A Selection Of Fine Internets.
Here you will find my attempt at boiling down the whole Internet into a list of links with descriptions.
Some day I might write a more formal pinax of the online world, but for now this will just have to do.
Everybody knows the Internet is for porn, but it's also great for posting memes.
The Greatest Website Ever
Without a doubt, 4chan is the greatest website ever. 4chan represents the complete lack of social and moral fabric on which the whole Internet relies.
Unfortunately, it may not be suitable for "norms" like you, so I'd recommend cutting your teeth on the shitposts at r/4chan before diving into any of the really NSFW stuff.
Nothing will ever be as hilarious as 4chan, but at least these sites are trying.
- Cheezburger is basically the standard site for memes nowadays, although I swear their website gets shittier each time I use it.
- FunnyJunk is an old favourite. This is how we found funny junk before memes were a thing you could google.
- Urban Dictionary is just like the Oxford Dictionary, except completely fucked.
- Uncyclopedia is where you send people when they complain about Wikipedia not being accurate enough.
Free Books & Media
I'll briefly refrain from pointing out the obvious and instead suggest some legal sources of free books & media:
- Wikipedia is the book of the 21st century. If you can't find a topic mentioned there, then it's probably not worth mentioning anywhere.
- The Internet Archive is the site for free media. If you can't find something mentioned there, then it probably never happened.
- Project Gutenberg is the site for public domain books. It's not as big as certain other sites (especially archive.org), but it's typically more convenient for actually browsing and reading books. Local sites also exist, but the main one is the most useful.
- WikiWikiWeb is the original Wiki, now home to a lot of useful programming-related information and links. It might look a little primitive by Wikipedia standards, but this is where it all began, and it remains a useful resource.
- ComicBookPlus is another good resource for public domain literature, but it focuses on fiction and illustrations.
- SetTheory.net is the best resource I've found for learning about foundational mathematics.
There is a lot of free software available on the web (as well as through Google Play and other specialised channels). Even if you're looking for a complete replacement for your Windows-based software stack, you have a lot of options.
Some people make generalisations (either positive or negative) about free software, but you'll find quality varies just as much in commercial software. All major websites rely heavily on free software already, so it probably won't do you much harm. (Anyone who says there's no such thing as a free lunch mustn't go to many meetings.)
The community of free software users and developers is immeasurably large and there are always many alternatives and arguments. I'd recommend using whatever works best for you (free or otherwise) and avoiding political/legal discussions.
It would literally take gigabytes just to link to all of them, so I'll only mention some of the most useful pieces of software here:
- Firefox is the second most popular web browser after Chrome, and is comparable in many respects but may be preferred for it's enhanced privacy and vendor-independence.
- The GIMP is a fine alternative to programs like Adobe Photoshop. Some say it's harder to use, but it really depends what you're trained on - I find it very convenient.
- Inkscape is the bomb for vector graphics. I tried the Adobe alternative a few years ago and it was incomparably useless.
- LibreOffice is a good replacement for Microsoft Office, just don't expect anything amazing. Generally, you won't have trouble opening and saving Microsoft Office files unless they are very presentation-heavy (i.e. fonts will be rendered slightly differently). (Note, OpenOffice is basically the same thing - there are a number of projects based on the old StarOffice code.)
- WallacePOS is the best Point of Sale application I've found (and trust me, I've looked pretty hard and analysed a lot of alternatives). It's really the third-party integration and polished feel that set it apart. Commercial maintenance and support is available, but the platform itself is open source. (Note, I may be biased towards this one because it's made in Australia - it might not be as good of a choice in other countries with different systems.)
- PAT, the Portable Atlas, is the best mapping platform I've found (with the possible exception of Google Maps and Google Earth). If you're as serious about world domination as I am, then you'll probably find a need for something like this.
- FreeDOS and DOSBox are both excellent platforms for running legacy DOS applications (FreeDOS is typically used in a virtual machine, whereas DOSBox provides it's own virtual machine that integrates more with the host environment).
- wxMaxima is my personal favourite mathematics package. It renders equations beautifully and has a lot of advanced features.
- Racket is my personal favourite software development tool, especially for experimental/research purposes. It's based on the popular Scheme family of programming languages but adds a lot of handy and well-integrated features. It's a lot easier to debug code than in most other environments.
Public Domain Software Resources
There's "free software", and then there's free software.
For those of us who don't spend our days arguing about economic incentives and legal semantics, the best software is either explicitly donated to the public domain (e.g. ) or is developed by people who just don't care about copyright.
Unfortunately, many (though not all) of the best public domain works aren't so well maintained or aren't suitable for general consumption (i.e. you won't find many iPad apps here). Some exceptional works, like SQLite and CLIPS, are extremely well-maintained and used as a foundation for many popular end-user apps. Many of the others will primarily be of use to specific software developers trying to solve specific problems.
Some of the better sites covering purely public domain works include: