This is by no means an authoritative list, but just some suggestions from me, someone who is normally an socially distant introvert. I’m trying to keep money to a minimum with this list.
Also, my brother from another mother, Derek Heidemann, has a few tips, suggestions on things to do, suggestions on things to watch. Remember, we’re all in this together, but ya know, 6 feet or more away.
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit – been wanting to learn to code? or make a server? or a retro video game station? Amazon will deliver a fairly cheap kit to you (I provided a link), you get the Pi, a micro SD card, a case, and a power adapter – you’ll get processor heat sinks, but you don’t really need them. It’s a Pi 3, they’re up to Pi 4 now, but the kits are a bit pricier. Depends on how beefy you want things to be, but the Pi 3 is still a great little powerful computer.
Things to create with a Raspberry Pi:
- Raspberry Pi Projects – these are some of the official ones from RPi themselves. From learning how to code to building a self-hosted website. The benefit is, you get to learn linux along with it.
- Pi-hole – tired of ads all over the place, tired of having to install an ad-blocker on every browser/machine you have, Pi-Hole will act as a front-line ad blocker. Their instructions are pretty solid. You can download white and black lists of approved or blocked websites. Stop your smart devices from constantly talking back to home. All that fun stuff. Additional support: Pi-Hole Reddit.
- RetroPie – RetroPie will run emulators and roms from pretty much every arcade and gaming system up to the PS1. NES/Sega/SNES being the prime targets. You’ll need a gaming controller of some kind, PS3/4, Xbox, 8-Bitdo, Logitech, whatever, they’ll work, the bluetooth connection can be a bit annoying to keep working. Additional stuff: you’ll probably want to google *system name here* roms.
- Magic Mirror – if you’re feeling really ambitious and have access to power tools (which we generally don’t allow me to have access too…) this is a really cool project.
- Instructables – a website that has a ton more projects. From making your own jukebox to weather stations.
Want to dabble in these things but don’t feel like buying a Raspberry Pi. Have an extra computer laying around? Download VirtualBox and you can create virtual machines to do most of this stuff with. Linux is free, I usually use Ubuntu. (Though I use a server, command line only version.)
Humble Bundle – a pay as you want site filled with cool stuff. They update their offerings pretty often, lots of tech resources. They also have a regular store where you can usually buy video games and what not. Book bundles tend to be pretty cheap.
LinkedIn Learning (this requires a subscription, check with your local library)
If you have more links, feel free to add them in the comments.
Following up on education/learning. Reading!
Got an e-reader? Got an iPad or some other tablet? Cool, you’re set for lots of reading. I also recommend checking with your local library, some are closed to the public but are still bringing books to cars and such. Check with your local indie book stores or Amazon to have physical books delivered.
Kindle Book Deals – monthly and daily deals are shown here.
BookBub – create an account (free) and get customized recommendations on your favorite genres when books go on sale. Pulls sales from Amazon, Apple Books, B&N, and etc.
Have a library card, you have a few options for free!
OverDrive – ebook/audiobook lending through your library, just need your library card. You get up to three books at a time. There’s a waitlist, you might not find the most recent books available, but you can put a hold on it, like you would with a regular book at the library.
Hoopla – another digital lending option. Hoopla offers movies, music, books, comics, audiobooks. I like their comic book section.
Neil Gaiman’s Website – all around cool dude, Neil Gaiman has a bunch of free things on his site, short stories and what not.
Speaking of comics – you’ll want some kind of tablet device to read comics:
Comixology – It’s pretty cheap per month, if you go through the Comixology Unlimited option, and you can use your Amazon account. They run sales daily/weekly and if you have Unlimited you can get slightly more off. Unlimited has access to most of the major publishers, DC, Marvel, Image, Aftershock, IDW, etc. They sell brand new issues every week, like your local shop.
Marvel Unlimited – strictly dedicated to Marvel Comics, their reader is a tad clunkier and reading “runs” is a bit more complicated, but if you’re just looking for Marvel Comics, here ya go. They are up-to-date up to 6 months ago. $9.99 a month after a 7 day free trial.
Want physical comics or books:
Jetpack Comics – they’ll ship to you. I list them specifically because they’re one of my two comic shops I frequent.
Indie Bookstore Finder – most indie shops will ship to you, you get to shop and support local.
Scribd – they’re offering a free 30 days of ebooks and such.
Movies, Music, and TV:
I think we all know how to get movies and tv shows at this point. If you have recommendations on what to watch, rattle them off in the comments.
I do recommend PlutoTV pretty heartily though. It’s free, so there are ads, but those ads function almost like regular TV ads would. Lots of custom channels, Unsolved Mysteries, Saturday Morning Cartoons, etc. There’s an app on pretty much every device at this point.
A Million Little Things
Band of Brothers
ESPN’s 30 for 30
The Good Place
The Office and Friends are constantly playing somewhere in the world at any given time of the day
Freaks and Geeks
NFL Game Pass – free until May 31, just remember to keep an eye on it so you don’t get charged June 1.
Here’s a link to my letterboxd account lists, I’ll start updating these again.
Between Spotify and Apple Music you should be covered. If you have neither, they run free trials and at least Spotify runs sales frequently.
If you have subscriptions to Sirius XM, I find the Spa channel super relaxing when you just need some chill time. You can program your Alexa/Google device to play SXM. Some of my favorite channels:
The Grateful Dead – XM 23
Spa – XM 68
Little Steven’s Underground Garage – XM 21
The Bridge – XM 32
Ozzy’s Boneyard – XM 38
Yacht Rock Radio – XM 311 – never to early to get your Yacht Rock on
Fly – XM 47
Real Jazz – XM 67
This is also a good time to start going down rabbit holes with artists and listening to all their music. Some of the more fascinating deep dives I’ve taken recently:
The Beach Boys – There’s pre-Pet Sounds and post-Pet Sounds and they’re practically different bands.
Billy Joel – he’s always constant, his song writing gets sharper and he really hit his stride on An Innocent Man.
Yo Yo Ma has been posting short videos on twitter with music to try to help comfort people.
Austin City Limits – PBS and ACL have unlocked a number of episodes for free!
Metallica Mondays – they aren’t as great as they used to be, but still, it’s free and it’s metal. \m/
JamBase Livestreams Calendar – JamBase is largely dedicated to GD, Phish, Umphrey’s, etc but they are keeping a live stream calendar going with all the, well, live streams happening daily.
Bluebird Sky Yoga – found this in a quick search, free Yoga sessions, though a donation is welcome.
Daily Burn – they have pretty much everything and a 30 day free trial.
Bob Weir’s Gymming Playlist – what the legendary guitarist listens to when he works out.
Ken Burns’ Baseball – PBS and Ken unlocked the whole thing for free. Looks like The Roosevelt’s, War, and National Parks are upcoming. Also, a passport pass is only $5 and gets you access to just about everything through PBS. Super worth it.
Fangraphs – wanna read a lot of really insightful articles about baseball and learn more about the statistics that we use? Fangraphs is tops.
Baseball Reference – baseball stats, scores, history, etc mostly look to see just how absolutely insane Mike Trout is and how crazy good Babe Ruth was.
Sir Patrick Stewart – Patrick is reading a Sonnet a day (on his IG and Twitter) in a way only he can. Comforting voice.
Freebies If You’re Stuck at Home – another, more comprehensive list of free stuff to check out while we’re all at home.