Michael's Monthly Recommendations (August 2018)

Michael Fairley

31 Aug 2018

I read, watch, listen to, play, and use a ton of different things every month, and I pick out a few of my favorites to recommend.

Yoku’s Island Express (Windows/Switch/PS4/Xbone)  Villa Gorilla
This is a… pinball platforming adventure metroidvania? And it’s fantastic. It doesn’t waste your time: it’s about 10 hours long, it’s easy to get around the map (unlike a lot of metroidvanias), failure is rarely punished by forcing you to repeat things you’ve already done, and it’s easily 100%able without having to look anything up online. On top of that, the story, soundtrack, and art are all cute, wrapping the whole thing up into a really enjoyable package.

Getting Better by Being Wrong   The Knowledge Project
A former professional poker players shares a bunch of interesting lessons she’s learned about decision making from her time playing poker. This is probably one of the best podcast episodes I’ve ever listened to, and I found myself rewinding every few minutes to relisten to especially poignant sections.

The Handmaid’s Tale  
An ultra-complementarian faction takes over part of the US and builds a society that is pretty sucky for women. This is the most gripping TV I’ve watched in a long time. Warning: It can be quite tough to watch, and there’s lots of sex, violence, and sexual violence.

Notes from Dynamicland: Geokit   Omar Rizwan
I’d been intrigued by the vague details I’d seen about Dynamicland, a building sized computer that you interact with by… rearranging pieces of paper on tables? This post sheds a bunch of light on the details of Dynamicland by walking through an example of building a complete “program”, and it shows all of the cool ways that the sheets of paper can interact, expand on one another, and be remixed into something unintended by the original programmer.

Holedown (iOS/Android)  Martin Jonasson
You know when you’re playing a block breaker game and you get the ball up above the blocks and clear a bunch of them out all at once and it’s great? This is basically an entire game about that moment.

NandGame   Olav Junker Kjær
Starting with only a NAND gate, you’re guided to build up more and more complex circuits, until you have a working CPU. If you’ve never taken a computer architecture course (or, like me, last took one a decade ago and could use a refresher), this is a great way to make computers just a little less magical by understanding some of the fundamental underpinnings of CPUs.

Reverse emulating the NES to give it SUPER POWERS!   Tom 7
Dude sticks a Raspberry Pi into an NES cartridge, allowing an unmodified NES to do some absurdly interesting things by dynamically switching out the code and graphics at runtime. The entire slideshow that he presents is running from said cartridge, and he pulls off some incredibly impressive tricks/jokes throughout.

Nidra Deep Rest Sleep Mask  
I typically find sleep masks super uncomfortable (especially how much they press on my eyelids) and have never been able to sleep with one, but this mask has nice little contoured cups for your eyes that make it much more comfortable (since you can open your eyes and blink while wearing it). I’ve been sleeping with it almost every night (while it’s summer and the mornings come earlier than I’d like) and have definitely been getting better sleep, both at home and while traveling.

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