Roma’s Unpolished Posts

Apps with Presence on Mastodon

Published on:
Mastodon 2, Apps
Current music:
The Appleseed Cast — Storms
Current drink:
Yunnan tea

For a few years I had a “tools burnout”, where I almost completely stopped using various apps, tools, and plugins.

While all of these could be very handy, things can get overwhelming pretty fast. Every tool comes with a certain cognitive load: the necessity to learn it, to remember how it works, and then how to use it. Not always, it can be worth it. Another problem — the sheer number of options. Reading about all the tools that do a similar thing, comparing them, and trying them — all that takes a lot of time and effort.

What if I could simplify it a bit?

Recently, I decided to start using more tools again and looked into what was available.

One interesting approach I found for narrowing down the choices: choosing only the things that have a presence on Mastodon.


  1. If it is on Mastodon, the tool is relatively recent, and has some level of support.

  2. If the authors of that tool see Mastodon as worthy of their presence, they are likely to share a common set of values with me. But if they continue to use only Twitter or are happy to join Bluesky or Threads but not Mastodon, it is very telling.

  3. With a tool present in Fediverse, I have a very convenient way to follow the updates for it or to reach its developers if needed.

  4. And, of course, as I already mentioned, this narrows down the available choices a lot.

Things I Did Choose This Way

Overcast — a podcasts app.

I got fed up with the Apple Podcasts app (it is bad) and decided to find something better. Even though Overcast is not available on macOS as a native app, it is possible to install the iPad version of it, and it works pretty nicely and syncs with the version I’m using on the iPhone.

NetNewsWire — an RSS/Atom reader.

I finally decided to return to reading RSS and wanted to find a good reader. NetNewsWire seems perfect now: it has a very similar feel to the Reeder I used a long time ago, is free and open source, and also syncs with the iOS version perfectly.

Obsidian — a knowledge base/note-taking app from the authors of Dynalist.

I did know about Obsidian for a while and tried it once or twice, but I did not yet stick with it beforehand. The final straw was one post in mastodon:

This post did mention an article about a plugin for Obsidian that uses Leaflet under the hood (also on mastodon — for an RPG dungeon map.

I knew that it was possible to create plugins for Obsidian, but only now has it clicked for me that it is based on the web platform: plugins can be written with JS and everything can be styled with CSS, with CSS snippets being a thing that people actively share. Edit: I already wrote an article about one such snippet — Fixing Obsidian’s Markdown Display with CSS.

There is also an unofficial Lemmy community for it, and I did subscribe to it in Mastodon, trying to see how the interactions between different entities in the Fediverse work.

Thunderbird — an email client.

For a long time, I did use web apps, but I think it is time to get back to desktop apps. Owning your content is nice, and with the ways services evolve and change, relying on an online entity to store everything for you started to feel wrong to me. I would prefer to have all my emails on hand locally, available offline.

Astro — a web framework this blog is running on.

I wanted to try it for a while, and one of the reasons was its presence in Mastodon. I think the front-end community is thriving on Mastodon, and I would not hesitate to recommend any newcomer join in — so many great developers and authors are now there!

Things I Used Before

The tools above were the ones I started to use after I joined Mastodon and decided to narrow down my choices based on Mastodon presence. But some tools I was already using were also on Mastodon.

iA Writer — a markdown writing app.

I’ve been using it for years (since June 26, 2011, according to the receipts). As someone who has always loved typography, I always liked how they approached it in the iA Writer and on their site.

While I’m using other apps for notes, outlines, etc. (like the Obsidian I started using recently), I continue to use iA Writer a lot, as I genuinely love the writing experience it provides.

Pixelmator Pro — an image and video editor.

I purchased it a few years ago and use it for any raster images I need to edit. I recently started using it for editing the videos of the examples I put in articles on my main site — it is very easy to cut and crop videos there.

Baba is You by — my favorite game.

Surprise — it is not an app or a tool, but a game :) A very hard puzzle game, and I can recommend it to anyone. When I play it, it feels like it trains the same neurons that are responsible for CSS — utilizing, changing, and combining the rules on the fly to achieve previously unthinkable things through logical insights.

For now, that’s it! I will not update this list if I start using something else, but I might write a new post here about it (and cross-link them).

There is also another idea I had for a while — to create something like a “gear” page where I could gather and link to all the software and hardware I use. Maybe one day I will create it as a page on my site. We’ll see!

Please share your thoughts about this on Mastodon!