Showing posts with label Freebies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Freebies. Show all posts

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Intersection of Technology and Law

I recently visited the Administrative Office of the US Courts, and I happened across a rack of publications outside their cafeteria.  Those of you who know me are well aware of my voracious reading habits, so it comes as no surprise that I picked up a stack of booklets "for the flight home."  As it turns out, the Federal Judicial Center publishes a wide range of guides, booklets, etc. for attorneys and judges.  I am neither, but I found the materials well-written and (reasonably) accessible for one untrained in the legal arts.

Of particular interest was "Managing Discovery of Electronic Information: A Pocket Guide for Judges."  In the legal world, "discovery" is the process by which each party in a lawsuit can obtain evidence from the opposing side.  While much of the document is focused on the specifics of managing the process, there are several points of interest to the technology-inclined.  For instance, it seems that the Seventh Circuit has a standing order naming the following electronic data "not reasonably accessible" for purposes of discovery:

(1) deleted, slack, fragmented, or unallocated data on hard drives;
(2) random access memory (RAM) or other ephemeral data;
(3) on-line access data such as temporary internet files, history, cache, cookies, etc.;
(4) data in metadata fields that are frequently updated automatically, such as last-opened dates;
(5) backup data that is substantially duplicative of data that is more accessible elsewhere; and
(6) other forms of ESI whose preservation requires extraordinary affirmative measures that are not utilized in the ordinary course of business.

Sure, that makes sense from the bithead/geek perspective, but it's interesting to see how the courts are adapting to the electronic world.

You can grab your own PDF copy of this guide, or browse the entire FJC catalog.  I'm also reading "Immigration Law: A Primer" and "Federal Courts and the First Amendment: Pillars of the Constitution," so it seems that there's something in the FJC library for any political or current-events junkie.  Enjoy.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Today's #MPFreebie - Music from SxSW

Most "technology folks" think of South by Southwest (SxSW) as a media/technology conference, but it began its long-lived run as a music festival.  It has stayed true to its founding ever since, even as it has grown to include SxSW Film and SxSW Interactive.  Given its massive attendance (over 12000 registrants last year) and incredible performances (over 2000 artists/groups at over 90 venues), it seems a safe bet to name SxSW as one of the largest music festivals in the US, if not the world.

As one might imagine, SxSW has become a MAJOR focal point for independent artists and record labels.  Each year, indie labels (and/or collectives of multiple labels) create MP3 samplers of the artists bound for SxSW.  In addition, they take a laissez-faire attitude toward third-party collections and playlists; it's all about the music.  Needless to say, this gives the digital collector a fine chance to add variety and "new sounds" to their collection.  As far as I'm concerned, this is a great source for music/artists I'd otherwise miss (sitting in Central Kentucky - hardly a hotbed for touring groups)...

I've provided links to several SxSW MP3 samplers below - enjoy!


Canadian Blast: Canadian Blast SXSW 2012 Digital Sampler

SxSW 2012 Music Sampler from SxSWBABY

IODA at SxSW Opening Day Bash 2012

Don't Mess with Texas: SxSW 2012 New Music Sampler



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Optimize your Home (or Business) Wireless--FREE--with NetSurveyor

One of my Twitter friends pointed me to the folks at Nuts About Nets, and there's no doubt that my quick visit to the NAN website has already paid tangible dividends.  One word, folks - NetSurveyor.  You won't find a better FREE wireless network profiler out there; whether you're a bithead by trade (like me) or just a power user of home 802.11g/b/n wireless, you'll love this Windows application.  The first thing I did was check channel usage, and I found that 9 of the 13 home WLANs in range of my home (including my own) were fighting on a single channel.  One quick configuration change moved my WLAN to an otherwise unused (and non-overlapping) channel, and I saw immediate performance improvement in my home WLAN of 20+ devices. (For details of 802.11 channels and channel selection, NetGear has a good, basic explanation.)

Alongside NetSurveyor lies NetStress, an 802.11 benchmarking and stress-test tool.  I'll be using NetStress in the near future, just to see what kind of boundaries I can push with my existing wireless infrastructure.

Get NetSurveyor - NOW.

Free Tools » Nuts About Nets

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Free Books for Science Geeks!

The National Academies Press is the publishing arm of the government's highest scientific organizations - the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.   Those organizations publish dozens, if not hundreds, of titles each year.  Well, in the last year or two, they've made a concerted effort to make their publications available as free PDF downloads.  The most recent statement on the site states that "over 4000" books and reports are now available for free download.  A quick look at the front page offers the following titles:

  • "On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research"
  • "Macondo Well-Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Lessons for Offshore Drilling Safety"
  • "Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments"

Over in the "Computers and Informational Technology" section, we find:

  • "The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?"
  • "The Rise of Games and High Performance Computing for Modeling and Simulation"
  • "Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense"

If you have ANY interest in ANY scientific field, it looks like NAP has free PDF books for you.  I'm going to enjoy building a library from this site...

The National Academies Press

Friday, December 30, 2011

Polyvinyl Records Celebrates 15 Years - With a Free Sampler!

Polyvinyl Records, based in Champaign, IL, is something of a rare breed among music labels.  From the beginning, their business model has been based on a straightforward 50-50 revenue split with every artist.  I like that.  They're celebrating their 15th anniversary with a free sampler - and I like that even better!  Vivian Girls, Of Montreal, Joan of Arc, and 27 other Polyvinyl artists await you on this sampler.  Grab and enjoy!

Polyvinyl 15-Year Sampler

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tonight's #MPFreebie - Nordic Lake Sounds

It's time for another eclectic (and free) MP3 selection, and tonight's will not disappoint. Germany's Denovali Records bills itself as an "independent label for experimental, ambient, darkjazz, jazz, drone, electronica, doom, indie etc."  Their Nordic Lake Sounds Volume I certainly meets that description.  Quite frankly, there's a breadth of sound here that one rarely encounters within the scope of a single label.  My FLFs (First-Listen Favorites) would have to be Fromme Lugen by Sankt Otten, Les Fragments de la Nuit's Entre Ciel et Fer, and Nylonfrom Her Name Is Calla.  In playing through this sampler nonstop, one hears the influence of everything from classical piano to progressive rock, with a healthy dose of electronica used both as thematic statement and effect.  (Yes, there's a good chunk of metal involved, too.)  Give this one a listen, and be sure to wander through their site; there are 20 or so other free downloads currently available.

Denovali Records - Nordic Lake Sounds Vol. I (Label Sampler) - Denovali Mp3 Shop

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Federal Publications - Everything Under the Sun

When I was a kid, I read.  A lot.  Every day.  A big part of that reading came from the Federal Government; not only would I request books from my Congresscritters (remember the Yearbook of Agriculture?  I still have a few of those somewhere...), but I'd check out the Consumer Information Catalog for new pamphlets and fact sheets.  Well, as one might expect, that's all online now, and there's a wealth of information for the asking.  Just looking at the front page of the site shows a fact sheet on stroke, "12 Days of Holiday Tips", a guide to food safety when cooking for groups, and individual/personal financial organization.  You can browse through the site and download many of the publications in PDF format ("Securing Your Wireless Network"? Hmmm...) and order both free and at-cost publications for delivery.  I've found several of these publications to be good introductory info for my kids (or, in some cases, my octogenarian mother).  Check it out; it's a government service that actually works well. Main Page

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

#MPFreebie - Feels Like Christmas

Short and sweet - there's a healthy chunk of indie Christmas music, as well as Christmas MIDI files, e-cards, recipes and more at  Knock yourself out.

Free Christmas Music | Free MP3 Downloads from Feels Like Christmas

Amazing--and FREE--iPhone/iPad Apps from NASA

Since my 3 high-school children now have iPads (thanks to a school initiative - ours is the first public school in Kentucky to go 1-to-1 with tablets), I've been on the lookout for cool apps with which to feed/supplement their curiosity and interests.  I stumbled across one NASA app in the App Store, then found this list of available NASA apps.  They're all pretty cool, but I REALLY like Visualization Explorer and NASA App HD.  The photography is often stunning and always interesting. Seriously - if you (or your kids) have the slightest interest in earth science or space exploration, get these apps NOW.

NASA - NASA Apps for Smartphones and Tablets

Friday, December 02, 2011

#MPFreebie - 25 Days of Christmas Music from Amazon

This is short, sweet and to the point - Amazon is reprising its "25 Days of Free" promotion.  If they stay true to their selections of years past, this will be a good chance to pick up a rather eclectic Christmas playlist; the first two selections are Celtic Woman's "Ave Maria" and "Peace On Earth" by Brian Wilson.  Have at it. MP3 Downloads: 25 Days of Free - Daily Free Downloads in December

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Today's Random MPFreebie - XO for the Holidays Volume 4

XO for the Holidays, Volume IV

XO Publicity is a music PR firm in Portland, Oregon.  They work with a broad, eclectic range of artists, and it shows in the latest edition of their holiday sampler.

My taste in music knows few bounds, so I found quite a few pieces to like.  My FLFs (First-Listen Favorites) would have to be:

  • "I Believe in Father Christmas" from Pictures of Then,
  • "The Gift" by Beneath Wind and Waves, and
  • "Christmas Time" from Piney Gir.

There are also two covers of well-known Christmas songs--a new take on "Greensleeves" from Rags & Ribbons, and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" by Kulewa--but I'm torn on those two selections.  Both of those songs are firmly ensconced on my mental "Should Never Be Covered" list; while both bands do credible interpretations, they just didn't excite me...but I think that's more my fault than it is theirs.  You'll just have to decide for yourself.

While you're there, you can pick up the three previous releases of "XO for the Holidays." They're well worth your time and'll find something to like on each of them.

Stay tuned for more Christmas freebies...

xo publicity

Friday, July 15, 2011

Monitoring Your Internet Connection - Perhaps It's Easier Than You Think

We all live with those little "glitches" in our home networks.  Was one of the kids hitting Netflix, did my music downloads go into overdrive, or did my ISP decide to do a remote reboot of my DSL/cable modem?  It's certainly true that monitoring networking equipment can be a rather involved process, but every once in a while we stumble across something that makes it fairly easy for the typical home user.

Fluke Networks, a vendor of network analysis and troubleshooting equipment, offers quite a bit of educational material in exchange for the typical contact information.  As I was checking out their various goodies, I stumbled across their "Switch Port Monitor."  Now, it was designed for use in a LAN environment with enterprise-class switches, but it uses standard Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).  This means that SPM should also work fairly well with many typical pieces of ISP home equipment.  I pointed SPM at my DSL modem, let it gather a bit of data, and presto!  I was looking at a nice, clean, 10-second-update bandwidth report.

If your DSL/cable modem talks SNMP--and most of them do--this is worth the download.  You'll have to do a bit of research to understand (and differentiate among) the various interfaces on your device, but this one is well worth the effort.

Switch Port Monitor Download


Friday, July 08, 2011

Tonight's Random #MPFreebie - Pop Suey

No, that isn't an ethnic joke - not from me, anyway...

Amazon's latest sampler, Pop Suey, is simply described as "Chinese Music Treats."  I was expecting traditional Chinese music, but I found the tracks on this sampler far more contemporary in nature.  We aren't talking bleeding-edge Western style, by any means--there are a few singer-songwriter selections that would be right at home on American radio 15 years ago--but it's interesting stuff nonetheless.  My FLFs (First Listen Favorites) are Lala Hsu's Riding a White Horse, The Flowers from Fan Fan, and Kenji Wu's Write a Poem for You.

It may not be first on my playlist, but it's definitely worth inclusion in the workday shuffle.  Joe Bob says check it out. Pop Suey - Chinese Music Treats: Various Artists: MP3 Downloads


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Today's Random #MPFreebie - A Boatload of Free Samplers from Amazon

You may already be browsing Amazon's MP3 Store, but have you been paying attention to the "Free Songs and Special Deals" section?  Sure, they offer the free song of the day, and they occasionally feature a sampler alongside, but there are many, MANY labels releasing samplers throughout the year.  Over the last year-and-a-half, I've picked up over 150 samplers from this source alone; you'll find everything from world music to classical to metal and hip-hop in the selection at any given time.

For some reason--the "start of summer," I guess--there was a deluge of releases over the July 4th weekend.  Instead of trying to review so many samplers at once, I'm just going to throw you the links to the first 10 free samplers on and (when I can find them) to the labels themselves.  If you want to start tracking future releases, here's the "Free Albums" page, sorted by Release Date, newest first. The latest releases:

Kill Rock Stars 20 Year Anniversary Sampler - Kill Rock Stars, Portland OR and Olympia WA
Dangerbird Summer Sampler 2011 - Dangerbird Records, Silverlake CA
Vagrant Summer Sampler 2011 - Vagrant Records, Los Angeles CA
A Touch and Go Records Digital Sampler - Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records, Chicago IL 
Bloodshot Indie-Pendants Sampler - Bloodshot Records, Chicago IL
Merge Records 2011 Sampler - Merge Records,  Durham NC
Frenchkiss Records Amazon MP3 Sampler - Frenchkiss Records,  New York NY
Carpark Records 2011 Sampler - Carpark Records, Washington DC
Stockholm Belongs to Us - Labrador Records, Stockholm, Sweden
Cantora Sampler - Cantora Records, New York NY
(and here's an 11th, just because it's REALLY good stuff!)
23 This Year: The Sub Pop Amazon Sampler - Sub Pop Records, Seattle WA
Go forth and download!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Today's Random #MPFreebie - New Weird Australia

Yes, it's another trip Down Under for free music.  This time around, it's New Weird Australia that draws our attention.  NWA is a non-profit initiative (supported, in part, by the Australian government) promoting "new, eclectic and experimental Australian music."  Their latest sampler, "We Are After All Here," succeeds on all three counts.  I'd recommend this compiliation on purely break-your-routine grounds, but several tracks stand out; my FLFs (First-Listen Favorites) are Horoscope from NO ZU, Camryn Rothenbury's Racing Across the Void, and Cannibal Cod by Desfontane.

If you like We Are After All Here, hit the "Compliations" link at the top of the page; you'll find several more samplers with which to feed your eclectic side...

New Weird Australia, We Are After All Here | New Weird Australia.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Free Comic Book Day - Fun with Ink and Paper

Free Comic Book DayOK, I admit it; I've always loved comics and comic books.  My introduction to the medium came from my older cousins; whenever we'd spend an (otherwise boring, for me) afternoon or evening there, they'd take me down to the basement where they kept a decade's worth of comics.  I immersed myself in Legion of Super Heroes, Doctor Strange and countless other titles for hours on end.  Later, I read several of the titles my grandfather had printed during his career as a pressman for Fawcett Printing.  Sure, recent years have seen the rise of other forms of comic art--notably graphic novels and manga--but there's still something special about a good old comic book.

Want to reminisce, introduce a young one to comics, or rediscover them yourself?  Well, Free Comic Book Day is just about the best way to do it, and it's coming up on May 7th - this very weekend!  FCBD is celebrated by comic stores across the US and Canada, as well as those in 40 countries around the world.  Basically, it boils down to "visit your local store, get a free comic (or 2 or 3, and maybe a free figurine or ring...)," and it doesn't get much better than that!  This will be the third year I've taken at least one of my kids out for FCBD, and it's always a fun time for us.  There are 37 titles in this year's FCBD lineup, so your local store is bound to have something that tickles your fancy.

Check out the FCBD website, find your local participating store, and go get some free goodies!

Free Comic Book Day


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today's Random #MPFreebie - Section 27

The Internet has certainly spawned an enormous range of creative outlets, and 'netlabels' promise to be a significant presence in the musical section of the creative spectrum. 

Most of us are familiar with the notion of "major labels," such as Sony or MCA; if your musical taste is on the eclectic side, you've probably explored the world of "indie labels," those independent (usually regional) record labels bringing even more artists to the commercial arena.  Well, netlabels take that idea one step further; they're usually community-driven enterprises, and their music is made freely available, usually under the Creative Commons license.  Given the nature of the Internet, netlabels tend to focus on the more...electronic genres of the musical world.

Section 27 is one such netlabel, and they've released a 2011 sampler of their artists.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that electronica is not my typical first choice of playlist, but (as usual) there's some ear-catching stuff on this 8-track compilation.  My FLFs (First Listen Favorites) are the bookends of this sampler, tracks 1 and 8: Non Dolet's Terminal and Intr1 from Shodan.  In between, you'll find digital meanderings of all sorts, including an interesting take on samples from an 80s chart-topper.

Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tonight's #MPFreebie - Sounds from Down Under, Courtesy of @soundslikebne

Sounds Like Brisbane is a collective effort from 17 of Australia's independent labels, and it's definitely one of the more diverse samplers I've heard in a while.  Folks in Oz are absolutely kicking it across the board, if these tracks are representative of the indie music scene.  My FLFs (First Listen Favorites) are Marialy Pacheco's wonderful piano work on Sunshine State, the somewhat ethereal Unsolved Mysteries from The Rational Academy, and the straight-up punk of Undead Apes' Taxes.  Check it out - all 17 tracks can be previewed and/or downloaded from SLB's site, linked above...and keep your eyes open for news/downloads of the BIG SOUND music festival, coming this September...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Today's Random #MPFreebie - Friendly Fire Recordings

As you're probably discerned by now, I have a fairly eclectic taste in music.  Given that radio airplay is dominated (in most markets) by formula pop, I've turned to the independent scene for most of my "new" listening.  Today's free sampler comes to us from Brooklyn-based Friendly Fire Recordings, and it's an interesting collection.  It features 7 of the 15 bands on Friendly Fire's roster, and--as is the case with most such samplers--it demonstrates the range of artists currently under contract.  My FLFs (First Listen Favorites) are Light Pollution from Acrylics, Regina's hard-to-describe-but-I-know-I-like-it Tapaa minut aamulla, and NYC band Violens' Acid Reign.  Feel free to let me know your opinions in the comments.

Grab this one from

Friday, December 31, 2010

Today's Random #MPFreebie - Ska Lives

Indie Vision Music is one of those sites that you just have to admire for its breadth and depth.  Focusing on "faith and entertainment with an independent perspective," IVM gives coverage to the less-than-mainstream faith music often ignored by even local music cognoscenti.  As you browse the site, you'll find everything from alternative to screamo to, in this case, ska.  Their latest compilation offering is Ska Lives, Volume 1, and it's well worth the download.  This 29-track offering is well-chosen; one usually finds a clunker or two in any compliation, but that doesn't seem to be the case with this effort.  My FLFs (First-Listen Favorites) are How to Program A VCR from Dime Store Heist, Just Like Josiah's You Hold the Key and Phil Joel's partnership with Supertones on Don't Forget to Remember.  (Special mention to Not For the Crowd for their rendition of Roll Jordan Roll - when it's done well, I love hearing old standards taken into new genres!)  Give it a listen; I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Ska Lives Vol. 1