Newsletter #80

Mastodon? | Step Away From Computer | AI Tool Landscape | Automate Repeating Tasks | Cool Themes for WP | Avatar AI | Designer In a Cloud | and more

Welcome to Fresh van Root newsletter #80.
It’s hard not to consume some Elon-Musk-Twitter news. I am confident that he is driving Twitter into the ground. So in this newsletter issue, you will find links to one trending alternative: Mastodon. Also, in this issue: Another excellent AI-powered photo editing app, great WordPress themes, and an app to automate mundane marketing tasks. Enjoy and stay fresh – Rolf

Hello to 22 new subscribers. Hello! 👋 I’m Rolf, exploring content and apps at the intersection of marketing, productivity, tech, content creation, and social media – for curious minds. This bi-weekly newsletter is a summary of that exploration.

🧠 Hand-Picked Content

Social Media: The Story of Mastodon (Interview, 5min)

The founder and still sole developer of Mastodon got frustrated with Twitter and set out to build his own social media software with Twitter-like features (in 2016). Since Musk officially manages Twitter, the community has been growing quickly. There are many differences compared to Twitter and Facebook; some are:

  • It is open source – everybody with the necessary skills can set up a Mastodon server and host a social network
  • There are no ads on the platform
  • There is no central content moderation. Instead, Mastodon instances manage themselves and can block each other.

Should you take Mastodon seriously? It already has a community going, so even if it does not grow into the next mega social network, it is worth checking out. And I can see organizations like the European Government already having accounts there. So yes, give it a go.

Learn more about Mastodon in this interview with the creator Eugen Rochko. More

  • Bonus 1: A Guardian explainer article on Mastodon. More
  • Bonus 2: Connect with me on Mastodon. More

Tech: Generative AI Landscape (Infographic)

This image might be already outdated when you click the link. The space is changing and growing so fast that it is hard to keep up. This image shows some of the current AI companies categorized by content type. More

  • Bonus: A Twitter thread with more info on the companies shown on the infographic. More

Productivity: Step Away From Your Computer (Blog post, 5min)

Every tool we use has some collaboration features built into them. That leads to more meetings, more work sessions, and more virtual post-its generated. But great ideas often come when we make dishes, go for a run, or lie in bed. So, when we are alone and not in front of a computer. Remember this blog post when you get invited to the next brainstorming session. More 

Social Media: Living Without It As A Professional (Blog post, 1min)

Elon musk is driving Twitter into the ground,..and it seems like right now, lots of us start looking for alternatives. But as an independent professional, you might survive without social media. More 

🛠️ Tools & Apps & Services

Automate Repeating Marketing Tasks

Bardeen is an online service that helps you to set up an automation that takes shortcuts for you. If you have repeating tasks on your calendar, for, say, manually copying contact data to a Google sheet, creating an Asana task from an email, etc. this is where Bardeen could help. The tool extends your Chrome browser with little helpers, and it also comes with a scraper feature. More

Hire A Designer In the Cloud

If your business has some design work but not enough to justify hiring a full-time design person, you might want to check out Awesomic. It’s your design unit in the cloud as a subscription service. You can choose from different plans depending on your needs. Get a web design, social media graphics, brand identity, and more for a monthly fee. More

  • Bonus: I have used a similar service, Manypixels, in the past. More

Photo Editing With A Few Clicks

Customizing pictures for social media or online publishing is somewhat mundane and tedious work. Thanks to PhotoRoom, this can be turned into a fun activity. Upload a photo, remove the background, choose a template, apply your brand settings, and much more – all done with a few clicks. Works in the browser and iOS/Android. Similar to Canva, but I like its UI more. Screenshot | More

WordPress: Cool Themes for Personal Use

Anders Noren is a WordPress designer/developer creating awesome-looking WordPress themes. I haven’t set up new WordPress sites in a while. But if I would, I definitely check out Anders Noren’s designed themes.

  • Björk is a simple, clean theme for blogs and personal websites. More
  • Oaknut – A Linktree-like Theme. More
  • Browse all themes created by Anders Noren. More

Let AI Create Your Avatar

This service has gone around on Twitter mostly. You can upload a picture of yourself and create hundred profile avatars of yourself. Not for free, though. If you want to show yourself in a superhero pose, with a trained body, or in a fantasy world, try it out. More

  • Bonus 1: Get a new hairstyle for yourself in a few clicks. More
  • Bonus 2: Get AI-generated pictures of humans for your next project. The download is gated and over 1GB. More

Learning App: Summaries of Books in Under 15 Minutes 

In the previous newsletter, we featured Blinkist, which allows consuming the essence of a non-fiction book in 15 to 20 minutes. Headway is a similar app by Ukrainian developers with short summaries of books in under 15 minutes. It also has challenges, collections, and visual explainers. More

  • Bonus 1: When the war in Ukraine broke out, the co-founder of Blinkist reached out to Headway and offered their support despite being competitors. More
  • Bonus 2: The app is free to use for Ukrainians 

📣 Fresh van Root

How This Newsletter Is Put Together

A good content mix is what makes this newsletter unique. We rely on a checklist to get a diverse list of reading and app tips to your inbox. You can check it out. More

🏞️ Your Next Wallpaper?

Autumnal Mountain | Unsplash

The Nicest Place On The Internet

Get a hug, give a hug. More