7 Free Things to Do on the Internet

Bill Gates - Internet

Sorry Bill – Just such a short sighted quote had to rehash it!

Firstly it would be prudent to acknowledge that some or even all of the activities below might not exactly float your boat, especially if you think the internet is only good for games, email and Facebook. For most of you however the following might just broaden horizons a little.

Further, I know YouTube is cool, ebay is awesome and online banking is…well..uh… it beats lining up doesn’t it?  The point of this post is to ignore the common places you might go to and explore something completely off the radar.

1. Read a Book

You can find oodles of free books to read at the Open Library .  Once signed up you can either read books in the browser or download them and read them using the Adobe Digital Editions . It works like a real library, where you borrow books and  return them when done. Although it’s free you’ve got to jump through a few hoops to use it properly. For example you need to authorize your computer with an Adobe Id (which is free). Some books are not so freely available and you get redirected to nearby libraries.

Project Gutenberg is another place to find free books particularly of the classical kind.

2. Free Online Courses

You can take university quality courses for free using a variety of sites like MIT , Khan Academy , Coursera or edx 

The edx home page

The edx home page

3. Learn a Language

Duolingo is a fantastically easy site with free lessons in an number of popular languages.  It has hands on lessons to where you need to type what you’ve learned.

Livemocha which by the way makes me think of coffee is also a great place to start. This has audio and a larger choice of languages. You need to sign up (which is free) and you’re given a kind of digital credit from which you ‘purchase’ a lesson. When the credit is to zero I assume there’s a way to replenish it without parting with too much cash. I was to busy and dumb to get that far, you’ll do better.

Babbel is another excellent place to learn a new language, some stuff is for free but their full access packages are really cheap. The lessons are easy, both visual, image driven and with audio. One drawback was the language choices are decidedly European – no Asian languages.

The BBC is even on the act with free language courses.

The BBC languages page

The BBC languages page

It’s worth mentioning here that along with online language courses there are some excellent apps available for download. My favorite is JW Language which along with its excellent interface might just teach you something wonderful as well as a new language.

4. Free Sheet Music

I’m not very musical so other than being Itunes capable, and being able to belt out a few blues riffs on a harmonica, I have about a much use for sheet music as an ashtray on a racing horse (I don’t smoke either); still if you want free sheet music a good place to start is the International Music Score Library Project

5. Learn Computer Code

Okay I’ll admit this isn’t for everyone, and probably only interests the geek inclined, but Codecademy  is a fantastic free place go and either learn or brush up on a programming language like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, Python and Ruby. It’s also got tutorials for learning various APIs like the YouTube API amongst others. (Don’t know what an API is? Then you probably don’t need to use one either; so simply ignore it, trust me you don’t need to know). Code Academy lets you create a free account and keeps track of your progress through the course.


Learning Python through Codecademy


6. Help with the Finances

If you need help managing a loan, budget or almost anything of a financial bent, Mint  can help. It’s free and comprehensive. Sadly it won’t help you pluck money out of nowhere! If you decide to use Mint, it’s a good idea to read up on making it more secure here

7. Watch Documentaries

If you like docos, check out DocumentaryHeaven which has a plethora of interesting, diverting and possibly time wasting documentaries covering just about everything.

Part screenshot of the DocumentaryHeaven website

Part screenshot of the DocumentaryHeaven website

Granted this is hardly a comprehensive list; after all this is meant to be a blog not a catalog. Still I hope something above has got you excited, interested or at least mildly aware that the internet is a bit of a big thing.

If you have an idea for a future blog, I’d like to here it here. For now though have a great week.

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