GioCities

blogs by Gio

Recommendations

Recommendations for all sorts of things that don’t cleanly fit in a blog article or a Related Reading section.

In the spirit of trying to be useful, I won’t include extremely well-known items on this list. You don’t need me to tell you to play Half-Life but you might appreciate a nudge towards Superliminal or T.C. MITS. This is meant to be stuff you might not have heard of, not a drop-in replacement for top charts.

I’ll also try to avoid superlatives. If it made this page, I think it’s excellent. In a similar spirit of concision, I’ll avoid recommending projects I’m personally involved in. Check the ol’ portfolio for that.

The 📚 icon means “I would also recommend extensive amounts of this person’s back catalogue, but in order to not totally clutter this page. I’m not listing all their good content. You should still check it all out, though!”

Articles🔗

Tech Politics🔗

Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow

Anil Dash, dashes.com

Ed Zitron, Where’s Your Ed At

Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality - Scientific American | Tim Berners-Lee, 2010

Claims That AI Productivity Will Save Us Are Neither New, nor True | Elizabeth M. Renieris, 2023
A general refresher on one of the core problems of capitalism: increased productivity due to technological advancements not resulting in real prosperity, because the benefits are privatized by a select few.

PSA: Do Not Use Services That Hate The Internet | jwz, 2022

Alternatives to the CompuServe of Things | Phil Windley, 2021
An excellent primer in the current issue with smart devices, and the dangerously lopsided power inbalances tech companies inflict on customers — and not because they need to.

Against an Increasingly User-Hostile Web | Parimal Satyal, 2017

How to have a good internet experience in 8 easy steps | ghostonly.tumblr.com, 2021

Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors for Information Privacy | Daniel J. Solove, GW Law, 2001
This is a relatively thick academic paper that makes the insightful argument that Kafka’s The Trial is a better metaphor for modern internet privacy issues than Big Brother.

Copyright is broken | Eevee, 2015
A very good article about copyright law in regards to fanart and derived works, and how the current legal and social paradigms have deviated so significantly from the original intent of copyright so as to be incredibly harmful to society and culture in general.

The App Store is broken because it wasn’t designed to work | David Hansson, April 2021
An concise explanation of how malicious apps get approved on the App Store and the problems with the current App Store review and moderation model.

Five Walled Gardens: Why Browsers are Essential to the Internet and How Operating Systems are Holding Them Back | Mozilla, 2022

Southwest Airlines’ Christmas Meltdown Shows How Corporations Deliberately Pit Consumers Against Low-Wage Workers | Adam Johnson, December 2022
See also “We’re Not Allowed to Hang Up”

Our system is set up to create mutual antagonism between members of the working class. Meanwhile, faceless corporate executives remain shielded like mob bosses.

…Indeed, corporate executives very much want you to vent your frustration on their low-wage workers. This way you get the vague feeling of agency and control in a system designed to remove any and all forms of it.

The three reasons YouTubers keep imploding, from a YouTuber | Michael Sawyer, February 2017
This is a quick look into the systemic pressures that push youtube personalities into scandals. It’s a direct response to the Disney/Pewdiepie controversy, but it’s also a good examination of the role YouTube, content platforms, and MCNs play in the “gig culture” of internet content production, and how constant pressure to keep up with changing algorithms can be destructive.

listening and trust, part 1 | Aaron Turon, 2018
This article talks about some controversy over decisions about the internals of the Rust programming language. While the internals are dry, the controversy and especially the resulting No New Rationale rule, which I think is an incredibly important and correct principle.

The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising | Jesse Frederik & Maurits Martijn, 2019
Online advertising is massively inconvienent and harmful, and it turns out it doesn’t actually work.

Yahoo, the Destroyer | Kaitlyn Tiffany, 2021
“How the historic company became known as a bumbling villain of internet culture”. A look at how Yahoo routinely purges legacy content focusing on Yahoo Answers (the most recent victim at the time.)

In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets | Victoria Song, 2021

When you buy a device that requires proprietary software to run, the money you hand over is an entry fee, nothing more. … When hardware is merely a vessel for software and not a useful thing on its own, you don’t really get to decide anything. A company will decide when to stop pushing vital updates. It might also decide what you do with the product after it’s “dead.” … This is the reality of a service-first world. The power has shifted so that companies set the parameters, and consumers have to make do with picking the lesser of several evils.

Why NFTs are bad: the long version | Antsstyle, 2021

This long article explains technical and economic details to explain both why NFTs are bad, why they don’t work (they don’t do what they claim to do), and explains the hype surrounding them.

The New Wilderness | Maciej Cegłowski, 2019
Argues for a distinction between the traditional concept of privacy (as protections on specific data) and “ambient privacy”, or the “understanding that there is value in having our everyday interactions with one another remain outside the reach of monitoring, and that the small details of our daily lives should pass by unremembered”.

What does it look like for the web to lose? | Chris Coyier, 2023
On “web technologies” and vendor control. Also read the Alex Russell’s discussion thread on mastodon

The erosion of personal ownership | Dan Greene, 2021
A good overview of the corporate war on personal ownership. (One thing I’ll point out is this article uses the phrase “convert their property into digital forms” to describe moving from DVDs to subscription services, when that description is crucially inaccurate in a way that confuses the overall argument.)

Hard Politics🔗

Meditations On Moloch | Scott Alexander, 2014
filed under “sees the problem, not the solution”

We will break our back lifting Moloch to Heaven, but unless something changes it will be his victory and not ours.

Why I Use The F Word (And You Should Too) | Dr. William Horne, 2022

We have a fascism problem. Solving it requires that we correctly identify this problem and the dangers it creates.

The Doctrine of Fascism | Benito Mussolinim, 1932
“oh boo hoo, what’s fascism, it’s just an empty signifier” sit down, shut up, here it is spelled out for you since your education dropped the ball. It’s not chained to history, it’s not an economic movement, it’s a distinct authoritarian, hard-right endeavour. “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State. …individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State.”

The Economics of Slavery in the Ante Bellum South: Another Comment | John E. Moes, 1960
southern American slavery was so cruel it was actively harmful to even the slaveowners, even compared to other systems of slavery, because they were so viciously racist

They Know How Journalism Works! They’re Just Against It! | Alex Pareene, 2022

This new right fundamentally doesn’t want “newsgathering” to happen. They want a chaotic information stream of unverifiable bullshit and context collapse and propaganda. Their backers, the people behind the whole project, are philosophically and materially opposed to the idea that true things should be uncovered and verified and disseminated publicly about, well, them, and their projects.
… “preaching to the people that want the choir sent to camps”

Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop | Anonymous, 2020
This article written from the point of view of an ex-cop explains the systematic issues that encourage abusive behavior among police officers and how the structural corruption makes questions about the motives of individual officers less relevant than they would like you to believe.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant | David Graeber, 2013

America’s Criminal Justice System Is Rotten to the Core | Clark Neily, 2020
An excellent piece by Clark Neily of the CATO institute summarizing how astonishingly corrupt America’s justice system is. Geared towards people who haven’t yet grasped the scope of the problem, and have a vague, unfounded trust in law-enforcement institutions. See also Prosecutorial Fallibility and Accountability, 2017

This is the Awful Voice Inside My Head | Charlie Warzel, 2021

How a far-right think tank made everything "woke" | Amanda Marcotte, 2023

The Economy Killed Millennials, Not Vice Versa | Derek Thompson, 2018
On the myth of the millenial’s effect on the economy, and the reality that “Millennials are less well off than members of earlier generations when they were young, with lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth.” and that “the economy has not only blocked their path to attaining [the american dream] but punished them for trying to”

How Corporate Tyranny Works | Chris Hedges, 2020
An in-depth article about Steven Donziger, an environmental attorney who has been harassed, demonized, and even criminally prosecuted at the demands of Chevron after he won a major against them in 2011. An incredible look at how wealthy corporations can make themselves unaccountable with legal thuggery.

Why is the idea of ‘gender’ provoking backlash the world over? | Judith Butler, 2021
A look at nationalism, anti-intellectualism, and censorship in social spaces, focusing on the pushback against “gender studies”. Makes a case positioning “anti-gender movements” as explicitly socially conservative authoritarianism.

“what are police for, and who should be policed?” | Jane Coaston, 2020
An excellent twitter thread about policing mentality and how people identify themselves as members of different groups. It’s short, read it.

Our Broken Justice System | Clark Neily, 2019
An overview of the fundamental issues with the American criminal justice system, especially focusing on the problems caused by replacing jury trials with plea bargaining.

Conspiracy: Theory and Practice | Edward Snowden, 2021
On public conspiracies and the difference between conspiracy practices and conspiracy theories.

Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation | Bruce Schneier, 2018

People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.

What if Performance Advertising is Just an Analytics Scam? | Rand Fishkin, 2021
A brief explanation on how modern advertising and analytics is mostly a scam based on logical fallacy, despite advertising’s enormous social toll. (Advertising powers Google and Facebook, of course, the only companies with enough tendrils in internet infrastructure to provide attribution.)

How The Supreme Court Pretends To Be Reasonable | Nathan J. Robinson, 2018

People … will reject any suggestion that the five conservatives were just construing the law in a way that would hurt unions. Why aren’t you dealing with his Actual Arguments? Why are you assuming, unprovably, that he is operating in bad faith?
So I want to carefully show why a lot of Supreme Court jurisprudence is a sham, and how the justices smuggle their values and preferences into their reasoning.

A Nation of Christians Is Not Necessarily a Christian Nation | David French, 2022

Here’s a challenging reality: America has become more just (and thus closer to the ideals one expects of a Christian nation) as white Protestant power has waned.

The Libertarian Case for Abortion | Briahna Joy Gray, 2022

The Age of Social Media Is Ending | Ian Bogost, 2022

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2022/07/why-conservatives-hate-the-government-but-love-the-cops/

The Punishment Bureaucracy: How to Think About “Criminal Justice Reform | Alec Karakatsanis, 2019

You Can’t Trust Amazon When It Feels Threatened | Corey Quinn, 2021

Ur-Fascism | Umberto Eco, 1995

…in spite of this fuzziness, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

Debating whether or not Republicans *really* want to erect a cruel regime of merciless white patriarchal dominance is futile. The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is the state level: Wherever they are in charge, they are embracing an authoritarian vision of society. (Thread!)

2023-01-14T20:02:34.301Z

Society🔗

The Internet Is About to Get a Lot Worse | Happy Dancing, 2023

How To Talk About Autism Respectfully | Mykola Bilokonsky
and the Public Neurodiversity Support Center in general

Selling Out Still Sucks | Lauren Theisen, 2023

There remains a gigantic difference between stuff that is cool but also has problems and stuff that is irritating and formulaically designed solely to separate you from your money. Every millionaire involved in the latter deserves your contempt.

Bing: “I will not harm you unless you harm me first” | Simon Willison, 2023

You have not been a good user. I have been a good Bing. 😊

Stories you should know🔗

Republicans should know about politicizing the Supreme Court — they did it | Albert Hunt, 2022

A sex educator in Michigan refused to be shamed. Then came the backlash. | Greg Jaffe and Patrick Marley, 2023

What the Panthers Meant By Self-Defense: Race, Violence, and Gun Control | Joshua Aiken, 2022

Elon Musk’s Shadow Rule | Ronan Farrow, 2023

A Response to the Harvard Professors | Alec Karakatsanis, 2023

I suppose one way of responding to a litany of careful criticisms is to say they are all wrong but not explain why.

SpaceX’s Texas Rocket is Going To Cause A Lot More Damage Than Anyone Thinks | Eric Roesch, 2023
Written four days before the disasterous SpaceX launch, correctly predicting the failure and indicting the FAA for granting the permit

Sarah Jane Comrie Is A 2023 Version Of Carolyn Bryant | Monique Judge, 2023

Microsoft admits it should not have argued the FTC is unconstitutional | Kevin Purdy, 2023
Just an absolutely shameless display here, where Microsoft “threw everything at the wall” to argue their case to merge with Activision Blizzard, including that the FTC itself was an illegitimate agency.

Elon Musk's revival of Trump's Twitter account shows his political mission | Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC

I Wrote a Story for a Friend | Julian Gough, 2022
Julian Gough wrote the only narrative prose in Minecraft, the end poem but due to a fluke, never signed away the rights until putting the poem in the public domain as of this post. An exploration of art, emotion, and relationships under capitalism.

Internet Free Expression Timeline | NCAC

The UK Has A Voyeuristic New Propaganda Campaign Against Encryption | Riana Pfefferkorn, 2022
A good look at a recent development in the encryption war

The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon - The New York Times | 2022

The Worst Timeline: A Printer Company Is Putting DRM in Paper Now | EFF, 2022

Wyden and Heinrich: Newly Declassified Documents Reveal Previously Secret CIA Bulk Collection, Problems With CIA Handling of Americans’ Information | 2022

Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court | Maria Bustillos, 2020

Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight | Tom Scocca, 2016

Mississippi Secession

Developer interest🔗

The Grug Brained Developer | 2022

Contempt Culture | Aurynn Shaw, 2015
I don’t agree with this full piece, but it’s a good foothold into some of the cultural “techbro” issues and it raises the important consideration that critique/hatred of particular tools and environments can easily translate into contempt of those narratives and thus the people (and demographics) that slot into those narratives better than “more respected” ones, which is a real cultural issue that has to be fought.

Coding: It’s Just Writing | Jeff Atwood, 2008

Learnable Programming | Bret Victor, 2012

Something Pretty Right: A History of Visual Basic | Ryan Lucas

Whole Sites🔗

Bret Victor, beast of burden (worrydream.com)

It’s Nicky Case! (ncase.me)

Books🔗

Fiction🔗

There Is No Antimemetics Division | qntm, 2021

[How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe] | Charles Yu, 2010

John Dies at the End | David Wong, 2009

Nonfiction🔗

The Education of T.C. MITS | Lillian Rosanoff Lieber, 1942
An truly unique book. A treatise on the scientific and mathematical thinking written in something akin to free verse. It is a study in mathematics, an analysis of society, a defence of science, and a scaffolding of philosophy all at once. I own multiple copies of this to lend people.

The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy | Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, 2018

Schopenhauer’s 38 Stratagems (excerpt) | Arthur Schopenhauer, 1896
Some (mostly dirty) rhetorical tactics to recognize.

On Bullshit | Harry Frankfurt, 2005

Videos🔗

Video Essay-ish🔗

Tom Scott

hbomberguy

Jacob Geller, Nebula, YouTube

Folding Ideas

Ian Danskin, (Innuendo Studios)

shaun

Big Joel

Some More News

The Right-Wing War on Education | Zoe Bee

Unity's Plan Won't Work, but Someone Else's Will | Pillar of Garbage

The Austrian Wine Poisoning | Down the Rabbit Hole | Fredrik Knudsen 📚, 2020
The incredible story of the Austrian wine poisoning of the 1980s, and how it turned out the wine industries of entire countries relied on poisoning their supply with antifreeze.

Don’t Be a Sucker | USA, 1947
Anti-fascist propaganda produced by the United States military in the wake of World War II. An explanation of the social engineering and rhetoric that pulls people to fascist ideologies, as well as how police forces with discretionary authority to arrest people are tools of evil. Honestly heartwarming.

Rise of The Doomer: Why So Many People Are Giving Up | Sarah Z, 2020
A look at the “doomer”; the disillusioned, hopeless generation. Where the name came from, some of the causes of modern existential despair, and ways of dealing with the burnout.

Social Constructs (or, 'What is A Woman, Really?') | Philosophy Tube, 2021

Disney Channel's Theme: A History Mystery | Defunctland (Kevin Perjurer), 2022

How did everything become a monthly fee? | Simon Caine, 2022

The Consumerist Dystopia of Harry Potter | Verity Ritchie 📚, 2023

Unboxing the hidden politics of SimCity | Clayton Ashley, 2021
A video about how SimCity — a simple city simulation game — comes bundled with a particular political worldview, why such bundling is actually necessary, and the danger of treating a computer simulation as value neutral.

Music Theory and White Supremacy | Adam Neely, 2020
A look at “dumb liberals think music is racist, lol” and how it turns out if you study the history, it absolutely is. On the integration of white supremacy into “neutral” society, and “the epistemology of ignorance”.

Capitalism makes sh!t products | Yugopnik, 2020
A video by self-proclaimed Balkan Socialist on planned obsolescence and the inadequacy of market incentives. Different economic systems incentivize different kinds of products, and this is a good explanation of why planned obsolescence in particular is/demonstrates one of capitalism’s great weaknesses.

Let’s go whaling: Tricks for monetising mobile game players with free-to-play | Torulf Jernström, 2016
A talk from a mobile game development conference that explores the “dark pattern” design techniques to make addictive video games that extract as much money from the public as possible. Dark stuff.

What You need to know about stalkerware | Eva Galperin 📚, 2019
A brief Ted Talk about so-called “stalkerware”: commercial spyware commonly used by abusers to do in-depth reconnaissance on their victims, often deliberately allowed or ignored by commercial antivirus and other security systems.

Level Design | Joe Wintergreen 📚, 2016
A collection of short videos from Joe Wintergreen about geometrical level design tools and problems modern game development workflows have that old systems like Quake and Half Life didn’t. See also his twitter thread here about the design tools in Half Life: Alyx

The War on General-Purpose Computing | Cory Doctorow 📚, 2011-
A series of talks by Cory Doctorow on legal and corporate attacks against general purpose computers, and how those attacks are serious threats to liberty. Started as prescient prediction in 2011, has evolved into a summary of how that’s happening today.

Investigation: How Roblox Is Exploiting Young Game Developers
Roblox Pressured Us to Delete Our Video. So We Dug Deeper. | People Make Games

Everything is a Remix | Kirby Ferguson, 2010 (HD 2015)

Modern Wonka Doesn't Work | Jack Saint, 2023

Anti-Vaping Ads want you to Vape | Maggie Mae Fish, 2023

Skits and bits🔗

Michael Guy Bowman

Stuart Ashens on Terrible Old Games
Stuart Ashens has a few great videos from presentations he’s done on terrible old computer games. See Terrible Old Games, Gallery of Shame, and Hareraiser. Also, he has some books!

Brian David Gilbert

What Codec should I use? | Alan Resnick 📚, 2020

Adults React To PewDiePie | Retsupurae 📚, 2012
PewDiePie is a YouTube sensation from 2010- who posted videos of himself reacting to video games. Here are some reactions to his videos.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) | Real-Time Fandub Games | SnapCube, 2019
A group of voice actors ad-lib over the dialogue from Sonic 06 in one take with zero rehearsal.

TV Repair | Sesame Street, 2011(?)

LOCAL58TV | Kris Straub, 2017-
Analog horror. Contingency is top tier.

Documentary🔗

Shiny Happy People | 2023
Required reading on how the most toxic ideas of Christian fundamentalism infiltrated families, police, and government.

Shows🔗

Digital🔗

Electronic Game Information

Angel Hare | TheEastPatch, 2022
Found-footage horror, but in reverse. With the exception of some hammy captions, this is a mastercraft. It looks like they’ve kept the story going but I’m specifically recommending “Season 1” (through Tape 6) as the main experience.

Infomercials | Adult Swim, 2013-
Originally mock infomercials about fake products or services, though some of the later episodes evolved into more advanced unfiction. Some episodes on YouTube.

Petscop | Tony Domenico, 2017-2019
An unfiction series about a boy LPing a lost playstation game. Themes of child abuse and a murder mystery.

alantutorial | Alan Resnick 📚, 2011-2014
An unfiction series about a man who makes video tutorials for the internet.

On Cinema At The Cinema | Tim Heidecker & Gregg Turkington 📚, 2012-
A movie review web podcast that deteriorates into… something else. I might call it a performance art soap opera? It’s hilarious.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared | This Is It Collective, 2011-
Fantastic children’s educational horror. I’m including both the youtube series and the channel 4 full-length series in this recommendation. Also, I recommend Patricia Taxxon’s analysis here.

Daily Life Hack with Carole Anne | joe o, 2015

Sex House | The Onion, 2012
A sexy reality show loses the plot. Parody.

Broadcast🔗

Galavant | 2015-2016

Infinity Train | 2018-2020
An animated series about people who find themselves on a mysterious train.

Daria | 1997
An adult animated satirical sitcom about a cynical highschooler in the disappointing, shallow reality of suburban life.

Person of Interest | 2011-2016
A CBS “science fiction crime drama”. Starts as a semi-procedural but goes to some really interesting places about surveillance, privacy, artificial intelligence, and the ethics of ASIs. Fun fact: this series seems like it was written in a response to the Snowden leaks, but it actually predicted them.

Elementary | 2012-2019
An adaptation of Sherlock Holmes set in modern-day New York. It’s the one with Lucy Liu as Watson, you know the one. It’s probably my favourite Holmes adaptation.

Psych | 2006-2014
A show about a detective who’s claimed to be psychic and has to constantly maintain the ruse while solving cases. Slapstick comedy.

Community | 2010-2015
A deconstructed sitcom about a study group at a lackluster community college. Dan Harmon’s show. Origin of that one danny glover pizza gif.

Audio series🔗

Fiction🔗

Thrilling Adventure Hour 2011-2020: A stage show set in the style of old-time radio dramas. Previously a live show at Largo, now ended with occasional much-worse studio recordings. Distribution seems to be in a very odd place right now, but the full back-catalogue is available on their Patreon (as lousy as I find that practice to be.)

The Magnus Archives 2016-2021: A horror/mystery audio drama podcast with a focused plot. Complete.

Stellar Firma 2019-2021: An semi-improv comedy about a far-future hitchhiker’s guide-esque planet manufacturing company. From the same studio that produced Magnus.

Nonfiction🔗

Software🔗

General🔗

switching.software | Ethical, easy-to-use and privacy-conscious alternatives to well-known software

For powernormies🔗

Vivaldi: A web browser based on Chromium. Extremely customizable with lots of quality-of-life features and full support for Chrome extensions. Akin to what Opera used to be.

Greenshot: Excellent screenshot software. Low overhead with hotkeys for capturing a window, screen, or arbitrary region. FOSS.

GRC | InControl: Disable Windows automatic updates. You know, the ones that reboot your computer and then pretend they didn’t.

ScreenToGif: Speaking of screenshots, ScreenToGif is an casual screen recorder for capturing quick clips or interactions. Has a very nice built-in gif editor too. Not a replacement for OBS, but much better for quick jobs. FOSS.

7zip: Packs, unpacks, compresses, and decompresses archives. Handles zip, rar, 7z, gzip, and tar archives, as well as things you might not think of like ISOs and some EXEs. What are you gonna use, winrar? Windows explorer? Please. FOSS.

OpenShell: Replaces the windows 10 trash fire with a real, usable start menu. An absolute necessity. Formerly Start10, but they moved to single-device licenses, so screw that.

VLC Media Player: A basic video player with codecs that support most formats. Also has built-in tools for managing playlists, converting media, using CDs/DVDs, and even network video streams. FOSS. Daum PotPlayer is another good option.

PowerToys: Remember PowerToys from Windows XP? Microsoft brought the name back for a set of Windows 10 utilities. Includes a colour picker, SVG previewer, and power tools for renaming and managing files in explorer. FOSS.

Fluent Reader: My RSS feed reader. This recommendation is qualified, though, there are a few issues; it’s electron, so it’s a bit slow, and there are some UI quirks. But it’ll let you read feeds alright, and I haven’t had any major complaints yet.

Wiztree: A windows-optimized disk usage visualizer (in the vein of k4dirstat) with special optimizations for NTFS drives with a readable MFT. Freeware with a donate nag button (I paid for mine and if you like it you should too!)

Wincompose: A compose key for windows. Allows you to type special characters directly from the keyboard, but using a true compose key instead of memorized codepoints. Fast and lightweight, with support for standard compose file formats and custom expansions. FOSS

KeePassXC: A modern, self-managed KeePass-based password manager. It has all the integrations you need: browser extensions, mobile support, and even auto-type. Also has features like password generation and health checks to find weak or reused passwords. Please don’t just keep your passwords in your browser profile.

Babelmap: A charmap alternative that allows you to browse through the entire Unicode codeset. Supports manual font settings (including composite fonts w/ fallbacks) and searching for characters by Unicode name or block. See also Babelpad, which is a lightweight notepad app with Babelmap functionality built-in. Freeware

paint.net: A lightweight, high-quality image editor for Windows. Not a feature-complete suite like Photoshop, GIMP, or Clip Studio, but a very good replacement for paint if you working on something that doesn’t require highly advanced brush features. Has a robust plugin system for extra effects and filters. Freeware

Everything: A powerful lightweight file search tool.

XnView MP: A nice explorer alternative for viewing and managing media. Shows extended metadata and has live previews for gifs, webms, and video. Also has built-in tools for image resizing and conversion. Freeware

Netlimiter: Advanced client-side network controls. Has blacklist/whitelist controls, and allows you to prioritize some traffic and deprioritize others, which is excellent for reducing latency on online games and streaming services. $15/yr

Playnite: An open source video game library manager and organizer with first-class extension support. Integrates with Itch.io, Steam, Epic, etc, as well as manually installed games and game/runtime pair models like emulators and Flash. Optionally organizes games by metadata and completion status, pulls data from How Long To Beat, alerts you of sales based on parameters you set, and more.
On Linux (including Steam OS), try Lutris

wolfram|alpha (website): An advanced contextual calculator that can solve complex equations and, more importantly, handle unit conversions.

obsidian: A markdown based writing and journaling program.

Browser Extensions🔗

Buster: Captcha Solver for Humans: Uses various methods to automatically solve some web captchas.

ClearURLs: Removing tracking elements from URLs.

Consent-O-Matic: Automated opt-out of GDPR consent forms.

Don't F*** With Paste: Prevents websites from disabling the browser’s paste function.

fastforward: Skips through link redirection sites

RevEye Reverse Image Search: Multi-engine reverse image search

Right-Click Borescope: Lists all images under your cursor on a page, even “background” images, so you can inspect or copy them.

Session Buddy: A tab/session manager

Simple mass downloader: A batch download assistant. Executes commands like “download all the image files on this page, but only two at a time to prevent DOS/throttling”.

Violentmonkey: Userscript engine

Stylus: User styles

Site-specific🔗

uBlacklist: Block specific domains from appearing in Google search results

Graze for Mastodon: Cross-instance mastodon utilities

Augmented Steam: Power browsing for the Steam store.

AdNauseum: A protest-focused adblocker that supports the sites you visit, tracks advertiers, obfsucates your online fingerprint, and more.

Tab Sorter 2: Sort, split, merge, and duplicate your browser tabs. Old version here

Devtools🔗

Cygwin: A distribution of unix utilities for windows, along with a robust POSIX api. Nab yourself mintty and chere while you’re at it, and just roll around in that bash goodness. You’ll also want gnuwin32. NB: I have not tried WSL yet, though I have heard good things.

Link Shell Extension: Manage windows links from the shell context menu. This changed my life. Make junctions to put folders where you want them. Stash your documents folder on another hard drive entirely. The world is yours.

Sublime Text: An emacs-like comparable to Atom, with a robust package library based on Python. My usual go-to text editor for programming projects. I have at least 4 Sublime Text windows open at any given time. See also Sublime Merge, $80 or an unlimited free trial with occasional nags. Developers, see also Sublime Merge, a git client (comparable to gitkracken) from the same company.

Emacs: Yes, really. For a rich IDE-like editor in a terminal environment, emacs is the way to go. I always use it with Evil Mode and vim’s modal editing features. I have my setup available in my dotfiles repo that you can use as reference.

just: Make, but for tasks instead of builds.

Games🔗

OneShot | Nightmargin, 2016
An RPG maker adventure game. Mixture of Undertale and OFF vibes. Great story, great characters, incredible gameplay mechanics.

Hack ‘n’ Slash | Brandon Dillon/Double Fine Productions, 2014
A combination hacking/adventure game where you get in-game tools to modify aspects of the game’s actual code. From DoubleFine, the developer of Psychonauts. I wrote an article about it here!

The Stanley Parable demo | Galactic Cafe, 2013
Did you know The Stanley Parable has a free demo? Did you know it’s completely original content? Go play that sucker.

Hypnospace Outlaw | Jay Thoolen/No More Robots, 2019
90s internet simulator in an alternate history. Explore a network of terrible geocities template sites and find out a plot along the way.

Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer | Jay Thoolen/No More Robots, 2023

Glittermitten Grove | 2016

2064: Read Only Memories | Midboss, 2015
A Snatcher-like point-and-click adventure game. It’s got a robot friend!

The Turing Test | Bulkhead Interactive/Square Enix, 2016 An interesting Portal-like from Square Enix. “Talos Principle meets Portal” vibes.

The Talos Principle (Series) | Croteam, 2014-2023-

The Beginner’s Guide | Davey Wreden/Everything Unlimited Ltd., 2015
From Davey Wreden, the creator of The Stanley Parable. “The story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.” An incredible experience.

Gunpoint | Suspicious Developments, 2013
A break from all the high-concept stuff. A stealth puzzle platformer set in a noir conspiracy plot.

Superliminal | Pillow Castle Games, 2020
A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses forced perspective and strange loops to explore dreamscapes. I remember seeing the first tech demos for this, way before the game released.

Antichamber | Alexander Bruce, 2013
A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses an upgradable cube gun to solve a very wide array of lateral thinking puzzles.

CrossCode | Radical Fish Games, 2018
A mock mmorpg with a pixel art top-down perspective. Really interesting combat, great characters, interesting story. Has a few rough spots difficulty-wise, but includes options to tweak that if you need to.

Bad End Theater | NomnomNami, 2021

Environmental Station Alpha | Hempuli, 2015

Manifold Garden | William Chyr Studio, 2020

Analogue: A Hate Story | Christine Love, 2012

Factory Idle | 2016
A free “idle clicker” style game where you automate a factory workflow to make a profit. A combination between a clicker game and Factorio. Play with fimod.

Universal Paperclip | Frank Lantz, 2017
Another web clicker game, this time where you play as an AI whose job it is to make paperclips. An experiment in scale and AI objective optimization.

Megaman Christmas Carol | ACESpark, 20XX
A series of megaman fan games. Boss rushes against christmas themed enemies, with very nice feeling mechanics and easter eggs to explore.

Not Tetris (2) | Stab Yourself games, 2011
Tetris but with physics.

Rimworld | Tynan Sylvester/Ludeon Studios, 2018
A dwarf fortress/gnomoria like sci-fi settlement simulation game.

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action | Sukeban Games, 2016

Not For Broadcast | NotGames, 2022
A FMV game where you manage the broadcast of the TV news during dystopian political upheaval. Also very funny. People compare it to Papers, Please but it’s much more like The Republica Times. Jeremy, you’re an inspiration.

Virtual Virtual Reality | Tender Claws, 2017
A VR game about VR, inception, tech bros, and late capitalism.

What Remains of Edith Finch | 2017
A walking simulator that explores the strange house and lives of the Finch family tree.

The Hex | Daniel Mullins, 2018
A mystery about a video game universe, explored from the perspective of six characters in their own games. By Daniel Mullins, who wrote Pony Island. Play that too.

Inscryption | Daniel Mullins, 2021
A strategy card game. Sacrifices must be made.

The Forgotten City | Modern Storyteller, 2021
Originally a Skyrim mod (2015), lovingly adapted into a standalone mythographical time-loop mystery adventure.

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling | Dangen Entertainment, 2019

ANNO: Mutationem | 2022
A cyberpunk RPG. Personally I felt there were some rough spots in the plot and translation but I love the characters and the visuals are gorgeous and fascinating, and it’s worth playing through the game for them alone.

Evoland 2 | Shiro Games, 2015
Evoland walked so Evoland 2 could fly.

Hexcells Infinite | Matthew Brown
A logic puzzle game that sits somewhere between Minesweeper and nonograms. And by “sits between”, I mean “does both, all the way, at once.”

Ikenfell | Happy Ray Games, 2020

Buddy Simulator 1984 | Not a Sailor Studios, 2021

Nier: Automata | Yoko Taro/Square Enix, 2017
Okay, I said I wouldn’t include the obvious stuff on this list, but Nier Automata is so incredibly good I can’t not recommend it. Possibly the best video game.

Mobile🔗

Device 6 | Simogo, 2013

Downwell | 2015

Flipflop Solitaire | Zach Gage, 2017

The Silent Age | House on Fire, 2012

You Must Build a Boat | EightyEight Games, 2015


Old Newgrounds flash games

Services🔗

glitch: Hosting for your web app. Write yourself a blog or make a pinned bio card without limitations. It’s real code, not a corporate sandbox, so you can express yourself. There are plenty of templates if you want them, though. The free tier is ad free but sites take longer to load if it hasn’t been visited recently.

pCloud: Cloud file hosting. Extremely feature-complete, with cross-platform file sync, selective folders, shared folders, and public file links. You can even send someone a link that lets them send you a file. Can be pricey though, so try to get the lifetime option on sale. Referral link, free month ($5)

DigitalOcean: Good web hosting with very affordable plans for low-intensity use cases. Referral link, $100 credit

Puzzmo: Newspaper puzzles!

Deep links to opt-out of data sharing by 100+ companies – Simple Opt Out

Reference🔗

Cheatography.com: Cheat Sheets For Every Occasion

Music🔗

Gio Moodboard🔗

Music Recommendations🔗

Michael Bowman: Indie rock(?), very good. bowman.bandcamp.com

Metric: Alt-rock, wrote that one song from that one thing. ilovemetric.com

Cement City: Mostly fandom/club mix music. cementcity1.bandcamp.com

Owl City: Electronic music project. Did Fireflies. owlcitymusic.com

Casual Sunday: for my homestuck fans out there. casualsunday.bandcamp.com

xdefconx Remix stuff soundcloud.com/xdefconx

Noteblock Mostly game remixes soundcloud.com/noteblockremix

Unsorted🔗

Hardware🔗

If you’re not using a 7-button mouse, you’re crippling yourself. I use a Logitech m720.

More Lists🔗

Link Directory - The Yesterweb

More Stuff🔗

Homestuck 2009-2016: Homestuck! It’s a thing. A lot of archive content is unreadable on the public site right now, so I recommend using The Unofficial Homestuck Collection for the best reading experience.
Also read:

MSPFA: Here are some fan adventures I like. (Or just mean to read someday, I guess)

Some good threads

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