Tom Donohue Tom Donohue


Here’s my list of recommended resources. These are things that I like and use, and think you will too!


I use a few tools for blogging:

  • Platform: I publish using Jekyll, which is a static site generator written in Ruby. (No, I’m not a Ruby developer!) I write my articles in Markdown and everything is stored in a GitHub repository.

  • Web hosting: This website is hosted on the free tier at Netlify. For building websites, I can’t recommend Netlify enough! Once you’ve created an account, it’s very easy to connect to GitHub, and Netlify will build, deploy and host your web site. It supports static site builders like Jekyll, and many other website building frameworks too. Netlify talks a lot about “the Jamstack” which is a really confusing term, but you can definitely just host basic websites with them.

  • App hosting: I run small virtual private servers on Linode and Hetzner. Linode is great, but I’m in the process of moving to Hetzner because they’re cheaper and seem just as reliable. Both companies are great if you are happy to set up and manage your own web server, which I prefer to do. If you sign up using this link, I get a small commission, so thank you if you do that! I run CentOS on my server and I use it to host small Java apps, etc.

  • Illustrations: When I need graphics for my blog articles, I use Freepik. They have a huge selection of free vectors, just in return for giving them a link. I also use their sister site Flaticon for decent free icons that I can use in illustrations or artwork. The illustration on the front page of the web site was drawn in Sketches for iPad.

  • Stock photos: Lots of free good photos available at Unsplash or Pexels.

  • Analytics: I use the free, self-hosted version of Plausible Analytics. It’s open-source and utterly fantastic for gathering privacy-friendly visitor stats, so I know which articles are the most popular on my websites! I used to recommend Fathom Analytics, but they abandoned their open source version.

Life-long learning

  • Online learning: I’ve been a subscriber to O’Reilly for a few years now (formerly Safari Books Online). It’s a great way to get unlimited access to a whole lot of peer-reviewed, authoritative tech books, and also online video courses. I use it a few times per month, and find it very useful.

Creating ebooks

  • Writing: My books are written using Asciidoctor, which is a toolchain for producing documentation from Asciidoc files. It produces PDFs which look pretty good! I’ve also used LyX which is a LaTeX book editor for Linux.

  • Selling online: I use Gumroad for selling my Apache Camel book and I think the service is great. It’s a very simple way to sell PDFs and ebooks online. They handle payment processing which means I get to focus on writing. I use the basic (free) tier, which is sufficient for me.

Creating videos

As well as writing, I sometimes publish videos to YouTube.

  • Video capture: OBS Studio is a really easy way to capture the screen on both Mac and Linux. I also use ScreenFlow for Mac.

  • Video editing: I’ve tried so many other editors (like iMovie for Mac, and Pitivi and Kdenlive for Linux). But I’ve found none of them to be as good as ScreenFlow for Mac. The workflow is very intuitive for me, and it’s very easy to arrange clips and add captions. I don’t just use ScreenFlow as a screen capture tool, but a great video editor.

  • Quick online video editing: I’ve had great results with when I wanted to create and edit short videos for social media.

  • Video recording: I record videos for my YouTube channel with my iPhone 11 Pro. The quality is great and I don’t really need to buy another bit of kit, at least not for a while!

  • Microphone: I use the Blue Snowball USB microphone. It plugs nicely into my laptop. I sometimes also use the microphone with my iPhone, by connecting it using the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.

Desktop apps for Linux

Things I use on a day-to-day basis.

  • Xournalpp - for annotating PDFs on Linux - when you get sent forms that you somehow need to fill in and scrawl your electronic signature on them…

  • GIMP - I’m still hunting for a better “web graphics” app than this, but GIMP is what I use for now.

Other services I use and recommend

  • Note-taking: 1Writer is the best note-taking app I have ever used. Full stop! It synchronises with Dropbox, it’s fast, it’s intuitive, and it supports Markdown. I bloody love this app.

  • Email: I’m trying to move away from being completely tied to Google’s ecosystem. I’ve moved my personal email to Fastmail, who are great! I get support from a real person, not a robot. And I can still sync my email to my iPhone, and get security with two-factor authentication.

  • Password management: I use Bitwarden, an open-source password manager. Truly amazing, generous free tier, although I pay for premium access which is cheap at only $10 a year.

Summing up

In summary, I use a lot of different tools and services.

I always try to choose open-source tools when I can, but sometimes the closed-source versions are just better. Such is life!