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Birchtree
By Matt Birchler
I've been writing here since 2010! Back when personal blogs were all the rage. Kids, ask your parents.

Doubling Down on Subs I Love, Leaving Others behind

We've come to the end of another year, and due to decisions I've made over the years, I have a ton of subscriptions come up for renewal right around Christmas (this very domain renews today!), so here's what I'm doubling down on in 2023, as well as a few that I'm giving up on for now.

Subs I'm Doubling Down On

  • Inoreader continues to be reliable, syncs quickly, and has a great rules system that lets my customize my feeds to my liking.
  • I think the Weather app revamp last year in iOS 15 was incredible, but I keep going back to Carrot Weather, which is so remarkably good that I keep paying up for this app.
  • Not an app, but Corridor Digital makes some of the best content on YouTube (like VFX artists react), and their premium sub gets me early access to all their videos, behind the scenes bonus vids, and unedited videos that would get demonetized on YouTube (mostly for looking at VFX scenes with gore or music that would get struck down).
  • Notion continues to be my workhorse, and while I don't need to pay for it, which is awesome, I do so that I can upload larger files, which I find useful enough to cough up $50 for the year.
  • Letterboxd may be my favorite social network out there. You don't directly post for your audience, but you review movies and your followers can see what you're watching and what you think about them. I can't tell you how often I wonder what I should watch, only to check the front page of Letterboxd and see something a friend liked and just throw that on.
  • This one is hot off the presses for me, but Readwise has won the read-it-later awards for me, and I've paid up for a year. I don't really care about the book highlighting feature, but their still-in-beta Reader service is so good that I think it's going to serve me even better than Matter, which I'm a bit fan of as well.
  • All debates about what streaming video service is the best is really just an argument for second place. YouTube is by far the best place to stream video and I spend more time there than on Netflix, Apple TV+, Hulu, HBO, etc.

Subs I'm Leaving Behind (for now)

  • 2022 is the year Spark lost me, unfortunately. Their v3 update was a bit of a mess, and while I still think it's solid on iOS, it feels like it's moved the wrong direction and I have moved back to just using the Apple Mail app on my iPhone and iPad. Apple Mail is not great for me, but it gets the job done (I'm eagerly anticipating Mimestream's iOS app, because that's incredible on the Mac).
  • T-Mobile won me over years ago by removing contracts and having simple billing that was notably lower than the competition. Over the years, the service has not gotten noticeably better, but the cost has certainly gone up. My todo list for January is to finally switch over to Verizon, which I was able to easily test drive for 30 days since you can install a second eSIM on the newer iPhones without interacting with anyone.
  • I really love what Halide does for the camera on iPhones, but it's just not worth it to me. I'm a bit of an edge case since I own a fancy "real" camera, so whenever there are occasions to take special photos, I get that rather than toggling over to another camera app on my iPhone.
  • I don't know if I've changed or Ulysses has changed, but this is the year I drifted away from Ulysses. I've said before that I thought Ulysses was the best app period for iOS/iPadOS/macOS, but I had some buggy behavior and performance issues crop up that soured me to it a bit. This is all at the same time Obsidian has become even more a part of my text workflow, and being able to write and publish to this blog from there has made it where I want to work now.
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Hey there, I'm Matt!

I'm a UI/UX designer at NMI and I make videos over on A Better Computer, which I think you'll love.

Hey there, I'm Matt!

I'm a UI/UX designer at NMI and I make videos over on A Better Computer, which I think you'll love. You can also check out my side projects, Quick Reviews and Quick BIN Lookup.