Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tech Column: Best Free Tech of 2011

by Bill Adler

The Internet has always been filled with good, free things. Before the year winds down (or for New Year’s day, when you have some down time), I wanted to list some of my favorite, free places and services on the Internet.  

Evernote, is still the best note-taking, idea-storage, web-clipping service on the planet. With Evernote you can access your notes from your computer, the web, iPhone, Android phone -- or anywhere.

Microsoft Security Essentials, free anti-virus software for your Windows PC, . This is the anti-virus software that Windows should have come with from day one. Now you can ditch your paid ant-virus software.

The Consumerist, -- the best (and endlessly entertaining) pro-consumer website. If you’ve been screwed by some company, you’re probably not alone, and the Consumerist can tell you how to fight back.

Zamzar,, for all your file conversion needs. Do you need that WAV converted into an MP3? Zamzar can do it for you.

Dropbox,, is a great way to sync, store and share files. It’s free for up to 2 GB of space; you can pay for more if you need it. The Dropbox smartphone apps are terrific, too. With Dropbox you can have access to your stuff eveywhere.

Is Snowmageddon on the horizon? What will it be like at Grandma’s when I visit? The best weather website is Weather Underground, Feature-rich and easy to use, the Weather Underground is one of the most accurate weather websites. Their local weather, full-screen page,, offers a great view of what’s going on right around you.

“How to Cope with a Bad Day” and “How to Insulate Your Feet From the Cold” are just two of the many how-to videos on Howcast, Sure, YouTube has virtually unlimited how-to videos, but at Howcast you don’t have to first wade through all the cat videos with similar titles.

Pandora is a great web-based radio station. Tell it what bands you like and Pandora,, will create a “station” based on your musical tastes. Pandora is a fun way to enjoy music you already like and to discover new music, as well. 

You’ve probably heard of, a so incredibly funny website about text message typos. And you’ve probably visited, which will make you utter endless “awwwws.” But have you been to the Museum of Burnt Food, I didn’t think so. Sure, it's not actually useful, but the Internet is for fun, too. And I'm not going to admit that anything I've ever cooked might be in that museum.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," . He tweets at @billadler.

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