36 of My Favorite Tech Tools, Apps, and Books

Michael QuanAutomation, Habits, Misc12 Comments

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favorite tech tools

Today, I’ll be sharing with you 36 of My Favorite Tech Tools, Apps, and Books.

I use these tools on a daily basis because they help me with my efficiency (I value my time highly!).  Likewise, the books and programs are invaluable resources full of wisdom, actionable strategies, and inspiration.


iPhone 7 – I wouldn’t have upgraded this last cycle, but my wife was ready to bite the bullet and move to a smartphone.  Once she said that I didn’t hesitate.  I took her ancient flip-phone and tossed it as far as I could into the abyss of no return.  In exchange, I handed her over my relatively new iPhone 6 and upgraded to the iPhone 7.  It’s more or less the same phone, with one major upgrade – the camera!  Low light shots are so much better with this one which is super important to me since I’m snapping away non-stop as a stay-at-home Dad.

Google Photo Sync – Since I take a couple thousand pictures on average a month, I need a reliable and safe way to store my photos.  iCloud is an option, but it’s a bit too expensive in my opinion.  Prior to ever owning an iPhone, I started using the Google photos app to sync all of my pictures.  They will do this for you for free if you are okay with a little compression on your photos.  Typically the quality is very good still, so unless you’re a professional photographer, it should probably be fine.  I also like this option because my wife can sync up her iPhone here too.  *Even though we use this, I also manually pull off the full resolution pictures and store them on my NAS (network attached storage) unit…

Synology NAS – Being a former I.T. practitioner, I have to keep good backups!  So, this is one layer of it –  a dual drive NAS with mirrored drives to backup my important data files and media.  I will typically store full resolution pictures and video here from my iPhone when I need to clear data.  That means if my iPhone is ever lost, or my computers or laptop stolen, my data will still be safe.  The purpose of two identical mirrored drives are in case one were to malfunction (you have an identical backup).  But what if we were to have a fire in our home?  The NAS would melt pretty fast and both drives would be toast!

Dropbox – Although I don’t sync all of my files here, I do send some critical ones to live here in the “cloud” as a final fail-safe.  Dropbox is a cloud storage provider so that means the files sync’d over here are no longer local to my NAS.  Instead, it’s protected on their servers which are housed in secure data centers.

Outlook.com – Want to know something crazy?  I’ve had my “hotmail” aka Outlook.com email account since the year 2000!  That’s almost 17 years now.  I still use it today because I like the interface more than any other consumer email platform I’ve used.  I use gmail for other projects like my food blog, but I still don’t think it’s a better U.I.  (user interface).  Anyhow, it integrates well with my iPhone too which is nice.  I can check my email on my phone, watch, or browser which is very convenient.

Office 365 – As a former I.T. business owner, we would use and support a ton of Microsoft applications.  Now that I’m completely out of the business, it’s interesting that I’ve gravitated back to it as they’ve moved their platforms into their cloud.  I love their outlook program and Word and Excel are second nature to me.  I use Office 365 Essentials for my financial coaching business and it only costs ~$5/month.

Fujitsu Scanner – I love my scanner.  In fact, I wrote an entire post about How to Knock Out Financial Clutter.  Being about to go paperless is truly wondrous for my fellow efficiency freaks!  😉  It’s super fast and will automagically create a searchable PDF.

Apple Macbook Air – Last year I purchased a 13.3″ Apple MacBook Air which I love.  It’s funny, you’d think I was a crazy Apple aficionado forever, but these purchases have been relatively recent.  I’m loving the integration, but each standalone on their own merits.  The laptop replaced an old 8 years ASUS laptop that couldn’t hold a charge for longer than 15 minutes.  This MacBook can go for up to 10 hours!!  Also, the keyboard is a super important component to me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m working on a cramped keyboard… especially when I’m writing on the blog, etc.

Apple Watch – Series 1 – Yet another Apple product!  But this one took me a whole year to research before I was convinced.  This watch is excellent with helping me to track my daily exercise, health, and wellness.  Without your health, wealth is irrelevant.  So far I’ve been tracking my steps, exercise, and even my caloric intake.  I’ve lost several pounds over the last 3 months.

Amcrest Security Cameras – I use these cameras to keep an eye on our home from both the inside as well as the outside.  These will track motion and automatically start recording when it picks up movement.  You can also speak through the camera through the app on your phone.  Even my kids feel secure knowing that we’re watching over them.

Sensi Thermostat – This is a nice WiFi thermostat that allows me to change the HVAC settings at will via an app.  It’s a very intuitive interface and I love being able to control my AC even when I’m not home.  I hear the NEST is really cool, but I wasn’t prepared to pay that much.

Vitamix 5200 Series – Hundreds of dollars for a blender?  Yup.  But, I purchased mine as a certified refurb. and it’s still going strong.  You see, I would purchase a drink almost every day from McDonald’s or Starbucks.  This adds up quickly over time.  However, with the Vitamix, I’m able to recreate those same exact drinks for pennies on the dollar.  That’s a great ROI any day of the week!


WordPress – Wow.  Websites have come a very long ways since I first started creating them in 2000 in notepad!  Back then netscape ruled cyberspace and excite and yahoo were dominant forces.  Today wordpress is the king of the web is used on a whopping 26% of the websites out there.  It’s no surprise though.  Wordpress is super powerful and it gives my site the flexibility and security I need.  No longer do I need to worry about the technical aspects as much.  I can spend most of my time creating content.

X Theme – One of the best things about WordPress is that it’s customizable.  There are millions of themes which allow you to customize the look and feel of your website.  X Theme is a specialized company that’s created something special.  It’s called X Theme and it includes a multitude of designs, as well as 20+ extensions.  Their support is pretty rock solid too.  Just avoid their hosting though as they still haven’t worked out a few of the kinks.

Evernote – This is a cool app to integrate a bunch of notes from different devices.  Unfortunately, they just recently updated their pricing, so the free version is a bit more limited and can only sync with 2 devices now.  There are several paid plans if you need more devices or extra features.  For now, we just stick with the free one.

Buffer – Very efficient way to publish to social media on a schedule.  I still have a free account which limits me to twitter and facebook, but perhaps someday when I figure out Pinterest, I’ll upgrade to their paid version.  For now, it’s great to be able to share throughout the day without manually publishing updates.

Skype – I must say, we’ve come a long way with video conferencing.  Skype was one of the early players before Microsoft swept in and purchased them.  But, they’ve consistently had improvements with sound and video quality along the way.  I use this for my mastermind group and even for coaching sometimes.

Lose It! – I finally had enough this year and decided to get back on the program of tracking my calories.  This has been super helpful to manage my portions and maintain a better-balanced diet.  I’ve already cut several pounds in a couple months and hope to get back to my ideal weight of 140 lbs by Easter.

Venmo – This is a fantastic alternative to PayPal.  It’s fast, easy, and efficient.  It has a built-in social media component, but you can always make your transactions private if you want.  I’ve definitely started using this more and more recently.

Personal Capital – Ahhh… unless you’re visiting my site for the first time, you probably know I’m a huge fan of Personal Capital’s free tools to manage your net worth and cash flow.  It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn awesome!  They even have full robo-advisor services available for a flat fee if you’re not interested in managing your own portfolio.

Audio Programs

Time of Your Life – This is unlike any other time management system you’ve encountered.  Learn how to optimize based on your outcome and create a system to feed that result.

Ultimate Edge – I’ve must have listened to this one at least 3 or 4 times.  This program gives you the tools to make lasting change and shows you how to develop strategies for success in health, wealth, and relationships.


Introductory Wealth Building Books


Real Estate


Personal Development

Final Thoughts

Tech and tools are certainly great fun at times.  But remember they won’t do the necessary work for you.  That’s up to you and you alone.

That’s all I’ve got for today!

Readers, I’m always looking for more useful things to add to my resource box.  What are some of your favorite tech tools, apps, programs, and/or books?

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12 Comments on “36 of My Favorite Tech Tools, Apps, and Books”

  1. Wow, this is an impressive list! Call me old school, but I still prefer to have a written planner/notebook I carry around. I do like Evernote though, but when it comes to daily tasks and short/long term goals, writing them out just works better for me.

    Nice 140lbs! That’s pretty lean. By Easter, I’m sure you can hit that goal. I did just get a sweet pair of wireless headphones (66 Audio BTS) that I wear on my runs and when working out. They’ll sync to your apple watch too so you’ll be hands free too!

    1. Oooh, I gotta look up those wireless headphones! I will verify it’s truly unlikely any iPhone 7 user will carry around the head phones adapter.

      There’s definitely something to be said about writing the old fashioned way. I still take notes that way. I just digitize them immediately there after. 🙂

      Hope you had a great Xmas, O.B.!

  2. Hi Michael, great article! I like the recommended books at the end 🙂

    Try Inbox by Google, which is an alternative ui to the conventional gmail ui. As for syncing my notes, i use google keep. Haha im exposing so much of my persnal data to google 😮

    1. Thanks, Alvin! I had no idea google had a separate inbox interface. I just added it for my food blog account and so far it looks pretty cool.

      Google owns you. 😉

  3. Nice one here Mike in the lead up to Christmas as well, perhaps you’ll be getting some more to add to this list ;)?
    I really enjoy a simple one (GoodBudget and GoodReads) to track spending and reading habits.. I won’t list all my personal favourite books here although I’m about to read Tycoon about Rockerfeller Jnr, which should be interesting

    Thanks for sharing man and have a happy holidays!

    1. Yes Jef, I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, so I’ll need to update the list as I remember them.

      Thanks for sharing those books. I definitely find it interesting how certain books can really affect us in a positive way.

      Happy holidays to you in the down under!

  4. Thanks for sharing all these. I’m interested in getting started with Tony Robbins (I loved I Am Not Your Guru on Netflix) – should I read his books (Unlimited Power first?) or just jump into an audio program like Ultimate Edge?

    Whenever adding a new goal, I track daily progress in an app like Way of Life (http://wayoflifeapp.com/). There are other cool ones out there to check out: https://dailytekk.com/the-10-best-new-habit-tracking-apps-for-nailing-your-life-goals/?reading=continue

    1. I’m a huge fan of audio programs, Brian. So, if it were me, I’d start on the Ultimate Edge. If that resonates with you, definitely read his books and by all means, go see him LIVE! It’s an incredible experience you should have at least once in your life. Feel free to ask me about it anytime. 🙂

      Thanks for the pointing out that app. Looks interesting and worth checking out!

  5. A great list. I’m not sold on the smart watch just yet. I actually gave up wearing a standard watch, since I always carry my phone with me. Just started using buffer recently and love it. I’m a big fan of digit for automating savings.

    1. Yeah Brian, I wouldn’t get a smart watch unless you have a very specific reason for it. It took me more than a year to be convinced. 🙂

      I’ve heard good things about digit. I’ll have to check that out soon!

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