Technology raves?

Rather than derail @Tams excellent technology rants thread - does anyone have any technology raves?

I liked the old Art software thread on the old forum but I also think it could have / should have had non-Art software suggestions too.

I’ll kick off with a non-Art suggestion and why I like it

Finch App - it’s a little self-care widget / app which is based around Mental Health and organising and rewarding yourself with daily targets. It also seems to act as a daily planner.
Why: our education group and many of the providers in the UK have been pushing FIKA like crazy across all 14-20 education and in my experience, 90% of students hate it and only use FIKA when the tutor / teacher makes it a compulsory part of the lesson. I hate to think about how much money the UK Gov has sunk into FIKA but what I am finding (and this is purely anecdotal) if that out of self choice - many found and use Finch for free and enjoy using it for themselves and their planning purposes.



First I’ve heard of it and I already hate it. Teaching in the UK is in such a state, and most of it is administration getting in the way of actual teaching and learning. Then add in the expectation that some app/platform is going to solve it… urggghhh.

Sure, it might be of use, great even, to some. And things like it should be offered and attempted. But institutions just don’t do ‘not participating’ well at all (and usually this manifests in people not bothering or refusing - usually leading to whatever project to fail). Trying to put a round peg in a square hole is silly; I thought that was something we all learnt was futile when we were toddlers.

Maybe it’s just me. I answer questions to things like this with rather rude replies. App: ‘How are you today?’ Me: ‘**** **** **** your ***** ***** *****!’ even if I’m feeling fantastic. Which is odd as I love tracking my fitness, though I am starting to question if that’s worth the time and money too.

Having peeked at the Finch app, at least it seems to be more like a game. FIKA looks to be some cold, corporate tool. So a modern Tamagotchi or Neopet (without the bizarre religious background - seriously, look that up) that may help some people mentally sounds like a good concept. Even if it doesn’t work, at least people can have some fun.

The perpetual pessimist in me still thinks it’s a waste of time though.

PS Sorry to be such a downer in this thread already.


And now my suggestions:

  • OneNote - Not sure why I’m listing it, but it’s still the king of notetaking apps/programmes.
  • Microsoft Publisher - If you’re a casual/amateur print designer, then this is really simple to use. I use Affinity Publisher these days, and you can use PowerPoint, or Pages if you’re on Apple, but it really does get the job done (unless you overload it with images).
  • Pocket Casts - Just really well designed. Of course does its job too.
  • Samsung Notes - Great if you use a Samsung device.
  • Vivaldi - From some of the developers of the original Opera browser. So many options, my favourite being the double tabs layer, but the speeddial is the best too. A shame that it’s yet another Chromium browser though.
  • Kanji Study - If you’re learning Japanese kanji, this app is fantastic. It’s also a fantastic example of using an OS’s design guidelines; the developer really gets Material Design.
  • Memrise - For when the plainness and faff of Anki gets too much. It’s a pain to find and add courses in their own app though.
  • BatteryBar - No longer maintained (but still sold) by the developer and doesn’t work with the default Windows 11 taskbar (thanks Microsoft), but still great. I love that it has extra details along with its passive elegance and simplicity.
  • Weather Bar - Now that Windows 11’s is tied to Widgets (no thank you), it’s a good alternative. I do prefer a larger image and wish it were like BatteryBar, but with Windows 11 that ship seems to have sailed.

+1 for Publisher and Samsung Notes

Publisher is hands down the easiest to use and most intuitive “desktop publishing” app with a decent enough amount of power for even a a lot of advanced users.

And Samsung Notes I’ve really come to appreciate since I switched to my 22Ultra. I only wish they had a Mac app


I just wish Microsoft would maintain it properly. I don’t think there have been any new features in it for years, and it’s not like it’s competing with any higher tier product from them.

I moved on from it to the harder to use, but more industry standard like (still missing a few important features) Affinity Publisher because with lots of images it would often crash. And adding lots of images is a bit annoying without a proper board to organise them on as assets. I do miss the simplicity though.

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Nice thread idea! The one that comes to mind is Paint . NET. It’s a Photoshop-like product, I use it a ton. Launches quickly, plenty of features, even has layer support. Free on the developers website, but if you like it you can buy it for $8 in the MS Store to support the developer.


Seconded. I use iOS Pocket Casts and miss Samsung Notes. iOS/PadOS Notes isn’t as good.

I forgot that! I use it mainly when I want to edit something quickly as it loads so fast. But it also has a lot of features.

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:rofl: It’s exactly how I felt when I had sat through 2 hours of compulsory online training on using FIKA. It’s gone beyond my sector and is supported by a whole raft of universities who are spending god knows what supporting the app.
I loved that students had found their own alternative.

I used OneNote on my old Windows phone - it worked great. I didn’t like it on a computer as much - I tried the drawing tools out and spent 45 minutes on a shaded drawing where OneNote took all my pen tilt information and registered it as a charcoal effect. Saved the drawing and came back the next day to screenshot it for the old forum and the tilt information from the pencil tool had been translated to flat biro style pen and it wouldn’t go back.
Next - the corporate world hit OneNote for me - Microsoft compulsory training in how to set up class OneNote pages / lesson plans in OneNote during Lockdown. I hated it, the Computing courses did an amazing job with it but everyone else in other departments hated it too and we all went back to our own ways of delivering our subjects as best we could using other online tools.
TEAMS was and still is compulsory but a lot of courses set up Google Classroom privately - a lot of features that TEAMS copied from Classroom just didn’t work in TEAMS.
So, I just can’t fall in love with OneNote but I appreciate that for others, as a personal tool it must do what is required.

Never tried it but I will now thanks. I’ve begun to enjoy using Affinity Designer at last (though I still can’t swap Affinity Photo for Photoshop yet - just no love there)

Well, OneNote isn’t really for drawing. Microsoft should be able to sort that out, but still, the right tool for the right job.

And as for corporate/government mandated training… I don’t let it colour my opinion of whatever it is. I had to do a Google Classroom thing recently and it was really just a giant sales pitch. I put my rude answers in and was done. Now, I just happen to not be a fan of most of Google’s offerings, but the course wasn’t the cause of that. Jamboard is pretty nice though.

The FIKA thing strikes me as fundamentally a losd of bull. Being forced to ‘learn how to use it’ would just cement that opinion in me.

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Macromedia FreeHand — I still rock Macromedia Freehand/MX, (was a beta-tester) though I used pretty much every version before it, going all the way back to Altsys Virtuoso on a NeXT — v2 of which was ported to MacOS and Windows. Still salty that it didn’t get done as a Cocoa app, and enraged that Adobe was allowed to buy it pretty much ten years to the day after a Federal Judge declared that they couldn’t have it for a decade as part of the buying Aldus deal.

Serif’s Affinity Design tries to be a replacement, but they’re not willing to implement all of the keyboard shortcuts and modifiers which are essentially hard-wired into my brain — that said, I use Carbide Create a fair bit as part of my job, and it’s sort of workable in a simplistic to a fault kind of way — wrote up a bit about using it at:

(and pushing for it to write out SVG so that it will be useful in other programs/can be viewed on web pages/browsers — use Inkscape to convert files at need)

which brings us to the next really nifty thing:

which is great for publishing stuff (really need to find time to look up and see what has been written and made available using it) — wish wikibooks were as simple.

For doing 3D programmatically I use:


I’d like to see something developed which was a bit easier to use and more interactive (but still opensource) — keep debating about trying some commercial program, or diving into Blender, or trying to write something myself.


True, but being interested in all sorts of drawing tools (analog and digital) I wanted to try all the features but I learned my lesson that day.

What was even more heinous was being forced how to get students to use it and then weekly reminders about what stage the students should be at.

How? Not that there’s anything wrong with Freehand - I finally learned vector image making using Freehand MX but it got deprecated and you certainly can’t run it on a Mac anymore.

Folks still using FreeHand/MX are either using Windows (I use it on my Samsung Galaxy Book 12), or running it in a virtual machine.

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Virtual reality gear is beginning to get really cool, especially with immersion in spaces or places. Augmented reality… not so much.

Perhaps one day, screen size limitations will be a thing of the past.

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I still love Dex. Seriously, if you have a phone or tablet that can do it, give it a try. I’ve even run it wirelessly using my big samsung tv as the monitor. I’m playing a game full screen on the tablet while I type this in Edge on the monitor through a USB-c dock

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Yeah, but try it the other way around. Well, at least the last time I tried it refused.

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I’m liking this thread a lot! I just tried OpenSCAD and I can already see at least handful of customers I’d suggest it to to try, as alternative for the behemoth that is AutoCad.

We’ll have to make a new thread:

Nowhere near as production friendly as other 3D modellers - Bloom3D is nevertheless fun and easy to pick up and explore - a lot of browser based and tablet oriented applications are tempting me away from the traditional big desktop Apps.

Draw / extrude / remove and paint - the main icons available to play with. You can actually export models quite easily too. Obviously there are some major improvements that would help make more complex models but this thread is about “fun” and “enjoyable” rather than anything else.

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