Friday Findings: 4 Random Cool Things I Discovered Recently

In the interest of getting all of us back into the Scaredy Ghost groove, I thought I’d come in with a sort of half-post rounding up a few neat things I’ve been exploring recently. It’s an eclectic collection but we’re all on lockdown anyway, so surely you’ve got a moment to browse, haven’t you?


If you’re familiar with the drawing game Exquisite Corpse, you’ll understand the basic premise of HaikuJAM. HaikuJAM is a collaborative writing game where three people create a “haiku” (haiku-like poem, technically), each by writing a line, based on a prompt. It’s not quite like Exquisite Corpse, because you can see what the other participants write. But you’re limited in other ways, like by word count and punctuation, the latter of which is forbidden.

It’s a bit buggy and, if I’m honest, the interface is a bit busy for my tastes, but I can’t deny that it’s ridiculous amounts of fun and a great way to flex one’s writing muscles in a simple and collaborative way. It’s also produced some pretty interesting results, like my favorite jam to date:

A HaikuJAM haiku. The prompt is Love vs. Be Loved

"Falling in love, when
you really have to pee
both excite the pelvic region"
For the record, yes, I am extremely childish.

HaikuJAM is free (though it has a premium subscription) and currently only available on Google Play. Suck on THAT, Apple users. IT HURTS, DOESN’T IT?

Shape appeared as a promoted post on my Twitter timeline quite literally this morning. It’s a new asset library that currently boasts over 4000 different icons and illustrations, both static and animated, that you can download as SVG files, image files, or even as code. Some are free to use but, for $60 USD, you can buy a lifetime Pro license, granting you commercial usage rights and access to the entire Shape library, even as it grows, for eternity.

Suffice it to say I did a bit of budget shuffling and bought one.

An illustration of a young woman either pulling giant money out of a box or throwing it away. It's not entirely clear.
I am nothing if not an enormous sucker for lifetime subscriptions.

Be warned, though, there are limits: Animated illustrations can only be downloaded as .json files as far as I can tell, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to resize image files within Shape, but I thought I saw something about that in the demo video I watched this morning, so maybe I just haven’t found where to do that yet. In any case, I’m already having enough fun to say I’ve gotten my money’s worth.


My relationship with food is… well, toxic. Let’s leave it at that.

I’ve been looking for a food diary that doesn’t force me to track my calories or put all the emphasis on my weight and have REALLY not been having any luck for years. Until, that is, I discovered Ate, which just reached Android in beta but has been available on iOS for a while. Ate is a mindful eating food diary that makes tracking your meals both stupidly easy and a thoughtful, intuitive process. Nutrients, calories, all of that stuff is ignored. All you have to worry about is taking a photo of your meal and, optionally, logging a few bits of info like where you ate, how you felt when you got your food, and how you felt eating it.

I’ve only been using Ate for a few days, so I don’t want to say anything too definitive, but I will say that it looks very promising, and is really the first food logging app that I’ve found that I don’t dread opening.

And, just to put it out there, I heard from their tech support that they’re looking to hire dedicated Android developers, or will be soon, so if that’s a thing you do, maybe send them a resume!

Class Central

Since we’re all trapped inside and many folks are dealing with school closures and cancelled classes, the interest in free online workshops and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) has shot up exponentially. Luckily, we live in the future, and there are a lot of places that offer free courses, like Coursera or edX. But it can be kind of a pain in the ass to sift through all those websites for what you want, especially if you have to comb through them individually.

Enter: Class Central. Class Central is a MOOC aggregator and search engine that collects info from all the top MOOC websites and lets you bookmark interesting courses right on its platform. It’s free to sign up and use but if you actually want to register for courses, you’ll also have to get an account at whatever website is hosting it. If you’re new to the MOOC scene, you can audit 99% of MOOCs for free, but if you want certification, you have to pay (usually $30-$50 USD but your mileage may vary). However, if you’re a student, you may be able to take some courses for free anyway because of the Coronavirus if you do a bit of sleuthing. Or, you can check out this list of Coursera courses Class Central conveniently put together that’s currently offering free certifications to anyone who signs up within the next few weeks.

And that’s it for me! Hopefully I’ll be back on a regular writing schedule within the next week or so. I’m very much looking forward to being back. And I’d also like to give a shoutout to my VERY FIRST FOLLOWER! Thanks for following, srijan! You da best.

Take care of yourselves, everyone. Stay stafe, stay home, and wash your goddamn hands.

Chibird's "Ghost hug! You can't feel it, but it's there!" gif
Social distance hugs from your friendly neighborhood ghost.

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