Cool FREE Things You Can Get Online

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We all know that the Internet is a treasure trove of information… and cat videos.  Well, we say it’s SO. Much. More. There is a ton of incredible free things online just waiting for you. After you finish watching funny cat videos of course.

Digital Books, Audiobooks, Magazines and Videos: Books, reading material, and entertainment are great, but they are even better when you can take them anywhere and are free! Libraries may seem ancient in the world of technology, but your local library may be your greatest source for these free online resources. For example, the Sacramento Public Library uses Overdrive, just use your library card number and PIN to access a huge selection of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, and videos. Access Overdrive on your computer, or download the app on a mobile device. Choose “Add a Library” and add any branch of the Sacramento Public Library system to get access to the Sac Library’s entire catalog of digital content available to borrow. Titles that you checkout online can be read or listened to in your browser, or downloaded and listened to using the Overdrive app on your computer or mobile device. Filter your search by “available now” to see a list of items you can get instantly, or put yourself on a waitlist for popular titles.

Conveniently, many public libraries across the country are linked up to Overdrive. If you travel out of the area and are able to get a library card from other counties, the library of titles available to you will be even larger since you can add more than one library.

Magazines may also be available online through your local library. The Sacramento Public Library is affiliated with Zinio, a digital magazine repository. To borrow magazines you need to go through the library’s Zinio page (not directly through the Zinio website or app), but you can download the Zinio app to your mobile device to download and read borrowed magazines offline). You can check with your local librarian and chances are they have a service as well. There really is no reason not to, free things are intended to be used.

library

Learn Something New: The internet is also home to a vast database of free things like learning tools that you can use to acquire new skills in the humanities, business and management, or just about anything else. Websites like Class Central and Kahn Academy offer free online courses. The benefit of these sites is that they are built to be web based. Many of them come with interactive videos and content. If you prefer a more traditional approach, there are many renowned universities that offer free online courses. Stanford, Harvard, and MIT are just a few of the top-notch schools that have entire courses available that you can take to learn for free. These courses do not give you any college credits, but they are still fantastic resources.

Maybe you want to learn, but full courses aren’t your thing. If you want to learn a new language there is a great app, Duolingo, that allows you to learn that language for free. Duolingo is one of the best free things available, and comes with Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, or Swedish so take your pick. While Rosetta Stone can cost hundreds of dollars, this app is free and designed with quick lessons that feel like games. Learn how to read, write, listen, and speak your new language on your computer, or download the app to your mobile device.

TV & Movies: Learning is great, but sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy your favorite show and not pay for a streaming service or rental fee. One option is Hulu, a streaming service that has free content. On Hulu, you can watch the last 5 episodes to air on their free streaming service from NBC, ABC, CW, Fox, Comedy Central, and some movies are free too.

If you do subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, etc. there are free ways to get more out of your service. The website www.canistream.it lets you search for where a specific movie or TV show is available to stream. You can even limit your search to just include services that you subscribe to make it even more useful.

Music & Radio: Music is another form of entertainment that has a huge online presence. If you enjoy radio, you can be sure to have your favorite radio station available wherever you are with www.tunein.com. TuneIn lets you stream just about any radio station in the world from your computer or wireless device. Or, you can create your own radio stations with services like iHeartRadio or Pandora.  If you want to pick specific songs, consider Spotify or Google Music that allow you to build your own playlists. These services are free to stream from your computer, but you can pay to remove advertisements and get extra features.  Radio shows and podcasts are some of the most entertaining free things on the web.

Whatever you are looking for, check out the vast array of cool free things the web has for you.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.

Video Transcript

Host: Ann is back with Nerds On Call.

Ann: I’m telling you, there is so much free stuff online! And I love it! Ryan Eldridge is back with Nerds on Call, and you’re starting with the public library. Which, it’s already free to get a library card…

Ryan: It is, it is.

Ann: But wait til you see what that gets you.

Ryan: Well usually when we think of free online, we think we have to so something illegal, or download stuff at weird websites and risk viruses and stuff. Well this is cool, this is all free and legal stuff. So if you’re a member of the Sacramento Library, you can use your library card and PIN code and you can log right into this place, it’s called overdrive.com. You can get an app on your phone, on your Android or iOS device, or do it online. And the cool thing is you can get e-books, you can get audio books- I’m a big fan of audio books and I drive a lot.

Ann: Yeah! It’s great for driving, yes.

Ryan: You can get them for up to two weeks to borrow, plus you can also get movies and television shows, which is pretty cool.

Ann: Look at that! Outstanding!

Ryan: You can borrow them for up to two weeks and then return it and then just check it out. If there’s a waiting list, sometimes if it’s a really popular book there might be a waiting list, you just click “Be on the waiting list” and when it’s available they’ll send you a little note and you download right to your device.

Ann: Easy enough. Love that!

Ryan: And they’ve got all kinds of great stuff! You can join as many libraries as you want, so if you travel a lot and you’re out of state, you can join as many libraries as you want and get access to all of their content. And they have good content like, for example, the New York Times bestsellers!

Ann: Look at this!

Ryan: Some of the greatest stuff that you can get right in the store but you can get it for free and borrow it right from your library.

Ann: Oh, that’s outstanding.

Ryan: So let’s say that you want to learn a new skill. So this is classcentral.com, and this has online courses from great places like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, any place you wanna get a degree from, but instead you can just go here and learn all that great stuff, and you can go by the subjects and you can learn things from engineering, mathematics, coding, business management…

Ann: These wouldn’t be classes you would take towards a degree, this is just kinda for fun, like you want to learn more about… computer science.

Ryan : Yeah. And if you just wanted to further your career in business you might want to learn some new skills, just so you get a leg up on the competition.

Ann: Got it. Good idea.

Ryan: Another place to go is a place called Duolingo. This is like Rosetta Stone but it’s free. The great thing about this is it’s a really simple thing, you can also put it on your phone as well as online. It walks you through the lessons through little games. So here’s a Spanish one, we get to select…

Ann: That’s the answer right there.

Ryan: Yep, there you go. And you can select which one it is and then move on to the next one, and it will tell you if you’ve gotten it right or not. There’s tests that you can take at the end and you can learn the language as you go.

Ann: That’s fantastic.

Ryan: There’s a bunch of different languages available form Spanish to French to Portuguese to Italian… all kinds of good stuff.

Ann: That’s great. I need to brush up. Good stuff. Okay.

Ryan: So Khan Academy? Khan academy is a place where a man created a website where he could do tutoring for his cousins, and do them through YouTube videos, and this has taken off. Bill Gates is one of the founders and one of the people who contributes content to this. And in there you can learn like, for example, this is coding, it’s called “Hour of Code”.

Ann: Holy cow.

Ryan: And it’s a little YouTube video you watch and it walks you through how to do it. And then it gives you the code on there and you can create a little clock and change the color of the clock, and do different things. So if you wanna learn form coding to history to mathematics, you can learn at your own pace.

Ann: Impressive, all right. For the last one here, okay.

Ryan: All right, so let’s talk about entertainment. Free TV shows, hulu.com. You can get stuff from CW or CBS or anywhere you wanna go, Comedy Central. And you can watch them right there online or on your device. It’s free. As well as, there’s one last place it’s called Can I Stream It? So let’s say you want to watch a particular movie you go to Can I Stream It and type in whatever you want. It will tell you what service it’s on, and you can filter by service.

Ann: Good stuff! I’m telling you, so many free things. I’m thinking it was stuff you could take home but this is even better because you’re not cluttering up your house with a bunch of junk. Great stuff online.

Ryan: Yeah, this is awesome. All free stuff.

Ann: Awesome! Ryan Eldridge with Nerds On Call, we’ve got a link to them on our website under Show Info and today’s date, there at the top of gooddaysacramento.com. Team, back to you.

Host: Okay, sounds good! 

Video Transcript

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