Cool Stuff, 1st Edition

Published on 2020-11-15 by Connor

So, part of the appeal of making my own blog was getting away a bit from the major platforms. The downside of getting away from the major platforms is that it's often harder to find stuff that you like, unless people actively try to cross-promote things they thought were cool. I decided to be part of the solution and so every so often I'm just gonna blog some of cool stuff I've found recently. They'll likely be games, tech things, bizarre niche websites I've found. I'd love to see more people do the same, so reach out if you're doing a similar thing on your blog! And drop me tips about cool stuff you've found recently :) I'd really appreciate it!

Games

The Night Is Darkening

The Night is Darkening is a short and bizarre light-horror game that's primary appeal is it's aesthetic. In such a short bit of time creator LovelyHellplace manages to craft a world with a surprising amount of atmosphere. Good for maybe 30 minutes of play. But worth it.

Get from Itch

Barkour

Barkour is a fun but incredibly challenging dumb game that feels like something that Bennet Foddy (QWOP, "Getting Over It") would make. If you are like me, you'd never have the patience to just sit there and play this game on your own. I recommend taking turns with a friend, and you get to share in your suffering, and the nihilism of futily barking into the void as you pummet to your death.

Get from Itch

MetaWare Highschool (demo)

This visual novel is not a demo. But it is hilarious, basically immediately. Drips with style in a way that most amateur projects don't. Exploring the different routes is fun and playful in a way that reminds you that visual novels really aren't multi-media books. Or at least, they don't have to be.

Get from Itch

Technology

KISS Linux

As technology progresses and attempts to become available to less technically educated people, it often increases greatly in complexity in order to be usable to that audience. A lot of intelligence has to be baked into the technology itself in order to make up for the user's own lack of knowledge. And there's no doubt that this philosophy has really allowed things to become mass market on a level that was unimaginable to many in the 70s and 80s.

However, complex machines are often unreliable, and extremely hard to troubleshoot in the situations where their own intellgience fails. If you are a technically capable person, all this extra complexity is actually a big part of the road-block to you being able to understand and reason about the system on your own. You become dependant on the wider community to take interest in solving your issues for you, since there is simply too many things for any one person to understand.

KISS Linux is a rejection of that trade-off entirely. It is a minimal Linux distribution in the most extreme sense. Not only is it based on musl and BusyBox, providing an incredibly lightweight core OS, it deliberately includes as little default software as possible, and for the problems it must solve it tries to solve them with the simplest software possible.

The most extreme part of this is the package manager. Which is a ~1000 POSIX bash script. Yes seriously. All it needs is POSIX bash, git, and curl. The benefit of this is a package manager any reasonable programmer could come to understand inside and out, and change for their own purposes.

I don't know if I'd ever use KISS Linux, and it definitely is not the right choice for many. But it appeals strongly to my sensibilities.

KISS Homepage

VOSK voice recognition library

I recently played around with this a bit and it's actually shockingly easy to get up in playing around with voice recognition functions. Transcription isn't perfect (is any voice recognition?) but for command-stuff it is VERY accurate. Hoping to do something with this myself soon.

VOSK Homepage

makesite

Makesite is a simple static site generator in ~200 lines of Python 3. It doesn't do much, but that's precisely why I like it. It appeals to me in the same way as KISS Linux does. I want a simple system that I can understand entirely and come to modify if it suits my needs. The FOSS promise of "software you can modify" is lost if the software is so complicated only a few people will have the time or domain knowledge to learn how to customize the tool.

It's very simple. It comes with a sample site, with a content folder and a layout folder. The script searches for HTML and Markdown files in the content folder and uses the HTML templates in the layout folder to generate sites with simple find-replace on some tags. It does the bare minimum of what you need, thus kick-starting a generator fit for your own needs, written in perhaps the most approachable programming language.

At time of writing, it's actually what I'm using to generate this site.

Makesite github

From around the Internet

The Whale-Lines

The whalelines is a hilarious satirical little "news" site. I quote "news" because rather than being say a full news site, it's just fictional cut out segments from a newspaper. Generally making fun of current affairs. If you're totally sick of news and politics, even things making fun of it, you should probably stay away. It's a bit like a mini-The Onion. Shorter, punchier. A nice supplement to your doomscrolling.

The Whale-Lines Homepage

Poolside.fm

A web radio station with a faux-retro aesthetic. Music, video, chat, mixtapes. But really it's all in the aesthetic and design of the site. Just click the link for yourself.

Poolside Homepage

Bongo Cat

It's bongo cat.

Bongo Cat

Desert Bus For Hope

My favourite annual charity fundraiser is on at the the time of writing. A bunch of mostly canadians are forced to stream longer the more money they raise, one of them must always be playing Desert Bus, a god awful boring video game about driving down a straight road for eight hours (real time). There's lots of raffles, live auctions, mostly nerd crap. But mostly they just verbally shitpost for nearly a week straight. Check it out, it's unbelievably stupid.

Desert Bus For Hope Homepage

Nitter

Nitter is an alternative front-end to Twitter. You can put in any standard twitter account and get their feed in a minimalist HTML form, all content scraped by the Nitter server meaning that Twitter doesn't have any room to track you at all. Additionally it provides RSS feeds. So you can do all your twitter following via RSS.

Nitter Homepage

Anyway. That's all I'll put in for this time. Get in touch with things you think are cool, or if you have your own blog doing similar sharing.