Blog Archives

Search Engine for Free Stuff and Swapped Stuff: ecofreek

Recently I read an article on Stv.TV about a relatively new search engine. But though it was positioned as a recycling/green search engine, it’s really more of a metasearch for free stuff and swaps. Ecofreek is available at http://www.ecofreek.com/.

Pick what you’re looking for and pick a country (the US options are listed country and state.) You can also pick a city if you like. I searched for computer in Florida and got 698 results. Yikes! I suggest you use the pulldown menu to sort your results by date, because many of the results I looked at had already expired.

The results show a picture if there is one with the listing, along with part of the ad (actually in many cases all of the ad), and the date the item was put up. There are also a few listings that let you get directions to the area, mark an item as taken (or a listing as expired) or “thumbs-down” a listing as a scam or fraud. Most of the listings I looked at were free, while some were trade, and a few more were actually items for sale but for which the buyer would accept a trade. Click on the title of the result or the [more] link associated with the result and you’ll go directly to the original ad/listing.

Most of the listings were also Craigslist. Maybe I picked a bad term, because according to ecofreek’s FAQ the engine searches over 45 sites, including Backpage.com, Kijiji.com, SwapAce.com, and ZooZag.com. Looks like the Craigslist items tend to overwhelm them all, which isn’t surprising.

I would love to see RSS feeds available, but failing that you can register for a free account and get e-mail and text message alerts whenever new items for which you’re searching are added. Depending on what you’re searching for I can imagine that ending up as a lot of text messages…

Foreign Language Courses, Free Online

Thanks to Lifehacker for the pointer to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute langauge courses online. They’re free and available at http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who saw this announcement — not by a long shot. Apparently traffic from Lifehacker overwhelmed the site’s servers and the site had taken down some downloadable materials, though every language I looked at had at least PDFs of course material available.

The site covers 41 languages, from Amharic to Yoruba. Pick a language from the list on the left, click it, and you’ll get a list of student materials on the right. (In the case of the screen shot I chose Bulgarian.) There’s student texts (available in PDF) and teaching tapes (available in MP3.) There was almost no annotation for the materials. To stop the site from being overloaded again, you may wish to just download one section or text at a time.

If there’s not enough here, check the OffSite page where you will get pointers to other language lessons, including Polish, Persian, and Dari.

If that’s REALLY not enough, you may wish to explore the following sites for more free language lessons:

Word 2 Word
FreeLanguge.org
Internet Polyglot
BBC Languages

OCW Search: Find Free University Courses Online

I found an article in The Chronicle about a new search engine for free university courses online. OCW Search (OCW stands for OpenCourseWare) is available at http://www.ocwsearch.com/. The site is in beta and is only indexing courses from MIT at the moment, but I like the search options and I can’t wait for the indexed content to expand.

The home page has a simple search box but there are also fairly sophisticated advanced search options, with stemming by default and special syntax to search by course title, instructor name, and course description. If you still can’t think of anything to look for there are example searches on the front page.

I did a search for education and got 688 results — and mind you, these were all from MIT! Yow! Search results include title, institution and date of the course, and a description that varies from a few sentences to a few extensive paragraphs. There are also direct links to the course home page and course download materials.

The site has a blog where you can both read about updates to the site and vote on which university’s materials should be added next. Impressive search engine and results even with only one university — but come on! I want to see more!

Peer 2 Peer University Starts Round Two

Thanks to Creative Commons for the heads-up about Peer 2 Peer University, which has announced its second round of free and open online courses. Read this and sign up quick, because the registration deadline is February 28…

What the heck is P2PU? The tagline for the site is “Learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything,” which should give you a good overview. The site, which is run by volunteers, is trying to create a source for high-quality, low cost education.

Currently the site is in its second phase of courses, which will run from March 12 to April 23. You can get the course list at http://www.p2pu.org/course/list. Courses offered include “Solve Anything! Building Ideas through Design,” “Managing Election Campaigns,” “Intro to Concepts in Behavioral Economics and Decision Making,” and “Climate Resilient Cities”. You’ll have to register on the site before you can sign up for the courses.

I don’t know what’s on tap after this next round of courses — pilot phase three? — but you can follow Peer 2 Peer U’s blog at http://blogs.p2pu.org/.

Free Music Archive Launches in Beta

In the midst of all this talk about the price changes for iTunes, music costs at Amazon and Wal-Mart, etc., I thought it would be nice to cover the Free Music Archive, which recently launched in beta. A project of radio station WFMU, the Free Music Archive currently has over 5000 tracks and is available at http://freemusicarchive.org/ .

A lot of the front page is bloggish but look on the right hand nav for a list of recently-added songs (with RSS feed), a list of the most interesting songs (again with RSS feed) and a list of genres for browsing, from country to international to jazz to pop. The subgeneres on some of these listings were amazing — Sludge Rock? Post-Punk? No Wave?

At any rate song listings include artist, track, album, and genre. There’s a button for quick play of the song and another for quick download. You can register on the site but you don’t have to.

As for the music itself — well, it’s all over the map. Some of it I listened to and left after a few seconds, some I hung around for a few minutes, and some of it I quite liked and downloaded. I enjoyed Max Tundra, So Cow, Hayvanlar Alemi (Ever listened to guitars that just made you feel happy? “Bahar Patlatan”.), 8 Bit Weapon, and Edith Frost. I’m sure I’m not even scratching the surface here — there’s a lot of music I didn’t even get to because I wanted to finish this writeup.

Bands have their own pages, with biographical information, tour dates (for some), discography information, external links, registered users who are fans, etc. Some bands have just one song available while others have albums and albums and albums. (A button on the band page lets you play all the songs on the page; handy.) Songs also have their own pages; the page for Al Duvall’s “Poppycock & Tommyrot” contains language, bitrate, and genre information as well as the Creative Commons license under which you can use/reuse the music.

I could try to give you some kind of summary here, but I think the fact that it took me over two hours to do this entry because I kept finding more artists to listen to pretty much says it all. Take a day off from iTunes and come over here and explore. Recommended.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,003 other followers