Owl's Nest

Tech Resources


Highlighted resource: Hertzbleed.

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Utilities

Web Development

Programming and Computer Education

Accessibility

Digital Culture

Privacy and Security

Games

Linux Distributions


Utilities

Command Line

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)!
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 that doesn't round to whole numbers.
Color script
A script that creates a table of terminal colors. It's perfect for troubleshooting contrast issues with a custom color scheme.
OptiPNG
Image compression utility for png images. A fantastic way to make your website lighter and faster, and it's free! Can be found in most Linux distro repos.
jpegoptim
Image compression utility for jpg images. If you want to optimize your jpgs, this is the tool for the job. Can be found in most Linux distro repos.

Graphical

OpenUTAU
Vocaloids too expensive? Want to use UTAU, but don't want to change your locale to Japan or otherwise deal with UTAU's localization issues? OpenUTAU is an alternative synthesizer frontend that uses standard UTAU voicebanks. Includes full localization support and many improvements. And yes, it runs on Linux!
Utsu
Another excellent option if UTAU's localization issues are a problem for you. Has fewer features than OpenUTAU, but works perfectly fine and is a great option. Also runs on Linux!
SoundNote
An iOS notetaking app that records the audio and allows you to jump to any point in the lecture with as little as a single word. Audionote is another option for audio notetaking that's also available on Android and PC.
f.lux
A redshift program that adapts to your lighting and the time of day.
Firefox
It's not perfect, but it's better than Chrome. I recommend the uBlock Origin extension and (if you're a privacy buff) Arkenfox to further improve on Firefox, which are both listed below in the Privacy and Security section.

Web

Randoma11y
Randomly-chosen high-contrast color pairs.
Citizen DJ
Free audio and video samples taken from the Library of Congress! It even has a web interface for mixing sounds before downloading them.
Dither Me This
Free image dithering tool! Plenty of color palette options.
Bitfont Maker 2
Make your own bitmap font!
Fontstruct
Create and share your own fonts using simple shapes.
Beepbox
A synthesizer in your browser! Very fun to play with even if you're not musically inclined.
Tree.fm
Listen to a random forest.
Cat Ipsum
Lorem Ipsum filler text, but cats.
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.
Profilebuilder
A tool for creating fake Discord profile images.
Kraken.io
If you can't download or install a tool to compress images, Kraken.io can do it for you.
Batch QR Code Generator
Need to make a lot of QR codes at once? This site has you covered.
Bookbinder
A webapp that prepares PDFs for book binding.
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 it's 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.
Proton
Another good option for email, calendars, a cloud drive, and a VPN. Respects your privacy, hosted in Switzerland since 2014. I can't vouch for the VPN, but I've heard good things about their other services.

Color Schemes

Everforest
Pleasant, low-contrast green scheme.
Gruvbox
A warm brown-based scheme that I find particularly easy on the eyes.

Web Development

HTTP Cats
HTTP error codes, but as cat photos!
Flexbox Froggy
Learn Flexbox with a game!
CSS3 Patterns
Free, customizable background patterns done entirely in CSS.
CSS Zen Garden
A great example of how much CSS can change the appearance of a page. The HTML never changes- just how it's styled.
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.
Interneting is Hard
Another fantastic introductory resource for HTML and CSS. If HTMLDog isn't doing it for you, give this a try.
Taft Test
Does your website's design improve if every image is replaced with photos of William Howard Taft?
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 exploration of how much of the modern web is larger than infamously wordy novels.
The Truth About Multiple H1 Tags in the HTML5 Era
TL;DR: You can use more than one H1 tag on the same document if you have article, section, header, footer, etc. elements to break up the document.
Deceptive Design
Learn about various "dark patterns" websites employ to trick or trap users into doing things they don't want to do. Don't do this to whoever uses your site!

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.
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.
Guidelines for Mitigating Timing Side Channels Against Cryptographic Implementations
Intel's guidelines on preventing timing attacks against your programs.
ANSI Color Codes
If you're working in a terminal and need to color your text, then you'll want to know the ANSI escape codes for colors. Thank goodness they're easy to find!
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. A good free starter is enchantment in the command line.
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.
Virt-Manager Copy-Paste
Need to copypaste into/from a virtual machine? This is a pretty good, short explanation of how to make that happen.

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.
Against Access
"Access, then, is akin to nonreciprocal assimilation, with its two possible outcomes: death by fitting in or death by failing to fit in."
Game Accessibility Guidelines
Features to add to games that make them more accessible.
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.

Digital Culture

Speak Up and Stay Safe(r)
A guide to avoiding internet harassment, doxxing included.
This website will self-destruct
A website that will destroy itself if 24 hours pass without any messages being sent. At the time of this writing, it's been alive and well for 2 and a half years. Fair warning that the messages are equal parts sweet optimism, shared creativity, and heavy venting. It's as good a reminder as any that you're not alone.
TEv2
All posts and comments are drawings done in the browser. Many of them are incredible.
The Attention Economy
Much of the internet is designed to grab and hold our attention even if it's a detriment to us. We're losing the ability to do nothing.
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.
BeOS Haiku Error Messages
All of the entertaining haikus produced as error messages by BeOS's web browser, NetPositive.
My favorite:
Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
The web is like that.
Confirmshaming
"when a site asks you to sign up for their thing and then the 'no thank you' link is some hot garbage."
Linux Kernel Wordcount
How often do certain words show up in the Linux kernel source code? Curse words are especially fun to look at.

Privacy and Security

Diceware
A secure, memorable password generation method that only needs a die and a list of words.
Passphrase FAQ
Why passphrases are better than traditional passwords in many cases.
Workbook on Security
A guide to creating a security plan for yourself and/or an organization.
duraconf
"A collection of hardened configuration files for SSL/TLS services".
The Illustrated TLS 1.3 Connection
An explanation of every byte in a TLS 1.3 connection.
Common Vulnerability Scoring System
One of the de facto methods of scoring vulnerabilities.
Timing Attacks
For folks who want to protect themselves and their software from timing attacks.
Ciphersaber Hints
Ciphersaber is a site giving the essential information to roll your own encryption program; unfortunately, it doesn't give much information on how to actually accomplish that end. This page breaks it down much more clearly.
ShutUp 10
A utility that allows fine-grained control over privacy and security decisions for Windows 10, going well beyond the options offered in Settings. Want Cortana to go away? Want to stop Edge from tracking you? If you have to use Windows, then this tool is a lifesaver.
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!
The Instagram Ads You Will Never See
If you want to know just how much information ad companies collect on you, this is a good place to start.
Firefox Profile Maker
A website that helps you create a custom Firefox profile with various privacy improvements.
Arkenfox
A customizeable user.js file for Firefox that disables telemetry and improves privacy. Tweak it to fit your needs and threat model.
uBlock Origin
A fantastic free ad-blocker that can also do quite a bit more (per-domain blocking, script blocking, etc.).
EasyList Filters
A set of filters to add to adblockers like uBlock Origin.
Actually Legitimate URL Shortener Tool
Why use another extension to remove tracking junk from links when uBlock Origin can do it for you?
CookieStatus
Information about various ways websites and companies track you online. This is a good 101 if you have no idea what a tracker is in the first place!
Blacklight
Check exactly how any website is tracking you. Feel free to chuck this website in there.
Detailed VPN Comparison
An excellent chart comparing different aspects of 185 different VPNs.
PrivacyTools
Plenty of recommendations for privacy-respecting software and tools. It's not perfect (Brave, for example, has some really shady crypto dealings), but it's a good jumping-off point for folks new to protecting their digital privacy.
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 browsers' built-in privacy features.

Games

OpenRCT2
The first two Roller Coaster Tycoon games, remade, slightly improved, and bundled together for free. The object files can be found for free here as of 16 November 2022, and the devs are working on creating their own graphics to eventually replace those.
OpenTTD
A transport tycoon game where you build train tracks, roads, airports, and docks to get things from one place to another. Runs beautifully on most hardware and shouldn't prove a problem on low-end devices.
Dwarf Fortress
Losing is fun.
The Bezier Game
Learn to use the bezier tool- and have fun doing it.
Disobedient
A game about herding a cat. Great if you like trying to learn the rules on your own!
Bitburner
Do you like scripting? It's a game now. Documentation for Bitburner is here.
Endless Sky
Pilot your own starcraft. Runs great on lower-end devices!
Oolite
Heard of Elite Dangerous? Did you ever think it would be nice to have a free open-source game along that line? Here you go.
The Grotto
Navigate a digital space as though it were a physical space.
Sims 2 Graphic Fixes
The Sims 2 (which you can find on archive.org here) has a few notorious graphical issues. They're easy to fix! This page goes over what to do.
The Sims 2 Starter Pack
Another place to get the Sims 2. Has the benefit of coming packed with a commonly-used launcher and graphic rule editor.
Mindustry
Tower defense meets factory building and supply chains. Should run decently well on lower-end hardware; I don't know if a total potato could handle it, but my little laptop handled it smoothly.
Gargoyle
An interactive fiction interpreter. A great game to start with is Counterfeit Monkey!
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
A difficult zombie apocalypse survival game that's well worth the effort to learn it. A good starter's guide to CDDA can be found here. I'd strongly recommend using a tileset if you're not used to ASCII graphics in games! Runs incredibly well on low-end machines. Someone ran it on a LEGO EV3 brick.
Minetest
A block building game engine in the same vein as Minecraft, but completely free and open source. If you want to replicate Minecraft as well as possible, there's a game for that, but you can do a lot more than just mimic Minecraft. You could even try to survive an IKEA SCP or play a city builder. There's a lot out there.
Moon Rider
A browser-based alternative to Beat Saber.
Bemuse
Another browser-based rhythm game!
Stepmania
A rhythm gaming classic. If you've ever played Just Dance, In The Groove, or similar games, you know how this goes.
Osu!
If you like rhythm games, you've probably heard of Osu! by now. Click circles to a rhythm.
Elona
A turn-based roguelike RPG that stands out for its sense of humor and weirdness. Want to go loot dungeons? Farm and fish? Mutate into an abomination because of bad weather? Be parasitized by aliens and drink sulfuric acid to get rid of them? Play as a giant snail tourist and get killed by salt water? You've got options. As a bonus, it runs ridiculously well on low-end hardware. The base game is in Japanese, but there are English translations and variants if you don't speak Japanese. The Omake Overhaul and Elona+ Custom variants are the most popular. There's even a variant that reduces grind and makes the game easier.

Linux Distros

Any operating system is better than Windows and MacOS; both of those are chock-full of tracking, telemetry, and limitations[1][2]. Linux is one of the best-known alternatives to these operating systems. Unlike Windows and MacOS, there is no one Linux. Instead, there are many different distributions that come with different software pre-installed. The vast majority of distributions lack any form of user tracking or exploitation, and many can get old hardware running like new. Most of them don't demand hundreds of dollars in license fees and can be used at no cost. All of them are incredibly customizable.

If Linux distributions don't strike your fancy or you'd like something different, look into the BSDs (OpenBSD and FreeBSD in particular), Haiku, ReactOS, ilumos, FreeDOS, and Plan9.

Distribution Spreadsheet
An HTML version of a spreadsheet I made; covers over 70 different distributions of Linux, and that's nowhere near all the options out there! This might be a good starting point if you need more choices. DistroWatch is another good place to find distributions.
Linux Mint
This is the distribution I recommend Linux newcomers try. There are graphical tools for just about everything, and it's all 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. Go with that if you don't have a preference.
Debian
I'd recommend Debian to anyone who wants a rock-solid system with minimal fuss. Debian is one of those distributions that pops up everywhere, and for good reason. It's rock solid, community-developed, and allows for a lot of choice. Updates come very slowly and are mostly security patches, making this distribution easy to maintain. There are testing and unstable repositories if you need newer software (not to mention the MPR). Note that non-free repositories need to be added manually after install if you want any proprietary software.
Void Linux
I'd recommend Void to capable Linux users who wants a simple, fast OS without systemd. It's a volunteer-run distribution notable for a fast and effective package manager, runit init system, and support for both the glibc and musl libraries. Void comes with relatively few applications pre-installed, making it ideal for minimalists. 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).
Arch Linux
I'd recommend Arch for anyone that feels limited by other distributions, but be forewarned that it requires some serious reading of the wiki to install and use. 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 offers 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.
Endeavour OS
I'd recommend Endeavour for anyone who doesn't want to deal with Arch's install process but still wants to use Arch. It's an Arch derivative that does the setup for you. 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. If you want to try window managers, the ISO offers them as an option on install!
Pop!_OS
I'd recommend Pop!_OS if you have an NVIDIA GPU and want minimal fuss getting drivers. 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 and offers more options than vanilla GNOME.