Have you ever had an experience where you labored for 30 minutes over the potential purchase of a $0.99 app on your phone? I know I have. How about the experience where you buy a $5.00 sandwich, take a bite, realize it is mediocre but decide to eat it instead of getting your money back? I have done that one too.

These type of irregularities in value are common occurrence and frankly, enough to drive a software developer mad. The difference in these transactions is that the value of software is incredibly low while the value of time and energy is comparatively high (especially if you are hungry or tired). This situation drastically drives down the market value of software and creates a situation where:

  • Most software is mediocre.
  • Some software is great.
  • A small minority of software is so fantastic that I will actually pay for it.

Below is my list of software that is so good that I actually pay for it:

Dropbox – Dropbox is a file sharing services that works on a huge selection of devices and computers. Simply add a file to your dropbox and it is almost instantaneously available on all of your other devices. This tool is part of the foundation that allows me to be as portable as I am.

Omnifocus – Omnifocus is the most used program on my computer. I pride myself in being extremely efficient and this is the task manager that I use. I have found that it is easy enough to use that I actually use it for ALL of my tasks and that it is feature complete enough that it covers any scenario I run into. Mac Only.

Textmate – Textmate is my text editor of choice. In addition to code, I write all of my notes and ideas using it. It gets out of the way while still providing powerful time saving features. Mac Only.

iWork – For more complex documents (spreadsheets, presentations, reports), I rely on iWork. It does everything I would need Microsoft Office for but is much easier to use. Mac Only.

Adobe Creative Suite – I use Photoshop almost everyday and am starting to use Illustrator more often. I don’t recommend paying full price for the suite. Instead, I recommend either finding a discount through your current employer or signing up for a cheap design class so that you can get the educational discount and learn the software at the same time.

1Password – This program revolutionized my security. Instead of trying to remember different passwords for every website I use, I just use 1Password to assign a random string of characters as a password to any given site and then only need to remember one password which I change on a regular basis to retrieve and input the password. Mac Only.

Tripit – Tripit is by far the best travel itinerary software I have ever used. (This is key as I travel a ton). As soon as I get a receipt for a plane ticket, hotel or rental car, I simply forward the e-mail to Tripit and it syncs all of the relevant information to all of my devices for offline retrieving. This way I never have to scramble through papers to get confirmation codes or flight numbers.

Vaultpress – Vaultpress is a foolproof option for backing up a WordPress blog. It is cheap, secure and made by the same team that makes WordPress. I invest a lot of time into this blog and with Valutpress, I don’t need to worry about my blog disappearing.

Amazon Web Services – I use this for most of my web hosting. It is dirt cheap, very reliable and extremely scalable. Warning: AWS is quite nerd intensive.

Github – Github is a place to remotely host source code and to socialize about coding. It provides all of the code backup and organization that I need.

Kindle Books – I don’t own any physical books. Instead, I buy anything I want to read in kindle format. This means the book weights nothing, takes up no space and will be mine for the rest of my life.

iTunes Movie Rentals – I also don’t own any physical movies. Instead, I rent movies I want to see from iTunes. I rent rather than buy as I don’t want to store the big files on my computer.

That’s all that is on my list. What is on yours?