It was over a weekend in August that I sat down and started Tools & Toys. It had been six months since I quit my job and began writing this website full-time, and just six weeks after finding out my wife and I were pregnant with Noah.

That was three years ago.

Primarily, I built Tools & Toys because I wanted an outlet for me to link to and write about cool things. Now, the scope of what I write about and link to here on is technically not limited, but I do try and stay on the topics of design, diligence, and Apple nerdery. However, my personal interests extend far beyond those topics. And so I built Tools & Toys as a place where I could link to and write about things beyond the scope of what I write about here. Tools & Toys was — and is — a playground of interesting things; a collection of fine paraphernalia.

Secondly, I wanted to build and design a WordPress site from the ground up.

You know how it is when you get the unquenchable need to make something. You can envision a project, picture the end result, and suddenly its all you can do to pull yourself away from working on it at 3 in the morning to get a few hours of sleep before your motivation wakes you up again. Well, that’s how it felt with Tools & Toys. I knew what I wanted, I knew how I wanted it to work, I knew the site itself had potential to be great, and I wanted the challenge of building it from scratch. And so I did.

I also did it for the money. The business model of Tools & Toys was an obvious one: find cool stuff on the internet, and when possible use affiliate links.

I have always subscribed to the principle that quality and honesty breed trust and attention. And what I want more than anything when it comes to the T&T readership is to have people who trust that we’re not here to rob them of their time.

On Tools & Toys we’ve never fed the pageview machine (we put the full content of each post on the home page and in the RSS feed), and we’ve never linked to something without reason. Sure, there have been some oddball items we’ve put up, but sometimes that’s the point — hey, look at this wacky item.

And so, now, three years later, it’s time for Tools & Toys to evolve just a little bit.

Starting next week, we’ll begin publishing several new types of original content. This will be in the form of photo essays, editorials, gear guides, reviews, and interviews. This will all be in addition to the daily posts we’ve always been publishing; we will continue linking to new and cool things that are out there.

The site is also getting a complete design overhaul, including a brand new logo. My friend, Pat Dryburgh, has done an amazing job re-imagining the site’s design. I cannot wait to pull back the curtain on it next week.

So, click through to check out the new logo. Also, we’re giving stuff away all through the month of October. If you join the new T&T newsletter then you’ll be entered to win something, plus you’ll get notified as soon as the site goes live next week.

All-New Tools & Toys is Coming Next Week

Matt Reich, writing for us over at The Sweet Setup:

There’s no shortage of Markdown editors to choose from, and many of them are fantastic. We think Byword is the best of the bunch because it hits the sweet spot between simplicity and functionality. Byword offers a calm writing environment, yet has just enough features under the hood enough to make you a happy and more productive writer.

Byword really is a wonderful app. I do all my long-form writing in it, which includes all the articles I write here and for other sites as well as the book I’m working on right now.

Our favorite Markdown writing app for the Mac is Byword

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My thanks to Creative VIP for again sponsoring the site this week. Like they’ve mentioned above, a membership hooks you up with discounts on a slew of amazing apps and services — many of which I personally use (such as Media Temple, Backblaze, LaunchBar, and TextExpander).

Save 50% on Creative VIP (Sponsor)

Gosh. So it’s been two years now since I started doing the paperless thing at my home office. And I haven’t lost the faith.

Two years in and I will heartily vouch for the simple workflow of having a nice scanner, a scheduled time to scan stuff in, and then a set of Hazel rules for automatically naming and filing my incoming document scans is a good system. I’ve been through two tax returns (personal and business) and my wife and I started a non-profit charity all while doing things “paperless” and it’s been just fine.

You can click through the link to see the software and hardware I’m using to scan stuff in and auto-file it on my computer. Things haven’t changed for me at all since I wrote that article in 2012.

Though I will add one thing: the value of a great shredder. I bought this $75 Fellowes shredder over a year and a half ago and it’s excellent. It can handle staples and credit cards and it’s a cross-cutter and it has enough bin capacity that I only empty it out about once a month.

The Paperless Puzzle (Two Years Later)

In case you didn’t notice from all of today’s links, I’ve been spending the day writing about the importance of saying no. And also, the potential danger of saying “maybe”. And this is the topic of this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly.

This episode is proudly sponsored by

The Courage and Focus to Say No

For the “no” trifecta, here’s that great quote from Steve Jobs which is always worth revisiting:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Focus is hard because saying no is hard. We say yes so as not to hurt someone’s feelings, or not to shut the door on a who-knows-maybe-it’ll-work-out-one-day opportunity. And so often it’s the person who can juggle so many plates and do so many things whom we admire and give accolades to. But what of the person or the company that focuses on only a few things — if not one thing — in order to make the absolute best and most delightful product out of their very narrow scope?

The Focus to Say No

Another great piece by Liz Danzico:

Just like saying yes, saying no creates your story. It’s what you leave out, not just what you put in, that forms a story, that makes a life. […]

No matter what it is—be it a business, a person, a piece of art, a career, a song, a family, a way of life, or a pursuit of any kind—it’s easy to say no to all the other choices that will present themselves if you truly love something.

Reminds me of the Robert Louis Stevenson quote: “Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.”

A Lesson in No

Liz Danzico (via Patrick Rhone) on the fringe benefits of saying no:

When I say no (e.g., conference talk invites, “pick my brain” invitations, jury solicitations), I immediately add my regret to the No List. I nurture this growing list of no-things, adding category data like dates events would have happened, themes, and date turned down.

Suddenly, I’m making list of cities not seen, airplanes not embarked, and time saved, rather than time taken away. Several months later, I have a made a substantial something. It’s how I’ve marked time.

There are many instances where deadlines are crucial, where getting things done needs to get done. Sometimes saying yes is just the thing that must happen. But just as importantly, most times it is not.

When we say no, it doesn’t have to be because we are too busy. It can also be because we are intentional and purposeful about what we do with our time and energy.

The No List

Lessons 1 and 7 I bet everyone who has ever published something on the internet can relate to. I give a hearty *amen* to lessons 9 and 13. And lesson 14 is something I’m trying to get better at.

Lesson 10 I’m not sure I agree with. For one, sites and services such as Tumblr and Squarespace have made it extremely easy for just about anyone to set up a website and begin publishing stuff to the Web. And since these sites (Tumblr especially) promote an equal nobility to all the various “post types” — quotes, images, videos, re-blogs, and long-form articles — the friction of not knowing what to publish is even more removed.

However, when I look at the tools I use every day here at, things have been remained pretty stagnant when compared to when I first began writing here more than 7 years ago. And yet, I don’t know if that’s a quantifiably negative issue — the tools I am most frequently using (MarsEdit; WordPress) are in no way holding me back. By far the biggest area of stagnation which I feel affected by is the lack of blogging tools on iOS.

Anil Dash’s 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging

If you’re an agency owner you already know how hard it can be to manage your team and clients…

Picture this:

Your agency is buzzing with activity. One of your designers just posted an update with some concepts to your client in Basecamp. And you’re reviewing a few Github issues that QA found the other day — while you still need to talk to a lead that you’re about to close…

With all this going on, having to worry about your team filling out their time sheets so that you can invoice is borderline overwhelming. So why keep doing it this way?

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My thanks to Dashable for sponsoring the site this week.

Sponsor: For Freelancers and Agencies Only

Patrick Rhone

Apple understands that [Apple Watch], by its very nature, will be more personal than the iPhone. It’s not just in your pocket, separated and tucked away when not in use. A wrist based device is on you and out there all the time for everyone to see. Not only that, but you are being asked to allow this device to know more about you than your doctor. To let it pay for things for you. To help you communicate with your friends and loved ones in potentially more meaningful ways. And, to interact with it potentially more than you currently do with your iPhone. Apple understands this will be the most personal computer you will own.

An Even More Personal Computer