Showing posts with label free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card sure is a classy guy.

Long known for his staunch advocacy against homosexuality and outright disrespect of homosexual people, and just in time for the upcoming film adaptation of his popular novel, Ender's Game, he makes a curiously timely plea to the movie-going public to put aside his views, stating in a statement to magazine Entertainment Weekly, "The gay marriage issue is moot."

How quaint, and convenient! Personally I dislike lining the coffers of such people with my dollars, however groundbreaking their works are. 

Someday, all knowledge and the fruits of people's creativity may be free. No longer will talented writers, actors, musicians, or others have to take on multiple minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet while they struggle on the side to achieve their dreams and pursue their passions. 

Instead, everyone will have their basic needs provided for so that, as Maslow indicates in his hierarchy of needs, people will be able to self-actualize and actually live rather than spend much of their daily life worrying about paying the bills, or their very survival. Not now, not in decades, perhaps not in millenia, but someday... hopefully!

I think a good first step toward such an audacious way of life is to share information.

Here, for example is a freely available set of ebooks in PDF format of the Ender's saga, which can be read online or downloaded. I encourage anyone interested in this fine piece of literature to obtain it at their leisure, without having to pay for it, and with the satisfaction that no royalties whatsoever will make it into Orson Scott Card's quite intolerant little hands.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Free Credit Report

A good credit score is important for securing loans or incurring other types of debt.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the Fair Credit Reporting Act includes a provision whereby the big three credit reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) must provide you, free of charge, a copy of your credit report annually.

The easiest way to get the ball rolling is to visit the official site,, and fill out their form. 

Eventually you'll be forwarded to each credit reporting site, in turn, to input some answers to security questions. Then you can either view your report online, or download it in PDF form. You can also view the report in printer-friendly format, then use a free utility like Cute PDF Writer to "print" the report to a PDF file.

I had no idea one could obtain a completely FREE report of your credit history from the big three companies in this way, so score one for government working for the people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ImageShack, I Am Disappoint

ImageShack is one of many free online image hosting services.

Up until recently it's been one of my favorites because it allows you to easily copy a simple direct link to an image you've hosted. This allows you to link someone directly to a given image without any clutter, just the image by itself.

As of a week or two ago, however, they've disabled their Direct Link textbox and insist that you register with their site for this privilege. Sure, you can still freely obtain the Link code, which will show the image plus some minimal markup of ImageShack itself, and you can still copy various forum, thumbnail, widget and other markup for the image you wish to host, but really, most often I just want the image alone, that's all, nothing else. 

I freely admit it, I am a cheapskate.

There are several workarounds for this annoyance. 

First of all, you could simply visit another image hosting provider like imgur and use their service instead. Of course, you could sign up and create a user account with ImageShack; obviously ImageShack is in favor of this option. Another option is to visit BugMeNot and borrow somebody else's credentials. If, however, you yearn for ImageShack prior to their shenanigans, you can still obtain the Direct Link through this relatively convoluted series of steps:
1. Upload an image to ImageShack as usual.

2. Right-click on the Upload Successful page and view source.

3. Copy the direct URL to your image, and paste it wherever you like.

Why ImageShack chose to do this, I don't know. I've used their Direct Link for years, why they would choose to implement this, particularly when so many other image hosting sites like imgur continue to offer a plain URL to your hosted image, is a mystery to me. 

I'm certainly not enough of a die-hard fan of ImageShack that I would go to the trouble of digging into the HTML to grab that direct link each time, so I guess the easiest option is to just use another provider from here on out. Perhaps this will lead to a similar backlash to the infamous Gizmodo design change, which caused a significant reduction in visits to their site?

Yet another example of how a seemingly small change to the user experience can prompt users to seek an alternative.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Ahh, Christmas, the time for presents, tasty food, and ruminating on the memories of days when Santa Claus really existed outside mere childhood imagination.

For the cheapskate who's always wanted to dabble in aromatherapy, and because "road aromatherapy" or "road rage smells like Christmas" didn't seem catchy enough, I present ROAMATHERAPY


  1. Go to your local live Christmas Tree seller. This might be your local supermarket with trees and wreaths out front, or some guy selling these out of a tent along the roadside.

  2. Grab a discarded sprig of Douglas Fir. You also could ask nicely, but I doubt the seller would mind if it's already fallen away from the tree.

  3. Using Duck™ tape, a chip clip, or a convenient crevice between the vent and the dash, secure the sprig so that hot air from the vents wafts across it.

  4. Turn on your car's heater. Akin to the principles used by various aromatherapy diffusers, the pleasant aroma of the Douglas Fir is expressed from the plant material into your car's interior.


If your memories of Christmas are gloomy or nonexistent, hopefully this will bring you some of the Christmas cheer I associate with the holiday that is far more enjoyable than its rampant consumerism.