trackers, beacons and cookies from over 1,900 sources and you can choose to allow or disallow any or all of them with individual granularity as well as whitelisting sites to allow everything from them.  You can also choose to allow an item once and then automatically go back to blocking it which is extremely useful when blocking something breaks a site in some way. I’ve first checked it out when i heard Steve Gibson recommend it in 2011 (see Security Now, Ep. 305) and have been using it ever since.  I’m not fully in the Tin Foil Hat Brigade but I also don’t necessarily want
to have everything I do on the web tracked and sold.  There wasn’t a lot of middle ground between being not caring and locking things down so much as to make some sites unusable.  Ghostery is exactly the compromise I was looking for.
5/12/14: Package Buddy via Luke Pohr
Luke Pohr has today’s pick: “Hi,  Tom and Jennie.  My Pick of the Day is Package Buddy. It’s on Android, and what it does is allow you to keep track of shipments of items that are being shipped to your address. All you do is get the tracking number and select the carrier that your shipment is on. Add that info to the app. The app will search for the tracking info for you. Also update you where your shipment is. This is way more convenient than going through your email every single time. I have used this app for years, still do and its great. And best of all its free!”
5/8/14: To Do-ist via Ashish Bogawat
Ashish Bogawat has our pick of the day: the task list management app Todoist.  “With a pretty minimalistic interface, the app can be as simple or complex as you want – no mean feat in this day & age. That it has native clients available for virtually every platform out there, as well as offline mode in the web app is just icing on the cake.”
5/7/14: Google Keep via Vance McAllister
Tom, as you might guess, my pick is a Google app, but one that tends to fly under the radar despite doing one simple thing very well.  Although I am a dedicated Evernote user, I have been finding myself using Keep more and more without any overlap.  Whereas Evernote is my digital file cabinet, I use Keep as digital Post-It Notes. It is fast and easy to pull up on a phone or computer to jot down a name, number, create a quick list, or anything that I need to save for later.  Then, just like a Post-It Note, that information is usually used and discarded.  Anything important enough to keep still goes into Evernote, but I am not cluttering Evernote up with these small, temporary bits and pieces.  The Keep interface
on Android and iOS is clean, simple and attractive, and there is even a standalone Chrome App for Windows and Mac in addition to the web interface.  Since it is free and available on every platform, I encourage folks to give it a go!  Vance, from the increasingly hot California desert
5/6/14: Goodreader via Russell Manthy
We have been using iPads for business for about two and a half years now and the key tool we have found is Goodreader.  As there is no native file manager on the iPad you need a way to manage, present and share files.  After trying a number of others we have found that Goodreader is the best for what we do.  It handles almost any standard file type (PDF, MS Office, video, images, etc.) and allows you to manage and display them in a manner very similar to the typical file manager on the desktop.  It populates from cloud services like Dropbox, Box, the Microsoft cloud service and a variety of others.  Documents can also be added from email attachments and it links to your email to send documents from the app.
One other really nice feature is that it has a fairly robust markup tool for PDF files.  We utilize this in meetings quite a bit when the iPad is connected to a projector.  It allows for real time markups and speeds the consensus building on projects.
5/5/14: Video DownloadHelper via Fascinated Video Size Guy
Hey Tom, Fascinated Video Size Guy here. Got a pick for the show that will also solve the confusion for the YouTube video download. My pick is Video DownloadHelper. It’s a free add-on for Firefox and it gives you the ability to download any video on YouTube and other video sites. But wait there’s more!!!! YouTube always stores multiple versions of videos so YT and it’s users can adjust the quality to best match their connection speeds and needs. VDH adds a button that allows you to simply choose which version of the YT video you want to download. I’ve used VDH for many years and can recommend it highly to anyone looking to download YT videos, especially people who produce a daily tech news shows Love the show, Fascinated Video
Size Guy
5/2/14: Dogeforsale via Luke Olsen
Looking to get into some Dogecoins before the DogeCar takes the track at Talladega this weekend?  Not sure how to how to navigate crypto exchanges?  Have no fear is here.  It’s a site where users can buy and sell Dogecoins with paypal, google wallet, debit cards, etc.  The site is a basic escrow service, it holds the coins during the transaction.  Get Dogecoins fast and securely. much speed very secure. DISCLAIMER: I’m a seller on the site — “SkyJedi”
4/30/14: ownCloud via Dave
“I love using Dropbox for storing and sharing many of my personal files. However as I work in healthcare I have to be extra careful when it comes to storing and sharing Protected Health Information. I highly recommend ownCloud ( as a private cloud alternative. They have Mac, PC and Linux clients as well as iOS and Android apps. The data is securely stored on our company servers. And best of all it’s open source software. Cheers, Dave (aka DaHa the rare times I get to visit the chat room)
4/29/14: XBoot via Justin “Chivalrybean” Lowmaster
XBoot is a program to create a bootable USB stick from various ISO files. I use mine to load SpinRite, MemCheck, Ubuntu Live and some others. I found it while looking for one by watching this review on Hak5 Thanks for the show, Tom and Scott!
4/28/14: Tadpole bluetooth speakers from iFrogz via Greg in Houston
Just wanted to pass on a quick pick of the day. I have three kids with iPhones that love listening to music in various locations (work, camping, hiking, etc.). They love to share audio as well and bluetooth speakers can be too pricey to want to risk in some of those situations.  Enter the Tadpole bluetooth speaker from iFrogz ( The Tadpole is a keychain size “speaker” that comes in a variety of colors. The sound is much larger than it’s size would indicate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the highest quality sound but for the situations above and for only $20, it is well worth the price.  it was definitely a hit with my kids and I will be grabbing a couple more.  Love the show and thanks for all
you do!
Greg in Houston, and of
4/24/14: via Patrick Beja
Hey both, here’s a daily pick for ya:
It’s a very useful “”email decluttering”” service. It gives you the option to gather all the “”semi-unwanted” emails in a daily summary. You decide which ones go in the summary, and which ones you actually never see again. They all get stored in a specific folder, so you never really lose them. It’s a great way to deal with “bacn,” and has become an indispensable tool in my endless quest for Inbox Zero (which I actually achieve every once in a while).
PS: I believe it only works with Gmail (of course), but seriously, who doesn’t use gmail nowadays? Give it a try!  Hugs, Patrick Beja”
4/23/14: PFsense via Harrison
“My pick is PFsense, if you like DDWRT as a router firmware you will LOVE PFsense. It is a opensource free router software that runs on old hardware AOK. Loaded FULL of enterprise level features and easy configuration. It is able to keep up with my 100 MB internet and high user demands with logging, multiple network segments, Guest network capture portal with vouchers, and so much more. It is overkill for any residential router, but that’s how us geeks roll!
Also +1 for Plex!
Flower Mound, TX USA
4/21/14: Plex via Mark
I know Nicole Spag has brought this up before – on TMS I think – but Plex has to be my pick. I’m a cord-cutter from the UK, and Plex on my Mac and Android devices, with Chromecast has really changed my post-work chill-out time. The interface on each device is great, the Chromecast stuff is pretty much flawless, and I can sync shows I want to watch offline to my tablet for watching in the gym. There are some issues with transcoding but I think they’re surmountable and the support community is pretty good.
I’ve really been enjoying DTNS and have been more than happy to kick in my money to Patreon. Thanks to you both.
With love from a fellow podcaster, with next-to-none of your experience but all of your enthusiasm, Mark
4/17/14: ProCam2 app via Brian Gnuse
I shoot HD video professionally and needed a photo app [on my phone] to shoot a 16 x 9 shape that I can use for HD productions on occasion. Oddly, the native IOS photo app can’t do that. Both ProCam apps work well and can shoot images in the 16 x9 shape.
These apps also help me for personal video productions. They can shoot in a four different file sizes. I love the 720P setting as I feel it is perfect quality for YouTube but saves me 40% or so in file sizes. Both apps are well-designed because they create a digital version of normal camera dials. If you are familiar with running about any camera, these will be an easy purchase.
4/16/14: Google Authenticator via Justin Barnard
I want to suggest Google Authenticator for a Pick, a great little app for working with two factor authentication logins. [Jennie says this is an Android app that generates 2-step verification codes on your phone and even works in airplane mode.]
4/9/14: Darik’s Boot and Nuke via Brian Burgess of
Hi Tom: One of the free tools I use a lot, especially when I want to completely nuke a computer and do a “real” clean install of Windows is Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN):
Or, if you want to blow away a drive that’s heavily infected with viruses and other malicious code it’s perfect.
You burn it to a disc and then boot from it and use the command line interface. For most consumers the “Quick or Auto Nuke” option is good enough, but for the truly paranoid, you can your drive to near Department of Defense standards. You can set it to overwrite the drive up to 7 times.
Here’s an example of using it for a clean install of Windows 7 that I wrote for the former and InformationWeek:
4/3/14: via Komei from Lovely Fremont
My favorite tool is a website that helps me find my favorite tools It is called When you have questions such as “Is there a tool like WinZip on the Mac?”, “What was the name of that free program that works like Photoshop?” or “Is everyone still using ACDSee?”, then you can enter the name of the tool you have in mind, and the website will list all similar programs by popularity. You can also narrow the search by platform or by license type (free, open source, or commercial). I use both Mac and Windows and this site helped me populate my machines with nice tools.
Cheers, Komei from Lovely Fremont
4/2/14:  Duolingo via Lili Ladaga
“Il parle sans savoir et sans comprendre”* Or, according to the addictive language-learning app Duolingo, “He is talking without knowing and without understanding.” This free app can teach you to say that in six languages – Spanish, French, German, Italian, English and Portuguese. The app was crowned Apple’s App of the Year in 2013 and it’s worth every free penny. Unlike Spanish 101, you don’t have to get up for class at 8am, you don’t have to remember to answer to your “Spanish name,” and best of all, it’s actually
FUN. If languages really aren’t your forte, at the very least, it’s a source of unintentional giggles when asking you to translate phrases, like “Erwachsenen haben diese Traume,”* or, “No normal adults have these dreams.” (H/T to the wtfduolingo tumblr for finding the app’s sometimes awkward awesomeness.)
4/1/2014: f.lux via fortythieves
Hi Tom: To continue the thread of smart lightbulbs, I have a friend who has a couple of the Philips Hue bulbs, and he raves about their ability to change colour, much more than apps to turn them on and off. He has tuned them (is that the correct word?) to change to a warm orange colour in the evenings. This gives a much less harsh blue colour that is bad for your eyes and for your sleep pattern (citation needed?). I believe the theory is that blue light is associated with daylight, and therefore is unnatural to get a lot of at night.
Anyway, this reminded me of a Pick that I meant to email about a few weeks ago. f.lux ( is a Mac, Windows and Linux app that changes the colour/hue of your screen to a similar warm orange colour once the sun sets in your area. The change between normal colours and the orange colour happens gradually over several minutes so it’s much less noticeable. I’ve only tried the Mac version, but it’s very configurable and lightweight.
This is to, again, protect your eyes and sleep pattern. It’s a little weird to begin with, but once I was used to it I find it really uncomfortable to go back. It’s great for those night owls working in the evenings.
3/31/2014: Amazon Glacier via Woogi 
I just wanted to let you know about a seemly little known backup program provided by Amazon AWS. Amazon Glacier is an Archiving Solution that is aimed to replace tape backups, however it works great, and is quite cheap to backup my important files.
With Glacier, you pay for what you use, and how you use it. For example, to send data to Glacier is free, and 1 cent per GB per month to store the data. Now because it is more of an Archiving solution, to retreive the data, they have a tiered pricing but about .12 cents per GB (for less than 10TB)
As my offsite backup solution, I am currently paying ~.47 cents a month (<$6 a year) to store ~40 GB of data. Even thought Amazon will charge me to restore the data, in case of a disaster, I am very willing to pay the 20-30 dollars to restore my data.  While not the most user friendly backup solution, I will not setup my mom on this, but for anyone with some minor tech skills, easy peasy.
3/28/14: G.I. Joe Coffee Company via Scott Napier
Tonx is great, but the G.I Joe Coffee Company is awesome for an entirely different reason. They are all fair trade, good quality coffee, but 20% of all proceeds go to support disabled veterans. I know you get tons of picks, but I figured I had to throw one in the mix since it is a cause near and dear to my heart (retired Army and 90% disabled myself).
3/27/14: Every Time Zone via Peter Wells Slashtime
Guest Peter Wells lives in Australia, one day ahead of the United States. This means he has to do a lot of time zone conversions. He selected , a lovely site that makes it easy to see what time of what day it is for the person you’re calling or emailing. Looks like Slashtime just runs on Linux (it requires java-gnome 4.1.1 or grater) but it’s written in JAVA and it’s source code is available under the GPLv2 so someone might be able to port it to another OS
3/26/14: UberConference via Justin Thorn
Fellow patreon here with a suggestion for a daily pick. I work for a small construction company and we are constantly struggling with conference calling from our mobile phones. A quick google search for free conferencing results in a lot of unsatisfying choices and paid solutions seem to be priced more for larger companies. After trying numerous options I found UberConference this week.  Evidently they have been around for 2 years and were started by the creator of GrandCentral which became
Google Voice.
The service is free to signup and gives you a dedicated phone number and PIN that never change. They do have a paid version for $10/month that lets you select a local phone number and eliminate the need for PIN. You can import your address book using Google, LinkedIn or CSV files. You can also link your Evernote, Google Drive, and Box accounts for easy file sharing. The web interface is very simple to use and there is also an app for iPhone and Android. You can visually see who is part of the conference call and when they are speaking. Even mute or boot them from the call. There is also
a version that works inside Google Hangouts for video conferencing and screen sharing.
I recommend everyone looking for cheap but not “cheap” conferencing check this out. Their intro video is pretty funny too summarizing the frustrations of most conferencing systems.
3/25/14 Boxcryptor via Chris Denny
I came across this great piece of software for encrypting your documents in cloud storage accounts called Boxcryptor They have a free and paid for accounts that allow you to…….wait for it…..encrypt your files…..  You can use it with OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive etc…. It uses AES-256 bit encryption, you can use it on Mac or PC. It’s just a great way to keep you stuff secure. I found this program looking for something to put on added security with my tax returns in the cloud.
 3/24/2014: Rescue Time via Ryan Neudorf
Your conversation about distraction motivated me to write in about one of the most useful anti-distraction tools I use: Rescue Time.  I’ve been working from home as a web developer for the majority of the past 10 years. When you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, managing distractions becomes pretty important to getting any work done.
Rescue Time is a desktop app (with a web component) that does two main things.
1. Tracks all of your website and desktop app usage, then gives you daily productivity reports with fancy graphs and charts. The app comes with good presets for common productive and distracting websites/apps. But you’re also able to redefine these. On top of this, you can configure reporting goals (like “limit distractions to 1.25hrs per day”) to give yourself some positive feedback when you’re doing well.
2. It allows you to set a “Get Focused” time. During this time it the app will block all distracting websites (unfortunately, it’s not technically possible to block desktop apps). They haven’t made the block impossible to bypass, but I find that the Rescue Time wall is often enough motivation get my ass back in gear. This feature works well with something like The Pomodoro Technique.
3/21/14: via Joel from The U.P. 
Hola DTNS crew! Tom, I’ve followed you since BoL and am ecstatic about the success of DTNS. For a pick, I would like to recommend
Ninite is a service that allows you to grab an auto-installer for many commonly used Windows applications such as Chrome, .NET, MSE, Dropbox, the list goes on and on. Not only will it download the most recent version of the programs selected from the companies, but automates the process to decline any crap-ware offers (sorry Ask Toolbar).
As an IT Professional that has to deal with an environment where images can’t be used for reworks due to a plethora of hardware, Ninite has been a huge time saver.
3/20/14:  Backblaze via Drew (audio listener since BoL)
Since you are accepting PotD suggestions, I wanted to throw my hat in the ring. I highly recommend that everyone keep an off-site backup of some kind, and I have done a lot of homework and recommend Backblaze very highly.
There are lots of ways to keep an off-site backup (Mozy, Carbonite, Crashplan, Transporter…even Dropbox or the recently discounted Google Drive). But for me, Backblaze is the best balance of cost, security, and ease of use.
I pay $5/month for unlimited backups, and I definitely get my money’s worth. I have an external Drobo holding over 100,000 photos and videos, plus the usual cadre of music and documents and whatnot. It is currently 2.1TB of stuff, and Backblaze never bats an eye.
In a nutshell:
– $5/month unlimited
– Data is heavily encrypted on your machine before transmission and storage
– Incremental backups (roll back as far as a month if a file gets deleted or damaged)
– Lightweight, install-and-forget client for Mac and Windows
– Backs up the whole computer by default (you don’t have to pick folders or keep your stuff somewhere specific)
– Free Internet restores (from anywhere) as zip files, or get mailed a USB drive or hard disk for a fee
3/19/2014: Nite Ize Gear Ties via Seth Palmer
Whats Up!
Something that I use on a daily basis to keep my cables organized are Nite Ize Gear Ties. Granted, they are glorified twist ties, but they’re super durable and useful. I use one to keep the usb with my external, one for my macbook charge cable, and one for my headphones. When they’re not holding cables, they make great stands for phones/tablets.
3/18/2014: Pocketcasts via Tyler Hardeman & Marlon!
Tyler: I have a suggestion for a pick, one that seems very appropriate for DTNS. Pocketcasts is one of the best podcast apps on Android and iOS (I’m listening to a DTNS episode with it as I type this).
It’s been around for a while and offers sync between devices, great for if you have a phone and tablet that you both use for podcasts, supports audio, video, playlists, everything you would expect. I mention it because it was just recently updated to add chromecast support, which is a pretty nice add for it, especially on video podcasts.
Marlon: Hey Tom, I wasn’t planning on sending another one of these for a while but yesterday, what I consider the best podcasting app on Android, Pocket Casts  got updated with Chromecast support (iOS update coming soon). But the real reason I am recommending it is that the Daily Tech News Show is one of the featured podcast on the Chromecast standby image that you see on the television between podcasts. For that alone it gets my tip of the hat. Love the show, Marlon It is how I’ve been consuming content created by Tom for years, and I imagine that many of the
listeners use some kind of podcast app, and this one is absolutely worth checking out.
3/17/2014: When Is Good via  Matthew, Coventry England
Loving the show. Would just like to draw your attention to a neat little website, It is a simple service which allows you to find the best time for an event. I am a regular user of shared calendars in Outlook (mostly in a professional context) and events on Facebook (mostly in a personal one), but I am using When Is Good more and more in the first instance these days because it allows me to propose several times up front and let attendees dictate the best one rather than proposing a single time
and rescheduling if it doesn’t work out. It is also really useful because it is its own platform and it doesn’t require users to sign up: I am a part-time University student and I like the fact that I can invite classmates to a group project meeting without being Facebook friends with them and know that they won’t need to jump through hoops to deal with it (we do have a shared calendar but no one uses it).
3/14/14:  Interviewly via Marlon “TheGuyFromTrinidad”
Hi Tom I have an entry for your picks, this is a new one but I have been using it all day, its and it basically makes reddit AMAs beautiful and easy to read.
3/13/14:  Clipping Magic via Matt in Baltimore, MD
I wanted to pass this little gem of a site along to you and the DTNS listeners: This site grants the ability to remove backgrounds from any picture and create pre-keyed images. As a long time Youtube Toy reviewer I have found this site to be indispensable in making useful images out of what would be otherwise unusable PR stock photos.  I thought you might find this useful and I hope my fellow DTNS listeners will as well.
3/5/14:  Mibbit via Big Jim
2/28/14: Automatic via our very own Dr. Karl
Automatic is like a fitbit for your car! It plugs into your car’s ODB port and connects via BTLE to your smartphone (Android or iOS).
The app gives you feedback on your driving (I now know it costs me $5 in gas to get to work in the morning), saves where you park on a map so you don’t get lost in the parking lot, tells you what’s wrong when the check engine light comes on and will even call 911 for you if you are in an accident.
On top of all that, they’ve recently added iBeacon support (which doesn’t mean a lot now, but in the future can do stuff like let you in and out of your parking garage or even pay at a drive-through apparently) and, as of today, IFTTT support (finally I can stop getting in trouble for forgetting to text my wife when I’m on my way home from work, or, alternatively, I can use it to do things like turn off the lights when I leave home.)
2/27/14: Writer via Rich from Lovely Cleveland
I always heartily endorse Writer, at Its essentially an internet typewriter, a super stripped down word processor. By default its green text on a black background (takes me back to my DOS days), and when in full screen mode it gives the best distraction free writing experience I’ve ever had. It has basic features, word count and a word count goal percentage, along with online saving across their servers. There’s a subscription option with some more advanced editing features and the ability to save to Google Drive/Dropbox, but the free version is all I’ve ever
need. Every time I try NaNoWriMo its my go to.
2/21/14 : AllCast via Ron Kehn
I recently discovered an app that allows me to use my Google Chromecast to play videos stored on my Android device. The free application is called AllCast. It is available on the playstore. A review can be found here.
2/17/14: Ninite via Brian Burgess: One app or service pick you should consider mentioning is . It makes reinstalling all of your free and Open Source programs on Windows extremely simple. Just check off the programs you use the most and download a single installer file. I’ve written this up in the past and talked with the developers. And the cool thing is, not only does it save time, but each app is always up-to-date, and the installer automatically unchecks the crapware and toolbars that some of those free apps
try to install. Unlike Cnet’s that requires playing Whack-a-Mole to install a clean version of Adobe Reader or Flash. They also have one for Linux users:


Creative Commons License
Libre Alternatives to DTNS Picks by Dan the Metalfreak and Tom Merritt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

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