By Ron VandenBoom
Ive made no secret recently of my concern over the use of the word free on the Internet.
Horror stories abound of people getting ripped off by phony companies, having their addresses sold to other companies, and being inundated by a flood of e-mail they dont want and cant seem to get rid of.
Well, I may have done a great disservice to the many honest and beneficial websites that offer free advice, software, and even merchandise, without causing grief to the surfer.
One such site is www.thefreesite.com.
This site is not typical of the kind I have campaigned against. It is fun, helpful, and as far as I can tell honest. It offers a wide variety of downloadable software packages that run the gamut from the simple screen saver to complex html editor programs you may want to try on your site.
Veteran surfers who already have Web pages of their own will probably find many of the offerings amateurish, but FreeSite.com is not prejudice toward veteran and non-veteran surfers. It offers something for everybody.
A complete list of categories tells the surfer as soon as they hit the home page that something interesting lies beyond. Twenty-five such categories offer everything from e-greeting cards and free fonts to screen savers and Webmaster tools.
Click on any one of the categories and view a long list of sites that offer the material shown in that category. FreeSite.com does not provide the material, merely a link to the material.
I know what youre thinking one more site that sucks you into a morass of dead links where the few that do work are highly commercial and offer only partially working samples that die two weeks after you download them, providing of course, you can find them. Sound familiar?
Well, rest assured these sites are different. FreeSite.com links to sites that have already been checked. The links are valid and the sites offer exactly what they say they offer.
Each link has a brief description telling what is offered before you waste your time surfing there.
This is not to say you will never see a banner ad or a for sale sign on any of these pages. What it does mean is that you will be able to find the free stuff easily and you will not be blind-sided.
For example, click on Software Freebies and then click on the Fun Freeware icon the one with the smiley face. Scroll down the list until you get to Super Fred.
Super Fred serves absolutely no purpose what-so-ever. He is a fun little animated character that downloads quickly and scurries around your desktop making sounds, bumping into walls, and falling from the sky. The point is that he is free, easy to find, works perfectly, and you do not have to buy something, get a trial version of something, or sell your soul to the e-mail demons, in order to enjoy it.
Other categories include: chat freebies, counters, games, fonts, prank freebies, screen savers, and free graphics, to name just a few.
Now a word of warning to those who might think we live in a perfect world. While this is one of the best sites Ive ever seen for organizing, checking, and maintaining links, it is still just a link site. FreeSite.com is not responsible for each individual site it links to.
Linger around the Free Samples links long enough and click recklessly enough and I guarantee youll be throwing away e-mail in no time.