I hate that I love technology: Part II
Introducing my upgraded AI enabled tech toolkit
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is Plan Your Next—a Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
💡 What’s new?
🕹️ If you’ve been around awhile, you might know me for talking about design and drawing. But, I’m also neck deep in the casual gaming space.
We’re close to announcing some news about our new game studio, but for the time being, we currently soft-launched a redesign of one of our oldest games, Hitori Conquest. If you have never played Hitori before, stick with the easier 5x5 board. It’s a lot of fun, and I even made a scrappy video about it if you scroll down the page.
⛱️ Enjoy next week off! My brother is getting married next weekend and let’s just be honest, no writing is going to happen.
Introducing my upgraded AI-enabled tech toolkit
It’s been about 18 months since I put together what I use for tools, so I thought this might be a good time to revisit what I’m using and how AI is playing a role in it.
Type.AI or LEX (🦾 AI Assisted)
I have started to insorporate both of these tools as a way to kickstart my brain when sitting down to a blank piece of paper. I rarely use these when I already have a story or an idea of what to write, but I do rely on them when I’ve got nothing.
SurferSEO (🦾 AI Assisted)
To grow my content site at Freshprompts.com, I like to exercise my SEO skills using this AI tool to help understand the competition and to enable our writers to compete quickly.
Creativity + Productivity
Most days always start with Figma. I use this every.single.day. It’s my most recommended design tool for everyone, not just designers.
Like Figma, this is integral to my workflow. I use it almost daily when recording feedback videos, or helping show how I deconstruct design. I also use this for Approachable Design when doing tutorial videos. (Although I may switch to Screenflow for editing those.)
Since early 2020, I use Roam for my notetaking and info capture. Any note or idea I want to save, I’ll add it here.
This is an iPad app for creating digital art, like the ones you see at the top of this newsletter. It’s what I recommend for anyone trying to get into drawing or creating their own illustrative style. It’s what many professional artists use, as well as many who don’t consider themselves traditional artists, but who want to express themselves creatively, like Matt.
Audio Pen (🦾 AI Assisted)
Speak your random thoughts directly into this app and it will spit out a summary for you, organize them in a new way that you could use for writing, journaling, or just ideating.
Midjourney (🦾 AI Assisted)
I’m in the middle of doing book illustrations, and I love using Midjourney for concepting ideas and thinking through compositions. I also use this for Freshprompts.com, as a way to generate article illustrations on the fly.
For more advanced product video editing, I’ll use Screenflow to do more explicit callouts and editing.
Screen Studio (🦾 AI Assisted)
After seeing Louis Pereira build and launch Audio Pen, (as well as grab the #1 spot on Product Hunt) I was drawn to the video tutorials he was making. Turns out that he uses Screen Studio, which allowed me to make that Hitori video, complete with transcription, zoom, and custom backgrounds within minutes.
Personal Capital* (TradFi)
I use this to keep track of most of my traditional finances, although I only check this about once a month or less, just to make sure nothing crazy happened. They recently introduced a way to track specific cryptocurrencies but depending on how active you are, it might not be worth the effort.
Chase Sapphire Card
Once my wife and I went 100% debt-free, we switched to using a rewards card for daily purchases. For the past five years we have been using this specific card, and pay the balance off monthly. For us, it’s the easiest way to pay for our travel using points without having to think about it. The annual fees make me cringe every year, but we have found the benefits worth it. We book our travel through Chase Rewards, which maximizes the travel points (1.5x).
Much of my retirement funds are locked up into long-term low index funds that automatically get rebalanced. (~90/10 stocks/bonds split) Out of sight, out of mind.
I use Betterment for my non-tax deferred savings, with goals set up. It makes it a bit easier to access, and I mostly like to experiment with low-fee AI-based rebalancing, taking advantage of their tax harvesting as well.
*$5,000 managed for free referral link
Ledger Wallet* (DeFi)
I currently have both the Ledger Nano X and the Ledger Nano S. I don’t think you need two for cold storage, but if you’re dabbling in the space, I think it’s worth getting the feel for how these work.
MetaMask Wallet (DeFi)
This is a digital wallet that lives in your browser. Imagine your bank account easily accessible from any website that takes cryptocurrency. Never share your secret keyword phrase with anyone.
For Approachable Design and a few other channels outside of Plan Your Next, I rely on ConvertKit and love its marketing automation tools.
For my courses, I do most of my transactions through Thrivecart. I don’t love it, but it’s what I use at the moment.
I use Webflow for both Kadlac.com and Approachabldedesign.co. I love it, and almost nothing might sway me from keeping things the way they are. Unless….
This is slowly growing on me, and I’ve already started thinking about converting my design site to Framer.
12.9” iPad Pro (2018 256GB model) + Apple Pencil + Magic Keyboard
I still use this five-year-old model for all of my illustrations, usually every few days. The Magic Keyboard is a gem to type on, and prefer that if I’m in a pinch.
Apple M1 Max Macbook Pro 14” (2021)
You couldn’t pry this from my fingers.
iPhone 14 Pro
In 2007, I stood in line in 114 degree heat while in Arizona for the first iPhone. I still love using this one as much as I did that one.
If you have any questions or think I should be using something different, let me know!
⚡️ Your next creative hit
💻 In 1984, Steve Jobs sits in a small room and demonstrates how to use an Apple Macinstosh computer to Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Kenny Scharf.