Thoughts in The Void

Twig's personal blog for his thoughts on a variety of subjects. Contact us at!

So, here we are. My article about online privacy. I knew I'd write about this some day, so let's cut the shit and get started. First off, if you want an easy source for alternatives to Google and other services that track everything you do, I highly recommend PrivacyTools. It's an extensive list of privacy-friendly alternatives to just about everything, and I've switched almost everything I could to tools included there!

Now, to get started, why should you worry about online privacy? Well, to put it simply, practically everyone wants your data to sell, and nobody wants their data sold, right? Trust me, the overall experience with most alternatives is great, especially since there are so many options for you! The best part of it all, though, is just the nice feeling of being safe online. Almost nobody can track me down or break into my accounts now, and it feels amazing. Of course, it's not 100% safe, nothing online ever is, but getting close to it still feels great.

This article will go over my choices and experiences with these alternatives. As always, if you'd like to contact me about this article, you can find me on Mastodon, chat with me directly through Matrix, or send an email to

Search Engine

Personally, I switched to DuckDuckGo for my search engine. Simply put, it's easy, free, doesn't require an account (it doesn't even have accounts!), and has plenty of options and features. There isn't much else to say about a search engine, sadly. I guess the mascot is better than Google's G?

Email & Cloud

Now, my choice for this wasn't on PrivacyTools, but in my opinion, it's still a very nice free choice. I use GMX as my Email and Cloud storage. GMX's Email has multiple options that Google doesn't even provide at all, such as encrypted Emails, alias addresses, and 65GB of mail storage! Sadly, the Cloud storage is a mere 2GB, but personally, I don't use Cloud storage that often, and if I had the time and money, would set up my own Cloud storage server with a Raspberry Pi and an external HDD.

The only issues I've ever had with GMX are the ocassional hiccup while saving settings or syncing my contacts and calendar, but other than that, it's been the best Email service I've ever used!

Social Media

This one is quite obvious, as all my readers already use at least one of these! Mastodon is a great replacement for Twitter, Pixelfed for Instagram, need I list all the options? The fediverse is just such an amazing place!

DNS Provider

By default, all routers and mobile devices use Google DNS. Personally, I wouldn't want that, as Google already collects plenty if you use any of their other services. I switched my router and phone to NextDNS, and have had a blast with it! It has plenty of privacy options, parental controls, and more to help your browsing just be a little bit more secure. Obviously this can't be for everyone, NextDNS is based in the US, but PrivacyTools has a huge database of DNS providers, so take a look through that if you want to escape Google's DNS monopoly.

Password Manager

Let's be honest with ourselves, we all have way too many accounts to reliably have unique passwords for everything, right? Of course we do! So, most people go with two options, using the same password on everything, which is really unsafe, or use a password manager, like LastPass. Personally, I use bitWarden, and don't really recommend anything like LastPass. bitWarden is encrypted, has a password generator that can create very powerful passwords, and can even store more than that for auto-fill, such as credit cards, identity information, and has secure notes for things such as OTP recovery codes. Trust me, if you want your accounts to be secure, grab bitWarden, make an easy-to-remember password, and change everything else to randomly generated ones by bitWarden. You'll feel a lot safer then.

Miscellaneous (Chats, Productivity, etc.)

To finish this up, here are some miscellaneous things I've switched to for other small things you might not think of when thinking about online privacy.


A notepad platform that can sync to most cloud storage options. Has features like markdown support, multiple notebooks, encryption, and more.


A real-time chatting application. Very similar to Discord, and would highly recommend if you aren't already in a friend group that uses something like Discord.


Probably the best option for a 2FA app on your phone, very easy to use and encrypt, has a few options for how things are listed, too.


Take your privacy seriously! Your data is yours, and yours alone. It shouldn't be sold to other companies without your knowledge. I highly recommend you escape any service you can that does this, and use one of the many alternatives.

So I got to participate in Back4Blood's Closed Alpha. If you don't already know, Back4Blood (B4B) is a game being developed by Turtle Rock Studios, the same people that brought us Left 4 Dead 1, and is a spiritual successor in a way. I like to look at it as a modernized version of L4D, although that isn't entirely positive. Now, obviously, since this is an Alpha, the game is far from finished, and I only had access to one campaign. There's no NDA, so I'm free to talk about this however I like, which means I will be critical about it. At the end I'll include in a quote my exact feedback sent to TRS, and it'll act as a sort of tl;dr for this article, even though it's long on its own, and I will touch on things here I forgot to mention when I sent that feedback, so I still recommend you read this if you want my full thoughts.

If you think I compare this game to L4D too often, well, tough shit. The game is called “Back4Blood”, which is a very obvious callback to Left 4 Dead, having the number replace the word, and also somewhat symbolizing TRS's return, and it's also being heavily marketed as a spiritual successor to L4D. The devs are doing it, so I will too.

First thing I'll touch on is my past experience with L4D and playtesting, just to give you an idea of who I am if this is all you've seen from me. I've played both L4D1 and L4D2 extensively, fully completed both games's campaigns on at least Advanced difficulty, and played a lot of survival with friends on Normal and Advanced. My total playtime between the two games comes to about 337 hours, not as much as many other L4D players, but I'd say it's a good amount, and I love the games either way. My experience with playtesting is much wider, I've playtested for both small and large projects, most notably 343i's Halo Insider program. I always ensure to read my own feedback carefully to ensure it's as easy to understand as possible, and I value getting responses on it.

Now that you know my experience, I'll get started proper.


The visibility of important things isn't good enough. As it is now there's only outlines/highlights on other players, and items once you're close enough to pick them up, and for everything else? Tiny, white, easy to miss waypoints that don't scale with distance. Outlines on items should be seen from a small distance, not when you're right up against the item, and give important waypoints an outline once you're close to the object you need to get to, like a door or something.

The UI is somewhat forgivable since it's an alpha, but the in-game HUD isn't, this should've been the easiest one to do. My issues are visibility here, not overall design aesthetic, that I don't really care about. Your health is always a white bar with a white number above it, no color. When you're low it flashes red, but in my experience by the time it gets that low it's already too late for you to notice and you'll go down immediately after seeing it. I have no idea if temporary health works the same way as somehow, in my playthroughs, I never had any. Still not sure how, other than I never bought pills, I always got a medkit or bandage instead. Health should still be colored no matter what for this kind of game in my opinion, it catches your attention by going from green to yellow when you're at a midway point of your health, and red when critical, easy. Either way, that's my main gripe with the in-game HUD right now. Other than that, it's fine, could be a little bigger.


These survivors are terrible. They're not nearly as memorable as the L4D cast, spout random one-liners during gameplay, and don't even really introduce themselves to each other. They're just a random group of people to me, not real characters. I know it's an alpha with only one campaign, which might not even be the first one in the story, but come on, first impressions are everything, right? I don't even remember their names other than Holly and Walker. Their overall design? I'm okay with them, they look nice, but they need way more personality.


Common infected, or the Ridden, are incredibly bland. Not even by a zombie standard, just the variation of what you see. Add more variety to their clothing, build, and whatnot. They look like the same model with about 4 different clothing choices.

Special infected, or mutated, whatever you like to call them, are cool in design, but their functions are very confusing. The Snitch is the worst in my opinion. The devs already tried a similar idea with the Screamer in L4D1, which was cut because it wasn't fun chasing down a single zombie to stop a horde from coming, especially if there already was a horde, so why implement a zombie that summons a horde if you shoot it, while it's almost indistinguishable from the rest of the horde that's rushing towards you? Both are bad ideas, and the Snitch needs a rework.

The Ogre, aka B4B's Tank, is worthless. The Tank is reasonably sized for the mutation it has in a human, so why is the Ogre the size of a building? Better yet, the Tank can actually be killed even if you still only have basic weapons, while the Ogre is basically a game over if you try to fight it with basic weapons, which are hard to get better ones of in the first place. Overall, worst infected in my opinion, needs to be nerfed severely if you want to make it even nearly as memorable as the Tank was.

Supplies & Currency

This kills the game for me, it really does. In L4D you can find weapons and supplies in buildings if you look around and take your time. In B4B, the most you'll ever find is Copper, the in-game currency. I can count on one hand the amount of times I found any helpful non-weapon supplies outside of the shops in saferooms. Guess how many times that was? Once. One medkit, at the beginning of the campaign, and I was searching buildings a lot. The times I found weaponry or ammo? Two or three times over the course of a 4 map campaign, only finding them by the third map, and they weren't even better than the weapons I started with. Once, I had a glock my teammate gave me, then later on, found an identical glock, but it was full-auto instead of semi-auto. That makes no sense realistically, wouldn't my identical glock just be able to switch fire modes?

This game relies on the currency system too much, it expects you to buy most of your supplies with the Copper you find around the maps, which might I add, don't even drop from killing infected. If you're going to rely on it this much, and have the currency total shared by the whole team, make it more common.

Obviously, the better direction to go is how L4D's Director AI populated the maps with supplies accordingly with how well survivors are doing, with the currency being a supplement to that, but hey, what do I know, right? I just play games, I don't make them! (if you can't tell this is sarcasm)

The Director AI

Here we are, the Director AI. It was done so well in L4D, so why does it feel like it's not even a thing here when you're marketing it so hard? Really, I can't even tell if there really is a Director AI here. This is tech from 2008, and it's still better? I know they can't just reuse L4D's because it's not only owned by Valve, but is written with the Source engine in mind and not UE4, but still, I expect code written in 2018-2020 to be at the very least on par with something written in 2006-2008.

General Polish

This game is unpolished and just looks bad. The animations don't blend together like they could in L4D thanks to Source, the hair on the characters glow because they don't even get any blood on them, and I had trouble climbing down a ladder because of how clunky it was, one of my teammates even fell and got downed because of it! I understand that this is an alpha and these should be addressed after it's released, but that's supposedly only 6 months from now. That's a lot of crunch time to fix everything being reported, don't you think?

tl;dr/feedback sent to TRS directly

Overall, a fine game. I had fun, but a lot of it is bogged down by confusing mechanics, bad ideas, and general polish being pretty poor, even for an alpha.

I'd definitely try to massively improve on visibility of important things, such as pickups, shops, and other things, and try to lessen the amount of movement inhibitions and annoying horde summoners (like doors) and try to spread those out in the campaigns.

The common infected, or whatever it is you call them in this game, are incredibly bland, at least try to make them more varied if you're making them look less human. Special infected are kind of cool, but they're not that “special” in my opinion. They're so far gone that they have no personality. The ogre boss feels pointless because you have no chance against it with basic weapons, whereas the Tank in L4D could still be taken care of with the tier 1 weapons.

The survivors, please make them more interesting. You had a great cast in L4D, they synergized well with each other's personalities. These characters feel bland and constantly spout one-liners that aren't even that funny. I'm not saying copy what you did in L4D, but I am saying there's a lot of room to improve on these characters and their memorability. I almost forgot to even write this because I forgot all about the characters after I closed the game, I don't even know their names!

Oh, and make an actual Director AI, I could barely even tell there was one, and that's not a good thing. Give proper sound cues, actual downtime in the map, and more weapons and supplies in the map. Supplies shouldn't be only bought with copper, make that a supplement to what we can find in the maps.

Well, those are my thoughts. As always, if you have something to say about this blog post, or just wish to chat with me, I can be found over on Mastodon, or you can send an email to I hope you enjoyed reading, and have a good day!

This topic is, well, an interesting one to say the least. So far I've had a few instances of having to explain this, so I'll be brief about it. I've had to explain being Plural to my mother, my therapist, one of my friend groups, and somewhat to my ex. To start off, my mother.

She took it quite well, surprisingly. She's very supportive of us and tries her best to understand what we're talking about, although she never fully does, she tries and that's what matters. She's talked with one of my headmates, although it was over text, she still regarded them as separate from myself. She's a very understanding person and always supports me, so I'm glad she's able to at least somewhat understand this.

My therapist was, a little more complicated. He didn't understand it nearly as well as my mother, but, he wasn't quick to jump to conclusions. He said it himself, “I don't label something as a disorder unless it's a hindrance to my patient's life in some way.” Because of this he was perfectly fine with me not calling it DID or MPD, and even wanted to learn more about my specific system itself, and the idea of calling it “plural”. We're happy with how well he reacted, compared to my previous therapist, who almost immediately asked if we needed medication for it, which sent most of us into a panic. After that, whenever he asked a question about it I did my best to change the subject as fast as possible.

My friend group was, a bit of an accident. I had completely forgotten that I never told them, nor did I plan on doing so, and mentioned it in a conversation about death and afterlife. I think I said something along the lines of “I wonder if we'll split when our body dies.” Anyway, they were confused, and when I made my usual quick explanation, they were all very curious and, for the most part, not purposefully hurtful. Keyword being purposefully. One of them asked for me to donate my brain to science, one of them kept referring to my headmates as “Schizo friends”, and the others were absent at the time, but I get the feeling they had similar thoughts. It was quite stressful, and by the time it was over, I was in a sweat, and had to leave my computer for a while. I don't talk about it near them anymore, just to avoid any of it happening again, and I try to make sure any new headmates know to either avoid them or try to act like me, just in case.

The last one I'll talk about here is, my ex, which is still a very, touchy subject, but I have to get it out somehow, otherwise I'll never move on, right? Anyway, it was very brief, to say the least. When I found out about being a system, it was just about a week before our, very messy breakup. I won't go into detail but it was due to a lack of clear communication that we had such a messy breakup in the first place, and both of us could've done things differently that would've been much better choices. After the breakup I was feeling, quite skeptical of myself. I was constantly questioning whether I was faking, or if I was just going insane, I was just a mess overall for weeks. She said to me that she didn't care about me being a system, which, I still don't know how to take, whether she meant she didn't care at all or didn't think it was legitimate, I don't know. I can't find out now anyway because we're completely cut off from each other, after she yelled at me for asking a question that I thought was simple, I decided we needed time away from each other.

Anyway, in conclusion, I handle things on a case by case basis, as should you if you're a plural system. It always depends on how well they understand it, and how respectful they're being about it. If you have questions, or if you're in a similar situation and need advice, I can be reached on Mastodon, or you can send an email to Thank you for reading, and I wish you a happy holiday season!

For those of you who don't know, which likely won't be many of you considering I do talk about this on my social media from time to time, I am a plural system! I figured this would be another nice topic to write about here, since this is still very new and fresh for me. Now, before we get started, if you don't know what a plural system is, I highly recommend you read More Than One to get a basic understanding of what I'm talking about here.

All done? Good, now let's get started.

I discovered this about two months ago, in October. As it turns out, I've been plural for at least 7 years, but I had unknowingly suppressed my headmates for a large amount of that time. Quite an odd way to find out, I know, but really, what isn't odd about this whole thing? After the initial shock of this discovery, we've grown used to each other, and in fact, have seen a few more headmates pop up over the course of these past few months. At the time of writing this, our system has 12 members.

From my experience, discovering that I wasn't the only one in my body was quite scary, to say the least. It did indeed cause a few panic attacks, and a lot of sleepless nights. Through time I've slowly learned to accept that this is how I am now, and honestly? It's kind of nice. Knowing I'll never truly be alone is reassuring, to say the least, and it's nice to know that my headmates will for the most part care for me, since we're all in the same body we have to work together.

The exact cause of discovering I was plural is still, a bit vague to us. We're not really sure what caused me to realize my headmates were present, but whatever it was, we're glad it happened.

Now, obviously, it wasn't an immediate recovery from the shock and confusion. In fact, we're still not even sure exactly what type of system we are. Right now we're comfortable with being called median, but even then, I don't think we really fit that description very well.

Our experience so far has been pretty bumpy, and due to my initial panic, our headspace is a little rough at the moment. None of us really have full control over it, so we just have to hope that over time it improves and the bad places go away, but, we stay optimistic. If we didn't, it might just continue to get worse.

The headspace is probably the most useful thing I've ever had. It's nice being able to let someone else take control for a while, and taking a break in the middle of the day while letting them get things done has its perks. It's not always helpful, though, I've gotten lost from time to time. Our headspace is a void, totally black, yet we can still see things just fine up to a certain distance, at which point things aren't visible at all anymore. There are places scattered about the void, with no real rhyme or reason to it, but they are for the most part nice places to stay.

Now, you might be wondering, “So you've already coped with this in the span of two months? That's impressive!” No, that isn't quite the case. I may have accepted that it is how I am now, but that doesn't mean I'm completely okay with it either. I very often think to myself and question everything about it, things like “What if I'm faking it?”, “What if this is dangerous?”, or even “What if my friends and family hate me for this, or find it weird?” These are all very common and valid worries, people have told me, and luckily, the last one ended up being false. A good amount of my friends are aware of this fact about me now, and even my mother knows, and they're all fine with it! My mother still doesn't quite understand, but she's still accepting of it and has been very supportive.

The coping process is long, and I might not ever be able to, either, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. I hope to one day be able to live happily with my headmates, getting used to it, and being able to work with them to improve our body's health.

If this article has left any positive impact on you, I'd love to hear about it! You can contact me via Mastodon, or send an email to, to let me know your thoughts on this blog. I plan on writing more articles about plurality and my experience with it, too, so stay tuned for that if this article interested you!

So, as my first blog post, I'm writing about my experiences using Windows and Linux. Why? Well, I've gotta get started on here somehow, right? I figured that this would be a nice way to get things going. I've used a large variety of Linux distros, and a decent amount of Windows versions. I'll be going in somewhat chronological order of what I used, but my memory is a bit fuzzy, so it won't be perfect.

To start off, let's talk about my very first operating system, or rather, systems. As a child, we had a computer in the basement that anybody could use, and it was a dual-boot setup, too. We had Windows XP and Ubuntu, version 12 I believe. I most commonly used Ubuntu, since as a kid I didn't really understand the difference and just used the default option whenever the computer was turned on. I did use XP from time to time, whenever I found something cool and wanted to try it but it was Windows only, but for the most part I stuck to Ubuntu.

Thanks to my dad's preference for Linux, and him having a massive server network downstairs (which I really wish I still had pictures of), I had a lot of help with it and he allowed me to do plenty of different things. He even taught me how to use VirtualBox to run virtual machines on Linux! My first VM was running Windows Vista. Yes, that Windows Vista. Personally, I didn't see any issues with it, and in fact, I still don't see many issues with it for day to day usage. Of course I know about the many security flaws, crashes, and other major things, but personally, I wouldn't really mind using it even today, if it still had support.

Now, considering I used Ubuntu for a large majority of my childhood, I of course do have a preference for Linux. It's free, very customizable, and has plenty of versions to fit whatever system you put it on. However, I do use Windows as my desktop's OS, since a large majority of tools I use are Windows-only and have either no alternative, or the alternative is very poor, such as WINE. Now, of course WINE is very good, but have you ever tried running something like the Hammer Editor through WINE? Not a good experience.

Anyway, back on-topic, after that, we upgraded the XP partition to Windows 7, and I started to use that as my primary choice, since I was getting into middle school by then and most computers there ran Windows 7, with the exception of a few cheap MacBooks in certain classrooms. My experience with using Windows 7 was pretty minimal, I wasn't quite the tech geek I am today. We had bad internet, and I didn't even know how to install things like Quake! For what I did use it for, though, it was serviceable. I'd still take Ubuntu over it any day, though.

Around the time I got to high school, Windows 10 was the latest OS, and my parents were, breaking up as well. By that point, I had a red laptop, very weak, ran Ubuntu, but it was good enough to play games like TF2 and other things I could afford, which were only free games. After a bout of rage that, looking back was kinda funny it even happened, I punched it so hard that I broke the HDD inside completely! Dad repaired it, but about half a year later I got a bigger, black, “gaming” laptop. It ran Windows 8. I quickly replaced it with Windows 10 since at the time, Microsoft still allowed free upgrades to that. In fact, I'm still using that exact activation key on my current desktop!

That laptop was nice, definitely better than my old one, but it was still pretty terrible. It actually had a harder time running TF2 than my old one did, at times. Anyway, at that point I was used to only using Windows, but I still did have a fondness for Linux, and once I got into my computer repair class in my senior year of high school, I definitely showed that off. Every time we had to deal with Linux there, I was the first to finish, and usually had to help my classmates with it, since they were for the most part familiar with Windows and OSX. There were some people there that used Linux, of course, and we did become friends, but overall I was the one with the most experience.

Nowadays, I use Windows 10 as my primary OS on my desktop, with a Linux Mint laptop for when I need to go travelling. I'm not exactly a pro at any OS, but I'd say I'm experienced enough with all “major” OSes to use just about any of them with little issue. I do still prefer Linux over everything, though, and I usually refuse to use OSX or iOS because honestly, those are just not fun to use for me, I don't like them at all, especially with how closed off they are. I can do more in Windows than I ever could in OSX.

In conclusion, I got off-track a lot here, but hey, this is a personal blog, I'm not trying to be professional here! I'm only here to share my thoughts and experiences with the world, even if my writing is messy and unfocused. Of course I'll still try and improve on that, I know that a lot of people have trouble reading messy, unfocused articles, so hopefully during my time blogging, I'll get to a point where I can comfortably write in a way that isn't quite professional, but isn't a total mess, either! I hope you enjoyed reading this, I know I enjoyed writing it!