Owl's Nest

Tech Resources


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Privacy and Security

Programming and Computer Education

Accessibility

Utilities

Online Culture

Linux Distributions


Privacy and Security

Firefox Profile Maker
A website that helps you create a custom Firefox profile with various privacy improvements.
about:config Tweaks
A customizeable user.js file for Firefox that disables telemetry and improves privacy. Tweak it to fit your needs and threat model.
EasyList Filters
A set of filters to add to adblockers.
Detailed VPN Comparison
An excellent chart comparing different aspects of 185 different VPNs.
StevenBlack's Hosts File
A custom hosts file blocking thousands of sites hosting malware, adware, and a few optional categories.
ArchWiki's Simple Stateful Firewall Guide
A guide to creating a simple stateful firewall using iptables in the command line. Not an Arch Linux-exclusive guide; if you use iptables, this will work for you!
PrivacyTools
Plenty of recommendations for privacy-respecting software and tools.
How to Live Without Google and Other Evil Tech Giants
Even more privacy-respecting options for software and services, this time specifically targeted at getting away from Google and similar corporations.
Browser Privacy Tests
Open-source testing of web browser privacy features.
WebBrowser
An open source fork of Pale Moon with a focus on respecting user privacy. It has tabs, supports XUL plugins but not web extensions, and runs beautifully on Linux. It supports nMatrix, uBlock legacy, HTTPS Always, and similar plugins. It does require compiling but comes in a variety of file formats- and don't let compilation scare you. It takes a little while but is fairly painless.
Riseup.net
A provider of privacy-respecting communication tools including email, chat, mailing lists, and a VPN. Requires an invite code to make an account, but is one of the better options out there if you care about online privacy and security. Riseup has been around since 1999, runs off donations, and doesn't sell data or serve up ads to support its services. Contact me if you want an invite code and I'll see what I can do.

Programming and Computer Education

W3Schools
An excellent site for learning a wide variety of programming languages. Its reference pages are amazing and let you quickly check the meaning and usage of different elements.
HTMLDog
A great introductory resource for learning HTML, CSS, and JS for websites. It not only teaches the languages, but also how to use them together and some tricks to use them better. If you want to make a website and have no clue what you're doing, start here.
Big List of Naughty Strings
A long list of strings that tend to cause problems in text-entry fields. Don't cause more problems for the guy whose last name is Null- he has enough to deal with as it is.
Safely Creating and Using Temporary Files
Security considerations for creating temporary files as part of a program, and how to mitigate some potential security risks.
Doodle Nerd Design Tools
Plenty of CSS generators and tools! There's even a tool for CSS animations.
Spellbook of Modern Webdev
Links to a ton of resources and information about modern web development.
The Website Obesity Crisis
An entertaining exploration of how much of the modern web is larger than infamously wordy novels.
Tech Learning Collective
Quite a few free modules for learning about Linux and the command line; if you want more, there are also paid courses available.
The Linux Command Handbook
A guide that attempts to cover essential BASH commands as efficiently as possible while still giving plenty of detail.
The Map is the Territory
A webzine about the command line from a technomancy perspective. It's an excellent way to learn basic commands and put them into practice in a way that feels meaningful.
The Linux Filesystem Explained
A great description of the basic structure of the Linux filesystem.
Vanilla Firefox Keyboard Mastery
Basic shortcuts for the Firefox browser.

Accessibility

The Most Inaccessible Webpage
A website made to test accessibility checkers. Full of accessibility blunders, which makes it a great way to learn what not to do. Results of the test can be found here.
Responses To The Screen Reader Strategy Survey
A survey of how people use screenreaders on websites and what's most frustrating.
The Ultimate Motherfucking Website
Here's an example of what to do, featuring a lot of swearing and insults.
Critical Resources and the First 14 KB
Old advice on how to make your webpage load quickly- and then why the specific size is not as relevant as it used to be.
WebAIM's Articles
A decent number of articles on designing for accessibility. The same site has helpful tools you can use to check if your site meets standards.
Readability Test
A tool to check what age range can easily read a website or block of text..
WebAIM Contrast Checker
If you're making something visual (like a website), contrast matters. Too little contrast makes things inaccessible for those with poor vision, meaning they'll be unable to easily read what you put there. This site lets you plug in your colors and checks if the contrast meets the recommended guidelines for contrast ratios.

Utilities

TLDR Pages
A downloadable command line utility that provides simplified man pages with examples.
The Fuck
Another downloadable utility that acts as autocorrect in the most entertaining way possible. Curse your problems away (maybe)!
DotShare.it
Who wants dotfiles? This site has dotfiles galore. Want an improved bashrc? Need to customize your window manager? You can probably find dotfiles that work for you here.
RAM and CPU Percentage Script
A handy script for checking the amount of RAM and CPU in use as percentages. I use this script with genmon in XFCE's panels to have a live readout of free resources.
Local copy here. I also found an even simpler script for RAM only that doesn't round to whole numbers.
Kraken.io
A free image compression site. Great for making your webpage load faster!

Online Culture

The TikTok Couch Guy and Internet Sleuths
A man investigated by the internet against his will for sitting on a couch weirdly talks about how that affected his life, pointing out that the pattern of people investigating things on the internet is often harmful.
The Friends You Make Online
An ode to online friends.
Against an Increasingly User-Hostile Web
An essay on the corporate internet and the need for the small web.

Linux Distros

Endeavour OS
An Arch derivative that does the setup for you and leaves you with an Arch system with a few extra scripts and utilities. For the most part it's vanilla Arch, but there are a few welcome additions such as a GUI welcome utility that makes system maintenance a breeze. The live ISO comes with both offline and online installation options, and the online installation offers the major desktop environments and a few window managers to choose from (i3, Sway, and BSPWM being the current offerings)! As with any Arch derivative, Endeavour is rolling release and bleeding edge, and it uses pacman as its package manager. The default theming of the distro is very appealing, and I was tempted to keep the default aesthetics. Its community is much less elitist and toxic than Arch's, making it great if you need help and don't want to be shamed for not knowing what something means or where to look for information. I'd highly recommend Endeavour for anyone wanting to use Arch that doesn't have the time for its manual install, as Endeavour is fairly minimal by default and stays close to its Arch roots. It's also an excellent option for anyone interested in trying a window manager instead of a desktop environment, as Endeavor does the setup for you and has a sane base configuration.
Debian
Debian is one of those distributions that pops up everywhere, and for good reason. It's the base for a whole family of distros, rock solid, community-developed, and allows for a lot of choice. It follows a point release model with long term support available, as well as testing and unstable repositories that function more like a rolling release if you need newer software. The package manager is your standard apt/aptitude/dpkg, with synaptic available as a graphical frontend for those that want it. There's a large number of packages in the default repositories, and enabling the nonfree repositories gives you even more packages (and means that if you want a free software system, you can have one). Debian is infamous for being hard to install and configure, but I find this isn't the case anymore and the reputation is unwarranted. The installation was pretty painless. I'd recommend Debian to anyone who wants a rock-solid system with minimal fuss. If you want as little change as possible, Debian stable is your friend. If you like newer software, go for unstable.
Linux Mint
A point-release Ubuntu-derivative distribution aimed at beginners. There are graphical tools for just about everything, and things are made as easy as possible. The desktop is ready to use right after install and comes with the software most people need, making it great when you need something that "just works". There are three different ISOs with different desktop environments, but Mint is known for its Cinnamon desktop. In general, Mint is easy to use and comfortable while still being customizable and capable. It's the distribution I recommend to most newcomers to Linux.
Void Linux
An independent, volunteer-run distribution notable for a fast and effective package manager, runit init system, support for both the glibc and musl libraries, and (surprisingly) stability. It follows a rolling release model but is less bleeding-edge than most other rolling releases- that said, the packages aren't without bugs, though functionality-breaking bugs are usually caught before being released to the repositories. Despite being rolling release, one can go a surprisingly long time without updating (months) and still be mostly safe. Several ISOs are provided with different DEs, including a base ISO for users that would prefer to do the work themselves. Void comes with relatively few applications pre-installed, making it ideal for minimalists and people who know what software they want or need. The repositories are smaller than most but are very well-maintained to make up for it, and the package manager supports source compilation if you need a package not yet in the repositories. Notably, new repositories are added via installing packages rather than modifying a configuation file. I'd recommend Void to anyone who wants a simple, fast OS without systemd. If you're planning on installing Void, it would be best to have at least a little experience using Linux, as the installation requires one to use cfdisk or fdisk to manually partition their disk(s). It's by far an easier and faster installation than Arch, but it would be a good idea to make sure you know how you want your partitions before going for the install. If you're struggling, there is an installation guide in the documentation.
Arch Linux
Arch Linux is a community-run and bleeding edge distribution with a rolling release model, a phenomenal package manager, and a wiki that covers almost anything you'd ever need to know, troubleshooting included. In addition to the official repositories, it also comes with access to the AUR, a user repository hosting over 2000 packages and counting. The distribution is aimed more at users that like doing things themselves and allows complete freedom to decide what goes on your computer; the base install is very minimal and you're left to add and configure everything else yourself. While traditionally installed manually through the terminal, the ISO now includes a terminal-based installer that seems to work well for some people and not so well for others. I'd recommend Arch for anyone that feels limited by other distributions that doesn't mind putting in effort to get things working the way they want them to, but be forewarned that it's not a beginner-friendly distribution and requires some serious reading of the wiki if you don't know your way around your OS yet.
Pop!_OS
Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu derivative developed by System76 that has built-in NVIDIA support, window tiling, and disk encryption. It's an excellent distribution for beginners and has great support for most applications. While GNOME is the only available DE at the moment, it's been heavily customized. GUI options are available for most essential actions, though the distro's application store is notoriously buggy. The built-in NVIDIA and hybrid graphics support makes this distribution great for gaming as well as daily use, and I'd recommend it if you're new to Linux, have an NVIDIA GPU and want minimal fuss getting drivers, or want an OS that just works. Personally, I prefer Mint Cinnamon over Pop!_OS for newcomers, but it all depends on what people want.
Puppy Linux
A family of compact, lightweight, and portable distributions designed to run on a USB stick or other media device, though they can be installed directly onto a computer as well. These distros come with their own software, and more can be installed via the package manager in a variety of common formats (deb, rpm and tgz/txz) as well as a more compact format exclusive to the distro. These distros are frequently praised for being easy to use and fast. Because Puppy distros run on RAM, this might be a way to continue using your computer if your hard drive breaks while you wait on a replacement drive.