Another look at unsolicited website picks (June 2017) Part 1

People who are concerned with the prices they pay for broadband or data plan are generally more aware of how much data they consume. Linux, FreeBSD users, and web server administrators are arguably the best at assessing how much data they use during a certain period of time. Video streaming fans who binge watch, entitled gamers, irresponsible torrent and P2P users are probably the most apathetic when it comes to data usage limits.

Most mainstream users are ignorant of the fact they only visit a handful of sites and use very little data via mobile apps (which use API to pull only select packets of data unlike web browsers). Most people visit standalone sites out of habit and probably already have a set of sites they regularly pull up using Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Safari. In the last decade, user habits have dropped from exploring random sites online to just going directly to Google or Wikipedia. However, there are some websites out there that are free from the narcissism, self-entitlement, ignorance, and shallowness of websites focusing on "I'm awesome! Pay attention to me!" and are actually useful.

1. Gutenberg.org - One of the best things about Gutenberg.org is that it doesn't have any cosmetic flashy web design components and HTML5 animation that web developers seem to think are "cool" and "contemporary". It largely hasn't changed much in the last 10 years, and is still text-based, with improved support for EPUBs, browser access, Kindle devices, and Dropbox.


I have a long list of books that I have yet to finish that I downloaded from Gutenberg.org, but I've learned over time that I can do research through the website without feeling guilty about not reading the whole book. Unlike Wikipedia.org, which is rife with poorly written and biased entries, Gutenberg.org books are real, published tomes that represent the bad (historical racism, foreign subjugation, and conquest), the good (scientific invention, arts), and the classic (public domain literature).

2. Archive.org - Archive.org has several types of multimedia available spanning decades of parsed content. It's a repository of submitted files that range from absolutely useless to the incredibly rare. Even the best researcher would have a hard time sifting through the numerous libraries and sub-sites. Moreover, Archive.org's cluttered and unintuitive user interface doesn't help. Still, if you spend enough time on the site, you can find public domain and copyrighted content from a wide variety of sources. Unfortunately, its future is in jeopardy thanks to the ignorant idiots who voted for the uneducated, illiterate moron at the White House.



If I need to peruse a particularly old reference, chances are it's in Archive.org rather than in Gutenberg.org. As mentioned, it's not the most user-friendly site and their servers aren't the fastest and slow to a crawl depending on your location. Unlike Gutenberg.org, their file conversion process and distribution engine aren't refined and document downloads are often encoded badly. Still, it's a great place to learn about history, science, and tech, and infinitely educational for the learner.

3. Gamefaqs.com - Gamefaqs.com has been around a long time, and a lot of the authors who wrote the text walkthroughs are probably in their 40s and 50s today. According to a gamer I know, it's less well-known to Millenials than to players who grew up with Atari and NES/Famicom. The effort put into writing the walkthroughs and cheats is incredible and the attention to detail shows that the gaming community, even in the old days, is as focused, dedicated, and as comprehensive as the developer, Linux, film, Apple, and geek communities.



If you're interested in retro gaming, Gamefaqs can make your gaming time more enjoyable. Having recently spent some time with game emulators on Linux and FreeBSD, I've often had to visit Gamefaqs.com to check the controls, items, power-ups, and button assignments. Although the save option in PC emulators saves you from a lot of playing time, learning the controls in advance is still required especially if you haven't done any gaming in the last 20 years.

4. Bing and Google images

Forget Deviant Art, Adobe Portfolio, or Behance as a source of inspiration or reference if you spend time drawing or working on digital art. Bing and Google Images are the best places to get great photos and images of everything from star-nosed moles to sexy models from the 60s. Although most users probably opt for Google Images, Bing's search engine has previously received praise for its layout and filter options. It's really a matter of preference which one you use when searching for illustrations and photos for reference when drawing.

Note: I've once again taken up black and white sketching recently with a Surface Pro 4 and CorelDraw and both Bing and Google Images are invaluable when looking up old pen and ink sketches from the 1900s, and modern illustrations found in old published books.




5. Superherohype.com - Superherohype started off as a fan site regarding industry news about comic book properties. It eventually expanded to anything connected to geek culture, including Star Trek, James Bond, TV shows, and gaming. It's surprisingly updated regularly and includes links to videos and sister websites of interest.

As with many fan-based sites, the forums are filled with incredibly childish, opinionated, immature, myopic, and ignorant users - which is part of the "fun" of visiting the site. Expect a lot of name-calling, racism, sexism, politically incorrect jokes, sexual innuendos, fanboy-ism, pointless arguments that devolve into pseudo-philosophical discussions (and vice-versa), banner-waving (DC vs. Marvel) and users proclaiming how awesome they are and how they know everything about X or Y (99.9% are often wrong). If you are masochistic or just like an old-fashioned online argument, reply to a comment from any of the entries from a Millenial and get ready to see sparks fly and tears flow. Just recently, a group of small-minded pathetic individuals was hotly arguing in the forums about race, hip hop music, and African culture after watching the 2-minute teaser of Black Panther (2018).



Note: I hesitate to recommend Superherohype.com for obvious reasons, but I admittedly visit the site regularly out of habit (it was around before the popularity of comic book movies). I try not to read the comments and forums, however, since it's occasionally the epitome of human evil on the Internet. There is also a marked absence of technical competence, Internet etiquette, and sophistication from the site. For web developers, you'll quickly notice that the code and markup of the ads aren't exactly cutting-edge and not very healthy to your browser or Windows OS.

Continued in Another look at unsolicited website picks (June 2017) Part 2

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