South Shore Skeptics' Link Library
Free Popular Books
Bookface.com is making certain popular books available free for online reading. such as Ben Bova's Moonwar. The only catch is that the fulltext is laced with ads, and cannot be saved to disk, since you have to use their reader.
Consumer World's Free Info and Ratings ( product comparisons and ratings ).
Free Email Accounts.
Disposable mail accounts are useful for avoiding spam in your main mailbox. Instead of giving out your main email address when requesting product information for example, you can use a disposable account and junk it if it gets too cluttered. Disposable accounts also provide extra storage space for your low priority list-mail . The services listed below have relatively few ads.
Free permanent email addresses are provided by a number of sites such as netscape.com. Whether they'll remain permanently free is another matter. To find such offerings, do a Web search for "permanent email". Some universities also offer free permanent email forwarding addresses to their alumni, as a way of keeping in touch. Check with your alma mater.
Free Internet Access ( or backup access )
Yes, believe it or not there are free Internet access providers offering the usual range of services -- Web access, email, newsgroup access etc. with a minimum of ads. All have access numbers in the Cleveland area. These are particularly useful as backup access providers, , if your regular Internet provider is down, or charges extra for tollfree access from out of town. Free Internet providers generally display a small ad somewhere on your screen, and are slower than commercial Internet providers. You also have to install their turnkey software. Click here for comparison ratings.
Freei-net ( not to be confused with Free-nets ). Features a small movable ad-bar which you can drag to an unused portion of the screen.
Freewww.com ( includes Usenet posting access )
Netzero.com One user reported that the ad covered up her scrollbars, and she couldn't move it( 4-12-00 ).
These services are useful if (1) you don't have a fax modem, or (2) if your modem ties up your fax line for long periods, or (3) if you're traveling and need a floating fax number.
You send faxes by printing documents to a fax driver provided, which 'knows' where and how to upload them. Banner ads are injected into the process. For incoming faxes, the service acts as a store-and-forward. The resident software checks for faxes whenever you're online, and downloads them for viewing and printing. Privacy levels and reliability vary.
Free Movie Reviews
Free news, weather, stock quotes etc.
You can configure these "portal" services to 'clip' just the news and quotes you want, provide weather reports specific to your locale etc. Typically they carry selected AP or UPI wire-service feeds. Note however that your public library typically has more complete local news. Dedicated news sites such as cnn.com have better national news.
Free Remote File Storage
The X:drive site provides 25 megs of free online file storage to anyone for free. Files can be public or private, in a tree of sub-folders. You manipulate the files by installing free software. Useful when transferring or distributing files too bulky to fit in email or on your Web page. Can also be used for critical file backup, in case you get a virus or other disaster. If privacy is an issue, use an encryption program.
Store up to 25 megs on their site to begin with.
Free Mailing Lists -- start your own
Internet Mailing List Providers
Vivian Neou's list, somewhat dated as of 9-1-00. Includes pay ISPs that offer stable list access.
Internet Mailing List Providers ( Edumnds list )
Lists various free hosts and pay hosts, the type of software they use, and prices if any.
Simple and effective as of 9-1-00. Advantages: Appends only non-intrusive 2-line ad to visit its site. Does not terminate subscribers who have temporaruy mail problems out of hand. Supports larger lists ( 500+ users ). Supports private lists, archiving. Imports lists in standard text format. Supports multiple owners on the same list. Subscribers not required to give personal information. Subscription invites and confirmations don't gush. Excellent control over welcome messaages, subject tagging, headers, footers if desired/. DISADVANTAGES: Moderator must visit site to approve subscribers. Verbose / redundant confirmations of moderators' commands by email. Processing of new subscriptions "can take up to an hour".
Onelist.com a.k.a. Egroups.com
Free Web Forums ( Myforums.com )
Allows you to start a discussion forum on the topic of your choice, where anyone can post or read messages via the Web. Your forum can include message boards, chat area, homepage and access controls. Your group members or visitors can also request automatic email notification and reminders when there's activity on your forum. Once your forum is created, it gets its own Web address. Users must complete a brief questionnaire to gain access. A service of Delphi, and home to the East Bay Skeptics' Society.
Free personal Web pages
Many of the major search engine sites provide free space for personal Web pages, as do some of the Free-nets and community systems (see separate heading).
Free-nets and Community Networks ( free accounts for the asking, need not be local )
Listings (at Lights.com)
Listings (at OCFN, not all are current)
moving soon to...
Free Long Distance Via Internet ( from your computer to a regular phone )
Unlike traditional Web phone, these advertiser-supported services allow you to place free long-distance calls from your computer to anyone's regular phone. System requirements: All you need is (1) an inexpensive microphone headset intended for PCs, available anywhere, (2) a decent sound card (preferably with full duplex so you don't have to say "Over", and (3( a reasonably fast Internet connection ( 28.8 or higher ). Any Web-capable PC should work. The service works just like traditional Internet phone, except that the person you're calling doesn't need a computer. You type in the number, their phone rings, they pick it up, simple. The sound quality is similar to cellular, i,e. not as good as straight long-distance. This could be a problem for some hearing-impaired people. If the Internet is congested, your words may be delayed by a fraction of a second or more. The technical details are handled by the free software. You can only place outgoing calls by this method -- you can't get incoming long-distance calls free, unless the caller has a computer. Downsides: You do have to provide some personal information to register. Calls are not encrypted, and go out over the open Internet, which means privacy isn't that great, ( similar to unencrypted email ). For credit card transactions, you should probably use regular long-distance. As with cellular, there's a tendency to talk over each other. Such services are being heavily promoted by hardware manufacturers, hoping this will become the industry-standard voice protocol for wireless Internet devices etc. . -- J.K.
What Is Voice Over Internet (VoISP)
CNN Story ( 5-16-00 )
dialpad.com ( service provider )
Tested Aug. '00 by HPS and J.K. Voice quality was pretty decent over a 56k connection, similar to Web phone. ( Actually all 56k connections are 28k on outgoing side ). Tended to pick up background noise more or less constantly, which sounded like marbles rolling around in a cup. That may depend somewhat on user's sound card. Seemed to be able to dial a phone anywhere in the U.S. -- not sure about international calls. Callee's phone rang normally.
Net2phone.com ( service provider )
IPsite.com ( news and technical information on other developments in voice-over-packet Internet telephony ).
Shareware / Freeware Archive / Reviews ( _PC World Magazine_)
PC World magazine has one of the largest open-access archives of software reviews and downloadable trialware and freeware, searchable by product name, filename, or fulltext. Also provides links to upgrade and support sites.
Comparison-Shop Books, Music and Movies
This site captures myriad prices from specific sites, locates the item you want, and refers you too the lowest-priced site. The price variance is considerable.
Shareware Archive ( shareware.com) ( shareware mega-site ).
Tightwad Links ( consumer products of various types, cheap fixes etc. )