The Awesome Book of free stuff




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Why is stuff free?


I honestly don't think the world was ready for the “Globalisation” that followed the inception of the Worldwide Web. Certainly it gives access to a Global Market, but it also means you have Global Competition, and what skews the profitability is that someone else will make it cheaper, maybe even for free. Just like me they want to add to their portfolio and establish a reputation. Perhaps they are retired and just like doing it for a hobby.

I just published a photographic book of local Scenery, and my Mother just told me someone has put up a free online resource of local photographs as a community project. That is nice, and they are probably completely different, being focused more on historical images than my artistic style, but someone somewhere has the time, money and motivation to provide a free resource – and people like me who are trying to make a living at it have to accept the competition. It works both ways. I love free stuff, but, it is a two edged sword - I hate people underselling me with free products, but I can’t do a thing about it. You can’t make people charge more for their products. I suppose, if I had the time and money I could use their pictures to write another book about local history or something, but I am sure there are people who are more experienced in that field. Perhaps it was a volunteer effort, perhaps they got council funding, good luck to them is all I can say, it is nice to have the resource.

Firstly, remember that the internet was originally designed by the military who are not really run on a 'profits' basis. Secondly, that among the early adopters was Education, again profit is not their prime motivation. Both types of organisation have large chunks of money to throw around, but not bothered about profits (though no doubt they want a decent return on investment). The Military doesn't charge to exchange signals, likewise Educational establishments don't levy a charge outside of their tuition fees, but both have massive amounts of data.

The fact that the business and amateur world jumped on the bandwagon meant a whole new set of parameters. Certainly some internet businesses thrived and people like Google and iTunes obviously make a fortune out of it since they were providing services right from the start that grew as the early pioneers joined the internet. Now they can charge for advertising space and other services. I was a bit miffed that they are now charging for referring people to you in their search engines – the more you pay them, the more you float to the top of their list. It is actually an automated auction for advertising space. It just doesn’t seem very fair on the small business start-up that they don’t get an even chance, but then, I suppose the big boys will have the biggest shops on the high street too, if you were to invent a new cola drink you would have to sell it from a barrow till you make your first buck. Well, my Dad always used to say “you need money to make money”.

In this Global marketplace there are players we might call “altruistic” who have simply made enough to live on and are enjoying sharing their knowledge, effectively on a 'voluntary' basis. Other people are trying to establish themselves and looking for worthwhile projects to add to their portfolio so they will work for free. Then again, we have people in low income countries competing with the rest of the world for work, and their living expenses may be very modest by comparison, they may work for rates that are unfeasible for developed countries. Beyond that there are entrepreneurs who are hoping to give out free products to entice you to buy into their other services, or work out some kind of deal where they will give you something if you sell their products. Still further are companies who believe it is in their interests to provide certain tools to access their products or they make a profit from advertising banners and features while they give you free stuff.

There is also the “Black Hat” sub-culture who set out to wreak havoc on the internet by propagating viruses – and there is a counterpoint to that where people feel so indignant about this abuse of a public service that they have a “White Hat” community which attempts to repel these attacks by producing free anti-virus software, again, for purely altruistic reasons, and like my attitude to freebie scams there is a sense of indignance that causes good citizens to arise and fight back.

The fact is, that this Global Community brings out the best and worst in people. Some are positive and community-minded and contribute willingly for the general improvement of the world as far as it is within their capabilities and means to do so.

The good news is that all this means that the discerning web-surfer can find many many great things out there that are totally free, and even by picking one's way carefully through the maze of offers and bargains can often secure excellent free products.

Who am I anyway?

Well, I guess you could say I am a pretty experienced computer and internet user. I also have a background in Electronics, Computing and Training, as well as a wide range of hobby interests. I am a very keen cyberspace user and spent probably far too much time on my computer and the internet. I like to think differently, and believe I can sometimes see things for what they are and not be taken in by the facade and apply lateral thinking to see how I can turn it to my own advantage without actually ripping anyone off. I am a very moral person these days and crime does not feature in my agenda. I believe in being honest and hard-working and sharing what I can with other people.

In the course of undertaking other projects I have gathered a collection of information about getting hold of free stuff, and I genuinely would like to give away this information as a benevolent gesture, you might in fact think of it as similar to the Open Source project to provide fee software. This is my little contribution to the Global Community. I hope you enjoy it. Have Fun! Surf Safe!.
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